Category Archives: war

SECDEF Fired: Hagel Goes Under the Bus

Chuck Hagel

Big news this morning that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been fired by President Obama.  Big news, but not surprising.  Hagel has openly contradicted the President several times, especially regarding the Administration’s rather childish assertions regarding the necessity of ground forces in the fight against ISIS.   You will hear various stories about how this was Hagel’s idea, and of course, the media will dutifully report as fact the White House’s version of events.  But that version will be as accurate and honest as WH proclamations on Benghazi, the IRS, Fast and Furious, ISIS intelligence failures, etc.

Though Hagel was not known as a deep thinker, the idea that he somehow couldn’t grasp the deeper and more complex defense issues smells like the intellectual elitism of the self-proclaimed far-left “ruling” class.  It is far more likely that Hagel attempted to keep Obama and his National Security Council grounded in reality, only to be poo-pooed and brushed aside by the overwhelming cacophony from the Marxist ideologues that have the President’s ample ears.   I was never a big Chuck Hagel fan, as he was a Global Zero guy whose viewpoints at various times bordered on the curious, but as SECDEF I thought he was one of the few at the top of the Defense structure with the spine to stand up to the rampant amateurish stupidity that emanated from 1600 Pennsylvania.  We could have done far worse.  We certainly might going forward.

Whether talks were “initiated” by Hagel or not, the nature of those talks were probably discussions about whether Obama was going to keep tossing aside wise counsel or not in favor of the childlike and naive rantings of his fellow-travelers.  And, the answer today seems to be a resounding YES.  Obama will continue to march forward in secular progressive lockstep to the Internationale, wreaking the concomitant damage on US security, foreign relations, and national power.

Funny that the Secretary of Defense that HE chose, to replace another that had had enough (Panetta), is now thought not to be up to the job.  One has to wonder who is.  Michele Flournoy has been mentioned, along with Ash Carter.  One has to think Bob Work is in the mix.  All are far too talented to want to serve out the last two years of the military train wreck that is the Defense Department under Obama.   It is like being hired to coach the Washington Generals, and being told you are expected to win.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Air Force, army, Around the web, budget, Defense, guns, history, iraq, islam, marines, navy, nuclear weapons, obama, Politics, Syria, Uncategorized, veterans, war

“…In This, I Think, Is Glory.”

Still my favorite.

Happy Birthday, Marines!  Semper Fidelis!

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The BBC’s 1964 Masterpiece “The Great War”

Of all the events of the Twentieth Century, it is the First World War that has had the most dramatic and longest-lasting impact on the psyche of Western civilization, more so than all the events that followed.   For anyone with an abiding interest in that war, the 1964 BBC documentary The Great War is an invaluable reference to understanding.  Narrated by Sir Michael Redgrave, the 26-part documentary is a superbly-crafted work.  The tenor of the broadcasts reflects the erosion of the naïve hopes of the warring parties in 1914 into the grim fatalism that the years of slaughter evoked, and the upheaval that would ultimately topple the crowned heads of Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Serbia.  BBC producers make excellent use of voice to read the actual words of the key participants such as Edward Grey, Bethmann-Hollweg, Conrad von Hotzendorf, Joffre, Haig, Falkenhayn, and others.  The series features remarkable and little-seen motion footage of the world of 1914-18, including the civilians, the politicians, the armies, and the great battles of that war.   The battle footage heavily emphasizes the two great killers of that war (in inverse order), the machine gun, and modern breech-loading recoil-dampened artillery.

Of note also are the poignant, and sometimes extremely moving, interviews with the participants of events of the great tragedy.  Some had been in the thick of the fighting, others young subalterns or staff officers at the sleeve of the decision-makers.   Most remarkably, the BBC managed to produce a documentary about momentous events that changed the world and yet also managed to allow the viewer insight into the inestimable human tragedy that these events summoned.   At the time of the release of The Great War, those events were closer in time to the audience than the beginning of the Vietnam War is to our contemporary world.   The twenty-six episodes are around forty minutes each.  Worth every second of the time spent.

Oh, and as the credits roll at the end of each episode, one can spot the name of a very young (19 years old) contributor named Max Hastings.

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Video: The World War Two Flight Deck

A great video from Zeno’s War Birds.   Worth a sit-down with a cup of coffee.

Some shopworn Wildcats and Avengers.  A great description of the incredibly complex ballet that was the operation of a WWII carrier flight deck.   Hand and arm signals, whistles, muscle and discipline.  With powerful reminders that there were a thousand and one ways to get killed then, as now.

(Honestly, this was written before XBRAD posted about tailhook design.  I did not intentionally go all “Goose and Mav” on you….)

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“We are here from Mexico and came by train”

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NBC News tells us that ISIS propaganda leaflets have been found near Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA.  Which also happens to be the location of the FBI Academy.  The leaflets reportedly announce in Arabic that “We are here from Mexico and came by train”.

But I am sure there isn’t anything to worry about.   In fact, I am positive that they are counterfeit.  Why?

Because the folks at DHS have already told us that suggestions that ISIS terrorists have crossed the deliberately wide-open Southwestern US Border are “categorically false”.  And that “DHS continues to have no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border”

That makes me feel better.

Because the chances of Ebola reaching US shores is “unlikely”.    Al-Nusrah Islamic extremists are “moderate”.  The Benghazi attacks were not terrorism.  The IRS scandal was only low-level employees in Cincinnati.  Fast and Furious was started under Bush.  The Obamas didn’t know about Jeremiah Wright’s racist, anti-Semitic rants.  The biggest terrorist threat to the US is from white male Veterans who believe in the Constitution.  Global warming exists and is Man’s fault.   If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.  The unemployment rate is dropping.  We can trust Iran not to build nukes.  This Administration isn’t anti-Israel.  The CIA didn’t tell the President about ISIS.   Voter ID laws are unpopular.   No lobbyists hold policy jobs.   This will be the most transparent Presidency ever.

So however could I doubt Jeh Johnson and his razor-sharp spokespeople at DHS when they tell me something such as terrorists crossing our open borders is “categorically false”?   It’s not like Johnson’s skin color played any part in being hired as DHS Secretary, because race is never an issue with this White House.

These leaflets may be forgeries, and represent nothing more than someone’s idea of a prank.  Then again, they may be the genuine article.   Whatever, the one thing we can count on from the Obama Administration is full disclosure of the truth, regardless of any embarrassment that it might cause.  It isn’t as if they would lie to the American people, would they?

 

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Op-For: “Where is the Case for Co – Ed Ground Combat?”

Indiana Guard Fires Historic Artillery Mission Adds M777 Digital Artillery Piece to Arsenal

Alte kamerad LTCOL P, Marine artilleryman extraordinaire, has a great piece about a great piece.   He points out some pretty sobering stats from the continuing effort to make ground combat a co-ed sport.

In the 155 mm Artillery Lift and Carry, a test simulating ordnance stowing, volunteers had to pick up a 95 lb. artillery round and carry it 50 meters in under 2 minutes. Noted the report, “Less than 1% of men, compared to 28.2% of women, could not complete the 155 mm artillery round lift and carry in the allotted time.” If trainees had to “shoulder the round and/or carry multiple rounds, the 28.2% failure rate would increase.”

As LTCOL P points out, such a test is in no way, shape, or form anywhere near realistic.  The HE M107 projectile is 95 pounds, a tad heavier with lifting eyebolt.  I would posit that making the test the moving of ten or twenty of those projectiles over, say, 100 meters, BEGINS to get to what kind of heavy manual labor is involved in being a field artilleryman.  I would doubt severely that any female tested could get anywhere close to passing that particular test.  And that is simply a beginning test.  Try it after several days of 3 hours’ sleep in the snow or in yesterday’s rainwater, or in the 115 degree heat, after displacing twice in four hours and digging in spades each time.

You can be guaranteed the feminists and their spineless apologists in uniform will continue to find ways to obfuscate and slant results such as these and continue to scream for she-warriors who are the physical equivalent of men, when they are not being helpless victims, of course.   Our present and future enemies must be awfully impressed.

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26 October 1942; The Battle of Santa Cruz

hornet santa cruz

In the far-flung Pacific Theater of the Second World War, there are some battles and events so momentous that it is immediately clear to the antagonists that their aftermath portends major shifts in the status quo; that conditions following will be forever different from what came before.  Midway is such an event.  With others, their true significance is often realized only in retrospect, as study of the results and decisions in the aftermath of those events is required to reveal how pivotal they truly were.  The Battle of Santa Cruz, which occurred seventy-two years ago today, is one of those largely hidden events.   A tactical and operational success for the Japanese, the battle was a pyrrhic victory for the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Powerful Japanese naval forces under Vice Admiral Nobutake Kondo had been tasked with supporting the efforts of the Japanese 17th Army in what was finally a major attempt to capture Guadalcanal’s Henderson Field and unhinge the position of the First Marine Division on that island.   The glacially slow and piecemeal reaction of General Hyukatake, commanding 17th Army, had allowed the Americans to build a force of more than 20,000, replete with a fully operational airfield and complete complement of supporting arms, by the time of the October counteroffensive. Even in October, Hyukatake badly underestimated US ground strength and fighting qualities, believing only some 7,500 garrisoned Guadalcanal.  The Japanese ground effort, including a combined tank-infantry attack, was once again poorly coordinated, and it came to grief against the lines of the First Marines and under the howitzers of the Eleventh Marines along the Matanikau River before either fleet engaged each other at Santa Cruz.  (Inexplicably, the Japanese Army units reported erroneously that they had captured Henderson Field when in reality they had nowhere threatened breakthrough of the Marine lines.)

At sea, Admiral Kondo’s force greatly outnumbered the Americans under Thomas Kinkaid. For the IJN, two large and two small carriers, six battleships, and ten heavy and light cruisers, with almost 250 aircraft significantly outweighed the two American fleet carriers (Enterprise and Hornet), the lone battleship (South Dakota), a half dozen cruisers, and around 170 aircraft.

Each fleet’s scout aircraft found the other almost simultaneously, and launched strikes simultaneously. In fact, the strike forces passed each other on their respective headings, with fighters from each side briefly and inconclusively engaging the enemy’s formations.   The Japanese air strikes exacted a heavy toll from the US ships.  Enterprise was struck with at least two bombs, jamming a flight deck elevator and causing extensive splinter and blast damage in the hangar decks, while near-misses stoved in her side plates.  Enterprise was seriously hurt, but somehow maintained flight operations.  Hornet was struck by three bombs and at least two torpedoes, wrecking her engine rooms and bringing the carrier to a halt.

hornettow.SantaCruz

Despite the heroic efforts to save Hornet, a well-placed torpedo from a Japanese submarine put paid to the effort.  The incident was eerily similar to the fate of Yorktown at Midway 4 1/2 months earlier.  Like her sister, Hornet stayed stubbornly afloat despite shells and torpedoes expended to scuttle her.   Eventually, the Japanese sank Hornet with two Long Lance torpedoes.  Battleship South Dakota was credited with shooting down 26 Japanese aircraft, but was struck on B Turret with a 550-pound bomb.  Additionally, two US destroyers were damaged.

In turn, the US Navy strikes crippled the light carrier Zuiho, wrecked the flight deck of Shokaku, and inflicted heavy damage with a bomb strike on heavy cruiser Chikuma.  The most consequential losses for the Japanese had been among the superbly trained veteran aircrews that had been the scourge of Allied pilots and surface vessels since Pearl Harbor.   Despite the fact that Kondo’s task force had inflicted considerably more damage to the American ships than Kinkaid’s flyers had managed, and despite the relatively even losses of aircraft (each side lost roughly the same percentage of aircraft to all causes), the loss of pilots and trained air crewmen was disproportionately heavy for the IJN.  US losses amounted to fewer than thirty aircrew, while the Japanese lost almost one hundred and fifty pilots and aircrew.   This represents a significantly greater loss than that suffered at Midway.   With a training pipeline that could not begin to replace such losses, the most fearsome weapon of the Kido Butai, its deadly naval air power, was blunted permanently.  Japanese carrier aviation was all but eliminated from the rest of the fight for the Solomons, and began a steady decline into oblivion that would culminate in the frightful massacre at the Philippine Sea twenty months later.

For Admiral Halsey at SOPAC, Santa Cruz could not have appeared to have been anything except another costly reverse.  In the preceding six months, the US Navy had lost Lexington at Coral Sea, Yorktown at Midway, Wasp off Guadalcanal in September, and now Hornet at Santa Cruz.  Not only that, but Saratoga had taken a torpedo in August and was stateside for repairs, and Enterprise was more heavily damaged in this battle than could be repaired at forward bases.   The IJN still outnumbered the US Navy in the Pacific in numbers of carriers and aircraft, and in surface combatants.  Additionally, after Santa Cruz, Kinkaid had retired with Nagumo on his heels.

Yet, despite the Japanese tactical victory, Santa Cruz represented the beginning of the end of the fearsome striking power which had wrecked the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor and had run amok for the six months that Yamamoto had predicted before December of 1941.  If the Americans did not realize it, at least Nagumo did.  He informed Naval Headquarters that without decisive victories, the industrial might of the United States would render the Japanese defeat in the Pacific inevitable.

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