Member Article: The Fulda Gap
by Bill Wilson
Lariat Advance. This terse and odd phrase, typically delivered via telephone in the early hours of the morning, served over years of the Cold War as an unmistakable notice to U.S. soldiers in Germany that a unit alert had been declared and that henceforth every second counted until such time as the unit’s response to alert had been assessed, and hopefully found satisfactory. Soldiers who lived outside the unit’s base reported in, vehicles and personal equipment were made ready, and finally, the unit deployed to its designated alert location in the countryside.
For those NATO soldiers whose units were deployed in the vicinity of the Iron Curtain, these alerts were laden with additional tension because the nearby presence of the Soviet forces was palpable. As one responded to the alert and approached the Kaserne, thoughts inevitably assessed how “real” the alert might be. For the U.S. Army in Germany in general, and its V (Fifth) Corps in particular, the geographical focus of this concern was known as the Fulda Gap.
Although VII Corps in Bavaria had another terrain corridor, the Hof Gap, as its focus, when it came to anticipated operations in Europe, the U.S. Army firmly expected the first battle of the next war to be a major clash of armored forces in the Fulda Gap. “The Gap”, like the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas, came to represent an assignment of special responsibility for those U.S. soldiers destined for promotion to high rank. The standards for performance of duty in such assignments were uncompromising, and those who met the requirements were considered to have performed well in the closest thing to war during times of peace.
Member Article: "Forgotten Master": T.E. Lawrence and Asymmetric Warfare?
by Evan Pilling
There have been few leaders in military history that have caught the popular imagination
more than T.E. Lawrence, or "Lawrence of Arabia." Books, movies, and recollections
of this enigmatic figure have served to cloud the reality of the man and surround
him with exaggerations and legends. Lawrence, an odd and eccentric figure by any
measure, himself did much to add to the air of mystery about his leadership ability
and what he actually accomplished during the First World War. These uncertainties
aside, what Lawrence did accomplish while serving as British liaison to the Arab
forces involved in the Arab Revolt (1916-18) against the Ottoman Turks was to conduct
an effective military campaign that is a dramatic example of asymmetric warfare,
one form of which is guerrilla or irregular warfare. He used his cultural understanding
of the Arabs and knowledge of the region, along with significant leadership skills,
to guide the Arabs in the conduct of an irregular campaign. Although at best a sideshow
in the overall conduct of the First World War, the operations that Lawrence led
produced effects disproportionate to the number of irregular troops that participated
and served as a supporting operation to the ultimate British victory in Palestine.
Lawrence's campaign demonstrated the potential effectiveness of irregular forces
against conventional troops and the difficulties that conventional armies face in
combating these forces.
Member Article: Who Won the Second Lebanon War of 2006?
by Robert Werdine
On the morning of July 12, 2006, members of the Reserve Battalion of the IDF’s 300
Brigade, 91 Division were en route to a routine border patrol on the Israel-Lebanon
border around milepost 105. At about 9:00am, one of their two HUMVEE utility vehicles
struck an IED, and a hailstorm of ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles) blanketed both
vehicles, killing three and wounding four. Hezbollah militants at once pulled two
of the wounded Israeli soldiers from the wrecked vehicles, and made off with them
across the border. As a diversion, Hezbollah militants elsewhere then launched a
salvo of rockets, mortars, and sniper fire at several Israeli villages and IDF outposts
in the vicinity of milepost 105 to sow confusion and cover the kidnapper’s escape.
A few Israeli Merkeva tanks sent across the border in pursuit yielded nothing, and
one of the tanks hit an IED and was blown to bits, killing the crew. A rescue attempt
to retrieve the dead crew encountered a firefight with Hezbollah, killing two IDF,
and a stream of airstrikes hitting some 69 bridges in S. Lebanon failed to cut off
the kidnappers escape. The Hezbollah cross-border raid/kidnapping was a complete
Member Article: Zone Guerrillas: The "Liberation Battalions" and Auxiliary Police, 1951-1954
by Christopher Weeks
At the end of the Second World War, Britain faced the increasingly difficult prospect of maintaining control over the Suez Canal in the face of rising Egyptian opposition and the economic realities of the post-war world. In attempting to exert its authority over the Canal Zone, Britain came up against a guerrilla movement fed both by nationalist and religious sentiment, and facilitated by a weak monarchy and a confrontational opposition government. The 1950-54 battle over the Canal Zone set the stage for the creation of an independent Egypt and the 1956 Suez crisis.
Member Article: Cuban Missile Crisis
by Christopher Weeks
The Cuban Missile Crisis, the October 1962 showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union over the Soviets placing nuclear missiles in Cuba and the American reaction, is justly considered the most serious incident of the Cold War.
Primary among the lessons of the Cuban Missile crisis is trying to answer the question of whether the crisis was solved because of John F. Kennedy’s presidential leadership, or whether it was solved because Kennedy, and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, were able to successful hold back their forces and restraint their hawks. Was the danger leadership miscalculation, or just “some sonofabitch who did not get the word?” as Kennedy eloquently put it at one point, about a change in policy or a pending crisis settlement.
Member Article: Intelligence in the Philippine Insurrection
by James G. Starron
The Philippine-American War, also referred to as the Philippine Insurrection, is one of America’s forgotten wars (Ablett, 2004). It is also, according to Linn (2000) one of America’s most successful counterinsurgency campaigns. By 1902, when President Theodore Roosevelt declared an end to the insurrection on July 4, 1902, more than 125,000 troops had served in the Philippines. The financial cost was estimated at 400 million dollars. The human cost was estimated at 4,200 American service members dead and another 2,900 wounded (Plante, 2000). Estimates on the number of Filipinos dead range from 200,000 to 600,000.
Member Article: The Gulf War: The Bush Administration and Pentagon’s Mobilization of the Press to Achieve Favorable American Public Opinion
by Bryan Hayes
Since World War II wars have been defined by a definitive image. The raising of the American flag by U.S.
Marines on Iwo Jima or children running from an American assault in Vietnam has left memorable images in
the minds of Americans for seven decades. In the Gulf War of 1991 the image of Iraqi soldiers falling
to their knees to kiss the hands of their U.S. Marine captors was the defining image of that war. The photo
signified the finest qualities of American character; control, restraint, and a confidence in the rightness
of the American cause. For the men and women who served the cause, it was a celebrated rebuttal to those who
predicted tragedy for the Americans and the coalition forces at the hand of the world’s fourth largest Army.
Member Article: The Mexican Revolution and US Intervention 1910-1917
by Timothy Neeno
The young lieutenant and his squad of men advanced through the arid Chihuahuan scrub toward the adobe walled
ranch house. All was quiet. There was a chance that a top Villista commander was inside. The lieutenant and
two men moved up along the north end of the building. Six others took the south side. As the lieutenant
came around the corner to the east side, three men on horses dashed around out of the gate, coming
straight at him. The horsemen wheeled, only to find the rest of the Americans coming around the southeast
corner of the house. Turning again, they charged toward the lieutenant. A crack shot with a pistol, he fired,
shooting a horse in the belly and wounding its rider in the arm. The lieutenant ducked back around the corner
to reload his pistol, emerging again just as a second rider swept down on him. The lieutenant fired again,
shooting the horse in the hip. The rider fell, and then rose up, aiming a pistol. He was just ten yards
away, when the cavalry men with the lieutenant brought him down. A third rider was galloping away, only
to be picked off by the American riflemen.
Member Article: Chinese Support for North Vietnam during the Vietnam War: The Decisive Edge
by Bob Seals
So why did the powerful modern nations of France and the United States lose two wars in Vietnam to a third rate military power like North Vietnam? This is the logical question that many historians have asked and attempted to answer since the Second Vietnam War ended in April 1975 with the fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese tanks. Some historians have stressed the support of the Communist party and its leadership, others point to the support of the Vietnamese people, and still other historians explain the North Vietnamese victory as an effect of the post-colonial nationalism wave that swept through Asia after the Second World War. However, few historians, with the possible exception of Qiang Zhai, among others, attribute the victory of the Vietnamese Communists in both Vietnam Wars to the considerable support provided by the communist colossus of the north, the People’s Republic of China.  This Chinese military support, to include equipment, advisors and planning assistance, provided from 1949-1975, would prove in both the First and Second Indochina Wars to be decisive.
Member Article: The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan: Lessons Learned
by Major James T. McGhee
On 24 September 1979, lead elements of the Soviet 40th Army were ordered to cross the border into Afghanistan. Three days later, Soviet Airborne forces had seized the airfields in Kabul and Bagram, and the Afghan President H. Amin had been executed. This was the beginning of a political and military disaster for the Soviet Union that lasted for nine years with a cost of almost 15,000 troops reported killed or missing in action. Thousands of additional Russian soldiers were wounded or died of disease, and millions of Afghanis were either killed, wounded or became refugees. The most important lesson that the Soviets learned from their experience in Afghanistan was, according to Cordesman and Wagner, "that it never should have been fought". There are however, a number of other political, strategic and tactical lessons that may be learned from the Soviet-Afghan conflict.
Member Article: The Western Way of "Peace," General Douglas MacArthur as Army Chief of Staff, 1931-1935
by Bob Seals
"The President has just informed me that the civil government of the District of
Columbia has reported to him that it is unable to maintain law and order in the
District. You will have United States troops proceed immediately to the scene of
the disorder. Cooperate fully with the District of Columbia police force which
is now in charge. Surround the affected area and clear it without delay. Turn
over all prisoners to the civil authorities. In your orders insist that any
women and children who may be in the affected area be accorded every
consideration and kindness. Use all humanity consistent with due execution of
this order." This order, given to the Army Chief of Staff, by the Secretary
of War, on a sweltering July afternoon, was one, if not the, most difficult
orders ever given to United States Army troops in it's 230 plus years of
existence. Civilian authorities had lost control after three police officers and
two demonstrators had been killed and wounded. Prescribing the use of force
against American civilians, in the nation's capital city, was fraught with
danger and dire political repercussions, to say the least.