'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Monday, June 30, 2014

Intellectual vacuous state of the left

So, I actually got some sort of response to my post on the complete collapse of the current Administration's Middle East "Foreign Policy"<---I would make stronger air quotes, but I can't.

Democrats lose another war...and this one is more important than their surrender in Vietnam

So here is the mention I got on Twitter:

So, I clicked on the link...a bio piece on Kimberly Kagan, the founder of the Institute for the Study of War, which is an excellent site that offers some outstanding reporting and analysis of military operations in the Middle East.

The problem is...I don't know exactly what point Mr. Averagevoter (average Obama voter maybe) is trying to make?

"Mouthpiece/advisor for war-profiteers?" WTF does that even mean? Apparently he missed the title of my blog--GROUCHY + HISTORIAN. Duh?

I find nothing laughable in the feckless rubble that is America's Middle East foreign policy. But in typically lefty fashion, Obama supporters throw verbal bombs without facts or logic.

Should have expected this, although I did kind of like the "war-profiteers" thing, kind of reminds me of when I was called a "capitalist pig-dog" in SERE school many, many years ago. 

But what exactly is his point? Laughable? What's laughable about the complete collapse of American standing in the world? What's funny about the formation of a caliphate in the middle of the wreckage of Syria and Iraq?  Isn't it a crazy and totally unfunny world when the US is begging IRAN...I mean IRAN for goodness sake to come in and rescue Iraq?  How totally FUBAR is that?  

But, hey, for Obama, that's a feature, not a bug.  Obama never gave a damn about Iraq, anymore than Democrats gave a damn about Vietnam (after LBJ left office, of course) and the only reason he pretends to care is that far too many of those pesky peasants are asking why huge chunks of the Middle East are becoming "terrorist safe havens" when Barry assured us that "Osama was dead and GM is alive," right after 4 Americans were butchered in Benghazi....or as they said in Animal House "Remain CALM!! ALL IS WELL!"

Yes, I used that quote--as far too many morons and poltroons are waking up to their own stupidity and gullibility.

The Billings Gazette apologized on Friday for its 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama for president in an editorial titled “Gazette opinion: Obama earned the low ratings.”
The Gazette said it missed George W. Bush and the “good ol’ days when we were at least winning battles in Iraq.”
AWWWW, poor widdle journalist-numbnuts.  Just now waking up to the fraud you helped elect?  Well SUCK IT UP CUPCAKE, cuz you also helped inflict him for another miserable 4 years...January 21, 2017 can not come fast enough.........

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Today began the 20th Century

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the spark that ultimately set off World War I, the defining event of the 20th Century.  

I am sure there will be speeches, memorials, and even parades...and rightly so...the Great War, as it was known until 1939, pretty much created the bloody century that is still affecting global politics.

There has been a great deal written about the causes of the war, its meaning to European society and the great monarchies it destroyed, and the futility and carnage that the first real industrial war caused.  The debate will probably never end over the ultimate culpability for the war--the Serbian secret society with ties to the Serbian government that harbored the assassination plot , the faltering Austro-Hungarian Empire trying desperately to keep its polyglot peoples together; the expansionist Germans; or the conniving Russians.  

Needless to say, the only thing for sure was that once the mobilization process got started, war was inevitable as the old wisdom of Thucydides kicked in--all human affairs are ultimately driven by fear, honor, and interest.

Der Spiegel has a couple of excellent articles about the war. 

Disaster Centennial: The Disturbing Relevance of World War I

Century of Violence: What World War I Did to the Middle East

Germany seems to be no less interested than any other country in the war, and for good reason. This Grouchy Historian thinks the Germans kind of get a bum rap for starting the war. Personally, I believe if the Austrians had gotten their act together and schwacked the Serbs more quickly, it all would have been over quickly as the rest of Europe tried to avoid getting entangled in another Balkan fiasco.  Or as Otto von Bismarck remarked correctly that the whole region was not worth “the healthy bones of single Pomeranian musketeer.”

 What's interesting is the growing historical body that places more responsibility at the feet of the Russians.  While interesting and revisionist (and I love revisionist history <snort>), the politics and alliances probably made war inevitable after the Austrians declared war on the Serbs, and Germany's invasion of Belgium, although militarily considered necessary, was a diplomatic blunder of the first order as it made Britain's entrance into the war, still uncertain in early August 1914, inevitable.

Of course there are many comparisons of 2014 to 1914...to see if we have learned anything.  Hmmm, I have my doubts.  Unfortunately for liberal latte Utopians, there is still a large body of people in the world willing and happy to kill you because you do not worship their God (no, I am not talking about Tea Partyers, although the usual suspects at MSNBCBSWAPONYT would think so).  I was, of course, referring to the religion of peace that is currently wreaking havoc in the Middle East and seeking to undo the Sykes-Picot Treaty , one of the more infamous outcomes of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.  There are many other comparisons of China vs the US to Britain vs Germany, all of which are kinda superficial if you ask me.  Unfortunately for the One-Worlders, religion, nationality, and basic tribal instincts still rule man.  Now with nuclear weapons...how awesome is that.

On the flip side, the 100th anniversary will inevitable set off a flood of new scholarship and books (yea!) as Americans seek to understand (hopefully) this often forgotten war and its affects on everything from aviation (the development of airplanes was clearly fostered by war) to the crumbling of the Ottoman Empire, to the rise of Imperial Japan.  

 A couple of my new favorite books are Max Hastings Catastrophe 1914, reviewed here.



Hew Strachan is a definite guru on all things World War I.  I am currently enjoying his revised one volume history which is a wonderful anthology of essays written by many top-notch historians.  It goes into many aspects of the war not covered by a typical military history and looks to provide some excellent new insights.




and a couple on pre-order:


 Was World War I the defining event of the 20th Century?...I think so.  Was it the "war to end all wars?"  Well clearly not..I think the best way to think of it is the 20th century version of a Thirty Years War....a devastating war that destroyed the old world order, ended monarchies, left Germany destroyed, and created a legacy of bloodshed and destruction that Europe is still coming to terms with historically.

 Sir Edmund Grey said it best,

"The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time".

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Democrats lose another war...and this one is more important than their surrender in Vietnam

If you want to see the state of this Administration and the seriousness of our current leadership, the cartoon above and this headline pretty much says it all....

Father's Day: Obama Vacations Despite Iraq, Ukraine, Immigration Crisis

Now, I know, the Kool-Aid drinkers will sputter--"But Bush took vacations!!! Every President takes vacations!!!"

While this is technically true, it is also irrelevant.

The current Administration is standing on this sidelines and watching as one of the most FUBAR but strategically important regions of the world literally is going up in flames.  Now, you won't hear about this, at least seriously, from the American press, as they have given up all pretensions and are totally sycophants to their Dear Leader, but ask yourself this...if the situation in Iraq was happening during a Romney Administration....think it might be getting 24-7 coverage???

Just a little bit.

But while pundits, pollsters, and morons (most of CNN and MSNBC) are giving their insightful analysis of the situation in Iraq as they dazzle us with their brilliant scholarship of the Sunni-Shia conflict, etc, most of them are not pulling this string to its worst possible conclusion.

Have no fear, the Grouchy Historian will.  As I've said before, in a Bismarckian way, I really don't care how much Al Qaeda and Hizballah kill each other, the more the merrier I say...however, if you step back a little bit..two nightmare, but not inconceivable scenarios become possible.

1)  The ISIS or ISIL (whichever you prefer) knuckleheads don't stop in Iraq and keep going into Saudi Arabia.  Given Barry Soweto's aversion to anything that might detract from more Obamacare spending, I would not bet on the Saudis chances either.  The ol' saw that you can only feed the alligator so long to keep it from eating you, may come true for the two-faced royal family.  While I would normally say good riddance, the billions of barrels of crude would make a big impact on the global economy and very likely tip the world (and the US) back into recession if disrupted.  (Of course in this 6th "recovery summer" with the Obama Administration's "laser focus" on jobs, it might be tough to tell)..  Coupled with the green energy lunacy and environmental whacko hatred of domestic energy production and this would represent an "oil shock" that even MSNBC couldn't ignore....nah, they'd just blame it on Bush. 

2) The worst scenario is that once Obama completes his retreat from Afghanistan...and the FUBAR in Iraq has not taught this Administration any lessons about the price of a premature bug-out...the Taliban will come back...just like ISIS is...take over Afghanistan...which is likely, and then expand their efforts into Pakistan...OR those two-faced Pakistani bastards could just come out in the open and ally themselves with the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the rest of those thugs.  AND, here's the fun part, the Pakistanis have plenty of nuclear weapons.  Yup, that's right...the ISIS guy who said "See you in New York" when Obama released him from Gitmo in 2009 (just for all you "Bush did it" morons, that was AFTER Obama became President) might just be coming back not with a couple of airliners, but a nuke or two...if the worst case scenario plays out...and with the Apple Dumpling Gang in charge for two more years, the worst case could become the likely case.

SO, take your pick, this Administration's complete lack of a coherent Middle East policy and absolute strategic blind spot about Iraq makes it possible the US could face either a return to the 1973 oil crisis (preventable by energy independence, but not with this clown in the White House) or a Nuclear 9/11.  Pretty chipper huh?

I won't even delve into the numerous comparisons to Iraq and Vietnam and how the Democrats fundamentally LOST two wars the Republican Administrations won...or at least stalemated.  Sure, there were lots of issues with both regimes we left in charge, but in both cases, a swift and minor intervention by the US might have made all the difference.  Whether the Shia militias, Iraqi Army and their Iranian masters can save Baghdad remains to be seen.  I think Clausewitz will (as always) kick in here and the ISIS hordes may reach their tipping point where logistics and exhaustion kick in, but even if a Shia rump state remains in Iraq, the Sunni forces have won a tremendous victory.

This brings me to the map below, crafted by my favorite grouchy guy, Ralph Peters.  Besides writing outstanding Civil War fiction, he has written some outstanding strategic analysis about the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The reason he is my favorite grouchy guy is that he will say what others often won't because it isn't PC.  In 2006 he wrote a pretty darn prophetic article saying that the ol' Sykes-Picot borders in the Middle East (link attached for public school educated liberals) are quickly becoming obsolete and causing most of the conflict today and need to be done away with.  The map below shows his vision for a new Middle East divided by tribe and politics, and is pretty darn close to how things are going...except that Syria is splintering just like Iraq.

So, it will be interesting to see how things play out over the painful, scary, and dangerous last two years of the Obama PGA tour.  If it wasn't clear enough to anyone with half a brain (apologies to the liberal Obamazombies out there..) that this President is in over his head, his escapism into speech making, fund raising, and golf, should give all Americans pause to just how bad things will get before (hopefully) a grown-up President is elected.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Fantastic little read about D-Day

I was looking for a good D-Day book to read this year for the 70th Anniversary and came across this little gem.  I have read  Dr. McManus' titles on the Battle of the Bulge, and Operation Market Garden and found both of them to be enjoyable reads.

For this book, he takes a look at the 1st Infantry Division's fight to land and take Omaha Beach on D-Day.  70 years after the invasion, this battle has rightly passed into legend, almost mythology to the US military, and the US Army in particular, and rightly so, as the near impossible victory of a scattered group of sea-sick infantrymen could very well have ended with a disastrous failure to get off the beach and up the bluffs into Normandy.

Told through a huge array of primary sources, including loads of both personal and archived interviews with survivors, this book delivers almost a landing craft-by-landing craft tale of the effort to clear the beaches of German defenses...or often times merely staying alive under an umbrella of machine gun, mortar, rifle, and artillery fire.

Dr. McManus has some interesting analysis from this book that gave me a few "hmmmm" moments.  First, the Allies had a complete intelligence failure to know that the German 352nd Infantry Division was manning many of the defenses.  Although I already knew this from previous books, two things stood out; first, the Germans actually didn't have that many troops actually manning the defensive bunkers, pillboxes, and trenches.  Yet these troops inflicted massive casualties and bottled up the beach for most of the morning.  Second, the Germans actually sent a battalion sized force to counter-attack in the afternoon and were only stopped after some intense fighting by the troops who had made their way up the draws and around or into the town of Colleville.  One does wonder how the story of D-Day might have been different if those reinforcements had arrived earlier in the day when the first two waves of the 1st Division were still pinned on the beach.  The victory at Omaha was clearly much more of a near run thing than even well read historians like myself realized.

McManus spends a lot of time on the other units involved in the fight off the beaches, in particular the engineers, beach demolition clearance teams, and the medics.  I was also a little surprised to learn how many Navy guys died on Omaha Beach, and even that seven Navy Crosses were awarded that morning.  The predecessors to today's Navy SEALs clearly did themselves proud that day.

As a microhistory, this book overall was a great little read (about 300 pages that turn pretty fast).  The book has a nice collections of maps and an excellent set of photos of the events and major players from that bloody morning, including the three Medal of Honor winners that day, 2 of them posthumously. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Crusade in Europe--70 Years Later

So today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day...arguably one of the most important days of the 20th century.  On this day the Allied forces under Dwight Eisenhower assaulted the coast of Normandy to carry out a simple directive:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
Sadly, I fear most American students, in both high school and college, are spending more time studying Caesar Chavez and Che Guevara and quoting Mao Tse-tung than studying Eisenhower, Patton, or even Audie Murphy. <--link for all you public school students.

What's interesting to note, as new and more substantial histories are written, is just how perilous this undertaking was.  As usual, most Americans simply assume that the Allies had to win due to superior material and manpower (one was kinda true, the other not so much---the American and British armies started running out of infantrymen in late 1944).  In fact even though the Allies did have naval and air supremacy after June 1944, that doesn't mean the invasion was fated to be a success.

Amphibious landings are one of the most risky military ventures in general (remember Gallipoli?) and the Allies had already had two amphibious assaults become near disasters in Italy---one at Salerno where a strong German counterattack nearly drove the landing back into the sea and another at Anzio, where the Germans bottled up the landing and kept the Allies from breaking out of the beaches for nearly 5 months. 

So the success of the Allied landings was not assured at all.  I recently finished up a magnificent new book on D-Day by my old history professor/mentor/advisor at Canoe U, Professor (Emeritus) Craig Symonds.  Now, I am a little biased about this book...obviously, but Professor Symonds does an excellent job of showing just how close run even carrying off the invasion was.

This book goes all the way back to early 1942, when the Axis was ascendent and the Allies were still gathering forces, blunting Axis advances and trying to determine strategy.  As the book points out, although American industrial might turned the tide of the war, it was not infinite, and choices made about production of planes, tanks, and ships had long lasting effects on strategy. 

The book points out once again the old adage that "Amateur talk tactics, while professional talk logistics" by showing that huge tradeoffs had to be made about Allied offensive efforts due to chronic shortages of shipping, especially specialized landing craft and amphibious ships, in particular Landing Ship Tank-class vessels (LSTs), which had the unique ability to beach on a hostile shore and directly unload tanks, artillery, trucks and heavy cargo, which made them THE crucial ship of the war, right after the ubiquitous Liberty ships.

The book has some interesting statistics about the buildup, training, and staging of men and materials in Britain prior to the invasion, and makes one shudder to think that some American military men wanted to invade France in 1942.  The total catastrophe of Dieppe should have put that notion to rest and it was a good thing that Churchill and Roosevelt ultimately decided that maybe North Africa was a better warm-up for the American Army.  Which was a pretty good thing, since the Germans totally kicked our ass at Kasserine Pass and it took a good year for the American GI to become a capable fighting man able to go head-to-head with the panzer-grenadiers of the Wehrmacht.

More importantly, once the troops got ashore, a race began between the Allies and Germans to build up forces to contest the hedgerows and villages of Normandy as British, Canadian, and American troops clawed their way out of Normandy en route to Paris and the German border.  Professor Symonds continues his narrative through the crucial first three weeks of the invasion as allied shipping continued to bring in men and material over the invasion beaches as the Allies fought to capture the deep water port of Cherbourg  and the city of Caen. 

Operation Neptune was not officially completed until almost July 1944 and the efforts of the US Navy not only made the D-Day landings possible, but the efforts of the destroyermen off Omaha Beach may literally have saved the entire  invasion effort as they allowed the hard-pressed infantry forces to fight their way off the beach.

So all Americans should be grateful today that there were Brave Men willing to wade ashore under machine gun and mortar fire at Omaha Beach, Utah Beach and the other invasion beaches and drop zones 70 years ago.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Red Army marches east

“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
― Leon Trotsky

So while the US military struggles with "what comes next" after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with an indifferent Administration that has their foreign policy made by a bunch of emotional teenagers, the Russians are becoming resurgent and flexing their collective muscles in Ukraine.

Yes, the picture is somewhat humorous, if sadly instructive, but what the Russian military is doing is not.  Interestingly, one of the best analysis of the "new" de facto Russian military strategy comes out of....wait for it...Latvia...yup, not the White House or Defense Department, or any other arm of this Administration, but an Eastern European country that is definitely feeling the hot breath of the Russian bear.
National Defence Academy of Latvia Center for Security and Strategic Research
I mean wow, whooda thunk the Latvians...that's the shaded country on the map of Europe for all you public school graduates...you know Europe, that place far across the ocean where merely five years ago all those paltroons thought Obama was the COOOOLESST President ever because he wasn't George W Bush and he was gonna hit the RESET button with the Russians....hey, how's that hopey-changey thing working out for you Ukraine?  Poland?  Latvia?  But I digress.

Well, the stars and unicorn dust have fallen out of the eyes of our eastern NATO allies and now they are looking at a resurgent Russian Army eyeing their countries like I look at a plate of bacon.

More importantly, gone are the days of the old clunky Red Army...with waves of tanks and waves of infantrymen being led to slaughter in a mindless battle of attrition.  The new Russian military showed a surprising adroitness in achieving their military and strategic objectives in the Crimea and Ukraine.  This little table out of the Latvian pub summarizes things very nicely.

I have to say, I am pretty impressed...Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky is alive and well in modern Russia.  The paper goes on to describe eight phases of this new generation warfare that quite frankly, I don't believe the US or our NATO allies are ready to meet:
  1. First Phase: non-military asymmetric warfare (encompassing information, moral, psychological, ideological, diplomatic, and economic measures as part of a plan to establish a favorable political, economic, and military setup).
  2. Second Phase: special operations to mislead political and military leaders by coordinated measures carried out by diplomatic channels, media, and top government and military agencies by leaking false data, orders, directives, and instructions.
  3. Third Phase: intimidation, deceiving, and bribing government and military officers, with the objective of making them abandon their service duties.
  4. Fourth Phase: destabilizing propaganda to increase discontent among the population, boosted by the arrival of Russian bands of militants, escalating subversion.
  5. Fifth Phase: establishment of no-fly zones over the country to be attacked, imposition of blockades, and extensive use of private military companies in close cooperation with armed opposition units.
  6. Sixth Phase: commencement of military action, immediately preceded by large-scale reconnaissance and subversive missions. All types, forms, methods, and forces, including special operations forces, space, radio, radio engineering, electronic, diplomatic, and secret service intelligence, and industrial espionage.
  7. Seventh Phase: combination of targeted information operation, electronic warfare operation, aerospace operation, continuous airforce harassment, combined with the use of high precision weapons launched from various platforms (long-range artillery, and weapons based on new physical principles, including microwaves, radiation, non-lethal biological weapons).
  8. Eighth Phase: roll over the remaining points of resistance and destroy surviving enemy units by special operations conducted by reconnaissance units to spot which enemy units have survived and transmit their coordinates to the attacker's missile and artillery units; fire barrages to annihilate the defender's resisting army units by effective advanced weapons; airdrop operations to surround points of resistance; and territory mopping-up operations by ground troops.
Some of these are simply repackaging of military tactics and operational constructs the US has used very effectively,  but the willingness and ability of the Russians to use psyops, disinformation, propaganda, and outright intimidation are notable.  

Although this Administration is well versed in the use of all these tools, particularly disinformation and propaganda, they usually reserve them for their domestic political opponents-racist, bigoted homophobes that they are-rather than using them on our enemies abroad......but I digress again.

This is an excellent read, and is highly recommended. Although this Administration is belatedly trying to reassure our NATO allies that we will defend their socialized medicine and six weeks of paid summer vacation, I am not sure either our allies or the Russians take the US seriously anymore.
President Obama seeks Congressional backing for $1B boost to U.S. military presence across Europe 

So, good luck Europe...you still have two long years to hope Putin stays busy absorbing Crimea and cementing his alliance with China.

Beware Collusion of China, Russia
because you know, that can only end well...don't worry though...Barney Fife and the Apple Dumpling Gang are on the job....it's gonna be a long, long 900+ days until Obama retires to the rubber chicken circuit...