Sunday, May 31, 2015

Other Priorities

War does not determine who is right,
only who is left.
- Bertrand Russell
Some ingenious battle ideas, amazingly stupid defense plans and the BEST military policy idea ever. 

History is littered with wars
which everybody knew would never happen.
- Enoch Powell

A Sparse Reply 
Macedonian Wars 347 BC

Phillip II of Macedonia (not be confused with Phillip II of Spain, Philip the Bold of France or Saint Philip the Evangelist) was the master military dude of his day. The term divide and conquer is attributed to him. After rolling through most of the Greek city-states, he turned his eye to Sparta and sent them a message. "If I win this war, you will be slaves forever." "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city." The Spartan response was, "If". Both Phillip II and his son Alexander the Great chose to not invade Sparta.

War is organized murder.
- Alfred Adler

Greek Fire
Callinicus of Heliopolis, wars of the Byzantine Empires and the Arabians, 680 AD 

Callinicus developed an incendiary liquid that was easily ignited and could burn on top of water.  It was transported in specialized ships, pressurized, heated and projected onto enemy vessels with a nozzle system.  It coated and clung to everything it touched.  It could only be extinguished with large amounts of sand, strong vinegar or old urine.  Knowledge of composition, manufacturing, and transporting was compartmentalized so capture by the enemy would not result in replication. The formula isn’t known but there are several handy how-to make Greek Fire websites for young reprobates.

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard
die for his country
- General George Patton

Drafted and Taxed
American Civil War, 1861 to 1865

More American men (per new assessment, 750,000) died in the Civil War than died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. This was one of the first industrialized war, using new lethal technologies before adequate surgical and sanitation understanding was discovers. 
Avoiding being killed in action was a small part of survival.

Top Ten Causes of Military Deaths during the American Civil War

1. Killed in action                   54,000 Confederate 
                                                 67,000 Union

2. Dysentery/Diarrhea           50,000 Confederate 
                                                 45,000 Union

3. Wounds                               40,000 Confederate 
                                                 43,700 Union

4. Typhoid                               30,000 Confederate 
                                                 34,800 Union

5. Prison                                  26,100 Confederate 
                                                 31,200 Union

6. Pneumonia                         17,000 Confederate 
                                                 20,000 Union

7. Malaria                               20,000 Confederate 
                                                 10,000 Union

8. Smallpox                             8,000 Confederate 
                                                 7,000 Union

9. Tuberculosis                       7,000 Confederate 
                                                7,000 Union

10. Measles                             6,000 Confederate 
                                                5,2000 Union

Two very unpopular Federal policies were created. The Confederacy initially had a Gentlemen’s Army but ran out of gentlemen fairly quickly. The Union exhausted Northern volunteers even faster and started the first Federal Military Draft. Men with $300 could purchase a conscripted substitution and that option was taken by J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and Abraham Lincoln.  Even more unpopular, the IRS was formed as a temporary means to pay for the war.

Every man thinks god is on his side.
- Jean Anouilh
Cats of High Regard
Cambyses II of Persia at war with Egypt, 525 BC

Egyptians, not particularly caring for mice or snakes, had a thing for cats and implemented some hefty penalties for kitty injury.  The Persians painted felines on their shields and brought hundreds of feral cats to the front lines. I’m assuming they were more portable than the also revered crocodiles. The Egyptian archers refused to fire, the army retreated and the Pharaoh was captured. 

Any ship can be a minesweeper ... 
- Admiral Hornblower 
Hammer and Bag 
German U-boat Blockade against Great Britain, WWI, 1914 to 1919

Great Britain, being one of those surrounded by water locations, was particularly venerable to blockades. Using their newly improved U-boats, a single  German Captain was responsible for sinking over 200,000 tons of supplies. At night, the British military starting sending out rafts with a blacksmith and a gunner. When the team spotted a U-boat periscope, they would paddle over and secure the bag around the periscope or smash it with the hammer. The subs were forced to surface and sixteen U-boats were taken out of commission with low tech intervention.  America ended up entering the war after Germany sunk civilian vessels in the area.

When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will.
- Fredric Bastiat
Armor and Ice
Alexander Nevsky, leader of The Teutonic Knights, Crusade in the Novgood region of Russia, 1242 AD 

The crusading knights, not content with non-Christian targets, headed up to Eastern Orthodox areas. The knights clashed with the locals on frozen Lake Peipus. Nevsky was a bit challenged in gravitational issues and took awhile to grasp that knights in full armor and chainmail were heavy enough that they fell through the ice.  With a better understanding of physics the crusading outcome may have been different.

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. 
- General Omar N. Bradley
"Sick Stick"
US Military and Department of Homeland Security, 1950 to 2007

In the 50's, the US military noticed that sunlight flashed through spinning helicopter blades caused nausea, disorientation and crashes. The military attempted to create a portable flashing kaleidoscope with the same effect. On the rare occasion when it actually worked, the “enemy” had to look directly at the strobe lights for greater than seven minutes and have some prior level of photosensitivity. But good for the US Military for sticking with it for 50 years.

Wars are not paid for in wartime, the bill comes later.
- Benjamin Franklin
A Green Emperor
Genghis Khan, Ruler of the Mongol Empire, 1206 to 1227

Genghis Khan acquired a staggering 12 million square miles of territory. That is bigger than the African continent and more than twice the size of the Roman Empire at its peak. Two scientific markers can be traced back to him. A land grab of that size isn’t done without some inhabitants putting up a bit of resistance. The grab resulted in over 40 million deaths, around 10% of the global population. The marker for historical levels of carbon takes a dip at the time when a substantial portion of farmland returned to forest and 700 million tons of carbon was absorbed from the atmosphere. The other marker involves DNA analysis. Genghis Khan impregnated so many women that one in every 200 living men carry a form of his Y chromosome.

The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value
if none of them know anything about the subject.
- Marcus Aurelius

Jerry Cans
Germany, WWII, 1939 to 1945

The British called their fuel cans Flimsies. They rusted, were difficult to carry and leaked 30% of the fuel.  American cans had a similar piss-poor design. An American engineer had taken a few Jerry Cans before the war and given them to the US Military where they were dismissed as too expensive and too German. The German Jerry Cans were made from pressed steel and had a plastic liner.  They floated and were creased to accommodate expansion in the heat and to prevent crushing. The handle design made them easy to carry including for two people to carry a can between them. They incorporated a cam lever release with a short spout, a snap closure and an air-pipe for smooth pouring. They were so valuable that the Allied troops stole over 21 million cans and the Germans used them as bait for bobby traps. "Without these cans it would have been impossible for our armies to cut their way across France at a lightning pace which exceeded the German Blitzkrieg of 1940." FDR

War has become a spectator sport for Americans.
- Rear Admiral Gene R. LaRocque
The BEST Military Policy Idea Ever
England and Argentina, Falklands War, 1982

Two days before the Battle of Goose Green, the 2nd Parachute Regiment, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, headed to the area. The BBC announced the move on international television. The news was seen by Argentinian military officials who disregarded the story as deliberate misinformation. Regardless of the positive outcome, Jones threatened to sue both the BBC and the British War Cabinet. 

Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths...
I mean, it's not relevant.
So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? - Barbara Bush
I have a concluding thought on America’s FUBAR Military Complex. Implement a “Transparency and Competency Clause” for all military related activities including, but not limited to the Oval Office, Congress, The Pentagon, The CIA and any other national black box agencies, private contracting services and The Veterans Administration.  Any individual with the power to have decisional capacity either agrees to be held personably liable for taxpayer costs and compensation to soldiers or can opt out of financial risk by living as an active duty private for the duration of the current deployment average. It’s a great plan!

Guns don't kill people, 
Dick Cheney kills people.

“I had other priorities in the sixties than military service.” -  Dick Cheney on his five draft deferments


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