That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler - We Are The Mighty
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That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler


The history of WWII is brimming with legends of incredible heroism, death-defying bravery and sometimes, stories that are just too ridiculous to be true.

The tale of Jasper Maskelyne, the British magician who joined the Royal Engineers once the King declared war on Germany, dances on the line of the third category.

Many people believe that Maskelyne’s “war contributions” are mostly tall tales that have grown more and more fantastical over time, while others contest that his feats of deception are completely factual and actually happened. We may never know for sure how much of history’s account of Maskelyne’s contributions are folklore because there are very few pictures detailing his accomplishments, which is exactly why so many people are skeptical.

Whether or not the illusionist was the real deal or just smoke and mirrors, the story of his contributions to the Allied war effort are too incredible to ignore.

Maskelyne had magic in his blood — he was a third-generation illusionist, so you could say that being awesome ran in his family. He also really, really hated Hitler. Because of this, rather than enlist as a common foot soldier or sailor when Britain began to gear up for WWII, he wanted to offer a flashier form of service: military magician. For whatever reason, the Allies thought that they could actually benefit from having a magic man amongst their ranks, and promoted Maskelyne to major.

But they didn’t stop there — Maskelyne was allowed to assemble a team of the best artists, tricksters, engineers and illusionists around to help him pull off his stunts. The team’s official title was the A-Force, nicknamed “The Magic Gang,” as if The A-Force wasn’t cool enough.

The one and only objective of the A-Force was simple: take down Hitler and the Axis powers in the coolest way possible. Or, to put it simply, to win the war with magic.

And we’re not talking the lame sleight-of-hand card trick stuff you saw on a cruise that one time with your mom. Though, that is apparently what British command was expecting when they brought him on the team. At first Maskelyne was merely used as a troop entertainer, a cheap way to boost morale between training sessions and military operations.

Maskelyne was not down with this. And here is where the first instance of did-he-or-didn’t-he history comes into play. According to history, Maskelyne convinced the Allies to use him for bigger and better things by creating a fake version of the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee and floating it down the river Thames for everyone to see.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

How did he do it? Reportedly with an inflatable model and mirrors situated to enlarge the fake ship, making it appear as if it were really as big as the German watercraft. The Allies were apparently impressed, and decided to actually let Maskelyne do what they had promised him in the first place. This piece of history is particularly questionable because there are no photos of the model, but is one of the more entertaining pieces of Maskelyne’s repertoire.

Once he was formally accepted by his higher-ups, it was time to dazzle them with his first and arguably biggest trick for the Allied war effort: hiding the Suez Canal.

If you think this sounds impossible then you’re pretty much correct — the landmark is so recognizable and large that it wouldn’t be possible to actually hide the canal with tarps or create a faux canal as a decoy.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
The Suez Canal in WWII

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
A more recent look at the landmark

In order to protect this vital body of water from German bombers, they would need a much flashier strategy — literally. Knowing that the Germans carried out their air raids at night, Maskelyne decided that the best means of distracting the bombers would be to try and blind them, or, more realistically, at least make it more difficult for them to find their target.

The Magic Gang supposedly built a system of rotating searchlights and mirrors that created beams of light that were nearly ten miles across, washing whatever came into its path with blinding white light. However, many still debate whether or not this event was actually carried out, or if Maskelyne was even directly involved with the project itself.

Still, the story is pretty dang awesome, and there are several other accounts of Maskelyne’s hijinks during the war that have been recorded.

Now when’s the movie coming out?

NOW: The crazy story of the man who fought for Finland, the Nazis, and US Army Special Forces

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5 things every boot should know before dating a local

All motivated newbie boots — fresh out of months of rigorous training — have one agenda: excel at work, drink some beer, and find a local.


Since most lower enlisted troops lack transportation, straying too far away from base isn’t ideal — taxis and Ubers can get expensive.

So showing up at the closest watering hole from your barracks room is probably going to be your best bet.

Related: 7 tips for getting away with fraternization

Once you step off base and meet that potentially special someone, here’s a few pointers before you go full steam ahead:

1. Wrap it up

You may have built up pounds and pounds of muscle these last few months in training, but it only takes a microscopic bacterium to bring all that strength crashing down.

Don’t be a fool, wrap your tool. (Image via Giphy)If you do hook up with someone soon after meeting them, don’t expect to be their first (even if that’s what they told you).

2. Cultural

As a newbie, you might get stationed overseas in a foreign country where the lifestyles and customs can be very different. Make sure you do a little reconnaissance on the do’s and don’t’s or you might send the wrong message at the dinner table.

We told you so. (Images via Giphy)

3. Background check

We’re not suggesting you conduct a full scale credit and background check on your date, but it couldn’t hurt.

We’re saying to casually ask what mommy and daddy do for a living because many young guys and gals who you’ll meet near the base have parents who served.

You don’t want to hit on someone and find out later you broke the heart of the general’s son or daughter.

Congrats, you’re going to be an E-3 for the rest of your career. (Images via Giphy)

4. Putting ring on it

No offense to all the average looking service members out there, but if you are stationed in a foreign country and you hook up with a “10,” they might be trying to find a way to the states and gain citizenship.

Let’s face it, life would be pretty sweet…until she swears in then takes off. (Images via Giphy)

5. Financial security

Dating and then marrying a service member has some pretty good financial benefits; be careful of who you let into that world.

It happens more than you think. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 5 things you should know before diving into a ‘contract marriage’

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

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Here’s what it takes to guard the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’

Every year, approximately 4 million people travel to Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our great country. Most gather in solemn awe at the historic site of “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” standing atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C.


If you plan your visit accordingly, you may get to witness the awesomeness that is the changing of the guard, which occurs every 30-minutes during the hot summer and every hour during the cold winter.

Related: This is the story behind the pre-inauguration wreath laying ceremony

In April of 1948, the 3rd US Infantry Regiment proudly took on the responsibility of guarding the tomb 24-hours day. Being a sentinel guard isn’t just about walking back and forth keeping a close eye out, it takes professionalism, honor, and most importantly commitment as one must volunteer for the role.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Tomb Sentinels at the Changing of the Guard, Arlington National Cemetery. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Prospects are hand-selected after volunteering and undergo either a 2 or 4 week TDY to learn rifle precision, uniform maintenance, and marching, as well as to, memorize seven pages of knowledge. Verbatim.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Sentinel prospect practice drill marching together before heading out for their watch. (Source: 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment/Screenshot)

On average, 60% of the hopefuls will not graduate, but those who do complete the training will move on and become “Newman”.

Newmans assist sentinels prior to guard changes, maintain their uniforms, and must endure three more tests before earning their future position. The entire training takes six to nine months and has a fail rate of 90%.

Sentinels stand a 27-hour guard shift, walking their post a dozen times. Contrary to popular belief, they are allowed to verbally discipline tomb visitors.

Check out 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment‘s video for more behind the scenes of what it take to guard the tomb.

(3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, YouTube)
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7 ways military rations used to be a lot better

Military scientists work tirelessly to make modern rations as light, nutritious, and healthy as possible for the warfighter. But they don’t seem to care about them being awesome at all. Here are 7 things they’ve removed from the menu that modern troops may enjoy.


1. Liquor

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Photo: Wikipedia/Bbadgett

From the Revolutionary War through 1832, soldiers received a “spirits ration” of rum, brandy, or whiskey. The standard spirits ration was replaced with coffee and sugar, but leaders could still order special alcohol rations for their soldiers until 1865 when an order from the War Department discontinued the practice.

2. Cigarettes

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Photo: US Army Signal Corps

Cigarettes were included in soldier rations from World War II until 1975.

3. Meals made almost entirely of candy

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Photo: Wikipedia/Hershey’s

The assault ration of World War II contained chocolate, caramel, chewing gum, peanuts, and dried fruit as well as cigarettes, salt tablets, and water-purification tablets. They provided between 1,500 and 2,000 calories but were obviously lacking in important nutrients like protein, vitamins, and everything else that isn’t sugar.

4. Spice packs

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Photo: US Army Signal Corps

Expert field cooks know to bring packets of spices with them to the field, but soldiers used to have them issued. The smallest pack was devised in World War II and served 100 soldiers for 10 days, so soldiers still had to make it to the company headquarters or higher to use the spices.

5. Field cooking equipment

Troops in the Revolutionary War through the Civil War were issued cooking gear. Usually, one out of every five or so soldiers would receive the cooking gear and soldiers would cook as a group. This allowed them to add ingredients they found on the march by just tossing them into the pot.

6. Soap

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Photo: Wikipedia

Troops today are expected to wash with baby wipes collected from care packages and purchased from the exchange, but soldiers from the Revolutionary War through World War II got soap in their rations. The quantity issued varied between .183 ounces up to .64 ounces per day.

7. Extremely high-calorie rations

MREs contain about 1,250 calories each and troops can eat three per day on operations for 3,750 calories. Back in World War II, the Army issued rations with 4,800 calories per person, per day, so there were probably fewer complaints about still being hungry after the meal. But these weren’t nice presents from the Army. These were “Mountain Rations” designed specifically for men cross-country skiing and mountain climbing. There was a similar ration for jungle combat that contained 4,000 calories.

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How the US went from a bunch of colonies to super power in under 10 minutes

For those Americans interested in U.S. history and how the rise of American power affected global politics, have we found a gem for you.


A big hint: it involved purchasing land. Also, there were some invasions.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
I’m sure there are caissons in there somewhere.

Also Read: This mistress tried to get the future President to back Germany in WWI

American foreign policy has come a long way, evolving from the country from the foundation of the American experiment in democracy to the global superpower as we know it. Military and economic power at home not only affect how America sees the world and deals with other nations but also how those countries interact with the U.S.

Many of us know America is a country founded on war with the idea that we, if left to our own devices, could co-exist peacefully with the world and be a responsible player on the world stage. For the most part, we were right. Our early, limited wars we fought with a sense of necessity – to keep the seas free for American merchants to conduct trade and to affirm our independence from the British Empire.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
The British agreed to back off so long as Andrew Jackson was confined to one continent.

But not every American politician was content with this philosophy.

If the United States had kept every country it invaded, purchased every territory it negotiated, and acquired all the land ever proposed by American politicians, it might span the globe today. Countries like the Philippines, Iceland, Nicaragua, Cuba, and territories like Greenland have all caught American’s attention at some point.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
America has a wandering eye. (Quartz – qz.com)

Politicians met with mixed success on acquiring these lands, of course. But the 20th century brought with it great power and great responsibility.

The digital news website Vox made this outstanding explainer video on just how we came from a confederation of colonies to a global superpower – and what might be next with the incoming President, who is known to think a little different.

Watch the video below, and visit Vox’s YouTube page for more. There’s a lot of great history there.

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This WWII vet inspired almost every comic strip in your Sunday funnies

In the cartooning world, Peanuts is the gold standard – the bar of humor and longevity every comic strip hopes to achieve. But even a great like Peanuts creator Charles M. Schultz has his heroes. Schultz went into the Army during WWII, and although his service wasn’t glamorous, he slogged through the mud like every other GI.


Schultz wasn’t a wartime correspondent, but his hero, Bill Mauldin, was. Because many WWII-era troops in Europe experienced hardships similar to Schultz’ – the mud and privation among others – it was no surprise that Mauldin’s comic lampooning of the situation (and not the war) caught on with the guys on the ground.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

Mauldin became the hero for many GIs like Schultz fighting in Europe, but it was Schultz who honored Mauldin every Veteran’s Day by dressing Snoopy in his service blues to quaff a few root beers at Bill Mauldin’s place.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

William Henry “Bill” Mauldin was a cartoonist and the creator of Willie Joe, the most beloved comic strip ever to come out of the war. It was featured in Stars and Stripes and read by just about every GI in the European Theater. Willie Joe was a single panel comic (think The Far Side and Ziggy) featuring two every day Joes living the daily life of troops fighting the Nazis. Before making it to Stars and Stripes Mauldin, “the fighting cartoonist,” was on the ground in Europe. He landed on the beaches of Sicily in 1943. This dedication to authenticity gave his work the realism with which every American soldier could relate.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Fighting Cartoonist Sgt. Mauldin at work.

His sketches appeared in his division paper before he became a full-fledged combat correspondent. He preferred to draw ideas from experience and stayed close to the front, to the Willies and Joes fighting the war. He was even on the sharp end of German mortars, wounded at Monte Cassino in 1943, which only lent more authenticity to Willie Joe. 

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

There was one soldier who was less than a fan of Mauldin’s (to put it mildly). General George S. Patton frequently complained to Supreme Allied Headquarters about the cartoon and the cartoonist. He believed the unkempt appearances of Willie and Joe were a disgrace to the Army and subverted discipline. Patton repeatedly called for Mauldin’s dismissal, but luckily for Mauldin and the troops in Europe (and anyone who appreciates humor), the fighting cartoonist was protected from on high by General Dwight D. Eisenhower himself. Mauldin c to skewer anything and everything in his cartoons.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

Eventually, Willie Joe became so popular that stateside newspapers began to feature the duo in regular publications. Civilians not only loved the comic, but it helped them understand the everyday struggles faced by troops fighting the war (at least the ones in Europe).

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

In 1945, Mauldin’s work earned him a Legion of Merit and the Pulitzer Prize. Willie Joe would grace the cover of Time magazine as Mauldin published a collection of 600 comics in a book called “Up Front.” The book was an instant best-seller. He kept writing comics right up until VE-Day.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

After the war, Mauldin continued work as a writer and cartoonist, eventually going to the Chicago Sun-Times as a staff member. He won another Pulitzer in 1961 and penned more than one cartoon, including one on November 22, 1963. When he heard about Kennedy’s death, he rushed back to work and drew this iconic panel, depicting President Lincoln (with hair like Kennedy’s) mourning the loss.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

Mauldin sketched Willie and Joe only a few times after the war. His work influenced many of the famous cartoonists of the 20th century, including Charles M. Schultz, who always referred to Mauldin as his hero. In fact, the last time Mauldin ever drew the dogface duo, they appeared in a Peanuts strip with Snoopy.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

Bill Mauldin died in 2003 and the loss was felt (and depicted) by cartoonists all over the United States, a testament to the lasting memory of  the fearless “Fighting Cartoonist.”

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

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Meet the zombie ISIS leader who seems to never die

A US military commander said on Aug. 31 that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is probably still alive and hiding in the Euphrates River valley between Iraq and Syria.


“We’re looking for him every day. I don’t think he’s dead,” Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the counter-IS coalition, said in a conference call with reporters.

Townsend said he didn’t “have a clue” where Baghdadi is precisely, but he believes the reclusive extremist leader may have fled with other IS militants to the river valley region after IS lost control of its former bastions in Mosul, Tal Afar, and parts of Raqqa.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
US Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve commanding general, speaks with Airmen, Marines, and coalition personnel thanking them for the many contributions in support of OIR during an all-call. USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Andy M. Kin.

“The last stand of ISIS will be in the Middle Euphrates River Valley,” Townsend said, using another well-known acronym for the extremist group. “When we find him, I think we’ll just try to kill him first. It’s probably not worth all the trouble to try and capture him.”

There have been reports of Baghdadi’s death as recently as June, when the Russian Army said it was trying to verify whether he died in an air strike in Syria.

“I’ve seen no convincing evidence, intelligence, or open-source or other rumor or otherwise that he’s dead,” said Townsend. “There are also some indicators in intelligence channels that he’s still alive.”

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SEAL Team 6 vet agrees to pay feds profit from bin Laden raid book

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler


After a four-year legal battle, Matthew Bissonnette, a former member of the elite SEAL Team 6 who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, has agreed to forfeit to the Justice Department all of the proceeds from “No Easy Day,” his first-person account of the raid written under the pen name “Mark Owen.”

“I acted on the advice of my former attorney, but I now fully recognize that his advice was wrong,” Bissonnette wrote in a formal apology, as reported by NPR. “It was a serious error that I urge others not to repeat.”

“No Easy Day,” co-written by military journalist Kevin Maurer, was the first public account from someone who actually participated in the high-profile raid to kill the al Qaeda leader. That impact was enhanced by the fact that not only did it deal with the killing of the terrorist mastermind, but it was written by a member of SEAL Team 6, the one of the nation’s top special operations units whose methods and techniques are highly classified and seldom written about.

The book was a bestseller, and that as much as anything is what got the author in trouble with the Pentagon. Officials claimed that Bissonnette had violated a non-disclosure agreement he’d signed as a Navy commando and also failed to have the book’s manuscript reviewed by proper authorities before it was published.

“Ironically, Matt didn’t want the book to be about him,” co-author Maurer said in an exclusive interview with WATM. “He always intended for it to be a tribute to his teammates and one that would allow readers to truly understand what SEALs do. It was also supposed to be a nod to the CIA, helicopter pilots, and Rangers — all the elements of these sorts of missions.”

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler

Maurer, who sat down with Bissonnette in Virginia Beach five days a week for a month recording the story before writing it out, said the former SEAL was focused on security.

“He was never cavalier about the details,” Maurer said. “We talked a lot about things we weren’t going to include. It was a conscious decision.”

After experiencing firsthand the hew and cry from veterans — as well as members of the special operations community displeased that one of their own had broken ranks by socializing their tactical world on a grand scale — Maurer said he understood the Justice Department ruling. But he added that “the real travesty is that the money [estimated at more that $6 million according to court documents, as reported by NPR] is now going to the government instead of veteran charities as Matt had always intended.”

Bissonnette’s current lawyer, Robert Luskin, hinted that his client had been made a scapegoat by government officials embarrassed by the information that has come out about the bin Laden raid and other operations in the wake of “No Easy Day” landing on shelves.

“The government has a right to keep its secrets and to enforce procedures that are designed to protect them from inadvertent disclosure,” Luskin said in a statement. “But it is shameful that — of all the people who leaked, talked, whispered and backgrounded about the mission — Matt Bissonnette, who risked his life to make it a success, is the only one to pay a price.”

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Navy personnel chief to sailors: you have a voice in ratings overhaul

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Chief petty officers stand at attention during a chief pinning ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Sept. 16, 2016, in the Atlantic Ocean. | U.S. Navy photo by Christopher Gaines


Vice Adm. Robert Burke is the chief of naval personnel. He assumed the role in May and is responsible for the planning and programming of all manpower, personnel, training and education resources for the U.S. Navy. This views expressed in this commentary are his own.

There has been a lot of discussion since we announced the Navy’s rating modernization plan on Sept. 29. I’ve been following the conversation closely, and it’s clear that many were surprised by this announcement.

While there is rarely a right or perfect time to roll out a plan as significant and ambitious as this rating modernization effort, I firmly believe this change needs to occur, and now is the right time to do so. Throughout our rich, 241-year history, the U.S. Navy’s consistent advantage has come from its Sailors. You are our asymmetric advantage in an increasingly complex world — you are our prized possession, our secret weapon. In recognition of that, we continuously work to ensure that we develop and deploy our Sailors in the most modern and effective system possible. This is just our latest effort to modernize our personnel system — one of hundreds we’ve made in the past.

The objectives of this effort are simple: flexibility, flexibility and flexibility. First, we will provide flexibility in what a Sailor can do in our Navy, by enabling career moves between occupations to ensure continued advancement opportunity and upward mobility as the needs of a rapidly adapting Navy change. Second, we will provide flexibility in assignment choice — a Sailor with the right mix of plug-and-play skills will have more choices for ship type, home port, timing, sea/shore rotation, even special and incentive pays! Finally, we will provide you more flexibility after you leave the Navy, by providing civilian credentialing opportunities — in other words, giving you credit in the civilian job market for your Navy education and experience.

This effort will take us several years to complete, and we will include you in the process as we work through it — we’re just getting started and you will be involved as we go. Many questions remain unanswered, and we’ll get to them — together. There will be fleet involvement throughout.

Here’s the rough breakdown of the project, as we see it today:

— Phase 1 (now through September 2017) — redefine career fields and map out cross-occupation opportunities. Identify career groupings to define those rating moves that can be done, and that also translate to civilian occupational certifications.

— Phase 2 (now through September 2018, will run parallel with Phase 1) — examine the best way forward for how we best align our processes for:

  • Recruiting and initial job classification;
  • Planning for accessions — the numbers and mix of skills for folks we recruit;
  • Advancements — how do we define what is required for advancement if you are capable of several skill sets? Do we eliminate advancement exams altogether?
  • Detailing processes;
  • Pay processes — to include things like SRB, Assignment Incentive Pay, etc.; and
  • Reenlistment rules.

— Phase 3 (now through September 2018) — updating underlying policy documents, instructions, things like applicable BUPERSINST, OPNAVINST, and the Navy Enlisted Occupational Standards Manual. This will include changes to how we handle things like Evaluations and Awards.

— Phase 4 (began last year, expect to go through September 2019) — identify and put in place the underlying IT systems. This is probably the most complex and game changing aspect of the project.

— Phase 5 (September 2017 through September 2018) — redesign the Navy rating badges. The idea is to hold off on this until we settle on the right definition of career fields, to better inform the conversation on the way ahead in this area.

— Phase 6 (September 2019 and beyond) — continuous improvement, further integration with all Sailor 2025 initiatives.

I am committed to ensuring you have a voice in the way ahead. Toward that end, I am aggressively expanding the membership and avenues of communication into the Navy-wide working group that has been assembled to tackle this project. As we go forward, your feedback matters and we want to hear from you during each phase of the transformation. You can expect lots of discussion on this as we learn and adapt the plan to make it deliver on the objectives. Have conversations with your Senior Enlisted Leaders, who are armed with how to move those conversations forward. You also have a direct line to me in order to make sure your ideas are heard — send them to NavyRatingMod@gmail.com.

We are proud members of numerous different tribes within the Navy — our occupations, warfare specialties, ships and squadrons — we must always remember that there is one Sailor’s Creed and we are one NAVY TEAM supporting and defending our Nation. This modernization will make us more capable as individuals and a Navy.

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6 mind-blowing tactical tricks that turned the tide of wars

Technology and manpower never guarantee a military victory by themselves. And neither can tactics and strategy — sometimes, it takes an extra measure of trickery and subterfuge to swing the tide on the battlefield.


A group of Quora users sought to answer the question “What are the most mind-blowing tricks used during any war?” The answers provide a fascinating insight into some of the minds responsible for the most ingenious successes in the history of war.

1. Operation Mincemeat

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Lt. Longini | U.S. Army Signal Corps

During World War II, the British launched a successful disinformation plan called Operation Mincemeat. The operation was created in an effort to convince the Germans that the Allies planned on invading Sardinia and Greece — instead of Sicily, where they actually landed in July 1943.

The operation was carried out successfully by obtaining the corpse of a homeless man in London, who was then given a false identity as a major in the Royal Marines. This man was then given false plans documenting an invasion of Sardinia and Greece, before being thrown to the tide off the coast of Spain.

The British alerted the Spanish, who were nominally neutral during the war, to be on the lookout for a British Marine carrying documents that had to be recovered. The papers were promptly handed over to the Nazis by the Spanish and convinced Hitler to reposition troops away from Sicily.

2. Heroin-Laced Cigarettes

The British and Ottomans were locked in extremely slow-moving trench warfare during World War I’s Palestine Campaign. Eventually, the British learned that the Ottomans had run out of cigarettes. In an attempt to demoralize their enemy, the British began sending cigarettes wrapped in propaganda to the Ottomans.

Instead of surrendering, the Ottomans threw away the propaganda and smoked. So, before the British scheduled one raid, they switched tactics and threw over cigarettes laced with heroin.

The British met little opposition from the Ottoman forces during their assault.

3. Moving A Naval Fleet Over Land

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Kusatma Zonaro | Wikipedia

During the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the invading Turks faced a major challenge. The Byzantines had erected a giant chain across the Golden Horn, a stretch of water that connected Constantinople to the sea. This chain effectively blocked the Ottoman navy from making their way to the enemy capital.

In order to overcome the chain, the Ottomans moved their navy overland using log rollers. This allowed the Ottomans to bypass the chain and attack the Byzantines from multiple fronts, ultimately aiding in the capture of the city that’s now called Istanbul.

4. Deceptive Marching

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
James F. Gibson | Wikipedia

During the American Civil War, Confederate General John B. Magruder faced off against Union General George B. McClellan at the Siege of Yorktown. Magruder and the confederate forces were outnumbered by an estimated 4 to 1.

In order to overcome the Union forces, Magruder marched his troops in a repetitive back-and-forth in an effort to convince Union scouts that the Confederate force was larger than it appeared.

The Union was deceived, and halted the assault instead of pushing its advantage. This allowed Magruder time to reinforce his position, leading what would have been a certain Union victory to an inconclusive finish.

5. High-Class Treatment Of POWs — With A Twist

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
Christine Matthews | creativecommons.org

During World War II, the British housed captured senior Nazi officials in a country mansion in England as opposed to a prison camp. The officers were given plenty of food and drink, were allowed to listen to German radio, and were allowed to speak to each other freely.

Unbeknownst to the Nazis, the British had wired the entire mansion and had intelligence personnel working in the basement recording their conversations. The British learned about Nazi strategy and tactics, as well as about relationships between commanders and Hitler within the Nazi army.

6. Cats!

In 525 B.C., the Persians were pushing their empire into Egypt. Knowing that the Egyptians held cats in extremely high regard — and even considered them to be sacred animals — the Persians made use of the felines as a weapon of war, at least according to one ancient source.

During an invasion of Egypt, the Persians painted cats on their shields and brought hundreds of actual cats and other sacred animals onto the front lines during the siege of the Egyptian city of Pelusium.

The Egyptians refused to attack the Persians out of fear that the might injure the cats, allowing the Persians to seize the city.

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White House is trying to free Pakistani doctor who helped bin Laden raid

The Trump administration is trying to facilitate the release of a Pakistani doctor who was jailed for helping the CIA locate Osama Bin-Laden, The Wall Street Journal reports.


The doctor, Shakil Afridi, started a fake vaccination program to both locate bin Laden and attempt to get his DNA. The Pakistani government was particularly displeased with the U.S. for not notifying them of the Navy SEAL raid which killed bin Laden, and jailed Afridi a month after the May 2, 2011, raid. He has been held and sentenced on a series of dubiously legal charges since.

Pakistani officials reportedly want better relations with the U.S. and may even consider giving Afridi a presidential pardon.

“We are trying to accelerate the legal processes,” one official said. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster reportedly raised the matter during a late April visit to Pakistan where Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. expressed the country’s desire “to find a solution.”

Afridi’s lawyer told reporters in 2016 the best hope for his release was U.S. pressure, but that the Obama administration had not shown their support. His lawyer continued that Afridi has languished for much of his sentence in solitary confinement.

“I have no hope of meeting him, no expectation for justice,” he said.

Congress has voted every year since 2011 to withhold millions of dollars in badly needed U.S. aid to Pakistan.

Trump pledged on the five year anniversary of bin Laden’s death that he would get the doctor released “in two minutes,” which drew sharp Pakistani criticism. “Contrary to Mr. Trump’s misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America,” Pakistan’s interior minister said in a statement after Trump’s comments. He continued that Afridi’s future would be decided “by the Pakistani courts and the government of Pakistan and not by Mr. Donald Trump, even if he becomes the president of the United States.”

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Navy SEAL Team 6 members say they are getting worn out from years at war

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks and the launching of the War on Terror, the US has drastically expanded the role of special operators within the military.


Among the operators playing an oversized role, SEAL Team 6 — made particularly famous for the Osama bin Laden raid — has played critical roles in operations ranging from Afghanistan to Iraq to Somalia.

However, this outsized role within the US war machine has contributed to fatigue and serious traumatic injuries within the SEAL Team 6, an in depth report on the role of the SEAL Team 6 by The New York Times finds.

“Your body is trashed,” a recently retired SEAL Team 6 operator told the Times. “Your brain is trashed.”

On the whole, special operators have “been involved in tens of thousands of missions and operations in multiple geographic theaters [since September 11], and consistently uphold the highest standards required of the U.S. Armed Forces,” US Special Operations Command told the Times.

One former operator told the Times that SEAL Team 6 served as “utility infielders with guns.”

The focus on special operations teams and drone strikes is part and parcel of President Obama’s light footprint strategy of counter-terrorism which believes in having US allies, backed and trained by Special Operations Command, playing the key role in security operations.

“They have become sort of a 1-800 number anytime somebody wants something done,” former Senator Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat and a member of the SEALs during the Vietnam War, told the Times.

Furthermore, America’s elite warriors are not ones to complain.

“SEALs are a lot like N.F.L. guys: They never want to say ‘I am taking myself out of the lineup,'” Dr. John Hart, the director of the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas, which has treated SEALs, told the Times.

“If they send guys back in who already have the effects of a concussion, they are constantly adding a dose of a hit to an existing brain condition. The brain needs sufficient time to heal.”

SEAL Team 6 has suffered more causalities since September 11 than in the rest of its history, the Times notes.

The increasing reach of US special forces since 9/11 has raised issues about the “dark side” of secret missions in foreign countries.

Check out The Time’s full report »

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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The US military took these incredible photos this week

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE:

An F-35A Lightning II team parks the aircraft for the first time at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 8, 2016. The aircraft arrived at the base to conduct operational testing in order to determine its combat capabilities.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth

An A-10 Thunderbolt II takes off from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 28, 2016. The A-10 has excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and is a highly accurate and survivable weapons delivery platform.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski

Senior Airman Daniel San Miguel, an aerospace propulsion journeyman with the 35th Maintenance Squadron, oversees an F110-GE-129 engine being tested during its afterburner phase at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 4, 2016. Each engine is tested multiple times for consistency and safety to ensure each engine has the capability to reach peak performance.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Deana Heitzman

ARMY:

A U.S. Army paratrooper, assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, conducts airborne operations at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 9, 2016.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Javier Orona

Army readiness is paramount to accomplishing a full range of military operations and winning the nation’s wars. The 82nd Airborne Division is a critical component of this requirement by being prepared to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours or less.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Javier Orona

NAVY:

Members of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, perform a drag plane during a training demonstration at Skydive Arizona. The Leap Frogs are in Arizona preparing for the 2016 show season.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Navy photo by Bruce Griffith

Sailors assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) render honors to a column of Indian naval vessels to mark the conclusion of India’s International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016. IFR 2016 is an international military exercise hosted by the Indian Navy to help enhance mutual trust and confidence with navies from around the world. Antietam, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Flewellyn

MARINE CORPS:

Capt. Robert Mortenson, a company commander with Black Sea Rotational Force, spends time with a Norwegian search-and-rescue dog during cold-weather training aboard Skoganvarre, Norway, Feb. 5, 2016.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Immanuel Johnson

U.S. Marines provide security for a Japan Ground Self Defense Force CH-47 Chinook during Forest Light 16-2 in Yausubetsu Training Area, Hokkaido, Japan, Feb. 1, 2016. The exercise strengthens military partnership, solidifies regional security agreements and improves individual and unit-level skills.

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Tyler S. Giguere

COAST GUARD:

“I will maintain a guardian’s eye on my crew at all times, and keep a cool, yet deliberate, hand on the throttle.” – Coast Guard Surfman’s creed

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Coast Guard photo

U.S. Coast Guard crews work hard and train hard to be ready – regardless of weather conditions!

That one time England recruited a magician to trick Hitler
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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