Tuesday, September 30, 2008


This is coolbert:

Here is an interesting letter to the editor as printed in the Chicago Tribune today:

"Sitting across the table from an archenemy"

By Steven Lubet

[Steven Lubet is a law professor at Northwestern University]

Describes a bit of history I was not familiar with. At the very end of the American Civil War, President Lincoln was quite willing and able, and did engage in negotiations with a leader of the Confederacy. Negotiations surprisingly held, at a moment when the Union forces held all the cards. Negotiations conducted and failing, but held in an atmosphere of earnestness, to prevent further loss of life and destruction of property.

"On Feb. 3, 1865, with the Civil War still raging, President Abraham Lincoln traveled to Hampton Roads, Va., where he met with Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy"

"the two sides held a cordial discussion. Stephens asked if there was any way to make peace, or even to call a truce. But Lincoln was adamant. The only way to make peace was 'for those who were resisting the laws of the Union to cease that resistance'"

"Lincoln did, however, suggest a compromise. He offered to compensate Southern slaveholders for the loss of their 'property' [slaves] by appropriating as much as $400 million from the federal treasury, on the condition that the South submit immediately to the 'restoration of national authority.'"

That Lincoln was willing to sit down with the Vice-President of the Confederacy at this point in time is somewhat surprising. The Union forces were near to total victory on the battlefield. Southern land was occupied and being devastated by the army of the ever-advancing Sherman. Lee was in retreat and had no hope of EVER stopping Grant!! Again, the Union held all the cards and was on the ascendancy big time!!

Lincoln was a magnanimous man who sought post-war reconciliation!?

Undoubtedly so!



This is coolbert:

Here are several recent articles from the Chicago Tribune that immediately caught my eye:

"Benefits of serving in military cannot be outsourced"

"As a soldier in Iraq, I [Tammy Duckworth] witnessed the Bush administration's blatant overuse of contractors to do the work normally done by fellow American service members."

"Duckworth admits error in taking state vehicle to Seals campaign event"

"Tammy Duckworth took time off from job as state Veterans Affairs director to attend a campaign event but ran into controversy"

Tammy Duckworth, Major, Illinois Army National Guard [ILARNG], wounded severely in Iraq, is in violation of UCMJ, Article 88 and 134? So was my original thought. Contemptuous language directed against the President and a member of Congress [Mark Kirk]?

[Mark Kirk currently serves as a Congressman and is ALSO a military reservist who serves a monthly duty at the Pentagon!]

A printed article, an op-ed piece, and the use of a state-owned vehicle for partisan politics, all this on the part of a serving Army officer [National Guardsman].

NO! Tammy Duckworth is no longer a member of the ILARNG and now is free to speak her mind, not "burdened" by the requirements of the UCMJ! This I have confirmed with the Chicago Tribune.

Tammy is a very brave person, noble even. Lost both legs in Iraq and partial use of an arm. For some time was in charge of ILARNG aircraft maintenance. Ran for Congress and narrowly lost election. Persons such as her are great credits to our society. I hope her the best in future endeavors.

I had originally hoped that with the use of prosthesis, Tammy might have continued her military flying career, following in the footsteps of Douglas Bader of World War Two fame. Obviously not to be now. She must do what is best for herself.



This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune today:


"Marching orders for citizen soldiers"

"With the Illinois National Guard sending one out of four of its soldiers to Afghanistan - - some 2,700 of its troops will be deployed there by the end of October - - one unit that ‘never deploys’ has been handed a particularly risky mission."

[This unit is the 135th Chemical Company, Illinois Army National Guard [ILARNG]]

"But the soldiers are leaving [for Afghan], Tuesday, and Wednesday, it will be the turn of the 135th Chemical Company, based outside Rockford in Machensney Park."

"The 135th never deploys, its members say. With a mission to clean chemical spills and contain biological attacks, the unit has a purpose so apocalyptic it has never seen war. But its member retooled to guard bases and convoys in Afghanistan - - a risky assignment in this increasing out-of-control war."

A chemical unit, the primary mission of which is normally de-contamination of the biological, chemical and nuclear battlefield, is en route to Afghan. "Re-tooled" as a guard unit, protecting bases and escorting convoys.

Duties normally the purview of the military police are now going to be done by a chemical company of citizen-soldiers from Illinois.

[the training for a active duty military policeman is quite similar to that of a combat arms troop. Train with a variety of weapons and be prepared to use them in an instant!]

Have trained for the mission, which is not a whole unlike that of the combat soldier. Especially with regard to guarding and escorting convoys.

I hope each and every non-commissioned officer in that unit has been trained in and is adept at three essential tasks.

Those tasks being:

* Organize a defensive perimeter.
* Employ and direct supporting fires. Indirect [artillery], and direct [close-air-support].
* Operate a radio in two different nets.

The 135th will be using armored vehicles of some sort for convoy escort OTHER than the Hummvee? A V-100 Cadillac Commando, a M-113 with slat armor [three machine guns up top with gun shields], or the Buffalo armored wheeled vehicle that has done so well in Iraq?


At Shiloh during the American Civil War, the Union possibly was saved by a bunch of Illinois farm boys who held the line [the Hornet’s Nest] from a dozen or so massed Confederate frontal assaults.

As was needed at Shiloh, again is needed in Afghan!


Monday, September 29, 2008


This is coolbert:

Thanks here to Robert Spencer at JihadWatch, and others before him!

There is nothing here really to speak of? This is a much-to-do-about-nothing? The Times, printed in South Africa, is a tabloid type newspaper that specializes in sensationalist news items designed to scare?

So we hope!

"Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship"

"A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates."

"Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill 'within days' of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died!

“'We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.'”

"the ship was secured by more pirates — about 50 on board, and another 50 on shore."

"But within days those who had boarded the ship developed mysterious health trouble."

Somali pirates boarded and captured a cargo vessel. And promptly became sick in a strange and unanticipated way from something aboard that same vessel! Hmmmm!!

Somali pirates are a hot button topic now? Pirates just seem to catch the imagination of the public! Something we thought was a thing of the far distant past is now occurring with increasing frequency in a way not thought possible just a short time ago now!

That entire shoreline of the Indian Ocean, from India past Arabia, down the east coast of Africa, the Swahili coast in the case of the latter, has always been an important trading route. Swahili is an invented African language combining African and Islamic elements. Persons living in that area define them self in a cultural context, i.e., "I am Yemeni, I am Persian", etc.!

Trading, and piracy directed against the vessels of the Islamic merchants, has always been a problem endemic to the area?

This time the villains got something they did not bargain for? Encountered an unknown cargo of some sort that is beyond their realm of experience. A cargo of value not to them but hazardous in the extreme in a way they cannot even comprehend! These pirates are folks who carry AK and RPG but still live a way of life with a matching mentality that is one thousand or so years behind the times.

As for the symptoms! Mimicking the effects of radiation poisoning. I am sure special operation units of a variety of militaries active in the area are right now preparing contingencies to "check this one out"!



This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune today:

"U.S. delivered radar system, Israelis say"

"JERUSALEM - - The U.S. has provided Israel with an advanced radar system that will give it early warning in case of Iran missile attack"

"The radar system, to be run by about 120 accompanying U.S., military personnel, was delivered last week"

"The new radar system, known as FBX-T , will cut down the response time of Israel's Arrow anti-missile defense system."

This deployment is already NOT without controversy:

"In granting Israel the powerful FBX-T radar system to enhance its early warning resources against incoming missiles, Washington laid down a strict hands-off proviso. The system will be installed at a US base in the southern Israeli Negev. It will be off-limits to Israelis and managed exclusively by American personnel."

"This discovery, revealed here for the first time by military sources, has aroused astonished rancor in senior Israel army circles."

Astonished RANCOR!!
FBX-T can track a missile with great precision during the BOOST PHASE OF THE MISSILE FLIGHT!! This is an advantage!

And too, I would have to assume that a whole-range of American space-based sensors would also detect the launch and observe same, from the moment of missile ignition!!


Sunday, September 28, 2008

USS New York II.

This is coolbert:


Here is the modern and now undergoing sea trails, the latest addition to the U.S. Navy, the warship USS New York.

"the fifth ship in the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, is the sixth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the state of New York. The ship was designed to deliver a fully-equipped battalion of 700 Marines."

"The first New York was a gondola, built on Lake Champlain in 1776, that participated in the Battle of Valcour Island. Throughout history there have been at least six United States Navy ships that have borne the name New York, after the 11th state."

Can deploy to any part of the world and "deliver a fully-equipped battalion of 700 Marines" with all their impedimenta! This is POWER PROJECTION of the most major sort.

An actual integral part of the ship is steel actually obtained from the ruins of the World Trade Center. Steel from the WTC buildings melted down and used in the construction of the USS New York!

"Twenty-four tons of the steel used in its construction came from the small amount of rubble from the World Trade Center actually preserved for posterity."

Sister ships of the New York [to be built and launched at a later date] are to be also named after sites where the 9/11 attacks occurred. Named ships will be:

* Arlington.
* Somerset.

"Navy announced that two of her sister ships will be named Arlington and Somerset, in commemoration of the places two of the other planes used in the attack came down: Somerset County, Pennsylvania and Arlington, Virginia."

Organic firepower of the modern USS New York is sparse. Consisting ONLY of:

* "Two Bushmaster II 30 mm Close in Guns, fore and aft"
* "two Rolling Airframe Missiles, fore and aft."

Carries, and is able to deploy that Marine battalion from an array of landing craft, to include:

* "2 Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC)s"
* "1 Landing Craft, Utility (LCU)"
* "14 Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles (EFV)"
* "14 Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV)s"

The USS New York is able to launch or land:

* "two CH53E Super Stallion"
* "two MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft"
* "four CH-46 Sea Knight"
* "four AH-1 SeaCobra"
* "four UH-1 Iroquois helicopters"

It is not specified what version of the AH-1 attack helicopters will be aboard the New York. If the "Z" version, those choppers will have the firepower of a tactical nuclear weapon, each of them. Can fire the Zuni 5" rocket if needed. The same as having flying artillery at your disposal.

Go and see the web site for the latest incarnation of the USS New York. The U.S. Navy does take a lot of pride in the vessels it sails and the crews that man them.

Three cheers!!


USS New York I.

This is coolbert:

From the wiki entry on the battleship USS New York:

"The fifth USS New York (BB-34) was a United States Navy battleship, the lead ship of her class of two (USS Texas (BB-35) being the other). Her keel was laid down 11 September 1911 by Brooklyn Navy Yard of New York City."

Carried impressive armaments and armor. To include:

* 10 × 14 in" (356 mm) guns
* 21 × 5 in" (127 mm) guns
* 4 × 21 in" (533 mm) torpedo tubes

Saw yeoman duty during both World Wars. Earned three battle stars during the Second World War. I cannot say with certainty, but this is perhaps one of the old-fashioned battleships of the era that was intended to be used as armored pillboxes during the invasion of Japan, if such an event had actually occurred. Battleships, sporting 14" guns, were to be beached at the invasion sites, skeletal crews ONLY remaining aboard, firing those big naval guns in support of the American ground forces that had gone ashore. Ammo, food, beans and bullets brought to the ship as needed.

Dig this amazing stuff too about the last days of the USS New York:

* Participated in: "Operation Crossroads, the Bikini atomic tests"
* Survived: "the surface blast 1 July and the underwater explosion 25 July"
* Finally met a gallant end: "towed out to sea some 40 miles and there sunk after an 8-hour pounding by ships and planes carrying out full-scale battle maneuvers with new weapons."

Was exposed to and survived two atomic detonations. ONLY sunk after being repeatedly pounded for eight hours by the most advanced of post-war munitions!!

[also surviving the two "Crossroads" nuclear tests was: "The ex-German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen survived both the Able and Baker tests"]

It would perhaps IMPOSSIBLE to build another battleship of the USS New York class again. Prohibitive from the cost standpoint and too difficult to obtain the necessary armor plate in the quality and quantities needed!!

They just do not, and cannot, build em' like they used to!!



This is coolbert:

Here thanks to PG monster and his web site: "War is Over"

Photographs and a tally sheet of World War Two [WW2] Soviet partisans [partizane] "mining" railroad tracks, bridges, etc. German railway lines of communications [LOC's] being sabotaged by Soviet guerrillas!!

["mining" in the Soviet sense meaning - - according to what I read, NOT just merely laying land mines as is understood in a western army - - but DEMOLITIONS!!]

The Soviet partisan campaign of WW2 is generally accepted by the "experts" to have been highly successful. An archetype to be emulated when possible.


That tally sheet is most interesting! A list of trains destroyed. NOT just sections of rail track blown up! Trains ACTUALLY DERAILED!!
The "leader-board" for the "miners" shows:

"Some of the best partisane-miners":

* Grigoriy A. Tokuyev destroyed 19 trains.
* Vasiliy Kononov : 14 trains.
* Vladimir V. Pavlov : 13 trains.
* Dmitriy M. Rezuto : 13 trains.
* Mihail Illarionovich Petrov : 12 trains.
* Nikolay M. Frolov : 10 trains.
* Ivan A. Bondarchuk : 9 trains + 12 cars + 4 bridges.
* T.G. Dmitriev : 8 trains (inc. 1 armoured train) + 25 cars + 1 bridge.

[above photo is of T.G. Dmitriev himself]

Some of those persons shown in the photos and listed in the tally sheet are "guards minelayers"?? NOT NECESSARILY PARTISANS! Soviet active duty military men, demolitions experts, proficient at all aspects of unconventional warfare!

Persons ["guards minelayers"] skilled in demolitions of all sorts, trained and experienced in the handling and employment of the latest explosives and detonating devices, parachuted behind German lines. Persons, if necessary, able to concoct explosives from common household products, McGyver-style!

From Suvorov:

"The operations carried out by the 'minelayers' were distinguished by their daring character and their effectiveness . . . Sometimes they operated independently, at others they combined their operations with the partisans . . . The minelayers taught the partisans the most difficult aspects of minelaying, the most complicated technique technology and the most advanced tactics"

Right! Special purpose troops, analogous to American Special Forces, able to parachute behind enemy lines, NOT ONLY to perform missions independently, but ALSO able to organize, train, plan, lead guerrillas into combat!!


Friday, September 26, 2008


This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune yesterday;

"World Briefing"


"'More soldiers would stabilize areas here that remain dangerous more quickly.'"

"Brigadier Mark Carlton-Smith, commander of Britains' forces in Helmand province saying he could use as many as 4,000 additional troops to help stabilize that battle-scarred southern Afghan region."

[Brigadier Mark in the center of the photo, reading the orange folder!]

The damned Taliban are back, and with a vengeance, most pointedly of all in the southern part of the country [Afghan], that area the responsibility of which is the mission of non-American NATO forces.

Here, from a variety of British sources, comments on the detiorating situation in Helmand province, Afghanistan:

"The commander of British forces in Afghanistan [Carlton-Smith] has told Sky News he needs double the number of soldiers to cope with the increasingly tough fight against the Taliban."

"The TICs (Troops in Contact Reports) sent to the headquarters staff are now so regular that they have to prioritise the level of support those soldiers on the ground can have."

"If they [British troops] are only involved in a small skirmish they will be left to fight it out on their [British troops] own."

"Air support, which you pray for when the fighting starts, is limited - there simply aren't the planes and helicopters to send out. Even if you are assigned a jet fighter it is just as likely to be redirected to a more serious incident, especially if the TIC involves a casualty."

"War and Peace - - Mark Urban's blog"

"How to win Helmand"

"Elected politicians take the decisions in the British set up, they make policy too, but it is pretty clear that they are heavily dependent on their civil servants or military officers to define their choices."

"Double force in Helmand says British commander"

"The senior British commander in Helmand has publicly requested a major troop reinforcement in the war-torn province to deal with the growing Taliban insurgency . . . In a highly unusual step Brig Mark Carleton-Smith said he needed to double the force with 'another brigade of 4,000 men' to deal with the Taliban reinforcements crossing the border from Pakistan."

Ever since the United States invoked Article Five of the NATO charter in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the Afghan war has been waged as a NATO operation. Twice as many NATO troops [from a variety of nations] other than American have been now killed in Afghan since 2001! NATO contingents are making a game effort, and contributing in a manner not appreciated by the U.S. public [your reporter not included].

As for: "there simply aren't the planes and helicopters to send out"!




This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune yesterday:

"World briefing"


"Russia vows to upgrade nation's arsenal"

"MANAGUA - - Russia's ambassador to Managua said Wednesday that his country will replace the Nicaraguan army's aging weaponry."

". . . no plans . . . to expand the country's military arsenal."

". . . The army [Nicaragua] has insisted in needs new helicopters and Navy ships to patrol Caribbean waters, where there is a boundary dispute with Colombia."

What is this? Boundary dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia? Those two nations DO NOT EVEN HAVE A CONTIGUOUS BORDER!

"Nicaraguan territorial disputes with Colombia: "include the territorial dispute with Colombia over the Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank"

Territorial disputes, islands claimed sovereignty over by various colonial powers, dating from the time of Spanish conquest and continuing over into modern times by the modern independent Latin American nations!

With regard to: "Archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina", the islands are inhabited, flourishing [?] with tourists seeking sun, and populated by persons who are NOT necessarily Latin by culture, but descendants of African slaves at one time owned by English Puritans!!

"Disputes" over land of course are a common source of friction between nations and can lead to war.

Are these islands worth a war or even the threat of war? Maybe - - someone in a high position - - thinks there is the possibility of off-shore oil being present?

These islands are a possible point of contention between hot-blooded Latins? Neither willing to back down! Nicaragua is again ruled by Daniel Ortega, a one-time commandante' of the ruling junta in Managua! But a much milder form of the original Daniel incarnation? Let us hope so!

More surprising Russian encroachment into territory normally part of the "American sphere"? That too!



This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune today:

"Nation briefing"

"Washington, D.C."

"Seventeen [17]"

"Number of senior officers - - six Air force generals ranging in rank from one to three stars, nine colonels and two Army two-star generals - - were disciplined for poor oversight in connection with the mistake shipment of fuses fro nuclear warheads to Taiwan. Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said Thursday."

Some of you may remember this incident. NOT SO LONG AGO NOW!! Helicopter parts [this was the reason by which Army officers got involved?], sent to Taiwan, when arriving, were found to be fuses for nuclear warheads!! How could this happen? That was the question! Some speculated this was all part of a ruse! A ruse the intent of which was to intimidate or "scare" a foreign power hostile to the U.S.? Was related in some fashion to the arming of a B-52 bomber with LIVE ARMED nuclear cruise missile warheads. A WARTIME MEASURE ONLY WHEN THE PLANES ARE FLYING WITHIN THE CONFINES OF AMERICAN TERRITORY!!

This was all evidently NOT part of a ruse. A major slip-up of drastic proportions. All the "nuke stuff" is supposed to be carefully guarded, inventoried, under deliberate lock and key of the most secure sort!

We can now rest easy this time? NO ruse or malevolent intentions involved. Just malfeasance at the top. Discipline has been meted out accordingly!



This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune today:

"Nation briefing"


"Nerve agent waste ruled OK to ship"

"INDIANAPOLIS - - The Army can finish shipping chemical waste from the destruction of a deadly nerve agent in Indiana to an incinerator in Texas, a judge has ruled."

"Most of the waste has already been sent to Texas. it was the neutralized remains from VX nerve agent destroyed under an international treaty."

Let us be clear here. This IS NOT THE DEADLY TOXIC NERVE AGENT ITSELF! What we are speaking about here is the byproduct of the destruction process, the VX gas previously having been destroyed at the Indiana location, in situ, as they say.

And - - already, almost all of the byproduct, a hazardous waste of itself, this cannot be denied, has been previously shipped to Texas for incineration!

This is always controversial stuff! Destroying the chemical agents themselves and the still-highly-toxic waste products from the destruction process, transportation of same, in situ incineration or at another location, etc.

See my previous blog entry about the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and the "clean-up" process for that particular facility. EVEN FOR LIQUID ROCKET FUELS, THE CLEANUP PROCEDURES FOR NON-LETHAL BUT STILL TOXIC CHEMICALS WAS EXPENSIVE AND LABORIOUS. Hey, NO ONE said any of this was going to be easy!

I think this particular facility in Indiana was of particular concern to Homeland Security too, in the aftermath of 9/11??!!

An explosive laden aircraft, suicidally crashed into the storage facilities, could have caused a lethal, toxic plume that would have devastated a wide area. Air defense was constantly monitoring this site for possible hostile intruders. Orders to shoot-down and kill already a matter of protocol!!

Fears have been assuaged??!!


Thursday, September 25, 2008


This is coolbert:

"when someone says they intend to KILL YOU, believe them!!" [Holocaust survivor]

[given the fact that the famous American military man David Hackworth, a number of years ago, declared Iran to be the one nation that posed the greatest threat to the U.S., primarily from the stand-point of ideological hatred, this blog entry is pertinent!]

Listening to National Public Radio this afternoon.

They are interviewing this American/Iranian record producer [?], Hooman Majd who is the interpreter for President Ahmadinejad of Iran for when the latter visits and speaks before the United Nations [U.N.]

Man is talking about the public face/private face of the Iranian populace.

What we see on the outside, so this record producer tells us, we must not take so literally. The Iranian is just a lot more mellow and contented than we tend and have been led to believe!

Those Friday prayer services where the masses chant “DEATH TO AMERICA” - - happen very infrequently, and when they do occur, the participants are active in only a half-hearted manner. Most of what occurs and what we in the U.S. see on television is hyperbole and not serious?

And the word margh, in Farsi, meaning DEATH! DO NOT TAKE IT SO LITERALLY! More properly can be interpreted as, “stop your policies”! The word must be understood in the modern cultural context?

President Ahmadinejad for instantce. When he spoke at Columbia Universtiy a year ago and said, “there are no homosexuals in Iran!”! Again, do not take him so literally! What he meant was that there IS A NOT A POLITICALLY ACTIVE “GAY RIGHTS” MOVEMENT IN IRAN!!

Well, it is, the tension that exists between the U.S. and Iran, you can see, all a matter of quibbling over translation, semantics, cultural context, etc.?

And that chanting of “DEATH OF AMERICA!!" I am glad it is infrequent. And I am glad the participants are going at it only in half-hearted manner. This all I am glad about!! I would not want it to be otherwise than infrequent and half-hearted!

Well, diplomacy is quite often centered about the “matter” of translation, semantics, and cultural context, quibbling over fine points to get the essentials, the basics, and beyond that too “just right”!!


Indiscreet language designed to provoke! Such as the Ems Telegram. Precipitated to some degree the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Made public in a calculated manner by Bismarck. An original and “doctored” version of the document exists!! Language in one is not the same as the language in the other. One to provoke, the other to mollify?

No less a figure than the polymath Leibnitz realized that diplomatic language, translations, semantics, cultural context, all played a vital role in negotiations between nations. Translations, semantics, quibbling over cultural context of words QUITE OFTEN BEING A STUMBLING BLOCK TO SUCCESSFUL DIPLOMACY BEING CONDUCTED!! Leibnitz, for a goodly part of his illustrious career [in a variety of capacities], served as a diplomat and courier to the royalty and ruling elites of Europe. Did engage in diplomatic negotiations at a not so infrequent intervals.



TOO, it is wrong for the Iranian leadership, regardless of their motivation or context, to stir up the “masses” as they do, even if occurring on “occasion”? Sometimes, to the detriment of everyone, “emotion clouds reason” is absolutely true. A series of unanticipated events can be set off with consequences that no one wants!!

At least - - that is the unfortunate image - - that has been created - - in the minds of many Americans!!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ferdinand Magellan

This is coolbert:

[this blog entry is borderline germane. Since it concerns measures taken to protect the American Commander-in-Chief in time of war, it is suitable!]

This entry from the wiki entry on armored trains catches my attention instantly:

"One armoured train that remains in regular use is the private train of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, which the former received as a gift from the Soviet Union."

"Konstantin Pulikovsky, a former Russian presidential envoy who wrote a book, "The Orient Express," about Kim's train trip through Russia in July and August 2001 . . . Kim's 16-car private train was stocked with crates of French wine. Live lobsters were delivered in advance to stations, and gourmet feasts were eaten with silver chopsticks"

I remember this particular "state visit" of Kim to Moscow very well. It did create a minor stir. The leisurely pace of the trip [train only moved during the day?] across Siberia was a puzzle to some. Let me suggest that it was not because the man [Kim] is afraid of the dark! The manner of movement was strictly for security reasons. Much to difficult during hours of darkness to detect and counter saboteurs that might want to kill Kim!

Security measures for Kim to include:

* "Extra locomotives drove in front of the North Korean leader, in case the track was mined."
* Ninety five [95] Russian and Korean snipers and bodyguards.


Kim was undoubtedly accompanied by a large entourage. That sixteen-car private train also provided accommodations for all the cooks, valets, secretaries, menials, lick-spittle fawning toadies, degenerates, bodyguards, and mistresses that Kim surrounds himself with!! A totally self-contained moving armored cocoon containing an entire governmental apparatus!!

President Franklin Roosevelt too traveled extensively by an armored train.

This was the Ferdinand Magellan. NO Virgina, we are not talking about the famous explorer. We are speaking about a Pullman sleeping car, built originally for use by President Franklin Roosevelt.

An armored railway car built exclusively for the use of President Roosevelt. Roosevelt as we all know, was handicapped severely, could not walk, and was confined to a wheelchair. HAD TO LIFTED IN AND OUT OF BED EVERY DAY BY HIS PERSONAL AIDE.



"The Ferdinand Magellan (also known as U.S. Car. No. 1) is a former Pullman Company observation car which served as Presidential Rail Car, U.S. Number 1 from 1943 until 1958."

"President Franklin D. Roosevelt needed a specially equipped and armored car rather than using standard equipment provided by the Pullman Company"

"When the Ferdinand Magellan was rebuilt, the original six bedrooms in the car were reduced to four, and the dining room and observation lounge were enlarged"

Reducing the number of rooms was in all likelihood a measure taken to allow a wheelchair bound man to move himself around the rail car without impediment. All the facilities, aisles, rooms, washrooms had to be specially made for handicapped accessibility. And this AT A TIME WHEN ACCESSIBILITY FOR THE HANDICAPPED WAS A BLIP ON THE RADAR SCREEN OF SOCIETAL CONCERNS!!

An armored Pullman railway car, sturdily built and reinforced, and done so in an unobtrusive manner. Armor and additional accoutrement's to include:

* The car was protected with 5/8" (15 mm) armor plate on the sides, top, bottom and ends.
* The windows were replaced with sealed three inch (76.2 mm) thick 12-ply laminated bullet resistant glass. [As the windows were sealed, the car was air conditioned].
* bank vault style doors at the rear entrance to the car,
* two escape hatches . . . for emergency egress,
* exterior loudspeakers for public addresses,
* a telephone in every room that could be connected to a train side telephone outlet provided by the local telephone company
* a custom built wheel-chair elevator that could lift Roosevelt from ground level up to the rear platform of the car.

That custom built wheel-chair elevator WOULD NEVER BE USED IN VIEW OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC. The elevator used only when the Ferdinand Magellan was in a closed location, secure from public viewing!

"The Ferdinand Magellan traveled at the end of a special train that included Pullman sleeping cars for staff, baggage cars and a communications car operated by the Army Signal Corps."

And: "The Ferdinand Magellan was preceded by a pilot train running one mile ahead to scout any danger to the presidential party along the route. At FDR's request, the engineer rarely exceeded thirty miles an hour . . . he [Roosevelt] could not brace his feet, and at faster speeds, [greater than thirty miles an hour] the swaying of the train pained his thin buttocks.

Plus when traveling from one destination to another via Ferdinand Magellan, the entire track for a distance of say seven hundred miles [the distance between Warm Springs, Georgia and Washington D.C.] would cleared of all other train traffic, the Presidential train of course getting a "go" signal to proceed without impediment!!

I know that positions of power such as the Presidency have their perks of a marked nature. Sometimes, however, things get carried away and go overboard? I guess that when you are protecting the man who has his finger on the nuclear trigger, you cannot do enough?


Flak Train

This is coolbert:

Thanks here in large part to Major Alan Koenig, USAR!!

Again, we are on the subject of trains. Another Soviet innovation of World War Two [WW2]that found widespread use. Fighting armored trains the use of which will never be seen again?

The flak train. Anti-aircraft artillery [AAA] mounted on a rail cars, a integrated system of air defense, including locomotive, command cars, weapons, etc.

Gondola type railroad cars, open on the top, armored on the sides, allowing for AAA to have an unobstructed field of fire in all directions, horizon to zenith.

Flak, the term, referring to AAA, comes from the German word: "Fliegerabwehrkanone", or "airplane defense cannon".

The flak trains does appear to be a predominantly Soviet innovation? A war-time measure, part of the total Soviet air defense apparatus, PVO "Protivo-vozhdushnaya oborona"!

"During World War 11, Russian rail- roads conveyed huge quantities of men
and munitions to the front. The Luftwaffe accordingly sought to inter-
dict these vital arteries through which supplies constantly flowed. In response,
the Russians strengthened their anti air-craft defenses and employed about 200 armored trains [flak trains]"

[it must be understood that within the Soviet/Russian context the PVO was and perhaps continues to be a SEPARATE MILITARY SERVICE! On an equal basis with the Soviet/Russian army, navy, air force! NOT part of the army or the air force, but an totally independent and unique entity, integrating, in the current form, missiles, interceptor aircraft, and AAA!!]

Armored trains [the fighting units], designed to thwart Luftwaffe attacks.

Trains consisting of:

* "an armored locomotive"
* "a tender" [carrying coal behind the locomotive]
* "seven armored flat cars"

Armored flak trains carrying a variety of AAA weaponry. To include: [to engage all aircraft types.]

* "two cars each had one 37mm antiaircraft gun and one 12.7mm DshK machine gun." [To ward off dive bombers and fighters]
* "Three other open-top cars had 76mm antiaircraft guns [to engage horizontal bombers."
* "remaining two cars carried additional equipment, personnel and track repair equipment."

"A logistics, or "base" train, supported each flak train . . . A base train accommodated personnel and stored ammunition, track repair materials, equipment, supplies and rations. It had one unarmored loco-motive, a few flatcars, covered sleeping wagons, a kitchen, a medical station and additional cars when necessary."

"Flak trains were often in harm's way as they escorted lucrative targets such as":

* "railway stations and depots."
* "Marshaling yards."
* "troop, ammunition and fuel trains."
* "rail bridges and junctions"

Also found use as:

* "Roving patrols, frequenting those areas used by German aviation."
* "close to the front, flak trains might support Red Army units."

Used by the Soviet on an ever-widening scale from the very first year of the war [1941].

* "Leningraders equipped the first anti-aircraft train [1941??]."
* "Eight flak trains fought in the Battle for Stalingrad in 1942"
* "35 flak trains operated at Kursk, summer of 1943"

For the situation, from the Soviet standpoint, on the eastern Front, the flak train was an idea that had a lot of merit? Well, it would seem so. If they were not so useful, the Soviet would not have employed them to the extent that they did!

Anachronistic, antiquated, never to be seen again? Probably so.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Armored Train

This is coolbert:

Here is another military concept, an anachronistic and archaic "weapons system", never to be seen again?

The armoured train.

"An armoured train is a train protected with armour. Usually they are equipped with railroad cars armed with artillery and machine guns. They were mostly used during the late 19th and early 20th century, when they offered an innovative way to quickly move large amounts of firepower into position."

Allowed primarily for heavy artillery to be moved from one locale to another in a rapid fashion. At least where ever there was a continuous and unbroken stretch of railroad track. Armored to the extent of creating a "weapons system" that is relatively impervious to counter-battery fire or strafing and bombing from ground attack aircraft.

Also, when accompanied by infantry or cavalry, constituted a combined arms unit with some pretty lethal firepower. Having combined arms with the instantaneous mobility of the railroad gave the combat commander extraordinary flexibility!

Armored with what appears to armor plate like you would find on a battleship? A totally armored train, from head to toe. So much so that it is difficult to even recognize, at a single glance, the steam locomotive.

Appear in a variety of flavors and functions. Including armored trains dedicated to:

* Artillery
* Infantry
* Machine gun
* Anti-air [flak train]
* Command
* Anti-tank
* Tank gun turret [the turret with gun from a tank mounted on an armored railway car]
* Platform [used for a variety of purposes]
* Railroad ploughs [to rip up and destroy track behind them!!]
* Troop sleepers [moving troop formations around, again, relatively impervious to attack]
* Missile transport

Armoured trains have seen use during:

* "the American Civil War (1861-1865)"
* "the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)"
* "the First and Second Boer Wars (1880-81 and 1899-1902)"
* "the First (1914-1918) and Second World Wars (1939-1945)"
* "the First Indochina War (1946-1954)"
* "the Russian Civil War (1918-1920)"

Particular and distinctive uses of the armored train have included:

* "The Czechoslovak Legion used heavily-armed and armoured trains to control large lengths of the Trans-Siberian Railway (and of Russia itself) during the Russian Civil War"

* "used in China in the twenties [1920's], most notably by the warlord Zhang Zongchang"

* "Poland used armoured trains extensively and successfully during the Invasion of Poland [1939]."

* "Germany . . . used armoured trains to a small degree during World War Two."

* "During the Slovak National Uprising the Slovak resistance used armoured trains."

* "Five [5] armoured trains were built during the Estonian War of Independence on the Estonian side."

* "Fulgencio Batista’s army [Cuba] operated an armoured train during the Cuban revolution"

* "In the First Indochina War, the French Union used the armoured and armed train La Rafale as both a cargo-carrier and a mobile surveillance unit."

* "the USSR developed armoured trains in the early 1970s to protect the Trans-Siberian Railway." [see prior blog entry on Soviet Fortification Troops]

["These trains were used by the Soviet Army to intimidate nationalist paramilitary units in 1990 during early stages of the Nagorno-Karabakh War."]

* "An improvised armoured train named 'Krajina ekspres '(Krajina express) was used during the war in Croatia (part of the Yugoslav wars) of the early 1990s by the army of Republika Srpska Krajina"

The greatest and most extensive use of armored trains has been by the Russians/Soviets. During the Russian Civil War, both sides, the Red [Bolsheviks] and the Whites [anti-communists], employed armored trains. This is not surprising. The Russian Civil War was fought over a vast area, from Poland to the Pacific Ocean, with everywhere in between being a potential battlefield. Combat units had to be prepared to move vast distances in short order and arrive intact and ready for battle! This was possible when armored trains were used!

[the combatants in the Russian Civil War could not have used conventional motor transport even if available. The road system of Russia at the time [perhaps now too] was too sparse and poorly developed to allow for large troop movements via internal combustion vehicles!]

During the Second World War [WW2], the Soviets continued to employ armored trains, on a scale unimagined by other belligerents. The effectiveness of these highly mobile, armored artillery "platforms" was less than what would be desired, but under the right circumstances, an armored train could still give a good account of itself!

See here a web site devoted to Soviet armored trains of the World War Two era.

More at these web sites for Russian/Soviet armored trains from the Russian Civil War era. Here for White Army armored trains.

Armored trains are a thing of the past? Anachronistic and archaic, never to be seen again? I can see that there are advantages to having armored trains. The British Admiral Parry has predicted that if the world order begins to break down in the year 2012, militaries may resort to using cavalry forces, as strange as that may sound! Armored trains too may also enjoy a comeback?


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Russian Navy

This is coolbert:

More very alarming headlines. THIS STUFF HAS NOT BEEN COVERED IN THE MSM [main stream media]!

Thanks here to the DEBKAfile.

1. "Big Russian flotilla led by Admiral Kuznetsov carrier heads for Syrian port"

August 26, 2008, 9:21 AM (GMT+02:00)

"military sources disclose that a powerful Russian naval contingent, led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov , left Murmansk on the Barents Sea Aug. 18 to dock at the Syrian Mediterranean port of Tartus Saturday, Aug. 23. It includes the Russian Navy’s biggest missile cruiser Moskva and at least four nuclear missile submarines."

FIVE DAYS only for the Russian "naval contingent" to steam all the way from Murmansk to Tartus in Syria? Seems awfully fast for that distance?"

2. Ten Russian warships have docked at Syrian port"

September 18, 2008, 9:50 PM (GMT+02:00)

"Israeli military and naval commanders were taken by surprise by Rear Adm. Andrei Baranov's disclosure that 10 Russian warships are already anchored at the Syrian port of Tartus"

"The Russians are making no secret of their intention of using their naval presence in Syrian ports as a deterrent to a possible Israeli air strike against Syria"

Again, Russian intervention, machinations, intrigue and meddling in the Middle East. Russians again taking the sides of the Arab powers vis-a-vis Israel. Israel got a twenty year or so respite from the Russians and now has to confront the "threat" again? This does greatly complicates any possibility of successful American brokered negotiations in the region, an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, etc.!

I have always thought that one reason Yasser Arafat did seek negotiations with the Israeli, Oslo accords and such, was because of the demise of the Soviet Union. Without the backing of the Soviets, Arafat saw that his options were now much more limited. Israel was not going to magically go "poof" and disappear.




This is coolbert:

We have all seen the various movies and TV documentaries about the Nazi "Final Solution" to the "Jewish Problem".

Genocidal massacre on what can only be termed an apocalyptic scale.

Jews, civilians, not resisting, being herded naked into pits and shot.

Persons, docile, compliant to a fault, non-resisting, "sheep-like"! A very grim and disturbing scene.

NOT ALL Jews of eastern Europe, however, behaved in such a manner. Some fled to the forests, joined or formed guerrilla bands, and waged partisan warfare against the Germans.

Most notably among these bands and groups was the Bielski partisans.

"The Bielski partisans (the official name was changed several times) was the largest group of the Jewish partisans in the course of the World War II who fought against the Nazi German occupiers and their collaborators in the area of Navahrudak and Lida in present-day Belarus."

Jewish partisans fighting strictly as Jewish partisans, and not incorporated into the much larger Soviet-controlled partisan movement.

"The group's commander was . . . Tuvia Bielski (1906-1987), a Polish army veteran and graduate of a Zionist youth movement . . . Hundreds of men, women, and children eventually found their way to the Bielski camp, which ultimately numbered over a thousand inhabitants, both civilians and fighters."

[Tuvia Bielski: above]

This would include all men, women, children. Fighters and non-fighters. The number of the former being much less than one thousand. That one thousand inhabitants includes EVERYONE.

A guerrilla band MUCH MORE than merely combatants. A SOCIETY of persons, sometimes called "family camps"! Gave refuge to all Jews that escaped Nazi persecution! Refugees, all of which, to the best of their ability, contributed to the "guerrilla society" and the war effort, in some manner, in a variety of ways!!

A "family camp" and guerrilla base for combat operations that included:

* "a kitchen"
* "a mill"
* "a bakery"
* "a bathhouse"
* "a medical clinic"
* "a quarantine hut"
* "Herds of cows"

With regard to the "herds of cows": "The partisans operated under constant threat of starvation. In order to survive, Jews had to put aside traditional dietary restrictions."

Please recall, from a prior blog entry, the legal opinion of Rabbi Akiva from the time of the Bar Kochba rebellion: "during time of war, all laws maybe set aside, except for murder and apostasy!!'

Non-combatants [the majority] of those persons in the Bielski partisan group, earned their keep by working in a variety of workshops, all devoted to the military effort. Workshops, providing needed clothing, weapons, articles of life needed for a partisan unit to exist and thrive.

Workshops where could be found and included:

* "tailors". Patch uniforms and mend clothing needed by the partisans and those living with them.
* "shoemakers". Shoes and boots made and mended for the partisans and those living with them.
* "leather-workers". Horses were an important part of warfare on the eastern Front during World War Two. Bridles, reins, harnesses, saddles, all had to be made of leather.
* "A metal shop". Repair damaged or captured weapons. Assemble new weapons from parts taken from inoperable
* "A tannery". Provide raw material for the leather-workers and the shoemakers.


[the communists in Vietnam referred to this as "people's war, peoples' army"!]

Please do not think that all was a bed of roses for the Bielski partisans. It was undoubtedly a rough, hard life, often so in the extreme. Ruthlessness was a necessity for survival. If you ran afoul of the partisans, something very bad was going to happen to you. Such is the normal nature of partisan/guerrilla/irregular warfare!!

"As revealed, for example, by interviews . . . the Bielski Partisans felt it necessary for their survival to be ruthless."

Ruthless behavior to include:

* "Collaborators who turned in partisans to Nazi authorities were executed after cursory investigation."

* "A group of German soldiers who surrendered to the Bielskis were summarily executed"

* "In at least one instance, Zus Bielski executed one of his own officers for leaving a civilian behind"

C'est le guerre dude!! Hey, no one said this is going to be easy!!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Detectives III.

This is coolbert:

"Asking the Detectives" - - conclusion.

3. Farmer in Nebraska wants to know if a pane of glass, etched with an image of the battleship U.S.S. Olympia [1898 - - flagship of the American Asiatic Squadron], found set in a door frame of an abandoned farm house, was an original - - authentic - - decorative item from the stateroom of the vessel [Olympia]!

That such a fancy and fragile pane of glass would actually be found on a warship seems difficult to imagine! But not necessarily so difficult to imagine! The Olympia, at the time of the Spanish-American War [1898], was the most powerful warship in the world - - YES - - but also served as a place where diplomatic receptions and negotiations were quite often held.

A flag officer, such as Commodore Dewey [commander of the Asiatic Squadron], as a part of his normal functions, was expected to entertain potentates and foreign guests on a regular basis. Soirees’ involving dignitaries were a common event aboard the Olympia? The use of fine china, silverware, decorative items and etched glass panes was not out of the question in such instances.

"the Captain's and Admiral's Quarters . . . resemble Victorian sitting rooms, complete with tall cupboards, overstuffed furniture, and fireplace."

The “detective” is able to determine that the fancy etched glass WAS NOT an ornate decorative item originally found aboard the U.S.S. Olympia. WAS a collectible sold to the general public as memorabilia in the aftermath of the Battle of Manila Bay.

The United States emerged from the Spanish-American War as a world-power of the foremost rank. Combined economic and military might with power projection to all points of the globe. Power projection a result of naval might. Naval might as exemplified in the person of Commodore Dewey.

Dewey in particular was a figure held in high esteem by the American public. Was felt to be capable of ascending to very high political office, even the Presidency itself. Collectibles such as the pane of etched glass bearing the image of the U.S.S. Olympia were popular with the public at that exact moment!

The Olympia currently is a floating museum at dock in Philadelphia? A popular destination for tourists.


Detectives II.

This is coolbert:

"Asking the Detectives" - - continued.

2. Married couple, want to determine if their refurbished home in Schenectady New York was originally a blockhouse built in the aftermath of the Schenectady Massacre, 1691!

This “massacre” - - something I had not ever heard of!! American Indians, led by French Canadians [Quebecois], attacking the British colonial town of Schenectady, massacring the inhabitants and burning the settlement - - and doing so during intense wintertime conditions - - sub-zero temperatures and SIX FEET OF DRIFTED SNOW!!!

The detective is able to determine, again, with a pretty good degree of certainty - - that the refurbished residence of this couple originally WAS A BLOCKHOUSE BUILT IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE MASSACRE!!

Authenticity of the blockhouse origins determined by:

* Careful measurements of the couple’s home [a squared off structure of exacting size], comparing dimensions to historical documents!

* Using tree-ring data [dendrochronology] from roof timber members. Roofing timbers are absolutely dated from the time of 1700!

* Comparison of maps of Schenectady from the period [1700] to the current location of the home! [it was found the home IS NOT standing on the original location. WAS MOVED at some time to where it sits now!]

The British, with suitable defensive fortifications in mind, rebuilt the town of Schenectady, this particularly sturdy structure being one of them!! In case of attack, military and civilian personnel could shelter in the blockhouse, being relatively safe, able to defend themselves, shooting DOWNWARD upon marauders from covered and protected second story firing positions.

[see my blog entry concerning German flak towers from the World War Two era and their role in ground combat.]


Detectives I.

This is coolbert:

“Asking the Detectives”

Recent episode of “History Detectives”, on public broadcast television, has three parts, each of which has a military dimension.

“History Detectives” is a continuing television series where experts, persons each having a particular field of expertise, assist persons in determining the authenticity and provenance of heirloom items. I highly recommend this program, WITHOUT QUALIFICATION. If it is shown in your viewing area, please watch! Entertaining, offbeat, but good. The kinda stuff Bert likes!

"Provenance - - The records or documents authenticating such an object or the history of its ownership"

This particular one-hour episode shows the “detectives” at work determining:

1. Authenticity of a British eighteen [18] pounder artillery round! A round passed down through several generations, and reputed to have been ordnance present during the Black Tom explosions of the First World War [WW1]!

An artillery round, amazingly so, in almost absolutely pristine condition, unblemished in not even the slightest manner!! This is a heirloom possession that has been taken care of - - remarkably so!!

[called an eighteen pounder because of exactly that!! Weighs eighteen pounds when ready to be fired. The artillery piece itself also called an eighteen pounder!!]

My initial and instantaneous thought was - - I hope this thing does not blow up and kill all the detectives and the owner! Keep in mind the recent case of the man who was blown to bits when refurbishing a supposedly inactive round from American Civil War naval gun!!

The detective is able to determine, with almost absolute certainty, using serial numbers, stamps of approval, etc., that this artillery round could not have been manufactured at the time of the Black Tom explosions. ALL THE RECORDS FROM THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS ARE SURPRISINGLY STILL ACCESSIBLE!! This particular round was manufactured AFTER Black Tom had occurred.

[given some second thought, that the records are still kept and available for access should not be so surprising. Each and every year, since the end of WW1, farmers in northern France unearth PILES of unexploded ordnance, including a variety of chemical rounds all that must be disposed of!! Records help in the process of knowing what you are dealing with!!]

Amazing facts also about the Black Tom Explosions:

President Wilson - - within weeks of the explosions, was able to ascertain that the sabotage was the work of German agents. BUT WITHHELD THE INFORMATION FOR FEAR OF STIRRING UP ANTI-GERMAN AND PRO-WAR SENTIMENTS!!

A commission in the 1930’s did negotiate a settlement between Germany and the U.S. for damages incurred because of Black Tom. Payments and restitution paid out by the German ONLY FINALLY ENDING IN 1972!!!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Flak Tower

This is coolbert:

Here is, from the World War Two [WW2] era, a uniquely German form of military architecture:

The flak tower.

Imposing vertical structures, blockhouses, very sturdily built, used primarily as emplacements for German anti-aircraft-artillery [AAA] units! Flak in German.

"a blockhouse is a small, isolated fort in the form of a single building. It is intended to serve as a defensive strong point"

"Flak towers (German: Flaktürme) were large anti-aircraft gun blockhouses used by the Luftwaffe to prevent overflights of key areas in certain cities in World War II. They also served as air-raid shelters for tens of thousands of people and to coordinate air defence"

Were used in a multiplicity of ways:

* Emplacements for anti-aircraft-artillery [AAA]! [ammunition storage as well!]
* Air-raid shelters. [multi-storied structures allowing for tens of thousands of civilians to be accommodated at one time?!]
* AAA command and control facilities.

AAA units mounted atop a flak tower had a completely unobstructed 360 degree coverage, from the horizon to the zenith, in all directions, unimpeded!!

Built in a variety of "flavors". A G-tower being one of the most common. One tower, fully equipped and manned, had an enormous firepower capability. The concentration of firepower from one tower alone just had to present an awesome spectacle.

"Generation 1":
"G-Towers were 70.5 × 70.5 × 39 m, usually armed with eight (four twin) 128 mm guns and numerous 37 mm and thirty-two (eight quad) 20 mm guns."

"Generation 2":
"G-Towers were 57 × 57 × 41.6 m, usually armed with eight (four twin) 128 mm guns and sixteen (four quad) 20 mm guns."

"Generation 3":
"G-Towers were 43 × 43 × 54 m, usually armed with eight (four twin) 128 mm guns and thirty-two (eight quad) 20 mm guns."

Were considered to be almost absolutely impervious to attack. Could be used in a ground defensive role as well as the AAA role. WERE USED AS SUCH DURING THE BATTLE OF BERLIN, 1945!!! AAA firing downward at approaching Soviet units!!

"With concrete walls up to 3.5 metres thick, these towers were considered to be invulnerable to attack"

"Soviets [ground forces], in assaulting Berlin, found it hard to make an impression on the Flak towers, even with some of the largest Soviet assault guns, the 203 mm howitzers. Soviet forces generally maneuvered around them, and eventually sent in envoys to seek their submission."

Some of these structures from the World War Two era still exist! Demolition is prohibitive from the cost standpoint, so sturdily were these towers built!!

"the demolition of the towers was in most cases unfeasible and many remain to this day."


Wednesday, September 17, 2008


This is coolbert:

From the wiki entry on the British historian, Sir Max Hastings:

"The chapter in his [Hastings] 2007 book Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45 on Australia's role in the last year of the Pacific War was criticised . . . for exaggerating discontent in the Australian Army during this period."

Australian soldiers, "diggers", during World War Two, were, on occasion, at least in 1945, at the end of the war, cowards, mutinous, laggards of the worst possible sort??!!

How can this be? The Australian soldier, generally, during both World Wars, comported himself with distinction on the battlefield. Soldiers who could be counted upon to give a good account of themselves, whatever theatre they served in.

Recall too, the rating scheme of the Japanese Colonel Tsuji. According to Tsuji, in terms of fighting ability, the various nationalities were rated as: [#1 equals best!!]

Japanese - - #1, Chinese - - #2, Russians - - #3, Ghurkhas - - #4. Americans - - #5, Australians - - #6, British Indian Army troops - - #7, British - - #8.

"AUSTRALIAN soldiers refused orders to attack and were on the point of open mutiny in the final year of World War II, according to [the] noted British journalist and historian Sir Max Hastings."

"In Nemesis? The Battle for Japan 1944-45 . . . Hastings accused Australian soldiers of disobeying orders to attack, saying many soldiers were 'embittered' and even on the edge of open mutiny."

These observations of Hastings are all a result of the invasion of Borneo in 1945? An attack the purpose of which was to secure the oil fields of Tarakan and Balikpapan [Borneo was a major source of crude oil for Japan during the entire war!]!

"the invasion of Borneo in July 1945" - - "Some 229 Australians died and 634 were wounded," Hastings writes. "It was impossible to believe anything worthwhile had been achieved and every man at Tarakan and Balikpapan knew it."

This was the Battle of North Borneo.

More on this later! Hastings is making a mountain out of mole hill? Whatever transpired during the North Borneo campaign - - July 1945 - - was much-to-do-about-nothing?

Borneo - - 1945 was a sideshow of a sideshow? Perhaps, but still a victory over the Japanese! Aussies gutless cowards, mutineers failing when it counted?

NO!! Emphatically NO!!


Hell Ships

This is coolbert:

"I knew they existed, but not that many!!" - - Bert.

Hell ships!!

"The term hell ship mainly refers to the ships used by the Imperial Japanese Navy to transport Allied prisoners of war (POWs) out of the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore during World War II. The POWs were taken to Japan, Taiwan, Manchuria, or Korea to be used as forced labor"

American, British, Australian, Dutch! Soldiers, prisoners-of-war and civilian internees both!!

Sent to toil in Japan as basically slave laborers. Mistreated during captivity, mistreated during transit, and mistreated while performing slave labor in Japan.

Hell ships is the correct term. Persons locked in the hold of a cargo vessel, for many days, given little or no water or food, stifling, very overcrowded, toilet functions done where you squatted or stood!

Many persons dying during the voyage to Japan. Some killed when their ships were sunk by allied submarines. Persons who were normally left in the water by the Japanese! Death by drowning, exposure to the elements, etc., being a release from terrible torment!!

Here is a more or less a complete list [??] of the hell ships used by the Jap during the war: [that there were so many is a surprise!!??]

"List of Japanese hell ships"

NO discussion of "hell ships" would be complete without a mention of the Junyo Maru:

"The Junyō Maru was a Japanese cargo ship (one of the "hell ships") that was sunk by the British submarine HMS Tradewind, resulting in the loss of over five thousand lives."

[compared to this, the sinking of the Titanic is a nothing??]

"When it was attacked and sunk on September 18, 1944, by the Tradewind, the Junyō Maru was packed with 1,377 Dutch, 64 British and Australian, and 8 American prisoners of war along with 4,200 Javanese slave labourers"


NOT ONLY ALLIED PERSONNEL SUFFERED AT THE HANDS OF THE JAPANESE!! On occasion, maybe more than on occasion, Asians suffered even FAR WORSE?

Thank GOD for the atomic bomb?


Monday, September 15, 2008

Atomic Bomb

This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune Perspective section, dated 10 August 2008:

"A-bomb didn't win the war"

Excerpts from an article by Ward Wilson:

"Last week was the 63rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. People argue a lot about Hiroshima, but often what they're really arguing about is whether America is good or bad."

"The 'America is bad' people say it was wrong to bomb Hiroshima [presumably Nagasaki too]. And they have a point."

"But the 'America is good' people are right too. Even though we're not perfect, the U.S. is fundamentally a good country - - like Harry S. Truman was a good guy who did the best he could when faced with a tough decision."

"What gets lost in the shouting is the really important question. Did the atomic bomb work [work not in the sense of detonating, obviously the bomb went off and worked as planned. Worked in this sense meaning forcing the Japanese to surrender unconditionally]? We assume it did, because the Japanese decided to surrender three days after Hiroshima."

"It turns out that Hiroshima did not win the war. As historians do more research, it becomes clear that what really shocked the Japanese government was the declaration of war by the Soviet Union early in the morning of the same day we bombed Nagasaki. That was the day":

* "The Japanese declared martial law."

* "That was the day they decided to meet to discuss surrender."

* "That was the day the military talked privately about overthrowing the emperor."

"Nagasaki occurred in the afternoon - - after they were already meeting to discuss surrender - - and they largely ignored it."

[NOW, Ward Wilson concludes]:

"The problem is that what nuclear weapons do best - - kill civilians - - isn't that useful militarily. It's horrific. It's brutal. But it's not very effective for winning wars."

"Without the victory associated with Hiroshima, nuclear weapons look a lot less impressive. More like chemical and biological weapons, dangerous, able to kill a lot of people, but not too useful."

First - - Ward Wilson is described as a "nuclear weapons scholar"!

Second - - The word surrender to the Japanese at that exact moment meant unconditional as demanded by the allied powers? Or did it mean conditionally, with terms in some way favorable to the Japanese? How does Ward Wilson understand this to mean?

Third - - That atomic weapons are not very effective for winning wars cannot be asserted. The "case law" is too small for rational and well-thought-out inferences to be drawn even for a "nuclear weapons scholar"? I think IT IS WITHOUT QUESTION - - HOWEVER - - THAT IF NOT FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS BEING AVAILABLE, THE UNITED STATES AND THE SOVIET UNION [WHEN IT EXISTED] WOULD HAVE FOUGHT A MAJOR WAR A LONG TIME AGO!!

Fourth - - At this exact moment, a foreign power hostile to the U.S. is hoping and praying [literally so I fear!] to obtain nuclear weapons and use them American targets almost instantly upon obtaining them. I am of course speaking of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri. Persons that would be deliriously happy with joy to see some "big firecrackers" detonated in American cities, the result being the deaths of hundreds of thousands or millions of U.S. citizens. To such persons, atomic bombs are not only useful, but absolutely essential, even vital!!

And, from Suvorov, regarding the Soviet invasion, August 1945, of Manchuria:

"Stalin struck a crushing blow at the armed forces of the Japan in Manchuria and China, violating the treaty signed four years earlier. The operation took place over vast areas. In terms of the distances covered and the speed at which it moved, this operation has no equal in world history. Soviet troops operated over territories 5000 kilometers in width, and 600-800 kilometers in depth. More than a million and a half soldiers took part in the operation, with over 5000 tanks and nearly 4000 aircraft. It really was a lightning operation, in the course of which 84,000 Japanese officers and men were killed and 593,000 taken prisoner."

Japanese defeat and eventual UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER was due to: [??]

* Atomic bombings.
* Soviet entry into the war.
* American submarine warfare strangulation.

Too many kicks in the teeth all at once were too much - - EVEN FOR THE JAPANESE!!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dar Fur

This is coolbert:

Good program on public broadcast TV this evening. "Wide Angle" is covering the conflict in Dar Fur.

It has been - - now - - over four years since the conflict in Sudan has emerged as a hot topic for the Hollywood elite. George Clooney, Mia Farrow and others. A cause celebre'? And a big effort by the United Nations [UN], to ameliorate the desperate condition of the hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The Sudanese government, to suppress an insurgency, uses janjaweed, criminal militias that rape, murder, burn, loot, to their hearts content.

A topic previously discussed in other blog entries of mine:







"Wide Angle" is exploring the degree to which aid has reached the refugees and to what extent a negotiated settlement can be reached between the central government in Khartoum and the insurgents.

Some interesting facts and observations concerning this "conflict" are made apparent:

* El Fasher, the major city of Dar Fur has become swollen with population. Prior to the insurrection, El Fasher had about 190,000 residents. NOW the population is around 400,000. A city NOT able to handle such a population increase in such a short time.

* 14,000 UN aid workers and about 13,000 UN peacekeepers/observers also reside in the immediate area of El Fasher. The number of taxis in use within El Fasher has increased from ZERO to 5,000 in the last four years. Presumably taxi service to accommodate the UN contingents.


* The "rebels", the insurgents, have splintered into twenty [20] competing groups. Vastly complicating any efforts at negotiations and a settlement agreed upon by all. Each group of insurgents has their own agenda and leadership, quite often in conflict with other rebel groups!

* The rugged, primarily road less terrain of Dar Fur greatly complicates the UN aid effort. In one instance, medical aid supplies could not be delivered to a remote area for a PERIOD OF TWO YEARS!!! Finally only arrived where needed by helicopter, and then only by chance!

The producer of this particular "Wide Angle" episode is very pessimistic about the entire Dar Fur situation! The UN does get food to most of the people that need it. This is occurring! And can deliver plastic sheeting, gauze bandages, etc. But cannot bring enough pressure on the Sudanese government to bring out a settled peace, a negotiation conclusion to the "conflict"!!

Very sad indeed!!



This is coolbert:

"you bastards, you left us here to die. The least you could have done is sent us ammunition so that we could die fighting as men." - - 1956 - - as heard by French radio monitors in Indo-China.

That French voice heard on the radio was a member of GCMA. Frenchmen organizing, training, leading into battle hill tribesmen opposed to the Viet Minh.

French troops and their irregular forces who could not be extracted from the remote areas of Indo-China, even when a cease fire accord and a negotiated settlement to the First Indo-China War had been agreed to. Men who WERE ABANDONED TO A CRUEL FATE!!

As extracted from the Bernard Fall foreword to "Modern Warfare" by Roger Trinquier:

"What followed was a horrible debacle: Thousands of partisans had to be abandoned to the enemy, since the stipulations of the Geneva cease-fire of 1954 did not permit the French to continue to supply them."

"Trinquier asserts that he had asked the United States, which had not signed the cease-fire agreement, to continue to supply the guerrillas, but that his request had been turned down.

"Although the partisans and their French cadres fought on long beyond the cease-fire, they were eventually wiped out one by one."


"As of August 15, 1954, fifteen enemy regular battalions, fifteen regional battalions and seventeen regional companies are now committed against them."

So hated were the GCMA and the hill tribesmen, that the Viet Minh sent overwhelming force to destroy the remnants of French military left in the area. Ruthless suppression with extermination as the goal.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Counter-Insurgency III.

This is coolbert.


Today [2008], the foremost theorists and practitioners on counter-insurgency and terrorism are the Indians?

The entire sub-continent is "alive", on a continual basis, with a large number of insurrections/rebellions/insurgencies, incipient, latent, or otherwise.

NOT just India the nation-state proper, but contiguous areas, such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan [?], all have problems with the terrorist/guerrilla/insurrectionist. Spill over or involvement with "movements" that threaten Indian society are also a matter of concern for the Indian military and government.

Here, from the South Asian Terrorist Portal [SATP] web site, is a list of the areas of the Indian sub-continent where terrorism and insurgency is endemic: ["endemic - - Peculiar to a district or particular locality - - Note: An endemic disease is one which is constantly present to a greater or less degree in any place"]

* Bangladesh





*Sri Lanka

*Jammu and Kashmir








*Maoist Insurgency.

And from my previous blog entry: [thanks to David Kilcullen]

"There may be numerous competing insurgencies in one theatre"

A listing of groups, terrorists/insurgents, competitive with one another, WITHIN THE ASSAM REGION OF INDIA ALONE:

Active Terrorist/Insurgent Groups [Assam alone]:

Adivasi Cobra Force (ACF)
Dima Halim Daogah (DHD)
Hmar People's Convention- Democracy (HPC-D)
Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO)
Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA)
United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS)
Black Widow
All Adivasi National Liberation Army
Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF)

Not any of this has prevented democracy from flourishing in India, albeit with rough spots from time to time. INDIA IS SLATED TO BECOME THE THIRD FOREMOST WORLD-POWER BY 2020?

Indian counter-insurgency experts are the GO-TO folks! Those persons and institutions with the experience, decades long at that, and a well-thought-out-and-developed paradigm for dealing with this type of conflict!

"paradigm - - the generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time - - A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline - - an example serving as a model; pattern."