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Why the Confederacy's General Albert Sidney Johnston Was a Flop

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 20:00

Warfare History Network

History, Americas

Here's how it all went wrong for him.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis considered his old West Point classmate Albert Sidney Johnston “the greatest soldier, the ablest man, civil or military, Confederate or Union, then living,” and it is safe to say that no other general in either army began the Civil War with a more glittering—or fleeting—reputation.

High Expectations

The towering expectations surrounding Johnston’s Civil War service began even before he joined his first command. As a transplanted Texan, Johnston chose to stick by his adopted state when it seceded in February 1861. Resigning his post as commanding general of the Department of the Pacific two months later, Johnston headed east to meet with Davis in Richmond, Va. Breathless news reports of Johnston’s progress followed him every step of the way, and he was greeted as a hero before he ever set foot in the capital.

Inevitably, perhaps, Johnston could not meet the sky-high expectations. Amid all the hoopla, one salient fact was overlooked—Johnston had never commanded an army of his own. To make matters worse, he was given an assignment that even the most experienced of generals would have found daunting. With less than 50,000 troops at his disposal, Johnston was tasked with defending a 500-mile-long border stretching from eastern Kentucky to western Missouri—an area equal in size to western Europe. Complicating his task was the fact that three major rivers wound their way through his defenses, at the mercy of industrious Union gunboats.

It was sure-fire recipe for disaster, and Johnston was not long in adding to his own cup of woe by failing to adequately safeguard the Confederate strongpoints at Forts Henry and Donelson. In February 1862, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant easily captured both forts, along with 12,000 Confederate troops. That feat set Grant on the way to becoming the North’s leading commander, and put two large dints in Johnston’s previously spotless suit of armor. Still, his old friend Davis continued to support him. Responding to one Confederate congressman’s complaint that Johnston was “no general,” the president tartly replied, “If Sidney Johnston is not a general, the Confederacy has none to give you.” He angrily refused to remove Johnston from command.

“We Must Use the Bayonet”

Besides, Johnston had a plan for recovering both his reputation and the territory he had lost. Massing his army at Corinth, Miss., he organized a counterattack on Grant’s Union forces encamped around Shiloh Church in southwest Tennessee. On the morning of April 6, 1862, Johnston prepared to lead his army into battle. Picking up a tin cup, he sportively clinked his men’s bayonets. “These will do the work,” he assured them. “We must use the bayonet.” He added, for whatever it was worth, “I will lead you.” Earlier, he had rejected worries that the Union forces were too numerous to attack. “I will fight them if they were a million,” he asserted.

As it was, he did not fight them for long. Sitting astride his horse, Johnston suddenly reeled in the saddle and fell into the arms of Tennessee Governor Isham Harris–on hand that day as a civilian aide. “General, are you hurt?” cried Harris. “Yes, and I fear seriously,” Johnston replied.

Unnoticed in the heat of battle, Johnston had been struck behind the right knee by a Union bullet. Ignoring the wound, the general continued directing the battle while his boot filled with blood. The bullet had severed his femoral artery, and Johnston bled to death in a matter of minutes.

Ulysses S. Grant later rendered his own verdict on his slain opponent. “I do not question the personal courage of General Johnston, or his ability,” Grant wrote in his Personal Memoirs. “But he did not win the distinction predicted for him by many of his friends. He did prove that as a general he was over-estimated.” It was a verdict that Johnston did not live long enough to appeal.

This article originally appeared on the Warfare History Network.

Image: Wikimedia

Autonomous Navy Ships Could Revolutionize Amphibious Assault

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 19:30

Kris Osborn

Security,

The notion of a disaggregated, yet interwoven attack force, less vulnerable to enemy fire, will be launched to hit “multiple landing points” to exploit enemy defenses.

Here's What You Need To Remember: While this emerging Navy strategy is, of course, intended to implement a far more effective attack strategy, it is also, by design, intended to save more lives when launching dangerous assaults into heavily-defended enemy areas.

The future of amphibious attack may consist of thousands of disaggregated manned and unmanned surveillance boats, armor-carrying connectors, minesweepers and small attack vessels operating in tandem as the Navy and Marine Corps refine a new strategic approach and continue their pivot toward a new, great-power threat environment.

The concept is to configure a dispersed, yet “networked” fleet of next-generation connectors and other smaller boats launched from big-deck amphib “mother ships.” The larger host ships are intended to operate in a command and control capacity while bringing sensors, long-range fires and 5th-generation air support to the fight.

“We envision fleets of smaller, multi-mission vessels, operating with surface warfare leadership. People talk about a 355-ship Navy, how about a 35,000-ship Navy?,” Maj. Gen. David Coffman, Director of Naval Expeditionary Warfare, told an audience at the Surface Naval Association Symposium.

Coffman explained it as a “family of combatant craft, manned and unmanned, integrated in a distributed maritime operation.”

Since potential adversaries now have longer-range weapons, better sensors, targeting technologies and computers with faster processing speeds, amphibious forces approaching the shore may need to disperse in order to make it harder for enemy forces to target them. Therefore, the notion of a disaggregated, yet interwoven attack force, less vulnerable to enemy fire, will be launched to hit “multiple landing points” to exploit enemy defenses.

“This does not mean we give up the bigs, it means we use them more effectively. They are a big part of our ability to project combat power,” Coffman explained.

New ships, such as future Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCAC), Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV), Amphibious Combat Vehicles, ship-launched undersea drones and even newly up-gunned PC boats, are expected to empower the emerging strategy to introduce a new, more effective and lethal “over-the-horizon ship-to-shore” attack ability.

Future LCAC replacements, such as the now-under-construction Textron-built Ship-to-Shore Connectors, are expected to figure prominently in these anticipated missions. They introduce an unprecedented ability to transport 70-ton Abrams tanks to war and bring an integrated suite of new technologies to amphibious attack missions.

Execution of this new strategy is, depending upon the threat, also reliant upon 5th-generation aircraft, Coffman said; the Corp F-35B, now operational as part of Marine Corps Air Ground Task Forces aboard the USS Wasp and USS Essex, is intended to provide close-air support to advancing attacks, use its sensors to perform forward reconnaissance and launch strikes itself. The success of an amphibious attack needs, or even requires, air supremacy. Extending this logic, an F-35 would be positioned to address enemy air-to-air and airborne air-to-surface threats such as drones, fighter jets or even incoming anti-ship missiles and ballistic missiles. The idea would be to use the F-35 in tandem with surveillance drones and other nodes to find and destroy land-based enemy defenses, clearing the way for a land assault.

The entire strategic and conceptual shift is also informed by an increased “sea-basing” focus. Smaller multi-mission vessels, according to this emerging strategy, will be fortified by larger amphibs operating as sovereign entities at safer distances. Coffman said these ships would operate as “seaports, hospitals, logistics warehouses and sea-bases for maneuver forces.”

A 2014 paper from the Marine Corps Association, the professional journal of the US Marine Corps, points to sea-basing as a foundation upon which the Navy will shift away from traditional amphibious warfare.

“Seabased operations enable Marines to conduct highly mobile, specialized, small unit, amphibious landings by stealth from over the horizon at multiple undefended locations of our own choosing,” the paper writes.

In effect, future “ship-to-shore” amphibious attacks will look nothing like the more linear, aggregated Iwo Jima assault. A Naval War College essay on this topic both predicts and reinforces Coffman’s thinking.

“The basic requirements of amphibious assault, long held to be vital to success, may no longer be attainable. Unlike the Pacific landings of World War II amphibious objective areas could prove impossible to isolate,” the paper, called “Blitzkrieg From the Sea: Maneuver Warfare and Amphibious Operations,” states. (Richard Moore, 1983)

The essay, written in the 80s during the height of the Cold War, seems to anticipate future threats from major-power adversaries. Interestingly, drawing from some elements of a Cold War mentality, the essay foreshadows current “great-power” competition strategy for the Navy as it transitions from more than a decade of counterinsurgency to a new threat environment. In fact, when discussing its now-underway “distributed lethality” strategy, Navy leaders often refer to this need to return its focus upon heavily fortified littoral defenses and open, blue-water warfare against a near-peer adversary - as having some roots in the Cold War era.

The Naval War College essay also seems to anticipate modern thinking in that it cites LCACs as fundamental to amphibious warfare, writing that LCACs can “land at several points along an enemy coastline, seeking out enemy weaknesses and shifting forces.”

LCACs can access over 70-percent of the shoreline across the world, something the new SSCs will be able to do as well. Designed with over-the-horizon high-speed and maneuverability, LCACs are able to travel long distances and land on rocky terrain and drive up onto the shore. Referring to a more dispersed or disaggregated amphibious attack emphasis, the Naval War College essay describes modern attack through the lens of finding “surface gaps” to exploit as a way to bypass or avoid “centers of resistance.”

Dispersed approaches, using air-ground coordination and forward positioned surveillance nodes, can increasingly use synchronized assault tactics, pinpointing advantageous areas of attack. Not only can this, as the essay indicates, exploit enemy weakness, but it also brings the advantage of avoiding more condensed or closely-configured approaches far more vulnerable to long-range enemy sensors and weapons. Having an SSC, which can bring a heavier load of land-attack firepower, weapons and Marines, helps enable this identified need to bring assault forces across a wide-range of attack locations. None of this, while intended to destroy technologically sophisticated enemies, removes major risks; Russian and Chinese weapons, including emerging 5th-generation fighters, DF-26 anti-ship missiles claimed to reach 900-miles and rapidly-emerging weapons such as drones, lasers and railguns are a variety of systems of concern.

New Amphibious Attack Platforms

The effort to integrate large numbers of multi-mission smaller craft, naturally hinges upon the continued development of vessels enabled by newer advanced technologies. Textron's upgraded Ship-to-Shore Craft includes lighter-weight composite materials, increased payload capacity, modernized engines and computer-automated controls. Also, SSC’s new Rolls Royce engines have more horsepower and specialized aluminum to help prevent corrosion. Textron engineers also say the SSC is built with digital flight controls and computer automation to replace the traditional yoke and pedals used by current connectors. As a result, on-board computers will quickly calculate relevant details such as wind speed and navigational information, according to Textron information.

The Navy’s 72 existing LCACs, in service since the 80s, can only transport up to 60-tons, reach speeds of 36-knots and travel ranges up to 200 nautical miles from amphibious vehicles. The first several SSCs, which have been built and launched on the water, bring a new level of computer networking, combat-power transport technology and emerging elements of advanced maritime propulsion systems. The new SSC's have also moved to a lower frequency for ship electronics, moving from 400 Hertz down to 60 Hertz in order to better synchronize ship systems with Navy common standards. Along with these properties, the new craft uses hardware footprint reducing advances to lower the number of gear boxes from eight to two.

As part of this overall attack apparatus, the Corps is preparing to deploy new BAE-built Amphibious Combat Vehicles by 2021. By integrating a new, more powerful engine, large weapons and digitized C4ISR systems, the ACV is expected to bring new mechanized firepower to amphibious assaults - when compared to the existing AAV - Amphibious Assault Vehicle. BAE is now beginning Low-Rate Initial Production as part of a Marine Corps plan to build hundreds of the new vehicles. Unlike existing tracked AAVs, ACVs are eight-wheeled vehicles engineered for greater speed, maneuverability and survivability. By removing the need for torsion bars, a wheeled-vehicle such as the ACV can build a v-shaped hull for additional protection, BAE Systems developers say. "The Marine Corps went from tracked to wheeled because of advances in automotive technology," said John Swift, Director of Amphibious Warfare.

These vehicles, if upgraded with advanced AI-enabled networking and computer technologies, could help identify threats, protect SSCs and of course bring needed firepower to amphibious landings. BAE and the Corps are now preparing to fire weapons at the new vehicle until the live-fire attacks achieve "total destruction," as a way to prepare the vehicle for combat, Swift said.

Mine Threat:

Coffman also explained that he envisions unmanned, yet networked LCACs as something which, among other things, can limit risk to Marines from a range of enemy attacks such as deep-water mines.

“We have significant gaps in our capability to defeat 100,000 Russian and Chinese mines which will not be laid in shallow water,” Coffman said. When accompanied by a fleet of small attack and reconnaissance vessels, SSCs will operate with more protection from mines and other enemy threats.

While this emerging Navy strategy is, of course, intended to implement a far more effective attack strategy, it is also, by design, intended to save more lives when launching dangerous assaults into heavily-defended enemy areas.

“Amphibious landings are marked by extremely high costs and heavy casualties, and are considered among the riskiest and least desirable operations to conduct,” the Marine Corps Association essay maintains.

Kris Osborn is a Senior Fellow at The Lexington Institute. This piece was first featured in January 2019 and is being republished due to reader's interest.

Image: Reuters

Post-Coronavirus Asia: A Land of Great Power Tensions Set to Boil Over?

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 19:00

William R. Hawkins

Security, Asia

Discussion has flourished about what kind of "new" world will emerge after the coronavirus pandemic recedes. There is nothing new about hoping a global crisis will generate peace and cooperation, and nothing new about how it will turn out. The world will go on as before because nothing has changed geopolitically in the last few months other than major trends have accelerated. A quick tour around the Indo-Pacific region shows continued tension and conflict.

Discussion has flourished about what kind of "new" world will emerge after the coronavirus pandemic recedes. There is nothing new about hoping a global crisis will generate peace and cooperation, and nothing new about how it will turn out. The world will go on as before because nothing has changed geopolitically in the last few months other than major trends have accelerated. A quick tour around the Indo-Pacific region shows continued tension and conflict. 

On May 8, a gun battle erupted when Chinese troops crossed the border into Muguthang Valley in Sikkim province, a long-disputed region under Indian control but which Beijing claims is being illegally occupied. Tensions have been rising since January. In April, a Chinese “surveillance” ship rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat in a disputed area of the South China Sea. Both countries claim sovereignty over what Hanoi calls the Hoang Sa archipelago and Beijing calls the Paracel islands. Besides sitting across vital shipping lanes, the islands also mean access to potentially rich undersea energy and mineral resources. Beijing has claimed Sikkim and the entire South China Sea as its territory based on the long past historical domination of these areas by Imperial China. 

On May 4, the Ministry of National Defense confirmed that China will establish an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea, to match the one they have in the East China Sea where they have disputes with Japan. An ADIZ requires all aircraft to identify themselves, the point of which is to acknowledge the official expansion of Chinese airspace over the expanded maritime domain it claims. 

The United States, along with other maritime powers including Japan, India, the United Kingdom, and France have conducted "freedom of navigation" operations to demonstrate their rejection of Beijing's territorial claims. On April 28, the People’s Liberation Army boasted it had “expelled a US warship that trespassed into Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea.” The story in Global Times, the media outlet of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, featured a photo of a Chinese warship firing a missile, but no shots were fired in the confrontation.  By its own accounts, all the PLA did was “organize naval and aerial forces to follow the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Barry.” They warned it to leave the area and claimed it had been expelled when all it did was complete its transit through the area. A bold PLA claim for propaganda purposes that further raised tensions. As the Global Times story asserted, “US warships and aircraft have been frequently operating in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Taiwan Strait recently. Chinese troops will resolutely fulfill their duty, safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea.” In Beijing’s view, it is the United States and its allies who are provoking conflict by upholding international law.

The Taiwan Strait deserves mention as tensions are mounting there in the wake of the re-election of President Tsai Ing-wen. She leads the Democratic Progressive Party which is based on Taiwanese nationalism. The DPP has been growing in strength as younger generations have come to identify themselves as Taiwanese, not Chinese. Taiwan has been governed from Beijing for only four years (1945 to 1949) out of the last 125. A May 11 article in the South China Morning Post claimed that Beijing was trying to tap down rising “nationalist fervor” on Chinese social media calling for an invasion of Taiwan. The article also noted, “recently a number of commentators and retired military commanders have called for Beijing to retake control of the island….Some former military leaders have argued that the United States – which is bound by law to help the Taiwanese government defend itself – is presently unable to do so because all four of its aircraft carriers in the Pacific have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.” After the U.S. aircraft carriers Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan had to return to port to handle flu cases among their crews, China sent its carrier Liaoning with its escorts through the “first island chain” into the Pacific to demonstrate it was the local superpower. The United States responded by bringing in reinforcements and stepping up its operating tempo to counter any perception of weakness. 

A previous SCMP article cited Chinese strategists as fearing an invasion of the democratic island would be too costly and that Beijing will have to mobilize greater strength to do so. However, a lengthy essay published on May 12 by the PLA reported “The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has carried out combat readiness patrols in the Taiwan Strait region on many occasions…since February this year” and that its troops “are determined and capable of thwarting all ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities.” The article carried a direct threat to America at its conclusion, stating in bold type. “The Taiwan question is China's core interest and the bottom line of China that cannot be challenged” and that if the United States “repeatedly probes and even breaks through China's bottom line, it will eventually bring fire to itself.” President Xi Jinping is adamant that Taiwan “must and will” be absorbed into the mainland and during his tenure in office if possible. 

Further north, Japan has released its 2020 East Asian Strategic Review. The report proclaims a "free and open Indo-Pacific" that goes beyond the Japan-U.S. alliance to expand military cooperation with South Korea, Australia, India, and within ASEAN. It has already signed “Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreements” with the armed forces of Australia, the UK, Canada, and France. Another is pending with India. It also uses military aid to build ties within Southeast Asia. These efforts are all meant to build a coalition to contain a China that is threatening islands that form a strategic link between Tokyo and Taipei.

The carrier Ronald Reagan, which is based in Japan, is now back at sea. And to fill in the gap while the carrier Theodore Roosevelt recovers in Guam, the amphibious assault carrier America (which now embarks F-35B fighters) and the guided missile cruiser Bunker Hill have been operating off the coast of Malaysia near an area in dispute between Indonesia and China, and also showing the flag off Vietnam. China’s aggression in Southeast Asia is not confined to the sea. Beijing has built a series of dams at the headwaters of the Mekong River to produce electricity for southern China. But these dams also give Beijing leverage over Southeast Asian lands which depend on the Mekong for rice irrigation and fishing. Food security is already jeopardized by drought and has been further endangered by erratic water flows from the Chinese dams.

China has reacted strongly to an Australian demand for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus outbreak. Beijing is threatening trade with Canberra. The Global Times stated on May 13 how China views commerce as a part of foreign policy, “When the world enters the buyer's market, China has the right to select trading partners that can maximize its interest.”   

The United States has increased its backing for those resisting Chinese aggression since “the pivot” from the Middle East to the Pacific Rim instituted by the Obama administration. President Barack Obama was, however, reluctant to strike at the economic roots of Beijing’s rise. President Donald Trump has focused on international economics, targeting the outsourcing of American jobs and production capacity to China and Beijing’s theft of intellectual property. He has based his case on national security grounds. The pandemic has highlighted to the American public the dangerous dependency the United States has fallen into with China for a variety of strategic goods starting with medicine and including electronics, steel, auto parts and a host of critical supply chains. Efforts to decouple from China in key areas are underway led by the State and Commerce departments.

It is hoped that many of these industries can be brought back to America but even if they are merely diverted to trading partners who are allies or otherwise aligned with the United States, the gain to security will be substantial. New Delhi is putting itself forward, sending out invitations to 1,000 American firms doing business in China asking them to shift operations to India. Trump has been actively courting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a variety of high-tech projects and arms sales. India has been designated a Major Defense Partner of the United States.

The Japanese government is also offering incentives to its firms to shift critical production out of China. Business firms may resist efforts to put national security ahead of private profits. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce still says its “policy and advocacy efforts are guided by the belief that commercial engagement and the expansion of trade and investment ties between the United States and China benefit both countries and their business communities.” However, just as the pandemic has postponed the Chamber’s eleventh China Business Conference, the international situation will require commerce to follow the flag and adjust to a world that will operate on the basis of great power competition for the foreseeable future. 

William R. Hawkins is a consultant specializing in international economic and national security issues. He is a former Republican staff member on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Image: Reuters.

Instead Of Retiring, America's F-5E Tiger Is Flying To Brazil

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 18:30

Charlie Gao

Security,

An amazing export success.

Here's What You Need To Remember: Brazilian experts stress that the FAB’s capability gap with neighboring air forces was only narrowed by the upgrade and that the F-5EM still remains an outclassed fighter in modern air combat due to its shortcomings and old-school design. Regardless, it was the best the FAB could do on a limited budget and the resulting craft was quite good for the money spent.

The F-5E “Tiger” is one of U.S. aerospace industry’s largest export successes. Designed as a budget lightweight fighter, the F-5E is still operated by many nations around the world despite the availability of more modern fighters.

Its continued service is enabled by miniaturization of electronics, which allows for more powerful radars and more systems to be integrated into the same spaces as the original system. This approach is exemplified by the F-5EM operated by Brazil, one of the most advanced variants of the F-5E flying today.

Brazil first acquired F-5Es in 1974 after comparing it to rival NATO light fighters like the Harrier, Jaguar, Fiat G.91 and A-4 Skyhawk. Forty-two units were purchased originally, followed by twenty-six more in the 1980s.

These aircraft served in without much modification until CRUZEX I aerial exercise in 2002. The exercise simulated conflict between the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) and a French Armee de l’Air force equipped with Mirage 2000s with E-3 Sentry AWACS support. The results were abysmal, with France expected to take air superiority in a real conflict despite some good simulated kills by FAB Mirage IIIs.

This sparked a significant push to modernize the FAB’s capability to defend Brazil’s airspace. Modernization of the Mirage III was explored but deemed to be cost ineffective. The F-5E showed much more promise.

In the 1990s, Chile, facing a similar need to modernize, created their own variant, the Tiger III Plus with assistance from Israel Aircraft Industries. A similar program with newer technology could be done with the FAB’s F-5Es.

The program began in the 2000s when a contract was awarded to the Brazilian firm Embraer to modernize forty-six F-5Es with European and Israeli technology. The key aspect of the modernization was to “extend” the legs of the F-5E from being a short-range “point defense” fighter to something that could cover more ground over Brazil’s rather large borders.

To this end, the radar was upgraded to the SELEX Grifo-F, which involved lengthening the nose cone of the aircraft to account for the larger radar antenna. But while the new radar was better, the F-5EM was designed with a secure data link to connect to FAB E-99 AWACS aircraft and ground radars, which were envisioned to vector the F-5s onto a target.

The role of the data link in FAB doctrine is significant. In addition to the dominance displayed by the French Mirages working with E-3s during CRUZEX, the FAB always favored vectoring their fighters from more powerful radars due to poor experience with the original F-5E radar. During a night intercept of a British Vulcan bomber in 1982, the F-5E’s onboard radar was unable to effectively search for the massive aircraft, the fighters were reliant on ground radar.

To take advantage of the additional range given by the data link and radar systems, the Israeli Derby active-radar medium-range air-to-air missile was integrated into the F-5EM. While lighter and shorter ranged than heavier missiles like the AMRAAM and R-27, the missile gave the FAB much-needed beyond-visual-range capability in air-to-air combat, the third nation after Chile and Venezuela to gain such capability.

Many other systems were added or upgraded on the F-5EM. In addition to the Derby, Israeli Python III short-range missiles were integrated. The Israeli DASH helmet mounted display was installed in the cockpit to cue those missiles, making the F-5EM a formidable close range fighter.

A radar-warning receiver, onboard oxygen generation system, hands-on throttle and stick, and INS/GPS navigation are all included. The addition of all these systems came at a cost though. The starboard M39A2 20mm cannon was removed to make space for electronics in the jet.

Finally to address the F-5E’s meager internal fuel capacity, provision for air-to-air refueling was added.

The F-5E modernization program continued through the 2000s and 2010s, with the final jet being delivered in 2013. Eleven additional F-5Es were acquired from the Jordanian Air Force in 2009 to increase the number of the type in FAB service.

The type is expected to serve on to 2025, with the integration of the new A-Darter beyond visual range air-to-air missile expected to happen soon. The new Gripen Es being acquired by the FAB are expected to supplement the shorter ranged F-5EMs.

Brazilian experts stress that the FAB’s capability gap with neighboring air forces was only narrowed by the upgrade and that the F-5EM still remains an outclassed fighter in modern air combat due to its shortcomings and old-school design. Regardless, it was the best the FAB could do on a limited budget and the resulting craft was quite good for the money spent.

Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national-security issues. This article first appeared earlier this year.

Image: Wikipedia.

Coronavirus Temperature Checks: Sued If You Do, Sued If You Don't

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 18:00

Walter Olson

Politics, Americas

Coronavirus liability or civil liberties lawsuits?

Last week in this space I noted that many businesses are faced with puzzling dilemmas as they try to reopen with social distancing without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act. One issue I didn’t mention: if they require the wearing of face masks as a condition of entering the premises, they may run into some customers who claim to have non‐​obvious disabilities which entitle them, as an accommodation under the ADA, not to have to wear a mask. Even if they strongly suspect such a customer of pulling a fast one, it may seem the less risky legal course just to back off, given that the law confers on business no right to demand medical documentation.

One issue I did mention last week is that the ADA creates legal risks should a business screen those who enter the premises for fever using some method such as a contact‐​free temperature gun. (Amazon announced last month that it was checking more than 100,000 employees a day this way, and checks at store entrances are familiar in some Asian countries.) Two new articles make it clear that this is one of those situations where you can look forward to being sued if you do and sued if you don’t.

Consider first a Slate article arguing against legislation to protect businesses from lawsuits related to COVID-19. The gist of its argument is that we already have a litigation system under which “liability is not likely to present a huge problem” or pose “burdensome difficulties” for businesses that “take reasonable action to keep their customers safe.” Welcome news, and so simple too!

But now that you think of it, how do we identify in hindsight a business whose safety efforts have fallen short of what is reasonable? The Slate article has some ideas on that:

A business that might be considered to have properly reopened can still find itself liable to customers for failure at the level of implementation of whatever safety protocols are required. …. what if a reasonable business would do more, such as taking the temperature of each customer as they enter the business? (Even though that’s not being widely done in the United States right now, it’s an easy precaution to take — and can at least bring down the rate of transmission.)

In sum, then, if someone sues you claiming to have contracted the virus at your business establishment, and their lawyer’s main theory is that you should have been doing front‐​door temperature checks, Slate is going to nod and say the system is working as it should.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the venerable American Civil Liberties Union has issued a new report that is strenuously critical of temperature‐​sensing technologies as a screen against contagion in public places, even when done by businesses on private property. (You may wonder how the ACLU came to see pushing back against private business practices as part of its mission — especially when it lets slide so much rights‐​mangling activity by governments — but that’s another, and sadder, story.)

The ACLU report makes much of various facts that hardly anyone disputes — temperature sensors are far from ideally accurate, some people return “hot” results who do not have COVID-19 while others who do have it are not running a fever, and so forth. The argument for sensors has never been that they are perfect, but that by detecting at least some potentially contagious arrivals, they shift the odds and thus reduce overall spread of the disease in conjunction with de‐​crowding, mask use, and other measures. The report concludes that temperature sensing should go forward only if public health authorities affirmatively call for its use, and it flags possible theories, from data privacy to disparate racial impact, by which lawyers might trip up unwary businesses that go forward with it absent such a mandate.

In its wisdom, the American legal system does not give you a way to avoid legal exposure, with all its costs and miseries — but at least it gives you some choice as to which set of lawyers you will have to face off against.

This article by Walter Olson first appeared in CATO on May 20, 2020.

Image: Reuters.

Airbus' Eurofighter Typhoon Could Become Germany's Next Air Defense Killer

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 17:30

David Axe

Security,

The German air force will select its new fighter aircraft in early 2020.

Here's What You Need To Remember: With Russian and Chinese air-defenses proliferating and improving in capability, more countries are considering acquisitions of SEAD aircraft. Beside Germany and Finland, Canada, India and Switzerland also are considering Super Hornet purchases. Boeing reportedly considers the EA-18G a viable add-on for each country.

Airbus is offering Germany a version of the Typhoon multi-role fighter aircraft that can perform the suppression of enemy air-defenses, or SEAD, mission.

The SEAD Typhoon would be a new variant of the twin-engine plane and would require extensive modification of the basic Typhoon design.

Germany currently operates a significant portion of the dedicated SEAD fleet in Europe. Forty of the Luftwaffe’s 93 Tornado fighter-bombers are electronic combat/reconnaissance, or ECR, variants. The Italian air force possesses 15 Tornado ECRs.

The German air force plans to replace all 85 Tornados with a new fighter starting in the 2020s. Just two designs are in the running for the multi-billion-dollar acquisition: the Typhoon and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet from American plane-maker Boeing.

Notably, Boeing already builds a SEAD version of the Super Hornet called the EA-18G Growler. The company reportedly is seeking permission from the U.S. State Department to export the Growler to Germany. The State Department in early 2019 cleared the company to offer the EA-18G to Finland.

The German air force will select its new fighter aircraft in early 2020, German minister of defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced in late September 2019.

The plane will replace the Luftwaffe’s Tornados and complement the service’s roughly 140 Typhoons. Berlin recently eliminated the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter from the competition.

Defense News called the move “not altogether surprising.”

Berlin for some time has officially favored an upgraded version of the fourth-generation Eurofighter Typhoon — built by a consortium of Airbus, Leonardo and BAE Systems — as the Tornado replacement. The main argument is to keep European companies involved in building combat aircraft and, perhaps even more importantly, staying clear of disturbing Franco-German momentum in armaments cooperation.

In offering a SEAD version of the Typhoon, Airbus clearly anticipates that Germany will want to preserve its niche defense-suppression capability. Aside from Germany and Italy’s Tornado ECRs, the only dedicated SEAD aircraft in the NATO inventory are the roughly 150 EA-18Gs that Boeing is building for the U.S. Navy.

Australia also operates 11 EA-18Gs alongside 24 F/A-18E/Fs in a mixed fleet that Boeing sees as a model for other potential Super Hornet operators, including Finland and Germany.

Typically, a SEAD aircraft features a two-person crew, radar-detectors, radar-jamming pods and a radar-seeking missile of some type. The SEAD Typhoon is no exception.

“The ECR/SEAD configuration shown by Airbus comprises a pair of escort jammer pods on the underwing stations currently typically used to carry drop tanks, while three 1,000-liter tanks would be carried on the centerline and two inboard underwing pylons,” Jane’s reported.

“These three stations are currently 'dry,’ and would need to be plumbed to carry fuel tanks. The aircraft is also shown carrying the SPEAR-EW weapon recently showcased by [missile-maker] MBDA as a future SEAD weapons system, wingtip emitter-locator stations and both short- and long-range air-to-air missiles.”

“The ECR/SEAD Eurofighter would ‘almost certainly’ be a twin-seat aircraft with the rear cockpit devoted to operating the complex mission systems,” Jane’s added, citing an Airbus official.

With Russian and Chinese air-defenses proliferating and improving in capability, more countries are considering acquisitions of SEAD aircraft. Beside Germany and Finland, Canada, India and Switzerland also are considering Super Hornet purchases. Boeing reportedly considers the EA-18G a viable add-on for each country.

The U.S. Navy meanwhile wants to buy up to 48 more Growlers in order to boost, from five to as many as 11, the number of SEAD planes in each carrier air wing.

Giving the Typhoon a SEAD role helps the European fighter to compete with the F/A-18. Typhoon users including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.

But there’s still one major capability the Typhoon design lacks. The German air force as part of its commitment to NATO must contribute tactical fighters to the alliance’s plans for “tactical” nuclear warfare. Under the NATO scheme, fighters from across the alliance would drop American nuclear bombs.

The Tornado is compatible with nukes but neither the F/A-18E/F nor the Typhoon can carry atomic weapons. German officials have asked Airbus and Boeing to explain how they would add nuclear capability to their fighters so that the Luftwaffe can continue to honor its atomic obligation to the trans-Atlantic alliance.

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels  War FixWar Is Boring and Machete Squad. This article first appeared last year.

Image: Wikipedia.

QD-OLED: Samsung's Plan To Crush OLED One and For All?

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 17:00

Ethen Kim Lieser

Technology,

In LCD and OLED, we have two of the basic TV panel displays on the market today. Each has its pros and cons in its underlying technology and some higher-end models can get quite expensive. So, where do we go from here? Why not take the best qualities of each panel type and create a new groundbreaking, modestly priced hybrid TV?

In LCD and OLED, we have two of the basic TV panel displays on the market today. Each has its pros and cons in its underlying technology and some higher-end models can get quite expensive.

So, where do we go from here? Why not take the best qualities of each panel type and create a new groundbreaking, modestly priced hybrid TV?

It appears that Korean tech giant Samsung has already gotten a head start in pursuing this next-gen venture.

As the world’s biggest TV seller, Samsung has relied mostly on LCD, not OLED, for its panel displays. But news out of Korea has indicated that Samsung will halt the production of traditional LCD displays by the end of the year. Driven largely by a supply glut and falling demand, the company is now turning its full attention toward its fast-growing portfolio of TVs that utilize quantum dot technology.

All would be fine and well, but in recent years, Samsung has been stuck in an unusual position of having to look up at its Korean archrival LG, whose OLED offerings have become the darlings of the ultra-competitive TV market. Tests after tests have shown that LG’s OLED panels have better overall image quality, contrast ratios and off-angle viewing than LCD TVs that are enhanced by quantum dots.

These quantum dots are microscopic particles that when hit by light, emit a certain different colored light. The source of this light is the LED backlight, and that light must pass through more layers, such as the LCD layer, to produce the images on the screen. On the other hand, OLED TVs don’t need a separate backlight, as each pixel you see is a self-contained source of color and light.

By combining quantum dots and OLED, you could cull the best strengths of both technologies. In short, the panel design of such a QD-OLED hybrid would simplify the light conversion process—having OLED create blue light and then relying on quantum dots to convert some of the blue into the colors red and green. This could also finally put an end to those pesky issues of image retention and burn-in. Moreover, by using only one OLED color, it could theoretically save on manufacturing costs.

With its sights set squarely on the TV promised land, Samsung has committed $11 billion over the next five years on a new factory in Asan, South Chungcheong Province, that will focus chiefly on QD-OLED hybrids. The new Gen. 8.5 QD line is scheduled to start production in 2021 and will manufacture at least 30,000 units of QD display panels of 65 inches or larger. 

The other new tech from Samsung and others is MicroLED, which boasts many of the same picture-quality strengths as the QD-OLED hybrid with no danger of burn-in.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. He currently resides in Minneapolis.

How The USS Goodhue Survived Kamikaze Attacks During The World War II Battle Of Okinawa

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 16:45

Warfare History Network

History, Asia

The attack transport USS Goodhue endured a day of misery off the coast of Okinawa. Read on for more.

More than 60 years ago, in April 1945, the war in Europe was winding down to its inevitable conclusion. Prospects for victory in the Pacific were looking brighter, but the war was far from decided. The Americans had the Japanese on the ropes and the ever-shrinking Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was now limited to the Ryukyus and the home islands of Japan. However, for the American sailors aboard the Bayfield-class attack transport USS Goodhue, the war had yet to begin.

This is the story of one eventful day in the life of the Goodhue during the Pacific War. The officers and ratings of the ship were about to participate in the last great campaign of World War II, the capture of the strategically important island of Okinawa. This sanguinary campaign cost the United States 36 ships sunk, with the loss of nearly 10,000 sailors dead or wounded. The Army lost 4,675 dead and nearly 19,000 wounded. The Marine Corps, which bore the brunt of the fighting on the island, lost almost 19,000 dead and wounded. This was the price that America paid for taking a small piece of real estate that would serve as a springboard for an invasion of the Japanese home islands. If the Japanese resistance was this intense on and around Okinawa, what would it be like in the invasion of the Japanese mainland?

Opposing Operation Iceberg: Japan’s Kamikaze Waves

Planning for the campaign that would be known as Operation Iceberg began in the fall of 1944, about the same time as the commissioning of the USS Goodhue. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had evaluated all of the plans that had been discussed to bring about the final Japanese defeat. Which plan was better: bypass the Philippines, advance in China, or occupy Formosa? The Joint Chiefs adopted a strategy involving a landing in the Philippines as well as on the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Following the costly victory on Iwo Jima, and while operations in the Philippines were ongoing, U.S. forces landed on Okinawa on April 1, 1945. Thoughts of hope for the future would be on the minds of the American servicemen in the Pacific that Sunday, but the only thing that was on the minds of the Japanese was to stop the American advance at any cost. Countless thousands of Japanese sailors and airmen would die in the attempt to halt the American juggernaut.

Japanese strategists discussed the best way to defend Okinawa. It was first argued that an aggressive attack against the Americans after they landed was the best strategy. Then, the idea was put forward that it might be better to let the Americans land and then grind them down in a battle of attrition. Then there was the darker alternative: that of the massed waves of suicide planes and boats known as the kamikaze. It was the latter two options in combination that American soldiers and sailors would confront at Okinawa.

The USS Goodhue

Scattered kamikaze attacks on American warships had occurred as early as 1943. Vice Admiral Takajiro Onishi had developed the concept of the kamikaze as a desperate suicidal effort to inflict serious damage on warships of the U.S. Navy, particularly its aircraft carriers. In doing so, it was hoped that the American tide would be slowed or even stopped. Although the kamikaze were not unknown to the Americans, the fury of the massed attacks thrown at the fleet off Okinawa was something that had not been previously experienced.

Ward McDonald, a 17-year-old signalman from Seattle, Washington, described the Goodhue’s shakedown cruise off San Pedro, California, in December 1944. “One early morning we got underway for our shakedown cruise … down the coast of California. A gunnery practice at a towed target proved our ability to have a shell from the ship’s 5-inch guns get within a quarter mile of the target. We swung compass, did a few maneuvers as well as swab the decks of vomit as the boys from Nebraska would leave go of their breakfasts. What a sight. I was wondering if they would even allow us to join other ships for a wartime effort. Somehow we made a successful shakedown.”

The Goodhue had two 5-inch dual-purpose gun mounts fore and aft, two single and two twin 40mm antiaircraft guns, and 18 20mm guns with which to protect the 51 officers and 524 enlisted men aboard. The ship was able to carry all the equipment necessary for an amphibious landing, including 1,200 troops and 15 landing craft. Powering everything was one General Electric geared drive turbine that could raise 8,500 horsepower.

“A day or so later during the loading of ammunition, food stuffs, fuel and the like, I noticed large boxes of foul weather gear coming aboard,” remembered McDonald of the days immediately following the shakedown cruise. “It appeared we were headed for a cold climate.” Days later, when the Goodhue was steaming southwest instead of north, McDonald observed, “The foul weather gear had been a ploy…. The military needed to make it appear obvious that we were heading north.”

The Goodhue had loaded her cargo in California and sailed away from the West Coast on January 4, 1945. She arrived at her first destination in the Admiralty Islands on January 21, where the ship picked up more cargo and passengers. Reaching Hollandia, New Guinea, on February 4, the Goodhue received her new commander, Captain J.L. Allen. Under Allen’s command, the ship took its place as the flagship of Transport Division 51. This meant that in any action they would be encountering, the Goodhue would be at the head of the column and most vulnerable to attack.

The Goodhue sailed to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines from February 4 to 12, carrying supplies to bases in the area. The officers and men underwent vigorous amphibious training exercises until February 25. By the end of the month, the Goodhue was loading troops and supplies for the coming campaign against Okinawa. There were more practice landings, and then it was time for the real thing. The ship got underway for Okinawa on March 21, but there would be one more stop along the way.

The small islands of Kerama Retto, just south of Okinawa, were to be secured to serve as a staging area for the invasion of Okinawa itself. A mighty American armada, which included the Goodhue, put troops ashore on March 26 to secure the island group. Compared with what was in store for them, the landings at Kerama Retto were a cakewalk.

Even so, McDonald voiced the opinion of many American servicemen in the area when he said, “March 26, 1945. Hell was upon us in every fashion. From the water we had the dreaded suicide boats, from the air the deadly kamikaze and on the beaches we had the fanatics. There was not to be a breather for anyone…. We encountered 82 air attacks in the next 30 days alone, most of them kamikaze. The reason for all this attention was we were getting very close to the main Japanese strongholds…. They would throw everything they had at us.”

As the kamikaze attacks against the American fleet intensified, the sailors aboard the Goodhue improved their defenses by bringing up on deck several of the Army’s field guns that they were transporting. “They just seemed to appear out of nowhere,” said McDonald of the suicide boats, “and if you weren’t alert they would get beneath your gunnery field and … the charge would blow a sizeable hole in the side of the vessel at the waterline.”

Airborne Attack on the Convoy

The Goodhue was anchored off Kuba Shima when the main landings against Okinawa went in on April 1. More than 1,300 vessels had assembled off the island, and the landing craft had been lowered and were circling in the water while the prelanding barrage softened up the beaches beginning at 5:30 am. Sixty-four American aircraft from the nearby carrier group also attacked the island before the landing craft hit the beach. By the end of the day, a 15,000-yard beachhead was secured and thousands of troops had landed.

At 4:15 pm on April 2, the Goodhue was underway from its anchorage at Kuba Shima to deliver the 307th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 77th Division to its destination on Okinawa. Cruising in a three-column formation of transports, the Goodhue led the right column with the transports Telfair, Mountrail, Drew, and Montrose falling in behind at 1,200-yard intervals. The distance between the columns was 600 yards. The Goodhue kept pace with the guide ship Chilton, which was leading the center column, and Henrico, which led the left column. As the vessels approached the combat zone, they began to zigzag to avoid enemy submarines.

At approximately 6:30 pm, a dozen kamikazes attacked the small armada of transports and supporting destroyers. The Goodhue’s log noted, “1837 [we] commenced firing with after starboard 20 millimeter guns and 40 millimeter guns on enemy aircraft attacking the convoy from abaft the starboard beam … 1840 … Henrico seen to be hit in midship section … 1842 … Telfair seen to be grazed by suicide plane.”

The Goodhue and her sister ship Telfair were attacked by three planes. The Telfair gunners combined with the firing from the Goodhue to destroy one of the attackers in midair. A second plane rammed into the starboard and port kingposts of the Telfair, then fell over the side of the ship. The third plane was headed straight for the Goodhue.

Hit by a Kamikaze

Radioman Second Class Jack Kenewell recalled the result of the third Japanese aircraft’s attack against the Goodhue: “After knocking one Betty [Mitsubishi G4M bomber] out of the air with a salvo from our 5-inch aft, a Jap suicide plane came in over our bow only seconds later. We didn’t have a chance. He hit our crow’s nest and did some damage … I was bleeding badly with a wound on my chest, neck and feet.”

The Goodhue’s log recorded, “1848 … one enemy plane observed paralleling our course to starboard at 3,000 yds. Plane was seen to change to an approach course at … 1,000 ft. The plane was taken under fire by the forward 5”/38 gun at a range of 1,500 yds.”

The aircraft attacking the Goodhue was a Kawasaki KI-45 Toryu, known as a “Nick” to the Allies. This was a twin-engine, long-range escort and reconnaissance fighter. It was most likely armed with two fragmentation bombs carried under the wings.

The combined fire from the Goodhue and the other transports hit the Nick in the port engine and cockpit area, setting it on fire. The Goodhue’s log reads, “1850 … suicide Japanese plane crashed into the mainmast at the cross trees level. One part continued and exploded over the fantail, the other containing cockpit and at least one bomb, swung over the port side and exploded at about deck level … most of the plane fell flaming into the water.”

McDonald vividly recalled the attack of the kamikazes: “As soon as I stepped out onto the main deck I looked right into the cockpit of a kamikaze approaching us on the starboard side … I watched wide-eyed as the Jap plowed into the starboard side of the USS Henrico … blowing a hell of a hole completely through the superstructure … I was looking at the crew [of a 5-inch gun] about 10 feet away when their eyes grew huge and an expression of fear struck them all…. From the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a huge ball of fire and mass descending upon me…. I instinctively turned to my left and was ducking.”

In the brief moments described by the ship’s log and the narratives of Kenewell and McDonald, 27 men were killed and 117 wounded. Although the impact of the kamikaze had struck and knocked down the Goodhue’s 30-ton cargo boom, the majority of the dead and wounded were hit when bomb fragments and shrapnel rained down on them as the plane disintegrated. The Telfair, Henrico, and Chilton had also sustained major damage. The destroyer Dickenson had taken a direct hit on its bridge, killing 53 sailors, including the captain. The ship was so seriously damaged that it later had to be scuttled.

The Henrico had also taken a direct hit from a suicide plane, later identified as a Frances (twin-engine bomber). This kamikaze had plowed into the superstructure, killing the captain, a colonel of the 77th Division, and scores of Navy and Army personnel.

“Hundreds of Kamikaze Planes.”

Stunned but not wounded, McDonald was taken below for a time. When he came to his senses, he went back out on the deck. “When I stepped out on the after deck, I found death and destruction everywhere I turned,” he recalled. “The first thing I noticed was the after 5-inch gun placement was out of kilter and there were no identifiable body parts of any of the gun crew. They were just gone … screams, moaning, orders being given and bodies everywhere…. As I peered over the top of a ladder onto the deck, I saw a finger with a gold ring still on it … just a mass of flesh everywhere.”

Radarman Third Class Samuel Keels Brockington was drafted into the Navy from Kingstree, South Carolina, in March 1944. He was assigned to the Goodhue that summer. “The man in the crow’s nest where the plane hit was just wrapped in metal,” he remembered, “and pieces of the plane were on the boat.”

Damage control parties extinguished several fires and then began the grim task of collecting the dead and wounded. Radarman Third Class Howard G. Hobbs was assigned to this detail, and the memories of the sights and sounds of that evening haunted him for his entire life. Motor Machinist Mate Third Class Francis “Red” Nagle was in charge of piloting one of the landing craft used to ferry troops and supplies to Okinawa. On the day the Goodhue was attacked, he recalled looking into the sky and seeing “hundreds of kamikaze planes.”

164 Ships Damaged by Kamikazes

The Goodhue’s loss had been severe. With 21 dead and more than a hundred sailors wounded, the transport had lost one-quarter of its crew. Twenty-four soldiers from the 307th Regiment also became casualties. At least five of the 15 attack transports that left Kerama Retto that evening sustained damage from kamikaze attacks. During the Okinawa campaign, 27 of the 36 U.S. ships sunk had been attacked by suicide planes. A total of 371 U.S. ships were damaged at Okinawa. Of that total, kamikaze attacks were estimated to have accounted for 164.

After the attack of April 2, the Goodhue withdrew with a destroyer escort back to the Kerama Retto anchorage for repairs. Along the way the dead were buried on the small island of Zamami Shima, and the wounded were loaded onto hospital ships for treatment.

“That night I worked on the injured doing everything I could,” said Brockington. “The next day they were sent to the hospital ships. I helped sew canvas bags for those who were dead. The evening before the attackn our ship, which was the evening of the invasion on Okinawa, I was talking to a guy from Tennessee. He said, ‘Brock, if we get home let’s do so and so.’ I told him that the invasion that morning had gone well and instead of saying ‘if we get home’ let’s say when we get home. He said that sounded like a good idea. I sewed his body bag the next day.”

Kenewell, who had received some serious wounds when the Japanese plane struck the ship, recalled the condition of the sailors on the hospital ship around him. “I saw some horribly mutilated men, some with shrapnel all over their bodies, others with burns. Undoubtedly these were the worst cases, some with no chance of recovery, dying by inches … some with their eyes burned right out of the sockets. They would never really recover.” After several days of rest at the anchorage, the troops aboard the Goodhue eventually splashed ashore on Okinawa.

The USS Goodhue‘s Battle Star

The USS Goodhue received one battle star for its participation in the Okinawa campaign. The ship was decommissioned on April 5, 1946, and sold to the U.S. Maritime Commission for commercial service in 1947. Renamed the Hawaiian Citizen, she plied the Pacific Ocean for another 34 years, 21 of those as a container ship. The Hawaiian Citizen was finally scrapped in Taiwan in 1982. The ship is gone, but many of her veterans are still around. They gather every year for a reunion and mourn the shipmates lost in the previous year.

The ordeal of the USS Goodhue is not unique among the U.S. Navy warships subjected to the ferocious kamikaze assaults off Okinawa. However, it is representative of the battle that took place there and of the carnage that could well have been expected if an invasion of the Japanese home islands had been necessary.

Duane E. Shaffer is a library director in New Durham, New Hampshire. His late father-in-law served aboard the USS Goodhue.

This article first appeared at the Warfare History Network.

The Real Science Behind the "Game-Changing" Hydroxychloroquine Drug

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 16:30

Teresa G. Carvalho

Politics, Americas

Trump said he has “heard a lot of good stories” about hydroxychloroquine, and incorrectly claimed there is no evidence of harmful side-effects from taking it. 

The White House’s confirmation that US President Donald Trump has been taking hydroxychloroquine every day for the past two weeks, with his doctor’s blessing, has reignited the controversy over the drug. It has long been used against malaria but has not been approved for COVID-19.

Trump said he has “heard a lot of good stories” about hydroxychloroquine, and incorrectly claimed there is no evidence of harmful side-effects from taking it. His previous claims in March that the drug could be a “game changer” in the pandemic prompted many people, including Australian businessman and politician Clive Palmer, to suggest stockpiling and distribution of the drug to the public.

But the dangers of acting on false or incomplete health information were underlined by the death of an Arizona man in March after inappropriate consumption of the related drug chloroquine. It’s important to know the real science behind the touted health benefits.

How do these medicines work?

Hydroxychloroquine is an analogue of chloroquine, meaning both compounds have similar chemical structures and a similar mode of action against malaria. Both medications are administered orally and have common side-effects such as nausea, diarrhoea and muscle weakness. However, hydroxychloroquine is less toxic, probably because it is easier for the body to metabolise.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are listed by the World Health Organisation as an essential medicine. Both drugs have been used to treat malaria for more than 70 years, and hydroxychloroquine has also proved effective against auto-immune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treating malaria, but not for COVID-19.

We don’t know exactly how these drugs work to combat the malaria parasite. But we know chloroquine disrupts the parasite’s digestive enzymes by altering the pH inside the parasite cell, presumably effectively starving it to death.

Malaria parasites and coronaviruses are very different organisms. So how can the same drugs work against both? In lab studies, chloroquine hinders replication of the SARS coronavirus, apparently by changing the pH inside particular parts of human cells where the virus replicates.

This offers a glimmer of hope that these pH changes inside cells could hold the key to thwarting such different types of pathogens.

Is it OK to repurpose drugs like this?

Existing drugs can be extremely valuable in an emergency like a pandemic, because we already know the maximum dose and any potential toxic side-effects. This gives us a useful basis on which to consider using them for a new purpose. Chloroquine is also cheap to manufacture, and has already been widely used in humans.

But we shouldn’t be complacent. There are significant gaps in our understanding of the biology of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, because it is a brand new virus. There is a 20% genetic difference between SARS-CoV-2 and the previous SARS coronavirus, meaning we should not assume a drug shown to act against SARS will automatically work for SARS-CoV-2.

Even in its primary use against malaria, long-term chloroquine exposure can lead to increased risks such as vision impairment and cardiac arrest. Hydroxychloroquine offers a safer treatment plan with reduced tablet dosages and lessened side-effects. But considering their potentially lethal cardiovascular side-effects, these drugs are especially detrimental to those who are overweight or have pre-existing heart conditions. Despite the urgent need to confront COVID-19, we need to tread carefully when using existing medicines in new ways.

Any medication that has not been thoroughly tested for the disease in question can have seriously toxic side-effects. What’s more, different diseases may require different doses of the same drug. So we would need to ensure any dose that can protect against SARS-CoV-2 would actually be safe to take.

The evidence so far

Although many clinical trials are under way, there is still not enough evidence chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine will be useful against COVID-19. The few trials completed and published so far, despite claiming positive outcomes, have been either small and poorly controlled or lacking in detail.

recent hydroxychloroquine trial in China showed no significant benefits for COVID-19 patients’ recovery rate. A French hydroxychloroquine trial was similarly discouraging, with eight patients prematurely discontinuing the treatment after heart complications.

The fascination with chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine has also adversely affected other drug trials. Clinical trials of other possible COVID-19 treatments, including HIV drugs and antidepressants, have seen reduced enrolments. Needless to say, in a pandemic we should not be putting all our eggs in one basket.

Then there is the issue of chloroquine hoarding, which not only encourages dangerous self-medication, but also puts malaria patients at greater risk. With malaria transmission season looming in some countries, the anticipated shortage of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine will severely impact current malaria control efforts.

Overall, despite their tantalising promise as antiviral drugs, there isn’t enough evidence chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are safe and suitable to use against COVID-19. The current preliminary data need to be backed up by multiple properly designed clinical trials that monitor patients for prolonged periods.

During a pandemic there is immense pressure to find drugs that will work. But despite Trump’s desperation for a miracle cure, the risks of undue haste are severe.

This article was coauthored by Liana Theodoridis, an Honours student in Microbiology at La Trobe University.

, Senior Lecturer in Microbiology, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image: Reuters

Shortest War Ever? The Anglo-Zanzibar War Over in Less Than 40 Minutes

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 16:00

Peter Suciu

History, Africa

Military leaders don't actually like wars. Wars disrupt training and no one can truly predict an outcome. But when war does come the leaders all hope for a quick and decisive victory. None was quicker or more decisive than the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896—from start to finish it lasted less than 40 minutes. It was a David vs. Goliath story, but in this outcome Goliath won the day.

Military leaders don't actually like wars. Wars disrupt training and no one can truly predict an outcome. But when war does come the leaders all hope for a quick and decisive victory. None was quicker or more decisive than the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896—from start to finish it lasted less than 40 minutes. It was a David vs. Goliath story, but in this outcome Goliath won the day.

The origins of the war could be traced not to Zanzibar or even London, but rather more than a decade earlier to Berlin, which hosted the Berlin Conference of 1884–85—also known as the Congo Conference. The goal of the conference was to formalize European claims to territory in Africa. While initially Germany's Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck didn't see much interest in a distant empire, as he was more concerned about the balance of power in Europe, he also felt Germany shouldn't be left out of expanding its influence on the global stage.

Great Britain had also been a traditional ally of Prussia throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, and with a unified Germany, hoped to find common cause. The signing of the Heligoland-Zanzibar treaty drew up spheres of influence between the two powers in East Africa. The two powers did this despite the fact that the Sultan of Zanzibar had claimed to rule both the island of Zanzibar and the mainland territory. The British became protectors of Zanzibar when Germany was given the land east of Lake Tanganyika.

Hamad bin Thuwaini, who was a supporter of the British cause, was installed as Sultan in 1893, and things went smoothly for three years until his sudden death. Rumors have abounded ever since that he may have been poisoned by his cousin Khalid bin Barghash—who it happened moved into the palace almost immediately and declared himself Sultan.

Barghash thought he could stand up to the British Empire and declare sovereignty. While this story may sound similar to others who dared oppose the British, Barghash was no William Wallace or Mahatma Gandhi—the self-declared Sultan was a supporter of the lucrative slave trade that the British had sought to stamp out. That policy conflicted with Barghash's interests and he likely believed the British would back down after he barricaded himself in the palace with about 3,000 defenders.

The British did not back down.

Instead an ultimatum was sent, and it was a true display of "gunboat diplomacy" in the most literal sense. Three cruisers, two gunboats with 150 Royal Marines and another 900 Zanzibari soldiers mustered in the harbor.

Surprisingly, even that wasn't enough to convince Barghash the cause was a hopeless one. Perhaps he felt his superior numbers of soldiers would deter the British. Armed with artillery, a handful of Maxim machine guns, a Gatling Gun, a seventeenth century bronze cannon and two 12-pounder field guns the Sultan was determined to make his stand.

On August 27, 1896 at 8am the Sultan was once again given an ultimatum. If he didn't agree to British demands they would open fire. He refused and at just after 9am the British guns began to shell the palace. The outcome was never in doubt from that moment. Within minutes Barghash's artillery was destroyed—and all he and his men could do is wait out the British bombardment.

In addition to shelling the wooden palace, the Royal Navy also targeted Sultan Khalid bin Barghash's "fleet." It actually was just one ship, the luxury yacht Glasgow, which had been a gift to the Sultan by Queen Victoria. It was certainly no match for modern warships and was quickly sunk – while the HMS St. George rescued the crew.

After just 38 minutes, Barghash's dedicated soldiers proved they weren't so dedicated after all and they fled the palace. The Sultan's flag was pulled down and the war was over. The shortest war in history resulted in the wounding of one British sailor, while the pro-Barghash forces lost some 500 men.

That afternoon Ḥamud ibn Moḥammed was named Sultan. He agreed to the British terms, and never questioned the British demands concerning the abolition of slavery.

As for Khalid bin Barghash, he and his close circle of supporters had fled, possibly just after the shelling began, to the German consulate and requested asylum. He was smuggled off the island to German East Africa, where he received political asylum. The former Sultan, who reportedly never renounced his claims, was captured by British forces when the German colony's captured city of Dar es Salaam was surrendered in 1916. The Sultan for a day was exiled first to Seychelles and later to Saint Helena, the South Atlantic Island where the exiled French Emperor Napoleon had spent his final years, before being allowed to return to East Africa. He died in Mombasa in 1927.

Britain's control over Zanzibar continued for another sixty-seven years, until the protectorate status was terminated in 1963. A year later Zanzibar merged with the Republic of Tanganyika—which had been a British protectorate after the First World War ended Germany's control of East Africa. The combined country became Tanzania.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Ruger's American Striker-Fired Pistol Is Here To Stay

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 15:30

Kyle Mizokami

Technology,

Safety is a major consideration on the American Pistol.

Key point: The Ruger American Pistol is a fully modern handgun that incorporates the best features available for a reasonable price. A young handgun with room to grow, it will almost certainly become available in other calibers and sizes over time.

One of the newest pistols on the U.S. gun market was created to compete in the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System. Although it would never actually compete against winner Sig Sauer, the Ruger American Pistol is now available to civilian shooters who want a reliable, safe, well-designed pistol backed up by the Ruger name.

In a field of storied American gun manufacturers, some of whom date back to the nineteenth century, one of the strongest is actually fairly new to the scene. The Sturm Ruger company was founded in 1949 by Alexander Sturm and Bill Ruger. Sturm Ruger became well known for a revolvers, including the Ruger Security Six and the Ruger Redhawk, and rifles such as the Hawkeye, Mini-14 and Ruger 10/22.

In the mid-1980s the advent of the “Wonder Nines”—large capacity polymer framed handguns—caught Ruger and many American gun makers flat footed. Although outside of the Ruger’s traditional field of expertise, the company quickly responded with the now-discontinued P-series handguns. In the mid-2010s the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) contract promised sales of one hundred thousand handguns to the Army alone, and the rest of the services would likely fall into line behind the Army. Ruger designed the Ruger American Pistol for the MHS contract but ultimately declined to actually enroll in the competition. The pistol was released to the civilian market in 2015.

The Ruger American Pistol is like most pistols these days a locked breech, short recoil pistol. Unlike most pistols the serialized part—the part technically considered a firearm—isn’t the lower receiver but actually a removable chassis made of billet stainless steel that contains the fire control group. This provides strength and durability to help with higher pressure +P loads, which the pistol is rated to use on a regular basis. The billet in turn is seated in the polymer frame. This is similar to the Sig P320 chassis in execution. Theoretically, this lends itself to using different sized frames should the user want to switch things up although such frames have yet to materialize.

The Ruger is a striker-fired pistol with a 5.5 pound trigger. It is available in both nine millimeter Luger and .45 ACP, with the former taking a seventeen-round magazine and the later a ten-round magazine. The base service model has a 4.2 inch barrel, an overall length of 7.5 inches, and a weight of thirty ounces. New compact versions of both feature a slightly shorter barrel and overall length while retaining the same size magazine. The Ruger American Pistol is equipped with low profile Novak sights and a Picatinny rail underneath the barrel that allows for the mounting of lights and laser aiming devices.

Ergonomics on the American Pistol are excellent. The gun has aggressive slide serrations and checking on the front strap and backstrap for a firm grip. The pistol also comes with three different backstraps to adjust to the shooter’s hand, an increasingly common feature and a key requirement for the Army’s Modular Handgun System. Left handed shooters will appreciate that the Ruger American Pistol is fully ambidextrous, with slide stop, safety, and magazine release all fully usable by left or right handed shooters.

Safety is a major consideration on the American Pistol. Unlike a Glock, the gun can be disassembled without pulling the trigger. It also features an internal automatic sear block to prevent accidental discharge, backed up by a trigger safety that requires the trigger to be pulled for the gun to be fired. Like most striker-fired pistols, it lacks a manual safety mechanism as standard feature although a safety is available where and when required. The pistol also has a loaded chamber indicator that tilts upward to alert the user a round is in the chamber.

Ruger built the American Pistol to perform in the harsh environments a U.S. Army service pistol could find itself in, immersing it in water, sand, dust, and mud. The pistol was exposed to salt fog, humidity, high temperatures, and was even dragged from the back of a vehicle. In reliability tests, Ruger has tested the American Pistol to twenty thousand rounds without issues; an outside test ran the pistol to 5,500 rounds with only one misfeed which the user blamed on the ammunition used. One final data point: Ruger has experienced relatively few product recalls in recent years compared to other firearm manufacturers.

The Ruger American Pistol is a fully modern handgun that incorporates the best features available for a reasonable price. A young handgun with room to grow, it will almost certainly become available in other calibers and sizes over time. It will be interesting to see what new directions Sturm Ruger will push this new pistol in.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This article first appeared last year and is being republished due to reader interest.

Image: Wikipedia.

This Creature Could Destroy the Great Lakes Ecosystem

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 15:30

Oana Birceanu

Environment, North America

A single lamprey can kill up to 20 kilograms of fish in just two years.

A sea lamprey has no jaw, no proper teeth and no bones. Yet this predator can attach like a suction cup to a fish 100 times its size, use its tongue to burrow a hole into its side, liquefy its tissues and eat it.

A single lamprey can kill up to 20 kilograms of fish in just two years. On this fishy, bloody diet, a young lamprey weighing five grams will grow 40 to 50 times larger by the time it becomes an adult. And there are thousands of these vampire fish in the Great Lakes.

Are you horrified yet?

I am not, and here’s why: the Sea Lamprey Control (SLC) Program has the situation under control.

The SLC is one of the most successful invasive species management program in the world. It is so successful that those of us living in the Great Lakes basin have forgotten what a sea lamprey is. That is an extraordinary thing, because it means that the scientists are doing their job.

As a fish physiologist and toxicologist who has worked on SLC projects for many years, hearing about such a success makes me very happy. My work and that of my colleagues is having an impact! But is forgetting about the sea lamprey a good thing?

The invasion

How did the sea lamprey become such a successful invader? The first ones arrived in Lake Ontario in the 1800s, making their way from the Atlantic Ocean, through the Hudson River, following the Erie Canal. They remained in Lake Ontario for over a century because Niagara Falls barred them from moving any further.

Once the Welland Canal was modified by mid-1900s, allowing ships to circumnavigate Niagara Falls, the sea lamprey population boomed. They had finally gained access to the upper Great Lakes. Suddenly, lampreys had more space, found more food and colonized more spawning grounds. The invasion had begun.

Sea lampreys are quite fertile (like other invasive species) and have a unique life cycle — for a fish. One female can lay 40,000-67,000 eggs, and they do it in almost every stream and river that drains into the Great Lakes.

Those eggs hatch into larvae, called ammocoetes, which are eyeless, worm-like creatures that burrow in the sediment, making it impossible for predators to find them. The ammocoetes live like this for many years, feeding on algae and decomposing matter, until they are big enough to transform into the sucking predator we love to hate.

When the lamprey invaded the Great Lakes, lake trout — their preferred food and once a top predator fish — were transformed into Swiss cheese and began dying out. By the mid-1960s, the lake trout harvest in the Great Lakes had declined to less than 200 kilograms per year from 8,000 kilograms per year in the 1920s.

Alewives, small fish that lake trout ate, were no longer preyed upon. They became so abundant that every year there were massive die-offs in the lakes, and millions of dead fish would wash out on the beaches.

Imagine walking on Toronto Islands, on a midsummer’s day, and seeing a fish tsunami coming towards you from all sides. That is what the Toronto waterfront looked like at that time. Now imagine the smell that came with it.

Gaining control

In the 1950s, Canada and the United States established a partnership to tackle the sea lamprey problem. And so, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) came to be. Today, the GLFC helps manages the US$7 billion Great Lakes fishery through research and lamprey population control.

How do scientists control the sea lamprey population? They use barriers and dams to stop the adults from spawning in rivers and streams, release attractants or repellents during the spawning season to guide the adult lamprey into trapssterilize lamprey males and release them to compete for females, and they apply pesticides, or lampricides, to streams to kill the larvae, without harming other fish.

Without these control measures, the lamprey would be back on top of the food chain and the Great Lakes fisheries would collapse once more.

A look to the future

The Great Lakes basin is changing. The climate is getting warmer, which means that lampreys are moving to new, pristine, previously colder and sea-lamprey free habitats. Some of the barriers and dams that once kept lampreys out are deteriorating, while others are purposefully removed to improve native fish passage.

Field scientists who know the sea lamprey inside and out say that the best control measure for invasive fish species is concrete: barriers and dams. Research on novel fish passages and ladders, man-made passages designed to allow migratory fish access to rivers for spawning, is underway and the results look promising.

The new FishPass project in Traverse City, Mich., provides the best of two worlds: it keeps adult lamprey away, but lets native fish species pass through to reach spawning grounds. In addition, it provides a recreational heaven for locals, tourists and all those kayaking enthusiasts.

Next time you are out fishing on the Great Lakes, enjoying the waves and the breeze while a meter long, 10-15 kg lake trout is tugging on your line, remember that those fish almost disappeared 60 years ago and the harbour was full of dead alewives.

With new invasives like Asian carps and round gobies threatening our native fish species, it is important to not forget the past and to plan for the future.

Remember what a sea lamprey is, because those who are currently controlling their populations are the experts who will be protecting your fishing waters from those invasive species that are knocking at the Great Lakes door.

Oana Birceanu is NSERC Post-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Biology at McMaster University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Navy's Stealth USS Zumwalt Destroyer Finally Fires Its Guns

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 15:00

Peter Suciu

Security, Americas

The $4 billion ship was commissioned in 2016, but broke down while passing through the Panama Canal just a month later. It has faced other delays and cost overruns, but the Navy has called the delivery of the warship a "major milestone," as it had originally planned to buy more than two dozen of the stealth destroyers, which has been reduced to just three.

It isn't actually uncommon for some military warships to never fire their guns in anger—notably the HMS Dreadnought never participated in any First World War naval battles despite being designed to engage enemy battleships. When it comes to modern warships we must hope that the need to use them in combat can be avoided, but actually testing the weapons is necessary to maintain that peace.

This is why it was a big deal that the U.S. Navy's USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), which departed on its first operation in April, has now finally actually concluded a structural test fire of its Mark 46 MOD 2 Gun Weapons System (GWS).

Sailors aboard the stealthy destroyer, working with engineers and technicians from the Navy Surface Warfare Centers, successfully executed the test, which was conducted at the Naval Air Weapons Center Weapons Division Sea Test Range, Point Mugu last week.

The Mark 46 GWS is a remotely operated naval gun system that uses a 30mm high velocity cannon along with a forward looking infrared sensor, low light television camera and a laser rangefinder for shipboard self-defense against small, high-speed surface targets. The GWS is already a program of record that has been successfully installed and operated on LPD-17 and LCS class ships.

The test firing on board USS Zumwalt was the first large caliber weapons firing event for the new class of destroyers. It occurred just three weeks after the Navy officially accepted delivery of the combat system.

"The privilege of being a ‘first-in-class’ ship includes having the opportunity to systematically conduct testing across the breadth of systems installed onboard the ship," said Capt. Andrew Carlson, Zumwalt's commanding officer, in a statement. "The real plus is conducting those tests, such as today's live fire with the Mark 46 GWS, which provide tangible evidence of combat capability maturation."

The structural test fires were to assess the structural and electrical components of the ship against shock and vibration of the weapon firing, as well as to measure any potential hazards to personnel or degradations to adjacent equipment as a result of the firing live ordnance.

The $4 billion ship was commissioned in 2016, but broke down while passing through the Panama Canal just a month later. It has faced other delays and cost overruns, but the Navy has called the delivery of the warship a "major milestone," as it had originally planned to buy more than two dozen of the stealth destroyers, which has been reduced to just three.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) had called out the Navy for ongoing problems with the ship's originally planned 155mm deck guns. It was found that each round for the guns cost around $800,000. Since last year the Navy has explored other options for the Advanced Gun Systems. As a result the role of the destroyers has changed from land attack to offensive surface strike—and modifications to make that switch cost around $1billion the GAO noted as reported by Business Insider.

Despite the issues, the second of the Zumwalt-class, the USS Michael Monsoor, is undergoing combat system activation at her homeport of San Diego, while the third and final ship, the USS Lyndon B. Johnson, is currently under construction in Maine.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Image: USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) arrives at its new homeport in San Diego. U.S. Navy.

Why the Iran-North Korea Missile Alliance Is Pure Trouble

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 14:30

Bruce E. Bechtol

Security, Asia

Can it be stopped? How much are these two rogues states collaborating?

On January 7, 2020, Iran launched ballistic missiles at American bases located in Iraq. One set of the missiles launched were in the “Qiam” series, missiles based on the North Korean built (and proliferated to Iran) Scud C system—and likely enhanced with North Korean assistance as well. But this is only the latest example of North Korea’s deep involvement and support of Iran’s ballistic-missile programs, an activity that has been ongoing since the 1980s, wrongly assessed by some poorly informed analysts to have “declined” following the 1990s, and a very real threat that continues with the likely presence of North Korean advisors and technicians in Iran today. But the threat is probably more compelling than most analysts realize.

North Korea has either developed or assisted with the development of the majority of Iranian liquid-fueled ballistic missiles systems. In fact, the majority of Iran’s ballistic missile systems can trace their genesis back to North Korean proliferation and/or technical assistance. Some key examples include several Scud systems, the No Dong series, the Musudan series (now seen in the Khorramshahr), the “Safir” satellite launch vehicle (the first stage is a No Dong), and Unha technology—now seen in the Iranian “Simorgh.” The first stage of the Unha rocket is a cluster of four No Dong engines—which is also the first stage of the “Simorgh.” Iranian technicians were reportedly present at both the 2009 and 2012 “Unha” launches. In short, as the North Korean ballistic-missile programs advance their capabilities, these new developments are often then proliferated to Iran. But there is more, and this now involves both IRBM and ICBM advances in North Korea (and of course a new rocket).

According to press reports in 2013, the North Koreans were developing and assisting the Iranians with the development of an eighty-ton rocket booster—presumably for an ICBM.

In 2015, further developments were revealed in the press, when it was disclosed that several shipments of the aforementioned rocket from North Korea to Iran had occurred even as JCPOA talks were ongoing. In 2016, following the conclusion of the JCPOA talks, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Iranian companies and individuals for violations of sanctions imposed on North Korea. To put a finer point on it, North Korean and Iranian officials had visited both nations. This was done so that Iran could procure an eighty-ton rocket booster for a missile that North Korea was developing at the time. The names and companies (including front companies) involved are in the actual Treasury Department document

In 2017, North Korea tested what they called the “Hwasong-12.” This missile is an IRBM with a range of forty-five hundred kilometers (or more). It turns out, the Hwasong-12 is powered by a rocket engine reportedly procured from the Ukrainians (according to the Ukrainians, illegally, under the table, and unknown to officials, or not at all), known as the RD-250. This engine is reportedly powered by eighty tons of thrust at sea level, thus likely making it the system that was known (for several years) as the “eighty-ton rocket booster” that North Korea collaborated on and proliferated to Iran. Later in 2017, North Korea tested two ICBM’s. The first, the “Hwasong-14” is assessed to be capable of hitting Anchorage in Alaska, while the second, the “Hwasong-15,” is assessed by many analysts to be capable of hitting the east coast of the United States. Both ICBM’s use the “Hwasong-12” as their first stage, powered by the RD-250 engine with eighty tons of thrust.

What does this mean? It appears that it means North Korea collaborated on and then proliferated a system to Iran that was then tested in 2017—first as an IRBM and then (using the rocket from the first test as the first stage of an ICBM) as two separate ICBM systems. If this is the case—and it appears that it is—this means that North Korea has proliferated an IRBM (based on the RD-250 engine) to Iran, and if they have also proliferated the associated technology from the Hwasong-14/15, they have now given Iran both an advanced IRBM capability and an ICBM capability. It also means that when it comes to ballistic missile technology, North Korea has now proliferated Scud, No Dong, Musudan, Unha, and Hwasong 12/14/15 technology to Iran—updating Iran’s missile capabilities as they update their own. We can probably expect to see tests of this system and perhaps associated systems in Iran within the next two to five years. Let there be no doubt, if you see it in North Korea today, you will see it in Iran tomorrow.

Dr. Bruce E. Bechtol Jr. is a professor of Political Science at Angelo State University. He is also the president of the International Council on Korean Studies and a fellow at the Institute for Corean American Studies. The author of five books dealing with North Korea, his latest work is entitled North Korean Military Proliferation in the Middle East and Africa.

Image: Reuters

Why This Old Painting From 1893 Is Going ‘Viral’ All Over Again

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 14:30

Allison Morehead

Society,

In these 'coronatimes,' The Scream has taken on new significance, summoned once again to represent our anxieties of illness and death, of economic recession and of societal collapse.

Few works of art are as iconic as The Scream, by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863–1944). The combination of an open mouth, eyes wide open and two hands raised to cheeks has become a near-universal signifier of shock and existential fear, helped along by 1990s movie franchises such as Scream and Home Alone. Not to mention the scream emoji.

In these “coronatimes,” The Scream has taken on new significance, summoned once again to represent our anxieties of illness and death, of economic recession and of societal collapse.

Versions of The Scream have proliferated online. There are Screams with face masks or even as face masks. There are Screams anxious about handwashing and face touching, and Screams with eyes drawn in the now recognizable shape of the coronavirus. Screaming figures are fleeing cities and financial institutions. They are hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

Poignant images

Most of these coronavirus Scream images tap into our collective fears and transform them through humour. But there are more poignant images as well. Consider a “social distancing” Scream created by Hrag Vartanian, editor-in-chief of the art site Hyperallergic.

Vartanian digitally altered the image so that only a single lone individual remains in the background.

Vartanian said:

“I wanted to create something jarring that reminds us to look at familiar things in new ways, just like we’re doing with our lives in the era of social distancing.”

And then there’s 2020 Plague Expulsion Rite, a photo collage by Shenzhen-based photographer Wu Guoyong. After collaborating with Luo Dawei, who runs the photo platform Fengmian, to curate a series of family portraits of Chinese New Year in quarantine, Wu gathered together 3,500 images of lockdown to create a collective Scream.

2020 Plague Expulsion Rite poses profound questions: if we are all screaming, and if we imagine everyone else screaming, is it possible to feel less alone? And if we are all screaming together, how else might we act collectively in these times?

‘Quaking with angst’

After numerous sketches and some false starts, Munch completed a first version of The Scream in 1893 while living in Berlin, where his avant-garde circle enthusiastically received it as an embodiment of modern angst bordering on mental illness.

Carefully conceived for maximum emotional effect, Munch intended the work to be a powerful image that would represent an intense emotional experience that he had while walking along a fjord in his native Norway. He also tried to put that experience into words:

“I was walking along the road with two friends — the sun was setting — I felt a wave of sadness — the sky suddenly turned blood-red. I stopped, leaned against the fence tired to death … My friends walked on — stood there quaking with angst — and I felt as though a vast, endless scream passed through nature.”

Munch created three more versions of The Scream, a lithograph and a pastel in 1895, and another painting, probably in 1910.

The Scream has a dramatic history. The 1893 version was stolen and then recovered in 1994. Ten years later, the 1910 version was also stolen and recovered, albeit damaged. In 2012, the pastel version was auctioned for the record sum of nearly US$120 million. Now, as reported by the Guardian, conservators recommend that the 1910 painting practise its own physical distancing to avoid further damage from human breath.

Staring, open-mouthed figures

Throughout his long career, Munch often represented the despair and fear provoked by deadly diseases not yet well understood by modern medicine, including tuberculosis, syphilis and influenza. A staring, open-mouthed figure, often alienated from its body, recurred in those representations.

Before The Scream, Munch produced a drawing in one of his early sketchbooks, probably a self-portrait, and captioned it “Influenca.” A figure doubled, frightened and frightening, looks back at us from a mirror. His eyes are wide open and his tongue is sticking out. Perhaps he is saying “aaahhh” and waiting for a diagnosis.

Munch suffered from lung and bronchial problems throughout his life, possibly related to the tuberculosis that killed his mother and sister when he was a child. In 1919, he was one of the few artists to respond to the worldwide flu pandemic. In a large self-portrait simply titled Spanish Flu, the artist turns his head to the viewer, eyes strangely vacant, and opens his mouth to … what? Speak? Cough? Gasp for breath? Scream?

Rise in cult status

The Scream gained its cult status only after the artist’s death in 1944.

While the full story of its emergence into popular culture remains to be told, key early moments are probably a Time magazine cover from 1961 with the banner “Guilt & Anxiety,” and a 1973 book by Reinhold Heller about Munch’s iconic painting.

In recent years, The Scream has been used to raise awareness of climate change, to critique and protest Brexit as well as the presidency of Donald Trump in the United States.

Anxiety about nuclear proliferation also speaks through The Scream. In 2009, graphic designer Małgorzata Będowska transformed the instantly recognizable nuclear hazard sign into an iconic mashup for the poster Nuclear Emergency. The striking design has since become commonplace at anti-nuclear events.

A common visual language

We might turn to the arts to soothe ourselves in times of crisis and stress. But in those same times, history has shown that art can help us to express or deal with difficult emotions, including those stemming from our experiences of illness.

The internet-enabled global circulation of The Scream is intensifying in an age of political instability and a pandemic enabled by globalization. The increasing virality of The Scream demonstrates the ongoing need for a common visual language to communicate and to cope with what many fear the most: the shared vulnerability of having a body that might become ill, suffer and die.

Allison Morehead is Associate Professor of Art History and in the Graduate Program in Cultural Studies, Queen's University, Ontario.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Don't Listen to the ‘China Covered Up the Coronavirus’ Narrative

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 14:00

Mitchell Blatt

Security, Asia

China made some mistakes, as did every country, in responding to the coronavirus, but China’s overall response was more effective than most countries, with domestic quarantines of inter-city travelers, widespread mask-wearing, and a testing and tracing regime with access to a vast trove of data.

Since President Donald Trump’s early optimism that coronavirus was “under control” and “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero” has proven to be false hope, he has been trying to turn China into a scapegoat. He is attacking China and blaming them for the fact that America has 1.6 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and ninety-five thousand deaths, even though many of the reasons for the severe outbreak here have to do with mistakes by governors, government agencies, and Donald Trump himself. 

China, for example, did not decide to continue to allow 140,000 travelers to fly into the U.S. from Italy, twice as many as the amount that came in from China, and 1.7 million from the rest of Europe, for weeks after Italy had become a hot spot, without so much as temperature checks or fourteen-day quarantines upon arrival. 

China made some mistakes, as did every country, in responding to the coronavirus, but China’s overall response was more effective than most countries, with domestic quarantines of inter-city travelers, widespread mask-wearing, and a testing and tracing regime with access to a vast trove of data. And the claims of a “cover-up” are inaccurate. They are nothing but a cover for politicians and countries with antagonistic relationships towards China to defend themselves in front of their domestic publics and to pressure China internationally.

The claims of a “cover-up” are increasingly vague—Trump blamed “some wacko in China” on Twitter on May 20 but the claims typically rest on a few premises:

1.) the claim that China undercounted the number of cases and deaths 

2.) the claim that China did not respond quickly enough 

3.) the claim that China denied that the virus could spread between humans 

4.) outrage over the detention of Dr. Li Wenliang and others 

Arguments one through three are largely inaccurate, while point four is a valid criticism but not evidence of a cover-up and not relevant to the global spread of coronavirus. Overall, China’s critics are holding China to a higher degree of competence and transparency than they are holding democratic countries. 

First, there is little evidence that China fabricated or intentionally undercounted deaths in most of the country, which is what a “cover-up” would describe. It is true that the official number of deaths in China, like every other country, almost certainly is missing some people who died at home or undiagnosed.

The New York Times reported in April that coronavirus cases across the country were not being counted because tests were lacking, and many likely coronavirus deaths in February and early March were attributed to the flu. Officials in California were able to confirm the deaths of coronavirus as early as February 6, three weeks before the first recorded death. Data on Florida’s coronavirus dashboard shows people reporting coronavirus-like symptoms as early as January 1. The manager who oversaw that data was fired after protesting an order to remove some of the data.

The dismissals of many officials who were propagating information their superiors did not want to be shared shows a commonality and difference between the political systems of the United States and China. Here, there have also been attempts to downplay or hide criticisms or negative information on the government’s response, but it is dealt with through firings, reassignments, and official rebukes. Dr. Rick Bright, for example, testified to the House of Representatives that he was removed from his position leading the team involved in creating a vaccine after warning about shortages of PPE and disagreeing with the administration’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine even for people who weren’t hospitalized.

Undercounting is taking place in Europe, too. In Madrid, over three thousand people had died in nursing homes without having been tested. The Economist reported in its April 18 issue, “France’s figures include deaths that occur in care homes—nearly half the total—white Britain’s do not.” Given what we know about how the elderly are most at risk and how nursing homes have become hotbeds everywhere, not counting deaths of their residents would have a significant impact and would be something a regime could do if it wanted to artificially limit its reported numbers.

The number of cases reported by different cities and regions in China shows a strong correlation with the amount of outbound travel from Wuhan to those regions, multiple papers have found. That would indicate that the numbers reported in each region were relatively accurate and not fabricated. If the numbers were fabricated, then there would not necessarily be expected to be any correlation between Wuhan migrants and cases reported. Because coronavirus originated in Wuhan, the regions with the highest number of migrants arriving from Wuhan had the highest numbers. 

Details about the situation in Wuhan itself are probably the most hazy and would be the most likely to have been intentionally manipulated, both because local officials early on (and before knowing the severity) might have felt motivated to keep it from hurting their careers and because the most egregious mistakes would have happened in Wuhan.

Reportedly, the CIA has concluded that China undercounted its numbers, and photos of urns piling up in Wuhan were cited as evidence that many more had died in the central China city. While the CIA report has not been publicly released, the Bloomberg article reporting on it cites that, “The Chinese government has repeatedly revised its methodology for counting cases, for weeks excluding people without symptoms entirely, and only on Tuesday added more than 1,500 asymptomatic cases to its total,” which would not make China’s numbers terribly different from those of many other countries. 

Icelandic data suggests that as many as half of people with coronavirus show no symptoms, which means that they would not be tested in most countries. The Catalonia region of Spain also revised its numbers upward, doubling them, in April. The Daily Beast reported on May 13 that the Trump administration is pressing the CDC to change its reporting methodology to exclude coronavirus deaths for which the victim was not tested. 

A study by Timothy Russell, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that China’s official numbers might have only documented one-third of all its coronavirus cases, but the same study found the UK, Italy, and Spain documented about 10 percent of their cases. Yet only China is being singled out with the “cover-up” label. 

Ex-post facto, we know that coronavirus was spreading in Wuhan in December, and, as of March, the first known case was traced back to November 17. Now athletes on the French and Spanish teams have said they fell sick with what they think could have been coronavirus at the Military Games held in Wuhan in October. At the time, they thought it was the flu, indicating the difficulty of discerning a rare, unknown-at-the-time disease, which has symptoms similar to other diseases. 

Doctors in Wuhan took note of the cluster of pneumonia cases in December but attributed it to an unknown cause as the coronavirus had not been discovered at that point. American doctors could not recognize that some of their patients had coronavirus in February and March, either.  

“When I was working before we had testing, we had a ton of patients with pneumonia. I remember thinking it was weird. I’m sure some of those patients did have it. But no one knew back then,” Geraldine Ménard, chief of general internal medicine at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans, said to the New York Times

Dr. Li Wenliang messaged colleagues about the similarities to SARS on December 30. He was detained on January 3 and released the same day with a warning but no formal charges. Virus samples were shipped to Fudan University in Shanghai on January 5, and the results of the tests, that it was SARS-CoV2, or the coronavirus, were announced to the world on January 9.  

So the detention of Li did not impact the speed of China’s response nor the global spread of the virus. It might well have put Li and his colleagues at greater risk of contracting coronavirus. There was a concerted effort by Wuhan government officials and hospital officials to deny that healthcare workers were getting sick and to even prevent doctors and nurses from wearing masks at some hospitals. Li was clearly a victim. The Chinese government did issue an apology and criticize the Wuhan Public Security Bureau. Whether the apology is sincere or meant to appease local and international anger is another matter. Either way, China’s actions to Li do not explain the spread of the virus or absolve the rest of the world for their failures. 

The timeline of China’s response is all in Caixin Global’s article, the same article that has been cited by outlets such as The National Review to push the “cover-up” case. On January 3, according to Caixin Global, China’s National Health Commission “ordered labs to transfer any samples they had to designated testing institutions, or to destroy them.” The National Review’s Tobias Hoonhout describes this as a “gag order” (in January, not “late December). But the samples arrived at the facility two days later. Is taking one week to conduct the tests—as opposed to some hypothetical time frame in a different scenario—is a slow response? 

National governments, such as the U.S. government, have taken longer than one week to respond even after already knowing that coronavirus was a threat. Even in March, Trump was comparing the coronavirus to the flu. It took him twenty days to put any restrictions on flights from Italy after Italy began locking down cities. 

Finally, China was downplaying the potential for human transmission amongst people who showed symptoms. It was not until January 20, that they announced that the virus had been confirmed through study to be communicable, although most viruses, particularly a virus in the coronavirus group, should be assumed to be potentially communicable, barring evidence to the contrary, which is exactly why Taiwanese and Hong Kongese health officials were already working on that assumption before January 20.  

At the time, however, no doctors and scientists could have been expected to know that coronavirus spreads between people who do not show symptoms of being sick. By late January, there were apparent cases of asymptomatic transmission being observed, and China’s health ministry did issue a warning about asymptomatic transmission on January 31. But it took months for the United States CDC or the Surgeon General, or health organizations in other Western countries, to recommend widespread mask-wearing.  

That—and the high R0—were the main reasons coronavirus spread so quickly and so widely. The 2003 outbreak of SARS did not spread asymptomatically or pre-symptomatically. That, also, is likely why foreign governments did not respond quickly or deliberately enough.

It could be that governments are fallible, that no government could be expected to respond perfectly to even the most trivial challenges, let alone a crisis of unprecedented scale. It could be that coronavirus is the “disease x”—the disease that both spreads extremely quickly and kills at a relatively high rate.

To hold that China could have or should have been able to know from day one that these cases of pneumonia were actually coming from a new virus, or that it should have known the virus spread through the breath of apparently healthy people, and that it should have been able to track every case of the virus, is, somewhat ironically, to hold China to higher standards than the most developed democratic countries in the world. When China mishandles a pandemic, it is ascribed to malfeasance; when the United States and Europe do, it is the ordinary, expected incompetence.

It’s not only an inaccurate narrative, and one that is being used to absolve domestic leaders of responsibility for their mistakes, but it is also in a sense an anti-democracy narrative.

Mitchell Blatt is a former editorial assistant at the National Interest, Chinese-English translator, and lead author of Panda Guides Hong Kong. He has been published in USA Today, The Daily Beast, The Korea Times, Silkwinds magazine, and Areo Magazine, among other outlets. Follow him on Facebook at @MitchBlattWriter.

Image: Reuters

Question: What Direction Do You See U.S.-North Korea Relations Heading in For the Rest of the Year?

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 13:30

Lucia Husenicová

Security, Asia

Fire and fury or diplomacy?

Looking at the situation in the United States, given the coronavirus crisis, it is hard to foresee any significant change in U.S.-North Korean bilateral relations. It would be difficult to plan for another summit meeting in the current pandemic-focused world, even though it was suggested at the beginning of this year. It is hard to imagine how the American public would react if President Donald Trump were to leave the country in both a time of crisis and in the middle of presidential election season.

However, coming closer to the election, if Trump feels the need to show the voters a win, he might opt for a summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Since 2018, we know that the administration is very flexible when it comes to organizing a summit in a mere three-month period. But I would still rate the possibility of another summit as low, as North Korea’s leadership would also have a say in any plans related to a summit.

Looking at DPRK’s motivation to meet with Trump, there are two possible trajectories. In the first case, the idea of a summit would require Kim Jong-un foreseeing Trump as U.S. president for the next four years and being able to bring benefits to his country. The DPRK can evaluate how the summit could be reflected at the voters’ behaviour and decide upon that.

Alternatively, in the second case, as the previous two summits and meeting at the DMZ did not really bring any real benefit to the DPRK, the motivation for another such event would be low—especially when Kim got more out of meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping.  

Another factor that could play a role in the DPRK leadership’s calculations is the timing of Kim Jong-un leaving the country for another summit (provided Trump is not able or willing to travel to Pyongyang), especially after the last round of rumours about his health issues and spots on his hand seen during his public reappearance on May 1.

Then there are considerations for lower level meetings. Currently it is difficult to judge how welcome Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would be in North Korea, given the most recent wave of criticism coming from Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong. As for regular diplomatic meetings, there is currently a lack of information about to what extent the State Department uses the UN New York channel to talk to DPRK representatives, or what the state of Track 1.5 and 2 diplomacy meetings are.

Curveballs

At this point, I do not see a reason why the DPRK would conduct an ICBM nuclear test. In general, with previous tests they have either tried to attract the attention from the rest of the world, mainly the United States, and secure some benefit out of the whole affair, or, as was the case in 2017, testing to achieve a certain level of development and strengthen Kim Jong-un’s position internally.

A possible reason for testing is the September 9 anniversary of the country’s founding. However, again, the possible benefits of testing would need to be considered. Such a test could, for example, negatively impact Trump’s chances for re-election, as it will show to U.S. voters that the president’s only sort of foreign policy success—the positive relation with Kim—was anything but that.

However, we need to take into consideration the DPRK’s internal development factor in making a decision about testing. Here it would depend on how well the rumours regarding Kim’s health were contained in DPRK—it was reported that people did get some information about international news in April. A test, either of an ICBM or nuclear warhead, could be conducted in order to reassure North Korean people and some parts of the elite about the strength and decisiveness of the leader.

Naturally, looking at the existing pattern in nuclear testing, it is very possible that there would be a nuclear test sometime after the U.S. election in November or in the first half of 2021, regardless of who wins the election and is sworn in.

How will Trump seek to engage Kim—or not?

As suggested above, it is unlikely that President Trump will choose to engage Kim Jong-un as a possible part of his re-election strategy. However, that could change, depending on the polls and is not an important part of the presidential campaign. But I do admit that the president could use the Kim Jong-un card in an attempt to improve his chances.

Lucia Husenicová is lecturer at the Department of Security studies at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations at the Matej Bel University. She is also a director of the Institute of Asian Studies.

Image: Reuters.

Should Trump Really Take Hydroxychloroquine?

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 13:00

Teresa G. Carvalho

Health, North America

Trump said he has “heard a lot of good stories” about hydroxychloroquine, and incorrectly claimed there is no evidence of harmful side-effects from taking it.

The White House’s confirmation that US President Donald Trump has been taking hydroxychloroquine every day for the past two weeks, with his doctor’s blessing, has reignited the controversy over the drug. It has long been used against malaria but has not been approved for COVID-19.

Trump said he has “heard a lot of good stories” about hydroxychloroquine, and incorrectly claimed there is no evidence of harmful side-effects from taking it. His previous claims in March that the drug could be a “game changer” in the pandemic prompted many people, including Australian businessman and politician Clive Palmer, to suggest stockpiling and distribution of the drug to the public.

But the dangers of acting on false or incomplete health information were underlined by the death of an Arizona man in March after inappropriate consumption of the related drug chloroquine. It’s important to know the real science behind the touted health benefits.

How do these medicines work?

Hydroxychloroquine is an analogue of chloroquine, meaning both compounds have similar chemical structures and a similar mode of action against malaria. Both medications are administered orally and have common side-effects such as nausea, diarrhoea and muscle weakness. However, hydroxychloroquine is less toxic, probably because it is easier for the body to metabolise.

Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are listed by the World Health Organisation as an essential medicine. Both drugs have been used to treat malaria for more than 70 years, and hydroxychloroquine has also proved effective against auto-immune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treating malaria, but not for COVID-19.

We don’t know exactly how these drugs work to combat the malaria parasite. But we know chloroquine disrupts the parasite’s digestive enzymes by altering the pH inside the parasite cell, presumably effectively starving it to death.

Malaria parasites and coronaviruses are very different organisms. So how can the same drugs work against both? In lab studies, chloroquine hinders replication of the SARS coronavirus, apparently by changing the pH inside particular parts of human cells where the virus replicates.

This offers a glimmer of hope that these pH changes inside cells could hold the key to thwarting such different types of pathogens.

Is it OK to repurpose drugs like this?

Existing drugs can be extremely valuable in an emergency like a pandemic, because we already know the maximum dose and any potential toxic side-effects. This gives us a useful basis on which to consider using them for a new purpose. Chloroquine is also cheap to manufacture, and has already been widely used in humans.

But we shouldn’t be complacent. There are significant gaps in our understanding of the biology of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, because it is a brand new virus. There is a 20% genetic difference between SARS-CoV-2 and the previous SARS coronavirus, meaning we should not assume a drug shown to act against SARS will automatically work for SARS-CoV-2.

Even in its primary use against malaria, long-term chloroquine exposure can lead to increased risks such as vision impairment and cardiac arrest. Hydroxychloroquine offers a safer treatment plan with reduced tablet dosages and lessened side-effects. But considering their potentially lethal cardiovascular side-effects, these drugs are especially detrimental to those who are overweight or have pre-existing heart conditions. Despite the urgent need to confront COVID-19, we need to tread carefully when using existing medicines in new ways.

Any medication that has not been thoroughly tested for the disease in question can have seriously toxic side-effects. What’s more, different diseases may require different doses of the same drug. So we would need to ensure any dose that can protect against SARS-CoV-2 would actually be safe to take.

The evidence so far

Although many clinical trials are under way, there is still not enough evidence chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine will be useful against COVID-19. The few trials completed and published so far, despite claiming positive outcomes, have been either small and poorly controlled or lacking in detail.

recent hydroxychloroquine trial in China showed no significant benefits for COVID-19 patients’ recovery rate. A French hydroxychloroquine trial was similarly discouraging, with eight patients prematurely discontinuing the treatment after heart complications.

The fascination with chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine has also adversely affected other drug trials. Clinical trials of other possible COVID-19 treatments, including HIV drugs and antidepressants, have seen reduced enrolments. Needless to say, in a pandemic we should not be putting all our eggs in one basket.

Then there is the issue of chloroquine hoarding, which not only encourages dangerous self-medication, but also puts malaria patients at greater risk. With malaria transmission season looming in some countries, the anticipated shortage of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine will severely impact current malaria control efforts.

Overall, despite their tantalising promise as antiviral drugs, there isn’t enough evidence chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are safe and suitable to use against COVID-19. The current preliminary data need to be backed up by multiple properly designed clinical trials that monitor patients for prolonged periods.

During a pandemic there is immense pressure to find drugs that will work. But despite Trump’s desperation for a miracle cure, the risks of undue haste are severe.

Teresa G. Carvalho is a Senior Lecturer in Microbiology at La Trobe University.

This article was coauthored by Liana Theodoridis, an Honours student in Microbiology at La Trobe University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Image: Reuters

Ulysses S. Grant Proved Himself At the Battle of Belmont

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 12:30

Warfare History Network

History, Americas

The "anaconda strategy."

When the Civil War started in 1861, there were only two officers in the Union Army who had commanded a force in battle larger than a brigade. They were John E. Wool and Winfield Scott. At age 77, Wool was two years older than Scott and was showing the effects of his age. However, during the war, Wool served with distinction in the Eastern and Middle Departments. Winfield Scott was the general in chief of the army.

A major difficulty at this time was finding officers who were competent enough to organize, administer, and command large armies in combat. The vast majority of young officers—who had never seen a force larger than the 14,000-man assemblage Scott had commanded in the war with Mexico—had only limited experience in commanding small units. Most of these had attended West Point and, as a result, had been trained mainly in the areas of engineering, fortifications, and mathematics. Only a small portion of their schooling had been dedicated to strategic and tactical thought. At the same time, they received very little instruction on how to effectively administer an army or how to organize a group of officers for staff work.

As the Civil War slowly expanded into a major conflict, a number of officers began to demonstrate skills that allowed them to persevere through the early period of the war. Eventually the innate qualities that are so important for good leadership began to propel these men into significant positions of command. Ulysses S. Grant was one.

When Fort Sumter was attacked by the Confederates in April of 1861, Grant was a clerk in his family’s leather business in Galena, Ill. Within one week he began helping the local militia company organize its ranks, and he instructed its officers in proper drill procedures. He even designed the unit’s uniforms. But when the men in the company tried to elect him their company commander, he refused. Grant felt that the rank of militia captain was beneath him because he was a graduate of West Point and had been a captain in the regular army with an excellent combat record in the Mexican War. Realistically, he was holding out for something more worthy of his status.

Grant Receives His First Opportunity of the War

When the Galena company moved to the militia camp of instruction at Springfield, Ill., Grant followed them. He was told at Springfield that there were no command positions available in any of the newly formed regiments. As a result, he accepted the only position he could find, that of a clerk in Governor Yates’ office.

Within a short time, Grant received his first opportunity of the war. John Pope relinquished his command of the instructional camp when a brigade he had been raising did not elect him its commander. With Pope leaving, Governor Yates did not take long to appoint Grant as the new commander of the camp.

As the newly appointed camp commander, Grant performed his duties in fine fashion. In fact, he carried out his responsibilities so well that the officers of the 21st Illinois Volunteers were impressed. The 21st Illinois was a newly formed regiment. Its colonel was incompetent, and the men in his regiment ran rampant around Springfield stealing, drinking, and brawling. Things were so deplorable that Governor Yates was forced to step in. He appointed Grant colonel of the 21st. By June Grant had been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

General Grant shaped the 21st into good order in a short period. In July he received orders to take his regiment to the rescue of another Illinois regiment that had become surrounded by a Confederate force in Missouri. Grant did march to the rescue, but it turned out to be a case of wrong information. There was no enemy formation. Later, Grant wrote: “My sensations as we approached what I supposed might be ‘a field of battle’ were anything but agreeable. I had been in all the engagements in Mexico that it was possible for one person to be in; but not in command. If someone else had been colonel and I had been lieutenant-colonel I do not think I would have felt any trepidation.”

Experiencing the Anxiety of Command

Grant’s anxiety about being in command may be best understood by noting that the American Civil War was very different from wars previously fought. Huge armies and advancements in technology combined to cause a tremendous number of casualties on the battlefield. At the same time, the Civil War was very similar to other wars in many ways. One was that commanders were forced to cope with the responsibilities of ordering men into battle (moral courage). Although these same commanders may have possessed high levels of physical courage (leading men into battle), many found it very difficult to send their men against the enemy and remain back to command the field. The commanders along the Illinois-Missouri border—Grant among them—were no exception. They had to come to grips with the issue of moral courage.

In a couple of weeks the 21st Illinois received orders to march again. This time Grant was told to take his regiment and attack a suspected Rebel camp 25 miles away. The enemy assembly was commanded by Colonel Thomas Harris. As Grant marched his regiment toward the enemy, he did not know exactly what was waiting for him: “As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris’ camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until if felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on.”

At the end of his march, Grant found that Harris had abandoned his camp. This one march, which resulted in no engagement with the enemy, had a lasting effect on Grant. Because Harris had withdrawn his force, Grant speculated that Harris was “as afraid of him as he was of Harris.” This train of thought deeply affected Grant, and it changed the way he approached battle for the remainder of the war. He would write later, “From that event to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy.… I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his.”

As Grant wrestled with these issues, President Lincoln tried to decide who he should appoint to command Union forces along the Mississippi River. In July he decided on John C. Fremont. “The Pathfinder” had limited military experience, but he was a noted explorer of the day. Fremont, who was very well educated, was a hero to millions of Americans because of his exploits in the West. He had discovered Lake Tahoe, scaled the Sierras, named the Golden Gate, and written a book about Mormons moving into the Salt Lake Valley.

With the appointment of Fremont, the Western Department was created. It stretched from Illinois to the Rockies including all states and territories. Initially, a portion of Kentucky was included as well.

The ‘Anaconda Plan’ Aims to Strangle the Confederacy

Within days, Fremont, President Lincoln, and General Scott decided that Fremont’s main strategic objective should be to clear Rebels from Missouri. Once that was accomplished, the next objective (in accordance with Lincoln and Scott’s Anaconda Plan of strangling the Confederacy by controlling its riverine and coastal ports) would be to advance down the Mississippi River and capture Memphis, Tenn.

Grant’s early efficiency and drive had impressed Fremont. Consequently, on August 28 Fremont gave Grant command of the District of Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois with headquarters in Cairo, Ill. Fremont ordered Grant to eliminate all Confederate forces from southeast Missouri.

During the summer, Kentucky, a slave state, remained “neutral.” In other words, it had not seceded with the original seven slave states that had created the Confederacy before the war’s beginning. Nor had Kentucky left the Union following the attack on Fort Sumter. President Lincoln, not wanting to violate Kentucky’s neutrality, did not want to take any offensive action within her borders for fear of “pushing” her into the Confederacy.

As it turned out, Southern forces were the first to infringe upon Kentucky’s nonpartisan position. On September 3, 1861 General Leonidas Polk ordered General Gideon J. Pillow to capture Columbus, Ky. Many on both sides considered Columbus critical for control of the Mississippi River.

Grant had not even settled into his headquarters at Cairo when he learned of the Rebel occupation of Columbus. He became extremely alarmed by the close proximity of the enemy—Columbus was only 20 miles south of Cairo. At the same time Grant was afraid the rebels would attempt to occupy Paducah, Ky., strategically located east of Cairo where the Tennessee River empties into the Ohio River. If Paducah were occupied by the enemy, Grant knew that the Rebels would be able to interdict all Union shipping along the Ohio River.

By the evening of September 5, Grant had organized a force for advancing on Paducah. Without waiting for orders, Grant loaded two infantry regiments onto local steamships for the move on Paducah. When the Federals reached their target on the 6th, they landed unopposed. Leaving General Charles F. Smith in command, Grant returned to his headquarters to find the orders permitting him to advance on Paducah.

The Rebels Increased Their Strength Daily

Grant’s move to occupy Paducah was a masterful countermeasure to the Confederate occupation of Columbus. In response, Polk ordered Brig. Gen. Frank Cheatham to attack Paducah and drive all Union forces out. General A.S. Johnston countered the order, believing that this move would separate Rebel forces, thus making it too difficult to mass their strength when necessary. Grant believed the same thing, recalling: “They [Confederates] are fortifying strongly and preparing to resist a formidable attack, and have but little idea of risking anything upon a forward movement.”

Rebel strength at Columbus grew stronger each day. This bothered Grant, as it would any commander, but he believed that both his and Polk’s forces were equal in strength and felt that because both armies were similarly disorganized, undisciplined, and untested, the advantage would go to the commander who was the “most active.”

On September 8, Grant ordered the gunboat Lexington south from Cairo to make a reconnaissance of Confederate strength at Columbus. As the solitary Union gunboat steamed within range of the Rebel fortifications on the bluffs at Columbus, the defenders opened fire. Following an exchange of cannon fire, the Lexington withdrew northward back to Cairo.

During the weeks that followed, Grant continued to probe Rebel positions with naval and infantry forays along both banks of the Mississippi. His dislike of growing Confederate strength increased as fast as their reinforcements arrived. He wired Fremont in St. Louis for permission to strike Columbus and capture the Rebel stronghold.

140 Pieces of Artillery Trained on the River

On November 1, 1861, Grant received orders from Fremont. He was instructed to “demonstrate” against the Rebel stronghold at Columbus sufficiently to prevent Polk from sending any reinforcements to General Sterling Price in Missouri. From these orders, Grant decided to conduct full-scale offensive operations against the Confederate positions at Columbus.

Almost overnight, Columbus had grown into an overpowering Confederate position on the Mississippi River. The bluffs along the river soared nearly 150 feet high. Along the shoreline at the bottom of the bluffs, the Rebels had entrenched a number of 10-inch Columbiads and 11-inch howitzers. Halfway up the embankment the defenders had dug in a second line of artillery. On top of the heights, the Confederates had constructed a series of earthwork forts. One of the forts held the largest artillery piece in the Confederate arsenal, a 128-pound Whitworth rifled gun. The gun’s crew nicknamed the piece “Lady Polk.” These commanding bluffs became known as the “Gibraltar of the Mississippi.” There were nearly 140 pieces of artillery trained on the river, and the entire defensive position was garrisoned by 17,000 troops.

Grant’s gunboat forays against Columbus had given him a picture of his enemy’s strength. Owing to the rapid buildup, Grant decided to attack Belmont on the Missouri side of the river instead. Belmont was directly across from Columbus and was not nearly as well defended as the “Gibraltar of the Mississippi.” Grant hoped to surprise the small Confederate force there.

He decided to use two brigades of infantry for his primary attack. One brigade was under the command of Brig. Gen. John McClernand, and the other under Colonel Henry Dougherty. In support of the infantry were two companies of cavalry and a light battery of artillery. In order to transport his force down river, Grant gathered six steamers and two gunboats. In all, Grant’s force numbered 3,114 men.

Grant’s Gamble

Grant planned on implementing several secondary actions in order to try to confuse Polk. He realized he was dividing his command in the face of a formidable enemy, but he considered the reward worth the gamble.

On November 5, Grant put his plan into action. He cabled General Smith at Paducah ordering him to demonstrate toward Columbus. Grant wrote that a movement toward Columbus from Paducah “would probably keep the enemy from throwing over the river [Mississippi] much more force than they now have there, and might enable me to drive those they now have out of Missouri.” Grant believed Smith’s demonstration would prevent Polk from sending reinforcements across the river to fall upon his rear and cut his lines of communication with Cairo.

In order to coordinate his move with Grant’s, Smith prepared his command to move on the 6th. He sent one brigade commanded by Brig. Gen. Eleazer Paine toward Milburn, Ky. In order to cover Paine’s left flank, Smith directed one regiment under Colonel W.L. Sanderson to move toward Viola. Grant ordered a third diversionary force to move along the east bank of the river. These orders were sent to Colonel John Cook. His brigade was to demonstrate down the river but progress no closer than Elliott’s Mills.

On the west side of the river in Missouri, Colonel Richard Oglesby’s brigade was ordered to march his command from Sikeston south to New Madrid, which was located on the river south of Belmont. Grant directed Oglesby to “halt and communicate with me at Belmont from the nearest point on the road” as he marched toward New Madrid. To cover Oglesby’s left, Grant ordered Colonel William Wallace’s 11th Illinois to conduct the covering march.

All told, Grant’s total force numbered some 15,000 men. Virtually his entire command would be moving at once. Although his forces were separated, they were not divided so widely as to not be able to be massed together if the need arose. One thing was certain: The multiple columns that Grant put into motion certainly made it difficult for Polk to determine Grant’s main objective.

On the afternoon of the 6th, Grant prepared his force at Cairo for embarkation upon the steamboats that would transport his brigades to Belmont. By 3 pm, two of McClernand’s regiments, the 30th and 31st Illinois, began loading onto the steamer Aleck Scott. McClernand’s third regiment, the 27th Illinois, moved aboard the James Montgomery. Colonel Dougherty’s 7th Iowa loaded on the Montgomery with the 27th, and Dougherty’s second regiment, the 22nd Illinois, boarded the Keystone State. Grant’s artillery and cavalry loaded onto the steamers Chancellor and Rob Roy.

Green Soldiers Struggle to Sleep Before the Battle

Covering Grant’s waterborne force were the gunboats USS Lexington and USS Tyler. As Grant’s multiple diversionary units began to move toward their intended objectives, Grant’s force departed from Cairo for its journey south down the Mississippi.

The Union flotilla pressed south until 11 pm. Grant then decided to tie up along the eastern bank of the river about 11 miles above Columbus and wait out the night. He posted a strong guard on shore while the remainder of the men tried to sleep. Most of Grant’s men had never tasted battle; as a result, sleep for many was nearly impossible. To make matters worse, word had spread that they were on their way to assault the strong fortifications at Columbus.

On board the Belle Memphis, Grant received a message from Wallace, who was covering Oglesby’s eastern flank, that he “had learned from a reliable Union man that the enemy had been crossing troops from Columbus to Belmont the day before for the purpose of following after and cutting off the forces under Colonel Oglesby.” This message convinced Grant that he had made the correct decision in attacking Belmont.

In fact, Grant realized his campaign now had two objectives: protect Oglesby’s eastern flank and, as first understood, stop General Polk from reinforcing Price west of the Mississippi.

Grant immediately issued a Special Order. It read: “The troops composing the present expedition from this place, will move promptly at six o’clock this morning. The gunboats will take the advance and be followed by the 1st Brigade under the command of Brigadier General John A. McClernand, composed of all the troops from Cairo and Fort Holt. The 2nd Brigade, comprising the remainder of the troops of the expedition, commanded by Colonel John Dougherty, will follow. The entire force will debark at the lowest point on the Mississippi shore where a landing can be effected in security from the rebel batteries. The point of debarkation will be designated by Captain Walke, commanding Naval Forces.”

By 6:30 on the morning of November 7, the Union fleet released the lines holding them to the Kentucky shore and proceeded downriver toward the objective. Grant felt confident. He believed that any Rebel troops west of the river would be caught by surprise by his attack. If he was really lucky, Grant felt he might even take them in their flank. At the same time, Grant embraced the idea that his demonstration on the east side of the river (Paine and Sanderson) would prevent Polk from rushing too many troops across the river against him at Belmont.

Scattered Musket Shots Began Peppering Grant’s Men

As Grant’s naval force steamed southward, he went up to the pilothouse to inquire how close his landings could take place “out of sight of Columbus.” Pilot Scott replied, “About three miles north at a landing at Hunter’s Farm.” Scott emphasized, however, that the landing was out of sight, but it was not out of range of the guns at Columbus.

It was nearly 8 o’clock when the landing at Hunter’s Farm came into view, and the transports began tying up on the Missouri side of the river. Officers promptly began barking orders to disembark and form ranks on shore. Within minutes, scattered musket shots began peppering Grant’s men from a dense tree line. Heavy return fire from troops still on board the transports drove off the handful of enemy soldiers. As the unloading continued, Grant ordered Commander Henry Walke to proceed downriver with both gunboats in order to draw enemy fire away from the landings.

This Walke did by 8:30. Although heavily outgunned by the strong shore defenses, the Lexington and Tyler did draw some fire from shore. However, the majority of the Rebel fire was directed toward the transports. Concerned for the landing force, Walke withdrew back to Hunter’s Farm and ordered the transports out of range of Columbus’s guns as soon as the offloading was complete.

Soon Walke could hear firing from shore as the volume increased in intensity. He decided to make another run toward the “Iron Banks” at Columbus. This second attack lasted 20 minutes. The few shots his gunners fired at the hidden positions on shore were no match for the volume of fire Walke’s two gunboats received. Walke stated that it “would have been too hazardous to have remained long under [the enemy’s] fire with such frail vessals [sic].” Walke steamed upriver out of range once again.

The Battle of Belmont Begins

The beginning round of the Battle of Belmont had begun. Earlier in the morning, at 2 am, General Polk had been awakened and informed of Grant’s demonstrations east of the Mississippi. After dawn Polk was told that Union gunboats were on the river and that transports were unloading men on the west bank in “considerable force.” Polk decided to send General Pillow across the river with his division to “take charge of the situation.” But Polk remained convinced that the Union’s primary attack would be on the east side and that it would be directed at Columbus.

Fortunately for Pillow, there were a number of transports near Columbus available to ferry his men across the river to reinforce Colonel James Tappan, who commanded Camp Johnson at Belmont. Tappan had the 13th Arkansas, a battalion of cavalry, and a battery of artillery. Pillow was bringing across four regiments from Tennessee: the 12th, 13th, 21st, and 22nd. By 10:30 in the morning Pillow had all four of his regiments across and in formation. By that time Grant’s force had been on the move from Hunter’s Farm toward Belmont for nearly two hours.

Before moving on the Rebel camp, Grant quickly selected five companies of infantry from Dougherty’s Brigade to guard the landing and protect the line of communication. Grant had to position this force personally because he believed that he did not have a line officer with sufficient experience to command this “ad hoc” battalion.

Grant placed this group in an excellent spot. It protected his rear and flank from attack and provided cover from artillery fire from “Iron Banks.” Grant regarded this position as “a natural entrenchment” from which the battalion “could hold the enemy for a considerable time.”

Hoping that he could still achieve surprise, Grant formed his force for the march through the heavy timber and thick cornfields that stood between him and the enemy camp. As the Union forces moved through the warm morning sunshine toward Belmont, an occasional artillery round fired from “Iron Banks” would crash among the trees. Confederate gunners across the river were trying to find Grant’s column amid the dense river-bottom growth of forest and underbrush.

Except for the sporadic artillery fire, the march toward the enemy camp was fairly easy. Bits of marsh and swamp in the often-flooded terrain slowed the Union column at times; however, the road Grant’s men followed was in good shape overall.

As Captain James Dollins’ Union horsemen swept the line of march, Confederate cavalry from Lt. Col. John Miller’s 1st Mississippi Battalion engaged them and quickly broke away again. Dollins reported that the enemy seemed more interested in “observing than fighting.”

But as Grant’s force approached what appeared to be a large slough, Rebel defensive measures increased. Dollins reported that Confederate fire was heavier and that his men were seeing infantry for the first time, though he was continuing to push them as he advanced.

“My Heart Kept Getting Higher and Higher Until it Felt to Me as Though It was in My Throat.”

At this point, Grant met with McClernand and decided to deploy the column. A cornfield alongside the road was used to form the men into a battle line. At this location all that Grant’s men had to do was face left in order to face their intended objective, still about two miles away. Grant positioned Captain Ezra Taylor’s artillery pieces in the center and on the left flank of his line, which stretched for nearly half a mile.

Orders were then given to each regimental commander to deploy two companies forward as skirmishers. Specifically, they were “to seek out and develop the position of the enemy.” As the skirmishers advanced across the slough, they encountered thick woods on the opposite side. Confusion reigned. All of a sudden it became very difficult for officers to maintain alignment. Once inside the tangled woods, the inexperienced Union infantry began to hear the “long roll” of Confederate drums at the enemy camp ahead. Cautiously the Union line continued to move forward as best they could in the dense foliage. Grant himself remembered his feelings from July when he had maneuvered to attack Harris’s camp: “My heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat.”

The first portion of the Union line to receive heavy fire from the enemy was the right flank. Grant had assigned Colonel Napoleon Buford’s 27th Illinois to that section of the line. As the firing increased, McClernand ordered Colonel Philip Fouke’s 30th Illinois forward to support Buford’s 27th. Soon the firing became so heavy that Grant ordered his regiments on the left to alter their advance and move to “the sound of the firing.”

Within minutes, the firing became intense, despite the fact that owing to the dense underbrush and heavy woods, it remained very difficult for the armies to see each other. The fighting rapidly became very disjointed. Often command was maintained only within the smallest tactical unit within each company. Nevertheless, the nerves of Grant’s men “grew stronger” when they were told to “take trees and fight Indian fashion.”

Eventually, the fighting was so uncoordinated that McClernand stopped Buford’s advance and ordered him to maneuver farther to the right to “feel the enemy and engage him if found in that direction.” This left a gaping hole on the Union right, which was filled by the 22nd and 31st Illinois regiments and the 7th Iowa.

Pillow Attempts a Desperate Bayonet Charge

Although Pillow’s skirmishers held good positions in the dense woods, they were constantly being enveloped by the steadily advancing Yankees. By 11 in the morning Pillow’s men had all been forced to withdraw, reform their ranks, and rejoin the main Confederate defensive line along a low ridge between the heavy timber and Camp Johnson.

As the Union regiments began to advance out of the woods and toward the main enemy line, Confederate fire began to decrease. Pillow’s men began to run low on ammunition, especially along the Rebel right. As a result, Pillow ordered a bayonet charge.

General Pillow knew from his experiences in the Mexican War that the bayonet “had ultimately settled the issue on the battlefield.” But this time it did not; the Federals recoiled but did not flee. Following a brief Union withdrawal, Colonel John Logan’s 31st Illinois tried several times to turn the Confederate right flank. These determined Federal attacks forced the Rebels to drop back to their original line and forced them to use up more of their precious ammunition.

Slowly, the Union advance along the Confederate right began to push the defenders back toward their camp.

In the center of Grant’s attack, Colonel Jacob Lauman’s 7th Iowa and Fouke’s 30th began to break out of the heavy timber as well. This advance was answered by Lt. Col. Daniel Belzhoover’s Watson Battery. The Rebel artillery opened up on the advancing Union troops and forced them back into the tree line. Once back under cover, Lauman told his men to “fall on the ground.” He then shouted, “Crawl boys,” and the Union line began to advance again.

Because the Rebel artillery fire had only momentarily slowed the Union advance, Pillow rode up to the center of his line, held by Colonel Edward Pickett’s 21st Tennessee and Colonel Thomas J. Freeman’s 22nd Tennessee, and asked if “we could not charge and drive the rascals out.” The order of “Charge bayonets” filled the air.

In a rush, Rebel infantry charged the blue line and pushed them back into the woods. Although surprised and confused, the men of the 7th Iowa and 30th Illinois recovered and, through concentrated volley fire, forced the Rebels to withdraw in the center of their line.

Collapsing the Confederate Line

Beltzhoover’s guns raked the Union tree line, which allowed the 21st and 22nd to withdraw in good order. But just then Taylor’s Chicago Battery came up to the line. Within minutes, Rebel and Union artillery were engaged in a spirited exchange of gunfire that brought about the collapse of the entire Confederate line. With Pillow’s right already retiring, the heated artillery duel collapsed the remaining portion of the Confederate line.

As Pillow’s main line began to fall back into defensive positions at their camp, Buford’s 27th Illinois moved southward and came up on the extreme left flank of the Confederate camp in a classical envelopment maneuver. Slowing Buford’s advance momentarily was Company A, 13th Tennessee, which had been left back as a camp guard.

Pushing on, the 27th assaulted across the camp’s parade ground but then withdrew due to withering volley fire by the defenders. As Buford’s men prepared for another assault, the 7th Iowa and 22nd Illinois advanced and fixed themselves on his left. At the same time, Taylor positioned his battery in the center of Grant’s line and began to fire canister shot into the camp. Fouke’s 30th and Logan’s 31st advanced and began to envelop the camp on the north as well.

With Federals streaming into camp from three directions and a steady pounding by Taylor’s guns, Pillow had no choice but to order the retreat from Camp Johnson. Almost immediately, the entire camp began fleeing north along a lane that paralleled the river. As the retreating Rebels ran, they braved a gauntlet as “hundreds of Union muskets poured their deadly content.” Men from each of Grant’s five infantry regiments began chasing the Confederates in a loosely organized pursuit led by Colonel Lauman. It continued for nearly a quarter mile and then slowly stopped after Lauman was hit in a thigh by a musket ball as Rebel defensive fire increased along the riverbank.

Viewing the fight from across the river, Polk realized that he needed to send reinforcements quickly to support Pillow. One of the first units across the river was Colonel Knox Walker’s 2nd Tennessee, and it was Walker’s regiment that stopped the Union pursuit of the fleeing Rebels out of the camp. But as Walker began to pressure Logan’s 31st on the north end of the camp, Taylor’s guns came up once again and began to smash huge holes in Walker’s line of men. At the same time, Taylor’s guns began to pour their deadly fire into the Rebel steamers Prince, Hill, and Charm, which were all bringing reinforcements from Columbus.

By around 2 in the afternoon, all firing in and around the captured Rebel camp had stopped. Immediately, Grant’s men began celebrating their victory. All of a sudden, the atmosphere turned to one of hilarity with men running around searching for souvenirs, singing patriotic songs, and firing volleys into the air. General McClernand even found time to mount a tree stump and deliver an “impromptu victory speech.”

After Victory, the Union Troops Became an Uncontrollable Mob

As the minutes ticked by and the looting continued, Grant realized his fighting force had become an uncontrollable mob. In order to stop the looting and gain control once again, he ordered Camp Johnson to be burned. As the fires raged throughout the camp, officers began to organize their men into formations. Unfortunately for Grant, many of the burning tents contained sick and wounded Rebel soldiers who had gone unnoticed by Union torch bearers. Many of the Confederates burned to death. The horrible incident became a “rallying cry” for many Rebels for the remainder of the day.

On the heights across the river, General Polk had witnessed the Federal assault on Camp Johnson and the ensuing panic that had resulted in the hasty retreat northward along the river. After some thought, Polk decided to commit his reserves to the fight in order to somehow salvage the day. At the same time, he ordered a heavy bombardment upon the camp.

This accurate Confederate artillery fire from “Iron Banks” helped Grant to bring control to his force. Thinking that if they stayed around any longer, Rebel gunners from across the river would reduce their ranks in a short time, the men began to form their lines for the march out of the enemy camp.

To add to the reinforcements already sent, Polk ordered Brig. Gen. Frank Cheatham across the river with the 15th Tennessee and the 11th Louisiana in order to reinforce Pillow’s command. To avoid Taylor’s Chicago Battery, the Prince steamed upriver with Cheatham’s force to find a suitable landing somewhere between Camp Johnson and Hunter’s Farm.

“Anxious to Again Confront the Enemy”

Once across the river, Cheatham found that Pillow had organized a force, about brigade size, of elements from all his regiments. Cheatham had brought a large supply of ammunition with him, and it was quickly distributed throughout the ranks. All told, this “reconditioned” Rebel force numbered between 1,000 and 1,500 men, and they were “anxious to again confront the enemy.”

At Camp Johnson, Grant’s men were formed but still hiding in the trees from the gunners on “Iron Banks.” At a few minutes past 2 pm, a lieutenant from Fouke’s regiment reported to Grant that enemy transports were bringing reinforcements across the river. Grant, seeing the boats for himself, gave the orders to assemble and begin the march back to Hunter’s Farm.

Once assembled, McClernand’s Brigade took the lead followed by Dougherty’s Brigade. All at once, firing broke out on the Union right. The entire Federal column, almost to a man, was amazed that the Confederates could mount a determined counterattack since, only an hour before, they had been wildly running out of control along the river.

The spirited Confederate advance, organized by Cheatham, began to destroy McClernand’s hastily formed line. Shouts of “We are flanked” and “They’re surrounding us” began to ring out up and down the Union line. The 7th Iowa became nearly enveloped at the end of the Union column. Because Lauman was down with his thigh wound, Major Elliott W. Rice commanded the 7th and broke it out of the trap.

Grant Finds Himself Surrounded

Still trying to keep Rice pinned at the rear of the column, Cheatham swung his force around and tried to envelop the head of the Yankee column as well. Within minutes, cries of “Surrounded, Surrounded” filled the air throughout McClernand’s Brigade. It seemed like all eyes began to fall upon Grant. He simply stated, “We cut our way in so we can cut our way out.”

As Cheatham’s defense at the head of the Federal column stiffened, McClernand called up a battery of Taylor’s artillery. Within minutes, Taylor’s guns began pouring fire into the center of the Rebel line “with great spirit and effect.” Round after round of double canister was unleashed upon the enemy. McClernand shouted to Logan to take his regiment and “cut your way through.” With a flourish of his hat, Logan led his men forward, ordering the colors to the head of the column.

Logan’s 31st and Fouke’s 30th broke through the enemy line in good order. But as the Union men hurried onward, the column became fragmented. Grant rode to the head of the column at this point so he could personally alert the rear guard to action. They were nowhere to be found. As elements of the 30th and 31st began to hasten past, the rear guard had abandoned their position and had reembarked upon the waiting transports.

By this time, Cheatham’s men were cutting the 22nd Illinois and 7th Iowa to pieces at the end of the Union column. Taylor’s artillery tried in desperation to “make a stand” but they could not stop the pursuing enemy. Eventually, the 22nd and 7th were able to reach the Hunter’s Farm Road for their march back to the landing, but it was costly.

Most of Buford’s 27th Illinois left the retreating Union column and retraced its route from earlier in the day. Traveling on roads that the Rebels did not even know existed, Buford’s regiment came out of the woods three miles above Hunter’s Landing.

Across the river, Polk felt compelled to act further. He personally crossed the river and brought two more regiments with him to reinforce Cheatham. But not doing so earlier probably cost Polk the day. Although Cheatham and Polk got their men moving after the retreating Federals, it was not soon enough. The delay gave Grant the additional time he needed to embark his command at Hunter’s Landing.

“A Perfect Storm of Death”

But as the steamers began to pull away from the shore, the Rebels hotly increased their fire upon the departing vessels. In return the Lexington and Tyler came up and poured a murderous fire onto the bank. They “poured a perfect storm of death into the rebel masses.… whole ranks mowed down by a broadside.”

Onboard the Memphis, Grant heard the increase in fire and walked out on deck. All five transports were in line and the troops onboard were firing “with terrible effect” and “great spirit.” Even Taylor’s Chicago artillerymen had gotten into the action and were firing their guns from the deck of the Chancellor.

Except for picking up Buford’s 27th three miles upriver, the Battle of Belmont was over. During the dark trip back to Cairo, doctors onboard the transports treated the wounded as best they could. Many officers remembered the trip as “solemn.” Grant chose to remain by himself and “said not a word but to a waiter.” But when the Federal armada reached Cairo about 9:30 that night, the city was totally lit up in celebration. Later and into the next morning, Grant recalled all of his diversionary units from both sides of the Mississippi.

Both sides claimed victory following this battle along the Mississippi River. Discussions, arguments, and heated debate were to continue for many years about who won the fight.

Casualties on both sides were fairly even. Grant lost a total of 610 men killed, wounded, and missing. Polk lost 641.

Polk’s defense of Camp Johnson was deplorable. He left the most likely approaches to the camp almost totally unguarded and was not aware of other approaches used in Buford’s envelopment from the south.

There is little doubt that Grant obtained the element of surprise at Belmont. Many believe that Polk was completely confused by Grant’s diversions on both sides of the river. Whether by purpose or not, tying up on the east bank of the river the night before the attack was a masterful stroke by Grant. It was the main reason for the piecemeal reinforcement of Camp Johnson during the attack. Polk clung to the idea that Grant’s true objective was Columbus.

Artillery played a significant role. Although Beltzhoover’s Watson Battery did not distinguish itself on the field, Taylor’s Chicago Battery did. Taylor’s men demonstrated the advantage that may be gained from a highly mobile field artillery unit. During the battle, they seemed to be everywhere and were delivering decisive fire upon the enemy time and time again.

Reviewing Grant’s Mistakes

The Rebel guns at “Iron Banks” played an important role by keeping Walke’s gunboats away from supporting Grant’s attack on Camp Johnson. They also kept Walke’s gunboats from interfering while Polk sent boatload after boatload of reinforcements across the river into the fight.

Grant’s use of naval forces was good. Joint army and navy operations of transportation, embarkation, and disembarkation went as well as could be expected in these early days of the war. Perhaps the biggest mistake Grant made in the use of the navy was his failure to communicate effectively with Walke once Grant’s force had been put ashore at Belmont. If Grant had informed Walke of the heavy concentration of Rebel reinforcements coming across the river, Walke might have been able to disrupt this flow. In defense of Grant, however, Walke should have paid more attention to the fighting on shore and understood what the Confederates were doing.

Possibly the most significant outcome of the battle was bringing Grant’s name to the attention of President Lincoln. At a time when finding true leadership for his fighting forces was a definite concern, Lincoln was impressed with Grant’s initiative and speed of attack.

Grant did make mistakes, however. He violated a vital principle of the offense by not pushing through the objective (Camp Johnson) and then securing his prize. At the same time, Grant has been criticized for not maintaining tighter control over his command. For example, failing to utilize his boat guard (reserve) in the battle was a big mistake. And as already mentioned, tighter control of Walke’s gunboats could have been decisive. In addition, Dollins’ cavalry and Buford’s erratic maneuvers caused some concern during the battle. But again in Grant’s defense, Buford’s flanking move enveloped Pillow’s left at Camp Johnson and probably forced the Rebels to abandon their camp faster than any other aspect of the Union attack.

Preparing for Victory As Well As Defeat

Overall, Grant utilized his “volunteer” officers effectively, and they rose to the task many times during the battle.

General Grant came away from the Battle of Belmont with a better understanding of combined arms warfare. Although he made mistakes, he later proved he had learned from them. In addition, he discovered a new and profound understanding of himself, especially under the muzzle of his enemy’s muskets. But perhaps Grant’s greatest lesson was that a commander must always be just as prepared for victory as he is for defeat.

The battle of Belmont clearly indicated how important Columbus was. As long as the Rebels held the Iron Banks, they controlled the Mississippi. Belmont certainly served as a diversion that left the Rebels unprepared for General Grant’s attacks on Fort Henry and Fort Donelson.

When Fort Henry and Fort Donelson fell, Columbus became outflanked by the Union forces. As a result, the Confederates were forced to abandon their strong position at Columbus. Union forces moved in and occupied Columbus on March 4, 1862.

This article by Donald J. Roberts II first appeared in the Warfare History Network on October 1, 2015.

Image: Image from page 8 of "Generals and battles of the Civil War" (1891). Public domain.

8K Scam or Suprise? Does 'Upconverted' 8K Content Look Any Good?

Sun, 24/05/2020 - 12:00

Stephen Silver

Technology,

Can technology make up for a lack of native 8K content?

8K TV is one of the stranger product categories out there. It's the next generation of ultra-high-definition TVs, which have been rolled out at CES and other electronics shows since not long after 4K TVs were announced.

Several of the major TV manufacturers, including Sony, Samsung, and LG, have 8K TVs on the market at very high-end prices, with this year's 8K Sony TV, the Z8H, topping out at $10,000 for its 85-inch model.

However high-end 8K TVs may be, the fact about them remains that there's very little content available to watch on them. Cable and other pay TV providers don't provide streams in 8K, nor do streaming services, and there's not yet any type of physical media that broadcasts in that resolution. Movies aren't even being filmed in 8K yet, for the most part, although recent Marvel movies “Captain Marvel” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” used 8K cameras for some scenes.

"It's great in theory, but right now you'll have a hard time finding 8K content, and there isn't much point in getting a new TV if you don't have a way to really show it off," PC Magazine wrote in January, as the latest models were rolling out at CES. "The same was true when 4K emerged, and if 8K follows a similar trajectory, you'll likely be limited to demo footage and nature documentaries for a few years before you see any of your favorite movies or shows in the format.”

Therefore, the big selling point of 8K models is their upconverting capability. And it's important to note that while most broadcast and streaming content is available not in 4K but lower resolution such as 1080p, so the leap is even larger. Also, some experts say the difference between 4k and 8K is only visible when the screens are a certain size.

"To present lower-resolution material on an 8k TV, the TV has to perform a process called upscaling," RTINGS wrote. "This process increases the pixel count of a lower-resolution image, allowing a picture meant for a screen with fewer pixels to fit a screen with many more. It’s important to remember that since the amount of information in the signal doesn’t change, there won’t be more detail present."

4K.com, meanwhile, cautions against buying an 8K TV, because "the extra visual quality these TVs deliver is wasted along with the extra money you’d spend on them." The site adds that "for you to even really distinguish a visual difference between 4K resolution and 8K resolution, you need to start looking at TV screens of at least 75 inches or more, and serious appreciation of the difference between the two only really fleshes out at around the 85 inch plus mark."

If the path of 4K is any indication, prices for 8K TVs will come down as the years pass, making them much more of a value proposition than they are currently.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver

Image: Reuters.

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