Archive for category History

War Art: One The Hard Way, By Dan Zoernig

This is cool. This is some artwork depicting combat that actually happened between a Flying Tiger and a Japanese Zero. For those that do not know who the Flying Tigers or AVG are, they were an American private air force that flew combat missions for the Chinese, against the Japanese, with US blessing, all before and a little bit during the beginning stages of WW2. They were the only game in town for attacking the Japanese after the Pearl Harbor attack happened, and it is some very unique American war history. America also cheered this company on as they did their thing in China, all because this country wanted some payback. A movie was also made about this company, staring John Wayne.

I should note that the Flying Tigers had a bounty program as well… Maybe that is why this pilot was willing to rip apart another aircraft with his own? lol As to the back story, Parker Dupouy was awarded the Chinese Sixth Cloud Banner medal for his heroic actions that day. I would say this maneuver was pretty damned aggressive and ballsy. -Matt

Buy a print of it here.

 

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History: George Washington On Starting His Own PMSC To Combat The British

Mr. President, I am a soldier and believe in being prepared. For that and other reasons, I will give my vote for the resolutions of the gentleman from Hanover. Rather than submit to the present condition of things, I will raise one thousand men, subsist them at my own expense, and march myself at their head to the relief of Boston.- George Washington

This is a cool quote from American history that you don’t hear much about. Obviously Washington did not have to raise an army in this fashion, but it is interesting that he put it out there. That he was willing to finance such an army if no one else was going to act.

What is also interesting is that George Washington was very familiar with concept of privatized warfare from his experience fighting with the Royal American Mercenary Regiment (RAMR) during the French and Indian War. He was also a champion of actually paying soldiers as opposed to asking them to do what they did, purely out of love of country. Washington found out that with a volunteer militia, it’s a little hard to keep guys focused when they can’t be home to make money or grow food to support their family. Paying a salary kept their heads in the game, and helped reduce attrition.

The other area of privatized warfare that Washington was involved with was privateering. He actually owned stock in privateering ventures and was a supporter of issuing the Letter of Marque to privateers to fight wars.

The artwork posted below is also interesting. That would be the uniform he wore during the French and Indian War. I noted in the past that this war was significant because this is where Washington learned how to fight and lead men in combat. He learned from the various mercenaries that came to fight in the RAMR, and he used that knowledge and experience and applied it later on. -Matt

 

Charles Willson Peale is the Artist. This is the earliest authenticated portrait of George Washington and shows him wearing his colonel’s uniform of the Virginia Regiment from the French and Indian War. The portrait was painted about 12 years after Washington’s service in that war, and several years before he would reenter military service in the American Revolution. 1772

 

Patrick Henry: “Liberty”

“I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience.”

As the British army tightened the noose around Boston, the Virginia Assembly met in an extralegal session to discuss what steps to take in the wake of what was happening up North. The British hoped that by isolating Boston, they could stamp out the revolution. As the speech below demonstrates, the effect was the opposite of what the British desired, for Virginians—and other colonists—realized that “If they can do it to Boston, they can do it to us.”

The words of the debate were later written from memory by William Wirt, and though they may not be the exact words spoken by Patrick Henry and others, the general consensus among historians is that they certainly contain the spirit of Henry’s remarks and are consistent with what we know of his eloquence. He was, in many ways, the voice of the American Revolution. Likewise, the authenticity of the remarks by George Washington has been called into question, but again, they probably accurately reflect his feelings. Loyal almost to the last, he was now thoroughly fed up with the British.

The members address the president of the meeting to gain the floor. The President acknowledges each by the jurisdiction which he represents.

Mr. Pendleton: Mr. President.

The President: The gentleman from Caroline.

Mr. Pendleton: I hope this Convention will proceed slowly before rushing the country into war. Is this a moment to disgust our friends in England who are laboring for the repeal of the unjust taxes which afflict us, to extinguish all the conspiring sympathies which are working in our favor, to turn their friendship into hatred, their pity into revenge? Are we ready for war? Where are our stores—where our arms—where our soldiers—where our money, the sinews of war? They are nowhere to be found in sufficient force or abundance to give us reasonable hope of successful resistance. In truth, we are poor and defenseless, and should strike when it becomes absolutely necessary—not before. And yet the gentlemen in favor of this resolution talk of assuming the front of war, of assuming it, too, against a nation one of the most formidable in the world. A nation ready and armed at all points; her navy riding in triumph in every sea; her armies never marching but to certain victory. For God’s sake, Mr. President, let us be patient—let us allow all reasonable delay, and then if the worse comes to the worst, we will have no feelings of blame. There is no man in this Convention more attached to the liberties of this country than is the man who addresses you. But think before we sacrifice perhaps everything to the spirit of indignation and revenge. Think of the strength and lustre which we derive from our connection with Great Britain—the domestic comforts which we have drawn from the same source—the ties of trade and business—the friends and relatives we have in England. The tyrannies from which we suffer are, after all, the tyrannies of a party in temporary possession of power. Give a little time, take no hostile action, and these tyrants will be overthrown in England and men in sympathy with America will assume authority. Our ills will pass away and the sunshine of the halcyon days of old will come back again. We must arm, you say; but gentlemen must remember that blows are apt to follow the arming, and blood will follow blows, and, sir, when this occurs the dogs of war will be loosed, friends will be converted into enemies, and this flourishing country will be swept with a tornado of death and destruction.

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Cool Stuff: Hagel, Biden And Kerry Rescued By Security Contractors In Afghanistan, 2008

This is awesome. A big hat tip to Will for putting this one up on his site. In this photo below, it shows Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Vice President Joe Biden and on the far right, Secretary of State John Kerry, which back then they were all Senators. The back story of this photo is that all three of these men were in a helicopter in Afghanistan during winter. During the flight, the snow got really bad and the helicopters were forced to land on some mountain top in Afghanistan.

They put out a distress call and the military was not in a position to rescue them. So security contractors or what I assume were WPS folks were called in, and they came over land to rescue them. Here is the quote in the article.

With the rapidly worsening weather, there was no way to evacuate the senators to safety by air. The U.S. military didn’t have the necessary people and vehicles nearby to rescue the senators via ground transport before the storm hit.

So the U.S. Embassy asked the men of Blackwater USA to go in by land and evacuate them to Bagram. They did the job, and the senators knew who came to their rescue mountainside when the military could not.

One of the points of Will’s post is that none of these men would acknowledge that they were rescued by contractors, or they outright lied and said it was American troops that rescued them. Here is what then Senator Kerry had to say.

“After several hours, the senators were evacuated by American troops and returned overland to Bagram Air Base, and left for their next scheduled stop in Ankara, Turkey,” a statement from Kerry’s office said. “Sen. Kerry thanks the American troops, who were terrific as always and who continue to do an incredible job in Afghanistan.”

Nope, you were not rescued by American troops– you were rescued by civilians or security contractors…..

Oh well, but at least I can help to correct the record on this blog and give it some more attention. This is just one example of many, where security contractors were the ‘cavalry’ and yet their actions were ignored or barely given a mention. If folks have any photos of the convoy that rolled up to rescue them, I would gladly make the edit and add it to this post. Good job to that team for making this rescue! -Matt

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Building Snowmobiles: General Hermann Balck, The German That Inspired Boyd

The other day, Chet Richards posted his opening presentation to the Boyd And Beyond 2012 conference, and it was fascinating. It was pure building snowmobiles, and it was filled with the various bits and pieces of what and who inspired Boyd in regards to creating novelty or innovations during the fight. (unfortunately, I did not attend this conference)

What was cool is that an individual was identified as being the origin of Boyd’s thoughts on this stuff. That individual is General Hermann Balck, and he was considered to be one of Germany’s best during WW 2. Here is one quote that gives you an idea.

“Balck has strong claims to be regarded as our finest field commander,” declared Maj. Gen. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Mellenthin. And he was in a position to know: as a general staff officer during the war, Mellenthin had worked at one point or another for virtually all of Germany’s greatest commanders—including such legends as Rommel and Heinz Guderian.

So that gives you an idea as to why Boyd would be interested in such a man. The other quote that identifies Balck as a person of interest to Boyd is identified in this quote from Chet’s paper.

Boyd’s appreciation for novelty grew as he mulled over the ingredients for success in conflicts. Boyd’s close associate, Pierre Sprey, credits Boyd’s conversations with General Balck (1979a & 1979b) as planting the seeds that led to Boyd’s fascination with innovation, novelty, and the importance of rapid, intuitive decision-making (Personal communication, September 23, 2012). Thus the elements of maneuver conflict that appear in the September 1981 edition of Patterns, for example, do not include the concept of novelty, but by 1986 it was there (p. 115). Perhaps it was not until he began to compose Conceptual Spiral, though, that Boyd realized how the term “novelty” encapsulated so much of his strategy.

So can we boil it down even further?  Well below, Balck gave an interview and he talked about the secrets to his success on the last page. Chet quoted from this translation and I thought it would be prudent to post the entire thing here, just to give you the essence of what this guy was all about. Here is the quote.

Never do the same thing twice. Even if something works well for you once, by the second time the enemy will have adapted. So you have to think up something new. -Balck, pg. 42

Chet also added this quote to back up what Balck mentioned. Note that Boyd was equally inspired by Sun Tzu in his famous Patterns of Conflict.

So a military force has no constant formation, water has no constant shape: the ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius. -Sun Tzu, Art of War

Of course you could expand upon all of this by reading Balck’s book he wrote, if you know German, but at least with this translated interview, you will get a good introduction to the man.

I think what is equally interesting is that Balck was totally a prime example of the kind of officer that the famous German field manual promoted, called the Truppenführung. Here is a snippet.

Truppenführung (“unit command”) served as the basic manual for the German Army from 1934 until the end of World War II and laid the doctrinal groundwork for blitzkrieg and the early victories of Hitler’s armies. Reading it is as close to getting inside the minds behind the Third Reich’s war machine as you are likely to get.

So what kind of results did this kind of thinking produce? Why would folks put him at the top. Here is a quote about one of his accomplishments when his panzer division took on the Soviet 5th Tank Army. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

Balck, who ended the war as a General der Panzertruppe (equivalent to a three-star general in the U.S. Army), is today virtually unknown except to the most serious students of World War II. Yet in three short weeks his lone panzer division virtually destroyed the entire Soviet Fifth Tank Army. The odds he faced were scarcely short of incredible: the Soviets commanded a local superiority of 7:1 in tanks, 11:1 in infantry, and 20:1 in a local superiority of 7:1 in tanks, 11:1 in infantry, and 20:1 in artillery. But Balck, leading from the front, reacting instantly to each enemy thrust, repeatedly parried, surprised, and wiped out superior Soviet detachments. Over the next few months his division would rack up an astonishing one thousand enemy tank kills. For this and other achievements Balck would be one of only twenty-seven officers in the entire war—Erwin Rommel was another—to receive the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds, the equivalent of an American receiving two, or even three, Medals of Honor.

Check out the interview below and let me know what you think? I personally thought Balck’s focus on leadership and taking care of his men, and constantly trying to figure out the true health and status of his army was pretty cool. His focus on the enemy and his psychology was interesting too. That and all the lessons learned from when he fought in WW 1. I really liked the focus on the offense as well.

The other quote that perked me up is Balck’s mention of the Prussian military tradition of ‘expressing yourself bluntly’ to your superiors. lol I love it, and in the quote below, Model was his boss and Balck was telling him how much he sucked at commanding.

Model listened to everything I said. We both expressed our opinions, shook hands and returned home. He never came to see me again. But every time I got a new assignment, he was one of the first to congratulate me.
That was one of the great Prussian military traditions: you expressed yourself bluntly but you were expected to never resent such blunt criticism.

 Boy, imagine if we had such a tradition in the US military? Or even in private industry? It also shows how smart the Prussians were about feedback and questioning authority. To actually have a tradition that forces folks to sit there and take criticism like a man…. I might have to explore this Prussian military tradition at a later point. Pretty cool and check this thing out. -Matt

 

 

Translation Of Taped Conversation With General Hermann Balck, April 1979

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History: Privateers Reenact Battle Of The War Of 1812 In Boston Harbor

Happy 4th of July and I thought this was a cool little deal to put out there. Private industry or privateers were very much a part of this country’s war for independence. It is great that we have such a strong military now, but it is equally great that private industry is able to contribute if need be…and our early days is proof of that. -Matt

 

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Books: The Privateering Stroke, By Capt. Michael Rustein

Henry Adams stated flatly that “the privateers contributed more than the regular navy to bring about a disposition for peace in the British classes most responsible for the war.”

For those of you that have been following along with the blog’s focus on privateering, letter of marque and reprisal, and offense industry, then you will know why this book would interest me. I have not had a chance to check it out yet, but from the sounds of it, it was written by a privateering ‘maven‘.

The author has actually built a schooner called the Fame, based on the first privateering vessel to capture a prize during the War of 1812. He has written several books on the subject and even has a business that teaches the public the history and the workings of a privateer vessel. I would say that would be defined as pretty passionate about the subject. lol

Probably the most interesting aspect of this book from the description below, is the author’s focus on how important privateers really were during the war. This was the ultimate in old school privatized warfare and offense industry in overdrive.

An entire industry focused on attacking the weakness of an enemy, and Britain’s weakness was their commerce/trade. There is no way our navy and privateers could have taken on the Royal Navy directly, so instead we did like most small disadvantaged forces would do in that situation, and attacked their poorly defended commerce/trade. Check this quote out.

Deprived of customs duties, the United States government was in dire straits by the end of 1814. Had the conflict continued, the nation would have been incapable of defending itself without a central bank, new taxes, and conscription. Meanwhile, America’s privateers were waging a highly effective war against British trade. They captured an estimated 2,000 prizes worth $40 million, sent insurance rates to unprecedented levels, and drove up prices at a time when Britain’s economy was groaning under the strain of two decades of warfare. The British public was outraged; merchants bombarded the government with protests and appeals. With the United States incapable of maintaining the initiative in Canada, privateering became the nation’s last, best, and only offensive weapon. 

Pretty neat and this book would be another good one to check out. Especially if you are a student of ‘offense industry’ or are interested in the letter of marque concept. This would also be a good read for those of you interested in naval history and guerrilla warfare. -Matt

The Privateering Stroke

By Capt. Michael Rustein
Book Description
Publication Date: March 25, 2012
High school and even college textbooks oversimplify the War of 1812 — when they don’t ignore it completely. Popular histories emphasize the military as opposed to the economic and political aspects of the war. The U.S. Navy’s role has been written about ad nauseum. Meanwhile, we are still waiting for a definitive work on the equally important contributions of American privateers. While the Navy’s outstanding performance in single-ship engagements remains a source of national pride, those victories did not change the course of the war one iota. Had Constitution defeated a dozen British frigates, the thousand-ship Royal Navy would still have blockaded our coasts, strangled our commerce, bottled up our warships, and hunted down those that escaped. Even her former commander, Tyrone Martin, conceded that Constitution’s victories were “no more than pin pricks” that “had no direct effect on the course of the war.”

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