No, I am not talking about Oprah's weight gain.
Today marks the 64th anniversary of the the German 1944 Ardennes Offensive, popularly known as the Battle of the Bulge. This was the biggest battle for the U.S. Army in World War II and involved over 31 divisions and 500,000 troops. Although the battle is probably unknown to over 98.9% of Americans today, unlike Brittany's comeback story or who A-Rod is sleeping with on vacation, this battle is significant for many reasons and offers a number of lessons for today's military:
* The Germans were able to achieve complete operational surprise, despite the success of the Allies "Ultra" codebreaking effort. Almost 600,000 Germans troops and 2,000 tanks were successfully gathered and concealed despite almost total Allied superiority in SIGINT and aerial reconnaissance. Clearly, intelligence is never perfect and should never be taken for granted.
* The ability of the Germans to assemble this force after the debacle of the Normandy and Russian 1944 summer campaigns is an amazing testimony to the prowess of the Wehrmacht. Too bad German soldiers today are fat and unfit to fight. Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian must be rolling over in the their graves.
* The courage and ingenuity of the American soldier were never so brightly shown. Although the stand of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne is one of the most well known stories, there were many instances of brave stands by American troops to hold off German attacks and eventually blunt the offensive. It may seem incredible today, but almost 80,000 American troops became casualties by the end of the campaign in January 1945. Can you imagine casualties of a similar magnitude today? Certainly no congressman demanded of FDR that he pull out our troops and negotiate a peace with Hitler to avoid more casualties and destruction. War is tough, things don't always go your way and unfortunately soldiers die in battle.
So let's remember those brave soldiers that turned back Hitler's last throw and hastened the end of the war. Their worthy successors are keeping us safe from a different kind of totalitarianism, Islamofacism.
A couple of excellent books on the battle
This is the story of the men who made the stand at Bastogne possible.
This is probably the best account of the battle. MacDonald actually fought in the battle and uses a number of post-Ultra declassification sources not available in the earlier official Army account of the battle.