August 3 in U.S. military history

Daniel Fraser saves Stephen Decatur during the Battle of Tripoli Harbor

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

1804: During the First Barbary War, Commodore Edward Preble’s Mediterranean Squadron begins his first bombardment of Tripoli Harbor. Commanding a division of ships is Stephen Decatur, the youngest sailor ever to be promoted to captain in U.S. Naval history. When Decatur’s brother is killed while boarding a Tripolitan gunboat, Decatur hands over command of his ship and, along with a small crew, boards the enemy vessel and engages the much-larger force in fierce hand-to-hand combat. When the captain responsible for his brother’s death attempts to behead Decatur, Daniel Fraser throws himself over Decatur, taking the lethal blow for his captain. Decatur shoots and kills the captain and avenges his brother.

1943: As American, British, and Canadian troops drive across Sicily, Axis forces begin evacuating the island. While visiting soldiers awaiting evacuation at Nicosia, Gen. George S. Patton, commanding the Seventh Army, slaps a soldier suffering from battle fatigue and orders him back to the front lines. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower reprimands Patton for the incident and the legendary general will not command another combat force for 11 months.

1950: Eight F4U-4B “Corsairs” of Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 214 take off from the deck of USS Sicily (CVE-118) and attack enemy installations at Chengu, marking the first Marine aviation sortie of the Korean War. During World War II, the “Black Sheep” of VMF-214 destroyed hundreds of Japanese aircraft, sank several vessels, and earned the Presidential Unit Citation under Medal of Honor recipient and former “Flying Tiger” Maj. Greg “Pappy” Boyington – the Marine Corps’ top ace, with 28 aerial victories.

Congress initiates an involuntary recall of former enlisted soldiers, ordering 30,000 men to report for duty in September.

That same day in Southeast Asia, the first members of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group members arrive in Saigon. The 35-man group will supervise the allocation of military aid to the French military in Vietnam, and later act as military trainers.

1958: USS Nautilus — the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine and the U.S. Navy’s sixth so-named vessel — becomes the first “ship” to cross the North Pole.

Col. Harry S. Truman, USA

Capt. Truman, circa 1918 (Source: The Truman Library)

Did you know that President Harry S. Truman fought during World War I?

Truman joined the Missouri National Guard in 1905. When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, Capt. Truman commanded Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, part of the 35th Infantry Division. From “The Soldier from Independence: Harry S. Truman and the Great War”:

Truman’s battery was frequently employed well forward. He was detailed to provide fire support for George S. Patton’s tank brigade during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, engaged German field guns and was credited with either wiping out or forcing the permanent abandonment of two complete batteries. When firing on these and other targets, he disobeyed orders and fired “out of sector” against threats to his division’s open flank. Truman’s 35th Division, a National Guard formation made up of units from Missouri and Kansas, suffered grievously in that battle, and the battery of the man who would later order the dropping of the atomic bombs was sited approximately 150 yards forward of where Patton was wounded in an area referred to by one artilleryman as “a cemetery of unburied dead.”

The more I find out about Harry Truman, the more I like him. Truman remained an officer in the Field Artillery Reserve until retiring as a colonel in 1953.

Posted on April 22, 2012 at 12:34 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Military History · Tagged with: , ,

Patton on tactics

“There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time.”

– General George S. Patton, Jr.

Posted on April 28, 2010 at 14:38 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Military, Quotes · Tagged with: 

Patton on Loyalty

“There’s a great deal of talk about loyalty from the bottom to the top. Loyalty from the top down is even more necessary and is much less prevalent. One of the most frequently noted characteristics of great men who have remained great is loyalty to their subordinates.”

– General George S. Patton, Jr.

Posted on April 23, 2010 at 16:18 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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COIN: Know when to say when

To conduct an effective counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign, it is my understanding that one must also have a legitimate government that has the support of the people.

But Afghan president Hamid Karzai recently told members of parliament that he would join the Taliban if outside governments continued to pressure him.

Regardless of whether or not Karzai was serious, his remark effectively legitimized the Taliban. Has Karzai forgotten that tens of thousands of foreign troops are currently fighting the very terrorists he threatened to join? And the billions of dollars being spent to improve his country while the Taliban is busy destroying said improvements?

At this point, I don’t see how a COIN campaign can possibly achieve victory in Afghanistan. But then again, perhaps it never was since our leaders refuse to even use the word victory.

Maybe it is time to ask ourselves what George S. Patton would do. Old Blood and Guts was unceremoniously dumped by a military that was far less PC than what we have today (I doubt Patton would be promoted past Corporal in today’s Army). But he knew how to fight. And isn’t that the point of our armed forces anyways?

Given the chance, Patton would have today’s military run through Afghanistan like s–t through a goose (and don’t tell me our troops couldn’t do it if they had the support). The Taliban would learn the hard way that hiding behind women and children and fighting from mosques isn’t such a good idea. Real quick-like, the Taliban’s supporters – tacit or otherwise – would either change their minds or die in battle. Knowing that certain death awaits those who care to join the jihad would have a chilling effect on recruitment as well.

Then the Afghan people might realize that it’s the Taliban – not the U.S. – that’s making life bad for them. Rather than complain of – or fabricate – collateral damage from coalition air strikes, Afghans would turn on their Taliban for the IEDs that just so happen to kill or maim far more Afghans than they do foreign troops, or for any of the group’s innumerable atrocities committed against their own people.

There is no perfect solution, as fighting the Taliban without nation building would result in an environment where the Taliban can keep popping back up – although they would be significantly weakened each time. In that case, effective use of intelligence and special operations would strike them as soon as they threatened the U.S. again. In war, the most dedicated wins. And when we fight to the best of our ability, no terrorist group can outlast us.

If there was a compromise that could have been reached without resorting to war, we would have done so. But the Taliban will not compromise. Therefore, war is unavoidable – it’s basic human nature. And this war was declared on us. That being said, it would behoove us to begin fighting. Cutting the Taliban a $500 million stimulus check will not change their minds. Announcing to our enemies where we will attack next, or encouraging them to further exploit the rules of war by emasculating our rules of engagement will not change their minds. Neither will building schools, roads, or painting their picket fences. We can’t change their minds. And since we can’t compromise on our security, then war is the only choice.

We have been in Afghanistan for nearly ten years. I am not even sure why our troops are there now to be quite honest. After 9/11, I was under the impression that we sent troops in order to deny al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist groups the ability to operate training camps to conduct further terrorist attacks against the U.S. or our interests.

When Karzai legitimizes the very terrorists we are fighting, it’s high time to let the military be the military, and stop using them like public works employees and politicians.

Posted on April 6, 2010 at 14:36 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Geopolitics, Military · Tagged with: , , ,

Military Milestones from the Turtle to 9/11

By W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

Originally published at Human Events

This week in American military history:

Sept. 7, 1776: Just before dawn, an odd-looking barrel-shaped craft silently makes its way down the Hudson River from Manhattan toward a British warship, HMS Eagle, anchored in New York Harbor.

The craft, designed by Yale graduate David Bushnell and christened “Turtle,” is piloted by a Continental Army sergeant who is hand-cranking two screws for propulsion. As the Turtle nears its target, the pilot opens a valve allowing enough water into a small ballast tank, increasing the weight of the craft and causing it to slip beneath the surface. Maneuvering underwater, the pilot positions his craft below the Eagle then attempts to bore a hole through the enemy hull.

If everything goes according to plan, a timed explosive-device will to be placed into the hole. The device will then detonate after the Turtle makes its escape.

The operation, however, will not be successful, as the pilot will be unable to drill through a layer of copper sheathing on the enemy hull. But the bold attempt will go down in history as one of America’s great Naval milestones.

Bushnell’s Turtle is not the first functional submarine in history (Dutch inventor Cornelius Drebbel’s “underwater boat” successfully navigated a portion of England’s Thames River in 1623). But the Turtle is the first-ever submarine to be used as an attack platform in combat.

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Military Milestones from the Battle of Camden to Banzai Attacks at Tenaru

Sgt. Clyde Thomason, the first enlisted Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor

Sgt. Clyde Thomason, the first enlisted Marine recipient of the Medal of Honor in World War II

By W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

Originally published at Human Events

Aug. 16, 1780: The Battle of Camden (S.C.) — one of the worst tactical blunders on the part of the Continentals during the American Revolution — opens between British Army forces under the command of Gen. Sir Charles Cornwallis and Continental Army forces under Gen. Horatio Gates.

Though the Americans will be decisively defeated at Camden — thanks to Gates’ improperly positioning inexperienced militia against seasoned regiments of the regular British Army, as well as his complete loss of tactical control — the battle will prove to be something of a highwater mark for British forces in the southern colonies.

Gates himself will break and run, earning him the nickname, “Galloping Gates.” But the heroics of many of the ill-fated Continental officers and men (like Gen. Johann Baron de Kalb) will prove to be exemplary. And Gen. George Washington — always able to recover from strategic setbacks — will choose the exceptionally able Gen. Nathanael Greene as Gates’ replacement.

Aug. 16, 1940: Soldiers with the U.S. Army’s parachute test platoon begin jumping over Fort Benning, Ga. The airborne exercise (actually more of an experiment) is the first for the Army.

In 2001, Pres. George W. Bush will proclaim “August 16” of each year as National Airborne Day.

Aug. 17, 1942: Ahoy Raiders! U.S. Marine Raiders strike Makin Island in the Gilberts.

Sgt. Clyde Thomason, killed during the fighting, will become the first Marine in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor.

Note: Video of the Marine Raiders can be found here.

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