And the Allies Go Rolling Along…

World War II reenactors on the Dutch/Belgian border.

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Army Life



H/T: Roamy



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The Death of HMS Vanguard

Look at Life was  a popular British film series, short 8-10 minute documentaries shown in British theaters before a main attraction. Most were upbeat and interesting, if somewhat overly chipper.

But the short on the end of HMS Vanguard, in spite of the relentless optimism of the of the narrator, is poignant and sad.

HMS Vanguard was the last battleship completed anywhere. Laid down during World War II, competing shipbuilding needs meant she wasn’t completed until after the end of the war. A modified Lion class, she bore King George VI on a Royal Visit to South Africa. Other than that, she mostly spent her time in routine training, and serving as the flagship for various fleets and stations. And in 1960, she was decommissioned, and sent to the Clyde for scrapping.

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Smoke ‘em if you got… oh, hell.

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Django Unchained and the Terry Stop

You may have seen the news where Daniele Watts, an actress from the movie Django Unchained, claims she was unjustly place in handcuffs and mistaken for a prostitute, just because she was black.

As usual, it’s not quite that simple.

Ms. Watts admits she was with her boyfriend, Brian Lucas, and that the two were kissing in the car.

Apparently, witnesses in the Directors Guild building thought the two were having sex in the car. Whether they were or were not is irrelevant.

Someone, likely someone in the DG building, called the police to report what they thought was indecent exposure.

And the police responded.

When the police encounter you in such a circumstance, or more often, when they pull you over for a traffic violation, that’s known as a Terry stop, from the 1968 case, Terry v. Ohio, the decision which laid down the constitutional guidelines for such an encounter.

Basically, the police may briefly detain you so long as they reasonably suspect that someone may be engaged in criminal activity. And “reasonably suspect” is further described as “specific and articulable facts”  that a crime has been committed, or is being, or will be.  Note, this is a far, far lower bar than probable cause for arrest. Basically, the reasonable suspicion of a crime is the hurdle that must be cleared to begin an investigation, not to effect an arrest.

The police, having received a call that someone matching the descriptions of Ms. Watts and Mr. Jones, and finding persons matching that description at the reported location, can articulate specific facts that led them to suspect a crime had been committed, at least enough to investigate.

Approaching Ms. Watts, the officers demanded identification. Now, there are conflicting court decisions regarding the validity of a stop and identify status in California. But at this point, for the purposes of Terry, this encounter became a detention.  And it is generally held that you must identify yourself to police during a detention. Whether that must be via written, state issued ID, or simply a telling of a full true name, or other biographical information, what you may not do is simply walk away and disregard the officer. And apparently, that’s what Ms. Watts did.

In a police audio of the incident obtained by TMZ, Daniele Watts is heard accusing the police of racism when Sgt. Jim Parker asks her for ID. She then tells cops that they don’t who she is before storming off, refusing to show her ID.

Witnesses from the nearby Directors Guild office building allegedly told the police they were watching her and her boyfriend have sex in the passenger seat with the door open.

One eyewitness said the man was sitting in the seat while she was straddling him, in plain sight of everyone around them.

After storming off, Watts was apprehended by a police officer a short distance away and brought back where she continued her rant.

First, having authority to detain you, they also have the authority to use reasonable force to effect the detention.  Having left the scene, the escalation to handcuffs is a reasonable one for the police to take. Mind you, at this time, the police still have not ascertained Ms. Watts identification.

Further, in many jurisdictions, storming off would constitute interfering with an investigation or some similar offense. That is, while the Terry stop is a brief detention for purposes of investigation, the interfering with investigation is a crime itself, outside the original suspicion that prompted the stop, and the police, having seen the violation with his own eyes, would have more than cleared the bar for probable cause not just to investigate, but to actually arrest and charge.

We’re reasonably quick to condemn the heavy handed actions of the police. And we’re appalled at the numbers of officers who seem to not understand the laws of their jurisdictions. But virtually every officer in America is extremely well versed in the rules and limits of Terry, even if Sgt. Parker conflated the reasonable suspicion of a Terry stop and Probable Cause. That they chose to complete their investigation into the original complaint of indecent exposure, and not to pursue charges against Ms. Watts for interference is to her good fortune.

We’ll not also a common police tactic that every Army recruiter is familiar with.

We have a strong suspicion that part of why Ms. Watts reacted the way she did was the police were not terribly forthcoming with what they were doing, and what Ms. Watts legal status was. Rather forthrightly explaining why the police were detaining her, and why they could demand she identify herself, Sgt. Parker prefers to ask open ended, fact finding questions.

Sgt. Parker (to Watts): What’s your first name? Why do you think you’re in handcuffs? Do you think we put you in handcuffs or you did?

Watts: I put myself in handcuffs?

Sgt. Parker: Who do you think put yourself in handcuffs? Who do you think put you in handcuffs?

Watts: I think that this officer right here put me handcuffs because…

Sgt. Parker No, I think you did the minute you left the scene.

While at first, it seems Sgt. Parker is going of a little self justifying rant, what he’s really attempting to do is get Ms. Watts talking. And the first rule of staying out of jail is, DON’T TALK TO THE POLICE.

Sgt. Parker likely doesn’t have any great particular expectation that Ms. Watts will say something terribly incriminating. It’s just that officers virtually always talk to citizens and suspects this way, in an attempt to get people talking. You never know. Maybe she will suddenly say something terribly self incriminating.

Army recruiters use open ended fact finding questions both as a means of establishing rapport with prospects, and as a tool to help better determine the possible motivations and goals of applicants.


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The Tao of Boyd: How to Master the OODA Loop | The Art of Manliness

John Boyd is described by some as the greatest military strategist in history that no one knows. He began his military career as a fighter pilot in the Korean War, but he slowly transformed himself into one of the greatest philosopher-warriors to ever live.

In 1961, at age 33, he wrote “Aerial Attack Study,” which codified the best dogfighting tactics for the first time, became the “bible of air combat,” and revolutionized the methods of every air force in the world.

His Energy-Maneuverability (E-M) Theory helped give birth to the legendary F-15, F-16, and A-10 aircraft.

Perhaps his most significant contribution to military strategy, though, came from a series of briefings he gave. In them, Boyd laid out a way of thinking about conflict that would revolutionize warfare around the world.

The idea centers on an incredible strategic tool: the OODA Loop — Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. Nation-states around the world and even terrorist organizations use the OODA Loop as part of their military strategy. It has also been adopted by businesses to help them thrive in a volatile and highly competitive economy.

via The Tao of Boyd: How to Master the OODA Loop | The Art of Manliness.

It’s a long post, but one of the better explanations of the OODA loop I’ve seen for the layman.

While AirLand Battle Doctrine didn’t embrace the OODA loop, it DID stress agility, and meant very much to do so in an intellectual, mental manner, not merely as a physical characteristic.

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Albert Wedemeyer and the Victory Plan

The 1941 Victory Plan came up in the comments about the mobilization of divisions for World War II.  It’s a topic that’s little known outside historical circles, but one worth serious scholarly study. Unfortantely, I’m pressed for time, so you only get the briefest gloss on the subject.

The US Army had for some time anticipated that it might be drawn into the war in Europe. And it had sown the seeds of a massive mobilization of the Army. In 1940, for the first time, the Congress enacted a peacetime draft, greatly swelling the ranks of the Army. But at that time, while the Army might anticipate being drawn into war with Germany, the nation was still at peace, and there was still a very strong isolationist sentiment in the country. The first role of the swelling Army authorized in 1940 was to train an Army for the defense of our own coasts, and then to provide task forces for the defense of the Western Hemisphere, particularly in areas such as the Caribbean and the Panama Canal.

With the increased cooperation with Britain in 1941, however, it came to be understood that if the US did in fact find itself at war with Germany, it would have to come to grips with the German army and destroy it. That meant deploying across the Atlantic.

That summer, GEN George C. Marshall tasked an obscure Major, Albert C. Wedemeyer to come up with a plan, outlining what the national objectives were (based on political guidance and the assumption that we would in fact join with Britain to fight Germany), what would be needed to defeat Germany in terms of forces, and the production and manpower required to fulfill that need.

With all the officers senior to Wedemeyer, even in the Pentagon, Marshall’s choice seems a touch odd. But Wedemeyer was hardly your run of the mill Major. He had a few things going for him. First, the wave of promotions the Regular Army was about to undergo hadn’t quite caught up to him yet. But like virtually all Regulars, he would have seen some level of promotion soon in the expanding Army. Second, he had spent the 20s and 30s largely in schools, schools that had made him almost uniquely qualified to undertake this task.

Wedemeyer knew the Germans better than almost any other officer in the War Plans Division. He’d actually attended their Kriegsakademie, the German Army Staff School.

Second, Wedemeyer had access to the Army Industrial College. Stung by the poor showing of American industry in the mobilization of World War I, the Army in 1924 set up a think tank to analyze the industrial capacity of the country, and determine which industries could be converted to militarily useful wartime production. The college had an encyclopedic knowledge of virtually every industry, virtually every set of machine tools in the entire nation. If you wanted to know where the Army could buy 8 million entrenching tools, the AIC had a master document that could show which companies could best convert to making them.

Most importantly, Marshall knew and trusted him. Marshall had a short list of officers he knew, or knew of, whose past performance had impressed him sufficiently that he would task them with seemingly impossible planning missions. Having assigned a task, Marshall would then leave the officer to work with little interference. If that officer measured up and produced, he would almost certainly be rewarded with promotion, and command. If the officer failed, he would be banished to less critical roles.

Wedemeyer understood that a modern industrial nation could realistically only put about 10% of its population in uniform. His estimates of manpower in total, and roughly how they would be equipped, and the industrial might required to do that, were incredibly prescient. His estimate that, accounting for the Navy and the Marines, that the Army would put about 8 million men in uniform spot on.

Where he erred badly, as noted in the comments of the previous post, was the estimate of the total number of divisions the Army could field. The rough number he estimated was 215 divisions. As it turned out, the Army would only activate 91 divisions. There were a couple reasons for this. Again, as noted in the comments, the support troops required were far in excess of original estimates. That includes both the institutional side of the Army dedicated to training troops, as well as the logisticians required to keep the Army in the field. Further, the numbers of non-divisional troops raised were far in excess of his estimates. For instance, the Army raised dozens of tank destroyer battalions during the war, none of which Wedemeyer anticipated in the Victory Plan. Similarly, he had not anticipated the large numbers of independent tank battalions, nor the large numbers of field artillery battalions outside of Division Artillery. In the event, the habitual attachment of a TD battalion and an independent tank battalion to almost every division in Western Europe resulted in a de facto level of armor in an infantry division that was utterly absent in Wehrmacht infantry divisions.

Wedemeyer did see that the relatively small triangular division would have to be heavy on firepower, with generous numbers of automatic weapons, mortars, field guns, anti-tank guns, and artillery. Further, it was incredibly mobile. US infantry divisions both had huge numbers of trucks assigned (compared to the German army) both as prime movers, and as lift for logistics and troop transport. And there were also huge numbers of non-divisional truck companies to support the logistics of the Army in the field.

Wedemeyer got far more right than he got wrong. Most importantly, with a fairly rational starting point, the Army could do just that- get started.

Marshall eventually rewarded Wedemeyer with stars, and duty in the Far East. Not as visible or as important as other theaters, Wedemeyer’s name is almost unknown outside military history circles. But that doesn’t diminish the incredible accomplishment of his Victory Plan.

For further reading, this is a good place to start.


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