An Army CH-47F Chinook, assigned to Task Force Brawler, releases flares while conducting a training exercise with a Guardian Angel team – consisting of combat rescue officers, Pararescuemen, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) specialists, and other support personnel – assigned to the U.S. Air Force 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron Afghanistan, March 26, 2018. (USAF photo)
1941: As Japanese warplanes continue to hammer Allied bases across Asia and the Pacific, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously declares Dec. 7 as “a date which will live in infamy,” asking Congress to declare war on Japan – which they will do in a matter of hours. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and numerous other governments also declare war on Japan.
Eyeing the destruction from USS Enterprise (CV-6) as the aircraft carrier steams into Pearl Harbor, he says that “Before we’re through with ’em, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell.”
Col. William W. Ashurst (USMC) is captured and surrenders his remaining “China Marines”, who are held as prisoners until the end of the war. Also in China, USS Wake becomes the only U.S. warship to surrender during World War II, when the Japanese capture the river patrol gunboat and her crew by surprise while the ship is at anchor. A Japanese invasion fleet departs Kwajalein Atoll, and in three days will assault Wake Island.
In the Philippines, Japanese forces land at Batan Island, as enemy air strikes take out roughly half of the American warplanes on Luzon Island to the south.
Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler declares war on the United States, ordering his naval forces to begin attacking U.S. shipping. Although the Chinese have been fighting Japan for over four years, China formally declares war against Japan – and Germany – on this date.
1942: Considered “perhaps the greatest individual success of American PT boats during the war,” eight PT boats engage – and turn around – a force of eight Japanese destroyers on a mission to supply soldiers on Guadalcanal.
1965: 150 Air Force and Navy warplanes begin conducting strikes against North Vietnamese Army infiltration routes along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos. The covert Operation “Tiger Hound” will continue until 1968, when it becomes part of Operation “Commando Hunt.”
2012: Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Edward C. Byers, Jr. earns the Medal of Honor during a mission to rescue an American doctor who had been captured in Afghanistan. His citation can be read here.
1781: British Gen. Charles Cornwallis formally surrenders 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a frigate, and 30 transport ships to an American and French force at Yorktown, Va., effectively ending the American Revolution.
1944: Two Interstate TDR assault drones are launched against Japanese gun emplacements on Ballale Island – one drone missing its target and another delivering two of its four 100-lb. bombs on the target. The TDR was a two-engine, unmanned airplane remotely controlled by a Grumman TBF “Avenger” via a television camera feed.
1950: Troopers with the 5th Cavalry Regiment enter Pyongyang, capturing the North Korean capitol. The following day, the 187th Regimental Combat Team will conduct two parachute drops north of the capitol to cut off retreating North Korean forces. The Communists will recapture Pyongyang on Dec. 5, after China joins the war.
1965: Two regiments of North Vietnamese soldiers begin a week-long siege on the Special Forces camp at Plei Me in South Vietnam’s central highlands. The outnumbered defenders repelled repeated attacks and eventually drove off the NVA forces. Following the battle, Gen. William Westmoreland ordered the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) to find and defeat the forces that attacked Plei Me, resulting in the bloody Battle of Ia Drang.
1987: Following an Iranian missile attack on a merchant vessel, U.S. warships attack and destroy two Iranian oil platforms being used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to attack shipping in the Persian Gulf.
2001: 200 Army Rangers parachute into – and quickly secure – an airfield southwest of Kandahar, Afghanistan, while special operation forces conduct other air-assault operations on several targets near Kandahar. These raids are the first known combat operations of the war in Afghanistan. In November, the captured airfield will become the first U.S. base in Afghanistan when Marines establish Camp RHINO.
Meanwhile, Spec. Jonn J. Edmunds and Pvt. 1st Class Kristofor T. Stonesifer become the first combat-related casualties in the War on Terror when the helicopter carrying them crashes in Pakistan.
After When British General Sir Charles Napier observed Hindus preparing their traditional religious practice of suttee – the burning of a still-living widow on her deceased husband’s funeral pyre – he told the Indian priests, “You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”
Fast forward two centuries – the United States is engaged in a war with jihadists that follow a religious tradition of terrorism and global conquest.
In an address to the American people this week, President Donald Trump announced a sharp departure from the Bush and Obama administrations’ handling of America’s longest war. The speech signaled what hopefully will mark the beginning of a campaign to restore American military resolve and strength after years of declining prestige. In just 20 minutes, Trump used the words “win” and “victory” more than Barack Obama uttered in eight years, a welcome replacement for politically correct terms like “degrade” and “courageous restraint.”
Undoubtedly, a willingness to use the formerly abandoned term “victory” and stronger military presence with an infusion of mettle is essential to combating our jihadist enemies, and our president signaled that he will not allow the Taliban to retake political control of the vacuums left behind for the Taliban and the Islamic State to fill in Afghanistan and Iraq.
While the president said that he will not announce troop deployments, operation schedules, and withdrawal timetables to our enemies, which he rightly refers to as “counterproductive,” we have since learned that Trump intends to commit more troops to Afghanistan. But whether we send four thousand, or forty thousand, or four hundred thousand American fighting men and women to Southwest Asia, recent history shows that military force alone will have no effect on the ideology that spawns Islamic terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Barcelona, or Orlando. No matter how deep Al Qaeda has dipped into the depth chart over the past several years to replace its fallen leaders, military counter-terrorism efforts by themselves have had little measurable effect on the operational capacity of terrorist groups.
Under past administrations, our troops were hamstrung by highly restrictive rules of engagement. Our enemies were able to exploit these politically motivated restrictions and used them to great advantage. We must unleash our military’s full capacity to bring destruction to the enemy, and Trump declared that not only has he done exactly that – we have already made significant progress on the battlefield as a result.
Rather than crafting a political narrative out of talking points that do not reflect reality, the president has already displayed a willingness to listen to the advice of his military commanders, granting the Pentagon more power when it comes to both strategy and decisions on the battlefield. This is another welcome change from the Obama era.
Trump also signaled that he intends to put diplomatic pressure on Pakistan for its support of jihadists that use the nation’s border areas with Afghanistan as a safe haven. We will apparently no longer continue financing a nation that is playing both sides.
To ultimately be successful in America’s longest war, Continue reading “Trump Should Follow Up Afghan Address with ‘Evil Empire’ Speech”
1861: Following their victory in the Battle of Rich Mountain in western Virginia two days ago, Union forces led by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan catch the fleeing Confederates at Cheat River. Brig. Gen. Robert S. Garnett, commanding the Confederate troops, is killed, becoming the first general killed in the Civil War.
The victory at Corrick’s Ford marks the high point of McClellan’s career, as his inflated accomplishment makes him a national hero – he will become general-in-chief of the Union army – and sets in motion the creation of West Virginia.
1863: In New York City, residents kick off three days of violent riots against the draft – perhaps the worst riot in American history. Firemen are attacked and their equipment destroyed, and the outnumbered police officers can’t control the huge crowd. Soldiers are ordered to New York City, many of whom fought days ago at Gettysburg, and by the time order is restored, 4,000 troops occupy the city. Hundreds of citizens are dead, thousands wounded, and dozens of buildings are burned.
1943: Allied and Japanese ships clash in the Solomon Islands during the Battle of Kolombangara. The force had just landed Marine Raiders on New Georgia and the Japanese intended to land reinforcements, but are driven off after a brief nighttime engagement. Heavy gunfire and torpedoes sink the Japanese light cruiser Jintsu, taking almost the entire crew with her. Japanese torpedoes sink the destroyer USS Gwin (DD-443), and heavily damage three other cruisers.
1985: Vice President – and former TBM “Avenger” torpedo bomber pilot during World War II – George H.W. Bush becomes Acting President for the Day when Pres. Ronald Reagan undergoes surgery.
2008: At 4a.m., over 100 Taliban fighters launch a coordinated assault against a joint American-Afghan patrol base in eastern Afghanistan. The remote outpost had just been established and its defenses had not yet been fully constructed, enabling the enemy to destroy the heavy U.S. weapons almost immediately. After four hours of close combat, the attackers are driven off with help from artillery and aircraft support. Nine American soldiers are killed and another 29 wounded in one of the Taliban’s deadliest attacks of the war.
1900: While the bloody Chinese campaign against foreigners and Christians known as the Boxer Rebellion intensifies, Marines from the battleship USS Oregon (BB-3) and cruiser USS Newark (C-1) arrive at the Chinese capital of Peking (now Beijing) to protect American and foreign legations.
1943: As the Allied attack begins on the island of Pantelleria, halfway between Tunisia and Sicily, the 99th Pursuit Squadron – the first all-black fighter squadron of the U.S. military – arrives in Tunisia. In two days, the famed “Tuskegee Airmen” will fly their first combat mission, and some 11,000 Italian (and a few dozen German) troops will become the first force in history to surrender from air attacks alone. The 99th is commanded by Lt. Col. (future Gen.) Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. Davis, who will go on to become the Air Force’s first black general. His father Benjamin Sr. was the U.S. military’s first black general.
1945: On Okinawa’s “Hen Hill,” PFC Clarence B. Craft launches an incredible one-man attack against Japanese defenders when his five-man reconnaissance force is wounded by grenades and pinned down. He exposes himself to intense enemy fire, shooting at anything that moves. Craft advances single-handedly up the hill, against defenses that previously beat back battalion-sized U.S. forces. Once he reaches the crest of the hill, his fellow soldiers advance, supplying him with cases of grenades and a satchel charge, which he used to seal off a cave containing an unknown number of enemies. Craft continued pumping rounds into Japanese soldiers, and silenced an enemy machine gun position. Dozens of Japanese soldiers die at the hands of Craft, and his charge against the critical position of Hen Hill leads to the collapse of the entire Japanese line.
1994: The United States announced that it is no longer “aiming” (preprogrammed computer targeting) nuclear weapons at Russian targets.
2014: Nearly five years after walking away from his post in eastern Afghanistan, the Taliban hands Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl over to a team of Delta Force operators. The former prisoner of war is exchanged for five high-ranking Taliban officials in a highly controversial deal between the U.S. government and the Afghan terrorist group. Soldiers from Bergdahl’s unit state that six soldiers died attempting to locate the missing soldier, and numerous other deaths have been attributed to the reallocation of resources during the search for Bergdahl.
Although a fan of counterinsurgency (COIN) in certain cases, I have publicly opposed the population-centric model of COIN utilized in Afghanistan for several years. But I am safe at home and feel that we should defer to those whose lives depend on how effective our warfighting doctrine is. I came across a wonderfully written letter by a former infantry commander, who is also an officially trained military historian, to the Secretary of the Army detailing why we are failing in Afghanistan.
I understand many folks in the military still support COIN in Afghanistan, but I doubt I am the only one that thinks something is wrong when the world’s most advanced military is 11 years into a war with an illiterate enemy that has no armor, navy, or air force.
An excerpt from my latest piece at The US Report:
Where did we go wrong? [Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV] said it’s mainly because our senior leaders, who have less combat maneuver experience now than perhaps at any time in U.S. military history, are “unwilling to conduct operations that reflect sound military art and science.”
Years ago, we abandoned our counterterrorism efforts in favor of counterinsurgency (COIN), a nebulous, and primarily political strategy aimed at protecting populations and addressing grievances. Killing the enemy and breaking their will to fight becomes secondary, and success hinges on an incredibly corrupt Afghan government.
Tunnell says that COIN “consists of musings from amateurs, contractors, plagiarized journal articles, etc.” and has contributed to “needless American casualties”:
COIN has become such a restrictive dogma that it cannot be questioned; any professional discussion about its strengths and weaknesses is discouraged. It has reached such a crisis that those who employ other Army doctrinal concepts do so at their own professional peril because they will be subject to censure for not adhering to COIN. This has created a dysfunctional and toxic leadership environment throughout our Army which has resulted in poor organization, unrealistic training, and indecisive battlefield performance.
Our military exists to protect American citizens, not Afghans. And if the Afghan people have grievances, that is their business – not ours. Our business should be to kill the terrorists that seek to kill Americans and then come home. The moment we quit doing that was the moment we abandoned our own best interests:
Our potential for greater coalition casualties does not have to be inevitable, but due to our flawed approach to operations we wind up enabling our enemy. The population-centric approach which places the population as the center of gravity is applied to the point of absurdity. The enemy is entrenching himself among the civilian population as we cede to him territory and lines of communication. […]
A gross lack of concern for subordinates manifests in guidance that “zero” civilian casualties are acceptable and coalition soldiers may have to be killed rather than defend themselves against a potential threat and risk being wrong and possibly resulting in injury or death of civilians…
The Battle of Ganjgal, in which Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer received the Medal of Honor, exemplifies Col. Tunnell’s point that COIN and restrictive rules of engagement result in needless American casualties: Continue reading “Colonel makes case against COIN in Afghanistan”
A quick update: Stars and Stripes reports that the soldiers involved in last month’s burning of Korans used by enemy prisoners at Bagram Air Base will not face trial in sharia court:
A military investigation into the burning of the Qurans at Bagram could conclude as early as this weekend. Crocker and Allen have said the soldiers involved may face punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice but will not be turned over to the Afghan courts as requested by Karzai.
Perhaps we will discover what exactly the soldiers did that was wrong since I have yet to see an explanation. I doubt offending Muslims violates the UCMJ.
The article also featured an explanation from Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, as to what the heck we are doing in Afghanistan:
“We have not invested the billions of dollars we have and the lives of 1,900 Americans to see the Taliban retake this country and al-Qaida once again be able to restage here,” Crocker said.
“That’s why we’re here — to be sure al-Qaida is defeated and that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for forces that would seek to attack us on our own soil.”
Sounds great – will the ambassador clue us in as to what exactly the Obama administration is doing to “be sure al-Qaida is defeated and that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for forces that would seek to attack us on our own soil”?
I will support a president from any party, provided the president is executing his duties as commander-in-chief effectively. What matters is trying to get it right. Both Obama and George W. Bush have got things right and wrong. I have been supportive and critical of both presidents in the War on Terror.
Perhaps letting these soldiers go to trial is the best path forward. If they violated military law, they should be punished. But I am not aware of any laws that were violated. If they were following protocol, then they should be exonerated.
But if these men are hung out to dry to appease barbarians, then Obama has dishonored the US military to a degree perhaps never before seen.
Update March 2, 2012, 9:28 pm: Stars and Stripes reports that the soldiers will face military trial, not sharia court.
An Afghan government website reports that NATO officials have promised to bring the American soldiers responsible for burning the Koran to justice in an open trial.
The website of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Government Media and Information Center (an official government site) states: “NATO officials promised to meet Afghan nation’s [sic] demand of bringing to justice, through an open trial, those responsible for the incident and it was agreed that the perpetrators of the crime be brought to justice as soon as possible.”
If this is true, and we do not know yet if it is, handing over US servicemembers to a sharia court in Afghanistan could be one of the most unconscionable acts ever conducted by our government.
Obama reportedly sent a three-page letter to Afghan president Hamid Karzai, but the White House won’t fully disclose the letter. A small portion of Obama’s letter – suspiciously (and perhaps deliberately) ambiguous – is floating around stating “We will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”
What does the president mean, holding the soldiers accountable to military law? They didn’t do anything wrong. If they did, show us what code they violated. Or does he mean sharia law? Desecrating the Koran, especially by non-Muslims could result in the death penalty. But American soldiers are held only to US law, not Islamic law. Besides, depending on what jurist you talk to, burning of Korans is entirely permissible if the books are damaged – which the Korans in question were, at the hands of Muslims.
Of course, the White House and Pentagon are not answering questions. But this is nothing new for the president who proclaims his administration as the “most open and transparent in history.”
That letter belongs to the American people. What legitimate reason does the president have to keep it from us?
Instead of fanning the flames of discontent in our own country, our president must announce what the heck is going on with these soldiers. It would be easy, but Obama apparently prefers to keep Americans angry and in the dark over the lives of those he has sent into combat potentially hanging in the balance.
This president has, on multiple occasions, utilized similar tactics to smoke out his opponents; allowing the reaction to reach fever pitch before setting the record straight – in this case, releasing what could turn out to be a harmless letter. And what could possibly whip the people into a frenzy more than using American soldiers as bait?
This could be an information operation or it could simply be a misunderstanding. The only people who know aren’t talking.
The political and military prostration to the Afghan people following the Koran-burning incident at Bagram served as the final straw for me; I once wholeheartedly supported the “war” in Afghanistan. Now, I don’t think Washington gives a hoot in hell for the troops they have sent to bleed and die in Afghanistan. So unless we can elect leaders who can formulate an effective counterterrorism strategy, I now say it’s time to bring the troops home.
As the Afghan police and army gun down our troops in numbers that now rival that of our enemies, the Obama administration thinks that WE are the ones that need to apologize. To them. And to top it all off, our military says that WE are the ones who require further sensitivity training.
At this point, “FUBAR” would be a compliment.
So how should America have responded to the burning of Korans used by detainees at Bagram Air Base you ask?
From my recent post at The US Report:
Military policy requires troops in combat zones to burn their trash. […] In 2009, the military confiscated and burned unsolicited Bibles sent by a church to Afghanistan. In this case, the Bibles were intended for distribution, not for enemy intelligence purposes. Christians did not respond by rioting and shooting US troops, and neither the military nor our government apologized. The military simply burned them and stated that it was policy.
That is how exactly how the military should have handled the Koran incident. Once the burnings were reported, announce that prisoners were using them for intelligence, and we disposed of them as per policy. And let Muslims know that if they don’t want non-Muslims to destroy their Korans, then they shouldn’t desecrate them in the first place.
Why the constant appeasement of Islam? If we are truly a nation of religious freedom, then what works for the Christians should work for the Muslims.
We can’t please everybody, but all these serial apologies have done is pour fuel on the fire – and the Afghans have responded by murdering even more of our troops. At such a rate that ISAF decided to no longer report on casualties caused by Afghan soldiers or policemen.
Trust me, I understand the threat that jihadists pose to our country. However, we can’t defeat these barbarians if we are continually showing them weakness. Sure, we have the finest military ever assembled in human history, but if the political masters lack the will to win, what does it matter to our enemies?