Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Things I didn’t know (a continuing series)

The French had four times as many dead (95,000) in the Crimean War as the British did (22,000).

XINYE, CHINA - FEBRUARY 02: A macaque monkey is taught to ride a bicycle as it works with a trainer at the Qilingang Monkey Farm on February 2, 2016 in Baowan village, Xinye county, Henan province, China. The area boasts a centuries-long and lucrative history of raising and training monkeys for performance. In Xinye, villagers are seeing an increase in business with the lunar calendar's "Year of the Monkey". Farmers say most of the monkeys are bred and raised for domestic zoos, circuses, and performing groups, but add that some are also sold for medical research in China and the United States. Despite the popularity of the tradition, critics contend the training methods and conditions constitute animal cruelty.  (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
XINYE, CHINA - FEBRUARY 02: A macaque monkey is taught to ride a bicycle as it works with a trainer at the Qilingang Monkey Farm on February 2, 2016 in Baowan village, Xinye county, Henan province, China. The area boasts a centuries-long and lucrative history of raising and training monkeys for performance. In Xinye, villagers are seeing an increase in business with the lunar calendar's "Year of the Monkey". Farmers say most of the monkeys are bred and raised for domestic zoos, circuses, and performing groups, but add that some are also sold for medical research in China and the United States. Despite the popularity of the tradition, critics contend the training methods and conditions constitute animal cruelty. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
XINYE, CHINA - FEBRUARY 02: A macaque monkey is taught to ride a bicycle as it works with a trainer at the Qilingang Monkey Farm on February 2, 2016 in Baowan village, Xinye county, Henan province, China. The area boasts a centuries-long and lucrative history of raising and training monkeys for performance. In Xinye, villagers are seeing an increase in business with the lunar calendar's "Year of the Monkey". Farmers say most of the monkeys are bred and raised for domestic zoos, circuses, and performing groups, but add that some are also sold for medical research in China and the United States. Despite the popularity of the tradition, critics contend the training methods and conditions constitute animal cruelty. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Best Defense is on summer hiatus. During this restful spell we offer re-runs from the past 12 months. This item originally ran on Mar. 15. 

— The French had four times as many dead (95,000) in the Crimean War as the British did (22,000).

— Huge bursts of energy are coming from what an astronomer calls a “very puny and faint galaxy.”

Best Defense is on summer hiatus. During this restful spell we offer re-runs from the past 12 months. This item originally ran on Mar. 15. 

— The French had four times as many dead (95,000) in the Crimean War as the British did (22,000).

— Huge bursts of energy are coming from what an astronomer calls a “very puny and faint galaxy.”

— The Pentagon oddly enough had different rules for Department of Defense civilians and soldiers returning from dealing with the West African Ebola outbreak. If your copy of the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Military Medicine hasn’t arrived yet, this is what it says: “The DoD’s 21-day quarantine policy for military personnel returning from West Africa53 was among the strictest government quarantines. Interestingly, a similar quarantine period was not mandated for DoD civilians returning to the United States from West Africa Ebola intervention missions.”

— Something I don’t understand: Why did Turkey enter World War I on the side of the Germans? Was it because it thought Germany would win, and then it could pick up pieces of the French and British empires?

— French military officers were banned from voting from 1872 until after World War II.

— The Russian navy has land-based strike aircraft, which in fact are “the real ‘teeth’ of Russian naval aviation,” according to an article in the March issue of Proceedings.

— Speaking of things Russian, the U.S. Army last year bought almost 70 million rounds of ammunition for the AK-47 rile and the PKM machine gun, reports the March issue of ARMY magazine.

— New category — Something I wish I didn’t know: When someone triggers a suicide vest, the head of the bomber often pops up high in the air, and is sometimes found on the roof of a neighboring building.

Photo credit: KEVIN FRAYER/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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