Why did only the English adopt, evolve and use the longbow en masse in war?

Why did only the English adopt, evolve and use the longbow en masse in war?

The bow was a relatively common weapon on dark age battlefields as Harold's arrow in the eye at Hastings will attest. But shortly after is was largely superseded by the crossbow, partly because pretty much any man-at-arms could pick up and shoot a crossbow with zero training.

Yet the bow didn't go away. It proved an effective weapon in the hands of the Welsh when they fought against English invaders in the early middle ages. So effective, in fact, that Edward I recruited bodies of Welsh bowmen into his armies. They proved decisive at the Battle of Falkirk (1298).

However, it seems unclear as to what kind of bow the Welsh archers were using. Was it the same as the longbow, so feared by the French in the Hundred Years' War? Or was it more of a common hunting bow: and was it this bow in use during Falkirk that then evolved into the longbow later?

And why was there not an equivalent evolution in other European countries at the time? Most chroniclers seemed to believe the longbow was the superior weapon if one could find the trained archers (although I guess this may be English bias). England got itself those archers by dint of the famed royal proclamation that all able-bodied men should practice the bow on every holiday. Why, then, were there not equivalent proclamations elsewhere?

According to Donald Featherstone's "The Bowmen of England" the longbow probably did arrive in England from Wales.

It is impossible to trace the actual origin of the longbow, but there is good evidence that it was in use in South Wales during the second half of the twelfth century. Giraldus Cambrensis speaks repeatedly of the men of Gwent and Morganwg as excelling all others in the practice of archery.

It goes on…

Describing the bows of Gwent, [Geraldus] says:'They are made neither of horn, ash nor yew but of elm; ugly, unfinished looking weapons, but astonishingly stiff, large and strong, and equally capable of use for long or short shooting.'
These were the bows, in the hands of the South Welsh bowmen, which were used in the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1171. The Normans had learned the power of the Welsh bows and dreaded them;

As noted in the question, it was the subsequent English Kings who recognised the power of the longbow;

With plans in mind for the Welsh longbow, Edward I confirmed Henry's Assize of Arms[1] by the Statute of Winchester, making practice compulsory on Sundays and Holydays… Other games, such as football, handball and cockfighting were made illegal; direction of labour was introduced so that bowyers and fletchers could be compelled to reside where they were most needed, and there were many acts regulating the price of equipment.

[1]King Henry III's Assize of Arms, 1251.

It was also Edward's skill as a soldier, with his understanding of the science of war, that allowed him to see how the longbow could be a vital weapon on the battlefield by combining his bowmen with dismounted knights and men-at-arms.

… now [Edward] learned that a cavalry attack could be weakened, almost to annihilation, by volleys of archers.
Such knowledge, at a time when cavalry held absolute supremacy in war, was a secret of unfathomable value; a secret indeed which laid the foundations of England's very military power.

What advantage was there to the longbow?

The longbow is about the simplest piece of mechanism imaginable, consisting of only a bowstave and string; it possessed three distinct advantages in that it was cheap to produce, had a fairly extensive range and provided rapidity of discharge. Such an elementary weapon was eminently suitable for use by peasant militia, for it had no complications of mechanism and no professional skill was needed.

So it was easy to manufacture and everyone knew how to use it. The difference was that the English recognised its potential and, thanks to repeated practice, could produce archers bending bows of far greater power than their opponents could manage.

Short Answer:

The longbow was very difficult to use requiring a lot of experience and strength. But the crossbow was very easy to use and anybody could use it.

Long Answer:

The bow is basically a big spring made of wood.

When it bends back energy is stored in the two limbs. Let go this strain and that energy is released in shooting the arrow in more than a 160 ft/second.

Left hand was used to hold the bow and right hand was used to pull the string and release the arrow.

Just about every culture in the world developed a bow. Shorter ones for sitting on horseback, longer ones for distance and power. And one of the most famous and effective weapon were the English longbow.

13th century, English Longbow:

  • Length 6 ft
  • Maximum effective range 300 yards.

They were very popular in the 1300s. In fact this was the terror weapon of the 1300s and early 1400s.

Back then the English and the French were at a war for about a hundred years. That's why they call it the hundred years war. The English had the advantage of the longbow superiority which came from the material used to create it.

Longbows were cut from one piece of wood. They made good longbows. Its outer wide wood was soft and could withstand a lot of tension. The inner wide wood could resist compression. Combined they gave longbow a deadly force that the French knights learnt to fear.

But the English also had the bow of a particularly nasty arrowhead made of hardened steel whose only purpose was to penetrate armour and kill.

But long bows were much more difficult to use and required lots of practice.

Although the draw weight of a typical English longbow is disputed, it was at least 360 newtons (81 pounds-force) and possibly more than 600 N (130 lbf), with some estimates as high as 900 N (200 lbf). Considerable practice was required to produce the swift and effective combat shooting required. Skeletons of longbow archers are recognisably adapted, with enlarged left arms and often osteophytes on left wrists, left shoulders and right fingers.

It was the difficulty in using the longbow that led various monarchs of England to issue instructions encouraging their ownership and practice.

During the reign of Edward III of England, laws were passed allowing fletchers and bowyers to be impressed into the army, also forbidding men and boys to play football or golf and encourajing them to practice archery instead.

Finding men powerful enough to shoot a long bow was a tough call.

And that's when another type of bow came.

11th century, medieval crossbow:

  • Maximum effective range 60 yards.

The earliest record of the crossbow was in China around 500 B.c. But they probably have been used even earlier.

The Greeks and the Romans had them too. But by the time they entered many more European countries they were in demand more than ever.

The cross bow is a small bow mounted on a duo wooden stand or tiller with a trigger mechanism to release the bow.

Because the bow was short and took a lot of energy to pull back the arms, it needed both hands to hook it into the knob and all that energy is stored up in the bows arms. Release the trigger and the bow shot out like a bat out of Hell.

Though the longbow required a lot of practice and muscle the crossbow was a piece out of a cake. Anybody could load these. They were quite similar to pulling the trigger of a gun.

The feet were used to hold the crossbow against ground and both the hands to load it pulling the arrow with the back. Then one simply had to aim and pull the trigger to fire.

Advantage of longbow -

  • Experienced archers could shoot 20 arrows in a minute. They also travelled a longer distance.

Advantage of crossbow -

  • Archers could shoot only 10 arrows in a minute. They also travelled a shorter distance. But these shortcomings was compensated by the fact that anybody could shoot it.

As the hundred years of war went on the number of English longbow archers fell. The French began to gain the upper-hand because they had more crossbows. The longbow had had its day.

Though longbow was the sniper rifle of the day it could not compete with the popularity of the crossbow, which some special forces use even today.


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsAUKRbaZ9E (primary)
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longbow
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_longbow
  4. https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval-england/the-longbow/
  5. http://www.thebeckoning.com/medieval/crossbow/cross_l_v_c.html

Since I have little knowledge of the English longbow, I shall answer by turning the point upside down. The question:

Most chroniclers seemed to believe the longbow was the superior weapon if one could find the trained archers (although I guess this may be English bias). England got itself those archers by dint of the famed royal proclamation that all able-bodied men should practice the bow on every holiday. Why, then, were there not equivalent proclamations elsewhere?

There were equivalent proclamations.

By the end of the 13th century, king D. Dinis of Portugal had organised a body of crossbow archers in every town. All body able men were enlisted and forced to practice regularly. Fines would be paid if enlisted men failed to participate in those regular, public practice sessions.

It so happens that Iberian kings were under the impression that the crossbow was superior to every other type of bow in impact power and precision, for as long as they could find well-trained people to do the job.

Obviously, shooting arrows was not deemed a noble art so it was a job for the peasants.

(I'm using school History text books as source)

By the 10th century, crossbows were already in use but only became regularised in 1299 with an edict by King D. Dinis requiring every town to have a militia of these men. By the mid 14th century the militia had become a force of elite.

All men should be tested and the best of them (with the financial means to maintain the weapon in good state, which excluded the poorest peasants) would be part of this elite. If the financial means were above a certain level, they were also required to have a horse. However, most of these men would eventually be chosen amidst mercantile and craftsmen families, since farmers were often poorer and, on the other hand, their service on the land was essential to feeding the army and the population in general. This doesn't mean that, in rural areas, one wouldn't find a large portion of these men to be farmers.

Training focused on developing speed recharging but especially on accuracy. The arrow could go 150-200 metres (164-218 yards) and was often poisoned with hellebore (known as 'erva dos besteiros' or 'herb of the crossbow archers'), although the church did not aprove of it.

Crossbows were not often used in open battle but in sieges (there were plenty of those in the Iberian peninsula throughout the centuries, much more than field battles). An accurate crossbow archer was held in high regard as he could kill a person on a castle wall with a single shot, therefore making this class an elite amidst the infantry.

I don't have the source to hand, but in Isaac Asimov's 'the impact of the longbow on history' in his book, 'The Sun Shines Bright', he points out the psychological and social reasons why other European countries didn't adopt the longbow.

At the time, peasants were largely regarded as cannon fodder, and aristocrats wanted most of the glory for themselves, which meant doing most of the killing themselves. The longbow turned this on its head, so that it was the peasants who did the killing en masse and at a distance with the longbow.

This kind of thinking was a big factor towards the French defeat at Agincourt - the French nobility did not consider the peasant longbowmen particularly dangerous, and tried to charge them.

There were several differences between the longbow and crossbow:

  1. Rate of fire
  2. Cost
  3. Tactics

The longbow had a high rate of fire and was relatively cheap.

The crossbow had a slow rate of fire and cost a bundle.

Tactically they were used very differently. The crossbow was the equivalent of sniper's weapon - the user aimed at a specific target and tried to kill that one target. And after firing his one shot he was unable to shoot again until he went through a cumbersome and slow reloading process, during which time he was vulnerable.

In battle the longbow, on the other hand, was used for en masse fire - take 200 or 500 or 1000 archers, have 'em all aim the pointy end of the arrow generally down-range, and pretty soon it's porcupine city in the target area. All those arrows coming down in a relatively small area created a kill zone where it was likely that many in the target area would be hit, probably wounded, and given the poor state of medical care available - "His Highness has been wounded. CALL FORTH THE BARBER-CHIRURGEONS!" - yeah, puncture wounds would often prove fatal in a few days, because if infection didn't get you, the doctoring would. ("His Highness is weakened by his wound. QUICK! DRAIN THE BLOOD FROM HIM!!" Yeah - great move there, barber-doc… ). And the longbow could fire many times faster than a crossbow - perhaps ten shots per minute for the longbow instead of 1 or two per minute for the crossbow. Much is made of the difficulty of hitting a target with a longbow, but in battle that's not how they were used. The most important "skill" you had to have was the ability to just DRAW one of these beasts! They were all self bows, made from a single piece of wood, which means that the design of the bow did nothing to provide extra power as it does in a recurved or compound bow. Some of them had a pull of over 120 pounds - that means the user had to have one HELLUVA lot of arm, back, and chest strength. So while the villagers might have been trying to be the best shot in the village it didn't really matter so much - the idea was just to keep them practicing so when the time came they could stand hip-to-hip and darken the skies with arrows.


Bu pure chance, I happened to get into a conversation on social media with an expert in this field named Dr. Stuart Gorman. He'd written a PhD on the subject several years ago.

I'm not going to change my accepted answer because it's supported by quotes from a source. But I thought it might be interesting and useful to surmise what he told me since it is different from any of the existing answers.

He dismissed the idea that it had anything to do with fear of revolution. I'm not the expert here, so I'm going to copy and paste what he said.

  • Why only England made widespread use of the longbow is an interesting debate, and wide open for new commentary…
  • I did my PhD on Tech. Change of Bow and Crossbow c.1200-1550, I have many opinions.
  • Lots of debate, but certainly part of it was England's centralized finances. Had better access to tax than France did.
  • Longbows were expensive, for training mostly, although in the 15th and 16th centuries yew became more expensive (deforestation) and longbow costs rose.
  • French monarchy had less access to tax, had to rely more on feudal levies for troops. England could afford semi-prof.
  • Charles VII was first French king to centralize his finances, and soon after began recruiting archers incl. longbowmen.
  • There's a lot more too it, including a debate about whether longbow was truly superior, and if both were used together.
  • Much of the longbow debate also overlooks that siege warfare was the primary method of fighting in medieval Europe.

It is because of the training that using the longbow took. The bow was not a weapon used by the nobility, but by peasants. Peasants need to spend most of the year on their farms in order to provide their families and lord with food. Mastering the use of the longbow however takes years of dedicated training, leaving little to no time for farming or any other activities. This is something a medieval peasant simply can not afford.

Therefore, a lord who wants archers capable of using the longbow needs to provide them with everything from food to housing so that they have the time needed to practice. In effect, it requires a lord to permanently maintain a standing army. If you want enough archers to make an impact on a battlefield, I guess you can imagine this will turn very expensive, very quickly.

Standing armies (beyond relatively small retinues) are virtually unheard of in the Middle Ages (armies consisted mostly of feudal levies), because they are too expensive for all but the wealthiest lords to afford. The crossbow produces comparable results to the longbow for only a fraction of the costs. It should therefore not be hard to figure out why virtually all feudal rulers in continental Europe decided to stick with the crossbow instead of adopting the English/Welsh longbow.

The more interesting question would be why the English were so fond of the longbow and did not adopt the crossbow like the rest of medieval Europe. I do not know the answer to this, but I guess it has to do with the existence of the yeoman class in feudal Britain giving a relatively large group of people with enough time on their hands to practice archery.

The men of south wales were the first to use the longbow in war in the british isles. The english invaders were quick to realise its potential, and administered decrees for its use in their armies, but it took several hundereds of years for them to learn its use. In the meantime they used welsh mercenaries. We know a lot about the welsh long bows because of the writings of Geraldus (Gerallt Gymro). And the writings of norman lords, who claimed their knights were being skewered by the welsh longbow in ambushes. De braose writes that on several occasions, the arrow would go through the knight's armour, leg, saddle and finally enter and kill the horse!

The Longbow, the one used in battle, the "War Bow" was 6 foot 7 inches long with 160 lbs draw weight requiring that training begin at an early age. By age 15, the English youth would have been drawing a bow of 100 lbs or so. By age 18 to 20 he would be able to handle a 160 lb bow. It was required by law that the male individual between 12 and 60 years go to the vilaage butts and put at least 6 arrows into the mark once a week. The mark being a man sized target at 220 yards. This was in the time of Henry the Eighth. Different Kings had different laws but generally speaking archery was an obligation and other sports were outlawed. The saying was if you could hit a squirrel at 100 yards you could join the Kings Army.

For about 400 years, the only area where people had the dedication and spent the time necessary for proficiency with the long bow was the Island of Britain, the English therefore dominated Europe in this time period. I've read comparisons with other weapons i.e. the mongolian horn or recurve bow etc. but the bottom line here was this weapon was the right tool at the right time and that's the end of it.

Flight shots approaching 1000 yards were claimed for the Turkish and or mongol bow of the same time period but this was with arrows the weight of a piece of straw which would have been capable of little or no damage. I think we have to recognize that people will do what is needed to get the job done. According to Professor B. Kooi's estimations, the Mary Rose longbows varied in draw weight from 100 to 180 pounds. The biggest group of draw weights being in the 150 to 160 pound range. The Mary Rose longbows were made some one hundred years after the battle of Agincourt but much evidence suggests that the warbow had changed very little during those one hundred years.

I witnessed a test of an arrow against Greek armour some years ago. The bow as I recall was 160 lbs and interestingly enough the arrow did not penetrate. The armour was designed to give and thereby absorb the necessary energy. The point being that heavy draw weights were not unusual in ancient times. I myself loosed arrows from a 100 lb bow for several years in my 50's. I know that now it would be difficult to find anyone capable of drawing a bow of 100 lbs. A friend of mine and fellow archer used to shoot a 150lb compound. He ran an Archery store and shooting range. he would take the bow to the sportsman's show every fall for several years. If you could draw the bow it was yours. No one to my knowledge ever claimed that bow.

The premise of the question is incorrect. The longbow was used en masse in war thousands of years before any state that could meaningfully call itself English existed and certainly before the Romans arrived, and this was also used in France and Iberia (at a minimum).

A Mittle-Saale Beaker by Karol Schauer

Bows reminiscent of the long bow were the characteristic weapon of the Bell Beaker people who arrived in the British Isles ca. 2200 BCE, and were present earlier in France and earlier than that in Portugal (ca. 2900 BCE).

Subsequent English use of the longbow is almost certainly a legacy of the Bell Beaker tradition.

Schneier on Security

The Eight Rules of Urban Warfare and Why We Must Work to Change Them

From October 16, 2016 to January 4, 2017, US-backed Iraqi security forces conducted a full-scale city attack to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State. The operation was the largest conventional land battle since the attack on Baghdad during the US-led invasion in 2003 and one of the most destructive urban fights in modern history involving Western forces. The battle saw a force of over one hundred thousand attacking somewhere between five and twelve thousand enemy fighters defending the city. The nine-month battle is reported to have killed over ten thousand civilians, caused an estimated two billion dollars in damage to the city, created ten million tons of debris, and displaced over 1.8 million of the city’s residents.

This type of high-cost, high-risk operation—the city attack—will continue to increase in frequency unless the rules of modern urban warfare are addressed in a deliberate manner. In other words, the limitations characterizing the conduct of urban warfare must be overcome.

Modern urban warfare can entail many types of missions along the spectrum of military operations. If one were to develop a scale of urban conflict, on one extreme end would be total war. This is when two combatants, possibly near-peer militaries, wage war in urban terrain with little regard for any humanitarian laws of war or concerns about collateral damage. In total war, tactical nuclear weapons and the complete destruction of cities through aerial bombardment are both possibilities.

Sliding along the scale, next would come major city attacks during limited, non-nuclear conflict, where at least one combatant follows international humanitarian law and seeks to minimize the impact of the battle on protected populations and sites. This is where the Mosul battle falls on the spectrum.

After that would be major urban operations with limited objectives like regime change or eliminating an enemy capability coming from within an urban area, such as short-range rockets or cross-border tunneling operations. Next, would be counterinsurgency operations in urban environments where a major component of the mission is to separate a small insurgent or enemy force from the rest of the population that could number in the millions. Next would be very specific counterterrorist operations in urban areas. These usually involve intelligence-driven raids requiring speed, surprise, and highly specialized military units. The scale could continue into humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, either as defense support to civil authorities domestically or as part of broader stability and security operations in cities around the world.

Each potential urban operation varies greatly from the others in terms of the political objective, military mission, constraints on military force, time, enemy, and especially environment. With respect to this last variable, urban environments can be extremely dense or relatively spread out. They can also vary greatly from permissive to nonpermissive. A permissive environment is one where host-nation security forces have control of the area, as well as the intent and capability to assist during military operations. A nonpermissive or hostile environment is one where the host government does not have the will or ability to help in a military operation, or lacks control of the territory or population. A military must approach a hostile urban environment with the assumption that threats can come from any direction or domain (to include from underground).

The city attack is a very specific type of military operation—although the phrase is not US military terminology. Such a planned operation would be doctrinally classified as a deliberate attack with one of five distinct forms of maneuver, such as penetration or envelopment. In simple terms, a city attack is a mission to either kill or capture all hostile forces (an enemy-based mission) in a city or to seize, secure, recapture, or liberate (a terrain-based mission) a city or portion of a city when the enemy is using it as a defensive zone. The city attack operation usually requires a penetration of enemy defenses.

Recent historical examples of city attacks in limited warfare where an attacking force attempted to kill the defenders or seize the city include:

Hue, Vietnam: January 31 1968 to March 3, 1968
Vukovar, Croatia: August 25, 1991 to November 18, 1991
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: April 5, 1992 to 29 February 29, 1996
Grozny, Chechnya: December 31, 1994 to February 8, 1995
Grozny, Chechnya: December 25, 1999 to February 6, 2000
Fallujah, Iraq: April 4, 2004 to May 1, 2004
Fallujah, Iraq: November 7, 2004 to December 23, 2004

Military operations against enemy-held cities have become increasingly frequent. In the last eight years, there have been twelve distinct major urban battles involving city attacks. These have occurred in the ongoing civil war in Syria against the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and the Philippines and between government and Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Among the most recent examples are:

Aleppo, Syria: July 19, 2012 to December 22, 2016
Ghouta, Syria: April 7, 2013 to April 14, 2018
Deir ez-Zor, Syria: July 14, 2014 to September 10, 2017
Ilovaisk, Ukraine: August 7, 2014 to September 2, 2014
Kobani, Syria: September 13, 2014 to January 26, 2015
Debal’tseve, Ukraine: January 14, 2015 to February 20, 2015
Ramadi, Iraq: August 11, 2015 to February 9, 2016
Fallujah, Iraq: May 22, 2016 to June 29, 2016
Mosul, Iraq: October 16, 2016 to July 20, 2017
Raqqa, Syria: November 6, 2016 to October 17, 2017
Marawi, Philippines: May 23, 2017 – October 23, 2017
Tal Afar, Iraq: August 20, 2017 to September 2, 2017

All military operations contain risk and there are many types of risks incurred in warfare. Tactical risks, for instance, relate to the possibility of injury or death of soldiers or failure to accomplish the mission. Accidental risks include such things as the potential for the deaths of civilians or destruction of critical urban infrastructure. There are also broader risks in military operations, like the risk of losing the political will (be it domestic, regional, or international) to continue the pursuit of the military objective of liberating a city from enemy forces. Urban environments compound risks unlike any other due to the complexity of the physical terrain, the presence of civilians, and the ecosystems of political, economic, and social networks that define urban areas.

Urban warfare is also the most difficult form of warfare. And while a city attack may not be the most difficult type of urban operation—a counterinsurgency involving separating a few enemy personnel from among millions of people while maintaining a military’s legitimacy could be considered more difficult—it is one of the riskiest missions a nation can attempt. There are disproportionate levels of political, tactical, and accidental risk in attempting to liberate a city from a defending force.

Moreover, the US military does not have a guidebook for attacking a defended city. There are only a few mentions of it in doctrine. One of the few examples—US Army Field Manual 3-90-2, Reconnaissance, Security, and Tactical Enabling Tasks, Volume 2—contains five pages on large-scale offensive encirclement operations, yet this has historically been just one major component of setting the conditions for a city attack.

The closest thing to a “how to” guide for a deliberate urban attack are found in the general, doctrinally recommended phases that, problematically, are supposed to apply as much to a set of buildings as they do to an entire city. Those phases are to reconnoiter the objective, move to the objective, isolate the objective, secure a foothold, suppress the objective, execute a breach, clear the objective, consolidate and reorganize, and prepare for future operations.

Some will argue that the absence of instructions on how to conduct a city attack is because doctrine is not meant to be descriptive. They might say this despite the presence of operation-specific doctrine like the counterinsurgency operations manual for which an abundance of work done in the 2000s to update and produce. They will also argue that the principles, characteristics, or general considerations for any deliberate attack will apply to a city attack just as it would in open terrain. To be sure, many of those principles and considerations do apply to all environments but the requirements of conducting a deliberate attack in a city are worlds apart from doing the same operation in wooded terrain.

Another justification for the lack of a single, doctrinal guide to the city attack mission is that much of the knowledge is spread out across many different manuals. The city attack is a large-scale combat operation requiring a full suite of combined arms and enabling capabilities—tanks infantry artillery attack aviation intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and more—which are necessarily covered in their own doctrinal publications. It can also include multiple separate events that are similarly discussed in a variety of manuals—combined arms breaches in Army Techniques Publication (ATP) 3-34.22, Engineer Operations—Brigade Combat Team and Below, for instance, or electronic warfare operations in ATP 3-12.3, Electronic Warfare Techniques.

Despite the lack of a comprehensive guide to conduct a city attack against a defending enemy, there is a discernible set of conditions that have remained constant across modern history. These conditions could be considered the rules of the game for a city attack. The use of the word “game” is not intended to simplify the complexity or downplay the significance of war. In his seminal work, On War, the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz wrote, “In the whole range of human activities, war most closely resembles a game of cards.” He further described war as “nothing but a duel on a larger scale. Countless duels go to make up war, but a picture of it as a whole can be formed by imagining a pair of wrestlers. Each tries through physical force to compel the other to do his will his immediate aim is to throw his opponent in order to make him incapable of further resistance.”

Modern urban warfare resembles more a mixed martial arts fight than either the game of cards or wrestling Clausewitz chose for his analogies. But warfare and games are bound by a set of rules that both players agree to consciously or unconsciously follow. In war, these rules are not just normative or legal ones governing the conduct of military operations they can also be imposed by the limits of human performance or weapons technology or by the evolutionary progress of strategies and tactics of the time.

Throughout history, militaries and societies have changed the rules of the game with new organizational models, tactics, technologies, and weapons. When these changes are sufficiently transformational, military scholars call them revolutions in military affairs (RMAs). Examples of RMAs (or changes that led to RMAs) include the introduction of the longbow, gunpowder, and fortress architecture Napoleonic warfare’s strategy of battlefield annihilation of enemy armed forces and its levée en masse to create and sustain large nationalistic armies Industrial Revolution changes that made it possible to feed, arm, and move military forces and mass them for battle and the twentieth-century introduction and refinement of combined arms tactics, blitzkrieg operations, and strategic bombing.

Arguably one of the most relevant modern military revolutions, besides the invention of nuclear weapons, was the incorporation of battlefield lessons learned, new technologies, and combined arms breakthrough tactics by the German military from World War I through World War II. By joining the tank, radio, airplane, artillery, and rapid breakthrough tactics, the German military made the positional tactics of trench warfare of World War I much less of an advantage to defending militaries. The German military, in essence, changed the rules.

Urban warfare has its own rules. In large-scale combat operations to liberate an enemy city today, those are rules that most if not all militaries have allowed to remain in place since World War II. These rules give great advantages to a defending force and make it an attractive option for militaries, insurgents, and terrorists who are weaker than their opponents. Until these game rules are changed (through a major change in tactics, technology, or weapons), the tendency of comparatively weaker actors seeking refuge and advantage in cities—and the damage caused in their liberation—will only continue.

The “rules” of city attacks define the character of urban warfare today. They are:

1. The urban defender has the advantage.

This rule is first among equals. Military theorists have long recognized that the defense is the stronger tactical position. It takes much more force to attack and defeat an enemy that is in an established and properly constructed defense than one in the open. This is even more so in urban terrain where many of the physical structures offer immediate military-quality defensive positions for the defender.

But the defense is also recognized as a weaker position that a combatant is compelled to execute because it is not strong enough to offensively attack the other side. The defense is meant to hold terrain or preserve forces. As long as the defense provides a weaker force measurable advantages to get to a piece of terrain first and then establish a defense, it will do so.

The degree of advantage held by the defense has ebbed and flowed across history, however. For much of ancient history and up until to the nineteenth century, defending from behind walls—whether in cities, castles, or purpose-built star-shaped fortresses—provided massive advantages. The defenders could stockpile resources inside the walls and wait out the siege force or establish killing fields in which attacking troops could be targeted from atop the walls. But the evolution of advanced siege tactics, gunpowder, and ultimately rifled artillery caused the strategy of defending from behind walls to all but disappear from war.

In World War I, the positional character of warfare across Europe led combatants to adopt a strategy of moving forward of valuable terrain, including vital urban areas, to establish trench lines and killing fields covered by machine guns and artillery. Attackers had to cross these killing fields to gain terrain. With the evolution of maneuver warfare and new technologies such as the tank, airplane, and improved military communications, the advantages of occupying a trench-line defense were substantially negated and was seen less.

Today, the advantages provided to a weaker force to occupy urban terrain are great. A weaker enemy can use the physical terrain for concealment and cover both to fight from (e.g., using heavy-clad buildings as de facto military-grade defensive structures) and to maneuver (e.g., through buildings or underground in civilian infrastructure and prepared tunnels). Defending forces can also hide among the protected populations and structures outlined by the laws of armed conflict. In short, they can reduce the effectiveness of a substantial portion of present-day military technologies and tactics.

Until military tactics or technologies change to make an urban defense less advantageous to an armed force despite its objective comparative weakness, it will remain a dominant feature of the character of modern warfare.

2. The urban terrain reduces the attacker’s advantages in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, the utility of aerial assets, and the attacker’s ability to engage at distance.

While the complex physical terrain of urban areas does not negate all technological advantages of an advanced military conducting a city attack, it does reduce the effectiveness of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), aerial assets, and engage-at-distance capabilities.

Modern militaries invest large portions of their budgets developing technologies to find and destroy other military forces as far away from their own troops as possible. They value technologies such as satellite and aerial reconnaissance tools, precision-guided munitions, and long-range artillery. But in dense urban terrain, many of the advantages of these and other tools developed principally for maneuver warfare in open terrain are much less effective.

For instance, in major battles in Syria and Iraq, Islamic State fighters recognized the threat of military ISR even deep inside besieged cities. As a countermeasure, they hung sheets, plastic, and other items between rooftops to allow them to move from building to building without the fear of being seen by most military aerial assets. Multi-million dollar satellites were blinded with trash strung across rooftops.

There are some technologies being advanced that would reduce the concealment advantage of an urban defender—thermal and other imagery tools, for example—but they all have limitations such as depth of penetration, visibility, scale, and costs.

3. The defender can see and engage the attacker coming, because the attacker has limited cover and concealment.

In a modern-day city attack, the biggest tactical advantage for the defending force is that it can remain hidden inside and under buildings. The corollary to this is the biggest disadvantage for the attacking force: that it can be seen and engaged by the defenders at will.

Urban defenders can hide in any of thousands of locations in the urban jungle. They can pick and choose which buildings, windows, alleyways, or sewer holes to hide in without any worry of being discovered. They can also choose the moment of contact by deciding when to attack the approaching force. Many urban defenders, like the Chechen fighters during the 1994–95 Battle of Grozny, can employ a mobile defense whereby they move small elements around interconnected firing points and ammo caches, using tunnels between positions, to defeat a superior military force. They use guerrilla tactics to attack and then disappear back into the urban terrain. And they can canalize attacking militaries to ambush sites or down roads filled with booby traps and improvised explosive devices.

The disadvantaged attackers must move along known avenues of approach—streets and alleyways—making it is nearly impossible for them to surprise the defenders. They are fully visible and vulnerable moving through the urban terrain. Despite all the technologies enjoyed by the world’s most advanced militaries, in a city attack, crossing the street can be one of the biggest risk to the lives of soldiers.

The attackers cannot target or concentrate on enemy positions until they are discovered, usually when the defenders open fire. They will not know exactly where enemy forces are until they have closed the distance and made contact with them. Many city attacks are thus really movements to contact. Furthermore, once contact is made from a specific defended position, the attacking forces are still constrained as they cannot distinguish if there are any non-combatants in the location.

There are many technologies and tactics, though, that could reduce the effect of this urban rule.

If attacking militaries could see through concrete walls at distance and scale, it would be nearly a game changer. Today, see-through-wall technologies are limited by how close an asset has to be to a wall or in terms of the scale necessary for a large operation like a city attack (e.g., based on flight time, battery life, etc.). They are also limited in what they can see through. The steel rebar support of most concrete structures prevents most forms of radar penetration.

Many militaries are investing in robotic platforms and drones that can maneuver in advance of ground forces to increase an attacker’s capability to see in and around buildings. Here, too, there are many hurdles to overcome regarding scale, costs, duration of use, and manning for these systems. A city attack is not a mission against a single building. It is an area operation potentially involving hundreds of buildings over an extended period of time. But if investments continue there could be breakthroughs for missions like city attacks.

If an attacking military could somehow make it so the defending enemy could not see attacking forces, it would also significantly change this rule. Today’s militaries may attempt to use smoke to do this, but most of the time their smoke capabilities are too limited for such a large mission. In the past, and in other environments, the US military could also rely on its night-vision technology to have an advantage, but US forces no longer “owns the night” as they once did.

That isn’t to say the US military could not create conditions where only friendly forces could see. In Toronto, Canada, fog often causes visibility in the entire city to drop to less than one hundred meters. The US Army’s newest night-vision googles can see through smoke, dust, and fog. If it could artificially create a citywide fog like that which occurs naturally in Toronto or blanket a city with smoke that doesn’t hinder breathing, these goggles would allow only friendly forces to see. They would, in effect, “own the city.”

Light manipulation could also lessen an urban defender’s ability to see and target attacking soldiers. While executing their attack plan for the Battle of Berlin in 1945, Soviet forces shined over 140 massive searchlights at the outskirts of the urban terrain while also heavily bombarding the defenders with artillery to provide cover while their soldiers crossed open areas and potential kill zones—a reduction in tactical risk. Although the fog and dust from the bombardment actually reversed the intended effect of the lights and silhouetted the attacking infantry, the idea could be explored further.

The most effective tactic to combat the vulnerability of soldiers in a city attack would be to provide them with the mobile cover provided by mechanized assets such as tanks and infantry fighting vehicles. These platforms not only protect ground soldiers but also increase the firepower they bring to a fight. Many militaries, including Russian forces in Syria, are now experimenting with semi-autonomous or remote robotic vehicles like tanks to draw the fire of urban defenders. In the future, these systems may reduce the risk to soldiers and change this rule.

Another tactic is to reduce or eliminate the exposure of attacking soldiers in streets and alleys by going through the interior walls of the buildings in a city. The Israel Defense Forces did this during urban fighting in Nablus and Balta in 2002. They now practice it routinely in urban warfare training. The tactic has merit and could be refined with technology, but also risks escalating to destructive tactics such as driving tanks and bulldozers through buildings, as happened when Israeli forces were operating in Jenin, also in 2002, which can lead to the flattening of entire blocks and produce effects similar to those of aerial bombardments.

4. Buildings serve as fortified bunkers that must be negotiated.

Once enemy forces are identified within an urban defense, either by making themselves known by attacking approaching formations or when discovered in a movement to contact or clearing operation, they must be destroyed, captured, or neutralized. Cities are full of structures that are ideal for military defense purposes. Large government, office, or industrial buildings are often made of thick, steel-reinforced concrete that make them nearly impervious to many military weapons.

An important feature of past urban battles is the presence of mini-battles over these types of buildings. During the 1942 Battle of Stalingrad, for example, there were individual fights for Pavlov’s House (actually a multi-level apartment building) and the Commissar’s House. In the 1945 Battle of Manila it was Rizal Hall at the University of the Philippines, and in the 1968 Battle of Hue it was the Citadel. In the last ten years, cities such as Raqqa, Aleppo, and Mosul contained many of these fortress-like structures that became significant problems for attacking military forces.

Each enemy-held building halts the forward movement of the attacking force. In some historical cases, just a few enemy fighters in a building—like those in Pavlov’s House—managed to bring entire divisions of mechanized infantry to a standstill.

These structures serve as the enemy’s strength. In any other environments with a defense, an attacking army would seek to avoid the enemy’s strongest positions, maneuvering around them to strike surprising blows or massing on a single position in the defensive line to bypass major fortifications. But in a large-scale city attack operation, the buildings cannot be avoided. They cannot be bypassed. Doing so would leave an enemy capable of attacking the advancing unit’s flanks and rear.

In other forms of urban warfare, the advantage of occupying a strongpoint can be negated by besieging it. Examples ranging widely from counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan to urban policing, surrounding a building and not entering it has shown success. The attacking unit surrounds the building and then issues a tactical call out, implementing what amounts to a mini-siege. However, this is not feasible for forces in a city attack that may have to deal with hundreds of enemy fortifications and must maneuver through an entire city with multiple objectives rather than dealing with a single building.

The only current option is to identify, assault, and clear enemy fortifications in dense urban terrain.

If an alternative could be created, such as covering a building or sealing an enemy inside of a building so that the attacking forces could temporarily neutralize it, this advantage to urban defenders would be lessened. The momentum or initiative could remain in the attacker’s hands. Each enemy location could be sealed off and then addressed on the attacker’s timeline.

5. Attackers must use explosive force to penetrate buildings.

With few options with which to deal with enemy fortifications encountered in a city attack, infantry forces have little choice but to use the tools available to them.

Unfortunately, in the modern era, these are few. In fact, scholars have argued that militaries had better weapons, vehicles, and training for the task during World War II than they do today. Even in Vietnam, soldiers had better tools for clearing fortified enemy structures. They had man-carried and vehicle-mounted flame throwers, tear gas, and direct-fire munitions capable of penetrating thick concrete. All of these are effective at clearing an enemy-held bunker or building without either requiring a team of soldiers to physically enter it or completely flattening it. Neither flamethrowers nor tear gas are issued or used by Western militaries in city attacks today.

The primary current methods of attacking an urban fortification are to either destroy it or prepare the building with explosive munitions and then send infantry in to enter and clear the entire building if necessary.

Some buildings can be completely destroyed with massive munitions such as five-hundred-pound bombs. But the type of building and presence of or proximity to noncombatants or protected sites may prevent the complete flattening of an enemy-held structure.

Any enemy buildings identified before ground forces get close to them can be hit by pre-planned fires using precision-guided munitions, artillery, or mortars. This often leads to what Maj. Amos Fox has dubbed the precision paradox. This refers to a scenario in which militaries can use very precise and advanced munitions to hit known enemy locations deep in dense urban terrain, far forward of their advance. But the enemy either survives the strike due to extensive fortified qualities of the structure or simply reposition to another building, sometimes through underground tunnels or pre-made holes in walls. Thus, the attacking force only destroys the city building by building while its ultimate goal, to eliminate the enemy, is not achieved.

So, if the building cannot be flattened, infantry soldiers are sent into the structure and, by using close-quarters battle tactics, enter, clear, and engage any enemy inside. These tactics center on a battle drill—enter and clear a room or building—that was developed in the 1970s in response to a rise in situations in which terrorists captured and held hostages. The procedures rely on intelligence, speed, and surprising the enemy in a confined space.

In a city attack, the urban defender is not surprised and easily knows all the tools available to its opponent. In the 2004 Second Battle of Fallujah, enemy fighters reinforced the insides of buildings with sandbags, booby-trapped windows, doors, and roofs, and established kill zones in courtyards and the building entryways they knew the attacking forces would attempt to enter. The attacking troops took heavy casualties in the streets, in alleyways, and while attempting house-to-house clearing using close-quarters tactics. US soldiers and Marines adapted. Instead of exposing dismounted troops to clear rooms, they changed their method to one that relied extensively on tanks and indirect firepower to clear buildings. Thus, in the absence of fortification-clearing tools or tactics, they increased their use of explosive force to penetrate buildings fully.

No matter how the three primary urban fortification tools or tactics (demolish with aerial bombardment strike with aerial munitions, tank fire, or some other explosive to reduce enemy strength inside or send dismounted troops to clear it with close-quarters tactics) are used, they are inadequate.

Attacking soldiers left with no adequate tools will adapt, just as US troops did in Fallujah. In the 2017 Battle of Marawi, Philippine troops constructed giant slingshots (they called them angry birds) to launch grenades into second-, third-, and higher-story windows. They also dug giant trench lines reminiscent of World War I to get closer to urban fortifications. In most cases, these adaptations use weapons, tactics, and tools that are designed for other environments and other types of warfare—meaning they are suboptimal.

To alter this urban warfare rule, tactics and technologies would have to change considerably. For instance, direct-fire munitions that could accurately penetrate the thickest steel-reinforced concrete would allow dismounted troops, who are best positioned to distinguish military targets from noncombatants in the complexity of urban terrain, to target defenders from a safe location.

6. The defender maintains relative freedom of maneuver within the urban terrain.

Israeli architect and urban warfare scholar Eyal Weizman once said, “To control a city is to control the means of circulation through a city. To be able to move through it, to be able to get to everywhere you want to go, you need to keep the arteries open, or to make new arteries, by either planning or destruction or the interaction of both.”

Most city attacks come from the periphery into a point along a besieged city’s defenses. They are also primarily ground assaults. Air mobility, or the use of aircraft to insert forces, and close air support are usually limited during attacks due to the degraded ISR in dense urban terrain and vulnerability of slow and low-flying air assets, as seen during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

There are military tactics that attempt to deceive the defender regarding the exact location of the main assault, which attackers employed during the 2004 Second Battle of Fallujah, successfully using information operations and small feints to make the enemy believe the attack was coming from the south of the city when in fact it came from the north. But once the main assault is committed, breaching the city defenses, the defenders can reinforce planned fortifications with mobile assault groups as Chechen fighters did to successfully defeat a major Russian formation in the First Battle of Grozny.

Urban defenders maintain freedom of movement inside their defenses. They can prepare the terrain to facilitate their movement to wherever the battle requires. They can connect battle positions with routes through and under buildings. They can construct obstacles to lure attackers unknowingly into elaborate ambushes because of the limited main avenues of approach in many dense urban environments. But, if the attackers could manipulate the terrain to their advantage during the attack, the rule would change. This is done in modern city attacks in small ways. Bridges in and out of the city can be disabled and major routes blocked by troops, but mobility inside the defense remains unfettered.

To truly change this rule, attackers would have to be able to rapidly manipulate the urban terrain to their advantage. Existing terrain such as buildings could be knocked down to isolate pockets of enemy fighters within a smaller area of the city. Some type of physical obstacles could also be emplaced deep into the city to cut it into more manageable battle areas. In the 2008 Battle of Sadr City, US forces emplaced nearly three miles of concrete walls to prevent enemy fighters from getting to vital rocket launch sites and accessing military resources they needed to fight. This was not done quickly, but the idea of redesigning the city’s flows to localize the combat does have merit.

7. The underground serves as the defender’s refugee.

Advancements in military ISR and aerial attack—despite their limitations in cities—have pushed urban warfare underground. Recent combat operations in Syria, Iraq, and eastern Ukraine have all seen a rise in the use of the underground. Defenders use existing tunnels or dig their own to connect fighting positions, hide from detection, and provide cover from aerial strikes, and even employ them offensively as tunnel bombs against stationary military forces.

Attackers in modern urban operations mostly view the underground as an obstacle to address if encountered. US Army doctrine and training overemphasizes subterranean operations like the ability to clear tunnels. There is no mention of how the presence of tunnels could be used to the attacker’s advantage—to cover movement, for instance, or to ensure surprise.

If militaries invested in and developed rapid tunnel-making capabilities, they could avoid much of the urban defender’s obstacle belts and plans. By either digging tunnels from the outside of the city or using existing urban infrastructure, an attacking force might be enabled to bypass all primary defensives and start its attack from the center of the city moving outward. It would be a modern-day Trojan horse. It would also be similar to the German response to the French Maginot Line. In May 1940, when German forces came to the long line of defensive fortifications along the two countries’ border—which the French believed was impenetrable—they simply went around the entire line. They changed the rules and the advantages of positional defensive lines of previous eras.

To be sure, digging a tunnel big enough to pass enough troops through would take time and resources. But the 2017 assault on Mosul took nine months once it started, and that does not account for planning activities ahead of the battle. The Islamic State had been allowed two years to build multiple complex defensive belts around the city. In 2014 and 2015 rebel fighters in Syria dug tunnels over three thousand feet long in just fifty days with hand tools alone. With modern technologies, digging a tunnel long enough and big enough is not unfeasible if a military would commit to the idea. While some US defense organizations are exploring rapid tunneling, it is not yet for these types of purposes.

8. Neither the attacker nor the defender can concentrate their forces against the other.

Most advanced militaries prioritize maneuver warfare. That is the type of warfare for which they train, organize, and equip. They do not prepare for positional warfare. Maneuver warfare relies primarily on the rapid and unexpected movement of formations to destroy enemy forces. A key principle of maneuver warfare operations is to mass and concentrate the effects of combat power at the most advantageous place and time to produce decisive results.

A defense established in dense urban terrain constrains both the rapid movement and the ability to concentrate formations against decisive points. This goes for both the defender and attacker. There have been a few modern examples of urban defenders with the ability to organize in disaggregated formations that combine without instructions to attack their opponents once identified. This was the case of paramilitary fighters in Somali during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu. There have also been plenty of historical examples of militaries using swarming, engaging an adversary from all directions simultaneously, from ancient sea swarming by Greeks during the Greco-Persian Wars to Mongolian land swarms combining horses and archers in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

A major evolution of tactics and technology would be required to change this rule of modern-day city attacks. Most militaries do not practice the decentralized operations required to truly implement swarming and rapid massing in an urban attack. A very broad combination of doctrinal change, risk acceptance, an instant and shared operational picture, and experimentation would be required to attempt swarming by dismounted soldiers. The combination of humans and robotics (manned/unmanned teaming) arguably holds the greatest potential for enabling swarm tactics, since it could allow rapid massing of a force that has identified any enemy strongpoint during an attack.

We Are Playing the Wrong Game

One of the reasons none of these rules of city attacks have been really explored is because modern, Western militaries, especially the US Army, is playing the wrong game. The US military is designed for maneuver warfare and the city attack is classic positional warfare, more like siege warfare fighting than something the principles of maneuver warfare call for. In fact, if the eight rules of city attacks are compared to cases of siege warfare in medieval Europe, one would see that many of the challenges are largely the same: attacking fortifications with no cover or concealment or hindered by massive defenses. But the difference is that militaries in the past adapted, developing ways to address these challenges such as using mobile cover while closing the distance to fortifications, digging tunnels under walls, employing artillery to create opening in walls, and many other innovations.

Since modern militaries do not sufficiently understand the city attack as terrain-based positional warfare, they apply the principles, tools, and methods of enemy-based maneuver warfare that rely on maneuver and firepower. Ultimately, this fundamental misunderstanding leads to the destruction of entire cities, building by building.

If militaries fail to address these rules, the city attack will remain one of the missions with the most tactical, accidental, and political risk. It will continue to drive combat into urban areas where weaker combatants can use the advantages they gain for short-term political wins.

If, however, the rules of urban warfare could be changed, if militaries overcame the disadvantages of attacking an urban defense and took advantages away from the defenders, warfare would move out of the cities as adversaries learned it was a quick way to be rapidly defeated.

John Spencer is chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute, co-director of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project, and host of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast. He previously served as a fellow with the chief of staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group. He served twenty-five years as an infantry soldier, which included two combat tours in Iraq.

Air Force advances future plans for the A-10

Posted On April 02, 2018 09:42:57

The Air Force is beginning to work on how fast, lethal, durable and capable a new “A-10”-like aircraft would need to be in order to provide U.S. military ground troops with effective close-air support for decades to come.

Senior service officials are now exploring “draft requirements” concepts – and evaluating the kind of avionics, engineering, weapons, armor and technical redundancy the aircraft would need, Air Force officials told Scout Warrior.

Many of the core technical attributes and combat advantages of the A-10 will be preserved and expanded upon with the new effort, officials said.

The performance of the A-10 Warthog in the ongoing bombing campaign against ISIS, coupled with the Air Forces’ subsequent decision to delay the aircraft’s planned retirement – has led the service to begin the process of developing a new, longer-term A-10 type platform.

A member of the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron refuels a 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II during forward area refueling point training at Plovdiv, Bulgaria | U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke Kitterman

Following an announcement earlier this year from Pentagon leaders that the A-10 will not begin retiring but rather will serve until at least 2022, Air Force and DoD officials are now hoping to keep a close-air-support aircraft for many years beyond the previously projected timeframe.

Given the emerging global threat environment, it would make sense that the Air Force would seek to preserve an aircraft such as the A-10. While the aircraft has been extremely successful attacking ISIS targets such as fuel convoys and other assets, the A-10 is also the kind of plane that can carry and deliver a wide-ranging arsenal of bombs to include larger laser-guided and precision weapons.

This kind of firepower, coupled with its 30mm cannon, titantium armor plates and built-in redundancy for close-air-support, makes the A-10 a valuable platform for potential larger-scale mechanized, force-on-force type warfare as well. The A-10 has a unique and valuable niche role to perform in the widest possible range of combat scenarios to include counterinsurgency, supporting troops on the ground in close proximity and bringing firepower, protection and infantry support to a large-scale war.

Air Force officials have told Scout Warrior that the current approach involves a three-pronged effort the Air Force may consider simply upgrading the existing fleet of A-10s in a substantial way in order to extend its service life, acquire an off-the-shelf existing aircraft or develop a new close air support platform through a developmental effort.

“We are developing that draft requirements document. We are staffing it around the Air Force now. When it’s ready, then we will compare that to what we have available, compare it to keeping the A-10, compare it to what it would take to replace it with another airplane, and we will work through that process,” Lt. Gen. James Holmes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, told reporters.

Holmes went on to explain that the service was, broadly speaking, exploring ways to achieve, preserve and sustain “air superiority” in potential long-term, high-end combat engagements. He added that considerations about a close-air-support replacement aircraft figured prominently in the strategic calculus surrounding these issues.

As a result, the Air Force will be looking for the “optimal” type of close-air-support platform by weighing various considerations such as what the differences might be between existing aircraft and future developmental platforms.

A-10 Thunderbolt IIs break over the Pacific Alaska Range Complex and one aircraft drops a flare during live-fire training at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. | U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Robert Wieland)

Cost and affordability will also be a very large part of the equation when it comes to making determinations about an A-10 replacement, Holmes explained.

“The question is exactly where is the sweet spot as we talked about between what’s available now and what the optimum CAS replacement would be. We are working along that continuum to see exactly what the requirement is that we can afford and the numbers that we need to be able to do the mission,” Holmes added.

Several industry platforms, such as Raytheon’s T-X plane and the A-29 Embraer EMB Super Tucano aircraft, are among options being looked at as things which could potentially be configured for a close-air-support plane.

Having the requisite funds to support this would be of great value to the Air Force Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh recently told lawmakers that, despite the prior plan, the service did not want to retire the A-10.

Prior plans to retire the fleet of A-10s were purely budget driven, senior Air Force leaders have consistently said.

“I don’t want to retire it,” Welsh told a Congressional Committee in early March.

Air Force leaders had previously said that the emerging multi-role F-35 would be able to pick up the close-air-support mission. With its sensor technology, 25mm gun and maneuverability, there is little question about whether the F-35 could succeed with these kinds of missions. At the same time, there is also consensus that the A-10 provides an extremely unique set of battlefield attributes which need to be preserved for decades.

The Scorpion and the Frog

I WAS a guest on the Bob Grant Show in New York last week. Bob Grant’s talk radio show is enormously popular with his White male audience, despite his rough treatment of some of his guests and many of his callers. A typical comment to a caller who displeases him is, “Get off the line, you jerk!” He once told a Black welfare mother, “If I ever get hold of you, I’ll give you a tubal ligation with my bare hands!”

As I said, comments of this sort make Bob Grant enormously popular with his White male listeners, but the Jews and their bedwetting liberal fellow travelers find him much less entertaining, and he has been thrown off several stations as a consequence of Jewish threats against his sponsors. Despite this Jewish hostility directed at him and despite his frequent ridicule of Blacks, he always has been favorable in his remarks about Jews — perhaps because he knows who owns most of the radio stations, or perhaps because he just doesn’t understand what Jews are all about and admires their success and the power they wield over his own profession.

His attitude may be changing for the better now, however. Despite my reputation as being no friend of the Jews, Bob Grant was quite cordial toward me. The hour I was his guest was the afternoon rush hour for New York commuters, and there were many calls from listeners. I am pleased to report that at least three-quarters of the callers were favorable to my positions on race and on Jews. The few Jewish callers, of course, were intensely hostile, and their hostility made a noticeable contrast with the friendliness of the non-Jewish callers. One Jew who called in wanted to know why I blame the Jews for the bias of the news and entertainment media. It’s not the Jews who should be blamed, he said, but the shareholders of the media companies: the Jewish media bosses just do what the shareholders tell them to do.

Well, I responded by pointing out that the top Jewish media bosses also are in many cases the dominant shareholders in the media companies, and I gave Sumner Redstone as an example. Redstone is the majority shareholder in his Viacom Corporation, which in turn owns MTV, Paramount Pictures, and CBS. I described MTV as being the most destructive of all media influences on young, White Americans. I said that MTV deliberately and consistently encourages miscegenation. I said that this racially destructive policy is Sumner Redstone’s policy, not that of any anonymous shareholders, that it is a Jewish policy, and that it is the same policy as that of every other Jewish media boss. I was prepared to go on and talk about Michael Eisner and the Disney Company and ABC, and about Miramax and the Weinstein brothers, and about a lot of others, but Bob Grant disconnected that particular Jewish caller.

Then Bob Grant said to me: “I don’t understand. You said that Sumner Redstone and the other Jewish media bosses are deliberately trying to destroy our society. Why would they want to do that? They are rich and powerful and influential. This society has been good to them. Why would they want to destroy it? That doesn’t make sense to me.”

That was the question he asked me, and it was a very reasonable question. It was the question that almost any intelligent, honest person might ask in those circumstances. It was the natural question to ask: Why do the Jews want to destroy a society that has been so good to them — especially the richest and most powerful Jews? One can imagine some embittered Jewish cab driver or office clerk wanting to strike out at Gentile society because he is resentful over the fact that he can’t seem to strike it rich like the more fortunate members of his tribe, but why would those who are riding high — billionaire Jews such as Sumner Redstone and Michael Eisner — want to wreck the system from which they are profiting?

When Bob Grant asked me that question, I wished he hadn’t. I knew the answer, and it is a simple answer, but it’s not the sort of answer one wants to give to people who are driving home through rush-hour traffic. It is simple, but it also is profound. One needs to hear the answer and then to think about it carefully for a month, turning it over in one’s mind, thinking of specific examples, trying to find counter-examples, holding it up to the light of one’s knowledge of history, before one finally says to oneself, “Yes, that’s it. That obviously is why the Jews do what they do and always have done.” It takes a month of digesting the answer before one finally assimilates it and believes it and understands it. Rush-hour traffic is not the right environment for that sort of thing.

The answer, in its simplest form, to Bob Grant’s question is this: Jews do what they do because they are Jews. A more didactic answer, and the one I actually gave on the Bob Grant Show last week, is one you probably have heard from me already if you’ve been listening to many of my broadcasts. Here’s what I said to Bob Grant: The Jews, throughout their entire recorded history, have lived as a minority among other people. That’s their typical modus vivendi: not living among themselves in a Jewish society, but living as a small minority — usually a rich and powerful minority — in a non-Jewish society. Israel today is an exception to this pattern, but Israel is an anomaly, something that has existed for only 50 years out of the last 2000 years, and even today it encompasses only a small minority of the world’s Jews. Most of them live in the so-called “Diaspora” as members of a Jewish minority in the midst of a Gentile society.

Bob Grant’s talk radio show was enormously popular with his White male audience, despite his rough treatment of some of his guests and many of his callers. Grant passed away on December 31, 2013.

When the Jews approach a healthy, homogeneous Gentile society with the aim of infiltrating it, they are looked upon as outsiders, as aliens, and regarded with suspicion — and often with hostility if their reputation has preceded them. Facing such suspicion the Jews find it very difficult to gain power or influence so that they can exploit the society. Their way of dealing with this obstacle is to undermine the solidarity of the Gentile society: to destroy its homogeneity, to attack its morality and its traditions, to encourage alienation among its young people. They do everything they can to make the society more “diverse,” more multicultural, more cosmopolitan, more rootless, more atomized. This is a slow process, often continuing for several generations, but as it proceeds the society’s barriers against the Jews crumble. Ultimately it allows the Jews to control and then plunder the society, to suck it dry before moving on to another Gentile society and beginning a similar process anew.

That’s essentially what I said on the Bob Grant Show last week, although I’m sure that the phrasing I used was a little different. And as I said a moment ago, even though my answer is simple and straightforward, it’s not likely to be fully digested by someone listening to his car radio while trying to get home in rush-hour traffic. It’s a statement of fact, but it needs to be substantiated with a lot of detailed explanation, with many concrete examples, in order to be convincing. What I’ll do now is try to provide some of the explanation and some of the concrete facts.

First, let’s look at what I said about the Jews being a tribe of perpetual outsiders. This is a notion many people who look only at the here and now have difficulty believing. They say to me, “Hey! The Jews aren’t outsiders. They’re as thoroughly integrated into the American melting pot as anyone. They are in every facet of American business and professional and cultural and political life. They own stores of every sort. They buy and sell every type of merchandise. They may not be farmers or welders or machinists or carpenters, but they are doctors and dentists and lawyers and teachers and writers and artists and musicians. They are politicians. There are ten of them in the U.S. Senate, four times as many as one would expect from their percentage of the overall population. There are even two of them on the Supreme Court, which is about nine times what one would expect, since they make up only 2.5 per cent of the general population. So how can you call them outsiders?”

That’s the sort of response I’ve sometimes had from people who are able to see only the present situation. The historical record, however, shows something quite different. It shows the Jews worming their way into one country in Europe after another, gradually monopolizing certain sectors of the economy and then using their monopoly to exploit the Gentile population, and eventually being expelled en masse when their depredations cause sufficient public unrest.

An example is England. The Jews entered England in the wake of the Norman conquest, purchased various privileges and trade monopolies from the ruling monarchs, and made themselves thoroughly unpopular. By the latter part of the 13th century the people of England had become so exasperated with the Jews that in 1290 King Edward the Great expelled all of them from his realm and forbade them ever to return. One might think that they wouldn’t want to go back to a place where they had become so unpopular, but they couldn’t stand the idea of all those Gentiles going unfleeced, and they never stopped scheming to get back in. It wasn’t until Oliver Cromwell and his forces had overthrown the monarchy in the middle of the 17th century, however, that they were permitted to return to England.

They also were run out of virtually every other country in Europe — several times from some of them — but they always were looking for opportunities to sneak back in and return to their old depredations. They especially welcomed the upheavals and dislocations accompanying wars and revolutions because these gave them opportunities to gain footholds in places from which public hostility or the law had excluded them. During the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the 19th century Jews followed Napoleon’s armies into many places from which they previously had been barred.

Usually they didn’t have to wait for a war, however: typically they would depend upon the natural tolerance of their hosts to get a toe in the door, and then they would work slowly and patiently to push that tolerance beyond all limits. They always have had an uncanny instinct for sniffing out their hosts’ natural weaknesses and vices and then using them to break down the society’s discipline and order, thereby making it possible for them to enlarge their toehold and gain more influence. Thus, the Jews always have had a proclivity for the liquor business, casinos and other gambling activity, prostitution, the White slave trade, pornography, and the like. It is no coincidence that for many years the Jewish Bronfman family owned the biggest producer and distributor of liquor in North America, the Seagram Company. There are many non-Jews involved in the hotel business around the country, but in Las Vegas, where gambling is so intimately associated with hotels, the business is completely dominated by Jews. In the booming new business of Internet pornography, the biggest operator, the so-called “Bill Gates of e-porn,” is a nice, Jewish boy named Seth Warshavsky, who owns clublove.com and many other of the largest pornography sites.

Seth Warshavsky converted a warehouse in Seattle into the studios of IEG’s (Internet Entertainment Group) flagship website, Clublove.com

And so it goes. They find their way to whatever corrupts and weakens their hosts, to whatever is morally destructive, to whatever makes their hosts forget their own traditions and values. They attack order and discipline: those things are no fun, those things are old-fashioned, those things are not cool, they tell the young people. They ridicule the concepts of personal honor and personal responsibility. They distract the people from the important things and fill their minds with foolishness. They encourage every alienating tendency, every tendency that separates people from their roots. They preach “tolerance” as the supreme virtue: their hosts should be tolerant of every sort of filth and weakness and perversity. And all the while they worm their way into the host society more and more deeply.

And indeed, in America today they are in very, very deep. At the beginning of the last century there were signs in the lobbies of New York’s better hotels: “Jews Are Not Welcome.” The better universities had quotas to keep the Jewish presence from becoming too obtrusive. The Jews were pushy, unpleasant outsiders. But they kept on pushing, kept on breaking down the order and structure in the society that was trying in a very feeble and excessively civilized way to keep them out, and today, no less pushy and unpleasant than a century ago, they seem to have achieved the status of insiders everywhere.

And so one might ask, as Bob Grant did, why, having become privileged insiders, are they still bent on destroying our society? Why do even the richest and most powerful Jews — Jews such as Sumner Redstone and Michael Eisner — who have access to anything in our society they want, still work day and night to corrupt and degrade us? Why, having wormed their way in, do all of them push for increasing the flood of non-Whites into the United States from the Third World, thereby weakening their own position? Why do they still encourage our young girls to have sex with Blacks, thereby generating hatred against themselves? Why, having gotten so much of our wealth and power into their hands, don’t they strive to strengthen our society instead of continuing to destroy it?

Well, there are several reasons for that, but let me again give you the simplest answer, which also is the most profound answer: Jews do what they do because they are Jews.

Do you remember the old fable about the scorpion and the frog? The scorpion wants to cross a stream, but he can’t swim. He sees a frog and asks the frog to carry him across on the frog’s back. The frog says, “No, I don’t trust you. I’ve heard about how treacherous scorpions are. I’m afraid that if I let you get on my back you’ll sting me.” The scorpion replies, “Why should I do that? That wouldn’t be in my interest. If I sting you, then we’ll both drown.” So the frog agrees to let the scorpion get on his back and begins swimming across the stream. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog. As the frog is dying and beginning to sink, he asks, “Why did you do that? Now we’ll both die.” The scorpion answers, “I couldn’t help myself. It is in my nature to sting.” And it is in the nature of the Jews to deceive and to destroy. That is what they always have done, from the days of ancient Egypt to the present, and it is what they will continue to do as long as they continue to exist as a coherent, self-conscious group.

Now, there also are longer answers to the question, for those who aren’t ready yet to accept the profound answer. Many ethnic groups came to America from Europe and at first were considered as outsiders but sooner or later became insiders, and the interests of the majority became their interests. In a sense every group that didn’t come here from Great Britain began as outsiders. The German mercenaries from Hessen who fought for King George and stayed here after the American Revolution very quickly became insiders. The Irish, the Poles, and the Italians all went through a similar evolution. Why is it so different with the Jews — aside from the fact that their roots are not European but are Middle Eastern?

For one thing these other groups, the non-Jewish groups, never had deceit and destruction as their primary tactics for becoming insiders. These tactics are not part of their history. Their aim was to become part of the society, not to break it up so that they could exploit it more easily. This difference is manifested in the difference in self-image between non-Jews and Jews. Every healthy ethnic or racial group has a distinct sense of group identity and a distinct self-image. The Scots and the English, for example, have distinct self-images, with their own distinct ancestral languages, their own historical traditions and customs and so on. But despite their history of conflict and hostility toward one another in Europe, either group can blend into the other and adopt the other’s interests without difficulty.

The Jews are different in both degree and kind. For one thing they are much more strongly ethnocentric than any other group. Look in the Yellow Pages under the heading “associations” in any large American city. Compare the number of Jewish associations or clubs or societies or organizations with those of the Irish or the Germans or the Poles. Of course, you also must have some idea of what percentage of the city’s population is Jewish or Irish or whatever in order to get a meaningful comparison. For the best statistics, go to a library that has a copy of the Encyclopedia of Associations. Jews make up just 2.5 per cent of the population of the United States, and yet you will find more Jewish associations listed than for any other ethnic or religious group. They do stick together and support each other more than the members of any other group.

The Jews also are different in kind. What is the essential element in being a Jew? It is being “chosen.” It is believing that one is a member of a tribe or a race or a people that has been chosen by their tribal god to inherit the earth and all that’s in it. It is being superior to all who have not been chosen. If you are able to read the Old Testament with an open mind, the message there is quite clear. If you want more detail, read their Talmud. They don’t like for you to go poking around in their Talmud, but if you are reasonably resourceful you can find a set of volumes of the Talmud and read what they think about themselves in contrast to non-Jews. If that’s too much trouble for you, there are other books available — books written by race-conscious Jews themselves — that spell it out for you. My sponsor, National Vanguard Books, carries several such books.

The book You Gentiles, by the Jewish leader Maurice Samuel, is excellent for a start. Then there are the very revealing books on the doctrines and practice of Judaism by Israeli Professor Israel Shahak. And there are dozens of other books, many of them written by Jews themselves, that can help you in digesting and assimilating what I told Bob Grant last week.

You Gentiles, by Maurice Samuel, was written from the viewpoint of a radical enthnocentric Jew, with an intense hatred for Gentiles.

But most fundamentally the Jew, like the scorpion and every other creature, does what it is in his nature to do. He has always lived not by settling down on a piece of turf of his own and planting his own crops and building his own house, but rather by breaking into someone else’s house. And once in he doesn’t try to repair the damage he did by breaking in, but he continues to cause more and more damage as he loots everything of value and then, when there is nothing of value remaining, finding another house to break into — and then another — and another. That is his nature.

And, I should add, there is hardly a more important thing for any of us to do now than understand why the Jews are pushing our society over the brink of ruin, and then to oppose them by every means possible.

Odoacer and the Fall of Rome

Odoacer was a Germanic soldier in the Roman army who deposed emperor Augustulus and became the first King of Italy, marking the end of the Western Roman Empire, the fall of ancient Rome, and the beginning of the Middle Ages in Western Europe.

Learning Objectives

Describe Odoacer’s rise to power

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Odoacer was a Germanic soldier in the Roman army who in 476 became the first King of Italy.
  • At the time, Rome used many mercenary armies from other nations, called foederati, who with the rise of Emperor Augustulus became frustrated by their treatment and status. These armies, led by Odoacer, revolted against Emperor Augustulus and deposed him in 476, and granted Odoacer kingship.
  • Odoacer cooperated with the existing Roman Senate and elevated them to prestige, thereby stabilizing his power in Italy.
  • As Odoacer’s position improved, Zeno, the Eastern Emperor, increasingly saw him as a rival, and in response pitted the Ostrogoth Theoderic the Great against him Theoderic proved victor against Odoacer repeatedly and eventually killed him in 493.

Key Terms

  • Western Roman Empire: The western provinces of the Roman Empire at any one time during which they were administered by a separate independent imperial court, coequal with (or only nominally subordinate to) that administering the eastern provinces.
  • foederati: Any one of several outlying nations to which ancient Rome provided benefits in exchange for military assistance. The term was also used, especially under the Roman Empire, for groups of “barbarian” mercenaries of various sizes, who were typically allowed to settle within the Empire.
  • Romulus Augustulus: An emperor of the Western Roman Empire from 475–476 AD his deposition by Odoacer traditionally marks the end of the Western Roman Empire, the fall of ancient Rome, and the beginning of the Middle Ages in Western Europe.
  • Arian Christian: A Christian sect that asserts that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who was created by God the Father at a point in time, is distinct from the Father, and is therefore subordinate to the Father.


Flavius Odoacer (433–493) was a soldier, probably of Scirian descent, who in 476 became the first King of Italy (476–493). His reign is commonly seen as marking the end of the Western Roman Empire. Though the real power in Italy was in his hands, he represented himself as the client of Julius Nepos and, after Nepos’s death in 480, of the Emperor in Constantinople. Odoacer generally used the Roman honorific patrician, granted by the Emperor Zeno, but is referred to as a king (Latin rex) in many documents. He used the term “rex” himself at least once, and on another occasion it was used by the consul Basilius. Odoacer introduced few important changes into the administrative system of Italy. He had the support of the Roman Senate and was able to distribute land to his followers without much opposition. Unrest among his warriors led to violence in 477–478, but no such disturbances occurred during the later period of his reign. Although Odoacer was an Arian Christian, he rarely intervened in the affairs of the orthodox and trinitarian state church of the Roman Empire.

Coin of Odoacer: Coin of Odoacer, Ravenna, 477, with Odoacer in profile, depicted with a “barbarian” moustache.

Rise to Power

Odoacer was a military leader in Italy who led the revolt of Herulian, Rugian, and Scirian soldiers that deposed Romulus Augustulus on September 4, 476. Augustulus had been declared Western Roman Emperor by his father, the rebellious general of the army in Italy, less than a year before, but had been unable to gain allegiance or recognition beyond central Italy.

In 475 a Roman general named Orestes was appointed Magister militum and patrician by the Western Roman Emperor Julius Nepos and became head of the Germanic foederati (barbarian mercenary armies for Rome). However, Orestes proved to be ambitious, and before the end of that year drove Nepos from Italy. Orestes then proclaimed his young son Romulus the new emperor, Romulus Augustulus. However, Nepos reorganized his court in Salona, Dalmatia, and received homage and affirmation from the remaining fragments of the Western Empire beyond Italy and, most importantly, from Constantinople, which refused to accept Augustulus and branded him and his father traitors and usurpers.

At around this time, the foederati, who had been quartered on the Italians all of these years, had grown weary of this arrangement. In the words of J. B. Bury, “They desired to have roof-trees and lands of their own, and they petitioned Orestes to reward them for their services, by granting them lands and settling them permanently in Italy.” Orestes refused their petition, and they turned to Odoacer to lead a revolt against Orestes. Orestes was killed at Placentia, and his brother Paulus killed outside Ravenna. The Germanic foederati, the Scirians, and the Heruli, as well as a large segment of the Italic Roman army, then proclaimed Odoacer rex Italiae (“king of Italy”). In 476 Odoacer advanced to Ravenna and captured the city, compelling the young emperor Romulus to abdicate on September 4. According to the Anonymus Valesianus, Odoacer was moved by Romulus’s youth and beauty to not only spare his life, but also to give him a pension of 6,000 solidii and send him to Campania to live with his relatives.

Romulus Augustulus and Odoacer: Romulus Augustulus resigns the crown (from a 19th-century illustration)

King of Italy

In 476, Odoacer became the first barbarian King of Italy, initiating a new era. With the backing of the Roman Senate, Odoacer thenceforth ruled Italy autonomously, paying lip service to the authority of Julius Nepos, the last Western emperor, and Zeno, the emperor of the East. Upon Nepos’s murder in 480, Odoacer invaded Dalmatia to punish the murderers. He did so, executing the conspirators, but within two years also conquered the region and incorporated it into his domain.

As J.B. Bury points out, “It is highly important to observe that Odovacar established his political power with the co-operation of the Roman Senate, and this body seems to have given him their loyal support throughout his reign, so far as our meagre sources permit us to draw inferences.” He regularly nominated members of the Senate to the Consulate and other prestigious offices: “Basilius, Decius, Venantius, and Manlius Boethius held the consulship and were either Prefects of Rome or Praetorian Prefects Symmachus and Sividius were consuls and Prefects of Rome another senator of old family, Cassiodorus, was appointed a minister of finance.” A. H. M. Jones also notes that under Odoacer the Senate acquired “enhanced prestige and influence” in order to counter any desires for restoration of Imperial rule. As the most tangible example of this renewed prestige, for the first time since the mid-3rd century copper coins were issued with the legend S(enatus) C(onsulto).

Fall and Death

As Odoacer’s position improved, Zeno, the Eastern Emperor, increasingly saw him as a rival. When Illus, master of soldiers of the Eastern Empire, asked for Odoacer’s help in 484 in his struggle to depose Zeno, Odoacer invaded Zeno’s westernmost provinces. Zeno responded first by inciting the Rugi of present-day Austria to attack Italy. During the winter of 487–488 Odoacer crossed the Danube and defeated the Rugi in their own territory. In his quest to destroy Odoacer, Zeno promised Theoderic the Great and his Ostrogoths the Italian peninsula if they were to defeat and remove Odoacer from power. In 489, Theoderic led the Ostrogoths across the Julian Alps and into Italy. On August 28, Odoacer met him at the Isonzo, only to be defeated. He withdrew to Verona, reaching its outskirts on September 27, where he immediately set up a fortified camp. Theoderic followed him and three days later defeated him again. While Odoacer took refuge in Ravenna, Theoderic continued across Italy to Mediolanum, where the majority of Odoacer’s army, including his chief general, Tufa, surrendered to the Ostrogothic king.

The following summer, the Visigothic king Alaric II demonstrated what Wolfram calls “one of the rare displays of Gothic solidarity” and sent military aid to help his kinsman, forcing Odoacer to raise his siege. On August 11, 490, the armies of the two kings clashed on the Adda River. Odoacer was again defeated and forced back into Ravenna, where Theoderic besieged him. Ravenna proved to be invulnerable, surrounded by marshes and estuaries and easily supplied by small boats from its hinterlands, as Procopius later pointed out in his History.

By this time, Odoacer had to have lost all hope of victory. A large-scale sortie out of Ravenna on the night of the 9/10 of July, 491, ended in failure with the death of his commander-in-chief, Livilia, along with the best of his Herulian soldiers. On August 29, 492, the Goths were about to assemble enough ships at Rimini to set up an effective blockade of Ravenna. Despite these decisive losses, the war dragged on until February 25, 493, when John, bishop of Ravenna, was able to negotiate a treaty between Theoderic and Odoacer that provided for them to occupy Ravenna together and rule jointly. After a three-year siege, Theoderic entered the city on March 5. Odoacer was dead ten days later, slain by Theoderic while they shared a meal. Theoderic had plotted to have a group of his followers kill Odoacer while the two kings were feasting together in the imperial palace of Honorius “Ad Laurentum” (“At the Laurel Grove”) when this plan went astray, Theoderic drew his sword and struck Odoacer on the collarbone. In response to Odoacer’s dying question, “Where is God?” Theoderic cried, “This is what you did to my friends.” Theoderic was said to have stood over the body of his dead rival and exclaim, “There certainly wasn’t a bone in this wretched fellow.”

Why did only the English adopt, evolve and use the longbow en masse in war? - History

"the real reason was more likely the advanced construction and especially the production of a suitable natural glue"

It was dismissed because the (western) european warrior elite - just like any other that lacked direct contact to steppe people - dismissed bows as weapons of war all together. It was a cultural thing but no matter of aptitude. Most of all western europe lacked the landscape necessary for optimal employment of horsed archers. For foodsoldiers on the other hand, a longbow, or a crossbow is just fine.

Eastern europeans (magyars, propably poles) used composite bows.

The Austrians were often in contact with such bows, Hungary had perfect terrain for mounted archers - but afaik even the border irregulars didn't adopt it en masse. Archers were generally part of European forces till the 15th century, but only so with rather primitive bows (even less advanced than 400 BC Cretan recurve bows).
Bow archery was a national sport in England up to the king, but they never adopted the superior composite recurve bow despite their crusade experiences.

Hungary is the homeland of the Magyars, that used composite bows. But when they invaded central europe in the 10th century they were smashed by an heavy armored cavalry. The Mongols, the only steppe people invasion until the late middle ages, couldn't use their steppe tactics when they invaded silesia in the 13th century but had to fight a pitched battle. They then turned east for internal reasons and left little effect in western military culture. I conclude that the composite bow offered only marginal advantage.

When the Ottomans entered the eastern european plains in the mid-15th century they adapted firearms and battles were won by the newly achieved steadfastness of the infantry against cavalry charge, not by archery.

I conclude that there was no need for a complex weapon as the composite bow, at least not big enought to change the preference of the aristocracy for cold steel. Esp. so as there was a compromise to be taken: the increasingly heavy armour (esp. of shoulders, neck and the head) hindered the use of bows.

The longbow on the other hand was a good weapon for the footsoldier, because it was that simple, and bore little disadvantages over the composite bow except size. Complexity bears no value in itself.

There is nothing that could convince me, that medieval europeans did not adopt the composite bow because they were not able if they wanted.

Archery requires talent, training, and skill acquired over long years. There is an interesting study on the skeletons of English archers found at battle sites of the 100 years war, and the effects the year long training had on bone structure and all.

One should also not forget the social aspect of firearms. Just look at the North American tribes, they were really eager to get their hands on those usually crappy trade guns. Btw, the issue of archery vs guns was one of the central ideological points Tecumseh made during his rise and his Indian renaissance movement.

A gun even a trained monkey can bring to effect, especially against massed targets. And one really should not underestimate the adverse effect of humidity on compund bows.

The natural glue thing is certainly interesting. Still back in WW2 getting the glue for plywood right was an art. I remember reading that Persian sturgeon was best.

Yew longbows (which were often shaped to be reflex-deflex, btw) are natural composites. The differential characterisics of the heartwood (strong in compression) and sapwood (strong in tension) pretty well duplicate the effect of the laminated composite.

The yew bow had a number of other advantages. The ballistic properties are quite similar.

Above all, it was easy to make (a good bowyer could turn one out in an afternoon) and it was cheap -- about the price of a sheep, or two week's wages.

The Turko-Mongol bow was better on horseback and it was highly efficient in general but it was relatively much more expensive and took a lot longer to make -- months to a year, including time for the glue to set. It also required much scarcer artisanal skills.

An English longbow army could carry spare bows and seasoned staves to replace a high rate of loss, and English archers could afford to drop the bow if they needed to wade in with their personal weapons. Loosing one wasn't an irreparale disaster, the way loosing one of those marvelous composite bows was.

almost every janissar was a bowyer,they were able to produce and maintain their bows. The skill was certainly not scarce in the Ottoman Empire.

General Douglas Haig

Field Marshall Douglas Haig is most associated with the Battle of the Somme in World War One. Douglas Haig was Britain’s commander-in-chief during the Somme battle and took much criticism for the sheer loss of life in this battle.

Haig was born in 1861 in Edinburgh. He was commissioned in the cavalry in 1885 and served both in the campaigns in the Sudan and in the Boer War in South Africa between 1899 and 1902. In the Boer War Haig served with distinction and he was swiftly promoted to the War Office. Here Haig helped to implement the military reforms of Richard Haldane.

In August 1914, when the war started, Haig was the general commanding the First Army Corps. He and his men fought at the Battle of Mons and the first Battle of Ypres. In December 1915, Haig succeeded Sir John French as commander-in-chief of the British Army in the Western Front.

Haig had little time for new military ideas. He was very much steeped in the ways that he knew – conventional tactics. In 1916, Haig put his belief in one final mighty push against the Germans to be executed in the Somme region of France. The French had been asking for some form of military assistance from the British to help them in their battle with the Germans at Verdun. Haig’s plan was to launch an attack on the Germans that would require them to remove some of their troops from the Verdun battlefield thus relieving the French in Verdun.

The Somme led to the loss of 600,000 men on the Allies side 400,000 were British or Commonwealth troops. When the battle had ended, they had gained ten miles of land. Haig has been criticised by some for his belief in the simple advance of infantry troops on enemy lines. With 20,000 Allied soldiers killed on Day One and 40,000 injured, some historians have claimed that Haig should have learned from these statistics and adjusted his tactics. He did not. However, the Somme attack was not just about antiquated tactics as the battle witnessed the use of the rolling artillery barrage that should have helped the Allied troops as they advanced. That it did not was more a comment on the fact that the Germans had dug in more deeply than British intelligence had bargained for and was less susceptible to artillery fire. Once the artillery firing had stopped, the British had all but signaled that the infantry was on its way.

The tank was first used en masse at the Somme but it did not receive the enthusiastic backing of Haig – though many senior cavalry officers were against the tank and Haig was not alone in his suspicion of it as a weapon.

Haig served until the end of the war. He was created an earl for his leadership in 1919. He died in 1928, but spent the last few years of his life working for ex-servicemen, though primarily those who had been disabled in the war. Haig was a leading light in the “Poppy Day Appeal” and the British Legion movement.

The unity of Opposites

"The contradiction, however, is the source of all movement and life only in so far as it contains a contradiction can anything have movement, power, and effect." (Hegel). "In brief", states Lenin, "dialectics can be defined as the doctrine of the unity of opposites. This embodies the essence of dialectics…"

The world in which we live is a unity of contradictions or a unity of opposites: cold-heat, light-darkness, Capital-Labour, birth-death, riches-poverty, positive-negative, boom-slump, thinking-being, finite-infinite, repulsion-attraction, left-right, above-below, evolution-revolution, chance-necessity, sale-purchase, and so on.

The fact that two poles of a contradictory antithesis can manage to coexist as a whole is regarded in popular wisdom as a paradox. The paradox is a recognition that two contradictory, or opposite, considerations may both be true. This is a reflection in thought of a unity of opposites in the material world.

Motion, space and time are nothing else but the mode of existence of matter. Motion, as we have explained is a contradiction, - being in one place and another at the same time. It is a unity of opposites. "Movement means to be in this place and not to be in it this is the continuity of space and time - and it is this which first makes motion possible." (Hegel)

To understand something, its essence, it is necessary to seek out these internal contradictions. Under certain circumstances, the universal is the individual, and the individual is the universal. That things turn into their opposites, - cause can become effect and effect can become cause - is because they are merely links in the never-ending chain in the development of matter.

"The negative is to an equal extent positive," states Hegel. Dialectical thought is "comprehending the antithesis in its unity." In fact Hegel goes further:

"Contradiction is the root of all movement and vitality, and it is only insofar as it contains a Contradiction that anything moves and has impulse and activity…Something moves, not because it is here at one point of time and there at another, but because at one and the same point of time it is here and not here, and in this here both is and is not. We must grant the old dialecticians the contradictions which they prove in motion but what follows is not that there is no motion, but rather that motion is existent Contradiction itself." Therefore for Hegel, something is living insofar as it contains contradiction, which provides it with self-movement.

The Greek atomists first advanced the revolutionary theory that the material world was made up of atoms, considered the smallest unit of matter. The Greek word atomos means indivisible. This was a brilliant intuitive guess. Twentieth century science proved that everything was composed of atoms, although it was subsequently discovered that even smaller particles existed. Every atom contains a nucleus at its centre, composed of sub-atomic particles called protons and neutrons. Orbiting around the nucleus are particles known as electrons. All protons carry a positive electrical charge, and would therefore repel each other, but they are bound together by a type of energy known as the strong nuclear force. This shows that everything that exists is based on a unity of opposites and has self-movement of "impulse and activity", to use Hegel's words.

In humans, the level of blood sugar is essential for life. Too high a level is likely to result in diabetic coma, too little and the person is incapable of eating. This safe level is regulated by the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream by the digestion of carbohydrates, the rate at which stored glycogen, fat or protein is converted into sugar, and the rate at which sugar is removed and utilised. If the blood sugar level rises, then the rate of utilisation is increased by the release of more insulin from the pancreas. If it falls, more sugar is released into the blood, or the person gets hungry and consumes a source of sugar. In this self-regulation of opposing forces, of positive and negative feedbacks, the blood level is kept within tolerable limits.

Lenin explains this self-movement in a note when he says, "Dialectics is the teaching which shows how opposites can be and how they become identical - under what conditions they are identical, becoming transformed into one another - why the human mind should grasp these opposites not as dead, rigid, but living, conditional, mobile, becoming transformed into one another."

Lenin also laid great stress on the importance of contradiction as the motive force of development.

"It is common knowledge that, in any given society, the strivings of some of its members conflict with the strivings of others, that social life is full of contradictions, and that history reveals a struggle between nations and societies, as well as within nations and societies, and, besides, an alternation of periods of revolution and reaction, peace and war, stagnation and rapid progress or decline." (Lenin, Three Sources and Component Parts of Marxism).

This is best illustrated by the class struggle. Capitalism requires a capitalist class and a working class. The struggle over the surplus value created by the workers and expropriated by the capitalists leads to an irreconcilable struggle that will provide the basis for the eventual overthrow of capitalism, and the resolution of the contradiction through the abolition of classes.

Modern additions


In many ways, Klout is a meta social network. It relies on your presence on other platforms (like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, and others) to assign each user a score and corresponding rank according to their social influence. The service launched in 2008 and added Klout Perks, or rewards for users with growing influence, two years later.

Its ever-adjusting algorithms have been criticized over the years for being inaccurate, pointless, and in some cases, even illegal, but its userbase remains. Though Klout Perks were discontinued in 2015, some 620 million users have received scores since its launch.

Google Buzz

This now-defunct network, launched Feb. 9, 2010, sought to combine Twitter-esque posts and Facebook’s status updates into a Google-integrated product Business Insider described it as “[p]art email, part Facebook, part Twitter, part Friendfeed, part Foursquare.”

Early security and privacy concerns coupled with “the lack of competitive advantage over Twitter lead to low user adoption, forcing Google to shut down Buzz” in the fall of 2011, after just 22 months.

On July 17, 2013, Google migrated the last of Buzz’s archival data to users’ Google Drives.


Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched this popular image-sharing app in October 2010, but the first photos went live a few months prior in July.

The app initially let users upload, edit, filter, and share photos, but the team added videos, hashtags, DMs, a web feed, inline advertising, comment filtering, zoom (finally in August 2016), and other features over the subsequent years. In 2012, Facebook agreed to pay $1 billion to acquire the app, though a Federal Trade Commission dropped the final price tag closer to $740 million.

For a more complete rundown of Instagram’s evolving features slate, check our timeline of the first two years here.


Take the visual nature of Instagram and the reblogging notion of Tumblr and you have Pinterest, Paul Sciarra, Evan Sharp, and Ben Silbermann’s “visual-discovery tool,” which launched in March 2010.

Pinterest users can scroll through a feed of their friends’ images or curate their own via direct upload or a browser bookmarklet. The site experienced popularity early—especially on the topics of crafting, wedding planning, and decorating—with Time naming it to its list of the 50 best websites in 2011. Some feared the Pinterest “hype bubble” had burst by 2012, as monthly active users began their decline. But a resurgence expanded its reach, its demographics, and its scope (more on that in a moment).

The company has made a few large acquisitions and partnerships in its history, including with Getty Images, Bing, Punchfork, and Livestar. More recently, it picked up “machine-learning commerce recommendation engine Kosei” and Instapaper, an app designed to help readers save links for later reading.

As the site grew, it recognized the value of a commerce tie-in, since an estimated 93 percent of its users plan future purchases there. In 2015, Pinterest introduced “buyable pins,” so users could cut out the middle man and purchase an item from a partner immediately rather than leaving the site.

Google Plus

After its failed attempt with Buzz, the search giant tried another social network in Google+, which launched Dec. 15, 2011. It mirrored many of the best-known features of Facebook: a public profile, connections with friends, and the Like, replaced here with a +1. Google sought to differentiate its product by having its users connect in friendship circles, for ease of use and filtering who shares what with whom.

An integration with existing Google products—Google Hangouts, Gmail, Photos, etc.—played into Google’s early adoptions rates, but ultimately it proved too difficult to sway Facebook’s massive market share to check in on and actively use another functionally identical platform. By 2014, it was reported that even a third of Google’s own employees weren’t updating their Google Plus accounts with any regularity.

“The Google+ project did lead to inventive new services and created a more cohesive user identity that continues to benefit Google, but the social network itself never truly beat back existing rivals,” as Mashable put it in 2015.

When Google removed the obligation for users to have a registered Google Plus account to comment on other Google-owned services like YouTube in 2015, the network lost one of its biggest footholds in the marketplace, but the site can still boast millions of active users a year later.


Stanford students Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown came up with the idea for an ephemeral photo app in 2011, but they called it Pictaboo (ever wonder why Snapchat’s logo is a ghost?) and it never got off the ground. After some arguments over patents and equity, Spiegel and Murphy gave Brown the boot and changed the name to Snapchat.

The app was a hit with high schoolers, either in spite of or because of its ability to delete NSFW images a few seconds after reaching their intended recipient. In May 2012, the New York Times’ Nick Bilton wrote up the app as a sexting tool, which set the tone for years of coverage to come even though its terms of service explicitly ban pornography.

Privacy has been a chief concern on the platform since its inception. A hacker team revealed an easy way to infiltrate Snapchat’s code in December 2013, and 4.6 million accounts were compromised just a few short weeks later. Users found ways to save snaps—which are ostensibly deleted after viewing

Recent advances on Snapchat have included Snapchat Discover (which cedes homepage space to big-name brands), Snapchat Stories (where users can string a day’s worth of content all together rather than publishing individual updates), and Lenses (which use facial-recognition technology to alter the user’s face with barfing rainbows, puppy ears, anime eyes, etc.). As of June 2016, Snapchat boasts 150 million daily active users.


What Instagram was for photos and Twitter was for #deepthoughts, Vine became for video. The shortform video platform designed for posting six-second loops was released Jan. 24, 2013, after Twitter acquired the service in 2012. In July 2014, the app added its “loop count” to each post so users could watch in real time as clips went viral. On June 21, 2016, Twitter and Vine announced that their video length limits would extend to 140 seconds—“a play on [Twitter’s] 140 character limit for text.”

Whatever the length, however, the platform has quickly become a hotbed of creativity, from stop-motion art and animation to comedians perfecting impressions or the art of the punchline. (Whether those pursuits can be sustainable as a career option remains to be seen.) It’s also the launchpad of many of America’s youth catchphrases, like “What are those?!”

Foursquare and Swarm

Launched in 2009, this site by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai allowed users to share their location with friends by checking into venues, restaurants, and the like. That functionality was ultimately stripped from Foursquare in 2014, when it was redesigned as the companion app Swarm instead. Foursquare 8.0 is focused on local searches and recommendations.


Sparked by resistance to Facebook’s so-called “real names policy,” Paul Budnitz launched his invite-only, ad-free “anti-Facebook” called ello in 2014. It became a popular destination for LGBTQ Facebook users frustrated by the policies in place, with impressive early adoption numbers.

Interest in the site sputtered out fairly quickly, however. Though it’s not dead, by November 2014, the site had turned to a T-shirt partnership with Threadless to help cover costs.

In June 2015, ello joined the ranks of social networks with iOS apps, despite its limited user base.

Yik Yak

“Anonymous, hyper-local social app” Yik Yak launched in March of 2014 to unprecedented success among high school and college kids. Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, college roommates and the app’s creators, designed the platform’s messages to only be visible to other users in a 1.5-mile radius, and it quickly became a hit on campuses across the nation. (A third frat brother, Douglas Warstler, sued for partial ownership in 2014.)

But just as quickly, bullying and threats consumed the app, forcing Yik Yak to geofence middle- and high-school campuses around the nation (notably, all such schools in Chicago) in order to restrict Yik Yak to users 18 and up. A year after launch, the founders had pledged to take seriously the issue of cyberbullying on their hands and were seeking a scalable alternative to in-house moderation teams to help comb through the submissions from the app’s now nearly 2 million users.


Livestreaming finally got its moment to shine when Meerkat exploded at South by Southwest 2015. Initially, users could start broadcasting and have a tweet appear on their timelines to let users tune in, but Twitter revoked Meerkat’s social graph permissions in preparation for the launch of competing livestream service Periscope (see below).

Within a year of its launch, Meerkat had “all but abandoned the livestreaming model,” as Re/code wrote. Though details are scarce on the company’s new direction, group video chat app Houseparty hit the App Store earlier this year.


Periscope, Twitter’s entry in the livestreaming horse race, was dreamed up by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein after Beykpour wanted to supplement his breaking news source—Twitter—with live video during protests in Istanbul in 2013. Twitter acquired the product in January 2015 and launched the app March 26, 2015.

Events broadcast on Periscope have included a Congressional sit-in, Comedy Central’s late-night game show @midnight, a puddle, drunk driving, a wedding, and more. But on the more controversial end of the spectrum, users have also broadcast everything from copyrighted material (cf. Game of Thrones, Pacquiao fights) to suicide. The app had hosted 200 million streams by March 2016.


YouNow is a video platform like many others, but with videos sorted by popular hashtags and with the added component of tipping from viewers. Though it was founded in 2011 by Adi Sideman, YouNow’s rise to prominence was best accelerated at VidCon in 2015, and prominent creators from both Vine and YouTube have turned to the platform as an additional outlet to connect with fans.

Clarification 1:51pm CT: We’ve clarified the role of Yik Yak in enforcing geofencing for middle- and high-school students to help alleviate bullying.

Monica Riese

Monica Riese is the Daily Dot’s former director of production, and she previously served as the publication’s entertainment editor and assistant managing editor. She is Raleigh, North Carolina, and formerly contributed to the Austin Chronicle, where her breaking news work was recognized by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies.

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