Between 1808 and 1814 the Iberian Peninsula saw a military confrontation between the French troops and a heterogeneous group of forces that were fighting to avoid their domination: the regular Spanish army, the various irregular troops that emerged in the heat of the initial uprising and the dispersion that followed. to the first defeats, the Portuguese contingents and the British troops that with different success were sent to fight against Napoleon on the Iberian front. What was presumed to be a rapid war of conquest, one more than the French emperor was waging in Europe, turned into a long conflict that shared features of the modern wars of popular liberation with those of the conventional wars of the time between regular armies. A conflict that was going to wear down the French military power, contributing with it to the weakening of the Napoleonic Empire, at the same time that it would produce considerable losses, human and economic, among the population affected by the conflict. Precisely this length and severity of a war that did not have defined fronts and a clear separation between combatants and civilians, would facilitate the emergence of tensions between the various sectors involved in the armed resistance and the civilian population. Such conflicting relationships are going to be the main object of this text. Together with the fracture between liberals and absolutists and the struggle between the civil and military authorities for the assumption of powers and for the conduct of the war, they are one of the various cracks that run through the ranks of the resistance and in turn encompass the tensions between regular and irregular troops, between them and civilians and between the regular army and the non-combatant population. The latter, the most obvious, constitute the core of the analysis developed in these pages and for this reason are highlighted in the heading. The breadth of the anti-French uprising that spread throughout the months of May and June 1808 and some spectacular initial successes in the war against the invader, such as Bailén or el Bruc, hid for some time the essential military weakness of the resistant party , forced to rest in a precarious regular army while the general mobilization was forged that was to supply that one with improvised soldiers and complement it with all kinds of irregular militias. But the illusion of the first victories soon gave way to a chain of defeats that revealed the deficiencies of the Spanish army, which made it incapable of facing the most efficient war machine of the time with certain guarantees of victory. It was an army short of troops, swollen in its commands, with soldiers lacking training and discipline and officers without adequate training, hardly without cavalry and lacking a logistical organization to ensure the coordination of operations. An army that seemed to live with its back to the transformations on which revolutionary and Napoleonic France based its military successes and which other countries were trying to counteract. The measures outlined in Godoy's time remained for simple purposes, such as the reform commission established in 1796, or were almost immediately revoked, as happened in 1802 with the General Staff created in 1801. The urgency with which 1808 had to be faced This situation did not improve the French, as the increase in troops achieved through general mobilization was accompanied by greater deficiencies in the training, equipment and coordination of the new troops and difficulties in their insertion into the regular army units, compromising the same effectiveness of the recruitment effort, as it happened in Asturias, where months after the Junta agreed, in May 1808, to raise an army in the Principality, desertions and even complete dispersions had occurred, motivated by illness, indiscipline or insubordination, but also due to "difficulties in helping and feeding the troops" . It is not surprising that Castaños, the winner of Bailén, described a few months later with gloomy outlines the situation of the Army of the Center under his command: "it was experiencing a great shortage of provisions: as there were no warehouses, no warehouses, it had to what The towns could supply; many of these we found almost deserted and there was no one to knead the bread or prepare what was necessary, and the troops ate the ranch that could be made but without bread; the train muleteers who did not receive any salary or could receive rations cursed their fortune and left their livestock or took it away, abandoning their loads ". The reports of the officers of the British expeditionary corps that were sent to the Peninsula in 1808 to repel the French invasion confirm the reality of undisciplined Spanish armies, poorly equipped and lacking in coordination. Even the troops of the Marquis de la Romana, reputed to be the most select and experienced part of the Spanish forces, were considered of little help, as "they were poorly dressed and many of them lacked footwear and weapons" and lacked training. military force necessary to withstand the attack of a French infantry line, for which - concluded one of these officers - "we would be very deceived if we made our success in the battlefield depend on Spanish aid." This plight of the regular army persists throughout the war . When it was coming to an end, the Spanish troops participating in the allied offensive on Basque-Navarre lands still lacked proper clothing and food and did not have a suitable address, so, according to the account of a British non commissioned officer, "the greatest The surprise was that they were fit to fight. " Not all should have been, since other sources estimate that less than a quarter of the troops counted in the "official states" were soldiers fit for combat, and in the same campaign, a large number of starving deserters crossed the border during the winter. of 1813-14 . Such circumstances incapacitated the regular army to face the French in open combat and undermined the morale of the troops, making episodes such as the panic that on Easter Sunday 1809 seized several thousand men of the Duke of Albuquerque camped in La Carolina. , when hearing "the joyous shooting of the inhabitants making salutes in the air to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord and believing that they were the French, they all undertook a shameful escape. In the Spanish military ranks and among its better-prepared officers and commands, there was awareness of the inferiority of its own army, an inferiority that made it necessary to adopt defensive approaches, in order to buy time to improve the military capacity of resistant troops, wear out the French and get help from the anti-Napoleonic powers. Because, in the words of one of these officers, "with generals without talent, with officialdom without enthusiasm, with insubordinate countrymen, with undisciplined, hungry and naked troops, it is madness to think that one can resist for some time the warlike phalanxes of the tyrant" . The one who thought this way was Francisco Javier Cabanes, a natural military man from Catalonia present on the battlefields of the Principality at various times during the war and a historian of it. From this proposition followed the need to avoid open clashes with the enemy. But not all his colleagues in arms agreed with this approach. José de Palafox, the general who will cover himself with glory defending the besieged Zaragoza, was one of those convinced to present battle in the open field, and only the material impossibility of verifying it with the means at his disposal led him to accept retreat. Furthermore, after Bailén's success, many generals underestimated the worth of the French army and, partly out of desires to carve out their own glory and partly because of pressure from Juntas and a civilian population confident of being able to easily rid themselves of the enemy's presence, they compromised prestige and troops in a "battle fury" that led to repeated defeats. In the hard years that mediated between the loss of Andalusia and the beginning of the French retreat, the conviction of military inferiority gradually made its way through the ranks of the army and with it the need for more consistent methods to sustain the fight, which included the adoption of party warfare, provided that it is carried out subject to military commands, and a certain centralization and harmonization of the actions of the various armies. The acceptance of guerrilla warfare was a consequence of the admission of French superiority in the open country, since the parties avoided general confrontations with the enemy and subjected the latter to a war of attrition. Various military personnel will describe the advantages of the guerrillas and recommend their use, as long as they are directed and coordinated by men of the profession and do not represent a drain on the army. Because, as one of them will indicate, "the parties of patriots ... promoted as appropriate and supported by well-organized armies" should not be confused "with some gangs that have appeared at this time, made up of deserters, smugglers and other outlaws" . Guerrillas with the recommended characteristics will operate in points of the military geography as diverse as Extremadura, Andalusia and Catalonia. The coordination of military operations was imposed as a necessity in view of the sad experience of war and the observation of the French armies. In this way, the General Staff was first created (1810), a body in charge of planning the actions of the various armies in whose convenience the sector of the army with the greatest preparation and professional concern and the top of the civil authority coincided, and finally it was established a single military leadership that fell to the person of Wellington (1812), a decision in which, together with the recognized prestige of the English general, reasons of political opportunity intervened, since not in vain the Duke was head of the Allied troops, a man of convictions Conservatives and, equally important, a foreigner who avoided the Regency having to concede too much power to one of the Spanish generals. The protest of one of these, Ballesteros, served only to ruin his career, as he found no support among his comrades in arms, unlikely to act collectively in favor of one of his equals. But the conditions in which they had to operate were now more adverse if possible than at the beginning of the war, since the repeated defeats had ruined the credibility of the military and weakened its position vis-à-vis the civil authorities, as well as dispersions and Desertions had reduced the strength of their armies in favor of forms of irregular warfare that were difficult to control. For this reason, the attempts of these soldiers to demand, in the name of the needs of the war, subordination to the provincial and local authorities and new sacrifices to a population that until then they had not been able to protect, were going to cause tensions. The landscape of defeats The anti-French uprising that spread throughout the months of May and June 1808 was extensive and popular enough not to doubt the warlike enthusiasm among the Spanish population of the time, although two aspects that have tended to be despised by a historiography too attached to the practice of unanimity and patriotic exaltation: 1) the mobilization effort was accompanied by simultaneous efforts in favor of the creation of internal vigilance bodies (Honred Militias or Urban Militias) to ensure the maintenance of control over sectors whose leadership could endanger the existing social order; 2) this mobilization was not exempt from resistance, which tended to become more notable when the wave of enthusiasm gave way to the continuity of the effort required and the necessary participation in the agricultural work of the summer months, forcing the first exhortations in favor of the defense of the fatherland and the first measures against desertion. But it was the defeats that produced the discouragement and tension of the population, visible both in the appearance of conformist attitudes and reluctance to collaborate in the tasks of the resistance and in the dissemination of accusations of cowardice and treason against the regular army and its members. commanders, on whom the bulk of responsibility for defending the territory had fallen. The situation that the military had to face from 1809, under the permanent suspicion of a population that blamed them for the defeats, was very well summarized by Castaños, himself a victim of these accusations: "The voice of betrayal already does not mean what we have understood so far: a traitor is a General who does not attack when a soldier or anyone who is 200 leagues from the enemy wants to; a traitor if he withdraws the army that is going to be enveloped and sacrificed without recourse and without utility for the fatherland (...) treason, it is said, if there is ever a lack of aid or bread for the soldier; treason if the enemy attacks, because it is supposed to have been warned by the general to hand over the army, and all the traitors bosses if an action is unfortunately lost ". Indeed, accusations of treason, or at least inaction or cowardice, against the military abound. In Catalonia, the list of these complaints is extensive and hardly any of the captains general who had command in the Principality escape them. Most of the newspapers written during the war years by local testimonies of the same show the existence of a wide discontent with those who did not know how to preserve them from the French occupation and, on occasions, when they mention these men they tend to do so in such terms. critics and denunciators as does the rector of Vallvidrera, for whom Vives "sens dupte would be Godoy's bill, and a traitor to the homeland"; Blake "must understand the enemy, because I have not lost a place ... how not to help her at are temps"; O'Donnell "was molt valent [i] carried molt bé at the beginning, but ab the times feu com los altres, omplí bé la seua bosa"; Campoverde "didn't even know how to ... cobart and inexpert". The voices of treason forced the resignation of Captain General Vives (December 1808), discredited after the setbacks of Llinars and Molins de Rei , and constituted the breeding ground for the commotion that occurred in Lleida in January 1809, where a mutinous crowd killed several suspected infidels for fear of handing over the city's castle to the French. The persistence of negative comments about the army forces Captain General Coupigny, almost a year and a half later, to dictate a side imposing sanctions on those who propagate "that the troops of our august sovereign Fernando VII do not fulfill the sacred duties of soldiers and countrymen are enough to annihilate and exterminate the French in the Principality ". But the situation was reproduced before the apparent inaction of Captain General Blake in the defense of the besieged Gerona, before the defeat of Vic (February 1810), with accusations of treason against General García Conde, who was also made responsible for the surrender of Lleida to the French (May 1810), before the fall of Tortosa (January 1811), defended by the general Count of Alacha and before the loss of Tarragona (June 1811), imputed to the Captain General Marquis of Campoverde. The Superior Board joined the chorus of protests. He called for the replacement of the military involved, as happened with Field Marshal Wimpfen and Brigadier Porta, for believing them to be "authors of the system of inaction that has been observed in our army for a long time and for having seen certain withdrawals from both of them. that everyone considers voluntary and improper "; demanded from the Central Board "a general who unites a patriotic and active zeal to military expertise", because "the people, being abandoned by the army, suspect it, or at least their leaders, seeing that they are not opposed to a weak enemy and reduced "; He demanded responsibility from the military commanders for suspicious behavior, such as the alleged passivity of the troops who in June 1810 allowed a French convoy to enter Barcelona without offering resistance, and welcomed the convictions for treason against Generals García Conde and Alacha .
On September 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler announced the invasion of Poland after regular soldiers from this country had allegedly attacked German territory. In reality, it was all a Nazi hoax to justify the invasion of the neighboring country.Josep Gavaldà Like almost all wars, World War II began with a lie. In the words of Adolf Hitler himself on September 1, 1939 in front of the German Reichstag: "Tonight, regular Polish soldiers fired on our territory for the first time." At the end of the First World War and after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the The 20th century will witness the rise in Europe of totalitarian regimes such as Fascism in Italy or Nazism in Germany. The victors of the contest, Great Britain, France and E.E. The USA, were the great beneficiaries of the conditions imposed in the Paris Conference of 1919. However, Germany firmly believed in the theory of "living space" (Lebensraum) created by the German geographer Friedrich Ratzel, and which consisted of annexation of territories with the ultimate purpose of achieving the development of a country, in this case, of German-speaking territories located in other countries. Hitler combined part of this idea with his peculiar racist conceptions, which had, in turn, a social and cultural background. The conquest of this vital space guided the efforts of the führer to give its particular meaning to the war that would break out in September 1939. AGAINST THE TREATY OF VERSAILLESThus, after his seizure of power in 1933, Adolf Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations and the Conference on Disarmament. In January 1935, the League of Nations held a plebiscite in the Saarland, a territory that had once belonged to Germany and was now administered by this international body, on its possible reincorporation to the German country. In the midst of intense agitation, on January 13, 1935, with a favorable vote of 90.73%, the Saar was reincorporated to Germany on the 17th of the same month. Two months later, in March 1935, Hitler rejected the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, which were intended to keep Germany disarmed, and despite the agreements reached at Locarno in 1926 by which Germany, France, Belgium, Great Britain and Italy sought to guarantee maintaining peace in Western Europe, he openly reconstituted the German army and on March 7, 1936 occupied the Rhineland, supposedly a demilitarized zone. In France there was talk of acting, but the French Government was divided on the matter and was not willing to do it without the support of England; and the English did not want to risk a war to prevent German troops from occupying what they considered German soil. In 1937, Hitler demanded for Germany the annexation of the free city of Danzig (Gdansk in Polish), which the Treaty of Versailles had placed under the protection of the League of Nations, and also extraterritorial rail access through the "Polish corridor", the border of Poland with East Prussia. In 1938, German forces entered Austria - before the enthusiastic reception of the population -, consummating the political union of Germany and Austria, the so-called Anschluss. In September 1938 it was Czechoslovakia's turn with the crisis in the Sudeten region, which was also annexed by Germany. The request of the Sudetenland on the part of Germany and the request of aid on the part of the Czech Government to France and England provoked the celebration in September 1938 of the Munich Conference to decide not only the fate of Czechoslovakia, but also that of the whole of Europe. . Chamberlain, Daladier, Mussolini and Hitler met, and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia was accepted only in the German-speaking areas. They naively believed that Hitler would fulfill his commitment and not invade other countries. They thought that the Conference had ensured "peace for our century", but it barely lasted a year. At the Munich Conference, the European powers accepted the German occupation of the German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia and trusted Hitler's promise not to invade other countries. THE "OPERATION HIMMLER"It all started on August 31, 1939 in the framework of "Operation Himmler", when half a dozen members of the SS, pretending to be rioters, broke into the radio station in Gleiwitz, a region of Upper Silesia, shooting into the air. The assailants reduced the three employees and a policeman who were there at the time and launched violent proclamations against the Führer and the Third Reich - they were the same men who had started sabotage campaigns a year earlier when they planted a bomb in the railway station. from Tarnow, Poland. The command connected a microphone to allow an interpreter to deliver patriotic and anti-German slogans in Polish. One of them said: "Attention! This is Gleiwitz. The station is in Polish hands." To make the scene even more credible they brought a Polish nationalist who had been arrested a day earlier by the SS, named Franz Honiok, a 43-year-old farmer who was selected after having participated in some revolt. They dragged him there completely drugged and, as soon as he arrived, they shot him in the door, leaving his body in full view of everyone. To avoid confusion, they had dressed him in a Polish army uniform that they had previously stolen. The SS only spent 15 minutes on the station and due to a technical failure only part of the speech was broadcast. Although the part of the speech that was broadcast did not announce the false invasion of Germany, it was enough for Hitler to find his desired casus belli. Then Franz Honiok's body was brought up to the broadcasting room to take the photos that would be published in the newspapers. On August 31, 1939, half a dozen members of the SS pretended to be Polish rioters who took over the Gleiwitz radio station, launching proclamations against Hitler and the Third Reich. The invasion of Poland had already been announced days before by Adolf Hitler in a speech addressed to the top of the German army in which he made his intentions very clear: "Annihilate Poland in the first place. Have no mercy. Act brutally." Finally, on the morning of September 1, 1939, and with the justification of the events that occurred the day before, German soldiers prepared in advance advanced towards Poland through different border points. Hitler had wanted to start the war against Poland for a long time, what he did not foresee is that, in a matter of a few days, Great Britain and France would take the Polish side: the Second World War had begun.
On the beach is the title of a novel by the naturalized Australian English writer Nevil Shute. Published in 1957, it was translated into French by Pierre Singer and published by Éditions Stock under the literal title, Sur la plage, in 1958, then reissued ten years later under another title, Le last rivage. The translation is more evocative. Because it is death that is all about. The death of humanity. In fact, this last sentence sums up the peculiarity of this post-apocalyptic book. The end of humanity is not described in a series of violent and devastating explosions; these have already taken place. The story takes place in 1964, in southern Australia, Melbourne and its surroundings. World War III - although the expression is never used - is over and the Earth is contaminated, irreparably to mankind. Even if not everyone wants to believe it, the end is announced, inevitable. The last survivors are the inhabitants of the southern hemisphere. This latency introduced by Nivel Shute is due to the slow mixing of the atmosphere. The war took place in the Northern Hemisphere, between the United States, USSR, China. But the whole world is paying the consequences. The causes remain relatively obscure, even for the protagonists themselves, for who will be the historians of the last moments of human history? Peter observed nervously: “But this is something historic. It would have to be written down somewhere. Does anyone write a story about this time? "Not that I know of," replied John Osborne. I will find out. But, after all, I don’t see what it would mean to write a story that no one else will read. - We should write something, all the same said the American. Even though there are only a few months left to read it. " He took a moment, then added, “I'd like to read a story from this last war. I got into it for a while, but I have absolutely no idea what happened. " […] “But then, how do you explain the attacks launched by the Russians from Washington and London?” Peter asked, after a moment. John Osborne and the captain stared at him. “The Russians never bombed Washington,” Dwight said. We finally had the proof. ” Peter looked at them in turn: “I mean - the first of all. - Perfectly. The first one. They were Russian long-range bombers, 11,626, but manned by an Egyptian crew. They left Cairo. - Are you sure of that? - Absolutely. We captured the one who landed in Puerto Rico on the way back. It was only after we bombed Leningrad, Odessa, and nuclear facilities in Siberia that we found out that he was Egyptian. It must have gone badly that day. - Did I understand correctly that we bombed Russia by mistake? ” It was so horrible it hardly seemed believable. John Osborne replied: “It’s the truth, Peter. It has never been publicly admitted, but it is the plain truth. The first bomb was the bomb on Naples. Those were the Albanians, as everyone knows. Then there was the bomb on Tel Aviv. No one knows who threw this one, at least to my knowledge. After that the British and the Americans intervened and carried out a demonstration flight over Cairo. The next day the Egyptians blew all their available bombers into the air, six left for Washington, seven for London. One plane managed to reach Washington, two managed to fly over London. After that, there weren't many American or British statesmen left in this world. " Dwight nodded: “The bombers were Russian, and I heard they had distinctive Russian markings. It's entirely possible. - Good Lord ! cried the Australian. So, we bombed Russia. […] “So after that Russia and the Western powers were in a state of war. When did China join the dance? ” The captain replied: “I don't think anyone knows exactly. In my opinion, China took the opportunity and launched rocket and radiation attacks against Russia. But all of this is just a guess. It was not long before communications were cut off. All we know is that in most countries, command passed to junior officers after all the statesmen were killed. It's very difficult to stop a war under these conditions. " […] “It’s a great pity. But don't go after the Russians. It was not the great nations that started this affair. They are the little ones, the Irresponsible. ” " The geopolitical explanation is not necessarily realistic, and cobalt bombs, once envisaged, were never developed. The important thing is not there. The novel is first and foremost a denunciation of the Cold War and the nuclear risk it poses to all humanity, a global risk. The war is not told, until mentioned. No noise, just the silence that settles everywhere. The silence of a death which descends, month after month, day after day, which approaches and which tightens. "'Why is it taking so long Dwight? Why can't the wind blow directly, and let it be over and over? "It's not that hard to understand, actually," he replied. In each hemisphere, the winds swirl in large convolutions between the pole and the equator. There is a circulatory system of winds in the northern hemisphere and another in the southern hemisphere. But what separates them is not the equator you see on a world map, but an element called the Pressure Equator, which moves north and south with the seasons. In January, all of Borneo and Indonesia came under the Northern System regime, but by July the rift moved north, so India, Siam, and everything south of this line pass into the southern system. So in January the northerly winds carry radioactive dust to Malaysia, say. Then, in July, with that region in the southern system, our own winds pick up this dust and carry it here. That's why they come to us so slowly. - And can't we do anything? - Absolutely nothing. These are things that are beyond human possibilities. You have to accept them as they are. "I won't accept them," she cried vehemently. It is not fair. Not a single bomb, hydrogen or cobalt, or any other kind, has been dropped in the southern hemisphere. We have nothing to do with it all. Why should we die because other countries, nine or ten miles from where we live, wanted to go to war? It is terribly unfair. “Yes, that's terribly unfair,” he said. But it's like that." There was a pause, then she resumed irritably: “It's not that I'm afraid of dying, Dwight. We all have to spend there one day or another. These are all dreams that I will not be able to fulfill ... She turned to him: I will never go outside Australia. All my life I have wanted to see the rue de Rivoli. It's probably this romantic name that appeals to me. A stupid idea, no doubt, because I suppose that this street is a street like any other. But this is what I wanted, and I will never see her. Because there is no more Paris now, no more New York, no more London. " He smiles at her: “The rue de Rivoli may still be there, with nice things on the shelves, just like before. I don't know if Paris received a bomb or not. Maybe nothing has changed, maybe the sun still shines on this street and keeps it looking the way you imagine it. This is how I like to think of all these places. The only difference is that there is no one left alive. " " The rest of the world is only seen through a periscope of a US nuclear submarine taking refuge in Australia and carrying out some reconnaissance missions. “They approached Cairns on the surface, but did not come out of the hull, the radiation level being too high. They had previously crossed the Great Barrier, spending a night in cloaks because Dwight found it dangerous to navigate at night in these waters, where lighthouses and light buoys offered insufficient guarantees. When they finally spotted Green Island and approached land, the town looked absolutely normal to them. The sun bathed the shore, and in the distance loomed the chain of the Atherton Mountains. They could see, through the periscope, the streets lined with shops and shaded by palm trees, a hospital, pretty one-story villas built on stilts, cars parked in the streets. They went up the river to the docks. Here, not much to see, except a few fishing boats. Nothing abnormal. There were no ships alongside the docks. Although they were very close to land, their field of vision was limited, as the periscope was not much higher than the docks, and the warehouses obscured the view. Silence reigned in the docks, silence on Sundays or holidays, but in the past there would have been a continual coming and going of small boats. […] Two days later, they arrived in Port Darwin and came to rest in the port. Here they couldn't see anything except the wharf, the roof of Government House and a portion of the Darwin Hotel. They circled around the fishing boats anchored in the harbor, made calls and examined them through the periscope. They learned nothing, but from the state of affairs they were able to draw a conclusion: when the end had come, the people were dead cleanly. " Whether the characters annoy or not, a great melancholy arises from the murmurs of the last loves of humanity. Because death remains our destiny. This is how it is possible to understand the first name of the main heroine, Moira, not in the original Hebrew sense, but in the Greek sense. Nevil Shute's novel was adapted very quickly to the cinema, by Stanley Kramer. The film's release resulted in what appears to have been the world premiere. On December 17, 1959, the film was screened in nearly twenty capitals and major cities of the world: Amsterdam, Berlin, Caracas, Chicago, Johannesburg, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Moscow, New York, Paris , Rome, Stockholm, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington, Zurich. This film is therefore doubly global: through the subject itself, namely the risk of destruction of humanity in a nuclear war with global consequences; and by the screening that transcended the East / West divide, even though the film, presented in Moscow to just over a thousand viewers selected by the Soviet Ministry of Culture, was not shown in the rest of the country. The film was militant. To those who were frightened by the subject, Stanley Kramer replied: “The bomb exists. The destruction of the world is a frightening and imminent possibility. Not to make this film would be to deny the existence of the terrible cataclysm of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to deny the existence of the H2 bomb and strontium-90. I cannot deny all this, he added, nor Khrushchev. Eisenhower or the two billion people who live on this earth. The Last Shore is for them a warning and a prayer for life to continue on this planet. " The last shot is a message from the director to the audience. In a Melbourne emptied of its inhabitants, a banner continues to float in the street with the following message: "There is still time ... brother". In 1959, it was not too late to prevent nuclear war and prevent the end of mankind.
There are few examples in the world today where, as in the case of India and Pakistan, two armies have been in an antagonistic relationship for a very long time. The rivalry between the United States and the USSR, or the very different rivalry between India and China, has not been of the same character. This is not the case for the two Koreas either, regardless of the hopes placed by Seoul in the "sunshine policy" (diplomatic normalization policy), since South Korea, which nevertheless maintains, like North Korea, an army very numerous, has largely subcontracted its defense, welcoming very strong American troops on its soil. When it comes to India and Pakistan, we are indeed in a very special situation, a direct legacy of the partition of 1947, when the British Indian Empire packed up. The partition was bloody, and very quickly the question of Kashmir led to the confrontation between the two new states which, failing to normalize their relations durably, equipped themselves with considerable armies: Pakistan, to face India. , and this one, in a vaster horizon, not to know again the humiliating defeat suffered by China in 1962. Today, in terms of manpower, the Indian army is the third in the world (just ahead of North Korea), and the Pakistani army the seventh (just behind South Korea). In terms of budget (subject to caution or interpretation), India is ninth, Pakistan, thirty-second, a differential that grows with the rise of India. Another decisive parameter, formalized by the tests of May 1998, these two antagonistic armies are also, in part, nuclearized. Finally, no other world configuration brings together two nuclear states with a long tradition of tensions, and having known four open conflicts (1948, 1965, 1971, 1999) in about fifty years. Beyond the strategic game, however important it may be, it is necessary to underline the decisive place occupied by the national project in the conception of the armed forces of the two countries, despite the structural differences that have become in the dialectic between army and nation which animates each of them. We know the Pakistani joke: “India (like many others) is a nation with an army. Pakistan (like a few others) is an army that has a nation. More seriously, the contrast is striking between the two countries. The Indian military is fully under the authority of civil power, including in its operating procedures or in debates over equipment needs. In this regard, she sometimes complains (or former senior officers not bound by confidentiality do it for her) about the difficulties of dialogue with the civilian authorities, including within the Ministry of Defense. However, independent India has never known the shadow of a coup threat, and it has never seen former military personnel come to power. Let us remember that the struggle for independence was not built on armed movements which would then have founded a one-party or dominant party regime closely linked to the new army. The Pakistani army, on the contrary, is a state within a state. It is in command either directly, when the chiefs of staff seize power, or indirectly: when civilians govern, the army retains the upper hand on regional policy issues (vis-à-vis the India and Afghanistan in the first instance), on nuclear power, and on strategic issues in general. She does not hesitate to influence the political game behind the scenes. It is also a considerable economic force. It penetrates the bureaucracy, and constitutes a privileged environment at the heart of power. How to explain this difference, when the two armies emerged from the same British colonial mold?Four types of parameters contribute to it: historical, sociological, political, strategic. Historically, the partition of the British Empire, and therefore the creation of Pakistan, were wanted mainly by Muslim elites established in North India, where they were in the minority, while Pakistan, by definition, was built in areas where Muslims were in the majority. In present-day Pakistan (the old West Pakistan of 1947), dominated, and still largely dominate, societies structured around large landowners in Punjab and Sindh, and around tribal chiefs in the border province of Northwest and Balochistan. A breeding ground not conducive to democratic flowering, especially since there have been no land reforms. With the exception of the North-West Frontier Province, where Abdul Ghaffar Khan (Pashtun leader influenced by Gandhi's ideas) stood out, the influence of the anti-colonial movement as led by the Congress party was weak: yet it was he who in India was the crucible of mass democratic participation, enshrined in 1950 as part of a Constitution still in place today. Conversely, the disappearance in 1948 of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the Pakistani "father of the nation", and the extreme fragility of the civilian regime that followed (seven Prime Ministers in eleven years) resulted in 1958 in the first blow. Military state, that of General (then Marshal) Ayub Khan. From 1947 to 2004, Pakistan had four active generals as heads of state: it was under military rule 28 out of 57 years, which does not always mean under extreme dictatorship. The history of strained relations with India, in Kashmir as early as 1947; the increase in bilateral disputes of all kinds; the construction of national identity in opposition to India defined as Hindu (in reality it has almost as many Muslims as Pakistan itself) and as a power threatening not only the integrity of the territory (India has helped in 1971 East Pakistan seceded to become Bangladesh) but the very existence of Pakistan; all of this served the army, which made a significant contribution to building these representations. An army that presents itself as the only solid institution of the country, and as the guarantor of the supreme interests and the survival of the nation, by highlighting the weaknesses and incapacities of civilian governments. 8However, relations between civilians and soldiers are complex. On the one hand, it was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a civilian politician, who did everything to challenge the victory of the Bengalis of East Pakistan during the general elections of 1970, and to urge General Yayha Khan to launch a military repression that turned into massacre (genocide, the Bangladeshis say) before secession prevails. It was also he who had pushed Marshal Ayub Khan to launch the short war against India in 1965. On the other hand, if the legitimacy of the military is sometimes accepted during coups d'état ("We do not look at who is the firefighter when the house is on fire, ”an intellectual told me, in Islamabad on the day General Musharraf took power), usually it does not last long. In 1969, faced with his growing unpopularity, Ayub Khan had to give way, to another general it is true. The latter, Yayha Khan, had to leave after the loss of Bangladesh. Benazir Bhutto's electoral victory in 1988 was seen as a triumph of parliamentarism against the dictatorship of General Zia, who died a few months earlier. As for General Musharraf, who governs without having ever imposed martial law, he has certainly succeeded in rallying part of the political forces, but without curbing a multifaceted opposition. India, as we know, is made up of ethnic groups that are very different in language. Does the Indian army mix the recruits? Are the federated states maintaining the troops in place? Are there specific recruiting areas in the Indian army?Before British colonization, the princes had mainly local forces, while eventually engaging mercenary groups. In the course of a conquest that was made piecemeal and piecemeal, the British, in the 18th and 19th centuries, raised or restructured regiments - let's say ethnic for short - united by language, many of which apparently remain. in place. But beware of the pitfalls of the nomenclature! Thus the Punjab Regiment was in reality created in South India and was called for a time the Madras Native Infantry, before welcoming in 1951 four battalions from the former princely states of Punjab. Another example is the Naga Regiment, the most recent of the Indian army, owes its title to its ethnic origins - the Nagas of North East India - but these now make up only 50% of its troops. The ethnolinguistic displays inherited from the past - the Marathi light infantry, the Rajput regiment, the Assam regiment, the Madras regiment, among many others - may indicate original predominance, but, with some exceptions, no longer correspond to Homogeneous “ethnic blocks”, and no longer necessarily have their base in their region of origin. In fact, as early as 1949, independent India wanted to put an end to purely "ethnic" regiments, but did not quite succeed: the Sikh and Gorkha regiments in particular remain homogeneous, but they are now more the exception than the rule. Even though specific groups have strong military traditions, such as the Sikhs of Punjab, the Rajputs of Rajasthan, and the notorious Gorkhas of Nepal, the military is seen - and sees itself - as an instrument of national integration. all aspects: languages, religions, castes. On this last level, it is true that it has long welcomed recruits from all castes, even from very low castes, as evidenced by the existence of a Mahar regiment: an untouchable caste from Maharashtra, already enlisted in the regiments of Emperor Shivaji in the 17th century, then incorporated by the British into the Bombay Presidency Army. Between the two wars the request of the mahars to have "their" regiment was granted, under the influence of Ambedkar, a mahar whose father was a soldier, which enabled him, grants helping, to carry out studies which led him to 'in Columbia, before opposing Gandhi on the best strategy of emancipation of the untouchables and playing a key role in the drafting of the Indian Constitution.Its dimensions and pluralities also allow India to play with ethnic, even religious variations of its army, in order to face, in certain cases, internal problems or the problems of its immediate periphery. I will take two examples, taken from the 1980s. When the Punjab insurgency turns out badly, and Indira Gandhi opts for a military intervention against the Golden Temple of Amritsar, holy place of the Sikhs where the insurgents were entrenched , the staff called on troops from much of the south of the country. The intervention will also create a stir within the Sikh regiments. In Sri Lanka, when the Indian army intervened in 1987 as a "peacekeeping force", Indian Tamil battalions were present. But when India emerges from its role of mediator between government forces and insurgents to try to reduce the Tamil Tigers, and when it gets bogged down in this fight, troops from North India will be involved, before the 1990 withdrawal. . And the warrior castes?The concept deserves comment. It is rooted on the one hand in a very ancient Hindu tradition, the famous “laws of Manou” setting out the principles of social structuring in four major orders - the varnas - of which the second, under the Brahmins, was that of the kshatriyas, castes. warriors and princely. The British, always fond of classifications and hierarchies, took up this concept under the title of "martial races", putting forward two emblematic groups, the Sikhs (not Hindus stricto sensu) and the Rajputs: both often bearing the title of Singh (lion) in their name. They are found in large numbers in elite regiments, and in spectacular parades on national holidays. We can add to this the kind of foreign legion that are the Gorkhas, who even today, including in the British army, have a reputation as exceptional combatants. But again, the Indian army can no longer be seen exclusively from this angle, as broad recruitment policies, the mixed composition of most regiments and a stated desire to be a melting pot representing the nation are being implemented. . The Pakistani case is somewhat different, since the supremacy of the Punjabis (more than 50% of the national population) is even more asserted in the army, with a notable minority of Pathans (the name given in Pakistan to the Pashtuns, whose warrior traditions are known). A few districts, by tradition, feed the Pakistani army in a considerable way, the recruitment poles being maintained from generation to generation, in particular along the great road which goes from the Khyber pass to the plain of the Ganges. Very few Sindhis on the other hand and very few Baluchis. Why are the Sindhis so poorly represented?We must obviously be wary of the determinism of culturalist interpretations which would refer to an opposition between "martial races" and what certain polemical writings internal to the region call "effeminate races". Let us recall rather that after the Anglo-Sikh and Anglo-Afghan wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, the British in this part of the Empire mainly recruited their troops in Punjab, and that it is also in Punjab, in the areas newly irrigated by the development of the Indus basin, that they offered lands to the troops returned to civilian life. Sindhis leaving their villages can seek employment in Karachi, the economic capital of Pakistan, rather than military recruitment. The diaspora of Sindhi traders also offers opportunities. An excellent connoisseur of both Indian and Pakistani armies, Stephen Cohen, noted how Pakistani military psychology, forged in structural opposition to India, has long underestimated Indian troops and overestimated Pakistani troops, considering that quality warrior of the Moslem troops compensated for the advantage of the number of the Indian troops mainly Hindu. The open conflicts after 1947 never confirmed this point of view, which on the one hand resulted from a biased reading of history highlighting the exploits of Muslim invaders entering North India with Mahmoud de Ghazni here a millennium, and which, on the other hand, sought to consolidate the image of a Muslim Pakistan able to stand up to a neighbor - an enemy - much more populated. Are there Muslim troops in India? There is no specifically Muslim regiment, not even the light infantry of Jammu and Kashmir, and Muslims (13% of the population) are under-represented in the Indian forces. This is not due to a desire to rule them out, since there are Muslims in many regiments. If we count senior Muslim officers, however, extremely rare are those who reach the highest military posts, even if France welcomed in the 1980s an Indian Muslim ambassador, Idris Latif, who had been commander-in-chief of the army. air.And the Bengalis, for example?Their case is interesting. Aside from the anachronistic image of the Bengal Lancers, the Bengalis tend to have little reputation for being warlike. We always come up against stereotypes: Bengali intellectuals, Gujarati traders ... In reality, when we consult the lists of chiefs of staff or those of senior officers, we come across many Bengali names - including names of Bengali Brahmins. . Did contacts remain important with the British?The British heritage remains visible in India as in Pakistan - it is only to have lunch in the messes of officers to be convinced of it -, but this influence, which plays in part on the military training, should not mask deeper realities. The Indian policy of non-alignment implemented by Nehru in the 1950s, then the policy of rapprochement with Moscow led by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s, greatly changed things. In the field of armaments, the Soviet contribution was decisive. Even today, an essential part of Indian armaments comes from Russia, although India has always bought arms everywhere, including from France. On the western side, the focal point is no longer Great Britain. It is the United States. With the end of the Cold War, India rethought its relationship with Washington. The nuclear tests of 1998, which led to American sanctions, also led to a strategic dialogue unparalleled in the past, crowned by the visit of Bill Clinton, celebrating in India, in 2000, "the concert of democracies". The Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party, in power in Delhi from 1998 to 2004, pushed further towards this rapprochement under the Bush administration. By wishing to redefine the rules of international security in the post-Soviet context (missile defense, regional theaters, the fight against terrorism), Bush seemed to open up new perspectives for New Delhi. Points of divergence remain, however. What status should India (and Pakistan) be granted when the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, extended in 1995 - and to be reviewed in 2005 - excludes them from the list of the five "legitimately" nuclearized states? And after 2001 India urged Washington to be less sympathetic towards a Pakistan having changed line on the Taliban to join the "war on terrorism", but still supporting, in Kashmir, the extremist armed groups. waging jihad from Pakistani bases: what Delhi has long called a "proxy war" waged by Islamabad through "cross-border terrorism". The role of the United States today is twofold. On a diplomatico-strategic level, Washington, like the entire international community, intervenes discreetly to promote dialogue between India and Pakistan, particularly after the long alert of 2002 which saw the two neighbors massing a million men along their border. This dialogue finally began in January 2004, and has continued since the return to power of the Congress party four months later. On a more strictly military level, India is asking for cutting-edge equipment, in negotiations with the United States for a long time reluctant, or obtained via Israel (drones, electronic surveillance equipment for the line of control in Kashmir, missiles, etc. .). On the Pakistani side, the relationship with the United States is even more decisive, but it arises according to specific parameters. By 1954 Pakistan had joined Western alliances (Baghdad Pact, Southeast Asia Treaty Organization). Islamabad had also quietly worked to bring the Nixon administration closer to People's China, a Washington-Islamabad-Beijing axis countering the Delhi-Moscow axis. Many senior officers passed through US military schools, and the staffs of both armies knew each other well. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late 1979 placed Pakistan as a "frontline state", Washington's essential ally in support of the Afghan mujahideen. Then, under General Zia ul Haq, in power from 1977 to 1988, an essential phase of regional history began: the growing intervention of Islamabad, with American blessing, in Afghan affairs. This activism continued after Zia and after the Soviet defeat, with the support given to the Taliban to put an end to the internal wars between mujahideen, while in parallel Islamabad brought in jihad fighters in Kashmir, insurgent against India since 1989. But as soon as the departure of the Soviets from Afghanistan, Washington imposed sanctions against its ally of yesterday, Pakistan, accused of carrying out a clandestine nuclear program, a program on which the American administration had turned a blind eye throughout. 1980s. No one has forgotten this episode in Pakistan, and if General Musharraf nevertheless decided, in the aftermath of September 11, to change lines by letting go of the Taliban and once again making Pakistan a "front line state". "Ally with the United States in the war against terrorism and against Al Qaida, it is indeed in the name of the" superior interests of the nation ", in order to avoid being possibly placed on the" axis of evil "of set by the neoconservatives, and then be caught between the United States and neighboring India. All in all, and beyond their differences, India and Pakistan maintain an ambiguous relationship with the United States. The two countries seek maximum rapprochement with the American hyperpower, among other things for military reasons, but without fully trusting Washington, or without endorsing its unilateralism: neither Delhi nor Islamabad have sent troops to Iraq. Given the stakes of the Indian Ocean, are we seeing the development of the Indian navy? Absolutely. It should be remembered here that the Mughal Empire, brilliant but without a navy worthy of the name, collapsed under the blows of a maritime power, Great Britain; more generally, India, rich enough in the 17th century to attract the first great modern capitalism structured around the various East India Companies, completely missed the decisive technoeconomic revolution launched by the great discoveries and the rise of western fleets. Great Britain, a colonial power, appropriated the seas, and founded regiments in India only to expand its land conquests. The navy therefore long remained the poor relation of the Indian forces: even today, the navy counts 53,000 men, against 110,000 for the air force, and more than one million for the army. The first is India's desire to assert itself more and more clearly as the major regional power in the Indian Ocean. We have seen it again by what the Indian press defined as "tsunami diplomacy", when India refused for itself international aid after the disaster of December 26, 2004, while sending aid. emergency, with military logistics, in Sumatra, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and even Thailand. The northern Indian Ocean is an essential component of what New Delhi defines as its "extended neighborhood," an area that also encompasses the Middle East, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. The northern Indian Ocean is doubly strategic for New Delhi. It controls, between the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Malacca, the oil route which supplies Japan and partly China. There are also competing forces: the Pakistani navy, of course, but also Chinese interests. China has observation stations in the Burmese islands, and is building a new port in Pakistan, at Gwadar, at the gateway to the Persian Gulf. It is therefore understandable why India recently created a new combined arms command in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands: to watch over both the Strait of Malacca and the movements of Chinese ships in the Indian Ocean. Beyond its extended neighborhood, India looks at the entire Indian Ocean: it is a stakeholder in the Association of Indian Ocean Riparian States, launched in 1997 with, among others, South Africa. South and Australia. The association, which excluded Pakistan, suffered greatly when Australia imposed sanctions on India after the 1998 nuclear tests, but it could find new momentum. India has also been conducting research in Antarctica since 1981. It has just launched a new survey campaign there. Finally, the Indian Navy is increasing joint exercises with American forces as well as those from countries bordering Southeast Asia. The second parameter that will give increased weight to the navy is nuclear weapons. Indian nuclear doctrine, formulated in 1999 as a draft, but largely endorsed since, speaks well, in the medium term, of a land-air-sea triad. For India, as for all aspirants to power who want to equip themselves with their ambitions, the ultimate strike force is that of nuclear missile submarines. India does not yet have one, but the effort it is making in favor of its defense budget (nearly 20% increase expected for 2004-2005) will push it to aim for this objective. The purchase of an aircraft carrier from the Russians, responsible for its refurbishment, also testifies to the new weight attributed to the navy. Is there a rivalry in the Indian officer corps between the navy and the army? If so, are there traces of sociological differences, or even, as in Latin America, of different political traditions? While a handful of retired generals have been able to enter political life - as many have created centers of strategic analysis, and Admiral Ramdas is pushing for Indo-Pakistani rapprochement - the active armed forces are truly apolitical. The criterion of differentiation between weapons is not there. In the rivalries between corps, matter much more of possible divergences of doctrine and, of course, of budgetary competitions. These rivalries between arms, which affect the Air Force as much as other weapons, are for many in the difficulties to implement an interministerial recommendation of 2000, which recommended the creation, unprecedented in India, of a post of chief of defense staff who would be both the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the privileged adviser to the government in military matters. The nuclearization of the three weapons also poses a problem: while the ultimate decision to fire rests with the Prime Minister, security and efficiency also require that a commander of the strategic combined arms be the operator. Of course, the holders of such positions are called upon to rotate between the three weapons. Pakistan has long resolved these issues for the benefit of the army, whose preeminence is clear, including in the game of political responsibilities. The problem is different there: to maintain the weight of the army on national life, and when a soldier is in power today, to ensure that the army supports him. It is for this dual purpose that President-General Musharraf has just decided, despite his promises and against the parliamentary opposition, to keep his two hats as Head of State and Chief of Defense Staff. . At the very least, the recent creation of a National Security Council, where the heads of the three arms sit ex officio near the main ministers, aims to ensure that in the future the heads of the three arms can be heard by the civilian rulers in a framework now institutionalized, and which goes beyond military questions alone. Sociologically, beyond traditions, the real difference, in India but also in Pakistan, now comes from the degree of technological sophistication of the equipment. The armies, professional in both countries, have no problems recruiting men in troops or non-commissioned officers. But in the context of economic liberalization and development, in India of advanced technologies, the Indian armies are beginning to have difficulty recruiting officers: with equal scientific competence, the new private sector of Indian firms or multinationals pays much better . Conversely, the very privileged status of the Pakistani military retains a marked appeal to the office. Do Indian civilians and the Indian military care about the rise of China? Yes, but the rhetoric is quite nuanced today. On the eve of the Indian nuclear tests, the defense minister defined China as "potential enemy number one". The coalition led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had just come to power, and the opposition led by the Congress party had cried scandal and diplomatic amateurism. In fact, Congress had been working since the mid-1980s on a rapprochement with China. The Minister of Defense then backtracked but, the day after the nuclear tests, Prime Minister AB Vajpayee wrote to President Clinton an awkward letter in which he justifies his decision by saying that "a power of the North" contributes to degrade the scenario. regional security, by deploying a strategy of encircling India (presence in Tibet, support in Pakistan, breakthroughs in Burma). Things have turned out well since then, and Vajpayee’s visit to China in 2003 demonstrated a reaffirmed desire to significantly improve bilateral relations, including in the military field. The mechanism for discussing border disputes is humming, economic exchanges are intensifying, and one even finds in the last annual report of the Indian Ministry of Defense this astonishing sentence, which could have been published in Beijing: "China pursues a policy of rapid military modernization by drawing the lessons of recent wars launched by the United States, while seeking peaceful relations with its neighbors, in order to consolidate itself economically and politically, and to build what the Chinese call for a “Total National Force”. " However, no Indian official, civilian or military, can underestimate the advance taken by China over India, both economically (a GNP twice as strong) and militarily, growth also providing, of course, the financial means for the modernization of the armed forces. It is also remembered that China has played a significant role in supporting Pakistan’s nuclear program. India's nuclear program is not directed at Pakistan alone - in a way, by nuclearising in turn, Pakistan benefits from the weak-to-strong deterrent effect, which offsets India's superiority in force. conventional. India's nuclear ambition immediately fits into a wider field. It is supposed to raise the country's status internationally and in Asia, especially against China. In the absence of parity for the moment inaccessible, at least India is making its voice heard, and the Chinese discourse towards it has in fact evolved. Two reasons contribute to this, in addition to the Indian defense effort: on the one hand, the country's economic take-off, whose growth rate, lower than the Chinese rate, is no less considerable; on the other hand, American hegemony. The United States is too powerful for Beijing or New Delhi to shy away from Washington, but India and China see far ahead, and share a number of common interests. Between confrontation, competition and cooperation, India chooses, vis-à-vis China, the cooperation-competition binomial. It does not intend to be an instrument of Washington to counter China in the medium term, but takes advantage of the current configurations to strengthen its status, quite natural, as a regional power and as a pole of stability on the southern facade of Asia, while waiting better. What about the role of the Pakistani secret service? The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), a combined arms body, is much more than a military intelligence agency. The institution changed in nature when CIA aid and Saudi money made it a key tool in Pakistani intervention in support of the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets in the 1980s. Afghanistan victoriously finished, the ISI continued its action, in principle under the authority of the Prime Minister, in reality according to the lines of the regional strategy defined by the military. Not without internal debates in some cases on the best course to follow: during the launch of the Taliban, for example, the ISI seems rather always to bet on the militias of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whereas after September 11 Musharraf imposed the release of the Taliban on the head of ISI, sacked shortly after. The historical role of the ISI is not to be a simple intelligence agency, but a large-scale action service, in the hands of the military (its members return to their bodies at the end of their service, a procedure which strengthens the control of agents). Beyond its possible interventions in the political game, in particular during electoral period, the ISI was above all the instrument of instrumentalisation of armed Islamism in the service of the regional strategy of Pakistan, strategy defined primarily by the military. This is particularly the case in the support given to the genuinely Kashmiri insurgents raised against New Delhi, and even more so when armed groups with established presence in Pakistan came into play from 1993: the Lashkar e Taiba, the Harkat ul Ansar and, most recently, created in 2000 under Musharraf, the Jaish e Mohammad. Of course, these groups radicalized their cause and their struggle, and it is very difficult to know to what extent the extremism of the 2000s was sharpened with the consent of the ISI and that of the upper military hierarchy. I am referring here to the dangerous extension of terrorist operations beyond the Kashmiri field alone. The attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 triggered the severe crisis of 2002 which put India and Pakistan, at least apparently, on the brink of war. As for the terrorist attacks carried out in Pakistan against foreign targets, they can hardly improve the image of the country: attacks in the diplomatic enclave of Islamabad or against Christian establishments, suicide bombing against French technicians in Karachi working on sub- Agosta sailors in 2002, execution of the American journalist Daniel Pearl ... After the turning point imposed by September 11, Musharraf brought the ISI in line on the new Afghan line, but left scope for the jihadis operating in Kashmir and their mother houses established in Pakistan: Musharraf's new anti-jihad discourse is getting them into trouble, but does not prevent them from rebuilding themselves. Are the Pakistani soldiers today in the process of changing the dominant paradigm since the 1980s, by deciding to calm the game on the borders, in Afghanistan as in Kashmir? If it were confirmed, would this option result from a large-scale geopolitical analysis, structural in a way, or would it seek above all to counter the divide that seems to have operated within jihad organizations, the most radical elements joining the theses of Al Qaeda? these ultras are no longer on an ISI line, hence the attacks against General Musharraf himself in December 2003, followed by attacks against notables of the regime, civilians or soldiers. Of course, the two hypotheses can go hand in hand. On the other hand, I hardly believe in a large-scale plot between the military and the secret services against Musharraf, who controls the army well, but a successful attack is always possible. Behind all this, two issues are essential, for Pakistan and for regional security as a whole. The first concerns the unprecedented operations of the entry of combatant soldiers into the tribal area of Waziristan, on the border with Afghanistan. Neither the American coalition on the Afghan side, nor the Pakistani troops or services have flushed out bin Laden and his number two Al Zahawari, but it is clear that American pressure has pushed Musharraf to intensify the fight against Al Qaida in very sensitive areas , and which affect the very structure of the traditional political organization of Pashtun tribal lands. The second concerns the dialogue initiated with India, which has lasted for a year, without yet any major progress, it is true. Musharraf's room for maneuver is limited in the face of New Delhi's intransigence, which preaches the formalization of the territorial status quo in Kashmir, and thus the transformation of the Line of Control into a border. An open border, moreover, which would allow the Kashmiris on both sides to renew relations which had been interrupted for decades. Question: who can really make peace? The civilians, as Benazir Bhutto put it in his exile, or the military, who control the game? A subsidiary question: by accepting a new paradigm, which would redefine Pakistani security and relations with India in a more open-ended fashion. geo-economic advantages of a hypothetical normalization, how would the army preserve its privileges and its status, which were built on the idea that it was, in the face of the Indian threat, the rampart protecting the nation, a rampart deserving a heavy defense budget? This is the paradox the Pakistani military faces today. Faced with the armed radical Islam that it has used for so long, its leader, President of the Republic, is now pleading for "enlightened moderation". But if the point is sincere, what role can the army play in implementing it, without sawing off the branch on which it sits? This is not only the great question of relations between Islam and the nation, but also that of the relations between the army and the civil political power, any structural change of line on Kashmir having to be accepted by the opinion and by the political class, class marginalized by the military ... We are there, seems to me he, at the heart of the questioning of the links between the army, the nation and regional geopolitics.
The military conflict, the centenary of which we commemorate this year, marked the end of an era and a prototype of modern warfare, when new weapons were used for the first time (or for the first time on such a scale). And also the things and technologies that we use to this day in civilian life. Some, such as the plane and the submarine, were not entirely new, but it was World War I that made them a powerful weapon that grew into a form over the following generations, forming key elements of modern armies of all modern powers. Others, such as the tank, flamethrower, or chemical weapons, appeared on the fronts of the First World War as innovations, which, however, then fundamentally influenced the shape of modern military conflicts.Submarine Germany was the first to deploy submarines en masse during the First World War, using them mainly to disrupt Allied supply routes and to fight British ships. As early as September 5, 1914, the German submarine U-21 sank the light British cruiser Pathfinder, which was the first warship sunk by a submarine. On September 22, the German submarine U-9 managed to sink three British armored cruisers (Abourkir, Hogue and Cressy) in a matter of minutes. In less than a month, the English merchant ship Glytra with a load of sewing machines and whiskey was sunk for the first time by a German submarine U-17. This event gave a fundamentally new direction to naval warfare, and submarine attacks on merchant ships eventually became commonplace. However, it was the German way of waging war at sea that provoked resistance, especially after the sinking of the cruise liner Lusitania on May 7, 1915, when a U-20 submarine under Captain Schwieger torpedoed a ship occupied by 1916 passengers without warning, of which 1152 died. Interestingly, it is not a well-known fact that a substantial part of the commanders of the Austro-Hungarian submarine fleet were Czech officers, and many of them, such as Josef Holub, achieved remarkable success as real submarine aces. The fate of Czech soldiers in the Czech Navy is also the subject of a special thematic exhibition "Our Sea - the Austro-Hungarian Navy" at the NTM in Prague. NTM in Brno again prepared the exhibition "Technology in Peace, Technology in War". In addition to nuclear-powered submarines, which can operate independently at sea for months, the most modern type of vessel is submarines using AIP technology, which stands for Air Independent Propulsion. This technology, which uses the combustion of diesel, hydrogen, etc., and pure oxygen in separate combustion chambers, was first used at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s. It allows non-nuclear diesel-powered submarines to operate without surfacing for up to about one month. Other AIP options are hydrogen fuel cells using proton membrane exchanges. Compared to the classic drive, the advantage is also very quiet operation without waste heat, which makes it difficult to detect the submarine. Tank It is an original invention from the First World War. For the first time ever, this new weapon was deployed at the front, in the autumn of 1916, by the British army against the Germans. And even though they were relatively clumsy, cumbersome machines moving at low speed, the first Mark I tanks, which emerged from the fog in front of the German trenches, caused real panic among the soldiers. With the support of the infantry, they managed to break through the static front of the protracted trench warfare. This, of course, also inspired the enemy, and the British tanks soon clashed with the German ones at the front, and the French army also acquired a promising weapon. It also represented a clash of different concepts - mobility and speed vs. high resistance and firepower, on which mainly German designers built. Mark conceived their tanks more as mobile forts - Mark I had armor 10 mm thick, which was enough to protect against infantry weapons, type A7V had frontal armor up to 30 mm, which could protect it against artillery fragments. From the problems that the first tanks had, and the knowledge that their combat deployment brought, the designers then based on the development of modern tanks, which were used in the following world war. Thanks to Hitler's blitzkrieg, they essentially marked the end of classical cavalry and the advent of modern mobile armored vehicles as we know them today. Modern tanks: the American M-1 Abrams or the Israeli Merkava Mk4 represent the most modern generation of successors to the first tanks. High performance, speed, strong armor, composite armor and other elements of passive and active anti-ballistic protection, including powerful armaments and an overview of the environment and advanced communication systems, characterize the current cutting edge in this type of military technology. Automatic weapons - machine gun The term "machine gun" (from it. Maschinegewehr, ie machine gun), which is known to all readers of the Fates of the Good Soldier Švejk, characterizes the advent of a completely new generation of weapons enabling multi-shot continuous firing. More or less successful attempts to create them are older (Gatling gun, etc., if we omit ancient ancient or Chinese and Korean self-propelled systems), but only the implementation of a machine gun patented by Maxim or Vickers made the automatic weapon a revolutionary machine for the death of modern age. The machine gun, which was patented by Hiram Maxim in 1884, was used mainly as a stationary weapon in trenches and fortresses in their defense due to its weight and the need for a service team (3 to 4 men). However, unlike previous systems, which required certain activities to continue firing (e.g., turning a crank), Hiram's invention was equipped with a system that uses another mechanism to fire another blow to the gases generated during the shot. It was a principle that is used by today's modern automatic weapons. Already during the war, lighter models of machine guns were created, which allowed their portability and use as infantry weapons. Improved and more reliable automatic weapons also quickly became part of the armament of armored vehicles, where their heavier weight did not matter, problematic for infantry, but on the contrary, their destructive firepower could be used. Modern successors and successors: Machine guns remained constantly improved classical armament, but also led to the development of personal infantry automatic weapons, which are now the basis of armaments of all armies, not only them, as shown by the legendary American M16 or the most widespread automatic rifle in the world used all over the world from regular units to Somali pirates. Flamethrower The authorship of this drastic weapon in its modern form is attributed to Germany, but its history is older as usual. The German invention of 1901 (when engineer Richard Fiedler offered his first portable Flammenwerfer to the German armed forces) is essentially a modernized equivalent of the legendary Greek fire, an unquenchable incendiary device that was the fear of ancient and medieval battles. It experienced its renaissance in the First World War, where it was successfully deployed by virtually all warring parties, especially in the fight against trenches, machine gun nests and fortresses that are difficult to hit by fire. An inflammable liquid is fired from the tank by the pressure of an inert gas up to a distance of tens of meters in the form of short or several-second bursts. The first combat use of flamethrowers in bulk, as specialized weapons occurred on September 25, 1914 during the attack on the fortress Camp de Romains, in the trenches were used en masse in 1915 near Verdun. In 1915, the Germans created a special Flammenwerfer Abteilung (flamethrower division), commanded by Major Herman Reddemann - a civilian chief of the fire brigade from Leipzig. The high efficiency earned this weapon the admiration of military strategists, but also because of the drastic effects, the hatred of the soldiers - the operation of the flamethrowers certainly could not count on surviving the rest of the war as prisoners.Gas, chemical weapons Contrary to the general awareness that the "inventors" of the chemical war were the Germans, the fact that the very first use of gas as a weapon was the fault of the French, who already used several chloroacetone gas grenades during the first day of the war. However, the first mass gas attack on the Western Front was actually carried out by the Germans - at the Nouve Chapelle in October 1914, and at the end of January 1915, followed by another gas attack on the Eastern Front. However, in these cases it was mainly non-lethal, mostly tear gas. What started the real chemical war was the use of gas as a weapon in April 1915 at Ypres, where toxic chlorine was used. The British first used chlorine at Loos in August 1915, but it was here that the main problem with using the gas discharged from the cylinders arose - when the direction of the wind changed, the gas could damage the side that used it. Therefore, artillery gas grenades began to be used. One of the most insidious warfare agents of the First World War was the so-called mustard gas - mustard (the name was given to the place where it was first used - near the Flemish city of Ypres), which could not be seen or felt. He stayed at the affected place for a long time, which made it impossible for the winners to fill such a conquered position. Nearly 130,000 tons of combat gas used during World War I by all major powers (most of them by the German army) are responsible for tens of thousands of dead and maimed - statistics show 1,297,000 people affected by the gas attacks, of which 91,200 died.It is the tragic experience of the First World War that is the reason why a gas mask is still part of the equipment of all modern soldiers (although chemical weapons are already internationally banned). Aircraft carrier Yes, even this key element of today's armies has its roots in the First World War. The rebuilt British cruiser HMS Furious began to serve as the first ship of this type during this war. A 49 m long runway was set up at the bow of the ship, on which the historically first landing of the aircraft on a sailing ship took place on August 2, 1917 - it was carried out by Major Edwin Harris Dunning with his Sopwith Pup. After another reconstruction, which was completed in March 1918, Furious acquired a landing platform at the stern. On July 18, 1918, Furious carried out an air attack on the Zeppelin base in Tondern. However, the real turning point and the decisive stage that started the era of aircraft carriers was the Second World War and the years after it. Camouflage The Germans also found that their classic feldgrau - field gray, is not a universal solution in all circumstances, and an irregular pattern composed of different colors, which optically breaks the contours, works much better as camouflage. Coats made of multicolored 6-angles have appeared on the planes - the germ of modern camouflage, which uses the same principle that was later adopted by modern armies and brought to perfection. For example, BAE Systems is testing a special camouflage for tanks and armored vehicles made of proven 6-polygonal surfaces, on which the image of the environment in which the machines are currently is projected. The machines thus blend in perfectly with their surroundings and are really practically invisible, thanks to special technologies even for infrared systems. Aircraft Initially clumsy and fragile machines became powerful killing machines during the four years of the war. The aircraft were not armed at first and were used as a novelty mainly for reconnaissance purposes, but later the pilots began to take weapons with them and tried to attack enemy aircraft, albeit in relatively primitive ways - usually pistols, rifles, but also various heavy objects or hand grenades. that crashed into enemy positions. Since the autumn of 1914, aircraft with machine guns at the rear, controlled by another member of the crew, have appeared at the front. And then even faster and faster machines with a fixed machine gun, which could control a straight pilot - usually above the upper wing, or in front (for aircraft with a thruster like De Havilland DH9). The boom of fighter aircraft occurred mainly in the last years of the war at a time when some major technical problems of firing were solved - key inventions included synchronizing machine guns for firing around the propeller circuit instead of reflectors used until then, or placing weapons so that the trajectory passed out of range. propeller. This allowed for more accurate firing in the axis of the aircraft. The most famous machines of the time included the British Sopwith Pup and Camel, SE-5, the French Spad VII and the German Fokker DR-1 aircraft (which made the "Red Baron" von Richthofen famous), the Fokker D5 and the Albatross. In addition to fighters designed to destroy the enemy's air force, bombers quickly appeared, capable of hitting and destroying ground targets on a large scale, which was a harbinger of modern military conflicts. Air bombing brought a completely new element to the war - the ability to attack strategic targets such as factories, bridges, railways, etc. in the rear of the enemy, which were until then in the background safe. In addition to the German Gotha machines and the four-engine Riesenflugzeug, it was mainly the Russians who experimented with giant long-range bombers: as early as the end of 1914, the "Airship Squadron" was established in Tsarist Russia, the first special air unit of heavy bombers. Their designer was Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky, who created at that time a giant four-engine machine Ilya Muromec with a wingspan of 32 m and a speed of almost 100 kilometers. It was successfully tested even in the seaplane version - until then the largest seaplane ever built.Modern aircraft: in contrast to various design solutions from the pioneering days of armed aviation, modern machines are more or less identical, optimized thanks to computer design and simulations for maximum aerodynamics and exceeding several times the speed of sound. The main weapons are no longer firearms (machine guns and cannons) and precision sights, but advanced missile systems that, in conjunction with radars and advanced avionics, allow you to attack targets as far as many kilometers away, which the pilot does not even have to see physically. The deployment of new weapons is also characterized by the case of the first submarine destroyed by aircraft at sea on September 15, 1916. Two Austrian "flying" boats Lohner, piloted by frigate Lieutenant Walter Zelezny with observer von Klimburg, and Lieutenant Dimitri Konjovic with observer cadet North 70 Foucault The seaplanes dropped depth charges on the submarine, which damaged it, the submarine was still able to reach the surface, but the seaplanes bombed it again, so the captain decided to surrender with the crew, leave the submarine and sink. to remain on the hull and on the floats on the surface until they were taken on board by an Austrian torpedo boat.Medicine and medicine, radio engineering In the treatment and treatment of various injuries, doctors also gained significant knowledge, especially surgeons who operated in the often desperate conditions of victims of war, which was reflected in the development of modern surgery. Alexandr Fleming, who later became famous for the invention of penicillin, also followed up on the knowledge gained during the medical practice of the First World War in the study of antiseptic agents. These antibiotics helped save lives in the next war and beyond. During the First World War, it was found, among other things, that meat stored in warehouses after firing cotton and ammunition spoils less. This was due to sanitarium and guamo, which were part of these explosives and showed preservative effects. Soon, these raw materials were replaced by nitrite salt, which kept the food preserved. This technology began to be used industrially in the storage and preservation of food for its preservation. Military needs have also contributed to the progress of research in radio engineering. Marconi's wireless telegraphy began to be used in maritime communications in the pre-war years. In 1914, the American physicist Irving Langmuir perfected the tube with a high vacuum and the addition of a second grid, in 1915 the German engineer Walter Schottky constructed shielded tubes and the American researcher Lee de Forest the first tube transmitter - these and other innovations helped radio talk between Paris and Washington. at a distance of more than 9000 km.
Hamburg, Rathausmarkt, in the late afternoon of July 31, 1914: Infantry soldiers of the Hamburg Regiment march through the Alster metropolis. At its head: an officer on horseback, who stops in all public places and announces the imposition of the so-called siege, the final stage in the war. First World War: The "Great Catastrophe of the 20th Century"Austria-Hungary had already gone to war with Serbia three days earlier, an unofficial and secretly agreed procedure with Berlin. Serbia's largest ally, Russia, is to be forced to mobilize, which is expected to happen. This seems to confirm that an attack by Russia is imminent. The Germans believe they are going to wage a just defense war. General mobilization begins at 6 a.m. on the morning of August 1st across Germany. Russia is officially declared war. The First World War, the "Great Catastrophe of the 20th Century", has begun. Collective war frenzy: the "August experience"In the summer days in July and August 1914, enthusiasm for war first spread. A frenzied, collective nationalism, which is later mystified as an "August experience", affects large parts of the population. So also the citizens of Hamburg who come together in the elegant "Alster Pavilion" on Jungfernstieg. As the "Hamburger Nachrichten" reports, "the chapel has to play incessantly, and then the sounds of 'Germany, Germany above all' came to the ears of those who had to wait outside because the sound of thunder and roaring was not there for anyone would have been more space ". Such scenes of spontaneous war euphoria take place in almost all northern German cities. "Battle of the Jungfernstieg": Euphoria turns into violenceFrom the beginning, nationalistic enthusiasm also includes carnivalesque scenes, hooliganism and brutal violence. Even the landlord of the "Alster Pavilion" is not spared: When he tries to prevent a guest from repeatedly reading out an extra sheet, he is hit by the crowd when the café is turned into a heap of broken glass. The advancing police had to pull the sabers to stop the "Battle of Jungfernstieg". Something similar is repeated in Kiel: When the imperial anthem sounds there on July 28, students beat up other café guests who don't get up spontaneously, sing along and "Hooray!" roar. "Spyitis" and mass hysteria are spreading A kind of mass hysteria seizes the people: On August 4, 1914, at Bremen Central Station, the slogan "Stop the spy!" Is enough to trigger a mass psychosis, as a result of which a man is almost killed by a fanatical mob. When the police finally get the victim seriously injured, it turns out that he is a German soldier on the way to his unit. The Hanoverian philosophy professor Theodor Lessing, who is arrested on the same day because of his long beard on a platform as a "Russian spy", is finally saved only by a Prussian officer who turns out to be his former student. "How much abuse, how many malice, acts of revenge, bestialities were practiced in these hideous days," Lessing notes later, "nobody was sure of his life." "Clouds are mistaken for planes, bicycle handlebars for bombs"In the first days of August alone, 28 civilians were shot dead at wild roadblocks because there was a rumor that French gold would be smuggled from France to Russia by car. A police chief speaks of a "fool's house" in which "the population" is starting to go crazy: "Everyone sees a Russian or French spy in their fellow man and believes that they have a duty to bloody him and the policeman who takes care of him Clouds are mistaken for airplanes, stars for airships, bicycle handlebars for bombs and spies are shot legally. There is no telling how all this will work out when times get really difficult. " The beginning of the war: ordinary people are skeptical Contrary to the myth of the "August experience", according to which all sections of the population were equally enthusiastic about the war, this phenomenon primarily affects the nobility, the bourgeoisie, many intellectuals and of course the political leadership. In contrast, the mood is often very different in the working-class areas of the big cities and in the country. The agents of the political police note on their sneak tours through Hamburg workers' pubs that those present ask loudly what they are concerned with the Austrian heir to the throne and why they should give their lives for it. In Bremen, a social democrat observed on August 1 the "miserable mood" he "has ever experienced": "Mothers, women and brides get the young men to pull and cry. Everyone has the feeling that they are going straight to the slaughterhouse. " Not prepared for years of World War IIHowever, hardly anyone expects how quickly times will be more difficult. Most soldiers believe that Christmas will be back at home, and the state is in no way prepared for a long war. For the majority of the northern German civilian population, the outbreak of war does not pose any military threat, but in many villages there is "sudden horror" after the declaration of war, as a contemporary witness notes. Many farmers fear harvest and livelihood. In addition, horses and wagons are often confiscated by the military. Siegfried Jacobson, editor of the magazine "Schaubühne", writes during his summer vacation on the North Sea: "Bring the enthusiastic Berliners here between our 15 farmhouses and they will fall silent." Hunger and unemployment are spreadingThe war is particularly noticeable in the northern German ports. Due to the British naval blockade, shipping practically comes to a standstill. Despite the general mobilization, mass unemployment already prevailed in August. Shipowners, shipbrokers, trading and port companies in Hamburg, Bremerhaven and elsewhere lay off their employees. Although the men subject to military service go to war, 30,000 unemployed people are registered in Hamburg alone at the beginning of September 1914, many of them dockers. Already on August 21, the "Hamburger Echo" reports that "in the poorer districts, the need is infinite, yes, that in many cases there is already starvation". Many families can no longer pay the rent, the number of homeless increases from 7,000 to 16,000 within a month. Ten million soldiers die in the First World WarWith the first terrible front-line experiences, the "baptism of fire", disillusionment and disillusionment spread to the war volunteers. Theodor Reil from Oldenburg wrote to his teacher from Belgium at the end of August: "After a 33-hour train journey and a seven-hour wait, our people had a strenuous march. On the way, the first destruction, the horror of the war, burned-out houses, villages were completely destroyed . " At the latest with the defeat in the Battle of the Marne in September 1914, which made a quick victory against France impossible, many things are like the grocer Johanna Boldt. At the beginning of October, she wrote to her husband Julius on the Eastern Front: "People want nothing more than the end of this unfortunate war. And there is still no prospect." It is still four long years before this wish comes true in the course of the November Revolution of 1918, which begins in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. By the end of the war, ten million soldiers had died on the battlefields of Europe - including Julius Boldt.
During the Second World War, the Swiss border became fateful for numerous civilian refugees, partisans, deserters and troubled foreign troops. The smuggling on the southern border peaked. With the introduction of the war economy in Switzerland, the supply of the population, economy and army should be regulated via a state-controlled distribution system. In addition to government intervention in the economy and the distribution of food, more attention has also been paid to combating the black market and smuggling. In the first years of the war, the "sneak trade" fell noticeably. While smuggling activities remained relatively low, especially in northern and eastern Switzerland, they began to take on an unprecedented level on the southern border from autumn 1942 - in the opposite direction from Italy to Switzerland. The reason for this development was the chaotic situation in northern Italy. After the Allies landed in Sicily in July 1943, German troops occupied the area. The dictator-freed dictator Benito Mussolini became head of government of the Italian Social Republic (Repubblica Sociale Italiana), a German satellite state. The situation of the population living there deteriorated dramatically, many people fled to Switzerland. Numerous people who refused to serve, those fleeing the flags and partisans went underground or withdrew to mountainous regions along the Swiss border. There, however, it was no longer possible for them to do regular work, and they also no longer received any brands for the already poor food rations. In order to survive, many worked as smugglers. AGE OF TRAVELEntire columns of people set out to take food such as flour, butter, salami, cheese, but also shoes, bicycle tires, silk and donkeys across the border. By far the most smuggled good was rice, which is why people still remember the “epoca del riso” (“the age of rice”) in the border region. The amounts of rice confiscated at the southern border were impressive: 115 tons were confiscated only in the last year of the war! At the same time, 9,154 smugglers were caught, the effective number of illegal goods being transported was probably five times higher. The annual reports of the Ticino customs district spoke of a "real smuggler invasion". The Second World War marked a profound break in the history of smuggling. After smuggling from Switzerland to Italy was predominant, it was now mostly in the opposite direction. This phenomenon cannot be explained, as long believed, primarily by the high demand for food in Switzerland, but above all by the exchange rate between the Italian lira and the Swiss franc. During the war, the Swiss franc remained relatively stable due to the (controversial) monetary policy of the Swiss National Bank, while in Italy the devaluation of the lira progressed quickly. When the Italian smugglers sold their goods in Switzerland, they brought the amount collected to the black market in Italy, where the Swiss franc was in great demand. The proceeds could be used to buy many more goods than one had previously owned. PEOPLE smuggling across the borderSmugglers knew the border like their own pocket. Some of them also acted as "passeurs" by bringing Allied soldiers and Jews who had fled from prison camps across the border. Not infrequently, they shamelessly exploited the fear of death of the Jewish refugees and demanded horrendous amounts from them. Examples of up to 50,000 lire per transit are known. The Allied secret services based in Ticino also needed their help. Through the smugglers, they provided the Italian resistance with financial support and weapons. During the war, many weapons were in circulation in the border area. Especially when former soldiers or partisans worked as smugglers, the conflicts at the border sometimes turned into bloody clashes. For example, near the border guard post of Cantine di Gandria, where the Swiss Customs Museum is today, a soldier and three smugglers met on the morning of November 27, 1944. It ended fatally for a member of the smuggler group called Rinaldo Fiumberti. Such tragic incidents also mobilized the press, which commented on these events under the title “Wild West in Ticino”. The reporting contributed to the fact that the “smuggler invasion” is still firmly anchored in the collective memory of the population in the border region.
The collision between two helicopters of the French army occurred Monday evening, while the soldiers were engaged in a mission against the jihadists. Two days after the accident that killed 13 French soldiers in Mali, the time is now for investigation. Wednesday November 27, Colonel Frédéric Barbry, spokesman for the army staff, announced on BFMTV that the black boxes of the two military helicopters involved in the accident had been recovered and were to be analyzed. It is "too early to be able to prejudge the date of these different analyzes", he added, prescribing the need to give specialists time to analyze "all the parameters" of these black boxes, precious to understand what that it happened, Monday evening, in the Malian sky. However, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and the Chief of the Defense Staff (CEMA), General François Lecointre, gave some indications allowing to understand the context in which the drama unfolded. "I don't know exactly what happened. But what is clear is that in any event there is an element of risk assumed (...), said the latter on France Inter A military operation, in particular in the Sahel and in the conditions in which we are engaged, it is always an exercise in very high fashion ". A major operation It had been three days since this major operation had been launched. Three days that paratrooper commandos of the Barkhane force were hunting down jihadist terrorists between the towns of Gao and Ménaka, in the Eranga valley, south of Indelimane, in Liptako. The region has been hit hard by terrorism, including in recent days. In this city, 49 Malian soldiers were killed on November 1, during an attack by the Islamic State in the Grand Sahara (EIGS). The next day, in this same area, the 24-year-old French brigadier, Ronan Pointeau, was killed in the explosion of an explosive device in the passage of his armored vehicle. Again, the EISG claimed the installation of this artisanal mine. A major operation It had been three days since this major operation had been launched. Three days that paratrooper commandos of the Barkhane force were hunting down jihadist terrorists between the towns of Gao and Ménaka, in the Eranga valley, south of Indelimane, in Liptako. The region has been hit hard by terrorism, including in recent days. In this city, 49 Malian soldiers were killed on November 1, during an attack by the Islamic State in the Grand Sahara (EIGS). The next day, in this same area, the 24-year-old French brigadier, Ronan Pointeau, was killed in the explosion of an explosive device in the passage of his armored vehicle. Again, the EISG claimed the installation of this artisanal mine. It is shortly after 5 pm, Monday evening, when the parachute commando groups spot the jihadists. It is an organized group, equipped with a pick-up and several motorcycles. French soldiers engage in ground combat. Night is about to fall on the Sahel desert. A dark night in this isolated area, 20 km from Indelimane. While the combat is engaged, a pick-up flees towards the North. The fighters on the ground call for air reinforcements. Two Mirages 2000 and a Cougar helicopter, with an immediate extraction team on board, were sent there, as well as two Tiger helicopters. The latter fly higher than the former. Their mission: to identify this fleeing pick-up at altitude. "Very demanding operational conditions" Air reinforcements take less than 30 minutes to arrive in the combat zone. It is around 6 p.m. and night has already fallen. A dark and moonless night (helicopter pilots speak of a "level 5 night", that is, total darkness which makes it particularly difficult to pilot their craft.) "Very demanding combat conditions and operational conditions" sums up the Chief of the Defense Staff (CEMA), General François Lecointre. The lack of visibility, in particular, constitutes a huge risk: "It must be understood that through night vision binoculars, you have particularly degraded images, you must intellectually be able to reconstruct the relief, while being fully aware of the mission that you are going to carry out, "explained Wednesday the spokesman of the staff of the armies, Frédéric Barbry, himself a former helicopter pilot. On the ground, the paratrooper commandos on the ground heard two explosions. It is 6:38 p.m. The Tiger who remains in flight quickly confirms what everyone already suspects and fears: there has been a collision between the Cougar and one of the two Tiger.
No, the French army is not so bad!Some British and Americans question the role of the French army in world conflicts. An English historian re-establishes the truth. When it comes to commemorating the terrible events of 1917, which were among the deadliest of the First World War, it is understandable that the British focus their attention on the battle of Passchendaele, while the Americans, themselves, put forward their entry into war against Germany. Unfortunately, these commemorations are often accompanied by a deplorable setback, which consists in denigrating the courage and skills of their French allies. In a 1995 episode of The Simpsons, which journalist Jonah Goldberg helped popularize in one of his articles in 1999, the French are even called "cowardly cheese eaters". One way to suggest, among other things, that the French abandoned Paris to the Germans in 1940 without even firing a shot. Obviously, this spade was intended to be satirical, but the damage was done, as we discovered in 2003; as proof of this, the invective addressed to the French by American and British politicians and the media following France's decision (however a wise decision, with hindsight) not to support military intervention in Iraq . If the Americans and the British want to take history seriously, they must be fair to the feats of arms of the French. A little honestyFrom August 1914 to early 1917, it was the French army that paid the price for the fighting on the Western Front - and this, with remarkable stoicism. In the space of two weeks - between August 16 and August 31, 1914 - there were 210,993 deaths on the French side. By comparison, the British lost 164,709 men in the first month of the Somme offensive in July 1916. The French army has also adapted very effectively to the challenges of trench warfare by perfecting its technique in barrage fire. She was also a pioneer in terms of tactics for the infantry platoon, with the development of new automatic weapons and rifle grenades. While the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916, was a disaster for the English, the French achieved all objectives. At the beginning of 1917, 68 French divisions were the crucible of mutinies. But the soldiers involved in these mutinies continued to defend their trenches, simply refusing to go to the pipe-breaker. The army rose brilliantly, playing a central role in the Allied victory of 1918. From July to November 1918, French troops captured 139,000 German prisoners. In the same interval, the American Expeditionary Force captured 44,142 Germans. Stop clichésDuring the interwar period, the French invested in defensive fortifications, with the Maginot Line, along the Franco-German border. This decision has often been ridiculed on the pretext that it revealed a defeatist attitude. But, France being less populated than Germany, she could not hope to compete with her only army. The fortifications had to compensate for this imbalance. The Maginot line aimed to protect the industrial heart of France from a lightning attack from the Germans and to create a funnel in Belgium to slow down the German invasion, and, at first, it worked. But the German army won the campaign of May and June 1940 thanks to its daring "sickle stroke" in the forest of the Ardennes, which was considered impassable by the Allied commanders. The British, French and Belgian armies were surrounded to the north, suffering a heavy defeat. French strategic planning is largely responsible for this catastrophe, but let's not forget that it was an Allied defeat, not just a French defeat. The Dutch and the Belgians being reluctant to risk their neutrality, there was little coordination with them, which facilitated the German attack. As for the British, they let France pay the price of the land war without giving it much support. The British Expeditionary Force in 1940 represented only 12 divisions. By 1918, there had been as many as 59. So it was not surprising that Nazi propaganda used to taunt its enemies by claiming that the British were "determined to fight until the death of the last French ”. The “miracle” of DunkirkAlthough their generals were surpassed in 1940, the French troops fought with courage and skill. For example, during the battle of Gembloux - from May 14 to 15, 1940 -, the first French army succeeded in repelling the German assaults on numerous occasions, saving time so that their comrades and their allies could withdraw. Without such rearguard actions, there would have been no "Dunkirk miracle" and the war could have been lost in 1940. After crossing the Meuse, the German divisions of Panzer only had to travel 240 km towards the Channel coast to trap the Allied forces - 1.8 million French soldiers were captured and 90,000 were killed or wounded. At the start of Operation Barbarossa - the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 - the Red Army lost nearly 5 million men, including 2.5 million who surrendered. The Russians also lost 100,000 square kilometers of territory. However, as Charles de Gaulle told Stalin after this terrible defeat, the Soviets still had vast territory in Eurasia, where they could retreat. The French did not lack courage in 1940, they lacked space. Contribution to the liberation of EuropeThe French military contribution to the Allied victory during the Second World War continued after 1940. Indeed, 550,000 French soldiers made a major contribution to the liberation of Western Europe in 1944. Operation Dragoon - the landing in Provence in August 1944 - was a Franco-American operation, with limited participation from Great Britain. Many French soldiers involved in Operation Dragoon were recruited from the colonies, as well as from the British side, since 2.6 million Indian soldiers were involved in the war effort. In any event, the French units which served in Italy and in Western Europe between 1943 and 1945 fought bravely, in the best tradition of the French army.
Each of us can explain the concept of a military watch differently. Is it a watch with special features? Must have military camouflage colors? Or is resilience the most important? We asked six real soldiers for their opinion. Tiger squadron pilot "I would definitely endure a small detail in tiger colors as a fad. I would like to wear such a watch very much and at every opportunity, not only in the cockpit. " As a helicopter pilot of the 221st Tiger Helicopter Squadron and a mission veteran, I can say that I consider a quality watch to be an absolute necessity. I prefer the watch with an automatic movement and especially the classic analog with an easy-to-read time. I would appreciate the possibility of analog stopwatches and especially the time countdown function. For the pilot, this function is essential for the accuracy of arrival on time or for determining the time of impact on the target. It would be interesting to visually signal by flashing the display that the countdown time is approaching (e.g. 30s, 20s and 10s before the set time). I would like to see the countdown in the form of three, two and one by flashing and lighting up at the time of the countdown, not just the very end of the countdown. Other functions, in addition to the data pointer, I find rather a problem. It would certainly be interesting if the watch was adapted for readability with and without NVG equipment, so that it could be read at night without unnecessary backlighting. I take waterproofness, scratch resistance and easy handling of watches in flight gloves for granted. At the same time, I want the watch to have an elegant design so that I can take it to a normal "non-green" uniform or suit. What I like the most is the leather strap, which is the least handy from a practical point of view, but if it is to be made, it must be made of really durable leather and in a design that can withstand everyday wear and extraordinary soaking. The spindle at the strap must be durable. If the watch was dedicated in this way to a pilot of a tiger squadron, I would certainly endure a small detail in tiger colors as a fad. I would like to wear such a watch very often and often for every occasion, not only in the cockpit. Paratrooper in Afghanistan "I prefer a watch with fewer functions than the most modern fads, looking more self-tactical." I work for paratroopers from Chrudim. I am now deployed in a foreign operation, specifically in Afghanistan. Suitable military watches or "work" watches for me are especially those that fulfill their main function, they show the current time. It doesn't hurt if they also tell me the time in the Czech Republic, or another time zone. If the tactical equipment for thousands of crowns, which the watch is for me without a doubt, accurately displays the time, but it is damaged due to the external environment or rough handling, it is wrong. That's why resilience is another main factor for me. The case, glass and, above all, the strap must be able to withstand shocks, pulls and all kinds of stress on the material, which it will definitely encounter during dynamic training and combat events. I take waterproofness and dust resistance for granted. I don't need a watch with a compass that needs to be calibrated before every third use, because if I need this feature, I usually have air support over my head that requires determining the position of the target or myself as accurately and as quickly as possible. A classic liquid compass on the strap of the watch, which does not calibrate in any way, will suffice for this. Working with the watch at night will make it easier for me to light with tritium, as I don't have to press any button, but the watch simply stays on. It doesn't bother me for anyone to see the light, because from a few meters away, this kind of lighting is practically unseen. In conclusion? From my own experience, I know that hi-tech technologies often disappoint, so I prefer a watch with fewer functions than the most modern fads, looking more self-tactical. There is power in simplicity, and in unfavorable conditions this is doubly true. It's the same as with a car. The less functional it is, the longer it will ride. And anyone who rode a hundred will prove it to me. Paratrooper in Afghanistan "Luminox watches are reliable on my unit and, like military watches, they predominate in our country." In the ACR, everything works on time. As a paratrooper of the Chrudim 43rd Airborne Battalion, I have to rely on my watch. My favorite "work" watches include Luminox watches, they have various strap alternatives. I chose a textile strap that has withstood strokes of various kinds. As a privilege for military watches that get really busy, I appreciate that the sapphire crystal doesn't have a single scratch. The advantage of Luminoxes is their Night Vision Tubes system, which is constantly lit. They can be seen even in night vision without having to linger by pressing the light buttons and the advantage is that they do not use a battery. Secondly, I use GARMIN watches, which are no longer completely military, but have many useful functions, whether it is a compass, the indication of the exact position according to GPS satellites or simple navigation. The problem with these watches is their battery consumption or the need to cover the display with a protective foil to protect against scratches. With military watches, you can't tell which ones are the best. Every soldier must choose exactly what suits him. Nowadays, when the market is full of various brands and features that manufacturers give watches, it is difficult. In any case, Luminox watches are reliable on my unit and, like military watches, they predominate in our country. GARMIN watches are also used as a sports tester, so they are very popular with soldiers. Personally, I use them a lot when deploying in Afghanistan to give the exact location using GPS. Reconnaissance Squadron Commander "I prefer a classic hand-held watch with soft backlight or tritium hands, without the unnecessary extra features that just drain the flashlight." I am a member of the 102nd Reconnaissance Battalion of General Karel Paleček in Prostějov as the commander of the reconnaissance platoon. In my work, watches are an essential part of the equipment. I prefer a classic hand watch with a soft backlight or with tritium hands, without unnecessary extra functions that just discharge the flashlight. If I use a watch with GPS, I just need to determine my position or grid. I mostly use GPS. I prefer the strap made of plastic or a combination of rubber and PVC. The fabric tears on prolonged contact and the metal straps are unmasking and can freeze to the skin in winter (personal experience). I take breathability, water resistance and resistance to shocks and scratches for granted. As for the appearance, for me as a "explorer" certainly as little as possible, ie. Dark colors, no colorful elements and must not be too heavy. In addition, I will appreciate the stopwatch and date stamp among the functions. On my next watch I would welcome the possibility of recharging the flashlight from an external source (Ideally MicroUSB, USB). Thanks to this, I can also show the data collected from the watch (eg the route of movement, elevation) after connecting to a PC. I would definitely welcome a battery status indicator. If such a watch were found at a favorable price, I would not hesitate to buy. The most used brands in our department include Luminox, Garmin and Suunto. Military school student "For me, military watches are watches that can withstand demanding conditions without much damage" I am a student of the Academy of the Armed Forces of General Milan Rastislav Štefánik. After graduating, I will go to the position of mechanical platoon commander. For me, military watches are watches that can withstand difficult conditions without much damage and can still perform their role in combat conditions. This is the source of the properties I require from them. First, it must be highly resistant to impact and also scratch glass. They should be equipped with a reliable power supply system that would guarantee their long-term trouble-free operation (ie solar panel or similar system). As another requirement, I would mention the color, which is very important for soldiers. In combat conditions, it should not unmask the soldier, so I would welcome the brown or green color of the watch. If there is a possibility, I would choose a surface that eliminates the reflection of light from the glass of the watch. Of the brands, I prefer watches from the Traser company, which also produces military watches. Military school student "The glass is ideal silicon with increased durability." I am currently a student at the University of Defense and I have graduated from the Military High School in Moravská Třebová. Military watches are a term that is not defined, but for me these parameters are important - durability, color and special features. Resilience? The slide is ideal silicon with increased resistance. Why did I choose mineral and not sapphire? The sapphire crystal is less prone to scratches, but all the more prone to cracking, and it's still better to have a scratch on the glass than not to have the glass at all. Water resistance at least 10 bar, ie diving without equipment. The strap is preferably rubber or fabric, because the leather is destroyed and cracks in frequent contact with water. Color? Definitely darker shades of colors rather than variegated. Ideally black, brown, green or "desert". Function? I prefer a classic analog watch with hands. They are clear and yet they can have a lot of functions (stopwatch, thermometer, compass, etc.). The compass is a welcome function for me, which I will use especially for orientation in training areas. Radio time management is another great feature that makes my job easier. I also require hand lighting, ideally tritium. My favorite brands are Traser, Luminox and if I had to choose from a digital watch, it would definitely be the Suunto brand.
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