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The War Nerd / March 29, 2011
By Gary Brecher

How much would you pay for this dead reb?

How much would you pay for this dead reb?

First a quick clear-up on something I said yesterday. These clear-up urges seem to come with the daily posting territory. Every night I go to bed thinking I should’ve said something better, or added a link, or something like that. But the good part is, I can come back the next morning and do it.The point I wanted to clear up today was why V/STOL technology is a sensible design cost for some planes and not others. We were talking about the Harrier, where it’s not a good idea. That’s because the Harrier is a fighter, and as inflight refueling gets better and better, the need for good shock absorbers and V/STOL on a fighter goes down, because a fighter has no reason to land on what those Gettysburg guys would call “bad ground.” (I never heard people talk about “ground” as much as in that movie; it was like listening to landscape gardeners in uniform.) In fact, if a fighter or fighter pilot touches the ground at all before it gets home, something has likely gone seriously wrong.

But STOL makes sense for transports like the C-17, because touching the ground in rough places is a big part of that plane’s job. And even the “V” part of V/STOL is a worthwhile investment in a rescue/transport like the V-22, because its whole mission is putting down in unexpected, unimproved places.

Now for the meat of the blog, har har har: Who’s been planting bodies?

According to our own SecDef, Gates, Muamar Qaddafi and his Mua-minions have been going around moving bodies, planting them where there’ve been air strikes to make it look like we’re killing civilians.

The story goes that Qaddafi’s been handling the whole production in-house: first he kills some people—the story doesn’t say who or why, but most likely rebels—then his guys toss the corpses in trucks and take them to bomb sites where they arrange the bodies like Macy’s window decorators or fashion designers (I swear, war these days is getting way too close to fashion, like I said about the mannikin idea) and take Western reporters to see them so one of Big Q’s English-speaking sons can yell “Genocide!”

And not to interrupt myself but can we have some kind of NCAA standard minimum introduced on the whole G-word? Like, “You cannot claim genocide unless you can show that at least one percent of your population is dead.” The Paraguayans, the most heroic unknown nation in all history, lost about half their civilian population and never claimed genocide. Instead they claimed what real warriors always claimed until around 1950: they said, “Never mind, fuckers, we’re still comin’ for ya!” And they did. Fought to the last man, then the last woman and child. A magnificent people, shame nobody remembers them.

But that was then and this is wimpytown. That’s the main thing to remember: how weird it is that your own side’s dead bodies (or bodies you can claim were from your side) are valuable now. That’s new in warfare, a sign of the weird, weird moment in military history we’re in right now. You go back in history and it’s the winners who gloat over the dead bodies of the losers. I remember trying to read up on Tibetan military history—that was a fiasco, right up there with marching on Moscow—I came across a tidbit among the gibberish where the Tibetans, who were always fighting with the Mongols, collected the ears of all the Mongols they’d killed in this battle, and there were so many ears the cart axles broke, bla bla bla…and then they put the ears in a public square and they stank so bad it was always known after that as “The Square of the Stinking Ears.” I know, I know: Tibetans are weird. But the point is, that was a pretty typical pattern: put the killed enemy’s head on a stick, stand it at the village gate to show everybody you’re bad people, not to be fucked with.

Still happens sometimes. Lot of GI’s in Nam collected ears. Tiger Force made it almost a parttime job, making necklaces out of ears. Bloody Bill Anderson rode around with a necklace of Union scalps. (Imagine that, in Missouri, in August? Man, I wouldn’t want to be downwind of Bloody Bill on the way to an ambush. On the other hand, who’s going to tell him his scalps are stinking up the joint and drawing flies?)

That’s the tradition. This stuff Gates says Qaddafi’s doing, that’s something new. This is about making it look like your own side has suffered lots of casualties. In traditional warfare, who wants to do that? You want to minimize your own losses and exaggerate the enemy’s. Not no more, folks. That’s the sign of this new (and crummy) era in warfare: you win by losing, you win by making the world believe you’re being massacred.

Imagine trying that on the Romans: “Look at these corpses! We’re being massacred!” Centurion nods and says, “Fine, but could ya hurry it up? I’ve got a quota of you Franks to fill, we’re s’posed to [reads orders from scroll] ‘kill every living thing by sunset’ so make it snappy, these villagers won’t kill themselves!”

Slowly though, as people stopped seeing death every day, corpses got valuable, got all full of emotion. One interesting case I came across: you know those famous Matthew Brady pictures of the aftermath of Gettysburg? There’s one that shows a rebel sniper lying dead by a rock wall. Looks like he was shooting from there when he was hit. But it turns out that one of Brady’s Mick assisstants, Tim O’Sullivan, dragged a dead reb 40 yards—in July, in Pennsylvania! These guys must’ve had nostrils of steel!—to lay him out at a better spot.

But that’s just sort of a fun side-note. It wasn’t til our times, the late 20th early 21st century, that you could gain an advantage by making it look like you’d lost a lot of people. The most effective use of moved corpses was Kosovo. Now there was a rotten little war from start to finish. First the Serbs’ militia, tired old men, kicked the shit out of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a nasty bunch of heroin dealers, organ traders and pimps claiming to be fighting to liberate Kosovo’s Albanian majority. Then the KLA won by taking the dead bodies of their men, who were useless as fighters, and making them valuable by planting them with their weapons removed as “civilians killed by the brutal Serbs.”

Playing Dead: Vital 21st-c. War Skill

The UN teams saw, counted, and believed the bullshit. Next thing you know we’re bombing Serbia (losing a Stealth fighter in the process, which ended up in the hands of the Chinese—smart move, sending our most expensive secret plane against a low-level target like Belgrade!). [Read The eXile’s investigation into the staged massacre at Racak here.]

The value of a dead body only came along with modern guerrilla warfare and the notion of martyrs, because guerrilla wars tend to start off with some kind of suicidal attack like the ones the Muslims staged in Southern Thailand a few years back. They stood around waving machetes outside fortified police barracks and got mowed down. What you do then is take the bodies home, make a big fuss over them, stage giant funerals—funerals are very, very important in guerrilla culture—and generally talk them up. Since most of these guys are barely trained or untrained, they’re not worth much alive—like those KLA men who were totally uselsss as live fighters—but they can be valuable as Hell once they’re dead. It’s just a much easier job, lying still in a coffin. Not nearly as easy to mess up as your basic L-shaped ambush, which is a very tricky thing. Hell, the average recruit can learn to be a good corpse in a tenth the time it takes to make a decent live guerrilla fighter.

Would you like to know more? Gary Brecher is the author of the War Nerd. Send your comments to Read Gary Brecher’s first ever War Nerd column by clicking here.

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Add your own

  • 1. Durumdog  |  March 29th, 2011 at 9:08 am

    They used to say ‘dead men don’t tell tales’. Now a picture of a dead man is worth a thousand words. Strange days indeed.
    Nice post, GB.

  • 2. hahaohwow  |  March 29th, 2011 at 9:24 am

    fascinating gary.

    i wish i could contextualize this as a part of a greater theme or theory. anyone wanna take a jab? something about modernity?

  • 3. Eddie  |  March 29th, 2011 at 9:45 am

    It would be nice if the Osprey could land in unexpected and unimproved places. Unfortunately it’s high speed downwash including a hot jet wake at it’s center makes it very hard to land in desert sands, snow, and in areas with vegetation debris. You quite likely blow the downed pilot to his death or injure him by blowing a big piece of wood in his face but hey, he was the one who ejected. Can’t stand the debris then don’t eject.

    This business of jacking up the civilian body count would be cool if only it was done in a more professional way. Q is lacking in many areas. Especially ones that require some intellectual finesse. I don’t see how convincing it is for the TV crews to be taken on tours of horror where all the witnesses contradict each other and the victim always looks like a rebel fighter.

    Notice that Russia is getting really worried. They initially did not mind the operation, hoping that this ends up like all the other US operations in a horrible mess. There is nothing more fun for a Russian to hear about an American fuckup. They LOVE that shit. Unfortunately for them things have been going quite well for the rebels and they would not like a success for NATO in this area of operations. Would not be surprised if the Q team get’s some underground military support in the form of ammo and weapons. The Russians and Chinese probably have a lot of observers in the area. For some reason they seem to be fascinated by NATO tactics and military equipment.

  • 4. floodingupeconomics  |  March 29th, 2011 at 9:54 am


    Sure I’ll give it a try. Seems to be a related to the whole post-modernity craze about the difference between the real symbols and the hyper-real (and back again yay). Whereby “real” war-fare has taken a back seat, and the old symbols that used to represent it now generate their own hyper-reality that trumps and redefinies how war-fare is conducted.

    Thus the symbolic value of the dead (bear in mind death is an important and troublesome symbol to most in today’s consumption live life society) has changed war. Death used to represent success in war, now collateral damage represents failure. As a society who denies death (rather than taking it as some reprive from from worldly sufferings)the shift in the symbolic meaning of death creates a shift in reality.

    Baudrillard likes to talk about this stuff…. but Basically what Mr. Brecher said

  • 5. Alok  |  March 29th, 2011 at 10:22 am

    well yeah… it’s no longer cool to have “kill everyone you see” as a legitimate objective of war. Nazis gave a perfectly respectable business like genocide a bad name. It’s like the real-world military equivalent of Godwin’s law I guess; you’ve just lost the war when everyone thinks you’re committing genocide.

  • 6. John Figler  |  March 29th, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Now go try dogfighting against a fresh pilot after 4 hours commuter fly from a “safe base”. It has little to do with in-flight refueling, it’s about flight time and sortie rate and human endurance. The farther it’s from Tipperary, the closest it is to Berlin.

    Also, are there “safe bases” in the age of ICBMs?

    V/STOL is the only hope for manned flying machines in serious real war bur of course no V/STOL lobby would ever defeat a concrete&tarmac lobby in a fair turf war, and they don’t even try. Odd that you didn’t take that angle.

    Harrier is far from perfect… but so where the Farmans in 1914. That does not mean that after a couple years of serious real war -if the world would last for so long- the V/STOL concept would not produce the equivalent of Fokker Dr. I or Sopwith Camels, another serious war and Fw-190 or P-47s etc…

    Granted, Harrier is something like 60 years old by now, but it has seen no real war, no real evolutionary need in real world circumstances.

  • 7. Reggie  |  March 29th, 2011 at 10:48 am

    > i wish i could contextualize this as a part of a greater theme or theory. anyone wanna take a jab? something about modernity?

    Try reading “The Genealogy of Morals”.

  • 8. Jackalus  |  March 29th, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Don’t hate on the Harrier so much Gary, they did pretty well in the Falklands. Other than that, brilliant article. Succinctly states an absolute truth that people don’t explicitly understand

  • 9. hoops  |  March 29th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Cute hypothesis, but ahistorical. Brutality by the enemy has been played up for forever. Guernica gets a goddamn Picasso. Southerners talk about Nat Turner cuz he killed whitey but never about Charles Deslondes who was actually organized. To hear a Texan tell it, half the state died at the Alamo. Boston Massacre’s one of the most famous events of the American Revolution. England played up the Jamestown Massacre. Saladin’s men made sure to talk about how many civvies got butchered in Jerusalem in the 1st Crusade. The Danes justified kicking England’s ass over St. Brice’s Day. This shit’s mattered as long as there’s been media, and that’s about as long as there’s been militaries.

  • 10. postman  |  March 29th, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Dear All,

    We could name this whole Libya campaign as the War of Bullshit.
    Total PR, propaganda/psyop lies, outright MSM images and video fakery, made-up fake news, total sci-fi, altered/faked reality.
    We might as well call it MindWar.
    I can contradict the claims of the Gates fellow of Gaddhafi’s soldiers driving around dead bodies over the countryside, and arranging them in nice patterns, with using only one single phrase:
    rigor mortis.
    Extrapolate from there.
    But even if it was true, at least Gaddhafi would have dead bodies to show as evidence of mass killings, while on the other hand, the NFZ is maintained to stop Gaddhafi massacring his own people. And what has the Media to show as evidence that Gaddhafi is massacring his own people? Words of the news article typed on A/4 paper written by the fair hands of the Media guys themselves, and nothing else. Extrapolate from there.
    But winning with making it look like you had lost lots of people happened in earlier times than Kosovo, though. There are other examples in history.

  • 11. Nestor  |  March 29th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Yes Hoops, but Gary’s point is that it was always for home consumption, this is the first time in history you can go to the people who are killing you and say “Hey you’re killing us!” and they go “Oops, my bad”

  • 12. Reggie  |  March 29th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    > This shit’s mattered as long as there’s been media, and that’s about as long as there’s been militaries

    But there’s still a quantitative change over the last 200 years.

  • 13. aleke  |  March 29th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Lmao @ gary buying that stupid, ever-recurring DoD propaganda hook, line, and sinker. Yep, gadaffi and his sons are zipping around the desert with corpses in tow to plant at the latest smoldering crater (surely of a ‘military target’, and not civilian infrastructure like the other US wars). Now that’s a funny image

  • 14. Jack Boot  |  March 29th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    As to the V/STOL controversy: For resons cited here & elsewhere, the V-22 is clearly inadequate.

    Perhaps the 1960s-era Lockheed Cheyenne – a combination helicopter/autogyro – should be revisited.

    The original crashed about as frequently as Brando’s eponymous daughter; but modern fly-by-wire technology could perhaps make it work.

    An updated, troop-carrying version might be worth considering…

  • 15. Bobby  |  March 29th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Hey Gary,

    Do you see Russia or China intervening militarily in Libya? A couple of air defense batteries like S-300 or HQ-9 could change the game overnight, and make Libya business friendly again.

    What about Turkey and Egypt?

  • 16. postman  |  March 29th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Well, the way I see it, that you could gain an advantage by making it look like you’d lost a lot of people, actually started sometime around the middle of the 20th century. If you play it convincingly, you can get yourself a brand new country, locals, lock, stock, and barrel included, while everybody else is guilt-tripping. Sometimes I wonder how much longer this craziness will last…

  • 17. Eddie  |  March 29th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Two things I want to remark on:

    First, it seems to me that back in the old days, life was smellier. Households served as units of food production (and I mean most of it); and there was a different standard of hygiene. I think it’s not that they had stronger stomachs so much as that our lives are antiseptic.

    The other thing is that attitudes towards human life have definitely changed. We, or a vocal segment of the elites, rather-say now that we can’t blithely categorize people as Other, to treat with or dispose of as we please. Maybe it’s an outgrowth of religious thought, or a reaction to mass death in the world wars, or maybe it’s just that live bodies are easier to exploit than cold ones, and everyone’s on the market these days. Whatever, it puts a strange shape on the thing we call war- at least as industrial nation-states wage it.

  • 18. abc123  |  March 29th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Eddie: Also, when designing propellers there is a certain optimal shape for vertical ones and one optimal shape for forward ones. You can’t use a vertical horizontally or vice versa. The V-22 needs propellers that works in both roles, meaning they are the wrong shape for both roles.

    Furthermore, such a vehicle is most vulnerable while landing and having to wait for that transformation process increases the risk.

  • 19. Dejo  |  March 29th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    The Turks did it before the Shqiptars, in the Balkans at least. Markale massacre, Srebrenica massacre, et cetera. And the Croats did it before the Turks at Vukovar. The guys who didn’t do it, the Serbs and Macedonians, lost chunks of their territory. Serves them right for being stupid. War has no room for stupidity.

    As far as I know there have been stratagems like this ever since organized armies took to the fields. Nothing raises morale like blind, hateful vengeance.

  • 20. Scorpio  |  March 29th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Gary, this is for you.

    Hardware Special- Truck with Testicles.

  • 21. Doug  |  March 29th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    The end of the conception of the nation-state. Many elites in America believe that it’s a sincere tragedy that non-Americans are not allowed to vote in American elections. They think things like borders, citizenship, and nations are silly anachronisms from the days of slavery and funny wigs.

    They believe all people around the world are fundamentally the same, and even the most ruthless tribal or Jihadi culture can quickly and easily acclimate to Western liberal democracy if only they’re given the full set of civil rights that the ACLU demands (maybe sprinkled in with western style education).

    Thus when Libyans or Iraqis or Somalis are killed its as much a tragedy as if actual Americans were killed. Probably even more, because those poor blown-up mujahideen came from such an under-privileged background and are really just victims of their environment.

    Needless to say if someone from Victorian England was transported into the modern world and heard the sentiments of Western liberal elites they would think civilization was in the middle of collapsing (which might not be too far off).

  • 22. Jyp  |  March 29th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Mass culture.. huge world population + fast communication technology. Never existed before. Has it’s own logic. Those who’ve figured the corners have grabbed billions.. trillions even.. while the rest suck hind tit.. if they lucky to get any tit whatsoever. Sure do like your take on that bullshit in Kosovo though. One word: Camp Bondsteel. Strategically necessary for all that’s coming. Oh yeah, and free money via the heroin hub.

  • 23. CB  |  March 29th, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Hoops et all:

    Playing up the massacre of your own people in war is ancient history as far as motivating your own people to fight harder.

    Playing up the massacre of your own people to try to get the enemy to stop massacring you, to get your enemy’s own allies to tell them to stop — and having it actually be viable, as opposed to them laughing and trying to do it more — is a more recent invention.

    I’m sure there’s at least a couple counter examples in all of history, but the difference in the overall nature of war is clear.

  • 24. wengler  |  March 29th, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    With the rebels retreating once again today from gains made in the weekend, how long will it be before western governments get sick of simply sponsoring the rebels and start putting armor on the ground?

  • 25. Leno  |  March 29th, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Meh, hey, you see this, you hear about this?

  • 26. Mr. Bad  |  March 29th, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    @ Eddie

    Yes Eddie, back in “olden times” I bet life was “smellier”, real words of wisdom.

    I can always tell when you’re not plagiarizing someone else’s analysis because whatever you write end ups sounding really stupid.

    Attitudes towards human life haven’t changed much at all, most of the world’s population still lives in the “smelly” old days you refer to, nor has their been an economy of bloodshed instituted but rather the media “front” has become part of waging war, it’s really pretty obvious if you think about it, but don’t hurt yourself.

  • 27. Mr. Bad  |  March 29th, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    @ Eddie

    What’s your game anyway? Is it to act like an ignorant rube for the attention
    only to become an insufferable bleeding heart
    twat when you get the chance to blow off? You haven’t got a clue as to how dimwitted you appear do you? Look, nobody buys it, the faux tough guy asides, the posturing, the
    weepy jeremiads about “smelly” people (the other?!?) you couldn’t give two sh*ts for and the idle hatred of the horrible USA because that’s what all smart sounding people think and say, right?

    Let me tell you sumfink, you’re a tool of the elites as much as any jacked up
    hick who goes to war to kill ragheads, the only difference is that you need to feel superior to your owners, which is how they keep you in your place. A pat on the head is what you want more than anything, am I right sweety?

    That’s why you need to copy and paste without attribution the work of other people, to seem smart? Because being a tough
    minded progressive is to seem smart no matter what happens, you’re just
    working the same tired “dialectic” you can shift at will to suit your ego. At once provocative, now mournful, now combative, now reconciled to the “realities”. What a playbook! Except it’s transparently self serving.

    You’re a tool, an American incarnate, always right even when you’re wrong, a pompous, self aggrandizing fraud.

  • 28. Goatstein  |  March 29th, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    It’s somewhat disappointing that you uncritically pass on the claims of the secretary of defense without even mentioning that he might be full of shit.

  • 29. Eddie  |  March 29th, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    @Mr. Bad

    Thank you for your kind analysis of my mental state.

    At this point I would like to remind you about some basic rules of debating.

    You do not win a debate by calling the other guys BUTT hurt.
    In the comment section of an article you are free to use any and all material you have to support your argument. I don’t see you sourcing your claims. Yet you make lot’s of them. All of them basic mindless American propaganda that has no support in reality what so ever. Your basically claiming to be #1.
    I could be a muslim suicide bomber with the trigger in my hand and still my arguments in a debate would have not be able to be refuted by you pointing to me saying. HEY look at that guy, don’t listen to him. He is a muslim. Everything he says is wrong by definition.

    Go back to school and learn some debating skill or manners. To me you look like a typical American idiot. Claiming to be number one when you don’t know shit.

  • 30. my talkative ringpiece  |  March 29th, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    No one’s going to remember the Paraguayans on your watch; your link is dead. Now, it’s a standing observation of mine that the Internet is decaying/being decayed. Someone disappeared your link. It’s not your fault, other than anyone who thinks the internet is getting “better and better, in every way, every day” is naive.

    Off to go read up on WTF ever happened in Paraguay that’s been kept from my tender pink American ears now.

  • 31. observer  |  March 30th, 2011 at 12:33 am

    re Racak, apparently independent EU and Finnish investigation teams concluded that Racak probably was a massacre of unarmed civilians, and independent Yugoslav and Belorussian teams concluded otherwise.

  • 32. BahamaPapa  |  March 30th, 2011 at 12:42 am

    @21 – you sound like the Daily Mail ranting about “political correctness gone MAD!”. The issue here isn’t “certain American elites”, it is the new, global elite. This elite is multicultural (no longer just WASPS, but guys like Obama, or Arabs or Chinese or whatever), most of them trained at a handful of elite universities in the USA or Europe, all of them behind global corporations with global investments and global capital. Call them “Davos Man”. They have no special allegiance to any nation or tribe. This alone makes the nation-state obsolescent. Yes, to them, we are all the same: exploitable human resources and/or potential consumers. They don’t give a shit about our civil rights: they just want us to produce and/or consume, and will give us enough bread and circuses to have us get on with it. Even under feudalism, the lord of the manor had certain responsibilities towards his serfs, who had certain duties in return. In Victorian England, the children of the aristocracy fought and died for the empire. Nowadays, cannon fodder comes from the trailer park or the barrio and the children of the rich can always get out of a draft (if there were ever such a thing). Any such social contracts are now null and void. It’s every man for himself.

    As the world evolves into a globalised, transnational oligarchy, it also devolves away from the nation state towards tribalism and sectarianism. This is our post-national future: a series of rich city-states, a thousand Venices and Singapores, surrounded by a wild hinterland of “failed states” where gang warfare rules the day. Mercenary armies will secure those parts of the hinterland that possess resources that the Davos Men need.

    The Western sensitivity towards death is easily explained by low birth rates, as Gary has pointed out many times before. In the olden days when people bred heaps of kiddies, one could reasonably expect a few of them to die off from disease and a few more to die in war. Hopefully, there’d still be a few left over to ensure the survival of the blood line. Nowadays, the death of a father, a son or a brother is a much more catastrophic and emotional thing. Our emotion extends to the death of others, even foreigners. We’d simply rather live in a world where people didn’t die. Of course, this sensitivity isn’t present in high-birthrate societies like Africa and the Arab world. But as soon as a society becomes rich, it stops making babies and as soon as it stops making babies, its citizens become hypersensitized to death. As Gary has said, the most effective form of Genocide is to make people rich.

  • 33. fajensen  |  March 30th, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Those Libyan “rebels” are a bunch of pussies.

    On Al-jazeera they show hundreds of overloaded cars sppeding away from a few mortar rounds with one of the wusses even stopping to cry for western troops to help – i.e. do their fighting for them.

    What I would like to see next on Al-Jazeera is Ghadaffy organise a good, olde-fashioned, box-barrage on them running cars; any preussian artillery officer could do that.

    It’s amateur hour all round, the morons – both here and there – are clearly running the show. One actually hopes it falls apart quickly so whe will have one bunch of terrorist in the east, the former rebels, angry about being abandoned but too pussy to take a real fight and another bunch of terrorists at Ghadffi’s end messing up any western interest in the middle east for decades.

  • 34. giongulas  |  March 30th, 2011 at 2:03 am

    I’m surprised people are miffed by this “playing up the dead” strategy. As several of you stated earlier, this is a part of war since forever, mostly used for propaganda purposes. Fairly recent examples: Gleiwitz, kind of a big one, since it served as the pretext for invading Poland and the start of WW2. Also, Niemmerdorf and other East Prussian villages, these latter ones aiming to motivate and harden the germans’ resolve to fight.

    Props to CB for shaming this modern trend of playing up your losses, usually civilians, and calling the genocide card – in order to win the conflict. Goes to show what a lame ass sorry state the world is in today.

  • 35. Michael  |  March 30th, 2011 at 4:50 am

    Seems you only win by whining now. Or pretending to whine.

  • 36. Eddie  |  March 30th, 2011 at 6:59 am

    The Eddie from the previous posts did not write #17.

    Who gives a shit about smell anyway. I don’t.

    Mr. Bad is writing posts in my name.

  • 37. Johnny R  |  March 30th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Gary, I’m wondering if you think Bush’s decision a few years ago to lower the intelligence test requirements,in the interests of securing more recruits, might have something to do with the shooting of civvies in Afghanistan?

  • 38. derpotism  |  March 30th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I think it also comes from World War I, when industrialized warfare fucked with everyone’s heads. Peace movements became a much bigger component to wars after that point, and with the Holocaust, Dresden, other mass destruction events and the specter of nuclear genocide the drive to preserve and reduce casualties and civilian deaths became so critical to modern war thinking that it became a major component of information warfare, which we only became aware of as a tactic in vietnam.

  • 39. Mr. Bad  |  March 30th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    @ Eddie

    What claims have I made that need sourcing? I’ve given my opinion, no more and no less.

    You’re a basement dwelling internet “expert” and “tough guy” whose posts (usually at least half a dozen on each war nerd column) are usually 1/2 hyperbole and the other 1/2 tech nonsense. When I called you out for claiming Sprey’s article as your own “opinion” it was only because it was SO OBVIOUS that you had read that single article, accepted it totally, uncritically, and then deceived yourself into believing that it was now your own research/belief that led you to believe the F-35 is crap. The killer line in that little gem is “I cold go on but …” Well douchebag, please do go on, here is you big chance.

    Everything you wrote up in your facile, “bullet point” style (which is for when you’re really, uhm, serious) was simply reworded from Sprey’s article directly, with nothing left out and nothing added, except your pathetic little anecdotal aside about Aces scoring the majority of victories; is that to show how deeply knowledgeable you are on the subject of air combat? Because that is the sort of observation they toss in a typical history channel “dogfights” episode.

    Why don’t you read the article and refresh your memory, can’t you even admit when you don’t have the necessary b.g. to comment in your typical pseudo-expert and authoritarian style. Fuck your “debate” rules, I don’t debate ass wipes on the subject of air combat when their entire knowledge of the subject comes from reading “lots of documentation” as you put it.

    Finally, I’m not a USA booster, but air power projection happens to be one of the things the USA does very, very well. Your reflexive anti-Americanism is just as blindingly stupid as the “USA=#1” patriotism which you accuse me of, a straw man you’ve set up to obfuscate your own ignorance. You justified your low opinion of US pilots by reference to the low average test scores and poor health care prevalent in the USA as measured by international standards, a hackneyed screed trotted out by self loathing creeps with exactly WHAT relevance and what to do, EXACTLY, with an honest appraisal of the elite air corp of the third largest nation in the world. You fool.

    I unequivocally stated that the IDF was the very best air force in the word, bar none, and the the USAF/USN aircrew were 2nd best overall with the rest of the world very far behind. It’s not possible to measure air crew quality precisely, it is highly variable, which is why consistency, training and tech are the most important variables to consider when appraising the overall quality of any Air Force – how many nations stage Red Flag or Cope level exercises regularly, and consistently outperform other nations?

    But according to you because ESL Johnny can’t read American pilots are just a bunch of cunts? The F-22 is crap, despite the fact it was proven to be an excellent dogfighter during Red Flag 2008, when the F-22 aggressor group went 1 on 1 with the IAF SU-30’s and beat them EVERY time. And finally the F-35 sucks balls, despite the fact it hasn’t even been deployed yet? Well, maybe, at least I can admit I don’t know for sure but the same analysis Sprey applied to the F-22 he also applied to the F-35 and he was flat out WRONG, I guess you’ll have to wait until another expert writes another article before you know what you “think”.

  • 40. postman  |  March 30th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    After reading the article, the first thing that came to my mind was the creation of Israel. I can not explain why. Can you?

  • 41. Mr. Bad  |  March 30th, 2011 at 12:47 pm


    Can you please confirm for “Eddie” that I am not writing posts under his alias? You can confirm via IP addy. Can you also check to see if Eddie #1 and Eddie #2 are in fact the same chickenshit, because I would wager my left nut they have the same IP addy. Thanks.

  • 42. Carpenter  |  March 30th, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    That’s the sign of this new (and crummy) era in warfare: you win by losing, you win by making the world believe you’re being massacred.

    Blame Christianity for this, which Nietzsche called “slave morality,” because it was designed to appeal to the slaves and servants of the Roman Empire. Being strong and a winner was bad, being weak and a loser was good. “The first shall be the last, the last shall be the first. Blessed are the meek.”

    Problem is, Christians and everyone since then knows you had to attack and conquer to stay alive, or someone else would conquer you. So hypocrisy was introduced. You had to be able to claim that you were the one attacked first. And that’s where we are today.

    All leaders KNOW that civilians die in war, and that it might be worth it for your side. But they won’t SAY that. They’ll preten that all life is precious and holy. The masses want to hear that, because the masses are civilians and like to think they are precious and holy. Otherwise they won’t give you their votes.

    So we now have both sides of every war pretending that it’s only the other side killing civilians, which makes them evil, while you do the same in a heartbeat if it’s strategically necessary and you get away with it.

    Falsehoods. Lies. Hypocrisy. No wonder kids play MMORPGs like Shaiya, where they can get a clear-cut fight with no propaganda involved. They adhere to the slave morality when they watch the news, but at the same time they feel in their guts it’s wrong.

  • 43. Eddie  |  March 30th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    @Mr. Bad

    Dude, just admit it. Your a troll who either works for Lockheed Martin directly or indirectly.

    Masquerading as me in the comment section and then commenting on it only prove that point. Who else would care that much about what anybody writes in a comment section of a blog. You just had to make me look stupid so the readers could go back sleep in their knowledge Lockheed Martin builds the best damn airplane that money can buy.

    I leave it to the readers to read through the article you cited and make up their mind whether I took the data in it and made it look like my own. Personally I really don’t care that much from where the data comes as long as it’s not directly biased. Like for example written from the PR bureau of Lockheed Martin.

    Also since you pointed it out I would recommend everyone to go on and read as much Wheeler And Sprey that they can. These guys do know how to evaluate aircraft. Let’s just throw in Everest E. Riccioni in there as well.

    I’ll trow in another little tidbit for you about radars and aircraft. This one applies to the F-35 as well as all so called Stealth aircraft.

    First of all there is no such thing as completely stealth aircraft. What you have is low radar return. Which means that as little energy from the radar source as possible is reflected back to the original radar. You make this return energy small enough and the radar will not be able to distinguish between the returned signal and the background noise.

    Now, there are a couple of ways to achieve this, one is by coating the aircraft with special radar absorbent materials. The problem with this approach is that these materials need to know the frequency at which the radar it is suppose to operate on. There is no one size fits all here. The material are designed and work as promised only in that frequency band. If you go above of below this frequency the materials would fail. This would be cool is all radars operated in the same frequency but unfortunately they don’t. Ground based radars and air based radars operate in different frequencies and different energy levels. Which means that you will be visible to one of these if you use any of these materials. The designers usually choose to go for protection against air based radars because these are the ones used by the fighters.

    Then there is the option of going for a geometric surface that as much as possible reflect radar signals away from the sending radar. Problem with this approach is that you end up with an aircraft that just barely flies and is useless against fighters. On top of that this approach is not that efficient to begin with. So you try to combine shaping with materials to achieve maximum effect.

    Now, if you want a fighter then you cannot shape too much or else it stops being a fighter. So you shape as much as you can and end up with an aircraft that is stealthy but only within well defined angles. Usually directly from the front. In combat if the aircraft would turn and face the radar tracking it to avoid returning signals back to it.

    Now, here is the reason why this all falls apart. The Russians and the Chinese have not one but multiple radars and they are all networked. Which means that more then one radar would be following that aircraft and all from different angles. If just one of these get a signal strong enough returned to it, it will direct all others to track that specific point in the sky with more energy. You can turn and face one radar but you can’t face them all. In short, no matter what you do you will be tracked by this network of radars. On top of this all data gathered by ground or air based radars are relayed in the system and instantly available to all fighters in the area. The aircraft might not be able to see the opponent with it’s own radar, but it does not have to. It get’s this data relayed to it.

    Now there comes a point where you have to ask yourself this. How much do we actually gain by all this radar bullshit, and how much do we loose. There is always a compromise here, you can’t have it both. The F-22 and F-35 are built with the assumption that Russia and China exists somewhere in the 60’s. They are a stupid idea to begin with. An evolutionary cul-de-sac.

  • 44. Mr. Bad  |  March 30th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    @ Eddie #43

    Let’s get something straight, I’ve never posted on this site under any other comment name, if someone else uses “Eddie” I think you would have noticed by now, jerk-off. Stop disowning your own drivel, you coward.

    I may not be an “expert” like you but I happen to be a civvy pilot with retired USAF in the family, a Gulf War 1 vet, so there is plenty of honest shop talk that informs my views and I don’t need you to lecture me on the limitations of stealth coatings or radar tracking.

    The fact that you think Chinese radar defense is “networked” just shows to go ya’ how really stupid and uninformed you are. The Chinese have only recently begun experimenting with an AWAC type plane (a retrofitted IL-76) and dissimilar combat training, the results are exactly what you would expect from the PLAAF, i.e craptastic.

    But forget that, let me ask you a question you might be able to understand. Tell me, why are the PAK-FA and J-10 (the new 6th Gen badass bad guy fighters) veritable carbon copies of the F-22? Why are they not just sleeker, faster SU-30 variations, you ponce?

    I guess The F-22 is such a “failure” that every other US adversary is building F-22 copies and racing like hell to approximate US radar/avionics tech. Oh wait, I thought that IR missiles and HMS were the “last word” on air dominance? I guess not.

  • 45. Eddie  |  March 30th, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    @Mr. Bad

    I’m no expert by a long shot. I just like to read and make my own conclusions. I could be off or misinformed about everything I read. But usually if you follow the critical material you will get a very good picture about what is happening out there and why. The internet is a perfect tool for this. You just have to follow a few simple rules. I think WN makes many good posts on this.
    I will not repeat what he said or risk being accused of plagiarism but essentially weapons are not the most important factor and weapons themselves may not always work the way intended. Or they may only work for a time until a new weapon or tactic appears that perfectly counter it. This is especially true for very expensive or specialized weapons like stealth aircraft. You get into an arms race with your opponent and he may have more aces in his sleeve then you. In which case raising the stakes time and time again might not be the best idea.

    In the area of detecting aircraft a lot of things are happening. You can detect an aircraft using the sound that it makes, the enormous amount of heat coming out of it’s ass, it’s radar and so on. A stealth aircraft has to be stealthy in all these areas to stand any chance of not being detected. Some of these are clearly impossible to avoid at all. Yes you can sandwich the air coming out of from the engines, but hot air is turbulent and there is no way you can avoid leaving massive amounts of hot air after you leave. Not if you want to keep using the same engine technology.

    Now, suppose I was a Russian and I wanted to maximize my chances of winning an air war over my own territory. What kind of weapon would I be looking for?

    Well I would be looking to my opponent and see where he has his strengths.The US is the only country that got involved with Stealth at all because they wanted to fly deep into enemy territory and bomb without being detected.

    Ok. So your opponent has an edge at detection. What would be the nightmare scenario for my opponent be when he is flying over my territory? Could it be another stealth aircraft?

    Remember he has already been detected. Let’s not fool ourselves about this. Flying over your enemy will get you detected. He definitely has the edge there. But finding out that there is another aircraft out there that has your edge and also has you detected seriously degrades your chances of making it back alive.

    A note about networking. My grandparents live in a house that has internet and is fully networked. Anywhere I have been in Russia, China, India, Africa you will see networked Wifi spots. Home networks, computer grids. I mean everywhere.

    Are you telling me that there is no way that the enemy has this networking problem figured out? They are sitting there with a cigarette in their mouth typing on their type writers and screaming position locations on their AM radio set.

    Even the Shia(Hezbollah) are using it. They are using UAV’s and fiber optics to communicate with their outposts(hard to wire-tap fiber optic cables).

    Now if the Shia does it, you can pretty much assume that they all do it.

  • 46. Mr. Bad  |  March 30th, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    OK, here are some pics for reference, I guess I might have confused the issue by mistakenly calling the PAK-FA and J-20 (not J-10) 6th gen when they are 5th gen but my point stands. I guess Russian and Chinese design teams have clearly have been influenced by the Lockheed Martin PR department as well…


  • 47. Bob  |  March 31st, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Eddie – your stealth analysis is mostly sensible, but not in its conclusion that a modern air defence network causes it to “fall apart” and become useless. Stealth reduces the range at which a ground radar is effective, thus producing exploitable gaps in coverage and/or forcing the enemy military to spend more of its budget on radars to attempt to protect valuable sites. Reduced RCS is not magic, and it is unduly fetishised, nonetheless it is useful. (Particularly since you can achieve significantly reduced RCS without making many sacrifices e.g. Eurofighter, it’s the last 10% that gets tricky.) Also don’t forget that standoff anti-radiation missiles exist, as any operator using his radars in the searchlight-like manner you describe would soon discover.

  • 48. Eddie  |  March 31st, 2011 at 8:32 am


    This is my last post on this issue on this thread. I just want to explore some ideas that my evil mind always is spitting out.

    Suppose we where to ask a professor of physics the following question. How hard is it to detect an aircraft flying by only using passive means. We are not allowed to use any radar until we actually want to hit something and need exact coordinates down to the meter.

    The professor would look at the emissions of any aircraft, including stealth aircraft and conclude(I think) the following. (I could be wrong on this of course, I am only human. Although I have been playing around with software of this type and things evolve very fast here)

    Using a microphone array you can track location and heading on any moving object that makes a lot of sound. You can roughly get location and position including aircraft type using this completely passive technology. Place them on the rooftops, or treetops, whatever and network them together.

    Then you have the heat emissions. Satellites track heat extremely well including down to the tenth of a degree Celsius. But let’s for the moment assume we have no satellites.

    We can then use regular heat sensitive cameras mounted on buildings, trees and other strategically placed places and attach them to computer networks that analyze the images. I would be willing to bet that this technology can easily look though clouds providing that it was not raining or a snow storm or other types of extreme weather. They would detect the heat left from any aircraft engine and plot the heading of this plume and calculate speed heading and distance.

    Suppose we could use massed produced component manufactured cheaply in China. How much hardware would we get for our money. Say for the cost of an F-22. How much sky can we cover with completely passive technology.

    This is what I mean by an arms race in stealth. I would be willing to bet you that detection has the upper hand when it comes to aircraft. And this upper hand will get larger with time as technology matures and gets cheaper. Particularly image and audio processing. Once you know where he is and where he is heading you can mount a counter attack on the enemy and engage him before he engages you. After all he does not know you are there and you know where he is.

    If you too have stealth aircraft like the Russians then the race becomes even more predictable.

  • 49. badnewswade  |  March 31st, 2011 at 9:01 am

    This is about making it look like your own side has suffered lots of casualties. In traditional warfare, who wants to do that? You want to minimize your own losses and exaggerate the enemy’s. Not no more, folks. That’s the sign of this new (and crummy) era in warfare: you win by losing, you win by making the world believe you’re being massacred.

    That’s how psychopaths operate. They like to play the victim; in our dramatic, psychopath-oriented culture this comes accross real well.

    FYI they pulled a similar trick in Lebanon back in ’06 as well, right up to Photoshopping bomb-damaged cities, but the only people who reported the scandal it were right wing loons, so the story got lost.

  • 50. postman  |  March 31st, 2011 at 10:58 am


    Do not blame it on Christians. Jesus came with a sword, not literally though, but the Crusaders were a warrior lot, and cool.
    It started with WW2, when the Allied propaganda started up with horror stories and inflated bodycounts of certain summer-camps. Up till then, it was considered cool to kill the enemies of Christ, and in a sane world, the Germans would walk around strutting and bragging about how they offed 6m of their enemies. Of, course, they would be lying in that case: you can not kill millions 24/7 without both killers and surviving victims suffering severe PTSD like the troops in Vietnam and Iraq, and 90% of guards and inmates alive after WW2 should have hanged themselves and drank themselves to death with home violence thrown in, till 1950 at the latest. That did not happen as far as I understand. But the fake horror stories were good enough to undermine Christianity, because the enemies of Christ started lecturing Christians on how they should have behaved during WW2, as if it was not perfectly logical and reasonable what happened. Let me tell you, not the Nazis started the slaughter and mass murder in Eastern Europe, it was the other way around: fascism was a defence reaction to the bolshevik mass murdering red terror. WW2 was round two only in that sense…

  • 51. CensusLouie  |  March 31st, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Gary, I’m only saying this because I love you:

    but you should really rethink the whole daily blog thing.

    So far it’s been statements that have been corrected in the comments within a couple of hours, things like countries never playing up massacres before the mid 20th century. I mean, I get it, you’re pounding these things out without time for proper research, but that’s the problem.

    What is the point of quick daily blogs if half the blog is clarifying a hasty statement from yesterday, and then the other half is a hasty statement which will be addressed tomorrow?

    I’m telling you, I’m fine with waiting a month for the old quality articles. I’ve seen it in tons of online writers before who claim that they’re really going to start sticking to deadlines and crank stuff out: it’s ALWAYS without fail the first sign of impending burnout.

  • 52. Bob  |  March 31st, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Eddie – well, IR tracking is going to become increasingly important. You can fan, mix and shroud the exhaust all you want but ultimately an F-35 doing Mach 1.5 is going to be hot, even if it does have the frontal RCS of a metal golf ball. In the longer run though, the writing is on the wall for manned fighters. Cheap UAVs just have too many advantages to ignore, and if one or two get shot down, who cares? You haven’t lost a pilot, and here come another hundred. There’s also the potential for a robo-fighter which could outperform any manned one, since the main limitation on manoeuvres is the amount of G’s the human can take, but realistically it’s probably not worth it since dogfighting is so rare these days.

  • 53. bud  |  March 31st, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Well, if all warfare is based on deceit then this corpse moving exercise is just another play out of that book. Back in the day you could kill an entire village and burn it to the ground and nobody would ever know about it. It can still happen, but in a much smaller percentage of the world. Now that we have the internets and googles and youtubes and porns everywhere, people are hooked in. They can send and receive info instantly, and there are more of us in the world than ever. No matter what significant thing that occurs in the world, there will always be some percentage of people that are more interested in that issue than the rest. If enough people from all over the world are interested enough then they can change the trajectory of events in the area of interest. For example, you can be a non-state actor waging war against a state, and you can recruit soldiers from every corner of the world. Of course that sounds far fetched, I can’t think of anywhere that could be happening right now. So that is why Qaddafi might be moving bodies, deceit in warfare is mandatory.

    I don’t know why you think this is such a crummy age in warfare compared to the last one. The last true warriors died because they didn’t use firearms. Modern weapons have made it so much easier. Even you, War Nerd, can wage war these days. Physical fitness be damned, if you can push a button you can fight. Not really the same as charging your enemy head-on, crashing swords at arms length. The skillset needed to be a warrior back in the Mongols time was much more extensive than the skillset needed by soldiers now. Technology has made genocidal acts less acceptable but at the same time technology has also made deadly acts of war achievable by a much larger portion of the population. “So you get what we had here last week. Which is the way he wants it, well, he gets it. I don’t like it anymore than you do.”

  • 54. Buster Mountebank  |  April 1st, 2011 at 9:54 am

    This reminds me of Hermann Goering’s comment about atrocites. “Anyone can make an atrocity film. Just dig up a bunch of corpses and film a bulldozer shovelling them into a mass grave.”

  • 55. Private Ivan  |  April 23rd, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    NATO first used that tactic against Serbs. Now it’s being used against NATO – what goes around, comes around.

    Saakashvili also tried using this tactic, but he was so inept, he got caught changing his soldier clothes to civilian clothes by Russian satellites, and he also used well known Georgian Actors as dead and wounded guys. They even had a “wounded” corpse with his head turned the wrong way.

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