Member Article: In Memoriam: LtCol Adrian Grant-Duff, C.B. (1869-1914)
by Bryan Dickerson
On 15 September 1914, the British Army lost one of its most capable and proficient commanders and an officer who had played a vital role in the formulation of Britain’s mobilization contingency planning for the Great War. This distinguished officer was Lieutenant Colonel Adrian Grant-Duff, commanding officer of 1st Battalion / Royal Highlanders (The Black Watch).
Adrian Grant-Duff was born 29 September 1869 in London, England. He was the son of the Right Honorable Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant-Duff, P.C., G.C.S.I. and Anna Julia Webster Lady Grant-Duff, C.I.E. His father was a practioner of law, Member of the House of Commons, a government administrator and an author of numerous books. Adrian was one of the couple’s four sons and four daughters. Adrian was educated at Wellington College in the village of Crowthorne, Berkshire, England. He then attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.
Member Article: A Brief History of Al Asad Air Base, Iraq During Operation Desert Storm
by Bryan Dickerson
From early 2004 until late 2011, Al Asad Air Base was one of the most important air bases used by Coalition Forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. For most of this time, this sprawling base located in the Al Anbar Province of western Iraq was operated by the U.S. Marine Corps to conduct aerial operations and support ground operations throughout the province. The history of this base, however, dates back to the mid-1980s. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Al Asad Air Base was subjected to numerous air attacks, sustaining massive damage. Al Asad’s role in Operation Desert Storm is thus the subject of this paper.
Al Asad Air Base is located in the central portion of Al Anbar Province, western Iraq, some 12 miles from the city of Baghdadi and the Euphrates River. Baghdad is 120 miles to the east; the Syrian border is about 110 miles to the north-west.
Book Review: Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne
by Bob Seals
SGT York’s compelling story is a familiar tale to laymen and military historians alike. Born in a small, two room log cabin near Pall Mall, Tennessee, in 1887, Alvin C. York was the third of eleven children born to poor parents who struggled in the hills. After the death of his father, from the effects of being kicked by a mule in 1911, Alvin was thrust into the role of head of the household for his widowed mother and younger siblings at home. The pressure of such responsibility affected the young man. York often sought escape shooting, fighting, gambling and drinking in the rough hewn bars and local moonshine plentiful in the mountains. A favorite game with his friends was called “last man standing,” with the winner being the last left standing after a challenging bout of conspicuous consumption. His life was a pointless, wayward existence until he re-discovered his parent’s devout, fundamentalist Christian faith, and developed a romantic interest in a young lady near the York farm. After a revival meeting Alvin was “…transformed from a drunkard, brawler, and malcontent to a leader in the church, a Sunday School teacher, a choir leader, and a respected man in the community.”
Member Article: Two if by Sea – The New York Naval Militia: Homeland Security’s Nautical Roots
by Steven Christopher Ippolito
The Battle of Lake Champlain, a furious naval clash between British and American sea power, was fought over a three-day period, 11 October 1776 – 13 October 1776, on an otherwise peaceful New York lake. A non-linear test of wills, Champlain was a strategic pivot point in the early days of the American War for Independence (1775-1784). In outcome, Lake Champlain was a tactical defeat for the American militiamen who waged it. However, the verdict of mili-tary history is also clear that Champlain was not devoid of military value for the American side; in fact, it was also an authentically transformative moment in the American militia experience.
At Lake Champlain, the United States military Americans successfully demonstrated that a purely land-based militia could be re-conceptualized as an authentic naval militia. Beyond that, Champlain was the “only successful fleet action of [October] 1776 fought by the Ameri-cans’ brown-water squadron” (Hagan, 1991, p. 6). The unique dimensions of the battle would seem to require an inquiry into the transformative role of the American militia, then and now. Moreover, echoes of the battle’s non-linear character, and its significance for the concept of militia, can be observed today in the institution of the modern New York State Naval Militia – a highly effective organization in the vanguard of contemporary homeland security (Haunss, 2004). An examination of these realities is, therefore, the immediate purpose in this the first of a series of essays on the New York Naval Militia, its history, and its modern application in securing the American homeland in the post-11 September 2001 (9/11) security environment (Hamre, 2000; Newmann, 2002)
Member Article: Alfred Thayer Mahan: Advocate for Seapower
by Larry Parker
In 1865 the United States Navy mustered 700 ships (many of them iron clad and steam powered), mounting 5,000 cannon (many of those rifled, shell guns of the latest design), crewed by 6,700 officers and 51,000 men. In just five years 92.6 per cent of the fleet had been sold, scrapped or laid up. Only 52 ships mounting 500 guns remained in active commission. These, with a few notable exceptions, were crewed largely by the dregs of the waterfront for, as promotion and advancement opportunities stagnated, officers and enlisted personnel left the service in droves taking with them hard won battle experience and years of training. In this environment the eighteen knot USS Wampanoag , first warship to employ super heated steam, was scrapped as congress mandated a return to sail in order to save money on coal. A post war, isolationist, defensive mentality exacerbated the rush to disarm. Costal fortifications were deemed less provocative and considerably less expensive than a credible blue water navy.
From Small Causes, Great Events - Part 3
by Larry Parker
If you study history long enough and in sufficient detail you begin to
understand the sweeping statements regarding vast movements presented in so many
textbooks, while appropriate to lay the foundation for more extensive study,
are, at best, simplified overviews, at worst, gross generalizations. As such
these texts are truly inadequate for they give the impression the outcomes of
great events such as the American Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution were
inevitable. Nothing could be further from the truth. The great arcs of history
boil down to small moments of chance; significant decisions frequently turn on
trivial matters. In the case of the American Revolution most colonists
considered themselves to be Englishmen seeking to preserve their traditional
rights as Englishmen under the Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Rights (1628)
and the Bill of Rights (1629). The majority wanted reform not revolution.
Initially, at least, there were very few ardent revolutionaries. Given a more
enlightened monarch and legitimate representation in Parliament we might have
avoided the whole bloody affair and speak proper English today.
Member Article: Behind the Iron Curtain and into the Special Forces: Rudi Horvath
by Bob Seals
Dr. Deborah S. Cornelius, a noted east-central European historian, has described the Kingdom of Hungary in World War II as being "caught in the cauldron." The nation faced a geographical dilemma between two implacable ideological opponents leading to widespread misery and destruction during the war. Unfortunately, after the fighting ended in May of 1945 Hungarians remained "caught in the cauldron," now, a postwar communist one. For some, remaining in a communist Hungary was not an option.
One young Hungarian, Rudi Horvath, inspired by the prospect of service in the Cold War United States Army, went to elaborate and highly dangerous lengths to escape from behind the Iron Curtain, embarking upon a dangerous and fascinating journey leading to service in the nascent Army Special Forces of 1952. As an original 10th Special Forces Group member, Horvath helped to establish that superb force of unconventional warriors prepared to conduct guerrilla warfare if the Cold War in Europe during the 1950's suddenly turned red hot.
American Airborne Units in World War II
by Michael F. Dilley
This short history will cover those combat military groups, squadrons, battalions,
regiments, divisions, and the one corps of U.S. airborne units in World War II.
It will not include Army Air Corps units (such as the Air Commandos) or Troop Carrier
units, or organizations that had American individuals in them who were airborne
qualified and even made operational jumps, such as Army and Marine Corps members
of the Office of Strategic Services (including those with Jedburgh teams and Operations
Groups), or the multi-service, multi-national Special Allied Airborne Reconnaissance
Force (which initially included women who had previously jumped into denied areas).
\ The first plan to use parachute forces by American units was developed during World
War I. On 17 October 1918, Brigadier General William P. (Billy) Mitchell, a later
proponent of strategic aerial bombing, conceived the idea of dropping an American
division by parachute from bomber aircraft into an area in the vicinity of Metz,
Germany. The details of the planning were developed by Major Lewis H. Brereton,
a member of Mitchell’s Air Service staff. Brereton would later serve as the commander
of the First Allied Airborne Army during World War II as a Lieutenant General. (The
First Allied Airborne Army consisted of the American XVIII Airborne Corps, which
included: the 17th Airborne Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, and the 101st
Airborne Division; and the British I Airborne Corps, which included: the 1st Airborne
Division and the 6th Airborne Division. Troop carrier units were also part of Brereton’s
Czechoslovak Exile Units of WWII
by Kai Isaksen
In 1938, the 1,500,000-strong Czechoslovak Army was among the largest in Europe, and fairly well-equipped with modern weapons, including locally produced tanks and aircraft.
On November 1st 1938, German troops entered the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia, occupying the entire region with almost no resistance from the Czech forces – only 3rd Battalion of the 8th Border Regiment briefly resisted advancing German troops before being ordered to lay down their weapons by the Czech High Command.
In rapid succession, the Sudetenland was formally ceded to Germany. As had been decided in Munich, a third of Slovakia was ceded to Hungary and Poland occupied the Zaolizie region. Slovakia declared independence under a fascist government, and Ruthenia (part of modern Ukraine) tried to do the same, but was promptly invaded and annexed by Hungary.
Member Article: The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh
by Kai Isaksen
As we enter 2014, the 700th-year anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and the year of the referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, it may be appropriate to look back at other battles fought between the Scots and the English.
Throughout the centuries, the two nations have fought several epic battles – some well-known like Bannockburn, Flodden, and Cullodden – and others more obscure to the general public, but no less fascinating from a historical point of view.
One such forgotten battle was the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, fought close to the town of Musselburgh, just east of Edinburgh, in 1547.
Many historians have argued that the outcome of the battle had no political consequences and that this may well be why the battle has been largely forgotten outside historical circles.
However, historians also tend to agree that the battle was indeed significant, in that it can be argued to be the first modern battle on British soil, a battle featuring the first real combined arms operations (as we define it through modern eyes), using infantry, cavalry and artillery, as well as naval bombardment, in a coordinated and mutually supportive way on the battlefield.
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.
Published works on Second World War Orders of Battle for land forces
by Bill Wilson
The armies of the Second World War were typically large organizations the formation of which was made possible by the total war efforts of the combatant nations. Holding continuous front lines in Europe, particularly in the Soviet Union, demanded the mobilization of hundreds of divisions in addition to other elements by both sides. Orders of battle indicate which units were present in given battles and campaigns, as well as providing information useful for determining the assignments and subordination of particular units within the national military structure.
The published works addressing orders of battle vary widely in their degree of comprehensiveness. Some have been published postwar as official works while others are commercial publications. Besides the published works, there are also primary sources available in the archives of the combatant nations. An evaluation of these primary sources is not in the scope of this article. This article will evaluate selected published order of battle works for Germany, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and the United States.
Book Review: Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front 1941-1942: Schwerpunkt
by Robert Forczyk
Robert Forczyk, a former US Army armor officer, once and for all dispels the persistent myth of German armor superiority during the first
years on the Eastern front.
As a reader, I found it amazing just how far behind in technology the Germans found themselves even at the very onset of Barbarossa.
By providing in-depth analysis of the tank engagements during these first years, Forczyk makes a convincing argument that the early German successes
were not due to superior tank design and performace, but instead because of German tactics, experience, logistics, communication, training, and initiative.
One realizes it was just became a matter of time before the Soviets caught up to the Germans in the other categories - thus permanently turning
the tide in the east.
Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front 1941-1942 is a highly-recommended read and is vital to understanding the reasons for eventually German
defeat in the east.
Member Article: Romania and its allies during World War I
by Liliana Adochitei
With the beginning of WW1, Romania came under pressure from both sides of the conflict to join them. The Entente countries (France, Great Britain, Russia) demanded that Romania join their side against the Central powers (Austria-Hungary and Germany), and promised to recognise Romanian claims to territory held by Austria-Hungary in a post-war settlement. At the same time, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany demanded that King Carol I of Romania comply with the 1883 Treaty between the countries, which stipulated that if one of the countries were attacked the other one would offer their unconditional support.
Meeting from July 21 to August 3, 1919, the Crown Council of Sinaia determined that neutrality was the only appropriate option for Romania, as it was a small country located in the sphere of influences of two warring empires (Austria-Hungary and Russia). Romania’s situation was further complicated by the fact that it held territorial claims against both the Empires surrounding it. Consequently, neutrality was considered the best option at the start of the war, although both the Romanian politicians and the population in general, expected that Romania would likely be compelled to enter the war at some stage.
Flying Tiger, Hidden Eagle
by Christopher Lyon
It was December of 1939, and the world was at war. Poland, Czechoslovakia, France,
Italy, China, Great Britain, Russia and Japan all had seats at the highest stakes
game the world had ever seen, but the United States was quite noticeably absent.
Many historians have argued that Franklin Roosevelt did his utmost to propel the
country into conflict with Germany and Japan, and when viewed through the lens of
the Chinese conflict, this controversy is accentuated and brought to the fore. Although
it would be two full years before the catastrophe at Pearl Harbor, it was in this
critical month, when all Europe was falling under the sway of fascism, that the
Roosevelt administration, and especially the president himself, was preparing for
the coming storm. By mid-1940, the US was preparing to boost its support of the
hard-pressed Chinese troops with a very significant number of advanced fighters,
bombers, and hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. For years the Chinese, who
had been fighting both the Japanese and been embroiled in their own civil war, had
faced the technological might of Japan armed only with planes from WWI and infantry
weapons that often pre-dated even that conflict. A US colonel, Claire Chennault,
who had been an advisor to the Chinese military since 1937, oversaw the creation
of the American Volunteer Group, a unit of US servicemen and pilots who volunteered
to serve in the Chinese military in late 1940 and early 1941.
Book Review: The Last Fighting General – The Biography of Robert Tyron Fredericks
by Michael F. Dilley
A biography of Robert T. Frederick is long overdue. Frederick organized and commanded the First Special Service Force in World War II, among other accomplishments. Frederick, a hard-driving, inspirational leader, commanded from the front. His life should be celebrated in U.S. Army leadership courses but it isn’t. This is due, in part, to a general unfamiliarity with Frederick, his accomplishments, and his leadership philosophy.
SAARF – Special Allied Airborne Reconnaissance Force
by Michael F. Dilley
In early 1945, with the Allied forces closing in on Germany from the west and Russian forces from the east, there was concern on the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) staff about the continued safety of Prisoners of War (POWs) in the hands of the Germans. Some intelligence reporting indicated that the Germans may be moving POWs out of camps in areas where Allied military forces were near at hand. Fears of German maltreatment of POWs in the event the war was lost had been raised earlier but planning for those contingencies did not receive a high priority.
As the situation became more of a reality and concerns were raised that camp personnel might decide to massacre prisoners, the priority for planning was raised. The new plans centered on establishing Contact Teams which could be parachuted into or near POW camps to observe and report activities relative to prisoner safety or to intercede in the event of any observed untoward actions being directed against prisoners. Based on limited intelligence reporting, conditions in some of the camps were believed to be bad. There was also uncertainty about whether Hitler might order that actions be taken against prisoners in view of Germany steadily losing ground in the war.
The Force at la Difensa
by Michael F. Dilley
Italy, early December 1943. It had been raining since mid-September. Rivers in the area were running high, bridges were swept away, and road surfaces were mostly gone. And, of course, it was cold.
The German Winter Line had held out despite attack after attack by Lieutenant General Mark Clark’s Fifth Army. Regardless of any progress made, no advance beyond the Mignano Gap to Cassino was achieved. This Gap was flanked by the Camino hill mass including mountains such as la Difensa, la Remetanea, Rotondo, and Lungo.
On 22 November, Fifth Army had announced Operation Raincoat, “the plan to breach the mountain passes.” One of the units in this plan was new to the Italian theater, having previously served in the invasion of Kiska in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It was assigned to the U.S. 36th Infantry Division as the spearhead of the operation. This unit was the First Special Service Force.
Member Article: The Battle of Megiddo
by John Patrick Hewson
The battle of Megiddo is the earliest battle of which there is some historical record, although the record is fragmented and sketchy. And, although no complete record of the tactics exists, we do have some information at our disposal. James Henry Breasted, in his “Ancient Records of Egypt: Historical Documents” published in Chicago in 1906, gives a translation of an inscription from the Amen temple at Karnak which gives some details of the battle. A slightly different translation is given by J. B. Pritchard in “Ancient Near Eastern Texts” published in 1969. In addition, a tentative map of the battlefield is given in “Carta’s Atlas of the Bible” by Yohanan Aharoni, published in Jerusalem in 1964.
Thutmose III Menkhepori, (died 1449 BCE), an eighteenth dynasty king of the Egyptian new kingdom, was the son of Thutmose II and Iset, one of his lesser wives. His grandfather, Thutmose I, had undertaken extensive military campaigns in both Syria and Nubia. However, Thutmose II did not conduct any major military campaigns during his reign; the only one we know about was a minor police action in Nubia.
Member Article: The Third Battle of Anchialus
by John Patrick Hewson
For close to 500 years the Byzantine Empire conducted relations, sometimes as allies,
sometimes at war, with the Bulgars. The Bulgars were originally a Turkic people
who, like other Central Asian peoples, had a reputation as military horsemen, and
they had developed a strong political organization based on the Khan as leader.
The Khans came from the aristocratic class of Boyars, and were augmented by senior
military commanders called Tarkhans. In the second century, the Bulgars migrated
to an area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and sometime between 351 and
377, a group of them crossed the Caucasus to settle in Armenia.
Fleeing from the Huns at the beginning of the fifth century, a large number of Bulgars
reached an area of fertile land between the Donets and Don valleys and the Sea of
Azov. Some settled in this area, founding the state of Black Bulgaria, which became
known as Great Bulgaria, and which flourished until destroyed by the Mongols in
the thirteenth century. Others moved towards central Europe, settling in the Roman
province of Pannonia, and accompanying the Huns in their raids into Europe between
377 and 453, dispersing into southeastern Europe in 453 with the death of Attila.
Member Article: Sabotaging Hitler’s Heavy Water
by Michael F. Dilley
The years leading up to and including World War II saw a race by Germany and the United States to develop an atomic weapon. Although the idea of nuclear fission was first mentioned in 1934, it was not until four years later that experiments confirmed it by using Uranium. The two methods for moderating the energy of neutrons loosed by bombarding Uranium involve the use of heavy water or graphite. Heavy water, or Deuterium, which looks like regular water, was discovered in 1933. Germany ultimately decided to use heavy water in its nuclear reactor to breed the Plutonium-239 needed in its weapons research.
One method of producing heavy water is by separating it from regular water using electrolysis. This method requires electrolysis chambers and a considerably large amount of power. Ultimately the heavy water supplier for scientists throughout the world was the hydroelectric plant run by Norsk Hydro, located near Rjukan in the Telemark region of Norway.
Book Review: Silent No More – The Alamo Scouts in Their Own Words
by Michael F. Dilley
Prior to 1995 not much was generally known about a small unit that fought in the
Southwest Pacific Theater during World War II. This unit was the Alamo Scouts, the
Special Reconnaissance Unit of the U.S. Sixth Army. All of that changed when Lance
Zedric converted his Master’s thesis into a book (Silent Warriors of World War II
– The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines; Pathfinder Publishing, Ventura,
California). Soon after the book’s publication there were works of all sorts (magazine
articles, television programs, even a movie) that featured the Alamo Scouts. The
U.S. Army Special Operations Command declared that the Alamo Scouts were a predecessor
unit of the modern Special Forces.
Member Article: The Return of Rogers' Rangers
by Michael F. Dilley
The military exploits of Major Robert Rogers during the French and Indian War
are well known. It was during that war that Rogers raised, trained, and led the
unit that bears his name, Rogers' Rangers. This was, however, not the last
Ranger unit with which Robert Rogers was affiliated. Prior to the war Rogers had
narrowly missed being branded or hung as a result of a charge of counterfeiting.
His exploits during the war left him with money problems but of a different
nature. The new problems involved Rogers' accounts in the army – repaying some
remaining obligations to his former Rangers as well as to certain men in Albany,
New York who had loaned money for the Rangers' subsistence and loans some of the
Rangers had taken against their future pay. Rogers spent almost a month
preparing his statement and presented it to the Crown's representative. By his
account the Crown owed Rogers about 6,000 pounds. Rogers was reported to have
been “thunderstruck” when most of the statement he submitted was denied.
Member Article: Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10
Book Review and Essay by Steven Christopher Ippolito
An American sailor in war once declared: "’There are no great men, there are only great challenges which ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet’" (Book of Famous Quotes, n.d.; Crowther, 1960). Decades later, another sailor – who also came to know war in its most intimate and violent nuances – would proclaim a similar understanding of the martial strivings that define greatness “I will never quit…My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time…I will…protect my teammates…I am never out of the fight (Luttrell & Robinson, 2013, p. 235). Many years separated these two sailors in time. But in spirit, they are kindred souls, mystically joined by the common legacy of ordinary men rising to meet the nearly impossible, and aided, above all, by spirit, honor, fidelity to God and Country, and love of one’s comrades. Once accomplished, the making of the great man in war – a veritable descent into an existential crucible -- does not soon depart from the realm of
Member Article: Polo and the United States Army Officer Corps during the interwar period
by Bob Seals
After the “war to end all wars” ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month across Europe in 1918, the United States Army entered what accomplished historian Dr. Edward Coffman characterized as a “limbo” period. Many Americans openly questioned the need for such an institution, with the inevitable cycle of reductions and overseas withdraws paring the Army down to a skeletal frame of its First World War glory. The early years of the “Roaring Twenties” saw significant Army training all but cease. The monotonous daily schedule of formations, duties and drills helped make athletics an increasingly significant part of Army life.
Member Article: A Crisis of Cartography: Mapping the Western Front in World War I
by Del Kostka
When the great armies of Europe converged on the border region between Belgium and
France in August of 1914 they were not concerned with map making or topography.
After all, it was very familiar territory. Just forty-four years prior, the most
decisive battle of the Franco-Prussian War was waged outside the French town of
Sedan near the Belgian border, and every commander in every nation knew by heart
the epic campaign of Napoleon, Wellington and Blucher, and the roads that led them
to a quiet Belgian village named Waterloo. Besides, each side was confident that
this would be a very short war. Germany’s Schlieffen Plan, which called for the
invasion of France through Belgium, set a timetable of six weeks for total French
capitulation, and eager British recruits were discouraged when assured that the
war would be over by Christmas. But the Great War would not be quick and it would
not be easy. In fact, it would become a bloodbath of horrific proportions. Before
it was finished over 37 million people were either dead, wounded or had simply vanished
from the face of the earth.
Member Article: The Soviet Offensive in the Arctic: The Pechenga (Petsamo)-Kirkenes Operation 1944
by Kai & Iryna Isaksen
The Pechenga-Kirkenes Operation, as it became known in Soviet military literature, is an important part of Soviet military history, but has been largely ignored in Western military literature, even though the last few years have seen an increased interest in the operations north of the Arctic Circle in WW2.
It was the "10th hammer blow", the last in a series of strategic offensive operations conducted by Soviet armed forces throughout 1944, designed to deal a decisive blow to the German ability to conduct counter offensives and mount military operations along the entire Eastern Front.
The battle, or rather series of battles, is the largest ever fought north of the Arctic circle and lessons are still being drawn today from the experience of the two armies that slugged it out in the moonlike landscape of the tundra west of Murmansk.
On October 7th 1944, a Soviet force of nearly 113,000 men of the Karelian Front, commanded by General Meretskov (later Marshal of the Soviet Union) launched an offensive against the 60,000-man German XIX Mountain Corps, defending in prepared positions along the Litsa river valley northwest of Murmansk.
Assisted by sea, air, and land forces (Naval infantry/marines) of the Northern Fleet, the Soviet 14th Army defeated the German forces in a three-phased operation that lasted a total of 24 days.
Member Article: Prelude to Disaster: The Siege of Mazagan, 1562: Portuguese Policy and Pyrrhic Victory in 16th Century Morocco
by Comer Plummer
It was a pleasant day of early spring in Lisbon and King Sebastian I of Portugal and the Algarve was making the most of it, bounding about the gardens of the Ribeira Palace. His elfish form disappeared momentarily behind the hedges and then into the shadows of the King's Tower before popping out again, diminutive rapier in hand, the shock of copper hair tussled. Normally, the sights and sounds of the Tagus River and nearby shipyard would have been the boy's primary diversions, but this day was different. Today, there were a thousand imaginary enemies at hand, and the King was determined to slay them all. The host was a Moorish one, godless savages and unruly fighters, and he was the crusading King Manuel I, the one they called The Fortunate, under whose rule the empire reached its zenith. Over 40 years after Manuel's death the country still bore his stamp, right down to the late Gothic architecture, a florid mélange of Italian, Spanish, and Flemish accents to traditional Portuguese style. Manueline, they called it.
As Sebastian leapt by, parrying and lunging, gardeners looked up, revealing weathered faces and furtive looks that were strangely servile and prideful. As the boy rounded the west side of the palace, that facing the river, he came upon knights and men-at-arms milling about the entrance. Recognizing their assailant, the men threw up their arms in mock surrender, sending the scowling boy off in search of another encounter. Usually, the eight-year old King was only permitted so much of this nonsense, but, under the circumstances, he was allowed to indulge. News from Morocco had everyone in a state of excitement.
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.
The Borinqueneers: 65th Infantry Regiment
Book Review: The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge
Review by Brian Williams
"True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge" is Werner Otto Müller-Hill's secret diary that he kept from March 1944 to the summer of 1945. The diary was originally published in Germany and France and just recently has been published by Palgrave Macmillan (September 24, 2013).
The diary offers the reader a unique insight into the inner-workings of the German army, the regime's bureaucracy, and the Nazi propaganda machine during the late stages of WWII. By the beginning of the diary (March 1944), Müller-Hill has realized that he and the German people have been duped by their leaders and the Nazi regime. Müller-Hill is a highly-intelligent, critical-thinking Wehrmacht Military Judge who has found himself living in the middle of a colossal lie perpetrated by the Nazi regime. To Müller-Hill, the absurdity of the war and the hypocrisies of the regime become too much for him to bear. But his frustrations arise from the fact that he can't share his thoughts with anyone else except very few select individuals...and even then, he must watch his opinions closely for fear of reprisal. This is where his diary comes in. In his diary, he is able to share his inner-thoughts and his frustrations without fear of persecution. Sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, in his writings, he wants to take Germany by the shoulders and shake her while screaming "Wake Up!" before it's too late.
by Daniel Ramos
By an act of congress on March 2, 1899, the first Puerto Rican unit was formed for US military service. It was a volunteer battalion comprised of four companies with 100 men each. By February 1900, the unit had grown to regiment size. A second act of Congress made the Puerto Rican regiment part of the US Army on May 27, 1908.
During World War I, the regiment was never deployed overseas, but ironically was the first unit of the United States Army to engage forces of the German Empire. On March 21, 1915, a German supply ship trying to force its way out of San Juan Harbor to deliver supplies to German U-boats in the Atlantic came under fire from positions at El Morro Castle manned by the Puerto Rican regiment. The Germans were forced to surrender the ship and its supplies. In March, 1919, the regiment was officially renamed the 65th Infantry Regiment.
Americans in the Boer War
by Michael Headley
Why did many American men travel thousands of miles to participate in the Boer War (1899-1902) between the Dutch republics and Great Britain in South Africa?  There are varied reasons why some American citizens chose to act on their own to become involved in this lesser known war, despite the United States Government’s decision to stay out of this conflict. An examination of the motivations of Americans who joined in the fighting shows that Americans chose to participate on both sides of the Boer War. Those include Americans who harbored hatred for British imperialism such as John Blake and the Irish-Americans; adventurous and liberty-loving citizens represented by John Hassell and the American Scouts; those with entrepreneurial interests within the Transvaal and Orange Free State, inadvertently drawn into the conflict as displayed by George Labram; those who fostered humanitarian and moral issues violated by the British against the Boers; and those who supported the British Monarchy such as Major Frederick Russell Burnham.
Logistics and the Western Way of War
by Jeff L. Patton
A theme that has percolated through the ranks of military historians over the last two decades has been the idea there is a “Western Way of War” that has been responsible for the dominance of societies of western (i.e. European heritage) culture that have created the preeminent effective military force on earth. Indeed, several historians have traced the superiority of western militaries from the past two and a half millennium.
One of the first historians to advance this theme is Geoffrey Parker of Cambridge University who wrote The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare: The Triumph of the West, in 1995. Parker lists five key attributes of western militaries that he believes have been constant since the fifth century BC. The first is reliance on technological superiority, superior discipline and training, continuity of western military tradition, competition among European states, and innovation have been responsible for the West’s hegemony over other cultures.
The Failure of Strategic Bombing and the Emergence of the Fighter as the Preiminent Weapon in Aerial Warfare
by Jeff L. Patton
The aircraft family tree began to split into specialties at the beginning of the
Great War in 1914. From the Wright Brothers first flight in 1903, the airplane
developed into single and twin engine variants carrying one or two crewmembers
whose primary duty was observation and reconnaissance. Immediately before the
advent of hostilities, the need for specialized aircraft became apparent and the
combatant powers followed similar lines of development of fighter, bomber, and
reconnaissance aircraft. Fighter aircraft were generally lighter, smaller,
faster and more maneuverable in keeping with their mission to shoot down other
aircraft while bombers were larger, longer ranged, carried multiple crew members
and a heavier payload in keeping with their mission of being bomb haulers. When
man first dropped explosives from an aircraft is unknown. However, the concept
of using aircraft as bombers predates fighters by several years. Prior to the
Great War, the Germans, Russians, French, and Austro-Hungarians were developing
aircraft that were specifically designed to carry and release bombs.
Dutch Harbor: The Unraveling of Japan’s Pacific Strategy
by Del C. Kostka
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto drew his hand across a map of the northern Pacific Ocean
in a long, sweeping arc. From Attu Island on the far western edge of the Bearing
Sea, the admiral traced his finger along the Aleutian archipelago to the island
of Amaknak near the Alaskan mainland. There, in June of 1942, Yamamoto intended
to strike the American forces at Dutch Harbor. As a strategist, Yamamoto had achieved
near deity status among the Japanese Imperial High Command. His crushing attack
on Pearl Harbor just six months prior was followed by quick and decisive victory
in the Philippines, Malaya, and the East Indies. Now, with the southwest Pacific
under firm Japanese control, Yamamoto looked to expand offensive operations to the
north and central Pacific. By attacking key strategic points in the Aleutians, as
well as Midway Island on the western tip of the Hawaiian chain, he intended to lure
the already weakened U.S. Pacific fleet from Pearl Harbor to its final destruction.
Yet despite his meticulous planning, his intellect and his vaunted reputation, the
attack on the remote Alaskan harbor upon which he now rested his finger would prove
to be one of Yamamoto’s greatest strategic blunders.