Do things really change in naval combat

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His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/06/09 02:50 PM
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More war changes the more it stays the same.

The Strategy and tactics of navel combat has not really changed in centuries.




Two questions:
1) What submarine hunting tactics did Nelson use at Trafalgar to prevent his ships-of-the-line from being torpedoed, and do they differ from today's submarine hunting tactics?
2) Do European navies today still deploy their battleship squadrons in line formations, or have naval strategies changed such that they no longer have active battleships?

While pondering the answer to those questions, I recommend you read Friedman's "U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History," and the associated Carriers, Cruisers, and Battleships books. The extremely rapid change in naval tactics through the 20th Century are discussed in those books as equipment, technology, and fleet composition changed.

At the grossest, most handwaving level, you can say strategy hasn't changed in centuries because navies still attempt to blow each other up. However, at a slightly lower level, strategies are very different because of the capabilities of modern technology - nuclear weapons, aircraft, and telecommunications have allowed fleets to achieve very different effects than their predecessors. A 1940s, 1900s, or 1800s fleet could never have participated in a war in Afghanistan because they couldn't lob shells more than a few miles inland (and Afghanistan is landlocked), while now US Navy carriers are able to act as mobile air fields. (And, indeed, with the closing of Central Asian bases to US forces, the US Navy provides key air fields for US forces in Afghanistan.) The ability of essentially every single US ship to be nuclear-armed (via Tomahawks) caused a radical shift in Cold War naval strategies, because the USSR no longer "simply" had to worry about US carriers and SSBNs, but every single surviving US ship.

Tactics usually change every 5 to 10 years as new equipment and capabilities come on line, and warfare can change tactics on a time scale of months. WW2 is a case study in how rapidly tactics can change as new radar, new sonar, new anti-submarine weapons, and new anti-aircraft weapons came on line. Friedman's "Destroyers" book captures this in with descriptions of the endless, rapid cycle of new destroyer upgrades, modifications, and deployments in WW2. The tactics of US destroyers in 1945 were vastly, vastly different than those of 1941, and much different than the "torpedo destroyer boats" of 1915. The tactics of US destroyers in 1989 were...well, by then about the only thing US destroyers were incapable of doing was carrying a sizable air wing or large marine force. They could shoot down aircraft, engage submarines, deploy rescue helicopters, and launch nuclear cruise missiles at targets over 1000 miles away.

So, I really have to take exception to the idea strategies and tactics haven't changed in centuries.

Quote:

The only difference between naval combat and space combat is a third dimension. Other than that there is no difference.




That's another unsupported statement that I'd have to take exception to. It's particularly contradicted the instant you review the sensor and detection rules.




*This will cover quite a few posts on both of are sides*

I will prove that things have not really changed in naval combat nor will it in the future.

Tell me, What are the goals of any navy? Where, when or who's navy is or was does not matter to answer this question.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
Venom
07/07/09 12:15 AM
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The whys have not changed, but the hows have.

-Steam rendered sails obsolete, if you rely on wind to move and your enemy can move in any direction reguardless of wind direction and speed, you are dead. Consequently tactics changed.
-Ironclads made wooden ships obsolete. The old guns could not penetrate, so technology had to change.
-Aircraft Carriers made Battleships oblsolete. The final and clinching proof of that came with the sinking of the Bismark by aircraft that were considered obsolete after the Bismark owned the pride of the Royal Navy. Again, tactics changed.

Answer me this:Do Admirals worry about Crossing the "T" today? Do they loose sleep over the weather? Do hey ever see the enemy? When was the last time a broadside was ordered?

Fact is that over the last 100 years naval combat has changed a great deal in boh tactics and technology. Does AT2 do a great job of representing space combat? No, it is decidedly 2 dimensional and makes it seem like a blue-water navy wargame. Is it fun as heck? Yeah.
Bob_Richter
07/07/09 02:34 AM
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You have not rebutted any of Cray's arguments. You are off to a poor start.
-Bob (The Magnificent) Richter

Assertions made in this post are the humble opinion of Bob.
They are not necessarily statements of fact or decrees from God Himself, unless explicitly and seriously stated to be so.
:)
CrayModerator
07/07/09 06:08 AM
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Quote:

The whys have not changed, but the hows have.




Excellent point.

Quote:

-Steam rendered sails obsolete, if you rely on wind to move and your enemy can move in any direction reguardless of wind direction and speed, you are dead. Consequently tactics changed.
-Ironclads made wooden ships obsolete. The old guns could not penetrate, so technology had to change.
-Aircraft Carriers made Battleships oblsolete. The final and clinching proof of that came with the sinking of the Bismark by aircraft that were considered obsolete after the Bismark owned the pride of the Royal Navy. Again, tactics changed.




Excellent, dramatic examples of changes in tactics. Some examples of strategic changes:

-Nuclear power. This allowed fleets to operate in far different ways than fleets chained to oilers or colliers. The tactical changes are obvious when maximum speeds are equal to cruising speeds and endurance unlimited, but the strategic implications are fascinating, too: no need for intermediate fueling bases, ability to deploy fleets 50-100% faster, ability to get one fleet to do the work of several because it can be in more places at one time, etc.
-Nuclear weaponry. The old balance of guns, missiles, and bombs changed when it only took one weapon to destroy a fleet - or let one overlooked destroyer flatten a national capital.
-Aircraft and improved aircraft range. With aircraft, the range of a fleet to strike ashore improved radically beyond cannon range or however far marines could crawl inland. Navies can now battle and support wars in landlocked countries.

There are numerous little tactical changes, too. Look at sub hunting through the years:

-In WW1 and early WW2, surface ship sonar detection of submarines was typically measured in hundreds of yards. It was used to pin down a submerged, barely mobile submersible for a final depth charge run. Primary submarine spotting was visual.
-By late WW2, passive sonar might have a range of several miles and active sonar was much more useful at pinpointing submarines by depth, range, and bearing (versus vague "over there"). This changed subhunting tactics again.
-Jeep carriers and blimps altered subhunting tactics. Putting aircraft amongst merchant fleets radically reduced the survivability of German submarines.
-Acoustic homing torpedoes greatly eased the lives of submariners by improving hit rates while allowing attacks from non-ideal submersible headings.
-Acoustic decoys were developed for merchant ships to lure away acoustic torpedoes, forcing a tactics change again.
-WW2 recognized that submarines made the best sub hunters, because their sonars could be well below the noise of surface waters. Acoustic homing torpedoes made it possible for submarines to engage submarines, a change in tactics.
-Anti-sub weapons evolved from depth charges rolled off the stern to turntable-mounted, mortar-lobbed depth charges that could fire dozens of charges in pre-set pattern in any direction at hundreds of yards range. The tactical changes are obvious: instead of having to drive your ship over a submarine and hope for contact detonations, you could quickly respond to a sonar contact and fire a pattern of charges that was pre-calculated to address submarine movement and possible depths. This greatly improved depth charge performance.
-Nuclear power turned submersibles into true submarines, and made submarines into the terrors of fleets since they could now cruise at 15+ knots while underwater for days on end instead of 3-5 knots for a few hours. It was quite possible for nuclear submarine to slip between the sonar coverage of picket destroyers and plant a couple of torpedoes into a carrier, then elude pursuit. This made for radical changes into submarine tactics.
-Helicopters, dipping sonars, and sonobuoys gave fleets back the ability to have some measure of safety from submarines, because submarines could now be hunted dozens of miles from the fleet with units that flew at over 100 miles an hour.

When the captain of a ship steers his ship in new ways and fires new guns at new targets, there's been a change in tactics.

When the admiral of a fleet deploys his fleet to kill new targets in new ways, there's been a change in strategies.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/07/09 07:37 AM
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Never mind, I am not going to get an answer to the question that I posted.

Thread hijacking is fun, but it would be nice if at least one response could be on subject before its hijacked. Newtype had better luck keeping things on subject, even if that was everyone saying that his ideas are moronic.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
CrayModerator
07/07/09 04:03 PM
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Never mind, I am not going to get an answer to the question that I posted.




When you ask "what are the goals of any Navy?" as a starting point to define the words "tactics" and "strategy," you're either changing the subject or are working on incorrect definitions of the words.

Tactics are plans and skills used to solve small-scale problems in combat. They evolve and change very rapidly. The tactics used in hunt submarines in 1941 were very different than the tactics used to hunt submarines in 1945. The tactics used by ships to sink other ships have also changed rapidly over the centuries.

Strategies are the plans used to execute national-level policies. They change from year to year, administration to administration, from foe to foe. The strategy used to defeat Japan in WW2 was very different from the strategy used to defeat Germany. Many different tactics are used in the course of executing a strategy.

To emphasize the issue with your approach to defining the words, look at the clarification needed for your question:

Quote:

Tell me, What are the goals of any navy?




Clarification required: at the tactical or strategic level?

Quote:

Where, when or who's navy is or was does not matter to answer this question.




Since we're trying to define the words "strategy" and "tactics," when/where/who/what/etc. are very important to answer your question. Either that or you need to clarify that your question, "What are the goals of the navy?" should be "What are the most basic and elementary goals of a Navy?" but such a question would be meaningless when trying to define "strategy" and "tactics."


Edited by Cray (07/08/09 06:53 AM)
Prince_of_Darkness
07/07/09 07:21 PM
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Never mind, I am not going to get an answer to the question that I posted.

Thread hijacking is fun, but it would be nice if at least one response could be on subject before its hijacked. Newtype had better luck keeping things on subject, even if that was everyone saying that his ideas are moronic.




With all honesty, it sounds like you are whining about losing the discussion.


That, or trying to change the subject entirely, i.e. threadjacking.
Venom
07/08/09 12:42 AM
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Never mind, I am not going to get an answer to the question that I posted.




No, you are not getting the answer you want.

I should know better but...At its most simple, the purpose of a navy is to impose the will of its nation against its enemies.

The Problem we are running into here is that you interpret STRATEGY as "destroy the enemy" and TACTICS as the how of the strategy, i.e. "lob things at them". Those basics have not changed and never will but they are not strategy and tactics. Now, we have evolved from Phonecians lobbing clay pots of burning pitch to lobbing cruise missiles-and in the context of the BT universe lobbing charged particles and focused beams of coherent light-yet this conversation has DEvolved into you getting annoyed because we do no see things your way. Now make a convincing argument or admit defeat.
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/08/09 08:09 AM
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How can I have "change the subject" when I started the thread?

So far, only Venom has answered the question that I asked. I was looking for a simple answer like he gave.

I will give the answer that I would have given. The goal of a navy is to enforce a countries policies by force of arms.

The reason that I wanted to drop the subject is that everyone is reading between the lines when there is nothing to read between the lines. I was trying to keep everything as simple as possible.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/08/09 09:24 AM
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The first way that a navy can win a battle is by just existing in the first place. Navies are VERY expensive and the last thing that a country wants to do is to lose there expensive ships. If the other side has a navy they will have to decide if its worth losing ships over the disagreement in the first place. The reason that land battles and naval battles are completely different is the cost of the equipment and what happens to it during the battle. If you win a land battle you can just pick up the equipment that was left behind by the dead and give it to another solder. In naval battles that is not as easy. A lot of times repairing a recovered ship is just not worth the resources that it would require. That is if anyone bothers to recover the ship at all.

When the showing of force of arms fails and the Navy is given orders to engage the enemy, the first thing that the navy needs to do is find the enemies naval forces wile keeping there own forces undetected or at least there true strength unknown to the enemy. The next thing to do is to position there forces to where they have the advantage and the enemy is at a disadvantage. At that point the enemy is engaged in battle. As the battle proses the commander has to improvise to use any advantage that pops up. At some point the commander of the force will disengage the battle when he thinks that he has done what he can with out losing more ships than has to be lost. In the real world lots of navel battles did not end with one force completely destroying the enemies forces, because that could lead to losing more ships than need to be lost. Now in fiction, like BT novels, that almost never happens because the author of the story is not concerned about the economics of ship losses and is only looking for an enjoyable story. Some good examples in the real world of that is the dreadnought battle of WWI and the battle for Midway in WWII. In both of thous cases both sides stopped the battle before they took unreasonable losses. The losing side wanted to preserve some of there forces to be used later and the wining side did not want to lose more ships chasing down the enemy until all of the enemies ships where all destroyed.

As I described above it does not matter if your using arrows from a longboat, black powder cannons on a galley, Naval guns of a battleship, or lasers on a spaceship. the same applies to all of them.

OK, you can now post that want I just said in this post is complete crap and is nothing but fiction, like you have been saying all along.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
Bob_Richter
07/08/09 04:02 PM
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If you generlalize enough, it seems like a comparable task, but the thing is that it's not, as the points already made (and ignored by you) demonstrate.

As I said, you've yet to rebut any of the points raised against your position, and they remain valid. Right now, you're still losing.
-Bob (The Magnificent) Richter

Assertions made in this post are the humble opinion of Bob.
They are not necessarily statements of fact or decrees from God Himself, unless explicitly and seriously stated to be so.
:)
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/08/09 06:05 PM
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Have you ever heard the saying K.I.S.S.? The more complicated you make things the more your going to mess them up. As Murphy's law goes "When anything can go wrong it will." Strategies and Tactics are argued in military collages every day and other than the more basic rules nothing is ever resolved because in combat things will always go as you expect them to. Even at times you can brake the basic rules and still win, but you had better know what the heck your doing or its going to blow up in your face big time. As another rule goes no battle plan ever survives the engagement of the enemy. What ever your strategy or tactic was at the beginning of the battle, you have to be able to throw it out the window and result to improvising. The better you are at improvising the better you will do in combat.

Has anyone on list ever read THE ART OF WAR by SUN TZU? It was written in the 6th century BC and today it is required reading by officers in a great many of countries militarys. Just because something is very old about combat that does not mean that its out dated. Every time the US Air Force and the US Navy declared the rules of dogfighting that was developed in WWI was dead because of new technology aircraft losses increased. A century later the rules of the dogfight are just as important today as they where in WWI.

As Winston Churchill said thous that forget history are commended to repeat it. *Yes, I'm paraphrasing.* Not only is that good advice for remembering the horrors of the past and to avoid making mistakes that are forebears made, but even more so when your in history class taking a test. I had a teacher in high school in Freshmen history class that liked quoting Winston Churchill's statement before every test that she gave.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
Bob_Richter
07/08/09 06:26 PM
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-Engineers seek simplicity in design, Generals seek simplicity in planning, and scientists seek parsimonious explanatious. Even so, if something gets too simple, it won't work, won't succeed, and explains nothing. You're not applying KISS, you're oversimplifying to obscure facts.

-I have read Sun-Tzu's magnum opus, admittedly in translation. The thing is, though, while he has a lot of great thinking in there, much of it only applies to chariot warfare. Seriously. So while it's a fascinating and enlightening study on how to raise an army in the era before real heavy cavalry got its start, you're going to want a lot of supplimental material before you're ready to embrace modern armor tactics.

-Who said anything about forgetting history? Remembering history and pretending you're living there are different things.
-Bob (The Magnificent) Richter

Assertions made in this post are the humble opinion of Bob.
They are not necessarily statements of fact or decrees from God Himself, unless explicitly and seriously stated to be so.
:)
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/08/09 08:25 PM
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Quote:

You're not applying KISS, you're oversimplifying to obscure facts.




No, your over complicating things to avoid to admit that I was right that ancient combat concepts are just as vital today as they where in history. The only thing about basic strategy and tactics that is modern is in dogfithing and that is only modern because powered air flight is only a hundred and six years old.

Here, go to any General or Admiral in the US military and tell him that ancient combat concepts are crap and worthless in today's military, I can guaranty that they will laugh in your face, that is if they don't just consider you a moron and not worth wasting there time correcting.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
Venom
07/09/09 02:24 AM
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because in combat things will always go as you expect them to.




While we are gettting into plaitudes barely disguised as quotes, you may wish to consider, "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy" -Helmuth von Moltke the Elder.
Bob_Richter
07/09/09 03:38 AM
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No, your over complicating things to avoid to admit that I was right that ancient combat concepts are just as vital today as they where in history.




Yes. That's exactly what's happening here, and why you've been unable to raise a single point in your defense or refute a single point brought against you.

Also, stop trying to move the goal line. We all know the assertion you've been trying to prove: that things have never changed at all in naval warfare. Whether or not Sun-Tzu has valulable insights for the modern battlefield packed in around commentaries on how many spearmen you should have in support of your chariots is another matter entirely.

I'm not on the point of admitting anything, so I hardly need clever strategies to avoid it. You, on the other hand, have apparently contrived this whole thread in defense of the idea that....The Akira needs missiles? Because missiles are torpedos and all destroyers must have torpedos? Do I have that right?

Quote:

The only thing about basic strategy and tactics that is modern is in dogfithing and that is only modern because powered air flight is only a hundred and six years old.




Yes. Because aircraft are the only new weapon or intelligence system developed since the Age of Sail.

Quote:

Here, go to any General or Admiral in the US military and tell him that ancient combat concepts are crap and worthless in today's military,<snip>.




Appeals to vaguely-defined authority in confirmation of a strawman argument are beneath you.
-Bob (The Magnificent) Richter

Assertions made in this post are the humble opinion of Bob.
They are not necessarily statements of fact or decrees from God Himself, unless explicitly and seriously stated to be so.
:)
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/09/09 09:10 AM
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Quote:

Quote:

because in combat things will always go as you expect them to.




While we are gettting into plaitudes barely disguised as quotes, you may wish to consider, "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy" -Helmuth von Moltke the Elder.




Thank you. That quote evaded my memory at the time of the post.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/09/09 10:15 AM
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Quote:

We all know the assertion you've been trying to prove: that things have never changed at all in naval warfare.




Not at all, What I have been saying that the "basics" of strategy and or tactics have not changed. If you want to get down to specifics of what to do under specific conditions you can't with out detailing all the specific variables that are involved, what your forces are and where, what your enemy forces are and where, what each side is doing, what are there goals, what are the conditions are, and, and, and, and, so on and so forth. You can write a novel sized book on what the conditions are on a specific battle and a variable that you have not covered could change everything. Technology is only one of a great many variables that can affect the out come of a battle, if there is not a technology gap it wont affect the out come of the battle as much because each side has the ability to neutralize the advantage of the technology in question. Its when one side has a technology advantage when it creates a bigger variable in the outcome of a battle. Technology level is not all including as your making it.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
Venom
07/10/09 01:22 AM
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Quote:

Technology level is not all including as your making it.



I think the USS Cumberland and Congress would disagree heartily with you on that issue. They being the first ships destroyed by an ironclad, the CSS Virginia. For all the good their shells did they may have been attacking a McKenna class battleship a thousand (light and standard) years away. No amount of strategy, luck or weather or any other conditions would change the simple technological advancement of armoring boats.
LAMdriver
07/10/09 01:54 AM
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Donkey to answer your questions you first asked:

1. Nelson did not have to worry about subs at Trafalgar as they had not been invented. That battle happened in the 1700's. If he did have them, he would have deployed them to there maxium affectiveness.

2. European countries don't have battleships (example Iowa-class type except for the russians maybe). They use smaller, more compact, and deadlier cruisers, missile boats, frigates, and carriers. The U.S Navy was the last to retire their battle ships.

$0.02
" The object of war is not to die for your country. It's to make some other bastard die for his!"--Patton

""War is Hell. Combat is a motherfucker."---General Tommy Franks


Edited by LAMdriver (07/10/09 01:57 AM)
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/10/09 10:22 AM
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Quote:

Quote:

Technology level is not all including as your making it.



I think the USS Cumberland and Congress would disagree heartily with you on that issue. They being the first ships destroyed by an ironclad, the CSS Virginia. For all the good their shells did they may have been attacking a McKenna class battleship a thousand (light and standard) years away. No amount of strategy, luck or weather or any other conditions would change the simple technological advancement of armoring boats.




You took that sentence out of content. I said that when each side has equal technology, technology wont be as much of a factor as it would be if there was a imbalance in technology. Even if there is a imbalance in technology the side with the lesser technology can win with better planing and executing of there plan and the use of there forces. An elite force could take a objective with crossbows and blow dart poisoned darts where the other side has firearm technology.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
CrayModerator
07/10/09 12:06 PM
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Quote:

Donkey to answer your questions you first asked:




I asked those, actually. Donkey wasn't answering them, but he did quote them from another thread.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/10/09 12:50 PM
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Quote:

Quote:

Donkey to answer your questions you first asked:




I asked those, actually. Donkey wasn't answering them, but he did quote them from another thread.




Yes, when I copied and pasted there was some error in the HML code. I don't know what happened because I don't know HML code. At least I think its HML I could be wrong with that also.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
Bob_Richter
07/10/09 01:14 PM
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You lost a bracket.

Insert a "[" at the beginning of the post and everything should be copacetic.

:P

the markup language in question is actually UBBCode, and a quote block is very simple. It starts with [quote] and ends with [/quote]


Edited by Bob_Richter (07/10/09 01:17 PM)
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/10/09 02:02 PM
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Hijacking my own thread.

I know quote and bold other than that I have no idea whet else can be done.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
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