Posted in Military History

23 October: Today in U.S. military history

Today’s post is in honor of Lance Cpl. Stephen E. Spencer, 23, or Portsmouth, R.I., who was one of 241 Marines, sailors, and soldiers killed in the Beirut Barracks Bombing (see below). A majority of the casualties from the terrorist attack were members of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines.


1864: In Westport, Mo. (present-day Kansas City), Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis’ 22,000-man Army of the Border defeats a heavily outnumbered Confederate force commanded by Maj. Gen. Sterling Price in the largest battle fought west of the Mississippi River. The Union brings an end to Price’s Missouri Expedition with his defeat in the “Gettysburg of the West,” and Price retreats into Kansas. After the Battle of Westport, the border state of Missouri will remain under Union control for the rest of the Civil War.

1918: When a battalion commander needs to send a message to an endangered company on the front lines, he realizes sending a runner would be too hazardous due to heavy incoming fire. However, Pfc. Parker F. Dunn volunteers for the job and races through the fire-swept terrain toward the unit. He is hit once and gets up. He is hit again, and continues. Undaunted, Dunn carries on towards his objective, but is finished off by an enemy machinegun burst. He is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

1942: On Guadalcanal, Imperial Japanese soldiers and tanks attempt to cross the Matanikau River, and are quickly defeated — signaling the beginning of the Battle for Henderson Field. Over the next three days the 1st Marine Division and the 164th Infantry Regiment, supported by the “Cactus Air Force,” shatter wave after wave of Japanese assaults on the ground and in the air. The battle marks the final major Japanese ground operation before they abandon the island.

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Posted in Military History

29 August: Today in U.S. military history

Holley

Today’s post is in honor of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Floyd C. Holley who, on this day in 2010, was killed while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. The 36-year-old from Casselberry, Fla. was serving his third combat deployment and was assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.


Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito in Sept. 1945. When the Japanese attempt to censor the photo showing the American commander towering above their revered emperor, MacArthur orders all newspapers to print the image.

1940: At Lawson Army Airfield (modern-day Fort Benning, Ga.), 1st Lt. William T. Ryder and his Parachute Test Platoon conduct the first mass parachute jump in U.S. military history.

Meanwhile, a delegation of British scientists begin sharing radar and other military technologies with the United States, hoping to secure assistance from the still-neutral nation.

1944: (Featured image) Four years after German conquerors marched through Paris’ famous Arc de Triomphe, 15,000 American soldiers of the 28th Infantry Division parade down the newly-liberated capital’s Champs-Élysées.

Meanwhile, a 21-man OSS force led by Lt. Cmdr. Frank Wisner parachutes into Romania, coordinating the rescue operation of well over 1,000 American prisoners of war before they can fall into the hands of the Soviet Red Army.

1945: An American B-29 Superfortress, carrying a load of humanitarian aid to Allied prisoners of war in Korea, is intercepted by Soviet Yak-9 fighters. The supposed allied pilots attack the bomber, forcing 1st Lt. Joseph Queen’s crew to bail out before the plane crashes. The air crew are rescued, and the incident marks one of the first international confrontations between the soon-to-be Cold War rivals.

Across the Sea of Japan, Allied occupation forces begin arriving in Japan, as well as the battleship USS Missouri, which will host the upcoming formal surrender ceremonies on Sept. 2. Gen. Douglas MacArthur is granted the authority to oversee the formation of a new Japanese government. Rather than disband the existing government, MacArthur rules through the emperor – whom the Japanese people still view as divine – during Japan’s transition to democracy.

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Posted in National Security

Terrorism Roundup

Egypt: According to Ynet, Egyptian security forces captured 100 anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons believed destined for Gaza on Wednesday according to the Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Sabe’. Egyptian forces also discovered three tunnels linking Rafah to the Gaza Strip, and confiscated dozens of vehicles used for smuggling.

Gaza: The Kuwait News Agency reports that Palestinians fired two more rockets into Israel on Wednesday. Local radio stations said the Ali Mustafa Brigade – the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – claimed responsibility.

And just hours after Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov urged Hamas to stop militants from firing rockets into Israel, a Qassam rocket was fired into Ashkelon.

Israeli warplanes responded by launching at least five attacks on various targets.

Lebanon: Tribunal investigators have summoned 12 Hizballah members and close supporters for questioning for the 2005 assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Hizballah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah referred to the 12 as “witnesses and not as suspects,” and told al Manar – the jihadist group’s television station – that “We have nothing to fear and we will co-operate.”

Nasrallah stated that six additional members would appear for questioning.

Hizballah, Israel, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, Syrian intelligence, and even al Qaeda have been speculated to be involved in the Hariri killing. But in May of last year, Der Spiegel reported the tribunal had evidence showing that Hizballah was behind the massacre.

Russia: Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov has claimed responsibility for the “Black Widow” suicide attacks on the Moscow Metro, which killed 39 Russians on Monday. Another double attack in Dagestan killed 12, including nine policemen on Wednesday. A second Dagestan bombing killed two more on Thursday. President Dimitri Medvedev said in a Security Council meeting that the attacks are “links in the same chain,” and called for a “brutal” response.

Monday’s blasts were the first terrorist attacks against Russia in six years.

Posted in Military History

Military Milestones from Greene’s Tigers to MacArthur’s Promise

This Week in American Military History (by W. Thomas Smith Jr.):

Oct. 18, 1859: U.S. Marine Lt. Israel Greene and a detachment of Marines – under the overall command of U.S. Army Col. (future Confederate general) Robert E. Lee – storm the now-famous fire-engine house at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Inside the building, abolitionist John Brown and his raiders have barricaded themselves following a failed attempt to spark a slave uprising in the town.

The signal for Greene’s Marines to attack is a simple waving of U.S. Army Lt. (future Confederate general) James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart’s plumed hat, after Stuart (Col. Lee’s aide and the designated negotiator) fails to persuade Brown to surrender.

Signal given, the Marines rush forward. Two leathernecks attempt to batter down the door with sledgehammers. Greene then orders 10-12 men to break through the door by ramming it with a wooden ladder. They do, and Greene leads his Marines into the breach.

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Posted in Geopolitics

Surprise! Hezbollah is violating UN embargo

(AP) United Nations troops salute the coffins of Hezbollah militants during a prisoner exchange in Tyre, Lebanon. Israeli officials called for their removal following the gesture.
(AP) United Nations troops salute the coffins of Hezbollah militants during a prisoner exchange in Tyre, Lebanon. Israeli officials called for their removal following the gesture.

A recent explosion in Southern Lebanon provides another glaring example that Hezbollah operates with impunity despite U.N. Security Council Resolutions expressly calling for their disarmament, and that the 15,000-strong UNIFIL force won’t do anything to stop them.

The exploding warehouse actually turned out to be a Hezbollah weapons cache that according to military analyst W. Thomas Smith Jr. “is said to have stored all manner of ‘rockets, mortars, artillery shells, grenades,’ and other munitions smuggled by Iran and Syria to the terrorist group in Lebanon since the Hizballah-Israel war.”

Smith adds:

… upon setting up a security perimeter around the blast site, the Lebanese army blocked soldiers with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from entering the security zone to investigate. Hizballah on the other hand, was given a green light.

In the same article, Smith reports that Hezbollah has trained between 100 and 150 Lebanese army soldiers on the use of the terrorist group’s offensive missiles obtained from Iran.

How can this be?

Smith’s sources tell him that “Hizballah has penetrated many elements of the Lebanese army from intelligence to combat arms units; and this is due primarily to the active, though illegal, joint Hizballah-Lebanese Army ‘Operations Room’ established by the Lebanese government and Syria in the 1990s.”

Elements within the Lebanese army (an army which receives direct military support from the U.S.) are complicit. And UNIFIL – 14 of whose soldiers were injured by stone-throwing civilians when they attempted to move against another suspected cache – appears unable to do anything about it.

Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Gabriela Shalev said in a letter to the Security Council that Hezbollah’s actions represented “a clear violation of [UNSCR] 1701,” and added that “Such violations jeopardize the fragile stability along Israel’s northern border and stand in contravention of UN Security Council resolution 1701, in particular paragraph 8 that calls for ‘full respect for the Blue Line by both parties’.”

Who has any respect the ‘Blue Line’ at this point? UNIFIL considers this incident a “serious violation,” but really – what are they going to do about it?