Gap Week Roundup, Jan. 24, 2020

Hey folks. Apologies to those who were eagerly awaiting Part II of the Fremen Mirage series. While I have a draft of the next installment done, I don’t feel like it is quite where I want it be, so I’m going to hold on to it for another week. Normally, I’d just push a bit to get it ready, but I have a number of other deadlines (both self-imposed and external) I’m working on.

In the meantime, I thought I wouldn’t leave you without something to munch on, so let me offer two links y’all might find interesting.

First, here is the Angry Staff Officer (@pptsapper), talking Ewok Warfighting. A sample:

In this single engagement, the Ewoks manage to overwhelm and completely defeat a technologically superior force simply by using conventional military tactics and the principles of multi-domain operations. Through the synchronization of direct and indirect fire, close air support, combat engineer principles, deception, psychological operations, and massing their forces at the key point in time and space, the Ewoks demonstrate their proficiency in land warfare. Other Star Wars universe forces—the Gungans and the Galactic Army of the Republic in particular—show their own flashes of tactical brilliance, but none of them come close to matching the Ewoks in their ability to coordinate the effects of combat power.

Check it out, and if you haven’t, also note Angry Staff Officer’s excellent blog.

For those looking for something a little more narrowly historical, let me recommend Wayne Lee’s fantastic talk from two years back, “Reaping the Rewards: How the Governor, the Priest, the Taxman and the Garrison Secure Victory in World History.” Securing gains is a crucial part of strategy and military operations, which is often neglected in not only popular culture, but also doctrine – this lecture is particularly on-point because it contrasts different forms of securing gains, for both state and non-state actors, in cases where ‘gains’ may mean very different things in terms of the objective end-state of military action. Check it out.

As I’m looking towards the future of the blog and also ramping up my own teaching/research/publication schedule, I may make these short “neat things I’ve seen” posts a regular occurrence (maybe on the first or last Friday of each month), to give me more time to brew up the big feature series that folks seem to like so much.

And, since I didn’t give you guys a post with pictures, here is an ancient cat sculpture:

From the British Museum, a terracotta cat found in the Fayyum, Egypt, dating to the Roman period (first or second century AD). It wears an adorable ribbon with a medallion, much like a modern cat collar.

9 thoughts on “Gap Week Roundup, Jan. 24, 2020

  1. Hi, I enjoy your blog. : )

    A random question not related to the post: for reasons, I am reading books on 18th century European military history. (The reasons are that I am writing fan fiction and want to get the setting right.) After all your posts on body armor, I am wondering: why on earth aren’t the 18th century soldiers wearing any body armor, not even helmets? I mean, I don’t know how helpful it would be against muskets, but they have bayonets and swords as well. And surely it would help at least a bit against the muskets too. Sorry, maybe you’ve already addressed this somewhere and I missed it.

    PS I too have really enjoyed “Seeing Like A State”, it’s such an interesting book. Also Scott’s more recent “Against the Grain”.

    1. Armor is heavy and expensive, and it does impose a mobility reduction, even if the reduction is low compared to the modern world. As guns got more powerful, armor got thicker to compensate, and to control for weight, it covered less and less of the body (think 16th and 17th centuries here). For cavalrymen, who didn’t have to bear to full weight of their armor and could afford the cost, we see that thicker armor stuck around longer (in fact, Napoleon still has units of cavalry in the early 19th century wearing steel cuirasses, although by that point, mostly for show).

      Once you hit the point where the guns are powerful enough that essentially no amount of steel will stop a projectile, the armor drops away entirely. Ironically, the bayonet hastens this – before the bayonet, a man on the battlefield might face both traditional weapons like pikes as well as guns; the bayonet makes the pike obsolete, as a musketeer could be his own pikeman. Which in turn means a battlefield entirely of guns – guns that are, by that point, so powerful, no amount of metal armor is likely to avail.

  2. Also, a helmet makes a lot less sense on a Napoleonic battlefield than in, say, World War I. It does a lot of stuff, like protecting from shrapnel, from falling material that has been thrown up by heavy artillery blasts, and perhaps sometimes even deflecting a bullet. This is very useful in modern warfare with a lot of artillery support and where you stick to cover, but where the battle is two armies standing up and pouring musket and cannon fire into the other, it doesn’t do nearly as much good. A helm probably _would_ make sense in sieges, though.

  3. I’m late to the party but I wanted to share something the “Consolidating Gains” talk reminded me of. I went to a talk by this guy: which was titled “To Which Victor Go the Spoils”. It was about consolidating gains from the perspective of a rebel or insurgent group. The main issue highlighted was the difficulty of maintaining legitimacy once you start negotiating with whomever you were rebelling against. The central examples were conflicts within Palestinian resistance.

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