Saturday, November 22, 2014

3rd New Nuclear Missile Submarine Set to Join Russian Navy

3rd New Nuclear Missile Submarine Set to Join Russian Navy


Flot.comThe K-551 Vladimir Monomakh submarine.
Amid a buildup of Moscow's naval power, the Russian Navy is set to commission its third brand new Borei class nuclear missile submarine, the K-551 Vladimir Monomakh, a senior Defense Ministry source was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency on Friday. 
The Navy's flag will be raised over the boat on Dec. 19, marking its official induction into the fleet four months after completing sea trials, the source said, although the boat will be signed over to the Navy on December 10. 
The Borei-class submarines are Russia's next-generation "boomers" — large submarines packed with nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that lurk in the safety of the ocean depths, ensuring that Russia will always have a reserve of missiles to fire at its enemies if its land-based strategic nuclear forces are obliterated. 
However, in this role, the Borei's have struggled to make the mark. Delays in the development of the Bulava-type ICBMs that the new boats were designed to carry have prevented the submarines from being strategically relevant and useful to the Navy. 
The missile, which has been in development since 2009, was successfully test fired by the Monomakh in September, but is still several successful launches away from incorporation into Russia's armory. 
The Boreis — capable of carrying up to 12 Bulava missiles — are post-Soviet Russia's replacement for the aging Typhoon and Delta IV-class boats, which were an integral part of the Soviet Union's nuclear deterrence force. Russia plans on building at least 8 of the new ships. 
The navy has also ordered 8 next-generation hunter-killer submarines, known as the Yasen-class, which hunt enemy submarines and surface ships. 
Together, Russia's new submarine fleet aspires to reclaim Russia's role as a major player on the high seas. However, this goal will be elusive, as Russia's surface fleet has so far not enjoyed the same level of investment as its submarine fleet.

This Week in World War I - November 22-28, 1914 - Trenches



Joseph V. Micallef Headshot

This Week in World War I November 22-28, 1914

Posted: Upda
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British Troops in Trenches, Flanders 1915
Life in the Trenches Part 1
Life in the trenches has become one of the most enduring images of the First World War. Conditions in the trenches were beyond squalid. Death, appalling injury, disease and destruction surrounded the troops at every turn. The danger of a gas attack was omnipresent. Enemies whose only wish was to kill their inhabitants lived close by, sometimes as little as 100 feet away. Up to a third of all Allied casualties on the Western front were sustained within the trenches themselves. If the enemy didn't get you, disease was often not far behind. 
Of course, not all of the soldiers served in the trenches. Behind the front line lay a great mass of stores, workshops, and headquarters, supply lines that were vital to keep the war effort going, training centers and other supporting infrastructure. In these rear areas would be found the majority of troops. Behind and to the sides of the infantry in the trenches could also be found the supporting forces of the artillery, their observers, the engineers, the machine gunners and the mortar operators.
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Typical Trench System layout
Although trench warfare reached its most sophisticated development, and most extensive deployment during World War I, trenches were not an innovation of the Great War. Trench warfare had already been in use for at least two centuries, beginning with the Spanish Wars of Succession in the eighteenth century. They had also appeared in the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and the Russia-Japanese War (1904-1905). 
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Trench Cutting Across a Village in France
There was a wide variation in the nature of the trenches used throughout the Western Front. In the Somme valley, for example, the chalky soil was prone to crumbling after rain, so the trench walls had to be faced with timber, sandbags or whatever material was available. In the muddy, low-lying lands of Flanders, it was not so much a case of digging down as building up: the men used sandbags and wood to manufacture their defenses and parapets. In some places in France, trenches ran through towns and villages, across railway lines and rivers, through industrial sites and coalmines. The men whose job it was to dig in were forced to invent and improvise to meet the various challenges presented by the terrain.
The vast lines of trenches were built to definite plans. Between the two combatants there was a no-man's land often fronted on either side by minefields. Behind the mines were barbed wire entanglements and sometimes even more mines. The front line would usually consist of a main fire trench facing the enemy. These were not always cut in a straight line, but followed the natural contours and features of the land. The lack of straight lines had another advantage: digging in sections, or bays, would limit damage to a particular section if a shell exploded in it. Moreover, should some of the enemy manage to infiltrate a bay, they might more easily be contained in that area. Extending from the front line were further trenches known as saps, which probed beyond the protective tangles of barbed wire and ended in no-man's land, manned by one or two soldiers engaged in listening and observing.
The trenches themselves were usually constructed with sandbags and timbers and contained a firing step and duckboards in the bottom to keep the soldier's feet above any rain water that had collected there. This was the ideal design. After incessant rain and frequent artillery fire had churned up the ground, however, the reality soon bore little resemblance to the original plans, particularly by the end of the war.
Behind the fire trench was another line of excavations called the support line. Here could be found dugouts cut into the trench wall with enough room to shelter perhaps three or four men or accommodate a signaling point or telephone position. Perhaps a platoon or company HQ could be found here. These trenches were expected to shelter troops for an extended period of time. To connect the areas at the rear to fire trenches and support lines, communication trenches would be dug. Along these lines would be ferried the equipment and supplies needed by the men at the front. 
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German Trench on the Eastern Front
Deployment in the trenches followed a fairly strict cycle. An Allied battalion would typically serve a period of 70 days in the front line, which would be followed by another 70 days in support and a further 120-day period in the reserve lines. The length of time could vary depending on where the infantryman was and what was happening around him. These stints would then be followed by a 70-day period of rest, often all too short and sometimes interrupted by duties that would put the men back in the line of fire. Once a rotation was completed, the whole cycle would begin again. As for leave, when a soldier might expect to get away from the war altogether and perhaps even see his home and loved ones, two weeks might be granted during a year.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hero known as the; Black Death; to receive Medal of Honor 95 yearslate: African-American soldier fought off dozens of Germans despitebeing shot 20 times

Nearly 100 years after he single-handedly fought off a German attack and saved a comrade from capture despite suffering serious wounds, Sgt. Henry Johnson is a step closer to getting a posthumous Medal of Honor.
In an unprecedented move, congress is looking at changing a law that would allow a black World War I soldier from upstate New York who saved a comrade while fighting off a German attack in France, to be honored. 
A number of congressmen including Chuck Hagel, the secretary of defense, has sent Congress a letter saying Sgt. Henry Johnson should receive the nation's highest military decoration for bravery in combat. 
The railroad porter from Albany was serving in the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment when he killed or wounded several enemy soldiers while saving a fellow soldier from capture. 
The president gets the final word on the medal request, which also requires passage of special legislation in Congress because Johnson's actions were more than five years ago. 
The current legislation specifies that heroic actions have to have taken place within five years to be considered.
His men: Johnson (back row, 2nd from right) was a solider in an all-black outfit, the 369th Infantry Regiment, a New York National Guard unit based in Manhattan and known as the Harlem Hell-fighters
His men: Johnson (back row, 2nd from right) was a solider in an all-black outfit, the 369th Infantry Regiment, a New York National Guard unit based in Manhattan and known as the Harlem Hell-fighters
The stuff of legend: He almost single- highhandedly fought off his attackers armed only with a rifle and a knife, using the rifle as a club once it had run out of bullets
The stuff of legend: He almost single- highhandedly fought off his attackers armed only with a rifle and a knife, using the rifle as a club once it had run out of bullets
Remembered: Henry Johnson is displayed in the Arbor Hill neighborhood in Albany, New York. The secretary of defense has recommended awarding a posthumous Medal of Honor to the black soldier from upstate New York who saved a comrade while fighting off a German attack in France during World War I
Remembered: Henry Johnson is displayed in the Arbor Hill neighborhood in Albany, New York. The secretary of defense has recommended awarding a posthumous Medal of Honor to the black soldier from upstate New York who saved a comrade while fighting off a German attack in France during World War I
'Johnson should have received this recognition 95 years ago, and providing an exemption for him now is the right thing to do,' said Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.
If approved, Johnson would become the 89th black soldier to receive the Medal of Honor and just the second for heroism during World War I, according to the Mount Pleasant, South Carolina-based Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Better late thn never: It has been argued that Johnson should receive the Medal Of Honor - the nation's highest military decoration for bravery in combat
Better late thn never: It has been argued that Johnson should receive the Medal Of Honor - the nation's highest military decoration for bravery in combat
Johnson, a Virginia-born rail station porter in Albany, enlisted in the 369th Infantry Regiment, a New York National Guard unit based in Manhattan that became known as the 'Harlem Hellfighters.' 
 With U.S. armed forces segregated at the time, the 369th was assigned to serve under French command when Johnson's outfit arrived on the front lines in early 1918.
Around midnight on May 15, 1918, he and another soldier, Needham Roberts of Trenton, New Jersey, were standing guard when their position was attacked by about two dozen Germans.
Both Americans were wounded, but despite his injuries the 5ft 4in Johnson fought off the attack, using his knife and rifle to kill or wound several of the enemy who were trying to drag Roberts away.
Johnson's actions caused the other Germans to retreat. 
His actions earned him one of France's highest military medals, but historians believe rampant Jim Crow-era racism at a time when the services were segregated kept Johnson from receiving American military honors. 
Indeed, accounts of his actions were published in newspapers back home in Albany, as well as in Chicago and New York City. 
Former President Theodore Roosevelt, in a book he wrote about World War I, listed Johnson among the bravest Americans to serve in the conflict.
'Everybody knew who Henry Johnson was,' said Jack McEneny, a retired state lawmaker and Albany historian who has been advocating Johnson's case for 40 years. 
'He was a major source of pride and a realization for the black community and the white community of the value of African-Americans to the loyalty of this country.'
Never forget: A statue of Henry Johnson in Washington Park  in Albany, New York. It has been argued that Johnson be awarded the Medal Of Honor nearly 100 years after he single-handedly fought off a German attack
Never forget: A statue of Henry Johnson in Washington Park in Albany, New York. It has been argued that Johnson be awarded the Medal Of Honor nearly 100 years after he single-handedly fought off a German attack
Racist past: Johnson’s legacy went unrecognized because of segregation within the armed forces at the time
Racist past: Johnson’s legacy went unrecognized because of segregation within the armed forces at the time
After the war, Johnson moved back to Albany, where he resumed working as a porter. 
 Plagued by his wartime injuries, he died a destitute alcoholic at age 32 at a veterans hospital Illinois in 1929. 
He was believed to have been buried in a pauper's grave, but his final resting place was found in Arlington National Cemetery in 2002. 

US Navy Supply Ships Collide Off Coast of Yemen

No injuries as 2 U.S. Navy supply ships collide off Yemen
Two U.S. Navy ships collided in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, the Associated Press reported. No sailors were injured in the incident.
The USNS Amelia Earhart and the USNS Walter S. Diehl touched off the coast of Yemen in what a Navy spokesman deemed a "minor collision." The vessels, which resupply Navy warships that conduct operations for the U.S. 5th Fleet, were in the midst of an exchange of goods, the news service added.
"Naval 'underway replenishments' typically involve ships coming within 100 to 150 feet, or 30 to 45 meters, of one another and ferrying dry goods across cables and fuel through hoses," the Associated Press detailed
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Only "relatively minor damage" was sustained when the ships collided, and they were able to continue to operate during repairs, 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Kevin Stephens told the AP.
"Initial reports indicate only minor damage to both ships. The ships are operating under their own power and are continuing their assigned missions," a Navy statement detailed.
The Earhart is a dry cargo and ammunition supply ship, while the Diehl serves as a replenishment oiler, Stars and Stripes noted. The military newspaper said the incident occurred at 5:26 a.m. The Earhart typically has a crew of about 170, the Diehl of about 100.
U.S. and international naval forces have been patrolling the Gulf of Adan as an anti-piracy task force for years, according to Defense News. The 5th Fleet has a mission that encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water around the Middle East region, including the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, Stars and Stripes added.
The fleet is based at a Naval Support Activity in the small island country of Bahrain, which also houses U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. A former installation of the British Royal Navy, It is the primary base in the region for the naval and marine activities in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
An investigation will determine what exactly led to Thursday's collision between the two vessels, the Navy said.

World War I records reveal myths and realities of soldiers with ‘shellshock’



During World War I, severe post-traumatic reactions reached an epidemic scale that surpassed anything known from previous armed conflicts. The centenary of the Great War has reminded us of the tremendous suffering in the trenches – and coverage of the personal accounts of soldiers, their experiences at the frontline, their disfiguring injuries and the effects these had on their morale and family life cannot help but move.
But surprisingly, not much has been written about the often devastating consequences of this war on their mental health. Public perception of “shell shock” focuses on certain iconic clinical pictures that were popularised in contemporary medical films and later adaptations in media and fiction. You might have come across the “constant twitching and snorting and jerking” of Roald Dahl’s Captain Hardcastle, or mute Private Callan, whose treatment at Queen Square was (fictitiously) witnessed by WHR Rivers in Pat Barker’s novel, Regeneration.

Shell shock in the heart of London

My research focuses on the exact symptoms of traumatised soldiers, but also explores their personal histories, the events leading up to their breakdown, their journey through the medical system, and the reactions of doctors to this new challenge.
The complete set of medical case records covering the war years and post-war period were preserved in the archives of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery at Queen Square in the heart of London. By the beginning of World War I, this renowned neurological hospital, referred to by contemporaries as “the temple of British neurology” had already gained an international reputation for the treatment of neurological disorders and pioneering neurosurgery in England.
The hospital received mental casualties from all over the world, including servicemen from Australia, Canada, South Africa, the US, Belgium, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The medical case records from between 1914 and 1919 reveal that in more than a third of the cases (38%), doctors could not find a medical explanation for the symptoms. And it is these 462 “shell shock” cases that I’ve analysed in more detail.

Shaking limbs and shaken minds

Soldiers with shell shock showed a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from deafness, bizarre gaits, violent shaking and paralyses to anxiety, depression, transient psychoses (with hallucinations and delusions) and flashbacks and nightmares which are classic displays of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
The breadth of these clinical presentations is surprising because it is generally assumed that PTSD mainly arose in later wars. Soldiers who developed shell shock were not necessarily involved in active fighting at the time. Several soldiers, who had coped well with life in the trenches, broke down during their home leave. Here, relatively minor incidents, such as falling down the stairs at Victoria station (without major physical injury) or tripping when getting off a London bus, could trigger a severe mental breakdown. Another trigger not directly related to combat was marital infidelity.
The study of the Queen Square records dispels widely held beliefs about the outcomes of shell-shock patients. These include that shell shock was chronic and virtually untreatable (many patients recovered) and that patients were regularly classified as malingerers and sent back to the frontline (very few were). The Queen Square doctors (and eventually all British doctors) concluded that such cases would not be able to stand the strain of active service without relapsing and therefore recommended the vast majority of servicemen for discharge from their military duties. In all these cases, admission to Queen Square had a potentially life-saving function, preventing the return of the soldier to the trenches.

What about the German side?

When comparing the Queen Square records with those of an equivalent German institution, the psychiatric department of the Charité in Berlin, it becomes clear that hysterical fits (non-epileptic seizures) were much more frequent among German than British soldiers. This observation, which is supported by medical publications of the time, as analysed in my recent paper in Medical History, suggests that similar traumatic triggers can produce different clinical reactions in different cultural settings.
Epileptic seizures had already been recognised as a phenomenon of abnormal electrical activity in the brain before the war. Electricity was also the driving force behind the industrialisation and rapid modernisation of Berlin, the city which by the start of the 19th century had become the world capital of electrical engineering – and whose culture was dominated by the innovations of the electrical industry, from the cinema to the electric tramway. In this context, unleashing the forces of electricity in reaction to the shell shock may have been an almost natural, or at least understandable, way of dealing with the trauma.
The history of shell shock and other post-traumatic reactions clearly shows how cultural factors can shape the expression of trauma and distress. There are many cultural factors that might have influenced the way in which traumatised soldiers presented (some of which I discuss in my paper).

Stigma of psychiatric problems

One important factor was the stigma that was (and still is) associated with psychiatric symptoms. The shame of suffering from a mental illness and the “taunt of having nothing to show” encouraged soldiers without obvious wounds to (subconsciously) express their trauma through physical symptoms. For doctors, who were well aware of the stigma of a mental diagnosis and its damaging effect on a man’s self-respect, it became usual practice to attach to traumatised soldiers the biological label of shell shock.
At the beginning of the last century, eminent French psychologist and psychotherapist Pierre Janet (a pupil of Jean-Martin Charcot, the oft-titled “founder of modern neurology”) had already asked:
How is it that with one person the hysteria bears on the arm, with another on the stomach, and that, with a third, it only reaches a system of ideas?
This is still a relevant clinical question, not just in relation to combat stress, but for the huge field of so called “medically unexplained symptoms”. And historical research is likely to play a major role in future efforts to understand the mechanisms behind psychosomatic illness and reactions to adversity.

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