Traditional weapons in shock tactics

It is often important to remember that however technology may have evolved, the people who use this technology have not. An example of this fact can be seen in the use of swords in modern warfare. I recently came across an article by Bou Jean which examines the introduction of sword usage into the Australian Mounted Division’s training programme in 1917-1918.

Although never considered as a replacement for modern firearms, the sword became an important element of shock tactics when charging Turkish machine gun positions: “the rapid rush of the horsemen and the sight of the steel had its usual unnerving effect.” (123) The intimidation of encountering mounted sword-wielding enemies has clearly not diminished.

The experience of the division throughout the operations from 19th September to 2nd October 1918 was that our force had its value practically doubled by the issue of the sword. They retained all their old value as mounted rifles, with exactly the same firepower, and added to this was the power of shock action—a power {whose lack} had been keenly felt on previous occasions since leaving the desert of SINAI. (123)

Bou, Jean. “Cavalry, Firepower, and Swords: The Australian Light Horse and the Tactical Lessons of Cavalry Operations in Palestine, 1916-1918.” The Journal of Military History 71.1 (2007): 99-125. Project MUSE. 9 Apr. 2010 .


Planning for the future: Preventing muscle deterioration

Ok, so I’m not 70 myself, but it’s still important to have a plan to keep you away from the bridge table. One of my favorite journals, The Journal of Applied Physiology, recently published an article that addresses one of the major concerns of aging, the loss of skeletal muscle mass. After testing a number of different exercise methods on different age groups, the team saw that a combination of low-intensity resistance exercise with blood flow restriction stimulated muscle protein synthesis in men of about 70 years of age.

Subjects were studied identically on two occasions: during BFR exercise {bilateral leg extension exercise at 20% of 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) with pressure cuff placed proximally on both thighs and inflated at 200 mmHg} and during exercise without the pressure cuff (Ctrl). MPS (muscle protein synthesis) and phosphorylation of signaling proteins were determined on successive muscle biopsies by stable isotopic techniques and immunoblotting, respectively. MPS increased 56% from baseline after BFR exercise (P < 0.05), while no change was observed in the Ctrl group (P > 0.05).

Whether you are part of an elderly age group or not, these findings are definitely encouraging for anyone who doesn’t have the patience to sit around in a chair all day.

Fry, C., Glynn, E., Drummond, M., Timmerman, K., Fujita, S., Abe, T., Dhanani, S., Volpi, E., & Rasmussen, B.. (2010). Blood flow restriction exercise stimulates mTORC1 signaling and muscle protein synthesis in older men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 108(5), 1199.