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German Rocket Cats: A Meditation

On March 5th, the Associated Press asked: “What are seemingly jet-propelled cats and birds doing in a 16th century German artillery manual?” It was a good question. [...] European History People sent burning pigs stampeding toward their neighbors regularly and would put a rooster on trial for real actually with a lawyer and everything if someone said it laid an egg without a yolk. If someone like that was soberly strapping a rocket to a cat and you interrupted them in their cat-to-rocket-strapping-room they’d look up like “Yeah?” and they would have this big pinky white person expression on their face like it wasn’t even a little bit weird. [more inside]
posted by 23 on Jun 6, 2014 - 34 comments

The last secret of the H.L. Hunley

"Of all the men known to have boarded the Hunley, indeed, only about half a dozen escaped death in her iron belly–yet McClintock himself survived the war, and one of the keys to understanding the events of 1879 is to establish why he did so."
Scam artists, war profiteers, double agents, possibly faked deaths, and the precursors to the IRA are all tied together by the designers and builders of the first combat submarine to sink a warship, in the American Civil War.
posted by jenkinsEar on May 11, 2014 - 6 comments

Warfare ... justified?

Noam Chomsky gives a lecture at West Point on just war theory. [more inside]
posted by Jonathan Livengood on Mar 5, 2014 - 9 comments

The Big Picture

This is The Big Picture, an official television report of the United States Army, produced for the armed forces and the American people. Now to show you part of The Big Picture here is Master Sargent Stuart Queen
The series consists of ~822 documentaries produced by the United States Army Signal Corps Army Pictorial Service from 1951 to 1971 to educate both soldiers in uniform and the American public about military concerns as well as things like historical battles, world geography, famous soldiers, the latest weapons, space exploration, strategic objectives, peaceful initiatives, and the life of a soldier. Being a product of the Federal Government it belongs to the the American people, and is thus freely available to all to copy and distribute. Most can now be viewed on archive.org
[more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 10, 2013 - 6 comments

"Caje, take the point"

TV's longest-running World War II drama, Combat! aired on ABC between 1962 and 1967. "It was really a collection of complex 50-minute movies. Salted with battle sequences, they follow [US Army King Company's travails during the invasion of France, starting with the landing at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 -- D-Day. It's] a gritty, ground-eye view of infantrymen trying to salvage their humanity and survive." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 2, 2013 - 33 comments

I wouldn't venture out there fellas. This sniper's got talent.

The Ultimate Guide to Shooting Rubber Bands.
posted by zarq on Nov 20, 2013 - 10 comments

Map animations of history

Youtube user EmperorTigerstar draws animated maps. Like this one, plotting the Franco-Prussian War, this one, depicting World War I, or this one, showing every day of World War 2 in Europe. Previously, previously.
posted by frimble on Oct 3, 2013 - 22 comments

On Sieges

The history and technique of the siege, by fantasy author K.J. Parker.
posted by Chrysostom on Sep 28, 2013 - 21 comments

‘the poor man’s atomic bomb’?

Why are we so afraid of chemical weapons? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 18, 2013 - 46 comments

"Never, ever let anybody use your gender as an excuse."

"Women get flustered under fire. They're too fragile, too emotional. They lack the ferocity required to take a life. They can't handle pain. They're a distraction, a threat to cohesion, a provocative tease to close-quartered men. These are the sort of myths you hear from people who oppose the U.S. military's evolving new rules about women in combat. But for women who have already been in combat, who have earned medals fighting alongside men, the war stories they tell don't sound a thing like myths" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 25, 2013 - 49 comments

What's The Question About Your Field That You Dread Being Asked?

"Maybe it's a sore point: your field should have an answer (people think you do) but there isn't one yet. Perhaps it's simple to pose but hard to answer. Or it's a question that belies a deep misunderstanding: the best answer is to question the question."
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 14, 2013 - 259 comments

Frontline: The Bombing of al-Bara

Frontline journalist Olly Lambert captures the event of a Syrian government air strike on the town of al-Bara. Powerfully upsetting and tragic, his footage conveys the sheer terror afflicting the lives of Syrian refugees struggling to survive under the Assad regime. [36min SLYT] [more inside]
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee on Apr 12, 2013 - 38 comments

"Rule 1: Truth and Falsity Do Not Matter"

Frequently dismissed as trivial or unimportant because untrue, rumors are a potent in the information war that characterizes contemporary conflicts, and they participate in significant ways in the struggle for the consent of the governed. As narrative forms, rumors are suitable to a wide range of political expression, from citizens, insurgents, and governments alike. The authors make a compelling argument for understanding rumors in these contexts as "narrative IEDs," low-cost, low-tech weapons that can successfully counter elaborate and expansive government initiatives of outreach campaigns or strategic communication efforts.
Narrative Landmines - The Explosive Effects of Rumors in Syria and Insurgencies Around the World [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 4, 2013 - 18 comments

.

A Primer on the agents of Chemical Warfare part One, Two, Three, Four and Five.
posted by Mitheral on Mar 23, 2013 - 16 comments

Seven Short Stories About Drones

1. Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. Pity. A signature strike leveled the florist’s. The Disposition Matrix. Anti-Drone Camouflage: What to Wear in Total Surveillance. Drone City. Books Not Bombs.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 31, 2013 - 12 comments

"Did I just kill a kid?"

The Woes of an American Drone Operator
posted by empath on Dec 17, 2012 - 71 comments

Gyges and his magic ring

"Assassination and targeted killings have always been in the repertoires of military planners, but never in the history of warfare have they been so cheap and easy. The relatively low number of troop casualties for a military that has turned to drones means that there is relatively little domestic blowback against these wars. The United States and its allies have created the material conditions whereby these wars can carry on indefinitely. The non-combatant casualty rates in populations that are attacked by drones are slow and steady, but they add up. That the casualty rates are relatively low by historical standards — this is no Dresden — is undoubtedly a good thing, but it may allow the international media to overlook pesky little facts like the slow accretion of foreign casualties." -NYT Opinionator: The Moral Hazard of Drones
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 23, 2012 - 271 comments

The new normal warfare. Opponents still die.

Back in December American Conservative talked about The Changing state of War stating:
One of the most discouraging aspects of the current Republican presidential candidate debates is the discussion of drone warfare, or rather the fact that it is not being discussed at all except to approve of the practice.
Tom Junod of Esquire now discusses in a long article the targeted killing of an American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. [more inside]
posted by adamvasco on Jul 11, 2012 - 154 comments

Drones are here, many more are coming and there’s no going back.

Al Jazeera: 'US admits ops in Yemen and Somalia: White House formally acknowledges "direct action", believed to mean drone strikes, against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.' [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 19, 2012 - 98 comments

PHOTON PUSH-PULL RADIATION DETECTOR FOR USE IN CHROMATICALLY SELECTIVE CAT FLAP CONTROL AND 1000 MEGATON EARTH-ORBITAL PEACE-KEEPING BOMB

PHOTON PUSH-PULL RADIATION DETECTOR FOR USE IN CHROMATICALLY SELECTIVE CAT FLAP CONTROL AND 1000 MEGATON EARTH-ORBITAL PEACE-KEEPING BOMB by prolific inventor Arthur Paul Pedrick [more inside]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on May 4, 2012 - 38 comments

"From the ground, drones are terrifying weapons that can be heard circling overhead for hours at a time."

"What's that buzzing sound?" Foreign Policy's third annual War Issue focuses on what it calls "Barack Obama's Secret Wars," including My Drone War, in which a Pakistani journalist for Newsday and the NYT describes what drone warfare looks and sounds like from the ground; The Obama Doctrine, which argues drone warfare is a failing strategy in both Yemen and Pakistan; The Evolution of Drone Warfare: A Photo History, 1917-2010, and more. The package also includes two takes on cyberwar - Cyberwar is still more hype than hazard and Cyberwar Is Already Upon Us - along with a lot of interesting links.
posted by mediareport on Feb 29, 2012 - 99 comments

Don't Worry. We're From The Internet.

On October 18, Wired embedded a reporter with both Anonymous and the #Occupy movement, calling both "a new kind of hybrid entity, one that breaks the boundaries between “real life” and the internet, creatures of the network embodied as citizens in the real world." The first entries in Quinn Norton's ongoing special report: Anonymous 101: Behind the Lulz were posted today. Coverage from Wired's other special report, Occupy: Dispatches from the Occupation are already online. NPR: Members Of Anonymous Share Values, Aesthetics [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 8, 2011 - 43 comments

"The Third Way of COIN: Defeating the Taliban in Sangin"

100 Firefights, Three Weeks: Inside Afghanistan's Most Insane Fight
"In its first three weeks in Afghanistan’s Sangin district, the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines got into more than 100 firefights and sustained 62 casualties. The insurgents managed to negate the Marines’ night-vision gear, and rendered their traditional close-combat tactics useless. Things got so bad, the 3/5’s superior officers even suggested pulling their troops back. That didn’t happen. Instead, the 3/5 went after the militants, hard. When the 3/5 came home, they told counterinsurgency historian Mark Moyar all about their deeply unconventional approach to what was already an unconventional war."
This is an excerpt in Wired of Moyar’s 74-page after action report. (pdf) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 12, 2011 - 23 comments

Of spies, special forces and drone strikes

Warfare: An advancing front - "The US is engaged in increasingly sophisticated warfare, fusing intelligence services and military specialists" [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 21, 2011 - 19 comments

"They asked us who we were, and we told them we were civilians from Kijran district."

A Tragedy of Errors. On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA-obtained transcripts of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
posted by zarq on Apr 10, 2011 - 59 comments

"What do I have to plant inside their heads?"

Army Psy Ops Units Targeted American Senators
posted by empath on Feb 24, 2011 - 77 comments

Around the world around the world around the world...

Everybody's heard about the "secret" launch of the military's newest spacedrone the X-37, and everybody's heard about the other "secret" launch on the same day. The military has launched another type of spacedrone. This one looks a lot less like this and more like this. Unfortunately they've hit a snag. (previously) It's all part of the the U.S. military's prompt global strike doctrine. Some people think this may be a bad idea. [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Jun 9, 2010 - 74 comments

Death by Joystick

Douglas Rushkoff's latest piece for the Daily Beast got pulled; everything goes to 404. However here's a transcript.
The set-up doesn't feel much different than the playroom of a die-hard videogame enthusiast—except no one is smiling, high-fiving, or celebrating his hits. They speak in the cool monotone of commercial airplane pilots—
Copy that we got eyes on em… 3-0-5 rifle time of flight 15 seconds…. that's 10 seconds… 5-4-3-2-1 - and splash…
And with that, presumably, some people on the other side of the monitor were blown up.

Jane Mayor writes in the New Yorker that according to the New America Foundation’s study, that in the forty-one drone strikes conducted by the Obama Administration in Pakistan; 98 percent of those killed were civilians. Americans have been insulated from the human toll.
Problems With Killer Drones (related UAVs over Sadr City and Death From Above).
posted by adamvasco on Oct 23, 2009 - 76 comments

The CIA in Tibet

The CIA in Tibet l the Cold War in ShangriLa l The CIA's Secret War In Tibet by Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, the entire book online. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Aug 3, 2009 - 8 comments

Forward

Warfare: 1917 gives you a taste of the trenches.
posted by chuckdarwin on Oct 21, 2008 - 47 comments

Modern Warfare in Kenya...

Very recently the Kalenjin and Kisii peoples of Kenya's Olmelil valley began skirmishing over land disputes. Over 20 people have died so far. This type of inter-tribal unrest is nothing new in Eastern Africa. What makes this particular conflict most jarring to western eyes is that it's being fought with bows and arrows (Time Magazine Slideshow, a forum post with many large images inline, [coral cache of same]). You get the feeling that somewhere in Fresno, California Gary Brechter might be pretty wound-up at the moment...
posted by cadastral on Mar 18, 2008 - 10 comments

Food Fight

Food Fight [Youtube, History of War done with food] [more inside]
posted by Lord_Pall on Mar 1, 2008 - 22 comments

See, it IS fun

Battleship Extreme, Operation Tiger, Operation Thunderbolt, Operation Seahawk, Operation Allied Shield, are newly released online games from the Australian Defence Force. But where’s Operation Tank Rage?
posted by mattoxic on Jul 15, 2007 - 7 comments

Six places to nuke when you're serious

Six places to nuke when you're serious
posted by lupus_yonderboy on Aug 9, 2006 - 75 comments

Aces High

In 1938 the British Balloon Command was established to protect cities and key targets such as industrial areas, ports, landmarks and harbours.Barrage balloons or "Bulging Berthas" were inflatable shiny silver-painted balloons, made of rubber-coated fabric, and filled with hydrogen gas used prevent low level attacks by enemy aircraft. The balloons flew anywhere from 500 feet to 10,000 feet. The 15 gauge flying wire that tethered them could clip the wings off a plane. They were also used at sea and to cover invasions. They were also effective against the V-1 flying bomb and back in the late 80s, at least one general thought they could still be used to protect airfields.
posted by Smedleyman on Mar 24, 2006 - 16 comments

Unrestricted Warfare

Unrestriced Warfare Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, two colonels in the People's Liberation Army of China published this back in 1999. It is a striking and trenchant attempt to describe the transformations that warfare has undergone since the first Gulf War, and suggests that the boundary between war and its opposite may be on the move. "We have no reason for optimism. This is because the reduction of the functions of warfare in a pure sense does not mean at all that war has ended. Even in the so-called post-modern, post-industrial age, warfare will not be totally dismantled. It has only re-invaded human society in a more complex, more extensive, more concealed, and more subtle manner. " Short interview posted by the Uyghur American Association, here.
posted by derangedlarid on Jul 8, 2005 - 4 comments

The British and their sailing

I have recently begun Patrick OBrians series of Aubrey-Maturin novels, set in the rich and vibrant world of the 18th century Royal Navy; I have also enjoyed the movie. These superb historic novel have rekindled my interest in the great age of sail, especially the exploits of Lord Nelson. The Royal Navy at this time ruled the world, although the tactics used were brutal and seaman were often taken to sea against their will. The Battle of Trafalgar is certainly the most famous engagement and HMS Victory the most famous of the ships. Next year is the 200th anniversary of the battle, the preparations sound spectacular and it is good to see the strong British sailing tradition continues.
posted by Samuel Farrow on Aug 17, 2004 - 21 comments

Men In Black

Men In Black
CNN, Aug 4: Clashes between police and insurgents in the northern city of Mosul left 12 Iraqis dead and 26 wounded, hospital and police sources said Wednesday. Rifle and rocket-propelled grenade fire as well as explosions were heard in the streets of the city.
A first-hand view of events.
posted by bonehead on Aug 9, 2004 - 8 comments

Mutilation of victims and Muslim law

Mutilation of victims and Muslim law The ruling by Sheik Omar Abdullah Hassan al-Shehabi specifies two circumstances in which the desecration of an infidel -- a non-Muslim -- is permitted. One is retaliation "when the enemy is disfiguring Muslim corpses or when it otherwise serves the Islamic nation." The other is when mutilation will "terrorize the enemy" or "gladden the heart of a Muslim warrior."
posted by swerdloff on Jun 13, 2004 - 45 comments

Damned mines

Current U.S. Administration chooses "smart anti-personnel mines" versus "dumb mines".The U.S. military will stop using always-armed, live landmines after 2010. Some may appreciate this move as a valid step toward..more "intelligent" mines, others disagree. More links inside.
posted by elpapacito on Feb 28, 2004 - 23 comments

umm, whose women? and who are

Rumors of rape fan anti-American flames "They are raping our women!" - This is the eternal tribalistic cry and lament, often all too true but also often used as a baseless or exaggerated claim for war propaganda, to incite to hatred of a "barbaric" enemy who commits unspeakable acts ( see The "Rape of Kuwait"). The history of Rape in Warfare is long and may be instinctually driven, at least in part. Now, mass rumors spreading through Turkey - which seem to have inspired a recent indigenous Turkish terrorist car bombing - allege mass rapes of Iraqi women by American troops. "There are more than 4000 rape events on the record" claimed the Turkish journal Yeni Safak, on October 22, "citing" (though the purported supporting citation contains nothing about such atrocities) internet sex therapist Dr. Susan Block's piece on the metaphorical "Rape of Iraq"[ Warning : preceding link is NSFW ! Here's the work-safe CounterPunch version]. Having more or less invented modern PR and propaganda techniques (see Ed. Bernays, Ivy Lee) - handy during both war and peace - Americans are now on the receiving end of Propaganda's use of the shameless lie. (identification of "mystery meat" links inside)
posted by troutfishing on Jan 7, 2004 - 13 comments

War is a Racket

"War is a Racket" Hardly news ? Yeah, but the source isn't your usual tree-hugger-rainbow-peace-hippy-noglobal-yourfavouritedissing pal, but no one less then U.S.M.C. Major General Smedley Darlington Butler two times recipient of the Congress Medal of Honor and the only Officer in the Corps to be awarded CMoH two times.Found it while browsing the net , the complete book ISBN number is 0922915865.
posted by elpapacito on Oct 20, 2003 - 20 comments

US bills Australia for bombs.

US bills Australia for bombs. This is the first time I have seen a 'user-pays' principle of modern warfare spelled out in this way. But then again Australia doesn't make a habit of going to war. 'The ADF will also be required to pay an undisclosed amount – believed to be up to $3 million – for satellite time and band width to connect the Canberra war room with command in the Gulf, and enable it to talk directly with SAS troops on the ground. "It was described as the first struggle in the war, to secure band width," said Derek Woolner, defence analysis director at the Australian Defence Studies Centre.'
posted by blue on May 27, 2003 - 22 comments

the new Dr. StrangeLove

The Real Dr. StrangeLove?
Last May 9, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to repeal a 10-year ban on the research and development of "low-yield" nuclear weapons—defined as nukes having an explosive power smaller than 5 kilotons. (The House committee will take up the measure this week.) The Bush administration has lobbied heavily for the repeal. Democrats oppose the idea on the grounds that "mini-nukes"—by blurring the distinction between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons—make nuclear war more thinkable and, therefore, in the minds of some, more doable.

Scary people. How weird can our new overlords get? I'm afraid to speculate.
posted by nofundy on May 13, 2003 - 25 comments

perspectives on

The Myth of the "Civilian"? Rationalizing the status quo or hard-headed realism for "interesting times"? Baghdad coming shortly...
posted by dgaicun on Mar 27, 2003 - 18 comments

The Roman Army

Modeling the Roman Army. The author of this site uses CAD software to examine the mechanics and problems of manuevering large masses of men in ancient warfare. Good stuff for people interested in the subject.
posted by moonbiter on Feb 24, 2003 - 9 comments

Leaked Pentagon Document on Mini Nukes and Treaty Challenges

Mini Nukes - Major Treaty Threats. "A leaked Pentagon document has confirmed that the US is considering the introduction of a new breed of smaller nuclear weapons designed for use in conventional warfare. Such a move would mean abandoning global arms treaties." The document was made available by The Los Alamos Study Group, which comments "It is impossible to overstate the challenge these plans pose to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the existing nuclear test moratorium, and US compliance with Article VI of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which is binding law in the US....These plans deserve outrage – first in the United States, and throughout the world. It may or may not be obvious that if allowed to proceed further -- especially in the present jingoistic atmosphere now prevailing in Washington -- the process outlined here will be quite hard to stop. "
posted by fold_and_mutilate on Feb 20, 2003 - 26 comments

Pentagon readies microwave bomb for Baghdad

Pentagon readies microwave bomb for Baghdad There go the blogs in Iraq! Might be worthwhile going to war just to test this new toy, says one cynic, the poster of this link.
posted by Postroad on Nov 18, 2002 - 20 comments

The eXile's Gary Brecher,

The eXile's Gary Brecher, as offensive and amusing as usual, pondering the future of war: "The only enjoyable wars will be the mismatches, when the machine armies are unleashed on the savages. We've seen some of them lately: the NATO air forces working out on Serbia, the US and British planes playing with the Iraqis like a couple of kittens with a half-dead mouse. They're the wars people will enjoy, because the targets are so easy, so undefended, that there are lots of good gun-camera shots. But these wars have a little weakness: they never solve the problem."
posted by GriffX on Oct 3, 2002 - 16 comments

Laser Weapons

Laser Weapons like in Real Genius, but for real! Combine them with GPS and you get Death Rays!! The technology is there, but how will it change warfare? (via drudge :)
posted by kliuless on Feb 17, 2002 - 11 comments

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