The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!) - We Are The Mighty
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The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)

This post is sponsored by The CW’s Walker, premiering on January 21st, Thursday 8/7c!

You don’t mess with Texas. Everyone knows that. You especially don’t mess with the Texas Ranger Division. Better known as the Texas Rangers, these gunslingers have been maintaining law and order in the Lone Star State since 1823. But, criminals will be criminals, and some still decide to try their luck against the Rangers. Many high-profile outlaws have had the misfortune of falling in their crosshairs and, for many, it was their last mistake.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
John Wesley Hardin, the meanest man alive (Public Domain)

John Wesley Hardin was one of Texas’ deadliest outlaws and was reputed to be the meanest man alive. At the age of 15, he committed his first murder when he stabbed a fellow student in the school yard. He went on to murder more than 40 people over the next 27 years, including a man he killed for snoring. In May 1874, Hardin murdered Charles Webb, a deputy sheriff of Brown County and former Texas Ranger. In response, Texas Ranger John Barclay Armstrong requested and received permission to arrest Hardin. Armstrong served with the Texas Ranger Special Force as a sergeant and was Captain Leander McNelly’s right hand man, earning him the nickname “McNelly’s Bulldog.”

Armstrong pursued Hardin across Alabama and into Florida where he caught up to him in Pensacola. On July 23, 1877, Armstrong confronted Hardin and four of his gang on a train. Colt pistol in hand, Armstrong called Hardin out. The outlaw drew his own pistol and shouted, “Texas, by God!” In the skirmish that followed, Armstrong shot one of the gang members dead and knocked Hardin out with a blow from his gun. Armstrong emerged with a single bullet hole through his hat, and arrested Hardin and his surviving gang. Hardin was tried in Comanche for Webb’s murder, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Despite multiple attempts to escape, he was pardoned 17 years later by Governor Jim Hogg and released from prison on March 16, 1894. He practiced law in El Paso until he was killed the next year on August 19, 1895 over a personal disagreement during a poker game at the Acme Saloon.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
Outlaw and robber Sam Bass (Public Domain)

Sam Bass and his gang began a series of bank and stagecoach robberies in 1877. The next spring, they held up two stagecoaches and four trains less than 25 miles outside of Dallas. In April, Governor Richard Poke commissioned 2nd Lt. Junius “June” Peak of Company B of the Frontier Battalion to hunt Bass and his gang down. Peak was promoted to Captain and given command of a special company of Texas Rangers. Aided by local posses, Peak and his Rangers harassed Bass for several months and drove him from North Texas. Bass managed to evade the Rangers until one of his posse betrayed him.

As the gang rode south, gang member Jim Murphy decided to save his own skin and wrote a letter to Major John B. Jones, commander of the Texas Rangers’ Frontier Battalion. Murphy tipped the Rangers off to a planned bank robbery at the Williamson County Bank in Round Rock in exchange for a deal. The offer was accepted and the Rangers set up an ambush at Round Rock. On July 19, 1878, Bass and his gang scouted Round Rock in preparation for the robbery. Before the ambush could be triggered, Williamson County Sheriff Ahijah “Caige” Grimes noticed the outlaws. Grimes confronted the gang and was shot dead. This began a heavy gunfight between Bass’ gang and the Rangers who were joined the local lawmen. During the fighting, Bass and a deputy were mortally wounded. As the gang mounted their horses and tried to evacuate their leader, Ranger George Herold got one last shot in on Bass from behind. Bass was later found abandoned in a pasture north of town. He was taken into custody, returned to Round Rock and succumbed to his wounds the next day.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
Infamous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde (Public Domain)

Of course, the most famous outlaws taken down by the Texas Rangers were Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. The duo sprung prisoner and fellow gang member Joe Palmer from the Eastham Prison Farm in Houston County. During the escape, the gang killed one of the guards. Additionally, the Barrow gang was responsible for numerous murders, robberies and car thefts across Texas and the United States. Nine law enforcement officers had already lost their lives in confrontations with them. To bring an end to their crime spree, Col. Lee Simmons, head of the prison system, asked a retired Ranger to bring the duo to justice.

Frank A. Hamer enlisted in the Rangers in 1906. He served as a Ranger captain until he retired in 1932. However, he retained his commission as a Ranger and took the position of special investigator for the Texas prison system in 1934 to hunt down Bonnie and Clyde. Along with former Ranger B. M. “Manny” Gault, Hamer pursued them across nine states before he caught up with them in Louisiana. With the help of a posse of local law enforcement officers, the Rangers set up an ambush on a rural road between Gibsland and Sailes. At 9 PM on May 22, the law enforcement posse set up their ambush. After 12 hours, with no Bonnie and Clyde in sight, the Rangers thought their ambush was a bust. That is, until they heard the rumble of Clyde’s stolen Ford V8 approaching. The lawmen opened fire and poured a hail of over 130 bullets into the car. For killing Bonnie and Clyde, Hamer was awarded a special citation by the United States Congress.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
Texas Rangers in El Paso, 1896 (Public Domain)

Countless other criminals and outlaws have crossed paths with the Texas Rangers and lost. Today, they continue to add names to the list of criminals they’ve taken down. Don’t mess with Texas and you won’t join them.

If you want to watch the toughest of law enforcement bring justice to West Texas, be sure to check out the reboot of TV’s most famous Texas Ranger. Walker premieres on January 21st, Thursday 8/7c on The CW. Don’t miss it!

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The Marine Corps wants an ‘R2D2’ robot for every squad

QUANTICO, Va. — A Marine infantry squad with its own “Star Wars” drone. A combat unit in the field making its own spare parts with a 3-D printer. A truck that tells its operators when it needs maintenance.


These are a few of the innovative concepts a panel of senior Marine Corps leaders on Sept. 27 said were being developed or considered to help the Corps operate and, if necessary, fight in a future that could include a “great power war.”

The officers also discussed broader ideas such as the Marines finding ways to help the Navy achieve sea control in a heavily contested littoral environment and developing the capabilities to fight information warfare to match the newly threatening Russians.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
Spot, a quadruped prototype robot, aids Marines in clearing a room during a demonstration at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, Sept. 16, 2015.

The officials’ report to industry came on the opening day of the Modern Day Marine exposition at the historic “home of the Marine Corps.”

The focus of the report and the expo is innovation and a drive to move the Corps quickly into the future to respond to the rapid increase and global proliferation of advanced technology and an increasingly complex security environment.

Those themes will be highlighted by the unveiling of a new operating concept by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.

The panel listed a number of efforts already underway, including a rapid capabilities office designed to reduce the prolonged acquisition process. That is tied into an innovation center that has a website eliciting revolutionary ideas from Marines at all levels. They also mentioned a 10-year experimental effort called Sea Dragon and a drive to change basic organization in the Marine Corps Force 2025 initiative.

“What we see is how technology is changing so rapidly. That excites us, but also scares us a bit,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, the deputy commandant for combat development and integration.

To avoid falling behind potential adversaries, Walsh said, the Corps is changing, but “we have to go faster. The commandant is pushing us to go faster.”

Deputy Commandant for Programs, Plans and Operations Lt. Gen. Ronald Bailey noted the Russian capabilities in information warfare and warned “we have to be able to operate in that environment to be successful.”

Highlighting the need for greater use of robotic system, Bailey envisioned “every infantry squad having an R2D2,” a reference to the Star Wars drone.

Director of Combat Development and Integration Brig. Gen. Roger Turner said he is moving into phase two of the Force 2025 study that is developing the kind of Marine Corps needed for future conflicts with peer competitors or against “non-state actors” that could use asymmetric guerrilla tactics or high technology weapons.

“It is sobering to think we could be engaged in great powers war. … That is a major driver in Force 2025, that we’re not prepared to fight great power war,” Turner said.

In the emerging combat environment, Turner said, naval force will “really have to fight for sea control,” and his office is looking for ways that the Marine Air Ground Task Force deployed with an amphibious force can contribute to sea control to enable power projection in a contested environment.

Assistant Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics Brig. Gen. Terry Williams described efforts under way to achieve “hybrid logistics” that would reduce the burden of pushing supplies and support into isolated combat units by improving their ability to provide their own water, recharge batteries and use less fuel.

He said use of 3-D printing could allow deployed units to produce their own spare parts and “sense and response” maintenance would allow vehicle maintenance to be conducted only when needed and would avoid unnecessary work.

Marine Corps Systems Command chief Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader described a number of ways to reduce the weight of combat forces, including shifting to “active protection” systems for tactical vehicles, instead of the “passive protection” of armor plating, and changing the combat gear carried by ground units. Active protection would use small munitions to intercept anti-armor missiles.

He said other efforts were ongoing that might provide different combat equipment for the different jobs performed by Marine infantry units, such as riflemen, machinegunners or mortar crews.

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Here’s how US Marines brought karate back home after World War II

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
Tech Sgt. Manuel S Prado Jr. (left), a chief master instructor, and Staff Sgt. Carlito M Englatiera Jr. (right), a martial arts instructor, both with the Republic of the Philippines Marine Corps Martial Arts Program demonstrate Pekithtirsia defense moves to U.S. Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines (BLT 2/7), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael A. Bianco)


It’s not too big a leap in logic to say that the American military is responsible for popular martial arts icons like Billy Jack, the Karate Kid, and even Chuck Norris.

Karate earned its moniker in 1936 when a summit of karatekas in Naha officially adopted the name for their art. Despite the recognized influence of Chinese martial arts on Okinawa, the patriarchs of the various schools saw a need to reform as a distinctly Okinawan fighting style and so chose the “The Empty Hand” as their means of rebirth.

World War II stifled the growth of karate in Japan as all fighting age men were sent abroad to die for the Emperor, but the war also heralded its global exportation. After a bloody fight to suppress the Japanese Imperial forces on Okinawa, hundreds of Marines took karate back to the U.S. Since then, karate has enjoyed a massive amount of support in America with the first documented dojo being Robert Trias’ Shuri-ryu school in Phoenix, Arizona that opened in 1945. In the 1950’s at least seven other disciplines of karate made their way to the States and in the 1960’s even more styles of the art migrated across the Pacific Ocean to our shores.

In the 1960’s Southern California quickly became the hotbed of karate activity when it was introduced by Tsutomu Ohshima, a student of Shotokan’s founder, Gichin Funakoshi. Ohshima was a fifth-degree black belt (the highest rank attainable) under Funakoshi and it was Ohshima who formalized the judging system of karate tournaments. In 1969 he renamed his organization “Shotokan Karate of America.”

Like anything popular in American culture, karate made its way to the big and little screen along with Kung Fu and “Bruceploitation.” From “Billy Jack” to Chuck Norris to “The Karate Kid” in 1984, celluloid films commercialized karate, sending droves of impressionable fans to dojos only to be disappointed to learn there really was no five finger death touch or karate chop that would render an opponent incoherent.

“Movies and television depicted karate as a mysterious way of fighting capable of causing death or injury with a single blow,” says Shigeru Egai, Chief Instructor of the Shotokan Dojo. “The mass media present it as a pseudo art far from the real thing.”

By the early 1990’s karate’s popularity was waning when a new fighting competition hit pay-per-view. UFC 1 might have been a revolution for martial arts, but it only hurt karate’s reputation when Zane Frazier, a highly touted karateka lost to an overweight Kevin Rosier. Frazier had studied Shotokan Karate and Kempo for over twenty years and had recently won two heavyweight kickboxing tournaments as well as a North American Sport Karate Association regional championship. His early dismissal left a bad taste in his mouth, but it also shook the foundations of karate.

“Gracie Jiu Jitsu taught you to fight off your back and defeat a bigger opponent,” says Frazier. “It was a unique innovation because prior to that we thought all fights had to end by knocking a guy out or knocking him off his feet. This was the first time you could do something like that in open competition.”

Discounted by many as unrealistic, karate would go on a very long hiatus until Lyoto Machida knocked out Rashad Evans for the UFC light heavyweight championship at UFC 98. In his exuberance, Machida exclaimed to the crowd, “Karate is back!” but in many opinions, it was never gone,

Machida wasn’t the only karate-based fighter wearing a UFC championship belt, either. UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre had his start in Kyokushin Karate and still credits it with helping shape the fighter he is today.

“Shotokan Karate is based on timing and distance,” says Machida. “I don’t go in there to get into a brawl. The timing, the distance, the perfection of everything; that is the pinnacle of Shotokan. MMA made it clear that my style, which includes takedowns and other things you don’t see in karate normally, is the best. If I hadn’t trained the discipline, I don’t think I would be the same Lyoto I am today.”

Would any of this have been possible if it weren’t for American soldiers, sailors and Marines returning from the Pacific in WWII with experience in karate? Probably not. Okinawa was very isolated and secretive about their martial art. It’s possible karate would only just now be making its way to our shores.

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The controversy surrounding Guantanamo Bay has existed longer than you think

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
Wikipedia


Early Tuesday morning, Obama announced a four-part plan to ensure the closing of Guantanamo Bay, a goal that has eluded the president since he promised to shutter the facility during his 2008 campaign.

The plan would bring some of the 91 remaining detainees to maximum security prisons in the United States, while others would be transferred to foreigns countries. Although Obama called on Congress to lift a ban barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S., the White House has also left open the possibility of unilateral action should Republican lawmakers refuse to cooperate.

“The plan we’re putting forward today isn’t just about closing the facility at Guantanamo,” Obama said to the nation from the Roosevelt Room. “This is about closing a chapter in our history.”

With history in mind, it seems significant that the speech was given on this day, in this venue. Exactly 113 years ago, following the Spanish-American War, Teddy Roosevelt signed an agreement with Cuba to lease parts of Guantanamo Bay to the United States for use as a naval station.

This agreement was actually a follow-up to the Platt Amendment, a 1901 resolution that dictated seven conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops from Cuba, along with an eighth condition stipulating that Cuba include these terms in their new constitution. The amendment gave the United States full control over a 45 square-mile portion of Guantanamo Bay, in order to “enable the United States to maintain the independence of Cuba.” The deal was officiated on behalf of the Cubans by Tomás Estrada Palma, an American citizen who would become the first president of Cuba.

A cartoon protesting the Platt Amendment | Wikipedia A cartoon protesting the Platt Amendment | Wikipedia

Three decades later, the 1934 Cuban–American Treaty of Relations repealed most provisions of the Platt Amendment as part of FDR’s “good neighbor policy.” The effort, ostensibly intended to give the Cuban government greater sovereignty, made the lease on Guantanamo permanent unless the United States abandoned the base or both countries agreed to terminate the agreement. The new treaty also updated the yearly lease payment from $2000 in U.S. gold coins to $4035 in U.S. dollars. This amount has remained unchanged in the 82 years since.

Since the Cuban revolution of 1959, the Castro government has cashed only one of these checks (this one supposedly by accident), keeping the rest untouched as a means of protest against what they consider an “illegal” occupation. According to the U.S., cashing even one check renders the treaty valid.

The use of Guantanamo as a prison began in 1991, following the overthrow of Haiti’s first democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. While the CIA secretly leant support to death squads killing Aristide’s supporters, the White House announced that it would be using Guantanamo as a “tent shelter” for those fleeing violence in Haiti. Of the 30,000 refugees interned at Guantanamo, those who presented discipline problems were held on a site that would later become Camp Xray, also known as the Guantanamo detention camp.

Following Bush Sr.’s disputed decision to send the exiles back to war-torn Haiti, the Supreme Court ruled that the Haitians were not entitled to U.S. rights because Guantanamo Bay fell under the sovereignty of Cuba. Interestingly, this rationale for the United States not technically having sovereignty over the land would come up again, twelve years later, as George W. Bush’s administration argued that Guantanamo prisoners should not be constitutionally entitled to habeas review.

This is all to say that, even before it became an international symbol for the War on Terror, the policies leading to and enforcing the U.S. ownership of Guantanamo Bay have been extremely controversial. As renewed attention is focused on the use of Guantanamo as a terrorist detention center, it’s well worth considering how this small Cuban harbor became a U.S.-run prison in the first place.

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ISIS militants are faking illnesses to get out of fighting

There’s a term US soldiers give to one of their own who tries to shirk duty by making constant medical appointments: Sick call commando.


It looks like ISIS has the same problem.

Documents seized last month by Iraqi forces at a former ISIS base in Mosul, Iraq reveal that, despite its ability to recruit religious fanatics to the ranks, the so-called Islamic State has its fair share of “problem” fighters who don’t actually want to fight, The Washington Post reports.

Also read: ISIS is about to lose its biggest conquest in the Middle East

The Post found 14 fighters trying to skate their way out of combat, to include a Belgian offering a note about having back pain, and a Kosovar with “head pain” who wanted to be transferred to Syria.

Another, a recruit of Algerian descent from France, told his superiors he wanted to return home and offered two suspicious claims: I’m sick, and if you send me home, I’ll continue to work remotely.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
The line for ISIS sick call.

“He doesn’t want to fight, wants to return to France. Claims his will is a martyrdom operation in France. Claims sick but doesn’t have a medical report,” one note reads, according to The Post.

Of course, there are plenty within the ranks of ISIS who are still fighting on the front lines. But to see that at least some are trying to get out while they still can seems to suggest that the USand Iraqi military is doing something right.

Iraqi forces captured all of eastern Mosul late last month, and preparations are currently being made to start hitting the western side of the city. The top US general in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, is confident that both Mosul and the ISIS capital of Raqqa will fall “within the next six months.”

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This is how triple-ace Robin Olds achieved his perfect victory over Vietnam

On January 2, 1967, U.S. Air Force F-4C Phantoms lured North Vietnamese MiG-21s into the kind of air-to-air dogfight they usually tried to avoid. The mission, called “Operation Bolo,” was an aerial trap designed by Colonel Robin Olds, a fighter ace and veteran who started his combat flying career during World War II. In spite of the fact that Bolo was flown in the some of the most heavily defended airspace ever attacked by U.S. forces, it wound up being one of the most successful deception operations in American military history.


Olds took command of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base in 1966. The unit he took over was short on aggression and initiative. Olds, then 44 years old, brought in another Air Force pioneer, Col. Daniel “Chappie” James, another World War II veteran and one of the Tuskegee Airmen, as his director of operations.  The command team, which would come to be known as “Blackman and Robin,” completely changed the culture of the 8th TFW. They were ready to take the war to the Vietnamese.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)

After taking command of the 8th, Olds lost three F-4C aircraft to intercepting Mig-21s. He was frustrated with target restrictions from Washington and frustrated with the battlespace over North Vietnam. Ground observers and early warning radar provided by the Soviet Union would warn the VPAF what was coming. By the time attacking aircraft crossed the Red River, the MiGs were waiting for them. Olds wanted to use this tactic to his advantage.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)

MiGs were in the air anytime U.S. aircraft were in the area.  Two to four MiGs would remain near the enemy’s base at Phuc Yen, while the rest attacked the bomber force along one intercept point on the southern side of the Red River and the other northeast of Thai Nguyen. The MiGs would attack the F-105 formations all along their route and generally avoid the F-4s.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
A right underside view of two Soviet MiG-21 Fishbed fighter aircraft in flight.

In response, Olds designed Bolo, the first offensive fighter sweep of the Vietnam War. Convinced of the superiority of U.S. pilots in air-to-air combat, he wanted to trick the North Vietnamese to read flights of F-4Cs as the slower, bulkier F-105s. Once the MiGs were in the air, the F-4s would break formation and attack on their own terms. To fool the radar and ground observers, the F-4s would fly in a 105 formation while using Thud call signs.

The SAM threat was mitigated by new ECM anti-radar pods. The jamming pods reduced the rate of SAM kills on F-105s to near zero, but the F-4s were still vulnerable because the pods didn’t fit on the F-4 bomb racks. Olds’ NCOs in the 8th TFW’s fabrication shop spent 36 hours fashioning makeshift replacement panels before Bolo so the F-4s could carry them. This was the first time F-4s ever carried the countermeasure.

Seven flights of F-4Cs would come in from Ubon in the West while seven more came in from Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam. The Ubon forces, led by Olds, would stay in a Thud formation until the last possible second. The Da Nang fighters covered all available airfields to keep the MiGs from landing (they were no longer be targetable on the ground due to orders from Washington) and keep them from making an escape to China.

Olds’ flight used the sign “Olds.” Chappie used the sign “Ford” because one of the planners thought Fords were “big, black, and fun.” The rest were “Rambler,” “Lincoln,” “Tempest,” “Plymouth,” and “Vespa.” They would arrive in the engagement area four minutes apart.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
Olds at Ubon RTAFB

January 2, 1967 was an overcast day. Olds led the first flight into the area. At first there seemed to be no response, which would be devastating. The Americans could only attack MiGs in the air. But Olds didn’t know the cloud cover kept the MiGs on the ground for an extra fifteen minutes. With three minutes until Ford Flight’s arrival, Olds flight made a turn Northwest when MiGs started to come up from the cloud cover.

“Ok, Wolfpack! Go get ’em!” Olds roared.

The MiGs were trying a vise maneuver that blew up in their faces when the U.S. fighters left formation. The Americans took down seven  of the sixteen MiG-21s in the VPAF inventory without losing any Phantoms. Bolo was the worst single day for the Vietnam People’s Air Force. The operation’s success led to Seventh Air Force launching a similar operation three days later, mimicking a recon mission. Of the four MiG intercepting that ruse, two were shot down. VPAF fighters were grounded for several months for retraining.

Colonel Olds would score his fourth MiG kill in Vietnam on May 4, 1967, bringing his total to sixteen and making him a triple ace. He flew his last mission in Vietnam on September 23, 1967.

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)

 

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‘The Red Ball Express’ kept the Allies supplied and armed after the D-Day breakout

After storming the beaches of Normandy and fighting through the hedgerows of the French countryside, the Allied forces invading Nazi-occupied Europe came across one problem they hadn’t anticipated: outrunning their own supply lines. 

By July 1944, the Allied advance nearly ground to a halt. Every operation was decided by one major factor, which was how much supply it required versus how much could be delivered. It would be almost three months before French railways could be repaired and portable gas pipelines could be installed. 

To move the necessary supplies and keep the pressure on the German army, Allied war planners created a massive, truck-based supply convoy run primarily by Black soldiers. It became known as the “Red Ball Express.”

The Allies need a continuous supply of necessary fuel, ammunition, ordnance and food to keep running to the front. After breaking out of the Normandy area, the infrastructure the Allies damaged to hamper the German response needed repair to be used for the German defeat. 

The elite law enforcement division that stopped Bonnie & Clyde (and others!)
Soldiers from the 4185th Quartermaster Service Company (left to right), Pvt. Harold Hendricks, Staff Sgt. Carl Haines, Sgt. Theodore Cutright, Pvt. Lawrence Buckhalter, Pfc. Horace Deahl, and Pvt. David N. Hatcher, load trucks with rations bound for frontline troops September 1944 in Liege, Belgium. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army)

There had to be a way to move 750 tons of supplies from the port of Antwerp to multiple locations across the front every day. Just one armored division alone required 350 tons of gasoline.

 After brainstorming for 36 hours straight, planners came up with a solution: a convoy of thousands and thousands of trucks, constantly streaming to and from the front lines. 

No truck could travel alone, they had to travel in a convoy of at least five total trucks and each was marked with a number indicating its position in the line of trucks. To mitigate the risks of high speed driving or of a truck pile up in an accident, trucks were ordered to drive just 35 miles per hour and maintain a specific clear distance from each other. The order to drive slower was rarely followed, many drove at twice that speed. 

When they implemented the plan, there weren’t enough trucks and there weren’t enough drivers. The Army began vulturing trucks from units who weren’t using them and began taking people with non-combat functions and training them to be truck drivers. The vast majority of these men were Black soldiers. 

red ball express
(National Archives)

Without these soldiers at the wheel, World War II in Europe might have dragged on for another full year. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the Red Ball Express as the most critical lifeline to the advancing armies, just as important as the combat units themselves. 

Of course, these early trucks got stuck in traffic, both civilian and military. So the Allies created two priority roads just for the supply trucks, which became known as the Red Ball Line, named for the red spots marking the trucks and the routes that were closed to civilians.

At its height, the Red Ball Express was operating almost 6,000 trucks per day to move 12,500 tons of various supplies, fuel, and ammunition. Since the German Luftwaffe was almost nonexistent by this point in the war, the biggest problems facing the convoys were maintenance of the trucks and the overworked drivers.

Eventually, the rail lines were repaired and the Red Ball Express was no longer necessary. After more than 80 days of continuous operation, the convoy drivers had delivered more than 400,000 tons of supplies to the Allies in combat. 

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Today in military history: Armistice ends the Korean War

On July 27, 1953, the Korean War ended in armistice after three years of fighting.

The war began in June of 1950 when communist North Korea crossed the 28th parallel to invade South Korea. Within days, the United States came to the South’s defense, just as the People’s Republic of China aided the North.

When the Korean War started, victory was far but assured. The North Korean attack on June 25, 1950, took the U.S. and South Korea by complete surprise, and the Communists were able to make large gains in a very short amount of time.

The battle lines swung as wildly as the momentum of the war itself before grinding into months of stalemate as the two sides haggled at the negotiating table. Every time the pendulum shifted, more American and UN forces were captured by the North Korean and Chinese forces.  The first reports of enemy atrocities filtered into the UN headquarters as early as two days after the invasion started.

The fighting was horrible enough — but the war crimes in addition to state-sanctioned fighting were unimaginable. On top of the numerous forced marches and torture, seven Korean War Massacres stand out as egregious examples of the systematic, inhumane treatment of POWs at the hands of Communist forces. According to the Potter Report, consisting of more than 200 pages of testimony from Korean War veterans and massacre survivors before Congress, the estimated number of American POWs who died from enemy war crimes was 6,113. The total number of UN forces who were victims ranged between 11,662 – 20,785.

It was a brutal three years which cost the lives of nearly 3 million Korean and Chinese militants and civilians, as well as 50,000 Americans. 

North Korea today is a militant totalitarian dictatorship criticized for its humanitarian crimes against its people. A peace treaty was never signed, and reunification negotiations have never been successful, so the peninsula remains divided, with a patrolled demilitarized zone and palpable tension at its center.

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US carriers deploy new torpedo defense system

The Navy is arming aircraft carriers with a prototype high-tech torpedo defense technology able to detect, classify, track and destroy incoming enemy torpedoes, service officials said.


The Anti-Torpedo Defense System, currently installed on five aircraft carriers and deployed on one carrier at the moment, is slated to be fully operational by 2022.  

The overall SSTD system, which consists of a sensor, processor and small interceptor missile, is a first-of-its-kind “hard kill” countermeasure for ships and carriers designed to defeat torpedoes, Navy officials said.

The emerging Surface Ship Torpedo Defense technology includes the Anti-Torpedo Defense System, or ATTDS and an SLQ-25 Acoustic Device Countermeasure; the ATTDS consists of a Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo program and Torpedo Warning System.  

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A Virginia-class attack submarine launches a torpedo. Graphic: Department of Defense Ron Stern

 “The ATTDS is designed to detect, classify, track and localize incoming torpedoes utilizing the Torpedo Warning System leading to a torpedo hard-kill by employing the Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo,” Collen O’Rourke, spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior.

Thus far, the ATTDS has completed three carrier deployments.  The ATTDS Program of Record plan for future ships includes additional carriers and Combat Logistic Force ships.

Earlier this year, the ATTDS was installed and operated on the USNS BRITTIN (TAKR-305) over a six day period during which the latest system hardware and software was tested. The results of the testing are instrumental for continued system development, O’Rourke added.

The technology is slated for additional testing and safety certifications.

The emergence of a specifically-engineered torpedo defense system is quite significant for the Navy – as it comes a time when many weapons developers are expressing concern about the potential vulnerability of carriers in light of high-tech weapons such as long-range anti-ship missiles and hypersonic weapons. An ability to protect the large platforms submarine-launched torpedo attacks adds a substantial element to a carrier’s layered defense systems.

Ships already have a layered system of defenses which includes sensors, radar and several interceptor technologies designed to intercept large, medium and small scale threats from a variety of ranges.

For example, most aircraft carriers are currently configured with Sea Sparrow interceptor missiles designed to destroy incoming air and surface threats and the Phalanx Close-in-Weapons System, or CIWS. CIWS is a rapid-fire gun designed as an area weapon intended to protect ships from surface threats closer to the boat’s edge, such as fast-attack boats.

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The Phalanx Close-in-Weapons System, or CIWS. | YouTube

Torpedo defense for surface ships, however, involves another portion of the threat envelope and is a different question. SSTD is being rapidly developed to address this, Navy officials explained.

The system consists of a Torpedo Warning System Receive Array launched from the winch at the end of the ship, essentially a towed sensor or receiver engineered to detect the presence of incoming torpedo fire. The Receive Array sends information to a processor which then computes key information and sends data to interceptor projectiles – or Countermeasures Anti-Torpedos, or CAT – attached to the side of the ship.

The towed array picks up the acoustic noise.  The processors filter it out and inform the crew. The crew then makes the decision about whether to fire a CAT, Navy officials said.

The CATs are mounted on the carriers’ sponson, projections from the side of the ship designed for protection, stability or the mounting of armaments.

The individual technological pieces of the SSTD system are engineered to work together to locate and destroy incoming torpedos in a matter of seconds or less.  Tactical display screens on the bridge of the ship are designed to inform commanders about the system’s operations.

After being tested on some smaller ships such as destroyers, the SSTD was approved for use on aircraft carriers in 2011 by then Chief Naval Officer Adm. Jonathan Greenert, according to the Navy.

The SSTD effort is described by Navy officials as a rapid prototyping endeavor designed to fast-track development of the technology. In fact, the Torpedo Warning System recently won a 2013 DoD “Myth-Busters” award for successful acquisition practices such as delivering the TWS to the USS Bush on an accelerated schedule. The TWS is made by 3 Phoenix.

The Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo is being developed by the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory, officials said.

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A US soldier was killed in Helmand Afghanistan as more troops deploy to Taliban hotbed

U.S. Army Private first class Hansen Kirkpatrick was killed during an indirect fire attack in Helmand province, Afghanistan July 3, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.


The Pentagon announcement was devoid of details on the circumstances of the 19-year-old’s death, and the incident remains under investigation. Two other U.S. soldiers were reportedly wounded in the attack but their wounds are not considered life threatening.

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A U.S. Army adviser from Task Force Forge conducts a room clearing drill with an Afghan trainee to demonstrate proper tactical procedures at the Regional Military Training Center in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, March 8, 2017. Task Force Forge advisers fill a critical role executing the train, advise and assist mission to the ANA 215th Corps as part of the NATO Resolute Support. (NATO photo by Kay M. Nissen)

Helmand province is an active site of U.S. operations supporting the Afghan National Security Forces in the fight against the Taliban. The Taliban has turned the province into the frontline of its campaign against the U.S. and Afghan government, controlling vast swaths of its territory.

Kirkpatrick’s death comes amid serious discussions by U.S. officials to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. President Donald Trump granted Secretary of Defense James Mattis authority to set Afghan troop levels in mid June.

Mattis recently secured NATO backing to increase the number of overall troops in Afghanistan by at least a few thousand, in a recent visit to Europe.

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11 of the 21 laws for assassins

When author Robert B. Baer asked his boss at the CIA for the definition of assassination his boss replied, “It’s a bullet with a man’s name on it.” Baer wasn’t sure what that meant so he started to research the topic beyond what he already had experienced around it in his role at the CIA. The end of that process became his insightful and provocative new book, The Perfect Kill, in which he outlines 21 laws for assassins. Here are 11 of them:


Law #1: THE BASTARD HAS TO DESERVE IT

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Painting of Caesar’s assassination by Vincenzo Camuccini, 1798.

“The victim must be a dire threat to your existence, in effect giving you license to murder him. The act can never be about revenge, personal grievance, ownership, or status.”

Law #2: MAKE IT COUNT

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(Photo: Lens Young Dimashqi)

“Power is the usurpation of power, and assassination its ultimate usurpation. The act is designed to alter the calculus of power in your favor. If it won’t, don’t do it.”

Law #5: ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP FOR EVERYTHING

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“Count on the most important pieces of a plan failing at exactly the wrong moment. Double up on everything — two set of eyes, two squeezes of the trigger, double-prime charges, two traitors in the enemy’s camp.”

Law # 7: RENT THE GUN, BUY THE BULLET

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“Just as there are animals that let other animals do their killing for them — vultures and hyenas — employ a trusted proxy when one’s available.”

Law #8: VET YOUR PROXIES IN BLOOD

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The assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat on October 6, 1981.

“Assassination is the most sophisticated and delicate form of warfare, only to be entrusted to the battle-hardened and those who’ve already made your enemy bleed.”

Law #9: DON’T SHOOT EVERYONE IN THE ROOM

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President Lincoln shot by actor John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater.

“Exercise violence with vigilant precision and care. Grievances are incarnated in a man rather than in a tribe, nation, or civilization. Blindly and stupidly lashing out is the quickest way to forfeit power.”

Law #15: DON’T MISS

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British sniper team in action in Afghanistan.

“It’s better not to try rather than to try and miss. A failed attempt gives the victim an aura of invincibility, augmenting his power while diminishing yours. Like any business, reputation is everything.”

Law #16: IF YOU CAN’T CONTROL THE KILL, CONTROL THE AFTERMATH

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Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas on November 24, 1963.

“A good, thorough cleanup is what really scares the shit out of people.”

Law #17: HE WHO LAUGHS LAST SHOOTS FIRST

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Gavrilo Princip shoots Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, the act that torched off World War I.

“You’re the enemy within, which mean there’s never a moment they’re not trying to hunt you down to exterminate you. Hit before it’s too late.”

Law # 19: ALWAYS HAVE AN ENCORE IN YOUR POCKET

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“Power is the ability to hurt something over and over again. One-offs get you nothing or less than nothing.”

Law #21: GET TO IT QUICKLY

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Predator firing Hellfire missile. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

“Don’t wait until the enemy is too deeply ensconced in power or too inured to violence before acting. He’ll easily shrug off the act and then come after you with a meat cleaver.”

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For the rest of Robert B. Baer’s 21 laws for assassins, buy his amazing book here.

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Here is what Capt. Kirk’s ship could do to the North Korean navy

With the news that the stealth destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), under the command of United States Navy Capt. James A. Kirk (we won’t know for another two centuries if he is related to James T. Kirk), is potentially deploying off the North Korean coast.


The question many will ask is: “What can the Zumwalt do against the North Korean Navy?”

The short answer is: “A lot.”

Let’s take a look at the firepower the Zumwalt carries. According to a US Navy fact sheet, the USS Zumwalt packs two 155mm Advanced Gun Systems, two 30mm “Close-In Guns,” 80 Advanced Vertical-Launch System cells, and two M-60R helicopters capable of carrying torpedoes and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

The 80 missile cells can carry BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, RIM-66 SM-2 Standard Missiles, and RIM-174 SM-6 Extended Range Active Missiles.

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(Photo: U.S. Navy)

This is a very powerful weapons suite.

To compare, let’s look at the North Korean navy’s most powerful ship, which is known as 823 — the only Soho-class frigate in service. According to the “16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World,” that ship has four single SS-N-2 launchers; a single 100mm gun; two twin 37mm guns; two twin 30mm guns; and two twin 25mm guns.

“Combat Fleets” notes that the North Korean Navy also has at least one Najin-class light frigate, and 15 missile boats, all armed with at least two SS-N-2A missiles.

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Najin-class light frigate. (US Navy photo)

How does the Zumwalt fare against this swarm? The good news is that the helicopters on board will likely be able to pick off a number of the missile boats before they can launch their missiles.

Since each MH-60 carries four Hellfires, we can assume that the fifteen missile boats will be cut down some. Zumwalt will probably empty her Tomahawks at North Korean targets as well.

Lil’ Kim ain’t gonna like how that ends up.

The survivors may launch their missiles at the Zumwalt but the SS-N-2A is a much less advanced missile than the Noor anti-ship missiles launched at USS Mason (DDG 87) on multiple occasions of the coast of Yemen in October. Zumwalt, with the ability to use the same missiles as the Mason did, will likely be able to shoot them down or decoy them using chaff.

At this point, the Zumwalt will use her 155mm guns to take out any North Korean surface vessels that try to approach. What rounds they will fire is up in the air due to the cancellation of the Long-Range Land Attack Projectiles, but there are a number of options that she can use aside from spitballs.

Once she dispatches the surface force, the Zumwalt will then make sail away from the coast to evade North Korea’s sizable force of old electric (and quiet) submarines. Any that are close will likely get a torpedo from a MH-60.

In short, the Zumwalt can trash the North Korean Navy’s surface fleet. Her Tomahawks will trash their bases. Then, she will reload and come back to hit land targets with her weapons.

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