Pushing the Wermacht’s prams to Paris

They’ve still got those poplar trees so that they can march in the shade, haven’t they?

“Anyone who, for example, uses the option of a three- or four-day week while raising a family must still have career prospects,” she told Bild.

Among the reforms, she said she was also considering a system whereby overtime could be saved up and then used for looking after small children or elderly parents.

She also wants to study the army’s system of transferring soldiers every two to three years, she said. “A career in the armed forces must not mean as a rule: always on duty and every few years a move,” Mrs von der Leyen said.

And she added that widening childcare provision would be one of the first measures looked at.

“We need a flexible system of childcare across the armed forces,” she said, calling for the provision of out-of-hours care, before or after the normal working day, beyond that offered by barrack nurseries.

I’m not entirely sure she’s quite grasped what an Army does as yet….

Don’t people do history any more?

Scientists have solved the longstanding mystery of a Japanese submarine missing since 1946 after stumbling across it in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii.

The Sen-Toku I-400 submarine – one of the largest pre-nuclear underwater vessels ever built – was discovered lying 2,300 feet beneath the surface of the ocean off the southwest coast of Oahu.

The whereabouts of the 400-foot long mega-vessel has been the subject of widespread academic debate since its disappearance in 1946 when it was preparing to attack the Panama Canal before being scuttled by US forces.

You what?

A Jappo sub attempting to attack something in 1946? A year after surrender?

Err, no, not really.

The wreckage was identified by its distinct aircraft launch ramp, deck crane and stern running lights, with its aircraft hanger broken off, the likely result of the three US Navy torpedo blasts that sunk it in 1946.


So, there was indeed a plan for that sub and a few others to attack the Panama Canal. But that was in 1945. At the end of the war the sub and crew surrendered and was taken to Hawaii. Where, in 1946, the Americans scuttled it with those torpedoes in order to stop the Soviets getting a good look at it.

People need to be seriously ignorant of history if they think that the Japanese Navy was sending subs across the Pacific in 1946.

At least MoD hasn\’t been quite this bad

Miscalculations at the engineering stage have been blamed for a two-year delay in delivery of the first of four submarines commissioned from Spain\’s state-owned shipbuilder Navantia.

Last month it emerged that the Isaac Peral sub – part of the new S-80 series and named in honour of the Spanish man credited by some as the inventor of the underwater vessel – was at least 75 tons overweight, an excess that could compromise its ability to surface after submerging.

US Military suicides

Shocking numbers in one way:

In 2012, for the first time in at least a generation, the number of active-duty soldiers who killed themselves, 177, exceeded the 176 who were killed while in the war zone. To put that another way, more of America\’s serving soldiers died at their own hands than in pursuit of the enemy.

Across all branches of the US military and the reserves, a similar disturbing trend was recorded. In all, 349 service members took their own lives in 2012, while a lesser number, 295, died in combat.

Shocking though those figures are, they are as nothing compared with the statistic to which Busbee technically belongs. He had retired himself from the army just two months before he died, and so is officially recorded at death as a veteran – one of an astonishing 6,500 former military personnel who killed themselves in 2012, roughly equivalent to one every 80 minutes.

It\’s also testament to the incredible performance improvements in military medicine. Wounded who, 30 years ago, would definitely die and 10 years ago probably to possibly would now survive.

Leaving aside the human tragedy of this all and just thinking about the numbers. Is this suicide rate actually any different from what used to happen in the past? That is, are we looking at about the normal rate for combat veterans over the last, say, 50 or 80 years? The total number rising because the number of those who have seen combat has risen?

Or is the rate rising as a result of something about modern combat/modern military being different in some manner?

For example, I would assume that the last decade has hugely increased the portion of the military that has seen combat. Gulf I and II saw certain regiments/divisions seeing it, but I would imagine that Iraq post Gulf II and Afghanistan has led to the portion rising to at or perhaps beyond the Vietnam rate of exposure to combat. And I think, but don\’t know, that the size of the military has increased in recent years. Even if not as the total establishment number, the passage of people through it has meant a larger number of people all told.

Which leaves a little statistical puzzle.

And one other thing. That total suicide rate doesn\’t actually look all that far out of line with the general population. It\’s 12 per 100,000 across the total population. Total US military is 2.3 million or so (inc National Guard units and yes, they do see active service these days). We\’d expect, from those national numbers, 276 suicides in that number of people. 349 committed suicide. Adjust a bit for the preponderance of young men in the military, the group which usually has a higher suicide rate, and are we actually seeing anything out of the ordinary?

Anyone know?

We\’re doomed, society, dogs etc.

Enemy of the State: Royal Navy officer faces jail after being caught trying to pass nuclear submarine secrets to Russians in MI5 sting


Petty Officer Edward Devenney, 30

Sigh. A petty officer is not an officer.

You\’d expect the Mail to know that, seeing as how it\’s written for the non com classes…..

Execution by mortar round

I was wondering exactly how they would do this when I saw the headline.

A North Korean army minister was executed with a mortar round for reportedly drinking and carousing during the official mourning period after Kim Jong-il\’s death.

So, do they stand him over one and fire it off? Or stick him out on the range and fire at him?

Kim Chol, vice minister of the army, was taken into custody earlier this year on the orders of Kim Jong-un, who assumed the leadership after the death of his father in December.

On the orders of Kim Jong-un to leave \”no trace of him behind, down to his hair,\” according to South Korean media, Kim Chol was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and \”obliterated.\”

Are mortars actually that accurate?

In which I ask a very silly question

Princes Harry and Willy have police protection teams.

Both Harry and Willy do military stuff. One of them currently in a war zone, the other search and rescue, isn\’t it?

So, err, where do said police teams drop them off and pick them back up again?

I assume that they\’re not there in the back of that Wessex or whatever it is Will\’s flying. And I know they\’re not in an Apache. But are they at Bastion? Kabul (if they even cycle through there which I don\’t think they do)?

I sorta assume that they accompany Will up to the base perimeter and wish him a decent day at the office. Or Harry, shake hands at the gates of Brize Norton and promise to send care packages.

I just can\’t shake this image though, of Plod\’s finest, in centurion helmets, riding shotgun in an attack helicopter.

Interesting but slightly provocative

Cossacks set off on historic ride from Moscow to Paris
A team of Cossacks are to ride once more on Paris in a show of Russian patriotism two centuries after their forebears chased Napoleon\’s Grand Army back to the French capital.

What other events could be celebrated in similar fashion?

Should we get the RAF to do a flypast over Dresden? The Wermacht to visit Paris (twice, obviously, 1870s version and 1940)? Perhaps the Mongolians would like to ride on Budapest again? The Turks on Vienna?

One that might actually be welcome: could we get the Normans to come and slaughter the politicians again?

Way to go with the headline!

Tens of thousands of dead Nazis still being repatriated
Tens of thousands of dead Nazi soldiers are still being repatriated from makeshift war graves on the Eastern Front, despite the war having ended more than six decades ago.

Erm, it was a Nazi State, quite possibly a Nazi war, but that doesn\’t make every conscript who died in it a Nazi.

Be like describing the inhabitants of a Commonweath War Cemetery as Conservatives (or even National Governmentalists) or Monarchists.

The extended family abroad

Pashtun truck drivers from the north-west of the country began parking in the well-heeled streets, a short drive from Karachi\’s port and oil terminal, in November 2011last year when Islamabad banned the transport of Nato supplies through its territory.

The border closure was retaliation for the accidental killing by US forces of 24 Pakistani soldiers. Although Pakistan had previously closed the border in shorter protests, no one had expected the ban to drag on for so long this time.

The drivers, many of whom are sinking into debt, are desperate to get back to work even though some of the big Pakistani fuel suppliers fear the once hugely lucrative Nato logistics business will never recover.

That\’s quite probably true.

He was referring to alternative routes the US has developed in recent years that pass through Russia and the former Soviet republics on Afghanistan\’s northern border.

Those routes, combined with some air freight, have allowed Nato to continue operations unimpeded. But the cost of keeping troops supplied has increased hugely in the last six months.

US military officials say it costs $17,000 to ship a container through the northern route, compared with $7,000 through Pakistan.

\”It\’s more expensive, but it\’s more reliable,\” said Afridi. \”Nato knows the Pakistani government is not stable. They cannot guarantee the routes won\’t close again even if they open them.\”

One cousing is organising that fuel from the Russian/\’Stans end and it\’s my brother who is the bloke receiving the stuff when it arrives.

Odd how this global business stuff works really, innit?

I\’m against killing people but

Make certain exceptions: immediate self defence and in the course of a Just War.

OK, we can argue about whether Afghanistan actually is a Just War, but that it is a war does lead to a certain possible relxation of the restrictions against capital punishment.

A US soldier has shot dead 16 Afghan civilians, nine of them children, in a night-time shooting spree in a village outside his base in southern Afghanistan, a rampage the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said was \”impossible to forgive\”.

There\’s an argument that the solution to this is vile, simple and necessary.

A drumhead court martial and a public hanging (long drop please, execution not torture) in the village in question.

By, say, Thursday this week.

That is, of course, a complete abandonment of the no capital punishment ever position. Not that I\’ve ever actually held that position but I\’ve always been very close to it.

However, I know that there are various ex-military readers here. And your solution to this specific sort of thing would be what?

Dear Mr. Lindh

John is entirely innocent of any involvement in the terror attacks, or any allegiance to terrorism. That is not disputed by the American government. Indeed, all accusations of terrorism against John were dropped by the government in a plea bargain, which in turn was approved by the US district court in which the case was brought.

Paternal concern is indeed honourable.

But seriously, using the \”we\’ve no evidence\” part of a plea bargain just doesn\’t prove that there\’s no evidence.

As you go on to point out, your son was a trained and armed soldier in the service of the Taliban.

Shame on the military

And the demographic that is targeted is significant. The armed forces draws non-officer recruits mainly from young people with low educational attainment and living in poor communities. Research suggests schools from deprived areas are more likely to be visited by recruiters, with particular focus on the north-east of England, Scotland and Wales. Infantry recruits need only the literacy skills of a five-year-old to join. A large proportion appear to sign up for negative reasons, such a lack of civilian opportunities.

Providing careers, education, training, apprenticeships and advancement for NEETS.

Appalling, isn\’t it?

Not that I support Ghaddafi but

Doesn\’t he have a point here?

A defiant Muammar Gaddafi has threatened to bring war to the \”homes, offices, families,\” of Europe unless Nato stops airstrikes against his regime in Libya.

The Libyan leader, facing an international arrest warrant for his brutal response to the rebel uprising, delivered the warning of vengeance in an audio message played to thousands of supporters in Tripoli\’s Green Square.

\”These people [the Libyans] are able to one day take this battle … to Europe, to target your homes, offices, families, which would become legitimate military targets, like you have targeted our homes,\” he said.

War is one of these mutual things, isn\’t it? We bomb him, he\’s allowed to bomb us? We shoot at him, he\’s allowed to shoot at us?

And if not, why not?

Sorting out the MoD\’s bureaucracy

Lord Levene’s defence reform unit will call for a sweeping overhaul of the structure and management of the MoD, saying that military chiefs must be made accountable for their own budgets.

The ranks of senior military officers could also be thinned out, and new, more flexible rules on promotion introduced.


When you\’ve an entirely dysfunctional military bureaucracy, reform the military but not the bureaucracy.

There was no need at all to have M\’Lord Levine prepare a report.

It\’s all in here.