By lex, on December 30th, 2010
On 30 June 1950, an understrength and under-equipped battalion of 430 infantrymen, along with a 134-man artillery detachment – together known as Task Force Smith – left their cozy garrisons in occupied Japan to reinforce the line in Osan, Korea. The occupation forces sent to oppose the North Korean blitz were not the same battle hardened soldiers that had driven through Europe and across the Pacific 5 years earlier. Their training in combined arms action had been perfunctory. They faced over 30 tanks and 5000 DPRK regulars – two full infantry regiments. When the North Koreans hit them – hard – they fought as well as any men might under such circumstances before they were nearly enveloped. After three and a half hours of sustained combat, low on ammunition and with their communications cut-off, they were forced to withdraw. One isolated platoon was even forced to leave behind its equipment, their dead and even some of their more seriously wounded comrades. With characteristic magnanimity, the victorious North Korean soldiers bound the survivors hands behind their backs and shot each of them once with a bullet to the back of the head.
This wasn’t the war that they had trained for.
By lex, on January 21st, 2009
Ward’s team * notices some interesting disparities between the Army and Marine Corps captain retention incentives:
By lex, on November 17th, 2010
Concealment is important for an ambush. But once the shooting starts, or in a stand-up fight, I’m told that soldiers vastly prefer cover to concealment. The army’s XM-25 Counter Defilade Targeting Engagement System (who comes up with these klunkers?) is going to make even cover a little harder to come by:
By lex, on February 19th, 2010
Remember that snowstorm that shut the capital down last week?
By lex, on October 21st, 2009
There’s been an interesting discussion going on having to do with the reliability and suitability of the M4 Carbine in Afghanistan, one that I’m ill qualified to formulate an opinion over but am watching with polite naval interest.
By lex, on June 6th, 2009
Sixty-five years after the fact, I still wonder how they did it.
156,000 US and allied forces crossed the English channel to face 380,000 battle hardened, well-entrenched Axis soldiers that had industriously used two years of relative calm to build reinforced concrete bunkers and overlapping fields of fire. By the end of the day, over 6,000 US servicemen would fall, nearly 1500 of whom would never rise again. And there would be much more hard fighting left to come before the landing force would breakout from the Normandy beachhead.
The Armorer has much more, including this letter from a grateful French liaison officer serving alongside the 82nd in Afghanistan. The French government has not forgotten either – John “Harry” Kellers returns to France to be recognized as a Chevalier in the Légion d’honneur. His first trip there was as an 18-year old sailor serving a gun on an amphibious landing craft.
Naval forces * played their role both on the on the beaches as well as offshore, according to German Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt:**
The enemy had deployed very strong Naval forces off the shores of the bridgehead. These can be used as quickly mobile, constantly available artillery, at points where they are necessary as defence against our attacks or as support for enemy attacks. During the day their fire is skillfully directed by . . . plane observers, and by advanced ground fire spotters. Because of the high rapid-fire capacity of Naval guns they play an important part in the battle within their range. The movement of tanks by day, in open country, within the range of these naval guns is hardly possible.
The liberation of France started when each, individual man on those landing craft as the ramp came down – each paratroop in his transport when the light turned green – made the individual decision to step off with the only life he had and face the fire.
How did they do it?
Back To The Index
By lex, on December 16th, 2008
Today that’s often taken to mean bravely foregoing a second croissant. Sixty-four years ago today, the term had a very different connotation indeed.
Having successfully lodged and expanded a beach head in Normandy in June of 1944, Allied forces spent the rest of that month and most of July trying to breakout through the French hedgerows – a brutal battle of attrition requiring on-the-battlefield innovation.