The other evening in my reading room I reached over to the three-foot stack of military history books I need to go through for my next roundup for the “New York Times Book Review.”
Contemplating which book to crack next. I opened one, and almost at random saw the phrase, “Artillery stocks were critically low.” I thought, Well yes, a year or so into every war, that is almost always true.
You know the joke about comedians at their convention just yelling out numbers of their favorite gags? Likewise, I suspect there must be some other basic rules of writing military history. For example, one that we hear a lot nowadays is that wars almost always last longer than anyone expects. We could call that “Military History Rule 1.”
What other rules of writing military history would you propose? Some examples:
--MH 2. There is always friction between allies.
--MH 3. Logistics always prove key.
--MH 4. Modern historians, in considering the movements of pre-industrial armies and the decisions of their commanders, almost always will underestimate the importance of forage for animals (horses, mules and beef cattle). Good example: George Washington’s decision in June 1754 to hunker down at Great Meadows.
--MH 5. The first commanding general is almost never the general who wins the war. (Yes, I have heard of George Washington.)
--MH 6. Good tactics won’t fix bad strategy. (But they may prolong the fighting and so give you some time in which to fix your strategy.)
--MH 7. Mountain tribes are always fiercely independent.
--. . . . MH 2099: Diyala Province is always confusing, sending mixed signals.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
Airman 1st Class Isaiah Edwards has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after a military jury found him guilty of murder in connection with the death of a fellow airman in Guam, Air Force officials announced on Tuesday.
A Russian man got drunk as all hell and tried to hijack an airplane on Tuesday, according to Russian news agencies.
So, pretty much your typical day in Siberia. No seriously: As Reuters notes, "drunken incidents involving passengers on commercial flights in Russia are fairly common, though it is unusual for them to result in flights being diverted."