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    Welcome to Section 22 Week’s Sixth & Concluding Post

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 24th February 2021 (All posts by )

    Welcome to the sixth and final Chicagoboyz post (Feb 24, 2021) in the “Section 22 Week” count down to the 24 Feb 2021 premiere of the Bilge Pumps podcast with the Section 22 Special Interest Group e-mail list. Today’s post will include slides 72 through 82 of 82 of the Section 22 Powerpoint information packet.
    .
    These “back up slides” slides cover Section 22’s interactions with the US Navy over IFF and the utter disaster of the capture of the submarine USS Darter’s technical library by the Imperial Japanese Navy in October 1944.
    .
    You won’t find that disaster in any US Navy institutional history, classified or unclassified, on what the US Navy lost that day.  That is not how institutional histories work.  Institutional histories are all about glorifying the institution and its leaders while naming scapegoats and throwing shade at other institutions, with the classified histories detailing the “shade.”  That is why you have to go to the declassified US Army ULTRA history “SRH-254 THE JAPANESE INTELLIGENCE SYSTEM MIS/WDGS 4 September 1945”, to find any details on the  Japanese haul of intelligence from the grounded US Navy submarine USS Darter.
    .

        Page 53 (62)

       “One of the most important discoveries of captured documents was made
    by the Japanese Navy from the U.S. submarine Darter, which ran aground
    west of Palawan on 23 October. The Japanese recovered many documents
        dealing with radar, radio, and communications procedure, as well as
        instruction books, engine blueprints, and various ordnance items.

     

    It is difficult to evaluate the intelligence which the Japanese have
    obtained from documents, but in those cases here it has been possible
        the information has been found to be relatively accurate.

    .

    USS Darter (SS-227) grounded on Bombay Shoal off Palawan on 4th patrol, 24 October 1944

    Figure 1: USS Darter (SS-227) grounded on Bombay Shoal off Palawan, the Philippines on 4th patrol, 24 October 1944. The shell holes from a Japanese destroyer, several US Navy submarines, and a Japanese air attack. This included 55 point-blank hits from the 6-inch deck gun of the Nautilus (SS-168) on 31st October 1944.  Unfortunately, Darter was boarded prior to that shelling by an away team from a Japanese destroyer and the entire unburned contents off her classified  technical library were seized for analysis by Imperial Japanese Naval Intelligence. Visible on the top of the conning tower are the undamaged radar, radio and identification friend or foe antenna’s. Photo credit — Navsource.org

    .

    See my Chicagoboyz post here for a more complete telling of the Darter’s lost classified documents story:

    .

    The Grounding of USS Darter — A Case Study of an Operational Security Disaster
    October 29th, 2017
    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/56192.html

    .

    The Bilgepumps podcast is now posted, see–

    .

    Bilgepumps Episode 38: Section 22 – The Forgotten Electronic Warfare Superstars of WWII and the Historians who are changing that
    FEBRUARY 24TH, 2021

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Welcome to Section 22 Week, Day 5

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 23rd February 2021 (All posts by )

    Welcome to the fifth Chicagoboyz post (Feb 23, 2021) in the “Section 22 Week” count down to the 24 Feb 2021 Bilge Pumps podcast with the Section 22 Special Interest Group e-mail list. Today’s post will include slides 61 through 72 of 82 of the Section 22 Powerpoint information packet.
    .
    These slides cover Section 22’s part of the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands called “Operation Olympic,” the last RCM flight of WW2 by the successor of Field Unit #6 that ended in tragedy, the “Defenestration”  (being “thrown out the window” of the official historical narrative of Section 22 by the American Joint Chiefs of Staff with the “Seventeen guys on an e-mail list” credits and resource links for further research for naval history academics.
    .
    The 82 slides worth of material being published in “Section 22 Week” are a “picture book highlights reel” of what the between 500 to 1000 men involved in Section 22 radio counter measures operations did between May 1943 and August 1945.  Tomorrow’s concluding post will include the back up slides explaining the role of the Mark III identification in the Pacific war and other elements not central to the Section 22 story but important to the war for the electromagnetic spectrum from March 1944 to August 1945.
    .
    Today’s “extra” involves the dysfunctional intelligence system inside World War II’s Washington DC that lead to Section 22’s “Defenestration.”
    .
    The following are screenshots from SRH-130, MIS Intelligence Processes Relating to Japanese, Science Branch Project No. 2528A, 14 Sept 1945.   This “SRH-130” was the smaller of the two documents with the “SRH-130” cover page at 83 pages vice the 975 of the other.  I’m going to use “Project No. 2528A” to refer to the smaller document and SRH-130 to the larger document.
    .
    First, see the conclusion on how effective the War Department’s G-2 Military Intelligence Division  (MID) electronics section that did “Scientific intelligence”  which was the official D.C. name for the radar intelligence Section 22 provided:
    .
    SRH-130 MIS Scientific Intelligence on Japanese Radar July 1945 - part 2, Tab A , pg 4 of 975.jpg
    Next, this is the recommendations section in “Project No. 2528A” where they list all the things they did wrong in WW2:
    .
    SRH-130 -- Everything the MID G-2 Science Branch got wrong in WW2.jpg
    .
    And finally this is the floor plan of the MID “Science Branch” from “Project No. 2528A” on VJ-Day to give you an idea of the scale of effort put into radar intelligence work at the War Department G-2 compared to Section 22 in Brisbane, Tacloban and Manila.
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    SRH-130 -- Science Branch maximum effort foot print VJ-Day.jpg
    The defenestration of Section 22 from the public eye in the immediate post-war makes a great deal of sense, given the level of effort demonstrated by that office plan .  Section 22’s offices in May 1943 Brisbane were larger than the electronics section you see above.
    .
    The War Department was facing Congressional accountability hearings & investigative reports for the Pearl Harbor intelligence failure.  That level of “Scientific Intelligence” performance about radar for the duration of WW2 cannot be in anyway excused, if the story of Section 22 in the SWPA was generally known.  There were assets to cover,  budgets to shield, and careers to protect.  So “out the window” of public acclaim and deep, deep, into the unaccountable hidey hole of decades long classification Section 22 went.
    .

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Welcome to “Section 22 Week,” Day Three

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 21st February 2021 (All posts by )

    Welcome to the third post in the “Section 22 Week” count down to the Bilge Pumps podcast with the Section 22 Special Interest Group e-mail list.  By way of background, the Section 22 ‘SIG’ started in March 2015 with myself as list administrator and later as the groups cloud drive guru. The list accomplished it’s goal of mapping the Australian, New Zealand and American archives for Section 22 materials in early 2020 with the publication of Craig Bellamy’s doctoral thesis.

    Since early 2020 my goal for the list has been to get this material wider visibility in the WW2 history community.  By posting Section 22 materials from that thesis, and other list research, consistently on Twitter, I earned the list an invitation to the Bilge Pumps naval affairs podcast on the CIMSEC web site.  That podcast is due to go up on their site 24 Feb 2021.

    Today’s post will include slides 30 through 48 of 82 of the Section 22 information packet.  This will include a spotlight on Section 22’s third Assistant Director, Cmdr. J.B. Jolley, USN reserve.

    Cmdr. J. B. Jolley US Navy Reserve, Asst Director Section 22

    Cmdr. J. B. Jolley US Navy Reserve, Assistant Director Section 22

    Commander J.B. Jolley USNR was with Section 22 early – at least from Oct 1943 from documents Craig Bellamy found in the Australian national archives.   Current Statement #48 dated 24 October 1943 states that USN submarines (unnamed, darn it!)  were being fitted with radar intercept receivers at that time.   Cmdr. Jolley then ran Section 22 for a short time before and during the Leyte campaign (from about 4 September 1944 until at least the 10 Nov 1944) until his health failed.  Yet that time, Section 22’s efforts under his leadership made its biggest contributions of WW2 and Jolley demonstrated a level of moral courage in his leadership that was unmatched in the Pacific War.

    Yet, despite much research, our list has never found Cmdr Jolley’s first and middle names to go with his initials.  This anonymity was part of the price Jolley paid for his moral courage as a leader, for he crossed Admiral Ernest King on the issue of Japanese radar tracking US ships and planes through their Mark III identification friend or foe (IFF) systems.

    See Jolley’s IFF procedure at this link — ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/r at paragraph 11. IFF PROCEDURE sub-paragraph f. which is named in slide 30 below. 

    Adm. Turner, CENPAC’s amphibious forces commander, did not include anything like it in his Iwo Jima or Okinawa attack plans.  And he knew far better…but did not want to draw Adm. King’s attentions.

    To understand the context here, you have to know that electronic IFF was the US Navy’s technological turf in WW2. The U.S. Navy had created an IFF system before WW2, but the UK’s Mark III IFF was chosen for the sake of Allied commonality. And with radar centralized under Adm. King, IFF was part of his personal fief. King’s actions in the “Great South Pacific IFF Visitation” in Jan – Mar 1944 versus Section 22 made the combat failure of the Mark III IFF a failure in the same class as the Mark 14 torpedo and his own very personal tar baby.

    Adm. King’s CIC magazine did not admit to what Jolley wrote into the Sept 1944 7th Fleet Leyte invasions until the March 1945 issue.  Far too late for the intimidated Adm. Turner to add Cmdr. Jolley’s technique into the Okinawa invasion plans.

    The combat failure of the Mark III IFF had to be made to go away…and it did…but that story is for coming “Section 22 Week” posts and slides.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, USA, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    The Computer Age Turns 75

    Posted by David Foster on 21st February 2021 (All posts by )

    In February 1946, the first general purpose electronic computer…the ENIAC…was introduced to the public.  Nothing like ENIAC had been seen before, and the unveiling of the computer, a room-filling machine with lots of flashing lights and switches–made quite an impact.

    ENIAC (the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was created primarily to help with the trajectory-calculation problems for artillery shells and bombs, a problem that was requiring increasing numbers of people for manual computations.  John Mauchly, a physics professor attending a summer session at the University of Pennsylvania, and J Presper Eckert, a 24-year-old grad student, proposed the machine after observing the work of the women (including Mauchly’s wife Mary) who had been hired to assist the Army with these calculations. The proposal made its way to the Army’s liason with Penn,  and that officer, Lieutenant Herman Goldstine,  took up the project’s cause.  (Goldstine apparently heard about the proposal not via formal university channels but via a mutual friend, which is an interesting point in our present era of remote work.)  Electronics had not previously been used for digital computing, and a lot of authorities thought an electromechanical machine would be a better and safer bet.

    Despite the naysayers (including RCA, actually which refused to bid on the machine), ENIAC did work, and the payoff was in speed.  This was on display in the introductory demonstration, which was well-orchestrated from a PR standpoint.  Attendees could watch the numbers changing as the flight of a simulated shell proceeded from firing to impact, which took about 20 seconds…a little faster than the actual flight of the real, physical shell itself.  Inevitably, the ENIAC was dubbed a ‘giant brain’ in some of the media coverage…well, the “giant” part was certainly true, given the machine’s size and its 30-ton weight.

    In the photo below, Goldstine and Eckert are holding the hardware module required for one single digit of one number.

    The machine’s flexibility allowed it to be used for many applications beyond the trajectory work,  beginning with modeling the proposed design of the detonator for the hydrogen bomb.   Considerable simplification of the equations had to be done to fit within ENIAC’s capacity; nevertheless, Edward Teller believed the results showed that his proposed design would work. In an early example of a disagreement about the validity of model results, the Los Alamos mathematician Stan Ulam thought otherwise.  (It turned out that Ulam was right…a modified triggering approach had to be developed before working hydrogen bombs could be built.)  There were many other ENIAC applications, including the first experiments in computerized weather forecasting, which I’ll touch on later in this post.

    Programming ENIAC was quite different from modern programming.  There was no such thing as a programming language or instruction set.  Instead, pluggable cable connections, combined with switch settings, controlled the interaction among ENIAC’s 20 ‘accumulators’ (each of which could store a 10-digit number and perform addition & subtraction on that number) and its multiply and divide/square-root units.  With clever programming it was possible to make several of the units operate in parallel. The machine could perform conditional branching and looping…all-electronic, as opposed to earlier electromechanical machines in which a literal “loop” was established by glueing together the ends of a punched paper tape.   ENIAC also had several ‘function tables’, in which arrays of rotary switches were set to transform one quantity into another quantity in a specified way…in the trajectory application, the relationship between a shell’s velocity and its air drag.

    The original ‘programmers’…although the word was not then in use…were 6 women selected from among the group of human trajectory calculators. Jean Jennings Bartik mentioned in her autobiography that when she was interviewed for the job, the interviewer (Goldstine) asked her what she thought of electricity.  She said she’d taken physics and knew Ohm’s Law; Goldstine said he didn’t care about that; what he wanted to know was whether she was scared of it!  There were serious voltages behind the panels and running through the pluggable cables.

    “The ENIAC was a son of a bitch to program,” Jean Bartik later remarked.  Although the equations that needed to be solved were defined by physicists and mathematicians, the programmers had to figure out how to transform those equations into machine sequences of operations, switch settings, and cable connections.  In addition to the logical work, the programmers had also to physically do the cabling and switch-setting and to debug the inevitable problems…for the latter task, ENIAC conveniently had a hand-held remote control, which the programmer could use to operate the machine as she walked among its units.

    Notoriously, none of the programmers were introduced at the dinner event or were invited to the celebration dinner afterwards.  This was certainly due in large part to their being female, but part of it was probably also that programming was not then recognized as an actual professional field on a level with mathematics or electrical engineering; indeed, the activity didn’t even yet have a name.  (It is rather remarkable, though, that in an ENIAC retrospective in 1986…by which time the complexity and importance of programming were well understood…The New York Times referred only to “a crew of workers” setting dials and switches.)

    The original programming method for ENIAC put some constraints on the complexity of problems that it could be handled and also tied up the machine for hours or days while the cable-plugging and switch-setting for a new problem was done. The idea of stored programming had emerged (I’ll discuss later the question of who the originator was)…the idea was that a machine could be commanded by instructions stored in a memory just like data; no cable-swapping necessary. It was realized that ENIAC could be transformed into a stored-program machine  with the function tables…those arrays of rotary switches…used to store the instructions for a specific problem. The cabling had to be done only once, to set the machine up for interpreting  a particular vocabulary of instructions.  This change gave ENIAC a lot more program capacity and made it far easier to program; it did sacrifice some of the speed.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Big Government, Biography, Book Notes, History, Science, Tech, War and Peace | 20 Comments »

    Welcome to “Section 22 Week” on Chicagoboyz, Day One of Six

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 19th February 2021 (All posts by )

    General Headquarters, South West Pacific Area, Section 22 was a secret radar intelligence organization established under General Douglas MacArthur in World War II.  This posts is the first in a series of six that will include the entire 82 slide information packet that I sent to the CIMSEC Bilge Pumps pod cast which was recorded this morning (Feb 19, 20201) and will “air” Feb 24, 2021

    Since March 2015 I have been administering an international e-mail list being named “The Section 22 Special Interest Group” with my role being both administrator and cloud drive guru.  This link was my announcement on Twitter of the list completing it’s 5-year mission in mapping the multi-continent archival history of General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area, Section 22:
    Section 22 Field Units Map, 7 Oct 1944 (Alwyn Lloyd).jpg

    Section 22 Field Units Map, 7 Oct 1944 (via Alwyn Lloyd)

    And especially this PhD Thesis by Craig Bellamy:

    The beginnings of the secret Australian radar countermeasures unit during the Pacific War Feb 2020
    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) – CDU

     This is my “2-minute elevator speech” thumb nail of Section 22’s historical role in WW2 in the Pacific theater versus Japan that I sent to the Bilge Pumps pod cast crew.

    THE BIRTH, LIFE & DEATH OF MACARTHUR’S SECTION 22 RADAR HUNTERS
    In the aftermath of the “Channel Dash” or Unternehmen Zerberus (Operation Cerberus) in February 1942, the Royal Australian Navy decided after a series of meetings that it needed a radio/radar countermeasures (the modern term of art is “electronic warfare”) section to prevent the Japanese from doing to them what the Germans did to the UK Royal Navy when it snuck the fast battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen through the English Channel with the assistance of radio and radar jamming.
    (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Dash)

    This RCM section was based in Sydney and administered from the RAN Office in Melbourne. It’s commander was Lt. Cdr. Joel Mace, RANVR(sp)  (RANVR decodes as – “Royal Australian Navy Voluntary Reserve” special)
    There was then a decision made — either supported or stage managed by Mace, according to one of the scholars on the E-mail list I administer — to move the organization to Brisbane under the control of the USN’s 7th Fleet in or before May 1943.

    Bellemy - Joel Mace Service photo.jpg

    Then in June 1943 this “Radio and Radar Countermeasures Division” was taken over by MacArthur’s South West Pacific Area General Headquarters (SWPA GHQ) under the direct command of General Spencer Akins, MacArthur’s Chief Signals officer and one of the “Bataan Gang.”   A group of trusted American officers who were at Bataan with MacArthur.

    This informal decision was ratified in GHQ Operations Instructions No. 36 issued by MacArthur on 5 July 1943 and in November the group was christened “Section 22” based on it’s officer number in a Brisbane office building.

    Section 22 encompassed and organized disparate RCM elements in the US Army, US Fifth Air Force, US 7th Fleet, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army into a coherent whole to deal with the Japanese deployment of radar in the Rabaul and South Pacific areas in 1942-1943.

    The organization reached its full maturity in the Summer of 1944 (see photo above) after it absorbed the South Pacific theater’s RCM organizations, primarily in the 13th Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Royal New Zealand Navy.  South Pacific Theater having become a rear area by that time.

    Section 22 supported General MacArthur’s drive to the Philippines and had a role in mapping Japanese radar networks throughout New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, South China, Formosa and the Ryukyus (including Okinawa) and the Japanese home islands (See May 1943 Rabaul map below).

    Bellamy -- Aussie RCM Map May 1934.jpg

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, National Security, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Degrees of Toxicity

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th February 2021 (All posts by )

    The Daughter Unit clued me in this week to a humongous ruckus which brewed among Air Force contributors to military-oriented discussion boards on Reddit – a ruckus which involves the current Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force – which for the laymen audience, means the very tippy-top enlisted, that singular and exemplary senior NCO who supposedly sits at the right hand of the highest military commanders in the land, to keep them appraised of the interests of the enlisted men and women. The Daughter Unit keeps track of this military ‘gen on a more regular basis than I do, as my two-decades long service was a good while ago, and I walked away from it all and constructed another life and long-term interests in writing, book-blogging and publishing. I will confess to some sentimental feelings for my service, as it provided me with a lot of fun, foreign travel, a decent paycheck and benefits (to include the pension and retirement benefits), a chance to hang out with some amazing people (as well as a soupcon of psychos, amiable freaks and the severely mal-adjusted), and a kind of mental grounding, even a rough sympathy when it comes to people who work for a living and get their hands dirty and their fingernails broken. But enough about me, and my not-particularly-rewarding career as an enlisted minion, toiling away in the bowels of the mighty military public affairs machine some two- or three-decades past.

    The office of the Chief Master Sergeant of any service is a huge thing, in all the military forces: the name of the current Chief-Master-Whatever is one of the things military recruits to whatever branch are expected to know and recite on demand when in Basic Training. General officers there are, in legions, and the multi-stars roost en masse like grackles in the highest levels of command – but there is only one Chief Enlisted, for all four (five counting the Coast Guard) military services. This one – CMSAF JoAnne Bass – is the first female to take up that exalted office for any of the services. I wish her the best luck in the world. When I began serving, there weren’t but a bare half-dozen of female senior enlisteds in the Air Force, and a fair number of the junior enlisted that I served with were the first or second females in certain traditionally male specialties which had just been opened to females. Unfortunately, as things are shaping up in the first months of her tour of duty, Chief Bass had better buckle in, as it looks like it’s going to be a bumpy flight. She put her foot wrong, straight off the bat, when a young NCO (innocently, or perhaps not so innocently) inquired on the CMSAF’s FB page as to how her last name was pronounced – like the fish or the musical instrument?    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Current Events, History, Human Behavior, Military Affairs, National Security, Personal Narrative, Predictions, Trump, War and Peace | 30 Comments »

    The Past as a Foreign Country

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 26th January 2021 (All posts by )

    I’ve just finished and released into the wild a WWII novel, My Dear Cousin, for which the concept came to me in a dream last July. Since the current year-long plus covidiocy demolished nearly every fall market and holiday event which would otherwise have taken up my time, I set to work and finished it in six months.  As much as is possible, I did my research – and the internet makes the kind of information I needed available at my fingertips: a detailed 1930s map of Singapore, a hand-written diary of a woman who escaped Malaya in early 1942, a breakdown of what constituted the tents and facilities for a frontline Army hospital in 1944, and the newspaper archives of the wartime Singapore Straits Times and Brisbane Courier Mail. All that and more went into an account of the war, as seen through the lives of two cousins, on opposite sides of the world.  Accuracy is what I strive for – and most times, I think I come very close. The rest of this entry is what I felt obliged to include in the notes at the back of the book.

    In the interests of fidelity to history and racial attitudes of the 1940s with regard to the Japanese and to a lesser extent, the Germans, the current social climate requires me to add the following caveat; yes, the general attitudes of American and Australians towards the Japanese were by current standards, viciously and unrepentantly racist. However, this book is, as nearly as I can make it, written with an eye to fidelity to the historical record. I will not cut and tailor my fictional cloth in accordance with current fashion. ‘Presentism’, wherein the accepted fashionable attitudes and conventional opinions of the current day are retrofitted, however unsuited and historically unlikely, onto those characters living in past decades and centuries, is a grim transgression against the art of bringing a past era into life, warts and all. Writing a so-called historical novel merely by placing 21st century characters in different costumes and strange technological shortcomings is a disservice to the past, and a hampering to complete understanding. It’s the past – they did things differently, back then. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, History, Miscellaneous, War and Peace | 68 Comments »

    The Giants of Flight 93 – Plus 19 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 11th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Today, 9/11/2020, is the nineteenth anniversary of Al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Often forgotten or glossed over as time goes on were the actions of the passengers of Flight 93, whose resistance to Al-Qaeda’s suicide-hijacker team brought the plane down in Shanksville, PA rather than Al-Qaeda’s chosen target, saving the lives of other Americans at the price of their own.

    On the 2018 anniversary of 9/11/2001, President Trump dedicated the National Park Service memorial to their actions that day.  The NPS has since posted a memorial web page with the recordings of the cockpit flight recorder, cellphone calls from the plane, and court trial evidence including crash photos, here:   https://www.nps.gov/flni/learn/historyculture/sources-and-detailed-information.htm

    Yet for all that, I have not seen anything matching what a friend of mine, Tom Holsinger, wrote about 9/11/2001 and the people on Flight 93 — our fellow citizens who rose up and fought Al Qaeda, when all others, our military, our political leaders, our law enforcement, were frozen in surprise — at the strategypage.com web site in October 2002.  I have not read any written commemoration of their act, before or since, as moving as this passage:

    Students of American character should pay close attention to Flight 93. A random sample of American adults was subjected to the highest possible stress and organized themselves in a terribly brief period, without benefit of training or group tradition other than their inherent national consciousness, to foil a well planned and executed terrorist attack. Recordings show the passengers and cabin crew of Flight 93 – ordinary Americans all – exemplified the virtues Americans hold most dear.

     

    Certain death came for them by surprise but they did not panic and instead immediately organized, fought and robbed terror of its victory. They died but were not defeated.

     

    Ordinary Americans confronted by enemies behaved exactly like the citizen-soldiers eulogized in Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture.

     

    Herman Wouk called the heroic sacrifice of the USS Enterprise’s Torpedo 8 squadron at the Battle of Midway “… the soul of America in action.” Flight 93 was the soul of America, and the American people know it. They spontaneously created a shrine at the crash site to express what is in their hearts and minds but not their mouths. They are waiting for a poet. Normally a President fills this role.

     

    But Americans feel it now. They don’t need a government or leader for that, and didn’t to guide their actions on Flight 93, because they really are America. Go to the crash shrine and talk to people there. Something significant resonates through them which is different from, and possibly greater than, the shock of suffering a Pearl Harbor attack at home.

     

    Pearl Harbor remains a useful analogy given Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto’s statement on December 7, 1941 – “I fear we have woken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” They were giants on Flight 93.

     

    A chainlink fence covered in mementos and flags dedicated to the flight 93 crash


    This was the spontaneous memorial wall erected by Americans for the passengers and crew of Flight 93 in a field near Shanksville, PA that Tom Holsinger wrote about above.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Culture, History, Middle East, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 15 Comments »

    In the Field

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 8th September 2020 (All posts by )

    Sometimes, long after first reading a book or watching a movie and enjoying it very much, I have come back to re-reading or watching, and then wondering what I had ever seen in that in the first place. So it was with the original M*A*S*H book and especially with the movie. I originally read the book in college and thought, “Eww, funny but gross and obscene, with their awful practical jokes and nonexistent sexual morals.” Then I re-read after having been in the military myself for a couple of years, and thought, “Yep, my people!”

    The movie went through pretty much the same evolution with me, all but one element – and that was when I began honestly wondering why the ostensible heroes had such a hate on for Major Burns and the nurse Major Houlihan. Why did those two deserve such awful, disrespectful treatment? In the movie they seemed competent and agreeable enough initially. In the book it was clear that Major Burns was an incompetent surgeon with delusions of adequacy, and that Major Houlihan was Regular Army; that being the sole reason for the animus. But upon second viewing of the movie, it seemed like Duke Forrest, Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre were just bullying assholes selecting a random target for abuse for the amusement of the audience. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Deep Thoughts, Film, History, Holidays, Korea, Medicine, Middle East, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, War and Peace | 30 Comments »

    The Imperial Japanese Surrender in Tokyo Bay, Sept. 2, 1945…Plus 75 Years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 2nd September 2020 (All posts by )

    On September 2, 1945, the surrender ceremony for Imperial Japan occurred in Tokyo  Bay with General Douglas MacArthur officiating.

    There are several films of this event. There was the official one MacArthur’s Signal Corps camera crew recorded.  There is a film from war correspondent William Courtenay and a finally a film taken by Commander George F. Kosco of the US Navy.

    I have included in this post several versions of each of these films in black and white and color below.

    The end of this ceremony marked the close of the most destructive war in human history whose 75th anniversary passed today.

     

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Japan, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 23 Comments »

    Happy VJ-Day, Plus 75 Years.

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 15th August 2020 (All posts by )

    Happy VJ-day!

    Seventy five years ago today the Imperial Japanese Government broadcast their unconditional acceptance of the terms Potsdam Proclamation.  It would take several weeks to arrange the surrender in Tokyo bay and more time to land an occupation force to begin disarmament.  Yet it is this day that is remembered.

    Color Photo of the Sept 2, 1945 Imperial Japanese Surrender ceremony marking the conclusion of WW2 on the Battleship USS Missouri.

    Color Photo of the Sept 2, 1945 surrender ceremony marking the conclusion of WW2 on the Battleship USS Missouri.

    Chicagoboyz has commemorated this day — more or less — since 2010.

    Below is a link list with thumb nail descriptions of the columns.

    2020 – Hiroshima and the Atomic Bomb…Plus 75 Years.

    This column speaks to how the US military use it’s secret SIGSALY digital radio-telephone system to communicate about the Atomic Bomb.

    2019 — The Collapse of Atomic Diplomacy…Again?

    This months delayed column was on a 2011 NHK documentary titled as follows:

    “Atomic bombing – top secret information that was never utilized

    原爆投下 活(い)かされなかった極秘情報”

    The NHK documentary answers questions that “Atomic Diplomacy” has never bothered to ask. Specifically “What did the Imperial Japanese Military & Government know about the American nuclear weapon program, when did it know it, and what did it do about it.”

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    Posted in History, International Affairs, Japan, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | 5 Comments »

    Hiroshima and the Atomic Bomb…Plus 75 Years.

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 6th August 2020 (All posts by )

    Today’s date, 6 August 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Some where in the neighborhood of 70,000–80,000 people in Hiroshima were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm that reached it’s peak three hours after the detonation.  Japanese military personnel made up 20,000 of the 70,000–80,000 immediate deaths.   This bombing set in motion a train of events including the subsequent atomic bombing of Nagasaki, the Soviet Union’s accelerated invasion of Japanese occupied Manchuria on 9 August 1945 and Emperor Hirohito’s 15 August 1945 broadcast of Japan’s surrender under the terms laid out by the Potsdam Declaration.

    Much has been written on these events and I’ve revisited them here on Chicagoboyz annually from 2011 to 2018.  This year, 2020, I’m going to address a different part of the Atomic attacks.  Namely, how the American military electronically communicated about the Atomic bomb.  How the secrecy and limitations of that communications system meant Admiral Nimitz knew about the Atomic bomb long before General MacArthur. And how General  MacArthur was working to change that for the proposed and cancelled by A-Bomb invasion of Southern Japan

    Figure 1 – This is the mushroom cloud marking the use of the “Little Boy” uranium-235 atomic bomb dropped from the B-29 “Enola Gay.” This photo was taken from the B-29 “Necessary Evil” which was piloted by Captain George W. Marquardt.

     

    AMERICA’S SECRET TALKER

    In World War 2 many of the major powers developed strategic level code & cypher radio electronic communications systems between it’s top level political & military leaders and the various theater commanders.  The German Geheimschreiber (secret writer) is the best known of these systems because British crypt-analysts at Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park with the the aid of eventually ten Colossus computers.

    Much less well know is the Anglo-American equivalent of the German Geheimschreiber,  The US Army Signal Corps and Bell Telephone Laboratories SIGSALY.  This system was the only form of secret broadcast radio-electronic communications the American and British government trusted to transmit information on the Atomic bomb in the World War II.   It was due in large part to that level of communications security that Admiral Nimitz was informed of the atomic bomb before General MacArthur.  Admiral Nimitz in Hawaii and later Guam was reachable by SIGSALY after his initial courier briefing.  General MacArthur between October 1944 and May 1945 was not, for a number of reasons I’ll get into a little later.

    First, a quick introduction: SIGSALY was a highly secret WW2 digital voice communications system that used a special one-time pad encryption.  There were only 12 station made in all of WW2 and MacArthur’s had two.  The first in Brisbane was sent to Manila.  The 2nd SIGSALY meant for Hollandia was instead placed in a Australian built barge barge in the SWPA “Signal Corps Grand fleet,” a motley collection of small ships and barges with powerful Signal Corps radios.  The barge mounted SIGSALY  was intended for quick sea movement and it was key for MacArthur’s communications at Okinawa and Kyushu during the planned invasion of Japan.

    Figure 2 – This is a SIGSALY digital radio-telephone system screen captured from the Crypto Museum web site.  

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    Posted in History, Japan, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 13 Comments »

    Video Review: The Dawns Here Are Quiet

    Posted by David Foster on 17th May 2020 (All posts by )

    This is both a 2015 Russian WWII TV series and a 1972 Russian movie, both based on the same novel.  The original movie is apparently considered a classic in Russia; so much so that making a new version was viewed as almost blasphemous by some.

    Sergeant Vaskov is in charge of an antiaircraft battery in a (so far) quiet area.  His troops have been a drunken and quarrelsome lot, and when they are swapped out and sent to the front, he asks for replacements who will not drink and carouse with the local women so excessively.  He is surprised and initially dismayed when the replacements show up and they are all women…girls, really, just out of AA gunner’s training.

    The movie starts out with a rather light tone, but quickly darkens.  Two German paratroopers—apparently saboteurs targeting a vital transportation junction—are spotted in the woods, and Vaskov takes five of his women and goes out after them.  It turns out that there are actually a lot more of the enemy than two…sixteen, in fact…and stopping them will be practically a mission impossible for Vaskov and his five newly-minted AA gunners.

    I first watched the recent TV series, which has excellent cinematography and some really striking scenery. The backstories of the women and of their male commander are shown via a series of flashbacks. Lisa Britschkina, a shy girl, was sent to Siberia with her family on grounds of being Kulaks, yet she seemingly feels no conflicts about fighting for the Soviet state.  Another of the five ‘volunteers’, Sonia Gurvich, was an excellent student and loves to read poetry aloud. Her husband was killed on the first day of the war–she has a son, who is living with Sonia’s mother. Vaskov when we meet him is a rather troubled person:  his wife has left him for another man, he was wounded on his first day of battle and has guilt feelings about now being assigned to this relatively-safe backwater in the midst of a war for national survival.

    I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review: suffice it to say that this isn’t a strong-and-independent-female-superhero movie. The women accomplish remarkable things, but they and Vaskov are a true team.  Some of the scenes and events seem improbable, but the story draws you in and the characters will not be easily forgotten.

    I was curious as to how the 1972 movie would compare with the more recent series…watched it, and was pleasantly surprised–I was expecting a lot more heavy-handed Soviet propaganda than was in it.  The use of color in this film is interesting: most of it is in black & white, but the flashbacks…most of which refer to the time before the war..are in color. The story is pretty close to that in the 2015 series; the portrayal of the characters, particularly the women, is pretty different–for one thing, those in the 1972 movie seem even younger, and act (at least initially) rather girlier.  One backstory is notably different in this version–that of Lisa Britschkina–the part about her family having been sent to Siberia isn’t there.  (I’m not sure if it was in the original novel, but based on when it was published (1969) I’m guessing not.)  In both versions, some of the women smart off toward Vaskov in a way which they seem unlikely to have been gotten away with in the 1940s or for that matter today, even with a leader as fundamentally kindly as he is portrayed as being.

    One objection some Russians have to the recent video is that it is “too Hollywood-ized”…this is a fair criticism of the action scenes near the end, but not, I think, of the whole thing.  Both versions are worth seeing.

    I’m preaching largely to the converted here, but–we should always keep in mind, when watching Russian WWII films or reading books on the same subject, that the great heroism demonstrated by so many Russians, and the fact that they were allied with America, do not negate the extreme evil of the Soviet regime.

     

     

    Posted in Film, History, Leftism, Russia, War and Peace | 25 Comments »

    Recommended Watching – Women at War, 1914-1918

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 6th May 2020 (All posts by )

    I am learning French and part of that is watching French entertainment with English subtitles. I googled “Netflix shows in French with English subtitles” and stumbled upon one of the most interesting things I have watched on TV, well, ever.

    Women at War, 1914-1918 is the story of how the women in France handled, or were made to handle, their men all leaving for the front lines. Subjects included pacifism movements, women working in fields and munition plants, among many other topics. There was also a lot of front line footage. Some of the footage was from Germany, but the vast majority is from France.

    Speaking of the footage, it was simply amazing. The producers digitized and colorized photos and films from the era and I was stunned at the quality. I paused the movie a bunch of times to take in certain frames.

    Highly recommended for those with not just an interest in the main subject matter of women at war, but anyone with a WW1 interest.

    ***Caution*** Some of the footage is graphic (war wounds and dead bodies), and there is a bit of nudity.

    Posted in Feminism, Film, France, Germany, History, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    This Post Has Absolutely Nothing to do with Coronavirus

    Posted by David Foster on 18th April 2020 (All posts by )

    The US Naval Institute has posted some links to their archives.  This one is interesting:  a 1912 think piece on the future of the submarine, written by then-lieutenant C W Nimitz.

    Link

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Tech, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    The Beginning of the Okinawa Campaign — Plus 75 years

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 2nd April 2020 (All posts by )

    In the press of events related to the Great Wuhan Coronavirus Pandemic, many anniversaries of the Second World War have been passing by with little notice and less comment.  For example, April 1st 2020 was the 75th Anniversary of the April  1st 1945 “Love-Day” landings on the western shores of Okinawa.

    This is the West Point Atlas map of the 1 April 1945 Love Day landings through 8 April 1945.

    Figure 1 – This is the West Point Atlas map of both the 1 April 1945 Love Day landings through 8 April 1945 and initial Imperial Japanese 32nd Army dispositions to defend Okinawa.

    The Okinawa campaign in WW2 has often been described as marking the end old style total war. Where “cork screw and blow torch” close combat to the death between American attackers “who fought to live” and Japanese defenders who “died in order to fight” played out its last dance.

    This is a photo of the USMC III Corps Landing beachhead on Okinawa a April 1945.

    Figure 2 – This is a photo of the USMC III Corps Landing beachhead on Okinawa April 1, 1945.

    Upon closer examination, as this 75th anniversary article series will demonstrate, Okinawa is far better described as a high tech war for the electromagnetic spectrum between technological peer competitors air and naval forces.  A “secret radar war,” if you will, where two opposing command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) sensor networks were directing land, sea and air forces in a series of both combat and logistical moves and countermoves.

    And while the less advanced, and organizationally deficient, Japanese military lost Okinawa proper. It still took advantage of the primarily US Navy institutional biases, American military inter-service rivalries, logistical planning weaknesses caused by that rivalry and US Navy’s unwillingness to learn from “non-approved” sources to never the less defeat the US Navy’s original Phase III plan to overrun the upper Ryukyu’s and install island air and radar bases close enough Kyushu to properly provide land based air superiority for the invasion of Japan.

    These campaign objective failures were hidden in tales of US Navy destroyer picket heroism in the “Fleet That Came to Stay:…and classified top secret files…because of the coming budget war associated with the pending merger of the War and Navy department’s into the Department of Defense.  After 75 years, this series will part the curtains on these hidden histories.

     

    This is a map of the Ryukyu Island chain with Okinawa at the lower center-right. It's location would allow American airpower to dominate the sea lanes from China and Korea to Japan. Phase III of Operation Iceberg was to capture Miyako Jima for the RAF Bomber Command Tiger Force as well as Kikaiga Jima, Amami Oshima and Tokuno Shima for fighter bases to cover the Operation Olympic landings on Kyushu.

    figure 3 – This is a map of the Ryukyu Island chain with Okinawa at the lower center-right. It’s location would allow American airpower to dominate the sea lanes from China and Korea to Japan. Phase III of Operation Iceberg was to capture Miyako Jima at the lower center-left for the RAF Bomber Command Tiger Force as well as Kikaiga Jima, Amami Oshima and Tokuno Shima for USAAF & USMC fighter bases to cover the planned Operation Olympic landings on Kyushu.

    Too accomplish that objective, this series will examine the planned goals of the Operation Iceberg campaign against what was accomplished. How various American military institutions, doctrine and planning failed.  And why the defeat of the US Navy’s  Phase III plans set the stage for an American blood bath of preventable naval casualties during the planned Operation Olympic assault of the Japanese home islands, had the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki not made the invasion of Japan unnecessary.

    The yellow highlighted names on this map show island in the Ryukyu chain that hosted Japanese air bases that were used through out the 83 day Okinawa campaign as staging areas for kamikaze, spotter and snooper aircraft. These bases were never fully suppressed by American or British air strikes.

    Figure 4 – The yellow highlighted names on this map show islands in the Ryukyu chain that hosted Japanese air bases that were used through out the 83 day Okinawa campaign as staging areas for kamikaze, visual spotter and radar snooper aircraft. These bases were never fully suppressed by American or British carrier air strikes. Three of these air bases were scheduled for invasion and capture in the Operation Iceberg Phase III plans. None of these bases were taken due to US Navy casualties from the fanatical Japanese resistance on and around Okinawa.

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    Posted in Japan, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    Flashy Himself – A Literary Diversion

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 22nd February 2020 (All posts by )

    So it took a link on Powerline last week to bring to my attention that George McDonald Fraser’s first Flashman book came out fifty years ago.

    My, I don’t know how the time flies – but it does. I must have read the first couple of Flashy’s adventures sometime in college, shortly thereafter, and being quite the history nerd even then, they were rowdy enough, and amusing enough that I read most of the rest of them when they came out, even if I had to order them from an English book catalog when I was stationed overseas. I do remember very well reading The General Danced at Dawn, in the back of one of my more boring lecture classes at CSUN and nearly self-strangulating in trying to not laugh uproariously out loud. The professor lecturer would not have been amused – he was a medieval history expert with a thoroughly tedious interest in the most comprehensively boring of early dark age church confabulations and absent any detectable sense of humor.

    My main regret as far as the Flashman series goes is that GMF never wrote of Flashy’s adventures in our own Civil War, which sounded from references in other books, as if Flashman conducted himself in the manner which we came to expect of him – that is, purely and basely devoted to the preservation of his own skin, while dodging, lying, fornicating and back-stabbing on battlefields spread across three continents, as well as hob-nobbing socially or sexually with all sorts of likely participants. As one early reviewer put it, Flashy saw 19th century history briefly over his shoulder as he fled down the corridors of power at high speed. His adventures in our very own Civil War would have been … interesting, although when I touched on this matter before, a reader pointed out that a) Flashy was a British officer and hardly gave a toss as to what we recalcitrant ex-Colonials got up to, and that b) that all our native ACW experts, amateur and professional alike would have made passionate objection to any error or omission, fancied or with historical backing that GMF might have worked into the plot. So, the effort wouldn’t have been worth the candle to him … although I and most of his fans would have loved to read it anyway. Just to see the process by how Flashy got suckered into participation by Abraham Lincoln, fought on both sides, and wound up being pals with George Armstrong Custer and well-acquainted with General Grant, and how many other Civil War notables.

    I myself would have loved to see Flashy entangled in some kind of partnership with Elizabeth Van Lew, the Richmond spy queen, or perhaps a much deeper entanglement with Allan Pinkerton, of the national detective agency … it all would have been great reading, no matter how contentious the fallout might have been with Civil War historians. His take on Robert E. Lee and other Confederate generals would have been interesting, as well. Because GMF had the eye, an absolute gift for writing 19th century dialog, and loved history enough to go into the deep weeds about it all … and most of all, make it interesting to the reader. Pop media is not downhill from culture, it’s in a symbiotic relationship with it. One shapes the other, mutually.
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    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Culture, Diversions, History, Humor, Media, War and Peace | 21 Comments »

    Pres. Trump Sends Iran’s “Red Napoleon” to Meet The Reaper

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 4th January 2020 (All posts by )

    On Friday night Jan 3, 2020, President Trump directed a successful strike killing IRGC Commander Gen. Qassem Soleiman at the Baghdad International Airport.  Four AGM-114N Metal Augmented Charge (MAC) Thermobaric Hellfire missiles launched from an General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper turned Soleiman’s SUV and his accompanying  security SUV into funeral pyres. [1]

    IRGC Commander Gen. Qassem Soleiman meets three AGM-114N Metal Augmented Charge (MAC) Thermobaric Hellfire missiles launched from a a MQ-9 Reaper Drone

    IRGC Commander Gen. Qassem Soleiman meets three AGM-114N Metal Augmented Charge (MAC) Thermobaric Hellfire missiles launched from an MQ-9 Reaper Drone.  Graphic Source: UK Daily Mail

    See full story at this Daily Mail link:

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7848729/Trump-taunts-Iran-saying-never-won-war-ordering-strike-killed-Soleimani.html

    Some in the media have compared this strike to Operation Vengeance, the American military operation to kill Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy on April 18, 1943.

    The Trump Administration drone strike was in fact far more consequential than Operation Vengeance. If only because of how much more of the IRGC Quds force senior chain of command were eliminated compared to the Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto strike.  And how much more important Gen. Qassem Soleiman was to Iran than Yamamoto was to Imperial Japan.

    Also killed in the strike were Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis also known as Jamal Jafaar Mohammed Ali Āl Ebrahim, the commander of the Iraqi Shia Kata’ib Hezbollah militia and mastermind behind the December 1983 bomb attacks on U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait.

    In additional to Soleiman and al-Muhandis/Āl Ebrahim, also killed were IRGC Brigadier General Hussein Jafari Nia, Major-General Hadi Taremi, LTC. Shahroud Mozaffari Nia and Captain Waheed Zamanian. Nor does the list end there as senior pro-Iranian Iraqi Shia PMF militia leaders Heydar Ali, Muhammed Reza al-Jaberi and Hassan Abdul Hadi, were in the second SUV struck by one of four AGM-114N Hellfire guided missiles fired by the MQ-9 Reaper.

    IRAN’S RED NAPOLEON

    IRGC Commander Gen. Qassem Soleiman was to Iran what Heinrich Himmler, Gen Oberst Kurt Daluege, Gen Ernst Kaltenbrunner and Gen Sepp Dietrich were to Nazi Germany, all rolled into one.

    In many ways Gen. Qassem Soleiman ran Iran’s foreign policy and strategy as principal adviser to the theocratic leadership. Soleiman made his bones in the 1990’s suppressing Iranian student riots in the style of Belisarius and the Nika riots. Post 9/11/2001, he has been orchestrating the killings of US service personnel, is the architect Iran’s proxy forces in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yeman and ran covert ops forces world wide.

    In fact, Gen. Qassem Soleiman was Iran’s “Red Napoleon.

    The idea of “The Red Napoleon” came from the 1929 novel of that name by Floyd Gibbons predicting a Soviet conquest of Europe and invasion of America by The Red Napoleon’s massive multi-racial army. Written as a screed against white racial supremacy, the concept in the Western Left of a 3rd World military leader who could routinely defeat the West over and over again the same way that General and later French Emperor Bonaparte Napoleon did to the leaders of Western Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century has hung on in the Left’s Noosphere [2] in the decades since.

    If anyone was a “Red Napoleon” in the 21st century,  Gen. Qassem Soleiman was that man.

    On January 12, 2016, two United States Navy riverine command boats were seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy after they entered Iranian territorial waters near Iran's Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. The subsiquent release was hailed by the Obama administration as an unintended benefit of the new diplomatic relationship.

    On January 12, 2016, two United States Navy riverine command boats were seized by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy after they entered Iranian territorial waters near Iran’s Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. The subsequent release was hailed by the Obama administration as an unintended benefit of the new diplomatic relationship. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_U.S.%E2%80%93Iran_naval_incident

    Gen. Qassem Soleiman was a man from the 3rd World. One who had created and lead a team in the form of the Quds Force that had killed American servicemen in their hundreds, for decades, got a pair of US Navy riverine command boat crews to surrender in humiliation to support Pres. Obama’s “Opening to Iran” and executed  both the Benghazi, Libya and Baghdad, Iraq embassy assaults.

    And Pres. Trump just sent Iran’s “Red Napoleon” to “…meet the Reaper.

    IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani. He was the Iranian government’s “Red Napoleonand was killed by a thermobaric Hellfire missile launched from a MQ-9 Reaper at the orders of President Trump on 3 Jan 2020.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, America 3.0, Americas, Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Civil Society, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, Obama, USA, War and Peace | 89 Comments »

    A Christmas Reading From Thomas Pynchon

    Posted by David Foster on 24th December 2019 (All posts by )

    I’ve always liked this passage from Thomas Pynchon’s great novel Gravity’s Rainbow.

    The setting: it is the grim winter of 1944, just before Christmas. The military situation in Europe is not good, and WWII seems as if it will never end. London is under attack by V-2 rockets and V-1 cruise missiles (as they would be called today.) Roger and Jessica, two of the main characters, are driving in a rural area in England and come upon a church where carols are being sung. They decide to go inside.

    They walked through the tracks of all the others in the snow, she gravely on his arm, wind blowing her hair to snarls, heels slipping once on ice. “To hear the music,” he explained.

    Tonight’s scratch choir was all male, epauletted shoulders visible under the wide necks of white robes, and many faces nearly as white with the exhaustion of soaked and muddy fields, midwatches, cables strummed by the nervous balloons sunfishing in the clouds, tents whose lights inside shone nuclear at twilight, soullike, through the cross-hatched walls, turning canvas to fine gauze, while the wind drummed there…..The children are away dreaming, but the Empire has no place for dreams and it’s Adults Only in here tonight, here in this refuge with the lamps burning deep, in pre-Cambrian exhalation, savory as food cooking, heavy as soot. And 60 miles up the rockets hanging the measureless instant over the black North Sea before the fall, ever faster, to orange heat, Christmas star, in helpless plunge to Earth. Lower in the sky the flying bombs are out too, roaring like the Adversary, seeking whom they may devour. It’s a long walk home tonight. Listen to this mock-angel singing, let your communion be at least in listening, even if they are not spokesmen for your exact hopes, your exact, darkest terror, listen. There must have been evensong here long before the news of Christ. Surely for as long as there have been nights bad as this one–something to raise the possibility of another night that could actually, with love and cockcrows, light the path home, banish the Adversary, destroy the boundaries between our lands, our bodies, our stories, all false, about who we are: for the one night, leaving only the clear way home and the memory of the infant you saw, almost too frail, there’s too much shit in these streets, camels and other beasts stir heavily outside, each hoof a chance to wipe him out…….But on the way home tonight, you wish you’d picked him up, held him a bit. Just held him, very close to your heart, his cheek by the hollow of your shoulder, full of sleep. As if it were you who could, somehow, save him. For the moment not caring who you’re supposed to be registered as. For the moment, anyway, no longer who the Caesars say you are.

    O Jesu parvule
    Nach dir is mir so weh…

    So this pickup group, these exiles and horny kids, sullen civilians called up in their middle age…….give you this evensong, climaxing now with its rising fragment of some ancient scale, voices overlapping three and fourfold, filling the entire hollow of the church–no counterfeit baby, no announcement of the Kingdom, not even a try at warming or lighting this terrible night, only, damn us, our scruffy obligatory little cry, our maximum reach outward–praise be to God!–for you to take back to your war-address, your war-identity, across the snow’s footprints and tire tracks finally to the path you must create by yourself, alone in the dark. Whether you want it or not, whatever seas you have crossed, the way home…

    Posted in Christianity, History, Holidays, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    The Old Navy, by Daniel Pratt Mannix III

    Posted by David Foster on 16th December 2019 (All posts by )

    Admiral Mannix served in the Spanish-American War, the conflicts in Cuba and the Philippines, and the First World War.  His career spanned the years of America’s emergence as a major player on the world stage, and this book offers memorable portraits of the Navy and of America…and of much of the world…during this period.

    After spending his childhood in China (his father was a torpedo expert working for the Chinese government), Mannix entered the US Naval Academy in 1885. When the battleship Maine blew up in Havana harbor and the Spanish-American war erupted in 1898, he requested permission to leave the Academy early, and joined the battleship USS Indianapolis.

    The war resulted in a rapid American victory, despite some serious deficiencies in the American conduct of operations (such as the failure to use smokeless powder), and Mannix observed the sad passage of the Spanish admiral into American captivity, in an open boat, wearing civilian clothes loaned to him by an American captain and with his head lowered in deep dejection: “I was never so sorry for anyone in my life.”  He was impressed by the exquisite courtesy of a badly-wounded Spanish officer who had lost a leg:

    As though making his adieux after an enjoyable evening, he thanked us for our “hospitality” (no, he wasn’t being sarcastic) and expressed his profound regret for the annoyance that his unfortunate arrival had caused…I have met men of all nationalities during my years in the Navy; in “good breeding” none of them could equal the upper-class Spaniards.

    After returning to Annapolis, Mannix graduated in 1900, and he sketches what life was like in America at the turn of the last century: some of the popular songs and comedy acts, the Gibson Girl (“the loveliest of all feminine ideas”, in his view), but also the fear of riots and attempted revolution when President McKinley was assassinated in 1901…New York’s ‘streetcar rowdies’, who molested women and beat up any man who tried to stop them…and a riot in Pensacola’s red-light district which involved civilians, soldiers, and sailors (“a far rougher lot than today’s bluejackets”) and which Mannix led a landing party to suppress.

    In 1903, Mannix was assigned to a “friendly mission” of four warships to German ports, as ordered by Theodore Roosevelt.  “These ‘friendship tours’ were quite common in those days and paradoxically served a dual purpose:  they reminded the foreign power that we had a powerful Navy that could reach their home waters while at the same time allowed the people to meet Americans and learn that we were not all strange, uncivilized barbarians.”

    Assigned as an aide on the Admiral’s staff, aboard the battleship Kearsage, he met many German officers and found them mostly friendly.  The Kaiser also visited Kearsage, and Mannix was impressed that he chatted with the enlisted men as well the officers.  “Much to my surprise, he showed a sense of humor.”

    One potentially-disastrous incident involved a collision between a German (or at least Prussian) custom:  civilians on the street were supposed to give way to any uniform-wearing officer…and an American naval custom:  officers generally did not wear their uniforms when ashore.  This collision of customs lead to a physical collision, followed by the use of fists by the American officer, and a challenge to a duel.  The situation could have led to a serious diplomatic incident had it not been defused.

    Throughout his travels, Mannix enjoyed meeting people from other countries…a view that he says was far from universal.  Speaking of a luncheon given by the Lord Mayor of London, he says, “To my astonishment, most of the junior officers were reluctant to attend the luncheon and would far  rather have spent their time playing cards together or chatting in the wardroom mess.”

    Some of the officers he met at the luncheon were members of the First Life Guards, an “elite” regiment that was open only to the wealthy and titled…”Kipling referred to them contemptuously as the “fatted flunkies of the Army.”  But:

    Twenty years later I was in Constantinople and the Household Brigade of the British Army was stationed there.  I looked over the list to see if I could recognize any old acquaintances.  Among all those names there were only two or three who had titles…Where were all those young earls and baronets and honorables?  They were dead.  Most of them had died in August 1914 during the terrible retreat from Mons when the old British Regular Army virtually ceased to exist.  They were not “fatted flunkies” there.”

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    Posted in Americas, Britain, China, Europe, Germany, History, Middle East, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 22 Comments »

    Business Stories

    Posted by David Foster on 8th December 2019 (All posts by )

    We’ve talked before here about the point that most fiction seems to be about people who are lawyers, policemen, criminals, soldiers, spies, students, politicians, and noble but struggling writers. But there are indeed some works of fiction, and some vivid personal memoirs, in which business plays a central role without being portrayed simplistically or as stereotypically evil. Here are some that I like…please add your own favorites in the comments.  (I posted this at Ricochet, in slightly different form, about a week ago)

    The Current War, a recent movie about the late-1800s power struggle to determine which technology…AC or DC…will dominate America’s electrical distribution system. Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla are the key characters, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, and Nicholas Hoult respectively. My review is here.

    The Big Short, a 2015 film about the 2007-2008 financial crisis, based on Michael Lewis’s book. A hedge fund manager concludes that the subprime-loan market is not sustainable, and makes a billion-dollar bet against the relevant mortgage-backed securities. Based on real events. I thought it was very well done.

    God is an Englishman, R F Delderfield. Following his return to England from the Crimean War, Adam Swann identifies a business opportunity: although railroads are being built throughout the country, there will always be sources and destinations of freight which are not on the tracks. Hence, the potential for a nationwide gap-filling road haulage business based on the systematic use of horse-drawn wagons. (This is the first book of a three-book series called the Swann Family Saga.)  Reviewed here.

    Oil for the Lamps of China, Alice Tisdale Hobart. This 1933 novel is about a young American working as a sales rep in China, focused on selling oil for his employer (unnamed, but clearly based on Standard Oil) and increasing volumes by promoting the kerosene lamp as a better alternative to traditional lighting methods. The book was the basis for a 1935 movie of the same name…the film has its moments, but overall is not worthy of the book.

    Father, Son, and Company, by Thomas Watson Jr. This is the best business autobiography I’ve read. It’s about Watson Jr (the long-time CEO of IBM), his difficult relationship with his father, the company they built, and the emergence of the computing industry. It is an emotional, reflective, and self-critical book, without the kind of “here’s how brilliant I was” tone that afflicts too many executive autobiographies. I reviewed it here.

    A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe. The central character of this 1988 novel is Charlie Croker, an Atlanta real-estate developer who has gotten himself into way too much debt. Other characters include Charlie’s current and former wives, the Black mayor of Atlanta, the bankers who must deal with the debt problem, and a warehouse worker at one of the Croker enterprises. The book also casts a not-very-complimentary light on the Atlanta society/arts scene.

    Trial by Fire, Stephen Buck. The adventures of a Honeywell field engineer in the early days of process-control computing. The book’s title reflects the point that the industrial processes being controlled frequently involved combustion, sometimes in scary circumstances. Much of the author’s work took place outside the US, in countries ranging from Poland to Brazil.

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    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Aviation, Biography, Book Notes, Britain, Business, Economics & Finance, Film, Tech, Transportation, War and Peace | 8 Comments »

    The Forgotten and Buried Intelligence Lessons of Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 7th December 2019 (All posts by )

    December 7th 2019 is the 78th anniversary of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s surprise Pearl Harbor attack on the capitol ship battle line of the US Pacific Fleet.  After that attack there was a round of American elite political and military leaders a collective swearing of “Never Again.”  That is, “Never again will the USA be so surprised by a foreign enemy.”

    Pearl Harbor Through Japanese bomb sights

    This is what Pearl Harbor looked like through Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force (IJNAF) bomb sights on December 7th 1941.

    Yet despite that, America has indeed been “surprised” in exactly the way of Pearl Harbor repeatedly since 1941.  The Korean war is one example five years after WW2 ended.  The Soviet Invasions of both Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan in 1968 and 1979 are two others   It was certainly an intelligence surprise on 9/11/2001 with the attacks on the World Trade Center in NY City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C.,  and the “surprise” of there being few/no Weapons of Mass destruction in post 2003 Iraq, and Iran’s recent drone and cruise missile attack on Saudi Arabian oil refining facilities.

    The reason for this pattern of failure boils down to the forgotten and unlearned  — frankly impossible for American elites to learn —  intelligence lessons of Pearl Harbor.  Those unlearned lessons being that the interlocking  patron-client political relations inside the American federal civil government, military and intelligence organizations lead to narrow self-interested group think over the concerns of outside reality.  And that this tendency towards self-interested group think is at its absolute worse when facing a foreign enemy with a police state internal security system that is running a campaign of strategic deception and denial.

    If that “worst case” foreign enemy sounds a lot like Imperial Japan, the People’s Republic of North Korea, China, the Soviet Union, Iraq and Iran. It means you have paid attention to both American history since Pearl Harbor and to current events.

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    Posted in Big Government, Current Events, History, International Affairs, Japan, Korea, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 52 Comments »

    The Collapse of Atomic Diplomacy…Again?

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 26th November 2019 (All posts by )

    The end of the Pacific War historiography of “Atomic Diplomacy” seems destined for a second round of debunking, after the 1980’s declassification of WW2 Ultra files, with what looks like a “Jon Parchell talking to Japanese scholars about Commander Mitsuo Fuchida’s version of Midway” moment. [1]

    That is, an accepted American Pacific War historiography is about to be ‘up ended’ by Japanese language scholarship little/unknown in English language for years after its appearance. In this particular case, the ‘scholarship’ is a 2011 NHK documentary titled as follows:

     “Atomic bombing – top secret information that was never utilized”

    原爆投下 活(い)かされなかった極秘情報

    Original link:

    http://www.nhk.or.jp/special/onair/110806.html

    Currently accessible link:

    https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xkev97

    Atomic Bomb Pit #2 - B-29 BocksCar Loading Site

    Atomic Bomb Pit #2 – B-29 BocksCar’s Loading Site on Tinian.  This was the plane that killed Nagasaki.  Japanese intelligence tracked it, but Japanese military leaders could not bring themselves to stop it.

    The NHK documentary answers questions that “Atomic Diplomacy” has never bothered to ask.  Specifically “What did the Imperial Japanese Military & Government know about the American nuclear weapon program, when did it know it, and what did it do about it.”

    NHK’s documentary lays out the following:

    1. The Japanese military knew of the Manhattan project in 1943 and started its own nuclear weapons programs (IJA & IJN) as a result.[2]
    2. The Imperial Japanese Military gave up these nuclear programs in June 1945. [3]
    3. The Imperial Japanese Military & Foreign Ministry were informed of the American Atomic test on July 16, 1945 and refused to believe it was a nuclear detonation.
    4. The code breakers of the Imperial Japanese Army had been tracking the combat operations of the 509th Composite Group including both A-bomb drops.[4] The Imperial General Staff was told of the special message to Washington DC for the Hiroshima attack, sat on the information, and warned no one.
    5. The Imperial General Staff repeated this non-communication performance for the 2nd nuclear attack on Nagasaki.

    Not having Japanese language skills myself, I had a link to a 2013 English language translations of the documentary sent to me by an acquaintance.

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    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Miscellaneous, National Security, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »

    Sunday at the Civil War

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 25th November 2019 (All posts by )

    Last weekend, at the folklore event at the Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture, I was talking to one of the other participants – yes, there were a good few 19th-century reenactors there, all in costume – and mentioned that I wanted to get some good pictures of Civil War reenactors; some images that might be worked into creating the cover for the next book. I had been thinking of a combat scene, with an artistic effect to make it look rather like one of those Currier and Ives Civil War battle prints … only without the need of paying a bomb for the rights. The reenactor – who was performing as a snake-oil medicine show entrepreneur, looked at me and recommended the Civil War weekend at the Liendo Plantation – a blip on the map of eastern Texas some forty miles short of Houston. It was, he said, one of the biggest and best-attended Civil War reenactor events in Texas, with artillery and cavalry and all, on the grounds of a lovely and historic old plantation house … and it would be the very next weekend. A weekend where we had nothing really planned. I went home, looked it up, plotted out the drive … and said; let’s do it.
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    Posted in Americas, Diversions, History, Military Affairs, Texas, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Who’s Your Baghdaddy?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 30th October 2019 (All posts by )

    It is deeply, solidly ironic that at almost the very hour that US forces were bagging Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, fearless leader of the ISIL/ISIS-established caliphate in the Middle East, that the catastrophically-unfunny cast of Saturday Night Live had just finished ragging on President Trump for supposedly coddling ISIS by pulling out of Syria. There hasn’t been a case of timing this bad since 70ies Weatherman terrorist-turned-educator Bill Ayres launched his memoir of bomb-building and social mayhem the very week that Osama Bin Laden’s merry crew of jihadis murdered nearly 3,000 Americans and others in a single day, on September 11th, 2001. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Current Events, International Affairs, Islam, Leftism, Media, Middle East, Military Affairs, Terrorism, War and Peace | 40 Comments »