Military Strategy in the First World War

Strategically, the majority of the first World War was fought as a stalemate. Most of the combat occurred in trenches on the western front, with very little chance for guerilla warfare and extended periods of combat in close proximity. Both sides dug miles of trenches so that they would not be exposed to enemy fire. Whenever one of the sides tried to move across no-man’s land in between the lines of trenches, they were typically gunned down by heavy artillery, so the front never moved more than a mile or two in either direction.

Even though neither side had a clear advantage, that does not mean that the war was not a display of a myriad of new weapons and techniques. Rifles and machine guns were introduced for the first time in battles during the war, and they proved to be much faster and more effective than the rifle-muskets that had been previously used. Both sides turned to the use of tanks and airplanes to help break the stalemate they faced. Tanks, although somewhat slow and reliable, helped in battles such as that at Amiens in 1918 when the British army took the German line. Airplanes were used mainly to scout, as they were not yet technologically capable of strong aerial bombardments.

World War 1 was the first time chemical weapons were used in battle, and these new innovations proved to be instrumental in making progress in combat. Germany first used cylinders of chlorine gas against the French in April of 1915 at Ypres. The gas, when inhaled in large amounts, was able to destroy the respiratory systems of the soldiers, although because it stimulated coughing, often the soldiers did not take in a deadly amount. Both sides began using a mixture of chlorine and phosgene called “white star,” which proved to be much more effective. It immediately forced the soldiers to stop fighting and killed them within just 48 hours.

In September of 1917, the German army introduced a new chemical weapon: mustard gas. It was odorless and fatal in 20% of the people who came into contact with it, in comparison to just 1% with the chlorine and phosgene gas. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding, blisters on the skin, sore eyes, and the deterioration of the bronchial tubes. The introduction of these chemicals as weapons in war caused thousands of casualties and forced troops on both sides to alter their tactics to prevent against crippling attacks by these gases.

Works Cited:
Steven Miller, Military Strategy and the Origins of the First World War, 1991
Paul Boyer, The Oxford Companion to United States History, 2001…

What to Consider When Joining the Military

Seniors are nearing the end of their high school days. Military recruiters salivate at this thought, since this is when they make the most money. Our kids see them in the lunch rooms with their brochures scattered over one of the tables. They are there in full dress blues, whites, beiges, and blacks trying to make a lasting impression on their young minds. That is exactly how I remember them during my senior year, all those years ago. How do our kids know which branch to join? One well spoken recruiter, from any branch, could paint a pretty picture in anyone’s mind. This could become a major blunder on our kid’s part, if they do not choose wisely. Hopefully, this will help assist you with your future soldier.

The Army is a pretty well-rounded decision for anyone. It is not as strenuous as life in the Marine Corps, they will not have lengthy periods away, and they provide the soldiers with an opportunity to take some college courses while they serve. You will have to spend at least one year on foreign soil, but they give you an option to choose where you want to deploy. Of course, it is on a ranking system, meaning you have to choose three places on a scale of one to three. Any soldier in the Army will spend a moderate amount of time in the field. There is a drawback. You do not have a choice where you will get stationed after Basic Training and AIT, which means you could end up being stationed on a rapid deployment base. Rapid deployment bases are the ones that are sent to hostile areas first.

The Navy offers better overall training than the other three branches. Here your kids could end up getting a decent paying job right after his or her service in the military. One major downfall to joining the Navy is the lack of time for family, since the soldiers end up spending a great deal of time away at sea. You need to make sure you swim well, before joining too. If you are not a very good swimmer, you may want to consider joining another branch of the service. Your children will not have as much time as they would in the other branches to get ahead with their college courses.

The Air Force is the least strenuous of any other branch in the service. Their training is as lackluster as they get. Your kids will have more than ample down time and will not travel as frequently as they would in the other branches. This is my least favorite of all the branches in the military.

The Marine Corps. is the most physically strenuous of the bunch, but the camaraderie within this branch is unequalled. New marines and retired marines treat each other with the same amount of respect as they had for their own units. It is not uncommon to land a job, because their boss was a former marine, as well. This happens quite frequently. This is the primary difference between the branches. A marine will have his share of down time, but he is also likely to find himself deployed more rapidly than if they were in the Army. The pride a marine feels within will carry throughout his lifetime. Any type of down time is the right time to work on gaining college credits. This would be the third best option, if they want to work toward college credits.

The Coast Guard is another branch of the military, though they will fall under Naval command if …

Why Military Service Should Actually Disqualify a Person from Becoming President

You ever wonder exactly why so many voters are so concerned about whether or not a Presidential candidate has military experience? I’m not talking about the concern over electing a man who is technically a deserter from the nor am I talking about a man who just so happened to have a wife who gave birth exactly nine months and a day after LBJ went on TV and announced that married men without kids would become eligible for draft. It is the fact that George W. Bush cheated and then deserted and that Dick Cheney could talk his wife Lynne in a roll in the hay only once and that just so happened to be about the exact day that he found out that if didn’t get a kid soon he too might be have to actually fight for his beliefs that is the reason why their military service or lack therefore should have been a concern for voters.

As for whether or not candidate has served, I cannot see how that should have any bearing on whether he is qualified to be President. Well, actually, I can. To mind, military service should pretty much be a disqualifier to serve in politics. Think about this, won’t we: in the military there are only two things that can happen. You either do what someone tells you to do or you have people do what you tell them to do. Correct me if I’m wrong, but how on earth can this kind of culture possibly prepare anyone to become President of the United States?

Politics is about compromise. Compromise is the grease that oils the machinery of progress. Unless you are a President like George W. Bush, you simply don’t tell Congress what to do an then expect them to do it. Obviously, Bush proved it can be done, regardless of which Party controls Congress. Bush told the GOP and Democratic Congress what to do for eight years and they did. That alone should be proof enough that we definitely don’t need that kind of Presidency ever again. In fact, the Bush Presidency should be used only as a lesson in not what to do.

Once we get back to the real world following the death of Bush, er, I mean the end of his term, hopefully we’ll bring politics back to the real world. And in the real world, unlike in the military, when someone tells you to do something unethical or dangerous, you have every right to say now. The military simply does not prepare anyone for real life, but especially politicians. Washington DC does not work too well on the basis of a ranking hierarchy because, well, there isn’t one. Even when there is one, it doesn’t work well. This can be proved by the extraordinary number of former military men who have come forward to express their outrage with the management of the Iraq war. In the real world, these people could have felt free to express outrage; because they were in the military they were too afraid of having their careers destroyed. Is that the kind of mindset you want in the Oval Office? You want someone who has been trained to think that just because they tell someone to do something that it must then be done with no questions asked?

I don’t know about you, but that idea gives me nightmares. Oh, wait, it wasn’t a nightmare; it was the past eight years of reality.…

Classic Army M15A4 Sportline

Sometime late last year, I felt like reconnecting with my childhood days of playing soldier with “airsoft” bb firearms. Growing up in the age of Rambo, the Terminator and John McLane, I remember a lot of summers re-enacting Hollywood scenarios in abandoned houses and trying not to get caught by the village security guards.

These days, airsoft is a pretty sophisticated “sport.” The weapons look like the real thing, modifications are aplenty, and hundreds of players converge every weekend for a few hours of make-believe. For my first gun, I settled on the Classic Army Ml 5A4 carbine courtesy of Hobby Depot. It’s a replica of the Colt M4 carbine that’s regular issue to US troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, which itself is the shorter version of the venerable Ml 6/AR- 15 family of rifles.

As guns go, it’s a pretty sexy piece, lightweight, intuitive, and easily upgradeable, although in real life the M4 has some serious design limitations such as a propensity for jamming and fouling. As a toy, though, it has that “Hollywood mystique” that makes playing the game more fun.

Being a “Sportline” model, the M15A4 has a plastic body, internals, and stock (although the barrel is steel) in order to make it more affordable. It also came with a stock, generic battery, safety glasses, and sling. Out of the box, and coming from a newbie, I was pretty excited about it.

Classic Army made sure to make the M15A4 weigh as much as the real thing and it has a good balance between the pistol grip and the hand guard. Muzzle velocity is around 330 feet per second (good but not great), while accuracy is good out to a hundred feet. Since I wanted the “SWAT” look, I also bought an aftermarket rail system you can attach scopes and tactical lights to, an illuminated 24 reticle scope, and a folding fore grip. After a few games, I realized the whole thing had gotten too heavy to lug around, and the reticle sight, while accurate, took too long to use in a heated battle.

I then swapped out the scope for a simpler, 2x by 42 red/green dot sight and removed the fore grip. With a little work done on it by airsoft guru and gunsmith extraordinaire Stephen Domingo, the rate-of-fire was also improved to make it a “deadlier” starter gun. Apart from minor wear-and-tear like a worn-out gear and a broken fire selector (it won’t fire single shot anymore), the M15A4 was a fun piece of kit, It’s accurate, lightweight, fairly compact, and has helped me rack up more than a few kills with my buddies.…

Gun Control and Military History

Recently I asked myself: Should we arm our military with kitchen knives?

The advantages of doing so are obvious. The U.S. Department of Defense currently spends a good chunk of the federal budget (about $600-$700 billion a year) funding the U.S. Armed forces and equipping roughly a million and a half active duty military personnel with (among other things) machine guns, tanks, laser-guided missiles and aircraft carriers. If we give each of these service members a good kitchen knife valued at $100, we can arm them all for a mere $150 million (that’s roughly equal to the cost of one F-22 Raptor).

Now, some people might worry that our armed forces — wielding only kitchen knives instead of machine guns, tanks, laser-guided missiles and aircraft carriers — would be less effective. That’s certainly a fair objection.

But some critics of gun control apparently think it’s a wrongheaded objection. How many times have you heard someone shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and Texas A&M, that gun control laws are pointless, because evil, violent people are always going to find a way to harm others?

Not all gun rights advocates make this argument, but many of them do. They say that outlawing guns is ridiculous, akin to blaming an inanimate object for the harm committed by people. But, if that were the case, then why wouldn’t we outfit our military with kitchen knives? After all, people who are truly dedicated to defending their country will find a way to do so, whether it’s with an Apache helicopter or a Ginsu steak knife. Let’s not be so silly as to credit or blame inanimate objects for the performance of our armed forces: Their success or failure is determined by their character, not their supplies.

But, of course, that’s ridiculous. No member of the armed service, no matter how resourceful or patriotic, would trade in our military technology for a kitchen knife, because they know how much easier that technology makes it for them to do their job. That’s why gunpowder was developed and refined and produced so abundantly over the years, because it gave its user an advantage. Guns make it easier to kill people. Easier than with knives. To suggest otherwise is to contradict centuries of military history.

But that’s what’s going on when (again, some, not all) gun control critics offer up the “evil people are going to find a way to cause harm, with or without a gun” argument. Yes, they might. But they’ll have a harder time of it.

Some people object that making guns illegal only keeps guns out of the hands of the law-abiding and that the result will be that only criminals will have guns, giving them an advantage over their defenseless victims. But, is there really no point making anything illegal, including drugs or murder, because criminals don’t obey the law? RPGs and howitzers are illegal, and I don’t hear any news stories about criminals obtaining (let alone using) them. Making something illegal doesn’t eliminate it, but it does often make it harder to obtain, right?

Others object that the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to own guns. However, although the 2nd Amendment recognizes “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” it has frequently been interpreted in a way that prohibits people from owning things that are clearly armaments — for instance, RPGs, howitzers, and such — I assume because these arms are so dangerous that letting them circulate among the general public would do more harm than good.

Having a gun increases your ability to kill. That can …