That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel - We Are The Mighty
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That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel with the 15th panzer Division. | YouTube


British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was never one to shy away from thinking big. When he saw the plans for General Claude Auchinlek’s offensive, Operation Crusader, he looked beyond its stated goals of lifting the siege of Tobruk and eliminating the Axis threat to Egypt—way beyond. He envisioned it as being a potential victory to rank with Blenheim and Waterloo; one in which the British Eighth Army would destroy the Axis forces threatening Egypt, relieve Tobruk, continue west and eject the Axis from North Africa. Then the British Army of the Nile would march east and north through the Levant to the Iranian border. But Auchinlek was grounded enough to know that if he were to have any sort of shot at victory, he had to eliminate the general who had so brilliantly led the Axis troops to the Egyptian border, Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel.

If Rommel could be assassinated, the resultant chaos in the Axis command would give the Eighth Army its best chance of success. To that end Auchinlek authorized Operation Flipper.

Operation Flipper

Operation Flipper originally had four goals:

  • Kill Rommel at his headquarters in Sidi Rafa
  • destroy the nearby Italian headquarters and its communications network
  • sabotage the Italian Intelligence Office in Appolonia and the communications network between Faidia and Lamdula
  • conduct general sabotage actions elsewhere in the Axis forces’ rear.

Leading the mission was Colonel Robert Laycock. His second in command was Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Keyes, the son of Admiral Roger Keyes the first director of Combined Operations and who would be responsible for the attack on Rommel. On November 10, 1941, Laycock’s force of six officers and 53 men boarded the submarines Torbay and Talisman and left Alexandria harbor for Beda Littoria, Cyrenaica. They arrived at their landing site on the evening of November 14. Waiting for them on the beach was guide Captain Jock Haselden and his team who had been parachuted there earlier.

Keyes got himself and all his men ashore. But as Layton and his men prepared to disembark, a squall struck. Heavy seas drove Talisman aground and only Layton and seven men reached the beach.

With the force cut in half, the plan was drastically modified. Now it would be a two-part assault; Keyes attacking Rommel’s HQ and Lt. Roy Cooke leading the attack on the Italian headquarters. Layton and a small force would defend the force’s escape route. On the evening of November 15, Keyes, Cooke, and their men headed inland, dogged by constant rain. Despite the weather, the groups managed to reach their respective launch positions the evening of November 17.

At midnight, they attacked. Keyes, leading a three-man assault team, burst into the villa identified as Rommel’s headquarters. They surprised a German officer who was killed as he struggled with Keyes. The attackers then rushed down the hall and Keyes opened a room where ten Germans were arming themselves. One of the Germans shot Keyes, killing him.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Rommel with captured British officers in Cherbourg, France, June 1940. | Gregory J. W. Urwin Collection

Failure

The mission was a failure. Only three German supply colonels and a soldier were killed at the villa. And only a fuel supply depot was destroyed. After 37 days avoiding Axis patrols, Colonel Layton and Sergeant Jack Terry reached British lines. They were the only ones; everyone else was either captured or killed. As it turned out, Rommel was not at the villa; inclement weather delayed his arrival from Rome. Operation Crusader did not achieve Churchill’s lofty goals. Though the siege was lifted, Rommel managed to save the bulk of his forces.

Rommel ordered that Lt. Colonel Keyes be buried with full military honors; sending his personal chaplain, priest Rudolf Dalmrath, to officiate. He had cypress crosses and wreaths made for the British and German dead. Rommel also instructed that photographs be taken of the ceremony and of Keyes’ grave and sent to his parents, a chivalrous act that increased British respect for him.

Laycock and Terry arrived at Eighth Army headquarters on Christmas Day. A message dispatched to Minister of State in the Middle East Oliver Lyttleton stated, “Feel it would interest C-in-C and Minister to know that Laycock arrived today at 9:20 p.m. for his Christmas dinner.” Lyttleton responded, “Please state why Laycock was one hour 20 minutes late for his Christmas dinner.”

Layton would serve with distinction, rising to the rank of major general and, in October 1943, succeed Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten as Director of Combined Operations.

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How 8 countries are preparing for war with Russia

Russia continues to issue threats to countries on its borders — most notably those with significant populations of ethnic Russians like Georgia and Ukraine which have already felt Moscow’s wrath in recent years.


But many European countries have reduced their spending in the decades since World War II, so preparing for a potential war with their aggressive and highly militarized neighbor is not as simple as giving their soldiers MREs, bullets, and marching orders.

And while the U.S. helps guarantee the security of NATO members, a recent analysis by the RAND Corporation indicates that many countries on the eastern front could be swallowed up long before American reinforcements could arrive. Some countries, like Estonia, could be conquered in as little as 60 hours, analysts say.

Here’s what eight countries in Eastern Europe are doing to get ready for the war they hope never comes:

1. Ukrainians are hastily emplacing fixed defenses

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Ukrainian soldiers practice clearing trenches on Nov. 2 during an exercise in Ukraine with U.S. soldiers. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr)

Ukraine is the one state on the list who is currently engaged in a war with Russia. While their troops have fought limited groups of Russian “volunteers,” Ukraine’s top generals are worried about a full-scale air attack and ground invasion.

To prepare, they’re digging trenches and emplacing fixed defenses like tank traps and bunkers. They’ve also practiced maneuvering mobile air defenses and other units. Finally, Ukraine is planning a massive expansion of its navy to replace many some of the ships captured by Russia in the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

2. Estonia is training a guerrilla force to bleed Russian occupiers dry

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Estonian soldiers provide cover fire for U.S. paratroopers on Nov. 3, 2016, in Hellenurme, Estonia, during a joint training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. James Dutkavich)

Estonia fields an army of only 6,000 soldiers and fully expects to be overrun within days if attacked by Russia, an outcome that the RAND Corporation agrees with. But Estonia plans to make the Russians regret ever acre they took.

The nation is hosting “military sport” contests and encouraging citizens to keep weapons in their homes. The sports events include 25-mile ruck marches, evasion exercises, plant identification, and others which test skills useful for an insurgent force. Over 25,000 Estonians have joined the weekly drills.

3. Latvia is training up a “home guard” and investing in special operations

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Latvian soldiers drive their armored combat vehicles into position during a joint training exercise with U.S. troops on Oct. 31, 2016, in Adazi, Latvia. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Like Estonia, Latvia is bullish on training citizens to resist an invasion. They’re moving forward with plans to allow “home guard” member to keep their weapons and night vision devices in their homes. They’re also betting heavily on special operations forces, tripling the size of the National Armed Force Special Operations Forces.

Like most NATO members, they’re also trying to get more NATO troops on their soil to deter Russian aggression in the first place. Britain is already sending troops for exercises, and Denmark and France have promised forces as well.

4. Lithuania

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
(Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. James Dutkavich)

Lithuania has distributed a civil defense book to its citizens which details how to survive a Russian invasion that includes a phone number which residents can call to report suspected Russian spies. It is also planning to restart military conscription for men between the ages of 19 and 26.

5. Norway

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Norwegian soldiers prepare for a stalking event during the 2016 Best Sniper Squad Competition in Germany. The team went on to win the overall competition. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Emily Houdershieldt)

Norway officially acknowledged that it believes Ukraine was illegally occupied by Russia during a state visit to Ukraine on Oct. 18. Russia later added Norway to its list of targets for “strategic” weapons. Russia uses the word “strategic” to differentiate between conventional and nuclear-capable forces.

Norway has invited more NATO troops, including U.S. Marines, to train there. It’s also stepped up its intercepts of Russian aircraft flying near its shores. Norway’s F-16s now maintain a 24-hour alert. The country is also re-opening Cold War-era bases in the far north.

6. Poland is buying massive amounts of equipment, including new subs

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Polish soldiers of 17th Wielkopolska Mechanized Brigade move a simulated wounded soldier during a react to contact scenario during exercise Combined Resolve VII at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels Germany, Sept. 12, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Gage Hull)

Poland, which is considered to be one of the more hawkish NATO members, has been warning of a threat from Moscow for some time. For the past few years, it has championed regional security agreements with its neighbors and worked hard to ingrain itself with NATO.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Poland has ramped up the purchase of military hardware such as new, stealthy submarines and Polish-manufactured S-70 helicopters for its special operations soldiers.

7. and 8. Finland and Sweden are securing defense agreements with the U.K. and U.S.

Finland and Sweden are countries which famously prefer to avoid alliances, but Russian aggression has spurred an interest in limited defense agreements which will make it easier for NATO troops to deploy to those countries in the event of war.

The U.K. and U.S. signed two contracts each with Sweden and Norway, and all four agreements have different details. But, the broad strokes are that all four countries will increase their interoperability by holding joint training exercises as well as participating in research, development, and procurement projects.

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Army networks 50-cal sights to helmet display

The U.S. Army will soon begin to produce new high-tech, crew-served thermal weapons sights able to automatically adjust range, see through adverse weather, detect targets with a lightweight laser range finder and use a wireless targeting link between weapons and a soldier-worn helmet display, service officials said.


Designed for the M2 .50-cal, M240 machine gun and Mk 19 grenade launcher, the system brings higher-resolution thermal imaging technology and increases field of view, developers explained.

Also read: From shoot to BOOM! This is the deadly science behind the RPG

“This is the first time the soldier will have a system which combines a true day and night capability with a laser range finder to adjust for the ballistics of the various ammunition types for the crew served weapons,” an Army official told Scout Warrior.

BAE Systems was recently awarded an Army contract to develop the technology, called Family of Weapons Sights – Crew Served (FWS-CS), in a deal worth up to $384 million.

Using a wireless link, gun-mounted thermal sights send a targeting reticle from the gun to a soldier head-worn display, allowing soldiers to hit targets without needing to physically “look” through the gun-sights themselves in a certain physical position — such as crouching, lying down or standing exposed in a vehicle-mounted gun-turret, the Army official explained.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Photo by BAE Systems

A wireless helmet mounted display is designed to provide a more natural firing position as well as allow soldiers to remain more protected, a BAE systems statement said. Crew-served weapons, such as the .50-cal machine gun, are often used to “blanket” enemy areas so that troops can maneuver while under attack or deliver suppressive fire.

A wireless link allowing soldiers to remain in a standing position or different configuration than what is otherwise needed to look through the sights naturally lowers the risk of exposing soldiers to enemy fire.

BAE Systems’ FWS-CS system is also engineered to improve targeting speed and precision. It uses a 12-micron sensor technology to provide soldiers with greater clarity and range, developers said.

“FWS-CS also, for the first time, incorporates a high-resolution day camera and laser range finder into the weapon sight, allowing the user to engage targets with a range correct reticle,” John Koltookian, technical director at BAE Systems, told Scout Warrior.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika

With an initial development order of $10.5 million, work will be performed at the company’s facilities in Hudson, New Hampshire and Austin, Texas.

This crew-served weapons technology is engineered to function alongside a similar Army program called Family of Weapons Sights – Individual (FWS-I); in similar fashion to the FWS-CS, this system uses a wireless link to connect thermal sights on an M4 rifle with an individual soldier’s night-vision goggles display.

A key advantage of this technology is, by design, to allow soldiers to target and attack enemies without having to “shoulder” the weapon and bring it up to their face.

FWS-I is already in Low-Rate-Initial Production and slated to be operational by 2018, service officials said.

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This presidential nominee’s campaign was tanked by a tank

In the 1988 presidential campaign, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee for President, had a problem: he needed to look credible as a commander-in-chief during a time when Democrats were being criticized for their defense policies.


Throughout the 1980s, the Reagan Administration had been pushing through a major peace-time military build-up.

According to CQ Researcher, a large portion of the Democrats in Congress had opposed that build-up in the 1984 elections. That caused the perception that the Democrats were being weak on defense, which led to Reagan’s 49-state landslide.

Dukakis had been among those who were critical of the buildup, the mainstays of which — the B-1B Lancer, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, and a host of other weapon systems – are in service today (with a few exceptions).

 

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
An E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft flies over the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zackary Alan Landers/Released)

Worse, according to a 2013 article in Politico, during the month of August, Dukakis had gone from leading Vice President George H.W. Bush by 17 points to trailing him, and one big reason was that 54 percent of Americans felt that then-Vice President Bush would do a better job on national security, while only 18 percent thought Dukakis would.

To counter that, Dukakis went on a swing that discussed defense, but one event was marked by defense workers jeering him. Then, he went on a visit to a General Dynamics plant in Michigan where he planned to ride in an M1 Abrams tank, a key part of the buildup that Democrats had criticized.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Aerial drone image of an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank crew. (Dept. of Defense image)

 

However, to do the ride, Dukakis was told he had to wear protective headgear. He did so, and ended up sealing his fate.

Within a week, the photo of Dukakis in the helmet had become a joke (think Kushner in his vest), but the worst was to come when operatives with Bush’s campaign developed an attack ad. Using 11 seconds of footage, they highlighted Dukakis’s opposition to the Reagan buildup and foreign policy.

Dukakis, who had already been trailing, and already saw 25 percent of Americans less likely to vote for him, was now in freefall. He eventually lost the 1988 election by seven million votes.

You can see a video by Politico on the infamous tank ride below.

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5 ways officers know there will be an incident during liberty call

Liberty call is a roller coaster of emotions. There are times when you can almost feel it in the air that something is going to go down over the weekend. There are tell-tale signs more obvious that others. When you see the stars align and the following events happen, keep your phone on. You’re going to need it, sir or ma’am.

1. The boot drop

Across the board in every branch there are ranks earned through time in grade. All a troop has to do is keep their nose clean at the entry-level position over a certain amount of time to rate the next rank. Is it easier said than done? Sort of. Don’t break the law and you’ll be fine. However, since majority of troops are those who exhibit good character, they will be promoted in waves. It’s not intentional– it mainly has to do with when they went to boot camp and their MOS school that will affect when a unit receives new pups.

The seasoned captain knows to place extra NCOs on duty in his company to prevent the opportunity for hazing. The difference between hazing and tradition is humiliation. The military has made great leaps to prevent and discourage hazing. Now-a-days kicking down a troop’s door and making them chug six beers at three in the morning is hazing. Back in my day it was free beer. Take that, stupid seniors. Don’t do it now though, you’ll go to real a** pounding jail.

2. Deployment is around the corner

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
New Marines with Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, stand in formation during liberty call at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Jan. 16, 2020. After the Marines were reunited with their families, they were dismissed for six hours of on-base liberty. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Grace J. Kindred)

You know that meme with the dog who doesn’t bite but will hurt you in other ways? Like saying that Kuwait isn’t a real deployment (*because it isn’t). Exactly, whether a deployment meets the infantry’s certified bad a** criteria or not, a unit is going to do what a unit is going to do. They’re going to party. That means a commander has to check the blotter. For the uninitiated, a police blotter is a public record of arrests made the prior evening. Your command will find out if you screwed up.

The brass would rather you went down for selling state secrets to the former Soviet Union than a D.U.I. – don’t do that either! In all seriousness though, officers better give one hell of an entertaining safety brief that communicates ‘don’t F this up for all of us’. I hope you took a course in stand up comedy in college, sir (or ma’am) because a good safety brief does deter stupid sh*t.

Officers, don’t put your reputation on the chopping block for a troop who came back hot during the unit drug test. Everyone is Rambo when they come back. Do not let your personal bias get in the way of protecting the rest of your troops. The odds that there was a mistake at the lab after post-deployment leave block are slim to none. Someone is going to pop.

Apes. Together. Strong. Apes on leave throw poop at everyone.

Yes, it’s your leave block too. However, an officer’s rank is on their shoulders to symbolize the burden of leadership. A phone call once every few days on a long leave block does make a difference. If an incident is going to happen you can at least get ahead of it and prevent it by staying informed. The Navy hits port after being months at sea. A Marine Expeditionary Unit is how the Marine Corps and the Navy can liberate any country in the world at a moment’s notice. Every ocean on the planet has a fleet of angry, bored Marines and sailors. Yet every valve needs a pressure release, or it will explode. When they hit port, R&R needs to be steady and controlled or sh*t will hit the fan. The command needs to make sure that there are plenty of tourist options available.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
U.S. sailors and Marines assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) participate in a guided tour of Vatican City during a port call, Oct. 31, 2013. The Nimitz was deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Kelly M. Agee/Released)

When we stopped in Dubai, I went skiing indoors at the U.A.E. mall and had chai at the Burj al Arab. We were so caught up in tourist stuff that no one got in trouble. Ports with no activities except alcohol were the most problematic, so, officers should expect the bare minimum if they plan the bare minimum. Honestly, there shouldn’t be any excuse for not incorporating morale because officers have better opportunities to access the internet on a Navy ship than enlisted. Put the social media down for one day and Google some fun stuff.

3. A holiday leave block longer than a 96

The risk is higher but that doesn’t always mean something will happen. Months like December are a minefield, so, calling your troops to at least check up on them is a worthwhile investment. You don’t want to do it. They don’t want to do it either. It’s reminder that, before they do some Wolf of Wall Street shenanigans, that they still have a career to get back to.

4. The 2nd promotion wave

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Marines from Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, march to meet families and friends prior to beginning liberty call at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Dec. 17. Family Day allows recruits to reunite with families for the first time since leaving for Marine Corps recruit training. 

Those E1s that got promoted to E2s are now ready to climb to E3s. The difference this time around is that they’ve ‘gotten with the program’ and won’t snitch if they’re getting hazed. It could be something as small as a light tap on their chevrons or full blown meritorious a** beating. In a good unit, it shouldn’t get out of hand, but officers know what they have. Even if your platoon doesn’t break the rules, if you got a bunch of rowdy, recently promoted war fighters, you’re in a rough ride.

5. The lance corporals are getting out

Terminal lances are out of f**ks to give. They’re a wild card even if they are getting out. They may be bitter from their four years of service and will disregard the rules. But even the lance corporals like to have a good time – find fun things to do in every port, or have them voluntold for plenty of admin.

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This makeshift armored vehicle is actually an ISIS suicide bomb truck

As anti-ISIS forces retake Mosul and march on Raqqa, more and more of the terror group’s mystique is falling away. It’s hard to be the international bogeyman when your forces are suffering defeats across your caliphate.


That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Not pictured: ISIS victories. (Photo: CJTF Operation Inherent Resolve YouTube)

But one of ISIS’s most prominent battlefield weapons is still deadly frightening, the armored vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. While VBIEDs were already common in Iraq and Afghanistan, ISIS upped the ante by creating especially effective armored versions and then employing them like artillery — softening their enemy’s lines and breaking up attacks.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
A captured ISIS vehicle-borne improvised explosive device is displayed where it is held by the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq. (Photo: YouTube/ Sky News)

For the Iraqi Army, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and other anti-ISIS forces, understanding these weapons is a matter of life or death. But typically, the weapons are destroyed before they can be captured, either because the soldiers hit it with a rocket, tank, or artillery round, or because the operator triggers his explosive cargo.

This makes it relatively rare that a suicide vehicle is captured intact. But there have been a few, and Sky News got the chance to tour one of these captured vehicles during the Iraqi military’s initial punch into Mosul.

The vehicle, captured by Kurdish Peshmerga, had been heavily modified with the removal of any unnecessary weight, the addition of thick, heavy armor, and the installation of a massive amount of explosives.

See the full tour of the vehicle in the video below:

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4 lopsided battles lost because of excessive pride

Leading a massive military force must be a huge ego booster for its commander. Wielding that much military power in one place has to make anyone feel confident of victory. Still, it’s always important to check yourself before you wreck yourself because even history’s greatest leaders can fall victim to hubris. 

In Pulp Fiction, Marcellus Wallace was right when he said “Pride only hurts you, it never helps.” It’s amazing how generally wise and experienced leaders can fail because their own overconfidence undermines that wisdom and experience. Here are four cautionary tales along those lines.  

1. The Battle of Red Cliffs (208 AD)

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
A mural showing chariots and cavalry, from Dahuting Tomb of the late Eastern Han Dynasty (Wikimedia Commons)

This battle is not just monumental for its outcome, but also for who was involved, where it took place and how the battle was won. It happened on the Yangtze River in 208 AD during China’s Three Kingdoms period. It was also one of the largest naval battles in history, if not the largest. It pit legendary Chinese warlord Cao Cao, who wanted to unify China under his rule, against an alliance of two other greats from Chinese history, Liu Bei and Sun Quan. 

The two sides first met at Xiakou, but Cao Cao’s rush to meet his enemies pushed his army too hard and they were forced to retreat to Wulin. There, the two sides met on the water, with Cao Cao’s 250,000 men (who were largely not sailors) aboard a massive fleet of chained-together ships. The allies opposite had a force of 50,000 marines. 

When the fighting started, the allies had replaced the men and material aboard a number of boats with scarecrows, kindling, and fatty oil and sailed right at Cao Cao’s flotilla. His men fired fire arrows at the ships, which set them on fire. When they approached Cao Cao’s ships, they exploded, setting fire to his ships. Half his men were lost and the warlord was forced to retreat. 

2. The Battle of Carrhae (53 BC)

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Relief of a mounted Parthian archer (Wikimedia Commons)

Greed and ego claimed the loser at Carrhae. Marcus Licinius Crassus believed that he could overwhelm the Parthians at Carrhae at the head of 43,000 legionnaires. He was looking for an easy win that would give him the same military glory enjoyed by the other members of his triumvirate, Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great, while expanding the Roman treasury. Instead, it was one of the worst losses of all time. 

The Roman legions were literally showered with thousands of arrows from mobile Parthian horse archers. The deadly rain sliced through the Roman lines and when they moved to retreat, they were met by Parthian cataphracts, heavy horse cavalry with long spears. Crassus and the Roman leadership met with the Parthians to discuss surrender terms, but were killed instead. 20,000 legionnaires were killed in the fighting and 10,000 more were taken prisoner. The Parthian losses were so minimal, they weren’t recorded. 

3. The Battle of Morgarten (1315)

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Illustration of the Battle of Morgarten by Johannes Stumpf (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1315, the Habsburgs were divided among two camps for who would claim the title of Holy Roman Emperor. To assert its military dominance over three Swiss cantons who had recently sacked a monastery to assert their own autonomy, Habsburg Duke Leopold I led 9,000 of the family’s best troops to put them back in their place and capture an easy route to Italy. It didn’t work out the way he planned. 

Instead of crushing the Swiss Confederates, who only mustered 1,500 poorly armed peasants, they marched through a bottleneck at Morgarten Pass, which put the army between a mountain and a swamp. As the tightly-packed Habsburgs marched through, the Swiss dropped rocks and arrows at them, devastating the elite knights. When they moved to retreat, they ran into the force of peasants who slaughtered 1,500 of them and scattered the rest to the winds. 

4. The Battle of Hattin (1187)

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1185, crusader Raynald of Châtillon raided a Muslim caravan, violating the uneasy truce between the Crusader States and the Islamic leader Saladin. In response, Saladin assembled the largest force he ever led and laid siege to the city of Tiberias. To relieve the siege, Raynald marched his own massive Crusader army away from its fortified camp near the springs of Sepphoris to meet Saladin – which is exactly what Saladin wanted. 

The Crusaders marched in the heat of the desert by day without enough water to sustain them on their way. They decided to divert south to the springs of Kafr Hattin. There, they found Saladin’s Army standing between them and the water. Parched with thirst the Crusaders settled down for the night, but were harassed by smoke from fires set by Saladin’s forces, exacerbating their thirst. 

When the fighting started, the demoralized Crusaders were decimated by arrows. They formed their army but were swiftly routed. They tried to break for Lake Tiberias but were blocked on that road too. With nowhere to move, no possibility of retreat and much of their infantry deserted, the surrounded Christians were defeated. The 20,000-strong army was annihilated, its nobles were taken prisoner, and Raynald was executed for breaking the truce.

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The military pay raise for 2017 might be a bit underwhelming

The U.S. military has a reputation for being overworked and underpaid.


But we all knew that going in.

The virtue of service and pride of wearing the uniform makes up for much of the disparity in pay compared to the civilian market. Still, it’s nice to get that bump in our paychecks every year.

Yet, the pay increase for 2017 won’t be so big. In an August 2016 letter to Congress, President Obama announced a 1.6 percent raise for the armed forces, consistent with the budget he sent to The Hill earlier in the year.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
(White House photo)

Across-the-board pay increases for other federal employees will be 1 percent.

“These decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well-qualified Federal workforce,” Obama said in his letter to Congress.

Pay raises for the military peaked in 1983 when President Reagan instituted a 14.3 percent pay raise. Since then, the increase hovered steadily between 3 and 5 percent, with an average of 4.2 percent, according to the Congressional Research Service.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Military pay raises since 1977.

According to Military.com’s Brendan McGarry, the Senate backs the President’s proposed numbers, but the House of Representatives was looking for a 2.1 percent raise.

When Congress agrees on how much it will be, the military pay raise will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

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The first US troops to fight for America did it on this day in 1775

There has long been a dispute between the towns of Lexington and Concord over which fight sparked the Revolution, but the first shots were fired at Lexington, which was less of a battle and more of a massacre. The debate was so fierce that President Ulysses Grant almost avoided the centennial celebrations there to avoid the issue. Taken together, however, there is little doubt that the spark of the Revolution started on this day in April, 1775.


That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolution, pitting members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony militia against British regular army forces. The militia was not under the royal governor, but controlled by the rebel Massachusetts Provincial Congress.

Seven hundred British troops were dispatched from Tory-held Boston to capture and destroy rebel arsenals at Concord, Mass. The rebels knew the British would come and had already moved the weapons and supplies. The British force moved through Lexington on the way to Concord.

At first light on April 19, 1775, the Redcoats met some 70 colonial militiamen moving into ranks on the local common. They were vastly outnumbered. Their commander, John Parker, was not willing to risk his men at such odds, and so placed them in formation, but not blocking the road to Concord. He ordered his men not to fire unless fired upon.

Rather than just march on to Concord, a British Marine lieutenant led his men onto Lexington Common to disarm the militia. Instead of disarming, the colonists moved to disperse. That’s when a shot rang out from an unknown source. Before this encounter, there was no war declared in the colonies. The British had come and gone to seize arms and supplies many times, retreating back to the major cities each time. This time was different.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel

The idea of Americans in open rebellion against the British Crown was likely a shock to the subject of the British Empire. At the time of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the British controlled territory on every inhabitable continent across the globe. Down on Lexington Common, however, those opening salvos left eight Americans dead and an equal number injured, along with one injured British regular. The engagement soured the chances of reconciliation between the colonies and the Crown.

The British would continue to Concord, where the Battle of North Bridge in Concord would kill two colonists and three Redcoats. The British retreated all the way back to Boston and were harassed by colonial militias the entire way home.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel

Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson composed the “Concord Hymn” in 1837, immortalizing the two events for the unveiling of a battle monument at Concord’s North Bridge.

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood/Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled/Here once the embattled farmers stood/And fired the shot heard round the world.”

This story would one day lead to the defeat of the British at the hands of a Franco-American force, the birth of America, and eventually, School House Rock.

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This Army vet is about to make his professional MMA debut

Army infantry veteran Joshua D. Hardwick will make his professional MMA debut Sat., May 14 in Bellator 154 in San Jose, California. The 160-pound striker is facing off against Staff Sgt. Jorge Acosta, a California Army National Guardsman.


Interested in going to Bellator 154 in San Jose? Get half off your tickets by entering the promo code “MIGHTY” at checkout.

Acosta is 1-1 on the professional circuit. Hardwick is 5-2 on the amateur circuit (including three international fights in Thailand).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
J.D. Hardwick, in the orange shorts, steps into a fight with Ben Lugo in Spartan Combat League 46. Screenshot: YouTube/Sparta Combat League

Hardwick served predominantly as a sniper in reconnaissance platoons. The future MMA fighter had relatively tame ambitions when he transitioned from the military.

“When I got out of the Army, I went back to Washington and started logging and working in a mill with the intent of going back to school,” he told WATM. “Then when my girlfriend and I broke up, I decided to move to Denver and chase my dream. It’s worked out really well for me.”

Hardwick said that he’s excited to face off against another veteran chasing his dreams in MMA. While Acosta has more experience on the professional stage, Hardwick said he was sure that he can still control the fight and come out on top.

“I’m very confident in what I’m able to do and in my ability to defend from what he’s going to do and establish my game plan and my style in the fight,” he said.

“I’ve been training for my pro debut since I first started,” he said. “Every camp, every day that I’ve been training it’s been for this opportunity. I lived in Thailand for 6 months, I train on the best team in the world with Elevation Fight Team, world-class fighters. I couldn’t be more prepared for this fight than I am.”

While Hardwick prefers to fight a striking battle, he’s comfortable heading to the floor if the situation calls for it.

“I think I’m pretty decent everywhere,” he said. “I like to strike but I have three first-round submission finishes.”

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
JD Hardwick checks on Ben Lugo after obtaining a first-round submission from Lugo. Screenshot: YouTube/Sparta Combat League

Hardwick has been out of the military for a few years but stays close with his former brothers-in-arms. Their support is part of why he fights.

“So many of them are like family,” he said. “But even ones that I’ve lost touch with, they reach out and tell me that they’re inspired by what I’m doing and how hard I’m working.”

Inspiring other vets to go after the life they really want is important to Hardwick.

We all fought so hard for freedom, and when we get done fighting for it, we need to fight for our own dreams. Stop doing what society says we need to do and do the things that we think will make us happy.

He hopes that his own story will remind vets that they don’t have to come home to desk jobs if they don’t want to.

“Like me, I got out of the Army and I worked some jobs that made good money and I was going to go to school because I thought that was what I was supposed to do but that stuff didn’t really make me happy,” Hardwick said. “And, when I got the opportunity to give that all up and make zero money and move back in with my mom and start chasing me dream, and now it’s kind of all coming together.

“This is just the beginning and there’s a long, long road ahead but I couldn’t be any happier than I am today being a poor MMA fighter.”

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That time the USAF intercepted a pilotless Soviet fighter

On the morning of July 4, 1989, alarm bells blared at Soesterberg Air Base in the Netherlands, home of the US Air Force’s 32d Tactical Fighter Squadron.


Within minutes, a pair of armed F-15 Eagles, manned by Capts. J.D. Martin and Bill “Turf” Murphy, were launched on a scramble order. Their mission was to intercept what appeared to be a lone fighter making a beeline from Soviet-controlled airspace into Western Europe.

Though the Cold War’s end was seemingly not too far away, tensions still ran high between the two sides of the Iron Curtain, and any incursion by an unidentified aircraft would need to be responded to swiftly.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
F-15Cs of the 32d Tactical Fighter Squadron (US Air Force)

As JD and Turf were vectored in on the aircraft, now identified as a Soviet MiG-23 Flogger supersonic fighter, ground controllers notified them that all attempts to contact the inbound jet had failed and the intentions of its pilot were unknown and potentially hostile.

When they got close the the Flogger, the two Eagles were primed and ready to shoot down their silent bogey if it didn’t respond and carried on its flight path. But when the two F-15 pilots closed in on the aircraft to positively identify it, they noticed that the pylons underneath the Flogger — used to mount missiles and bombs — were empty.

By then, the Flogger was firmly in Dutch airspace, casually flying onward at around 400 mph at an altitude of 39,000 ft.

What JD and Turf saw next would shock them — the Flogger’s canopy had been blown off and there was no pilot to be found inside the cockpit. In essence, the Soviet fighter was flying itself, likely through its autopilot system.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
A Soviet Air Force MiG-23 Flogger, similar to the one which flew pilotless across Europe (US Air Force)

After contacting ground control with this new development, the two Eagle pilots were given approval to shoot down the wayward MiG over the North Sea, lest it suddenly crash into a populated area. Unaware of how long the pilotless MiG had been flying, and battling poor weather which could have sent debris shooting down the MiG into nearby towns, JD and Turf opted to let the jet run out of fuel and crash into the English Channel.

Instead, the aircraft motored along into Belgium, finally arcing into a farm when the last of its fuel reserves were depleted. Tragically, the MiG struck a farmhouse, killing a 19-year-old. Authorities raced to the site of the crash to begin their investigation into what happened, while the two F-15s returned to base. French Air Force Mirage fighters were also armed and ready to scramble should the MiG have strayed into French airspace.

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
The crash site of the MiG-23 in Belgium (Public Domain)

Details of what led to the loss of the Flogger began to emerge.

As it turns out, the Soviet fighter had originated from Bagicz Airbase — a short distance away from Kolobrzeg, Poland — on what was supposed to be a regular training mission. The pilot, Col. Nikolai Skuridin, ejected less than a minute into his flight during takeoff when instruments in the cockpit notified him that he had drastically lost engine power. At an altitude of around 500 ft, it would be dangerous and almost certainly fatal if Skuridin stayed with his stricken fighter, trying to recover it with its only engine dead. The colonel bailed out with a sense of urgency, assuming the end was near.

But as he drifted back down to Earth, instead of seeing his fighter plummet to its demise, it righted itself and resumed climbing, its engine apparently revived.

The ensuing debacle proved to be thoroughly embarrassingfor the Soviet Union, which was forced to offer restitution to Belgium and the family of the deceased teenager. By the end of the MiG’s flight, it had flown over 625 miles by itself until it ran out of fuel and crashed.

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13 funniest memes for the week of April 7

Tomahawks are flying, tensions are rising, and we’re just over here collecting memes and giggling. Here are 13 of our favorite funny military memes from this week, starting with a little shout out to the ships that conducted the strikes:


1. Congrats to the Navy for getting to set off some fireworks last night (via Weapons of Meme Destruction).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
But y u no shoot more?

2. Digital security is important (via Team Non-Rec).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
ISIS is coming for you with stock photos of models.

ALSO READ: The only time the Soviet Union officially fought the US was in brutal air combat

3. Navy Capt. Bender got the hookers out before the NCIS raid began (via Military World).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Best. Cruise. Ever.

4. You’ve got to earn that nap time by holding up that book she’s going to read to you (via Decelerate Your Life).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel

5. If it’s stupid but it works … actually, this is still stupid (via Coast Guard Memes).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Would love to the new safety briefing when this goes awry.

6. Poor Jody never gets any respect (via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
#JodiesServeToo

7. Grade-A, Tier-One killers (via Devil Dog Nation).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Just make sure they’re home before dark.

8. Every paratrooper’s spirit animal on a Saturday jump (via Military World).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Unless it’s a Chinook, Sherpa, or foreign jump. Then, it’s all smiles all around.

9. Shut up, POG (via Pop smoke).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
POGs who wish they weren’t POGs are 1,000 percent more likely to call people POGs than an infantryman is.

10. Yeah. This is worth the next four years of my life (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
Career counselors are basically Mephistopheles made flesh (Google it, then print one out and tape it to the career counselor’s door).

11. “Potato” isn’t too shabby (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel

12. Good ol’ National Training Center (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
So many great memories there.

13. You’ll never run faster than when you’re told you don’t have to run that morning (via The Salty Soldier).

That time the British tried to assassinate Erwin Rommel
One word. One syllable. So many feelings.

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It looks like Syrian rebels are using Nazi-era artillery

A new video uploaded on Facebook likely shows German Wehrmacht artillery being used by Syrian rebels in that nation’s current civil war:



The video description doesn’t identify who is operating the weapon, but it is likely the Syrian rebels. They’ve used this tactic before. A video surfaced in May 2015 showing them using Wehrmacht artillery and they’ve also pressed valuable, antique German guns into service. And the artilleryman’s clothing bears some striking differences from government uniforms.

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