Oct. 19 in U.S. military history

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

A TDR assault drone during World War II. This drone is now at the National Naval Aviation Museum (see link in article)

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.

Oct. 16 in U.S. military history

1821: The schooner USS Enterprise (the third of 12 so-named Continental and U.S. Naval vessels) intercepts a flotilla of four ships led by the infamous Capt. Charles Gibbs as the pirates attack American and British-flagged ships in Cuban waters. Although outnumbered, Lt. Cmdr. John Kearney and his crew quickly defeat the pirate force, and Gibbs escapes into the jungles of Cuba as three of his ships are burned. Gibbs will eventually be caught and is one of the last people executed for piracy in the United States.

1859: A small party of abolitionists, led by John Brown, occupies the military arsenal at Harper’s Ferry (modern-day West Virginia), hoping to inspire a slave rebellion. However, Brown’s hoped-for uprising does not take place and local militia force the rebels into a firehouse. A company of Marines under the command of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee is dispatched to the scene and after an unsuccessful attempt by Lt. J.E.B. Stuart to get Brown to surrender, the Marines assault the barricaded fire station and bring an end to the crisis.

1918: When all other members of his machine gun detachment are killed or wounded, Pvt. Thomas C. Neibaur foils an entire German counterattack by himself. Four enemy soldiers attempt to kill him at close quarters, but the wounded Neibaur manages to kill them, and captures another 11 with his pistol. For his actions, Pvt. Neibaur is awarded the Medal of Honor.

1942: As Japanese planes attack a ship unloading badly needed supplies for Guadalcanal’s “Cactus Air Force”, Lt. Col. Harold W. “Indian Joe” Bauer – dangerously low on fuel following a 600-mile ferry flight from Espirito Santo – single-handedly engages the enemy warplanes, shooting down one bomber, four fighters, and damaging another before running out of fuel. The commander of Marine Fighting Squadron 212 (VMF-212) is awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

1946: After nine months of trials, ten Nazi war criminals are executed by hanging, including top Wehrmacht officers Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Keitel, and SS officer Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Also sentenced is former Luftwaffe boss (and World War I fighter ace) Hermann Göring, who committed suicide the night before his execution.

1956: The Pan American airliner Clipper Sovereign Of The Skies (a Boeing 377 “Stratocruiser”, which is based off the B-29 “Superfortress” bomber) experiences failures in two of its four engines while in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a around-the-world flight and has to ditch in the water. The Coast Guard cutter USCGC Pontchartrain is only a half mile away from the crash site and rescues all passengers and crew before the plane slips under the waves after 20 minutes.

2002: Congress grants President George W. Bush the authority to use military force against Iraq, however the U.S.-led coalition will not invade Iraq until March of 2003.

Posted on October 16, 2017 at 10:20 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Oct. 12 in U.S. military history

Pres. Truman presents the Medal of Honor to Cpl. Desmond Doss on Oct. 12, 1944.

1862: Confederate cavalry commander Gen. James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart completes his “second ride” around Union Gen. George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac.

1870: Five years after surrendering his Army of Northern Virginia to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Gen. Robert E. Lee passes away after suffering a stroke. The revered general served his country 44 years, fighting alongside Grant in the Mexican-American War, and against him in the Civil War.

1944: U.S. Army Air Force 1st Lt. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager and his 357th Fighter Group surprise a flight of 22 Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighters near Hanover, Germany. Yeager’s P-51D “Mustang”, named Glamorous Glenn II, Yeager will score five of the group’s eight victories – two without firing a shot – becoming an “ace in a day.” Yeager finishes World War II with 11.5 kills, and will go on to fly 127 missions during the Vietnam War. The former Army private will retire a Brigadier General in 1975, but continues flying for the Air Force and NASA.

That same day, aircraft from seven U.S. aircraft carriers of Carrier Task Force 38 attack targets on Japanese-held Formosa (modern-day Taiwan).

1945: President (and former artillery officer during World War I) Harry S. Truman awards the Medal of Honor to Cpl. Desmond Doss for saving the lives of 75 wounded soldiers on Okinawa’s Hacksaw Ridge. Since Doss was a conscientious objector, the Army made him a combat medic. Prior to his service on Okinawa, where Doss was wounded four times, he also saw action on Guam and the Philippines, where he earned two Bronze Stars with “V” for valor device.

1954: World War II ace, now chief test pilot for North American Aviation, George S. Welch dies when his F-100 “Super Sabre” disintegrates during testing. An Army Air Force pilot with 16 victories during World War II, Welch was one of two pilots able to get airborne and engage Japanese aircraft during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was recommended for the Medal of Honor for his actions on December 7th, but having taken off without orders, he only receives the Distinguished Flying Cross. While serving as an instructor and test pilot for North American during the Korean War, he reportedly shot down several MiG-15 aircraft, but again did so against orders, so he did not receive credit for the kills.

2000: While the destroyer USS Cole stops to refuel in Yemen, two suicide bombers ram an explosive-laden fiberglass boat into the warship, blowing a massive hole in the side of Cole, claiming the lives of 17 U.S. sailors and injures another 39.

Posted on October 12, 2017 at 10:20 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Sept. 28 in U.S. military history

Auguste Couder’s Bataille de Yorktown

1781: Gen. George Washington leads a combined army of 8,000 Continentals, 7,800 French soldiers, and 3,100 Colonial militia out of Williamsburg (Va.) to the newly constructed trenches surrounding Lt. Gen. Lord Cornwallis’ trapped British forces at Yorktown, beginning the siege that will effectively bring an end to the American Revolution.

1787: After putting the finishing touches on the Constitution of the United States, the Continental Congress sends copies out to the states for ratification.

1924: Two Douglas DT-2 biplanes land at Sand Point, Wash., completing the U.S. Army Air Service’s 175-day, 27,553-mile journey, marking the first ever aerial circumnavigation of the globe.

1941: Capt. Joseph J. Rochefort, officer-in-charge of Pearl Harbor’s cryptology section, warns commanders that a change in Japanese radio traffic could indicate a major operation.

1945: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower relieves Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. of his post as military governor in Bavaria following controversial statements about the de-nazification process. Next month, Eisenhower transfers Patton from his beloved Third Army to lead the Fifteenth Army, a relatively small staff responsible for compiling a history of the European War.

1964: The Lafayette-class ballistic missile submarine USS Daniel Webster departs Charleston (S.C.) Harbor, becoming the first ship to deploy with the new Polaris A3 missiles. The A3 carries three 200-kiloton warheads with a maximum range of 2,500 nautical miles. When the USS Daniel Boone joins the Pacific Fleet in December, American nuclear missiles can now target anywhere on the entire Eurasian landmass.

2001: President George W. Bush declares that American combat forces are in “hot pursuit” of those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, while the Pentagon adds that American and British special operations forces have deployed to Afghanistan.

2012: Contrary to the Obama Administration’s narrative that the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was a spontaneous protest over a YouTube video, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announces that it was in fact a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack.”

Sept. 21 in U.S. military history

F-11F-1 Tigers parked on a flightline, circa 1960

1780: After deliberately weakening the defenses of Fort Arnold (now known as West Point), Hudson River, and other areas under his command, Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans for the strategic fort. The Colonists will soon capture Maj. John André, Britain’s top spy in the United States, foiling Arnold’s plan to hand over West Point – which will become the U.S. Military Academy in 1802 and is the Army’s oldest continually operating post.

1939: With war breaking out in Europe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asks Congress to relax neutrality laws – permitting the United States to arm belligerent nations.

1942: In Seattle, Boeing’s massive B-29 “Superfortress” bomber makes its first flight. The new Superfort featured radar-controlled guns and could fly further, faster, and deliver more bombs than its predecessor, the B-17 “Flying Fortress.” The B-29 will see its first combat in 1944, and will bring an end to World War II when the Enola Gay and Bock’s Car drop atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

1956: Grumman test pilot Tom Attridge, at the controls of an F11F-1 “Tiger” aircraft flying over Long Island, tests the plane’s ability to fire its guns at supersonic speeds. After firing, he actually runs into the bullets he had fired earlier from a higher altitude, mortally wounding the Tiger’s jet engine. The pilot manages to safely eject after shooting himself down.

1961: The 5th Special Forces Group is activated at Fort Bragg (N.C.). The “Green Berets” of 5th SFG will see extensive combat during the Vietnam War, as well as service in Operation Desert Storm and Somalia. In October, 2001, they are among the first U.S. forces to deploy to Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, where they would famously conduct the first American attack on horeseback since World War II.

1988: U.S. forces protecting tankers in the Persian Gulf spot the Iranian vessel Iran Ajr laying mines in international waters. Helicopters halt the vessel with rocket and machine gun fire, and a team of Navy SEALs boards the ship. In April, the USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) strikes – and is nearly sunk by – a mine laid by the Iran Ajr, prompting the U.S. to retaliate against the Iranian fleet.

Operation “Earnest Will” is the largest convoy operation since World War II and marks the first tactical operation of the newly formed Special Operations Command – utilizing the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, SEALs, and special boat units all working together.

Posted on September 21, 2017 at 09:26 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Sept. 20 in U.S. military history

Marines during Operation SUMMIT – the first battlefield deployment of troops by helicopter

1777: British Maj. Gen. Charles Grey launches a daring nighttime attack on Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne’s Continental Army forces encamped near the Paoli Tavern near modern-day Malvern, Pa.. Grey orders his troops to only use bayonets, and has his men remove the flints from their rifles. The Redcoats catch the Americans completely by surprise, routing an entire division while only suffering 11 British casualties.

1797: The Continental Navy frigate Constitution is launched in Boston harbor. 220 years later, USS Constitution – known affectionately as “Old Ironsides” – is the “oldest ship in the American Navy,” and continues serving in the 21st century as a duly commissioned ship crewed by active-duty U.S. sailors and Naval officers in order to further public awareness of American Naval tradition.

1917: The 26th Infantry Division arrives at Saint-Nazaire, France, becoming the first division entirely organized in the United States to arrive in Europe for World War I. The National Guard soldiers immediately travel to Neufchâteau, where they are trained by experienced French soldiers. The “Yankee” Division will spend 210 days in combat, with 1,587 killed in action and another 12,077 soldiers wounded.

1944: Just three days after landing, the 81st Infantry Division has eliminated most of the Japanese garrison on the island of Angaur. Once the island is secured, the 81st will join the 1st Marine Division in the bloody battle on Peleliu, only seven miles away.

1950: 12 Sikorsky HRS-1 “Chickasaw” helicopters of Marine Helicopter Squadron 161 (HMR-161) conduct the first combat landing of troops, landing over 200 Marines and their equipment on Hill 844 near Kansong, Korea.

1984: The Iranian-supported terrorist group Hezbollah carries out a suicide car bomb attack on the U.S. Embassy Annex building in East Beirut, Lebanon. The explosion kills 24 – including Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth V. Welch (USA) and Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Ray Wagner (USN) – and injures both the U.S. and British ambassadors.

2001: President George W. Bush addresses a joint session of Congress, announcing the newly proposed Department of Homeland Security and requesting a declaration of war in response to the 9/11 attacks just nine days ago. Bush states “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

Posted on September 20, 2017 at 09:06 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Sept. 14 in U.S. military history

Standing on the charred remains of a fire truck, President George W. Bush gives a speech to first responders at Ground Zero on Sept. 14, 2001

1901: Eight days after being shot by the assassin Leon Czolgoszan, President William McKinley dies of his wounds, and Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in as the 26th President of the United States. Before being named vice president, Roosevelt served as McKinley’s Assistant Secretary to the Navy until USS Maine explodes in Havana, inspiring Roosevelt to form the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment – the “Rough Riders.” Following McKinley’s assassination, Congress tasks the U.S. Secret Service with protecting the president.

1939: At the controls of his Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 prototype, Igor Sikorsky makes a 10-second tethered flight – the first successful flight of a single main rotor, single tail rotor helicopter.

1942: The 7th Marine Regiment departs Espiritu Santo to join the battle at Guadalcanal. Among the men are Sgts. John Basilone and Mitchell Paige – who both earn the Medal of Honor at Guadalcanal – and Marine legend Lt. Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller.

1943: After a devastating German counterattack, over 2,000 paratroopers of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment jump into action at the beachhead at Salerno, Italy. Together with Naval gun battery support, every available bomber is summoned to Salerno and the German attack is devastated. Gen. Mark Clark’s invasion, once in danger of being driven into the sea, is back on the offensive.

1944: Underwater Demolition Teams have cleared obstacles and Naval bombardment continues on the eve of the 1st Marine Division’s landing at Peleliu. Maj. Gen. William Rupertus predicts that his Marines can secure the small island in just four days, but over 10,000 fortified Japanese defenders are prepared to dish out what will become “the bitterest battle of the war for the Marines.”

2001: Congress passes the Authorization for Use of Military Force, granting President George W. Bush the ability to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The president authorizes the Pentagon to activate some 50,000 Reservists, and while touring Ground Zero, Bush proclaims “the people that knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

Posted on September 14, 2017 at 09:12 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Trump Should Follow Up Afghan Address with ‘Evil Empire’ Speech

Sir Napier’s statue in Trafalgar Square

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

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, (more…)

Posted on August 25, 2017 at 06:55 by Chris Carter · Permalink · 2 Comments
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July 13 in U.S. military history

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.

Posted on July 13, 2017 at 09:20 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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June 16 in U.S. military history

Saddam Hussein’s presidential secretary Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, the “Ace of Diamonds” from the military’s deck of playing cards featuring the 55 most-wanted members of the Hussein regime. (Photo by the author)

1775: Under cover of darkness, a 1,200-man American force commanded by Col. William Prescott fortifies Breed’s Hill, overlooking Boston.

1861: 9,000 Federal troops led by Brig. Gen. Henry W. Benham attempt to capture Charleston, S.C. in the Battle of Secessionville. Although the Confederate defenders are heavily outnumbered, the marshy terrain and fortifications spell disaster for Union. The problematic Benham had moved without orders, and is court-martialed following the battle.

1943: 94 Japanese warplanes set out to raid the Allied invasion force before it reaches the island of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. American aircraft operating out of Guadalcanal’s Henderson Field splash 93 out of 94 Japanese warplanes, while losing only six planes. Two tank landing ships are beached and only one cargo ship is damaged.

1944: One day after landing on Saipan, Marines repel Japanese counterattacks and capture Afetna Point and the town of Charan Karoa, linking the beachheads. Meanwhile, soldiers of the 27th Infantry Division come ashore and move to take Aslito airfield.

Across the Philippine Sea, American battleships shell targets at Guam in preparation for the invasion. However, the landings are postponed as the Japanese fleet is steaming for the Marianas with hopes of finally crushing the American fleet in a decisive battle.

1959: North Korean MiG 17s attack a Martin P4M “Mercator” reconnaissance aircraft in international waters, injuring the tail gunner and forcing the Navy spy plane to perform an emergency landing in Japan.

1965: Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announces that in addition to the Marines and paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade recently deployed, the United States will send 21,000 more troops to Vietnam. McNamara also acknowledges that the military knew North Vietnam had been sending soldiers into South Vietnam prior to launching Operation Rolling Thunder, the politically managed bombing campaign on the North.

1992: After the first day of a summit in Washington, President George H.W. Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin announce that they have agreed to cut their countries’ nuclear arsenals by two-thirds.

2003: Delta Force operators, along with British Special Air Service commandos, capture Lt. Gen. Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti – Saddam Hussein’s right hand man. Mahmud was the fourth-most wanted man in Iraq, after Saddam and his sons Uday and Qusay,

Posted on June 16, 2017 at 09:02 by Chris Carter · Permalink · Leave a comment
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