Category Archives: Military

Rule Five Living Dead Friday

Thanks to all for the kind words and messages after yesterday’s post about my mother.  Your thoughts and kindnesses mean more than I can say.

But life goes on, and as my parents were both history buffs, they would have found this interesting.  Alexander of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, having conquered much of the known world, was renowned as one of the greatest generals of the classical world – until he died at age 32.  Legend has it that his body lay uncorrupted by decomposition for six days, which was cited as proof of his status as a divine figure.

Now one researcher has a more plausible theory; Alexander may not have decomposed for six days because he wasn’t dead.

Ouch.  Excerpt:

The death of Alexander the Great – general, king, conqueror – has been a mystery for over 2,000 years. Was he poisoned? Too much booze? Or actually malaria or typhoid, both rampant in ancient Babylon at the time?  

Now, a new theory has been put forward that is somehow even worse than all of those. Legend has it Alexander’s body didn’t show any signs of decomposing for six days after his death, a sign the ancient Greeks took that their warrior hero was a god. A new explanation is that he suffered from a rare autoimmune disorder that rendered him paralyzed and unable to communicate, although still compos mentis, right up until his death six days later than thought.

Dr Katherine Hall of the Dunedin School of Medicine at the University of Otago, New Zealand, argues in The Ancient History Bulletin that Alexander may have suffered from Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rapid weakening of the muscles caused by the immune system damaging the nervous system, and that may explain the conflicting evidence of how and when he died.

“His death may be the most famous case of pseudothanatos, or false diagnosis of death, ever recorded,” she said.

Here’s the onion:

“I have worked for five years in critical care medicine and have seen probably about 10 cases [of GBS]. The combination of ascending paralysis with normal mental ability is very rare and I have only seen it with GBS,” Hall told Fox News.

“His sight would have been blurred and if his blood pressure was too low he would have been in a coma. But there is a chance he was aware of his surroundings and could at least hear. So he would have heard his generals arguing over the succession, hear the arrival of the Egyptian embalmers, hear that they were about to start their work.”

Now, just for a moment, put yourself in Alexander’s sandals here.

You’re paralyzed, likely unable to see, unable to speak, but you can hear, and you will certain still feel pain – including the pain of those wacky Egyptian embalmers when they start cutting you open to remove your organs.

One suspects this sort of thing happened more often than we might imagine, given our modern medical sciences.  The legend of vampires, after all, may well have begun by burying a comatose patient, who recovered underground, in the coffin; some time later, for whatever reason, the coffin was disinterred and opened, only to reveal the desperate scratch marks on the lid made by the “undead” person trying to get out.

Honestly – one wonders if having history venerate you as a demigod would really be worth all that.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

I found this interesting.  Ever wonder what would happen if mainland China took over Taiwan?  Excerpt:

What would a post –invasion Taiwan look like?

The occupation of Chinese military forces on Taiwan would basically turn the tables on the United States. The “wall” would now be a U.S. problem in terms of line-of-sight.

China has radically shifted the power balance in the South China Sea with the same island occupying philosophy. Islands are taken, then armed, and territorial lines are expanded via dubious “legal” declarations, such as exclusive economic zones, fishing grounds, historical claims that go back hundreds of years.

The declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is only a matter of time for both the South China Sea and eventually Taiwan airspace. Taiwan’s fighter capabilities are not being renewed at a rate to stop Chinese advances in fighters and electronic warfare. Even if Taiwan procures new F-16Vs it will still face a significant problem in air power projection as China increases fighter patrols that are performing circumnavigation patrols of the island.

If Taiwan fell tomorrow, the Chinese navy could use the northeast naval base of Suao as a submarine base. Not just any ordinary base, but a far better one than Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island, where Chinese nuclear submarines leave their mountain cave facilities to enter the shallow waters of the South China Sea. At Suao the waters off the coast drop into the abyss, giving submarines a far better ability to drop below thermal layers and vanish.

To be sure, China’s Communist government doesn’t harbor a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings towards the United States.  But I can’t really see them invading Taiwan, and not just because of America’s long-standing policy of protecting Taiwan.

No matter how modern a military force is, they can’t take and hold land without putting lots of men in boots with rifles on that land.  And China, the size of their army notwithstanding, would have a lot of damn trouble putting enough men on that big rock called Taiwan to effectively hold it against the resistance that the Taiwanese would put up; they would have to cross the strait against a swarm of missiles, establish beachheads, and bring in enough troops to effectively control the rocky, mountainous island.  And that’s presuming no naval support from the United States (and maybe Japan.)

China may try to take Taiwan culturally, and while that might just work, it would be a task of generations.

But China has bigger problems.  They are facing a demographic crisis, the fruits of their former “one child” policy; their economy is moribund, and their balance of trade is changing to be less overwhelmingly in their favor.

A successful invasion of Taiwan by China, yes, would be bad news for the United States, Japan, the Philippines and likely Australia.  I just don’t think it’s very likely.

Animal’s Daily Western Pacific News

The United States is fortunate to have a staunch ally in the western Pacific, even if it is one that my late father and his fellow WW2 veterans would have found bemusing:  Japan.  And now Japan, reacting to a resurgent China and an increasingly belligerent Russia, is dialing their military in.  Excerpt:

In January 9, 2007, JSDF activities abroad was revised from “miscellaneous regulations” to “basic duties” fundamentally changing the nature of the JSDF because its activities are no longer solely defensive. JMSDF ships can be dispatched worldwide such as in activities against pirates. The JSDF’s first postwar overseas base was established in Djibouti, Somalia in 2010.

Japan and the United States conducted their biggest military exercise in the biennial Keen Sword from 29 October to 2 November 2018 including a total of 57,000 sailors, marines and airmen. Some 47,000 service members were from the JSDF and 10,000 from the U.S. Armed Forces. A naval supply ship and frigate of the Royal Canadian Navy also participated in simulations of air combat, ballistic missile defense and amphibious landings.

In 2004, at the behest of the United States, the Japanese government ordered a deployment of troops to Iraq in order to assist the U.S.-led Reconstruction of Iraq. This controversial deployment marked a significant turning point as the first time since the end of World War II that Japan had sent troops abroad except for a few minor UN peacekeeping deployments. Public opinion was sharply divided

In December 2018, the Japanese government approved an initial budget plan for fiscal 2019 that includes a general account exceeding 100 trillion yen ($900 billion) and spending on tax-hike preparations.

There is no secret about what motivates Japanese policy to turn its back on the postwar professions of neutrality and rejection of any military establishment. It is the growing perceived threat from Communist China.

Nations do not have permanent friends, only permanent interests; it’s important to note that nations also do not have permanent enemies.  From 1941 to 1945 Japan was clearly and unambiguously an enemy of the United States, but now they are our best and most reliable ally in the Pacific, save perhaps Australia; and there is still a fair amount of bad blood between Japan and revanchist China.

It’s interesting to see this happening.  Post-WW2 Japan, like post-WW2 Germany, is a largely pacifist nation.  But in the case of Japan, certain elements (including PM Abe) are remembering that Japan once had a proud martial tradition which predates the Second World War by quite a ways (just ask Russian Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky.)  And when it comes to developing high-tech weapons for an advanced, 21st-century military that will be more rapier than club – well, I suspect that Japan may well show the U.S. a thing or two.

Japan’s SDF.

Mrs. A and I have traveled in Japan quite a bit, for business and pleasure.  We love the Land of the Rising Sun, and would like to see them developing the means to protect their way of life, as is the right of any sovereign nation.

The next decade or so could see the western Pacific becoming a very interesting place.

Rule Five Space Force Friday

Do we need a space force – a space navy, if you will – to protect commerce from Earth orbit to the Moon and beyond?  The serving Top Man at NASA thinks so.  Excerpt:

NASA’s administrator is a strong defender of President Donald Trump’s proposals for space — including an armed force and a permanent presence on the moon — and says he wants Americans to realize how much their well-being depends on what happens far above Earth.

“Every banking transaction requires a GPS signal for timing,” Jim Bridenstine said in an interview. “You lose the GPS signal and guess what you lose? You lose banking.”

“If you look at what space is, it’s not that much different than the ocean,” added Bridenstine, who made 333 aircraft-carrier landings as a Navy pilot. “It’s an international domain that has commerce that needs to be protected.”

Bridenstine was in his third term representing a congressional district in Oklahoma when Trump nominated him to lead the $21 billion space agency. He was confirmed in the spring despite criticism over his lack of scientific or engineering experience and his previous statements questioning climate change science — though he said in hearings that human activity was the chief cause of global warming.

Last summer, when he was still in Congress, Bridenstine supported a measure that would have created a “space corps.” It passed the House but was removed from the final defense spending bill. Then last month, Trump called for the Pentagon to develop a sixth branch of the American armed services that would protect national and commercial interests in space.

I’m of mixed feelings on this one.

Pros:

  1. The kid in me, who loved Star Trek, thinks the very idea is just cool as hell.  Were I younger, I’d join up.
  2. There will eventually be commerce in space; there are just too many riches out there (asteroid belt, for example, a wealth of rare earths and precious metals) and that commerce will need to be protected.
  3. If the United States isn’t the first to do this, someone else will be.

Cons:

  1. We’re broke.  How the hell are we going to pay for it?
  2. We’re broke.  How the hell are we going to pay for it?
  3. We’re broke.  How the hell are we going to pay for it?

I have a novel idea, though; there’s another way to skin this particular cat.  As noted, there are a wealth of resources around the Solar System, much of it inside the orbit of Jupiter, that private enterprise will eventually want to go get.  OK, I’m in favor of private enterprise, and have long held that when practical space travel is developed, it will be private enterprise that does it.  So, OK, let those private organizations develop their own armed ships and security forces, as a cost of doing business in, say, the asteroid belt.

“But Animal,” you might ask, “what happens in the event of a conflict with another nation, a nation that has their own forces in space?”  Simple answer, one that goes back to the 18th century; give the private ships a letter of marque to conduct offensive operations under the U.S. flag.  Resurrect the concept of the privateer.

Seems like the answer to me.  Thoughts?

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

I’ve discussed the likelihood of a possible breakup of the United States before in these virtual pages before, but here’s a pretty interesting take on the topic.  Excerpt:

The problem? In short, there are no red states; there are no blue states. There are instead, counties and neighborhoods and streets and the couch versus the bedroom after an argument with a spouse or significant other over political matters.

“And so what?” asks the Pollyanna-ish reader. He (or the rarer idiot she) observes, “We split up and then there’s no more reason to fight?”

That’s wrong for several reasons. One is that it is the moderate and right-wing tendency in the red areas that politically constrains the left-wing tendency of the blue. Remove the red from the blue and the real reds of the bluest blue states run amok, with moderates and moderation suppressed.

Think here: Stalin in Birkenstocks, the spirit of Ho Chi Minh coming down from his gas tank in Boston,4 or a Pol Pot cognate with a degree in journalism from Harvard or Yale, rather than École Française d’Électronique et d’Informatique. Remember, too, that Bill Ayers’ Weatherman expected and, I daresay, wanted to kill twenty-five million Americans, one in eight of the population, one in five adults, to create their preferred society.

It should not need to be said, in a world of bright people, but, sadly, we don’t live in that world: I am pretty sure that the same happens in the red states, where the removal of the political Left leaves all kinds of wingnuts, to include of the white-sheeted, pointy-hatted variety, to create or recreate their own particular fantasies, and run roughshod over moderates there.

Yes, it’s true; a major societal collapse, and a civil war sure as hell would be one of those, would be a shitshow beyond imagining; and yes, it’s very likely that in plenty of areas the nuts would rise to the top.  Plenty of areas would be run, not by elected leaders, but by warlords who managed to accumulate enough guns and followers to cow the rest of the population.

It’s just too bad that some folks have some weird idea that a civil war would be some glorious reclamation of the United States’ founding principles.  It wouldn’t be the beginning of a renewed U.S., it would be the end of the U.S. in any recognizable form.  I’m not saying it will never happen; I am saying I hope I don’t live to see it.

Animal’s Daily German Meltdown News

The decay of Germany’s military continues apace.  Excerpt:

The German magazine Spiegel recently revealed that most of the Luftwaffe’s—the modern German air force’s—128 Eurofighter Typhoons are not flightworthy.

In fact, only about ten of the aircraft are ready for operations, Spiegel said. This raises doubts about Germany’s ability to meet its NATO defense commitments.

“The problem is complicated,” according to Spiegel.

“Put simply, all Eurofighters have a sensor on the wings that detects enemy jets or attacks and warns the pilot. About half a year ago, it was discovered that the pod is no longer properly cooled. Since it is central to the self-protection system and this must be active in all operational flights, the number of operational jets drops.

In addition, “although the technicians could replace the defective pods on the wings, they needed a specific spare part to seal the cooling circuit. However, this, according to the sobering response of the industry, is currently unavailable because the manufacturer has been sold.”

Somewhere, Carl Von Clauswitz is spinning in his grave.

Not for much longer.

Germany has been, for better or worse, the pivot on which European history has turned since they were unified in the nineteenth century.  That’s probably ending now, but honestly, Europe is probably ending now – certainly within a generation or two.  Frau Merkel has already let the barbarians into the gates, and ethnic Europeans are losing the demographic battle through apathy.

The decay of Germany’s once-proud military tradition and, incidentally, their shirking on their NATO obligations, is a symptom of a much greater collapse in progress.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

It seems some rules for our nation’s military are changing.  the new rule is, if you aren’t deployable, you aren’t serving.  Excerpt:

New rules requiring members of the military to be able to deploy or get out were put in place to ensure fairness in deployment rates, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.

“You’re either deployable, or you need to find something else to do. I’m not going have some people deploying constantly and then other people, who seem to not pay that price, in the U.S. military,” Mattis told reporters Feb. 17 in his first comments on the issue since the new policy was formally introduced.

“If you can’t go overseas [and] carry a combat load, then obviously someone else has got to go. I want this spread fairly and expertly across the force.”

Under new rules first reported on by Military Times, military members who have been non-deployable for the past 12 months or more will be separated from the military.

Approximately 11 percent, or 235,000, of the 2.1 million personnel serving on active duty, in the reserves or National Guard are currently non-deployable, Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joe Dunford, told Military Times earlier this month.

Of that total non-deployable force, Troxell said, about 99,000 are on that list for administrative reasons, such as not having all their immunizations or their required dental exams. About 20,000 are not deployable due to pregnancy, and 116,000 are not deployable due to either short- or long-term injuries.

Maybe the Israel Defense Force has something going for it.

Plenty of service members have been non-deployable at one time or another, for injuries (not necessarily combat – plenty of folks have been hurt in training), pregnancy, family issues and so forth.  But this policy is aimed at the “permanent profile” folks.  If you’ve served, you know the type.

The military is not a jobs program.  It is an organization that is essential to the nation, one of the few legitimate functions of the Imperial government in concordance with the Constitution, and it has a primary purpose:  To kill people and break things.  Anything that interferes with that mission is bad.  It’s bad for the mission, bad for the people who have to pick up the burden of the service members who can’t, and bad for the country.

Once again General Mattis has the right idea.  Of all of President Trump’s appointments, James Mattis and Neal Gorsuch are probably the best.