Native Askari (1896)

by Mitch on August 10, 2011 0 Comments

The employment of indigenous troops in European colonial armies was commonplace throughout the nineteenth century. It offset the military cost of empire, and was often employed as a tactic to elevate one group of peoples over another. The askari raised by the Italians in Eritrea were, by all accounts, well trained and disciplined. Although they were not provided with the newest repeating rifles, it is clear their performance at Adowa exhibited a high level of professionalism. Likewise, the British Indian sepoy regiments were certainly professionals of the highest calibre, and French colonial troops, such as the Zouaves of Algeria or Senegalese Tiralleurs, were considered elite troops.


The majority of Albertone's brigade at Adowa was composed of askari battalions, and while their formations broke against Ethiopian attacks, it was only after their ammunition ran out and their position became untenable several hours after the initial contact.


Baratieri's Forces at ...

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The Dogs Of War (1980) - Part 1

by Mitch on July 24, 2011 0 Comments

Here's one of the most surprisingly good films I've ever seen on IFC. Normally the Independent Film Channel has a penchant for showing unusual or obscure films that aren't really "independent" in the true sense...this film happens to be one of them. "The Dogs of War" (released by United Artists) is a 1980 war film based upon the novel of the same namer by Frederick Forsyth, directed by John Irvin. It stars Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger as part of a small, international unit of mercenary soldiers privately hired to depose President Kimba of a fictional "Republic of Zangaro", in Africa, so that a British tycoon can gain mining access to a huge platinum deposit. This movie was filmed on location in Belize. The Dogs of War title is a phrase from William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar (1599), which uses the line Cry, 'Havoc!', and ...

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Britain's Rebel Air Force: War from the Air in Rhodesia, 1965-80

by Mitch on May 27, 2011 0 Comments

Britain's Rebel Air Force: War from the Air in Rhodesia, 1965-80 (Hardcover)

by Roy Conyers Nesbitt (Author)

The birth of Rhodesia's air force was unintentional. In the mid-thirties, when the re-emergence of a German threat to peace caused nations to re-examine their defences, the members of the Legislative Assembly of Southern Rhodesia did likewise. In a gesture of loyalty, they offered Britain £10,000 for the Royal Navy to strengthen imperial defence. They were not expecting the British to respond with the suggestion that Southern Rhodesia should establish an air-training unit. This illustrated the unique position of the Colony of Southern Rhodesia in the British Empire because, not only was she self-governing, but she had the right to defend herself despite not having the status of a dominion and therefore sovereignty. As external threats hardly existed, defence was left to the ...

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Congo crisis - Mercenaries

by Mitch on January 12, 2011 1 Comment

Mike Hoare

During the Congo Crisis Mike Hoare organised and led two separate mercenary groups:


    * 1960–1961. Major Mike Hoare's first mercenary action was in Katanga, a province trying to break away from the newly independent Congo. The unit was called "4 Commando". During this time he married Phyllis Simms, an airline stewardess.

    * 1964. Congolese Prime Minister Moïse Tshombe hired "Colonel" Mike Hoare to lead a military unit called "5 Commando (Congo)" made up of about 300 men most of whom were from South Africa.His second in command was a young South African paratrooper Capt. GD Snygans. The unit's mission was to fight a breakaway rebel group called Simbas. Later Hoare and his mercenaries worked in concert with Belgian paratroopers, Cuban exile pilots, and CIA hired mercenaries who attempted to save 1,600 civilians (mostly Europeans and missionaries) in Stanleyville from the Simba rebels in Operation Dragon ...

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Sarraounia Sorceress-queen of the Azna Kingdom (fl. 1899)

by Mitch on December 10, 2010 0 Comments

Photo collage from modern film.

The Azna occupied the Dallol Mawri, a broad valley in the Hausa country of the present-day Dogondoutchi district of Niger in northwest Africa. As has happened with so many heroes of history, myths have grown about Sarraounia’s childhood. She had a Spartan upbringing with adoptive parents. At the age of eighteen she already knew how to lead men into battle, and as a tribal sorceress, she held her warriors and her enemies alike in thrall. When the Fulani of Sokoto attempted to convert her and her people to Islam, she and her warriors fought bravely to drive them back. She had also successfully resisted invasion by the Tuaregs from the north before the white man appeared.


In January 1899, French troops—primarily black mercenaries— commanded by captains Voulet and Chanoine left Segou in Mali, crossed the territories of the Zarma and of the Gourma ...

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Protecting Ethiopian Sovereignty: The Military

by Mitch on December 10, 2010 0 Comments

Hubert Julian

Haile Selassie had begun reforming the military since when, as regent in 1919, he appointed a small group of Ethiopians and Russian officers with many in the former group having served in the British-led King’s African Rifles and training exercise. He continued the process through a heavy project of recruitment, armament purchase, and extensive use of foreign military advisors from diverse backgrounds including English, French, and Belgian. The Swedish missions were, however, favored in the training of the Imperial Guard, which helped maintained the emperor’s hegemony in the capital while protecting him from regional opposition such as that posed by Ras Gugsa, the governor of Gondar and Begemder, who was soundly defeated in the 1930 conflict. In 1934, a military college was opened at Holeta under the guidance of Belgian instructors, and soldiers of promise were sent to the French military academy at St. Cyr for ...

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by Mitch on November 10, 2010 0 Comments

Persian Cossack Brigade in Tabriz in 1909


The reign of Mozaffar al-Din Shah (1896–1907) continued the trend of political suppression, top-down reforms, and development concessions (most notably, the d’Arcy concession of 1901 that led to the formation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909, the first oil company in the Middle East) that simultaneously deepened Iran’s financial problems and trained a westernized elite increasingly drawn to the democratic strands of renewalism. Economic disruptions caused by the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and resentment over heavy-handed government tactics to prevent hoarding by merchants sparked a new alliance of intellectuals, merchants, and ranking clergy against the monarchy.


Politicians with renewalist sympathies channeled the protest toward the creation of a Parliament (Majles) and a constitution over the course of 1906 to 1907. But no sooner was constitutional order established than disputes broke out over the nature of democracy in Iran. Some ...

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by Mitch on October 2, 2010 0 Comments

Lee Christmas would be a figure in the banana wars whose concern for his projects would be so great that he would pick up a weapon and fight for them. His interest in the Central American region had been sparked years before, when he headed a railroad project there. When Zeleya’s troops seized his locomotive, he joined with the rebels in Honduras. Troops captured him in 1907, and he told them not to bury him if he were killed... “Because I want the buzzards to eat me, and fly over you afterwards, and scatter white droppings all over your goddamn black faces.” (pg. 68 Banana Men) Impressed with his audacity, the Honduran Navy spared his life.

Christmas would become an instrumental leader for the rebels and US interests.

On the battlefield he fought with Machine Gun Malone at the La Cieba invasion.His of his bravery and leadership among ...

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