Citizen Soldiers: Militia in the American Revolution

The everyday men and boys who served in colonial militias during the Revolutionary War played a vital and often overlooked role in the conflict. They came from all walks of life and varied in age from teenagers to men in their sixties. Many were farmers and their sons, others were apprentices, tradesmen, or merchants. They came from a storied tradition going back to… Read More Citizen Soldiers: Militia in the American Revolution

Stalin, FDR, and the Truth about U.S. Lend Lease Aid to the USSR

U.S.-Soviet relations prior to U.S. involvement in World War II, in particular the relationship between President Franklin Roosevelt and Stalin, are often overlooked. FDR proposed the idea of assisting the Soviet Union a full nine months before Pearl Harbor after he received intelligence that a German attack on the USSR was imminent. After Operation Barbarossa began, there were many in the President’s administration and Congress who thought it a big gamble to aid the Russians with one Soviet city after another falling to the Wehrmacht during the summer 1941. Ultimately the President was able to convince Congress that it was worth the risk… Read More Stalin, FDR, and the Truth about U.S. Lend Lease Aid to the USSR

Unsung Heroes: The 81st Infantry Division “Wildcats” at Angaur and Peleliu

Operation Stalemate II has gone down in history as one of the bloodiest and most controversial American actions in the Pacific during World War II. The fighting on Peleliu is enshrined in Marine Corps history as one of its most difficult and savage battles. Today Peleliu rightly holds a place alongside Iwo Jima and Tarawa in Corps lore. The taking of “Bloody Peleliu” is inexorably associated with the 1st Marine Division. Contemporary film productions, such as the HBO miniseries The Pacific, as well as History Channel programs and others have highlighted the efforts and losses of the Marines on Peleliu. The campaign, while joint service in nature, was planned and commanded primarily by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Consequently, the first widely read narratives on the subject were those produced by Navy and Marine Corps commanders, whose works were naturally tainted by their own bias, perspective, and experiences. These factors have cemented the role of the Corps in the campaign in the minds of many lay historians. While the Marine Corps has received well deserved acclaim for its performance in the Palau Islands operations, the equally significant contributions of the U.S. Army in the same campaign have on the contrary been relegated to almost anecdotal status. Without the often ignored yet significant contributions of Army units, specifically the 81st Infantry Division, success in Operation Stalemate II would have been impossible.… Read More Unsung Heroes: The 81st Infantry Division “Wildcats” at Angaur and Peleliu

Book Review: Ostkrieg

In the words of Stephen Fritz, the author of Ostkrieg: Hitler’s War of Extermination in the East, his work is “a synthesis, an integrated narrative based primarily on exhaustive research by German, British, and American historians over the past two or three decades.”[1] I found this to be case as Fritz drew heavily from the work of well-established World War II historians such as Antony Beevor, Robert Citino, Adam Tooze, Karl-Heinz Frieser, and David Glantz (whose work the author referenced 191 times, mainly Barbarossa). The aim of the author, again in his own words, was to “provide a deeper understanding of the complexity and immensity of the Ostkrieg by… Read More Book Review: Ostkrieg

Air Power: 21st Century Evolution – Russia Left Behind

As an Air Force veteran this post topic is especially interesting. I will start by committing what some of my airmen colleagues might consider heresy – conventional strategic air power has never won a war on its own and is not likely to do so in the future. I recall discussing the subject with my late grandfather, who served a total of 20 years as a USAAF pilot during WWII and in the USAF Reserve. He was schooled in the doctrines of Billy Mitchell and firmly believed that Strategic Air Power could bring just about any enemy to its knees. I recall him telling me in 2003 that we should have leveled every city in Iraq including all major infrastructure before a single U.S. soldier set foot in the country. He also pointed to the fact that it was the Operation Linebacker I and II bombing campaigns during Vietnam that brought the communists to the negotiating table. A look at history, however, is enough to dispel the myth of a quick and decisive victory won by air power.… Read More Air Power: 21st Century Evolution – Russia Left Behind

Carl von Clausewitz and National Socialist Germany

Carl von Clausewitz is quite possibly the most significant military theorist in modern history, to the point that he has developed something of a cult following. His theories are mandatory study material in every major military academy from West Point to the Frunze and have even found their way into contemporary film, most notably in the Crimson Tide (1995, staring Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington). Often overlooked is the fact that Clausewitz’s most important work, Vom Krieg, was never finished – he died during the global cholera pandemic of 1826-1837. Consequently, his conclusions are left to speculation and open to wide interpretation. This was certainly the case in Nazi Germany.… Read More Carl von Clausewitz and National Socialist Germany

2007 U.S. Shift in Iraq Warfighting Policy: The “Ideal” Counterinsurgency Strategy?

After the initial success of the conventional war against Saddam Hussein’s regular army, the situation rapidly deteriorated into a vicious civil war that pitted rival Sunni and Shia militias against each other and against coalition forces. Initially the U.S. military response was to wage a “kill and capture” battle that largely relied on heavy conventional tactics – massive use of force, large, armored patrols, etc. The goal was to take out as many of the “bad guys” as you could and bring home as many of your troops as possible. For many soldiers it was a demoralizing and terrifying experience as they came to distrust the Iraqi people and view them as the enemy.… Read More 2007 U.S. Shift in Iraq Warfighting Policy: The “Ideal” Counterinsurgency Strategy?

Guerrilla Warfare – Weak vs. Strong: Why do some insurgencies succeed while others fail?

The differences between conventional and unconventional warfare are numerous, however the most obvious is the fact that irregular/unconventional/guerrilla warfare pits a strategically more powerful conventional army against a weaker enemy force – weaker in personnel, materiel, technology, weaponry, etc. Historically, conventional armies have attempted to use their tried and true conventional warfighting methods such as the use of  massive firepower and operational maneuver, while a guerrilla force will avoid fighting in the open (because they know it will lead to its annihilation) and only engage in situations carefully selected to give them a tactical advantage.… Read More Guerrilla Warfare – Weak vs. Strong: Why do some insurgencies succeed while others fail?