Questions pertaining to characteristics of armed forces' structure, manpower, equipment, or expenditures.

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Was the 18th century Russian peasant braver; or simply more afraid of Cossacks?

Frederick the Great famously noted after the Battle of Zorndorf that "It's easier to kill the Russians than to win over them." For that same battle the Russian commander (William Fermor) is noted as ...
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1answer
66 views

What was the extent of influence of James Byrnes on President Truman in the decision to use nuclear weapons?

Secretary of State James Byrnes was a very influential man and played a key role in foreign policy and the negotiations during WW2. It is known that after the death of FDR, he was the one who informed ...
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2answers
591 views

Why were the Huns so successful at siege warfare but the Goths were not?

I am listening to Mike Duncan's podcast titled "The History of Rome" and in it he mentioned that it is kind of a mystery that the Huns were so successful at siege warfare but the Goths were not. Both ...
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1answer
430 views

Conscientious objectors in Germany during WWI

Was there a special treatment for conscientious objectors in Germany during WWI? I know that Britain had a process of exemptions, which was however rather harshly and sparingly administered (see ...
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320 views

Did the French Revolution help produce French military “elan?”

In earlier wars against the British and Germans (e.g. the Seven Years' War of 1756-1763), French armies did not particularly distinguish themselves, even with a numerical advantage. Yet during the ...
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201 views

Are there any historical sources that support the claim that ancient high-speed archers held multiple arrows in their hand?

Lars Andersen was able to fire off 10 arrows in 4.9 seconds by holding several arrows in his right hand. As a comparison, medieval archers were expected to shoot 12-20 arrows per minute, or 0.98 to ...
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120 views

M-1 rifle ammo and grenade invasion ration

How many rounds did US Army infantry carry on a beach landing? One belt of 10, 8 round clips? two belts? How many grenades?
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576 views

Why did Frederick the Great do so much worse against the Russians than against his other enemies in the Seven Years' War?

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, made a name for himself and Prussia in the Seven Years' War, winning key battles against the French and Austrians at long odds. He won the battle of Rossbach ...
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3answers
263 views

Did it make sense to bring along infantry to reinforce attacking cavalry before the introduction of firearms?

At the Civil War battle of Brandy Station, the attacking Union cavalry general Alfred Pleasanton brought along some 3,000 infantry to even the odds, because his cavalry was outnumbered 9,500 to 8,000 ...
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73 views

Does the cost of creating a naval fleet grow over time? [closed]

Is it harder to build a naval fleet today than two-three centuries ago? Do we spend more or less % of GDP to build the complete fleet from scratch? Do we spend more or less % of GDP per ship, or per ...
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5answers
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Why didn't Japanese infantrymen and samurai use shields?

Shields were considered useful in Europe until the development of full plate armor. Despite the fact that they never had anything comparable to plate armor, shield use was apparently abandoned by the ...
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4answers
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How did Genghis Khan's army feed so many horses?

The average horse eats 10-20 pounds per day, according to this pet website. Considering the fact that the horses may have to eat even more because of the hard traveling they had to endure, it's likely ...
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1answer
199 views

What kind of crew members did ancient artillery teams consist of?

According to what I understand from Pieter's answer to the question "Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?", he said that since 2,000 years ago until now, ...
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3answers
562 views

Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?

In 1980 E.P.Thompson published an interesting paper called *Barbarian Invaders and Roman Collaborators *. Among other subjects he consdiers there the leakage from Rome to its enemies of technical ...
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2answers
790 views

Has the USA ever taken unilateral military action?

In the post-American Revolution era, has the United States ever taken unilateral military action against another country besides during the Civil War?
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144 views

Why weren't R-4 helicopters used in the European theatre in 1944-5?

Early helicopters it seems were deployed by the American military in WW2 in the Burma and China theatres, and in the South Pacific. Their principal use would appear to have been small scale rescue ...
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2answers
358 views

Strange jeep-hold cable used during Operation Horev

The National Library of Israel has just released 100 images about Operation Horev. Two images show a jeep that holds a sort of cable attached to a balloon or something, or maybe it is just a very ...
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3answers
823 views

What is the earliest known account of the modern military salute?

The military salute, made with right hand to head of a soldier, seems to be a European tradition, however it is adopted by many armies in the world. What are origins of this gesture? I came across a ...
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4answers
309 views

Why was the US unable to win in Korea? [closed]

The US had just defeated 1 Axis power and contributed greatly to the defeat of another. Its soldiers saw wide ranging combat experience over the 3 years in conflict against veteran soldiers of Germany ...
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6answers
907 views

Why were troops with bayonets often effective against enemy cavalry even though the bayonet was a “secondary” weapon?

The bayonet was introduced in the late 17th century as a knife (later a short sword) attached to a musket, to enable the musketeer to protect himself when reloading their single-shot weapons. As such, ...
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2answers
275 views

Disappearance and reappearance of helmets in European armies circa 1600 to 1900

What factors lead to the disappearance of military helmets from European armies during the 17th through 19th centuries, and then to their return to use in the early 20th century? To what extent were ...
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1answer
175 views

What roman legions in Spain revolted against Caesar before the battle at Munda?

I was debating an interesting topic recently about Pompey's legions in Spain and why they hadn't fought alongside him against Caesar at Pharsalus. Now Caesar forcefully convinced most of them to join ...
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3answers
841 views

Why was the 1944 surrender of 20,000 Germans on the Western Front remarkable?

I remember very well those days last September when we first heard the rumor that General Elster would surrender to the 99th Division, no one would believe it. "20,000 German troops and their ...
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329 views

Why has SACEUR exclusively been an American officer?

After reading this BBC article about the new SACEUR, General Philip Breedlove, United States Air Force, it occurred to me that SACEUR has always been an American officer. Supreme Allied Commander ...
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2answers
169 views

When has a military force used their own people as human shields?

I am looking for instances/examples (and sources) throughout history of times an army used it's own people as a buffer between itself and an opposing force. While it is fairly common for an army to ...
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564 views

Did Germany produce ammunition with depleted uranium?

Albert Speer in a footnote in Inside the Third Reich states, "During 1940 1200 metric tons of uranium ore had been seized in Belgium." Later in the book, Speer states, "In the summer of ...
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191 views

Organisation of mercenaries

In the War of the roses how were mercenary units organised and administrated? Were they paid per lance, archer, knight etc? Would there be a King's representative who would go the mercenary ...
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56 views

A memorial Georgia (U.S.) plaque

This memorial plaque lists the numbers of Georgians who served in various wars and details the casualties. What I find odd is that for WWI, Korea, Vietnam, and Gulf round numbers are given for the ...
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3answers
137 views

Were there many “co-headed” commands where the senior member was younger than the junior?

When one thinks of "partnership" commands, one may think of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene. Perhaps Hindenburg and Ludendorf in World War I Or Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson. In each ...
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1answer
236 views

How did Poland avoid partition in the 17th century, but not the 18th century?

During the "Deluge" of 1648-1667, Poland was invaded and largely overrun by Sweden and Russia, the latter supporting dissident Ukrainian rebels. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deluge_(history) Yet, ...
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344 views

In U.S. military forces, did black soldiers suffer a heavy racial segregation during World War II?

Source: BBC In his book, Mr Hitchcock raises another issue that rarely features in euphoric folk-memories of liberation: Allied looting, and worse. "The theft and looting of Normandy ...
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5answers
438 views

Have any armies equipped/fed their officers and enlisted men equally?

In the Soviet army during WW2 the officers had bigger food rations. They also had better boots (kirza vs. leather). The air force pilots were fed even better (but that is not very relevant). What ...
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217 views

Are submarine launched ballistic missiles still inaccurate?

In the early 1980s documentary First Strike, one of the arguments made for the development of the MX missile program was that in the event of a massive Soviet attack on the land-based missile and ...
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U.S. Marine Corps and Why does the Navy’s army need its own air force?

A recent interview by C-SPAN host Brian Lamb with Washington Post staff writer Rajiv Chandrasekaran touched on many controversial issues of the F-35 acquisition program where evidently a lot of pork ...
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4answers
275 views

When were soldiers compensated with land grants?

In what times and places was it common to give land to soldiers, as a form of payment for their army service? I have learned in school that this was common in Rome. However, in the wikipedia article ...
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1answer
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Do Navy Seals die in training? [closed]

I didn't know where to ask this but i've heard that sometimes Navy Seals die during traing? Is this true? The same goes fro Green Berets.
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4answers
492 views

What is this strange uniform?

Colonel John Tiltman wears a very strange uniform in this picture, dated 1919. The original webpage where I saw the picture is http://www.colossus-computer.com/colossus1.html.
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338 views

Did Hannibal start the Second Punic War prematurely?

IN 221 BC, Hamilcar, Hannibal's father, made a peace with Rome that divided Spain north and south between Rome and Carthage. The latter got the larger "piece," the area shaded in green on the map ...
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185 views

What was the general idea of the 'Theme' system that the Byzantines employed? [closed]

I have heard that the Theme system was effective until some disaster, but what did it actually do? What was it supposed to do?
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1answer
163 views

What was involved in “grounding arms?”

This practice appeared NOT to have been common in the twentieth century, with long-ranged, and "repeating" weapons. But prior to the nineteenth century, it was apparently a form of surrender. What ...
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1answer
162 views

Why did the Russians lose to the Turks in 1711 after defeating them in 1700 and the Swedes in 1709?

The Russians captured Azov and Taganrog in a war with Turkey that ended in 1700. Then they decimated the Swedish army at Poltava in 1709, thereby crippling their main enemy, and freeing the bulk of ...
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1answer
267 views

Husaria, the winged hussars

The Polish husaria did carry wings -- as can be seen here or here. Their purpose has been debated with no clear answer. What I want to know is was there an evolution in the wings design or just one ...
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2answers
957 views

World War 1 Indian propaganda posters

In World War 1, because war broke out between the triple entente and the central powers (and they happened to have a lot of foreign colonies), the allies made posters to recruit soldiers from all ...
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Military training in the Hijaz during early Islamic era

The expansion of the Islamic rule during early Islamic era was quite impressive. Before 629, Muhammad's rule was limited to one city Medina. 15 years later, at the end of Umar's rule, the Caliphate ...
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2answers
1k views

What would be a typical rank for KGB intelligence offices spying abroad in the 1980s?

What would be typical ranks of KGB officers spying in the west during the 1980s? I know there were some western spies recruited by the KGB, that after defecting to the Soviet Union got/had ranks in ...
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5answers
3k views

Why did the scutum fall out of use?

Wikipedia says By the end of the 3rd century the rectangular scutum seems to have disappeared. Why did the rectangular scutum design fall out of use? Why was the shield design not commonly ...
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2answers
266 views

Was there more than one way for anti-aircraft fire to shoot down a dive bomber in World War II

I read somewhere that there were two "best" times for anti-aircraft to shoot down a dive bomber (of World War II vintage). One was when the plane was going into the dive. The other was when the plane ...
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1answer
162 views

What are the modern roles of “brigadier” generals and commodores?

It has been said that the hardest jump in the military is between colonel and general. That's because a colonel is a "specialist" who commands troops of only one type (infantry, cavalry or artillery), ...
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244 views

Was there any new military innovation during the Siege of Malta?

In the Siege of Malta, the Knights Hospitaller defended the island despite being heavily outnumbered by the invading Ottoman troops. Malta was such a small island, the Turks were the masters of the ...
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402 views

What were the German “general” ranks in World War II?

The Anglo-American armies share ranks up to "full" (or four star) general. (The German army has ranks equivalent to those armies for non-general officers). The American army deviated from the English ...