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

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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
1k 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
261 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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2answers
219 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
351 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
4k views

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
456 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
2k 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 ...
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1answer
314 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
158 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
473 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
590 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
826 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
2k views

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
9k views

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
677 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 ...
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1answer
404 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
403 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
308 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
325 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
619 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
3k 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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1answer
234 views

Looking for info on an (epicly) failed British Special Forces mission

A couple of years back I read a Wikipedia article about a UK special forces mission. After a series of bad decisions, most of the crew got killed. I would like to be able to give these events as an ...
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2answers
389 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
386 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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3answers
517 views

At the Battle of Zama, was the Roman army more “native” than the Carthaginian?

At the battle of Zama, which army had a higher proportion of native troops? Within the context of this question consider troops to be either "native" or "mercenary". Native troops serve out of ...
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3answers
964 views

What was the origin of the roles of “lieutenant” officers?

A "captain" is a commander of a basic unit, a company in the military. As such, it makes sense that he will have one or more "lieutenants," first and second lieutenants that is. A major commands the ...
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2answers
3k views

Military tactics specifically aimed against cavalry horses

Were tactics specifically aimed against horses common in past cavalry warfare and what forms did they take? For instance, did opponents try to harm (poison or shoot-them-first), distract (loud ...
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2answers
442 views

Did the Gallic army besieged in Alesia conduct itself well when expecting relief?

During a Gallic revolution against Rome, a Gallic army of some 80,000 men took shelter in the fortress town of Alesia, where they were besieged by some 50,000 Romans under Julius Caesar. (His army may ...
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6answers
889 views

What advantages have motorized infantry enjoyed over standard infantry besides speed?

My understanding is that motorized infantry have greater combat value than "standard" infantry (foot soldiers armed with rifles, or perhaps machine guns), over and above their greater mobility. Do ...
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5answers
637 views

What incentives are in place for American soldiers to go fight in Iraq?

I am from Brazil, a country that has not fought any war since WW2. If you join the army, go fight in Iraq and then return, what will the USA pay you? Is there a health plan for life, a pension, or ...
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1answer
164 views

Were Russian recruits ever chained?

This paper contains the following remark: Recruits were then marched off, without proper care, to a destination that might be hundreds of miles away; initially they were branded and even ...
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1answer
287 views

What is “quarter column”

I'm watching a documentary on the Boer War and apparently, during the Victorian era, the British Army commonly employed their infantry in "quarter column". I've tried to look it up, but can't find ...
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1answer
1k views

Missing link in the German tank development?

As you know, the Leopard 1 was not the first tank of postwar Germany. Germany work on different new tanks. There are prototypes as medium tank Indienpanzer (later developed into a Swiss KW30 and its ...
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1answer
206 views

Identification of a treacherous general of 17th century China

My aunt is part of an informal discussion group interested in the history of China. Apparently, during the Ming dynasty in the 1600s, there was a general whose treachery (I the charge was he was ...
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1answer
1k views

Did the Soviet Union know when DEFCON levels changed?

The US military uses a scale of alert readiness called DEFCON, with DEFCON 5 being the lowest alert level and DEFCON 1 being the highest, preparing for imminent nuclear war. At least once during the ...
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4answers
174 views

Two Successive Coups?

Is there any country in which a coup has been overthrown by another coup? In specific I'm looking for a scenario in which: 1) A ruler was overthrown in a coup by person B 2) Person B left the ...
6
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1answer
212 views

British way in construction of AFV

Why have British tanks not changed very much? The USA have moved from the VSS, VVSS, HVSS (Lee and Sherman) suspensions to the torsion bar suspension (T26 and Patton family), USSR - from twin bogies ...
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5answers
372 views

Historical examples of significant no man's lands between states in perpetual conflict

What are some historical examples, if any, of large-scale (say > 10000 km squared) "no-man's lands" between states in perpetual conflict? These states would be mutually hostile, firmly divided ...
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4answers
306 views

Were there bows employed by tribes living in the desert, and if so, what were they made of?

For tribes that inhabited desert areas (e.g. Arabian Peninsula, Sahara, etc...), there seems to have been a problem: a good bow would likely require materials that would be hard to come by in the ...
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3answers
2k views

Was the US Navy larger in 1917, and if so, why?

Following the recent discussion in the third US Presidental Debate about the size of the Navy, there actually seemed to be a good discussion buried in there. How does the US Navy compare to its ...
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2answers
2k views

When people use spears to fight cavalry do infantry stab the horse or the rider?

I am just curious. In most games spear infantry is a "counter" against cavalry. How does that really work anyway? Any clips on actual cavalry fighting infantry that's historically accurate would be ...
9
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1answer
261 views

Gengkhis Khan armor secret

Gengkhis Khan the king of the Mongolian Empire used a specific kind of cloth material for his military fatigues. This cloth material worked as an armor and was an advantage for his soldiers to win ...
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1answer
2k views

Any notable battles fought with steel vs. bronze weapons?

In answering the question Was the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age violent I found out a few facts that I hadn't expected. Namely, that the early iron weapons weren't necessarily much ...
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2answers
491 views

In which situation is the broadside more preferable than every gun firing on their own time?

Mathematically, a ship should be able to fire more shots if each of the cannons fire at their fastest speed, instead of waiting for everyone to be ready, but it seems that a broadside is sometimes ...
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4answers
222 views

Why are the police never responsible for guarding the Head of the State?

Why does the military provide the Head of State's honor guard? Why is the Head of State always accompanied by military personnel? Why don't the police escort the Head of State?
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1answer
645 views

What is the history of standing armies in India?

Specifically, the points I am looking answers to are: 1) What is the first recorded instance of a standing army in the Indian subcontinent. 2) When did it become a general practice to have standing ...
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2answers
394 views

What is the origination of the Forlorn Hope?

Going back to a comment I had made in the question on What were the types of sieges something I had seen often referred to in the Bernard Cornwell Sharpe series was the Forlorn Hope. Basically these ...
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3answers
482 views

What Were the Types of Sieges?

As I understand it, there were two types of sieges. One was where the attacking army would "camp," surrounding the city, and let the defenders run out of food. An example was Ulysses S. Grant's siege ...
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1answer
285 views

Was the “Mot Pulk” formation simply a propaganda ploy?

The "Mot Pulk" was a motorized formation used by the Germans during World War II. Based on when it was introduced (after heavy defeats in the USSR) and the vague descriptions that I've found, it ...