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

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What decides who goes in the front rank in a line infantry formation?

In an infantry formation, the front ranks seems to have much higher chance of being killed because they are exposed to the enemy front. This thread explains how soldiers are arranged in Roman ...
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3answers
152 views

How much food value is a horse to a cavalryman?

Suppose you have a group of say, 1,000 cavalry, that were besieged on a fortress awaiting relief. As such, they are dismounted and fight like infantry. Suppose they are short on food, but they can ...
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2answers
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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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3answers
343 views

Why Americans like to enroll in military services despite huge risks involved? [closed]

Working in US military is one of the riskiest jobs in America because of the regular engagement in battles compared to other military in the world. I live in a third-world country. Even in my ...
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6answers
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How did a besieged city/castle defend itself vs. catapulting diseased dead bodies into it?

I was a bit shocked to read that diseased dead bodies/animals where catapulted into besieged castles/towns. Biological warfare in the middle ages. But this "method" of warfare had probably a lot of ...
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0answers
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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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2answers
313 views

Changing troops in first line during battle

I remember Caesar in De Bello Gallico mentioning Romans changing fighting/resting troops in some siege defense while Celtic attackers didn't do this and lost the battle because of it. This is just one ...
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1answer
154 views

How did Leonardo plan on moving his tank?

Was there a plan for how to propel the circular wooden tank design of Leonardo da Vinci's? It seems far too heavy to be powered Flintstones-style by the people inside, but it also seems too small for ...
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1answer
169 views

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
109 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 ...
6
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2answers
224 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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5answers
574 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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2answers
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Wiliam Wallace vs. Robert Bruce: Why Did One Win and One Lose?

At the battle of Falkirk in 1298, William Wallace (aka "Brave Heart") abandoned the guerrilla tactics that served him so well at Stirling Bridge, and adopted a strong, but "conventional" defensive ...
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2answers
525 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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1answer
299 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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3answers
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Why were there “hussars” all across Europe?

From what I read, hussars are originally a cavalry forces in Medieval Hungary. But then it became a class of light cavalry that were in service in many European nations, and during the Napoleonic ...
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2answers
874 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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4answers
619 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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2answers
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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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2answers
809 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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5answers
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How did a nomadic minority group the Manchus come to rule over China?

The population of the Chinese empire was about 120 times larger than the Jurchen tribe, who later renamed themselves to Manchus. Yes, the Manchus were very skilled warriors and the late Ming dynasty ...
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4answers
390 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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1answer
383 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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0answers
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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 ...
9
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1answer
233 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
395 views

Organized and intentional suicide attacks during military conflicts

First of all I want to make it clear that we're not speaking about terrorist attacks here. This question is strictly dedicated to war operations, in a dictionary meaning. Also this question is about ...
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2answers
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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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2answers
208 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
324 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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2answers
913 views

What uniforms did each of the American Civil War regiment wear during First Bull Run / First Manassas

During the American Civil War battle First Bull Run / First Manassas, regiments of both sides turned up in either the gray militia uniform or the blue 1858 regulation uniform, in addition to any ...
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1answer
241 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 ...
5
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2answers
198 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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1answer
245 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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1answer
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Why are military uniforms often flared or poofy above the knee?

I've often wondered why do various uniforms have those "poofs" on the outsides of the legs just above the knee? Was there a particular purpose to this, or a practical reason, or was it just the result ...
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1answer
336 views

Are photos of WWII US Navy damage reports available online?

I have located a PDF of the USS Marblehead's Bomb Damage Report from 4 Feb 1942. The report lists plates of photographs which are not included in the report I have found. Do copies of this report ...
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1answer
1k views

What is this military patch with the silhouette of a pegasus on it?

I found this patch among my grandfather's things. I know it's a military patch of some sort because it was with his war memorabilia. He served in the European theater during WWII, if that helps at ...
3
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1answer
278 views

How was Australia able to start to demobilize in 1944?

Frank Welsh's mammoth history of Australia, Great Southern Land notes that From June 1944 ... the Australian government began demobilising its soldiers. Welsh doesn't go into detail but I'm ...
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3answers
147 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 ...
8
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1answer
384 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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1answer
484 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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2answers
638 views

Was the Napoleonic era cavalry armour effective against firearms?

During the Napoleonic wars in Europe, many heavy cavalry units still retain the use of armours, for example, French Carabiniers-à-Cheval below, How effective were these to protect the cavalryman ...
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2answers
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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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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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2answers
595 views

Where can I find the history of military uniforms?

Is there any web resource that talk about the history and evolution of military uniforms? For example, development, history and evolution of uniforms of various Muslim, European, Asian, Indian ...
5
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1answer
260 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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0answers
243 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
223 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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3answers
240 views

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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7answers
574 views

Has there ever been an attempted military takeover of a democracy in the western world?

Ignoring the Spanish 1981 and Greek 1967 coups. Are there any other examples of the military attempting (or even managing) to overthrow an elected government in an advanced democracy in the western ...
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2answers
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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 ...