Sudeten Deutsch Memorial

Saw this interesting little bit of history this morning and figure I would take a photo. This has less to do with warfare itself than with the aftermath of war. This is a plaque dedicated to the role that Bayreuth, Germany played in the resettlement of ethnic Germans in the wake of the mass expulsion of these people from their homes in Eastern Europe after Germany’s defeat in WWII. Their is a good piece with a brief history of post war ethnic movements in Europe by the BBC Here: ArticleNo More War or Expulsions

from February to October 1946 the Bayreuth Main Train Station hosted 33 Cargo trains containing 39,281 expellees from the Sudetenland.

The city and county are thankful for the reception

Sudeten German Organisation July 2010

Periodic World Craziness Update # 8

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship. Heavy clashes hit Syrian capital for second day:  The unrest, hell call it what it really is, the Civil War in Syria seems to be entering a new phase as the rebels gain in strength and/or competence and are actually starting to bring the conflict to the capital Damascus.   The big question mark is not can the rebels win but what will the international community do?  As things now stand they will offer only condemnations of the Assad government because they are stymied by Russian and Chinese support for Assad and his government.   I don’t see that … More after the Jump…

Victory, what is it?

This question came up for several reasons mainly because of the news out of Afghanistan and Iran plus the book I am currently reading about the Second World War . Victory is an elusive thing because in war defining victory is perhaps the major strategic goal of the belligerents. I suppose that one could take the Clausewitzean the ideal of destroying the enemy’s force or means to fight  as victory but that really isn’t it. As we saw in Iraq the destruction of the enemy army does not necessarily mean that the war is over.   Unless the population of The enemy country, nation, or tribe is convinced that they … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Holy Wars: 3000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land by Gary Rashba

HOLY WARS: 3000 Years of Battles in the Holy Land is one of the better primers about conflict in the Holy Land to appear within the last few years.   It consists of 17 chapters covering the initial Israelite conquest of Canaan in 1400 B.C. to the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 1982.   The more recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict is covered in the epilogue.   The work is 288 pages and includes extensive notes at the end of each chapter as well as a well sourced bibliography and index.   The Kindle edition, which is what I have, was mostly free of editing errors and the only … More after the Jump…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 7

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship. An Authoritarian Axis Rising?:  Perhaps more people should be talking about this.   This article asks the intriguing question of whether world events over the past year or so, but particularly since Putin’s return to power, don’t highlight the beginning of a new bipolar world order.   These supposed Axis states are China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela.   Interestingly, as the article points out, half of them rely on oil money and thus lower oil prices are seen as a threat.   Is the world once again aligning along authoritarian lines?  That is a good question, … More after the Jump…

Update on SFC Walter Taylor

Saw this update on SFC Taylor’s case yesterday and decided to add it to my page as well.   From the LA Times: Court-martial decision postponed for soldier in Afghan shooting.   His Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a Grand Jury, was held last week and now the case in in the hands of the reviewing officer.   She will review the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing and then make a recommendation to Taylor’s Brigade commander who will endorse that recommendation or not and then send it to the JMTC commander in Graf who is the General Court Martial Convening Authority.   The JMTC commander makes the final decision on whether this case should go to trial or if Taylor should face, a lesser Court Martial, administrative punishment, or even no further action.

All that being said, I would guess that at a minimum Taylor faces a Special Court Martial, probably a Special BCD.   The nature of what has been reported so far makes it clear that Taylor is being prosecute as an example to others.   Whether that is good military policy is besides the point, the army does stuff like this sometimes.   I will say that in my experience, if it does go to a Court Martial Taylor will get a fairer hearing than he would in a civilian court.   His CM Panel, the military version of a jury, will consist of people his grade or higher both officer and enlisted if he opts that, and he would be stupid not to.   The panel are people that understand the military and the pressures in combat.

I have no worries that if it goes to trial he will win.   The problem I have is that even if he wins, his career is now damaged because of the massive publicity surrounding the case.   That is something he cannot get away from.   It will also haunt him as he goes in front of a selection board for promotion.   The perception could be that he hurt the army and he could therefor later be denied promotion or even selected for elimination and the case could have nothing overt to do with it but it will always be there.   The army is a small place and institutional memory is long, especially about people who are perceived as tarnishing the Army Reputation.

Periodic World Craziness Update # 6

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship. Europe rocked by Spanish banking crisis, Time to Admit Defeat: Greece Can No Longer Delay Euro Zone Exit:  At the top of the news for a week or so was the impending meltdown of the Greek economy and Euro experiment. Greek euro exit looms as G8 gathers:  The question in my mind is not if Greece will leave the Euro, but when and what will be the wider consequences for the EU as a whole?  As I understand it, there is no mechanism for an EU country to exit the Euro without repudiating the EU treaty itself and also leaving the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle by Michael Stephenson

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher for purposes of reviewing it. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Michael Stephenson’s work The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die in Battle follows somewhat in the tradition of classics such a Keegan’s The Face of Battle and Victor David Hanson’s The Western Way of War. Where it differs from these two works as that while Keegan and Hanson focus on specific battles or time periods this book aims to be a more general description of the experience of combat throughout recorded history.   In that, the book is … More after the Jump…

A Travesty Calling for Action

In today’s edition of Stars and Stripes and the LA Times is an article about a combat engineer facing charges for actions he took in combat in Afghanistan last year.  The gist of the story is that the soldier involved shot an unarmed female in the middle of a firefight who was moving towards the rear of her vehicle.  The description of the incident from the article is here: His convoy was reeling from a roadside bomb, his fellow soldiers were engaged in combat with insurgents and a mysterious black car had just screeched to a stop in the middle of the firefight. Some nine minutes later, a black door opens. Second 1: A … More after the Jump…

The Reality of War – Violent Death

Today I was reading a selection of articles from Foreign Affairs magazine dealing with modern Counterinsurgency and its perceived success or failure.   One of the things that struck me about the articles and that Bing West brings out in his rebuttal to two critiques of a piece he wrote is the modern predilection for forgetting, either purposefully or not, that war is in essence about man killing man.   What should be the enduring image of war is that of a battlefield strewn with bodies after the armies have moved on such as those below. That is not the image that the modern West has of warfare though.   … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Why Germany Nearly Won: A New History of the Second World War in Europe by Steven D. Mercatante

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] At first glance Why Germany Nearly Won: A New History of the Second World War in Europe is another of the rehashing’s of WWII in the East and West that have become so popular since the fall of communism in the 1990’s and the opening of previously closed Russian archives.   That first glance would be wrong.   Steven Mercatante has produced a very well written history of the war in the East that goes to the heart of why the Eastern … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War by Alison Morton

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] I was contacted by Ms. Morton about reading and reviewing her book: Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War and jumped at the opportunity as the subject matter of the book, German Woman serving with the Wehrmacht is one that has been virtually ignored in English scholarship as she rightly points out in her introduction and demonstrates by including the text of an email she received from the director of the Imperial War Museum in which he demonstrates total ignorance about any female auxiliaries used … More after the Jump…

Tactical Aspects of Battle: A Discussion

There is a very interesting pair of essays in the Baen free non-fiction compendium for 2011. The essence of these two pieces is the geo-strategic position of the United States in the early 21st Century and what the American prospects for maintaining global dominance are. This piece is not necessarily about geopolitics but it did get me thinking about another idea I have been tossing around in my head for the past few years, and that is tactics. Specifically tactics and the way their use affects the course of battles both classical and contemporary. Too often, tactical considerations are given short shrift in accounts of battle. For example, it is … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Julius Caesar: Lessons in Leadership from the Great Conqueror by Bill Yenne

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] I am someone who loves the ancients and loves reading the their stories. That being said, I am much more likely to read Caesar’s Commentaries or Plutarch’s Life of Caesar than a modern day biography derived from those sources. In fact, I have read all those ancient works, most in both English and the original Latin. This book was a pleasure to read anyway.   Bill Yenne has put together a comprehensive account of Caesar’s life that someone unfamiliar with Caesar’s exploits … More after the Jump…

S.L.A. Marshall, Men Against Fire, and Whether Men are Conditioned to Kill in Combat or Not.

I am currently reading The Roman Army at War 100 BC – AD 200 by Adrian Kieth Goldsworthy. In the final chapter he talks about the motivation of the Roman soldier to fight. What brings up this topic that starting on page 264 he references S.L.A. Marshall’s (hereafter SLAM) work Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command and repeats the claim that only 25% of men actively participate in combat, the rest being cowards in place at worst or half-hearted fighters at best.   Now, being a recently retired soldier who has seen combat, in Iraq I have several issues with the claim.   In fact, I completely dispute … More after the Jump…