Category Archives: army

Our Host Has a Birthday!

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Happy Birthday XBrad!   Lookin’ spry!  As I mentioned last year, it is a cool birthday, for sure, as it is the anniversary of:

  • Agincourt, 1415
  • Balaclava,  (Charge of the Light Brigade) 1854
  • Mine Creek, 1864
  • Russian Revolution, 1917
  • El Alamein, 1942
  • Santa Cruz (beginning) 1942
  • Samar/Leyte Gulf 1944
  • Grenada, 1983

Fitting for an auld warrior who chases young people off the lawn with his cane.

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Errata Sheet for SecArmy Guidance on Extremist Organizations

As most of us who’ve served in the military know, official documents, policy statements, training and technical manuals will often contain mistakes, errors, and omissions.  It is natural enough, as nobody is perfect, and review of every last thing produced is impossible.  In those instances where such mistakes, errors, and omissions are found, an errata sheet is issued, either with distribution of the original document or during the next quarterly update.

Here is the errata sheet for Army Secretary McHugh’s memorandum of 18 October.

McHugh Errata

There, Secretary McHugh, fixed it for ya.  Since you apparently couldn’t bring yourself to type or speak the words you should have.   You would boil in oil any Company or Platoon Commander who had made such public statements offensive to women, Islam, gays, minorities, or any other protected victim group du jour, and I suspect you wouldn’t have waited several weeks to say something on the matter.  No, in such an instance, I believe you would have been tripping over yourself to apologize on behalf of the Army, in front of a microphone, and would have initiated any number of new “training initiatives” that political pressure dictated.

A memorandum?  Extremely weak soup, Secretary McHugh.  Why don’t you stand in front of a microphone and apologize to those of Christian faith?  And then to the groups your training identified as “extremist”?  With a reassurance to your soldiers that their rights of free expression to donate to and affiliate with those organizations will be fiercely protected in keeping with the Constitution you and your Officers were sworn to support and defend?

And if you can’t manage that, why don’t you find the door, and put yourself on the other side of it?  And take Dempsey with you.

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6 October 1973, The Beginning of the Yom Kippur War

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Tomorrow is the Fortieth Anniversary of the beginning of the “Fourth Arab-Israeli War”, known for its auspicious holiday beginning as the Yom Kippur War, or Ramadan War.

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In the weeks leading up to the war, Egypt’s President Sadat had made overtures of warmer relations with the United States, to include the expulsion of nearly 22,000 Soviet “advisors”.  In addition, Egyptian military commanders carefully hid preparations for the offensive from Israeli observation.   Israel had made a planning assumption that any future conflict with Egypt would give the IDF 24-48 hours of warning, time to mobilize reserves and reposition forces for effective defense and counterattack.   As it happened, Israel would get fewer than 12 hours’ warning, and this through espionage/diplomatic channels, in the early morning hours of 6 October 1973.

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The Egyptian forces began to move against the east bank of the Suez canal at 1400 on the same day.  Breaching the sand wall with fire hoses, the lead elements of the Egyptian forces established bridgeheads within a few hours.  This was Operation Badr, which would last for the first five days of the war.   Operation Badr is worth reading about in detail, as the use of integrated fire support and anti-mechanized capabilities by the Egyptian Army nearly spelled disaster for Israel.

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Initially, the Bar Lev line, the western Israeli defenses of the Suez Canal, was lightly held by fewer than a thousand IDF soldiers and a handful of tanks, supported by a few 105mm, 155mm, and 175mm artillery batteries, and two forward airfields.   The opening preparation fires, a combination of direct fire, massed 152 and 130mm artillery, and ground attack fixed-wing air support, was brilliantly executed.  The Israeli airfields were put out of action, and the artillery batteries neutralized.  In addition, several air search and ground radars were destroyed, blinding the IDF to the movements of Egyptian ground and air units.  The Egyptians had also studied their foe, and had rightly guessed that the IDF would react with powerful air interdiction and armored counterattacks.

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In the preceding years, Egypt had invested heavily in air defense and anti-armor capabilities for the Army, increasing its air defense forces fourfold since 1967.  Now, that investment would pay massive dividends.  With a brilliantly-executed combined arms strike that had neutralized Israeli artillery and air defense systems, the Egyptian Second and Third Armies were able to move the SA-2, SA-3, and SA-6 missile systems forward to establish a layered air defense system over their forward ground units.  It was this integrated air defense which took a frightful toll of the Israeli Air Force, especially in the beginning days of the war.

IDF tank

On the ground, Egyptian tank killer teams roamed about setting ambushes for Israeli armor, employing AT-3 Sagger man-portable antitank missiles, where those teams destroyed more than 300 Israeli tanks and armored vehicles.   The IAF strikes and IDF armored counterattacks, staples of Israeli doctrine to defeat their Egyptian enemies, could only be executed at considerable risk and with expectations of heavy losses.

By 10 October, with losses far higher than their opponents, Israel was forced entirely to the defensive in the Sinai.  In the Golan Heights, a strike on 7 October by three Syrian armored brigades, supported by an Iraqi brigade, required a diversion of forces to counter the new threat.   In the Golan, Israeli fortunes were better.  Despite being badly outnumbered by the Syrian forces, and the bravery and skill exhibited by the Syrians, Israeli armored and mechanized units held, and in the Valley of Tears, all but destroyed Syrian offensive capability.   A great little book was written about the Golan fighting by the Commander of the 77th Battalion of the 7th Armored Brigade,  LtCol Avigdor Kahalani.   The Heights of Courage should be a read for all company and field grade officers.

A cease-fire was brokered on October 25th, 1973.  In the end, Israeli forces pushed the Egyptians back across most of the Sinai, and inflicted heavy losses.  But the IDF was only able to do so because of a massive influx of US aid, including mothballed F-4 Phantom fighters from Davis-Monthan  AFB, M-48 and M-60 tanks, and great quantities of munitions and logistical support.

Israel lost almost 3,000 killed and 11,000 wounded and captured in the 19 days of the Yom Kippur War.  The IDF had been ill-prepared for the Egyptian attack, both in its dispositions and its warfighting doctrine.  Since 1967, Israel had invested disproportionately in its vaunted Air Force and elite armored units, and had neglected infantry and artillery capabilities.   Israel had also committed the grave mistake of leaving planning assumptions about enemy capabilities and intent unquestioned, a mistake they would never make again.

The aftermath of the Yom Kippur War has been profound.  Egypt, once Israel’s most grave threat, reached a peace treaty in 1978, with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin signing the Camp David Accords.  Egypt, with a brief pause for a Muslim Brotherhood-led government, has remained on relatively good terms with Israel, and has (with a current brief pause AFTER the overthrow of the MB by the Egyptian Army) maintained a close relationship with the United States.    Operation Badr, significantly, represented the first Arab victory over Israeli forces on any scale since Israel’s founding in 1948.  It represents also the birth of the modern Egyptian Army, which remains a capable and well-equipped force, especially in comparison to its Middle Eastern neighbors.

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Just six years removed from the swift and devastating victories of the 1967 Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War was a profound shock to Israel.   Nobody will ever know for sure how close Israel came to being destroyed, or whether Golda Meir would have been willing to use the nuclear weapons in her possession to prevent that destruction.   We never had to find out, thankfully.   But it all began in earnest forty years ago tomorrow.

Update-XBradTC: URR writes: Israel had also committed the grave mistake of leaving planning assumptions about enemy capabilities and intent unquestioned, a mistake they would never make again.  

I’d argue that is incorrect. Israel badly misunderstood Hezbollah’s capabilities and tactics in the 2006 war. Israel’s incursion into Lebanon was not nearly as successful as hoped, and casualties were far higher than anticipated. The Israeli Army had planned and equipped and trained for a war of maneuver against an armored force, and found itself in an urban fight against a dug in irregular force in urban areas.

As a historical matter, the Yom Kippur War had enormous impact on US Army doctrine. I highly recommend to my readers King of the Killing Zone, the story of the development of the M1 Abrams tank, which also has an outstanding thumbnail sketch of the development of the Army’s AirLand Battle Doctrine. Our Army intensely studied the 1973 war, sifting for lessons learned on how to fight against a larger enemy, especially when strategically surprised. One of the real surprises the operational analysis of this and several other wars was that the smaller army in a war more often than not wins. The question became, “Why?” The answer was agility. Far more than the mere physical agility, the ability to move forces, smaller forces often have the mental agility to operate faster. AirLand Battle doctrine’s focus on operational agility predated, and foreshadowed, Boyd’s OODA Loop theory.

Update Update-URR:

I almost included a blurb about the 2006 Lebanon incursion.   Hezbollah tactics may have surprised the senior Israeli leadership, but did not surprise ground commanders.  I had the privilege of an extended conversation with Israeli BG Shimon Neveh, whose study of the 2006 fighting is absolutely superb.  His take was one that should ring familiar.  This from an interview with Matt Matthews:

Now, the other idea was to really assault by about 90 company-sized columns from all directions. Some elements airborne, some coming from the sea and others infiltrating almost without armor. The idea was to move in small teams and identify, feed the intelligence
circles, exploit our advantage in the air in remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fixed-wing and helicopters. When we introduced this idea, after certain experiments in CENTCOM in 2003, I remember it was a special meeting of the General Staff, presided by Chief Ya’alon, and I didn’t say much then because the whole idea to develop was presented by the Northern Command (NORTHCOM) commander at that time, Beni Ganz, who was against it then – and of course he was against it now. So when Gal Hirsch tells him to mobilize, let’s review the plans and see what our options are because we’ve been running out of time, he totally brushed this aside. “Halutz, we don’t need that. It’s a waste of time.”

BG Neveh believed strongly that the IDF operational commanders knew what awaited them, and the reasons for the “asymmetry” were political rather than doctrinal.  Including, as he told me with no little disdain, the idea of using military force to prompt a political decision rather than for the destruction of the enemy.

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North Vietnam Hero of Dien Bien Phu, Vo Nyugen Giap, Dead at 102

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BBC has the news.

They called him “Red Napoleon”, and for all his brutality and callous wasteage of the lives of his forces, he was a man of considerable military genius.   He had never been formally trained in tactics, strategy, or the operational arts.  Yet, his accomplishments on the battlefield and his unmistakeable savvy in exploiting enemy weakness make him one of the great military leaders of the post-World War II 20th Century. 

He once said that the NVA and Viet Cong were never strong enough to push half a million US troops out of Vietnam.  So his objective was to break American will.  His victories, not coincidentally, remain textbook lessons for insurgents and revolutionaries the world over.  

Interestingly, it was Giap who strongly encouraged warmer relations with the United States in the mid-1990s, as the threat of a burgeoning China began to grow. 

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Dr. Benjamin Carson Audited by IRS After Obama Criticism

Carson

Someone say “chilling effect” on free speech?

During an interview on “The O’Reilly Factor” Wednesday, Carson says the Internal Revenue Service started looking into his real estate holdings following his comments against the White House at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.

Carson says he had never had a problem with the tax-collecting agency until he spoke out against the president.

If anyone believes Doctor Carson’s audit was coincidence, they are willfully ignorant.  I am not going to type words here to try and get them to see the truth in front of them if they cannot bring themselves to face unpleasant facts.   That comes with being an informed citizen, and a grown-up.  Those with fingers in their ears and shrieks of “racist!” and “false scandal!” on their lips are neither, but rather are blind and contemptible worshippers of a personality cult.

This administration thinks nothing of using the apparatus of government to punish political opponents.  Enemies, domestic.  And those who assist them in these actions are as guilty as they, more so if they are wearing a uniform.

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P-61 Black Widow Footage…In Color!

From the video description over at Liveleak.com:

For aviation history fans. Very rare color P-61 night fighter footage shot at the end of World War II. From the 422nd NFS operating out of Florennes, Belgium, an up close look at P-61 “No Nothin II.”
Then in the Pacific and the island of Saipan, the legendary 548th NFS P-61 “Bat Outta Hells.”
Including P-61 gun camera film showing a night attack with bombs, rockets and 20mm cannon.

Click here for the vidya.

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Protect and Serve? All I See is Bully and Intimidate.

Yet another outrage with regards to how police in this country treat citizens with contempt and disrespect.   The video below was of an incident that began with a traffic stop for a license plate violation.

The officer drew his service weapon and pointed it at the head of the man on the ground.   Neighbors were concerned enough to begin filming the debacle.  Notice how the police officer told the witnesses he “didn’t need them there”, as if they haven’t a right to be.   They were interfering not at all with the officer, but were calling the police themselves because of the erratic and dangerous conduct of the officer.

Ask yourselves if you would trust the judgment and temperament of such a police officer in a real crisis, and whether he is upholding the law or instead merely bullying using the power of his badge and gun.   True, we don’t know the entire circumstance of the incident, but it seems extremely unlikely that the officer had reason to unholster.

I have had a police officer draw his weapon on me exactly once, on a routine traffic stop in LA in the late 80s.   He held the pistol at the ready (I could see him in the side mirror), while the other officer wrote the ticket.   (There is no “routine traffic stop” in LA.)  Both officers were nice as you please, pleasant and respectful.    A marked difference from the conduct of the policeman in the video.  This Toledo police officer deserves to find himself being called “the defendant” by a judge.

In Vermont, this right-to-carry state, such a police officer may well end up looking into the muzzle of a pistol himself, and will have earned it.   If he fears for his safety, he should become an accountant.   He sure as hell shouldn’t be a cop.

But, of course,

The police department stands by Hart’s actions…

As usual, our esteemed host is correct.  The militarization of our nation’s police forces is de facto the standing army the founding fathers warned us away from.   There will be more of this, as less restraint is shown by police officers, and individual liberties are increasingly curtailed in the name of “safety” and “compliance”.

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