Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine - We Are The Mighty
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Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

On May 7, 1915, the British ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat.

From the first shots of the Great War, Germany was desperate to gain an upper hand by any means necessary. They warned the world that their submarines patrolling the North Atlantic would target any ships belonging to Great Britain or her allies. Germany stated that anyone sailing in the waters around Great Britain did so at their own risk.

On May 7, at just after 2 PM local time, the Lusitania was bound for Liverpool from New York, when two German torpedoes hit the starboard side of the ship near the bridge. The Lusitania went down — and took 1,198 people to the bottom with her in under 18 minutes.

Despite the German warning, with 128 Americans dead aboard the sunken ship, President Woodrow Wilson rejected the German explanation for the sinking in a series of notes to the German government. 

Privately, the Lusitania incident turned the President against Germany, convincing him that America should soon be a British ally. It became a key motivator for America’s entry into World War One nearly two years later when, on April 2, 1917, President Wilson would ask Congress to declare war on Germany.

117,465 Americans would be killed in The War to End All Wars.

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This is how the US military would put down an armed rebellion

What if the “2nd amendment people” Donald Trump mentioned recently during a campaign rally were actually able to spark an armed rebellion to overthrow the United States?


In a 2012 article for the Small Wars Journaltwo academics took a stab at such a scenario and tried to figure out how state and federal authorities would likely respond to a small force taking over an American town.

In their paper, retired Army colonel and University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies professor Kevin Benson and Kansas University history professor Jennifer Weber wargamed a scenario where a Tea Party-motivated militia took over the town of Darlington, South Carolina.

The circumstances may seem far-fetched, but in today’s deeply partisan political environment, it’s at least worth looking into how the feds would respond if an American town tried to go it alone.

Precedents for fighting an insurrection

Benson and Weber cite Abraham Lincoln’s executive actions during the Civil War and Dwight Eisenhower’s 1957 intervention in Little Rock, Arkansas as precedents for the executive use of force in crushing a rebellion. The President would be able to mobilize the military and Department of Homeland Security to recapture a secessionist city and restore the elected government.

The government would invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to form a response.

From Title 10 US Code the President may use the militia or Armed Forces to:

§ 331 – Suppress an insurrection against a State government at the request of the Legislature or, if not in session, the Governor.

§ 332 – Suppress unlawful obstruction or rebellion against the U.S.

§ 333 – Suppress insurrection or domestic violence if it (1) hinders the execution of the laws to the extent that a part or class of citizens are deprived of Constitutional rights and the State is unable or refuses to protect those rights or (2) obstructs the execution of any Federal law or impedes the course of justice under Federal laws.)

The Insurrection Act governs the roles of the military, local law enforcement, and civilian leadership inside the U.S. as this type of scenario plays out.

How it could go down

An extreme right-wing militia takes over the town of Darlington, South Carolina, placing the mayor under house arrest and disbanding the city council. Local police are disarmed or are sympathetic to the militia’s cause and integrated into the militia.

The rebels choke traffic on interstates 95 and 20, collecting “tolls” to fund their arsenal and operation. Militiamen also stop rail lines and detain anyone who protests their actions.

The insurgents use social media and press conferences to invoke the Declaration of Independence as their rationale, arguing they have the right to “alter or abolish the existing government and replace it with another that, in the words of the Declaration, ‘shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.’ ”

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Many states have militia groups formed by citizens. This is a gathering of the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia. (SMVM photo)

Because of this, they enjoy a “groundswell” of support from similarly-minded locals throughout the state. The mayor contacts the governor and his congressman. The governor doesn’t call out the National Guard for fear they’d side with the militiamen. He monitors the situation using the State Police but through aides, he asks the federal government to step in and restore order, but cannot do so publicly.

The President of the United States gives the militia 15 days to disperse.

Mobilizing a response

The executive branch first calls the state National Guard to federal service. The Joint Staff alerts the U.S. Northern Command who orders U.S. Army North/Fifth U.S. Army to form a joint task force headquarters. Local units go on alert – in this case, the U.S. Army at Forts Bragg and Stewart in North Carolina and Georgia, respectively, and Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The Fifth Army begins its mission analysis and intelligence preparation of the battlefield. This includes locating enemy bases, critical infrastructure, terrain, potential weather, and other important information.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
The federal government’s use of Active Duty troops against the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas sparked controversy. (FBI photo)

Once the Fifth Army commander has a complete picture of the militia’s behavior patterns, deployments of forces, and activity inside the town, he begins a phased deployment of federal forces.

Civilian control of the military

The Fifth Army is in command of the military forces, but the Department of Justice is still the lead federal agency in charge on the ground. The Attorney General can designate a Senior Civilian Representative of the Attorney General (SCRAG) to coordinate all federal agencies and has the authority to assign missions to federal military forces. The Attorney General may also appoint a Senior Federal Law Enforcement Officer to coordinate federal law enforcement activities.

It’s interesting to note that many of the Constitutional protections afforded to American citizens still apply to those in arms against the government. For instance, federal judges will still have to authorize wiretaps on rebel phones during all phases of the federal response.

Troops on the ground will be aware of local, national, and international media constantly watching them and that every incidence of gunfire will likely be investigated.

Beginning combat operations

Combat units will begin show of force operations against militiamen to remind the rebels they’re now dealing with the actual United States military. Army and Marine Corps units will begin capturing and dismantling the checkpoints and roadblocks held by the militia members.

All federal troops will use the minimum amount of force, violence, and numbers necessary. Only increasing to put pressure on the insurrectionist leaders.

After dismantling checkpoints, soldiers and Marines will recapture critical infrastructure areas in the city, such as water and power stations, as well as TV and radio stations and hospitals.

Meanwhile, state law enforcement and activated National Guard units will care for the fleeing and residents of the city. This is partly for political reasons, allowing the government most susceptible to local voters to be seen largely absent from being in direct, sometimes armed conflict with their own elected officials.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Shays Rebellion monument

Restoring government control

Federal troops will maintain law and order on the streets of the city as elected officials return to their offices. Drawing on U.S. military history, the government will likely give individual members of the militia a general amnesty while prosecuting the leaders and those who broke the law during the uprising.

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The 6 most terrifying weapons of World War I

When the Great War began in 1914, the armies on both sides brought new technologies to the battlefield the likes of which the world had never seen. The destruction and carnage caused by these new weapons was so extensive that portions of old battlefields are still uninhabitable.


World War I saw the first widespread use of armed aircraft and tanks as well as the machine gun. But some of the weapons devised during the war were truly terrifying.

1. The Flamethrower

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
German flamethrowers during WWI (Photo: German Federal Archive, 1917)

The idea of being able to burn one’s enemies to death has consistently been on the minds of combatants throughout history; however, it was not until 1915 Germany was able to deploy a successful man-portable flamethrower.

The flamethrower was especially useful because even just the idea of being burned alive drove men from the trenches into the open where they could be cut down by rifle and machine gun fire.

The terrible nature of the flamethrower, Flammenwerfer in German, meant that the troops carrying them were marked men. As soon as they were spotted, they became the targets of gunfire. Should one happen to be taken prisoner, they were often subjected to summary execution.

The British went a different way with their flamethrowers and developed the Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector. These were stationary weapons deployed in long trenches forward of the lines preceding an attack. The nozzle would spring out of the ground and send a wall of flame 300 feet in the enemy’s direction.

These were used with great effectiveness at the Somme on July 1, 1916 when they burned out a section of the German line before British infantry was able to rush in and capture the burning remnants.

2. Trench Knife

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

Even with the advent of the firearm, hand-to-hand combat was still a given on the battlefield. However, with the introduction of trench warfare, a new weapon was needed in order to fight effectively in such close quarters. Enter the trench knife.

The most terrifying trench knives were developed by the United States. The M1917, America’s first trench knife, combined three killing tools in one. The blade of the weapon was triangular which meant it could only be used for stabbing, but it inflicted terrible wounds.

Triangular stab wounds were so gruesome that they were eventually banned by the Geneva Conventions in 1949 because they cause undue suffering. The knife also had a “knuckle duster” hand guard mounted with spikes in order to deliver maximum damage with a punching attack. Finally, the knife had a “skull crusher” pommel on the bottom in order to smash the enemy’s head with a downward attack.

An improved design, the Mark I Trench Knife, was developed in 1918 but didn’t see use until WWII.

3. Trench Raiding Clubs

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Crudely shaped trench club from World War I. (Photo: York Museums Trust)

Along with the trench knife the Allies developed other special weapons for the specific purpose of trench raiding. Trench raiding was the practice of sneaking over to enemy lines’ and then, as quietly as possible, killing everyone in sight, snatching a few prisoners, lobbing a few explosives into bunkers and high-tailing it back to friendly lines before the enemy knew what hit them.

As rifles would make too much noise, trench raiding clubs were developed. There was no specific design of a trench raiding club, though many were patterned after medieval weapons such as maces and flails.

Others were crude handmade implements using whatever was around. This often consisted of heavy lengths of wood with nails, barbed wire, or other metal attached to the striking end to inflict maximum damage.

4. Shotgun

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
U.S. Marine carrying the Winchester M97 shotgun.

When Americans entered the fight on the Western Front they brought with them a new weapon that absolutely terrified the Germans: the shotgun. The United States used a few different shotguns but the primary weapon was the Winchester M1897 Trench Grade shotgun. This was a modified version of Winchester’s model 1897 with a shortened 20″ barrel, heat shield, and bayonet lug.

The shotgun, with 6 shells of 00 buck, was so effective that American troops referred to it as the “trench sweeper” or “trench broom.”

The Germans, however, were less than pleased at the introduction of this new weapon to the battlefield. The effectiveness of the shotgun so terrified the Germans that they filed a diplomatic protest against its use. They argued that it should be outlawed in combat and threatened to punish any Americans captured with the weapon.

America rejected the German protest and threatened retaliation for any punishment against American soldiers.

5. Poison Gas

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
British emplacement after German gas attack (probably phosgene) at Fromelles. (July 19, 1916)

Of course any list of terrifying weapons of war has to include poison gas; it is the epitome of horrible weapons. Poisonous gas came in three main forms: Chlorine, Phosgene, and Mustard Gas.

The first poison gas attack was launched by the Germans against French forces at Ypres in 1915. After that, both sides began to develop their chemical weapon arsenals as well as countermeasures.

The true purpose of the gas was generally not to kill — though it certainly could — but to produce large numbers of casualties or to pollute the battlefield and force the enemy from their positions.

Gas also caused mass panic amongst the troops because of the choking and blindness brought on by exposure causing them to flee their positions. Mustard gas was particularly terrible because in addition to severely irritating the throat, lungs, and eyes, it also burned exposed skin, creating large painful blisters.

6. Artillery

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
8-inch howitzers of the 39th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery conducting a shoot in the Fricourt-Mametz Valley, during the Battle of the Somme, 1916. (Photo: Imperial War Museum)

Though artillery had been around for centuries leading up to WWI, its use on the battlefields of Europe was unprecedented. This was because of two reasons.

First, some of the largest guns ever used in combat were employed during the war.

Second, because the world had never seen such concentrations of artillery before.

Artillery shells were fired in mass concentrations that turned the earth into such a quagmire that later shells would fail to detonate and instead they would simply bury themselves into the ground. Massive bombardments destroyed trenches and buried men alive.

Artillery bombardments were so prolific that a new term, shell shock, was developed to describe the symptoms of survivors of horrendous bombardments.

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My Attempt To Capture Afghanistan Wound Up Capturing America Instead

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Oregon National Guardsmen in Afghanistan, 2008. (Photo: Gary Mortensen)


Afghanistan. Distant, foreboding, little understood.

Known as the “Graveyard of Empires” the carcasses of countless soviet war machines rust away in mute testimony to the futility of that savage war. The more I read about Afghanistan the less I seemed to know. Watching the news was even more confusing and it appeared America had entered this same graveyard and that we were now fighting elusive ghosts otherwise known as the Taliban.

I remember watching the newscasts in the 1990’s of the Taliban as they rose like a cancer throughout the country, oppressing women, killing those who opposed them and imposing their radical version of Islam on all. Nothing made a deeper impression on me than the public destruction of the massive Banyam Buddhas and the wholesale  “cleansing” of Afghanistan’s precious ancient history. Then came 9/11.

In 2010, then our 9th year of the war, I was still struggling with understanding why we were there, who we were fighting and maybe most importantly who were we helping? I got it in my mind that I wanted to make a sort of “combat travel film” that didn’t just following brave men in combat but one that also helped to explain more about the land and the people. Digital technology now makes every soldier a potential documentarian and it was under these auspices that I started to look for a story. It didn’t take long and it would change my life.

Enter Team Cobra

A Sergeant friend of mine told me about a group of all-volunteers from the Oregon National Guard who, in 2008, wanted to deploy to Afghanistan to “impart change” by helping the local population and training the Afghan National Army.  They would return a year later as one of the most decorated units in Oregon National Guard history. While I didn’t at the time know the particulars, I knew I had to tell their story.

Of the 17 men that deployed, I interviewed 6 of them. I had between 2 and 4 hours of initial interview footage from each man. With each interview their stories started to intertwine and after the interview process my real work began. I listened to these stories on my headphones over and over again. Their journey to Afghanistan was over, but mine was just beginning. I watched countless video clips and looked at thousands of photos, each one representing a puzzle piece.  Weeks turned to months. The sound of the newspaper being delivered in our driveway served as a reminder that I might have missed another night’s sleep. I was learning about Afghanistan, about the diversity of the people, about courage, about honor and about loss.

Watch Gary Mortensen’s ‘Shepherds of Helmand’ on The Mighty TV here.

 

Earlier that year I had lost my mom to a long and protracted battle with cancer. My father followed a few weeks afterwards. In my own sorrow I consumed myself with telling the story of Team Cobra. They too knew loss. One of their leaders, Bruno DeSolenni had died in an IED attack and the impact on these men would be profound and everlasting.

Each night as I worked on the film I felt closer to these guys, even though they had only met me months earlier for a few hours. But that didn’t matter, I felt a huge responsibility to tell their story in a way that would honor them.  I was nervous to show the final cut to them because I wanted to tell the story right. They were gracious and thankful and said to my relief that it was faithful.

When the film finally debuted almost a year later everyone of the soldiers were there for the premiere. They stood on the stage after the screening and answered questions. It was after this that I really got to know them, not just as soldiers but as people.

In my attempt to make a film about Afghanistan, I ended up making a film about America. It’s seems so easy to accept the popular indictment that we have lost it as a country. But I would submit that all around us are exceptional people. I am proud to say I know six of them. They are simply some of the finest people I have ever met and I know that if I was ever in need I could call any of them and they would be there for me. Not because I’m special, it’s because that’s just what they do. They went to Afghanistan to help, some of have gone back, one didn’t come back and  some of them are there today.

I am honored to call Jerry Glesmann, Paul Dyer, Marking Browning, Dave Hagen, Dominic Oto and Steve Cooper my friends. They helped me more than they will every know.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Gary Mortensen is an award-winning documentary film director, President of Stoller Family Estate (a premiere Oregon winery), and is active in helping to preserve and share the stories of our veterans. See more at www.veteranslegacies.com.

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This retired rear admiral caught a reporter playing Pokemon Go in a press briefing

Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby was a Navy public affairs officer for decades and now serves as the State Department’s top spokesman, so he’s been around journalists for a while and given plenty of briefings.


That may explain why he was so chill when — in the middle of reading a statement about defeating ISIS propaganda — he noticed a journalist playing Pokemon Go on a smartphone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34LAEvGfLsQ
Look, WATM isn’t one of those places that wants to take people’s joy away. Do your thing and enjoy life. If Pokemon make you happy, chase those Pokemon.

But maybe let’s don’t interrupt a briefing about the importance of defeating ISIS on the internet by playing video games — Pokemon Go or otherwise.

Unless, of course, you’ve found a way to defeat ISIS via video games. Then please forward your idea to WATM so we can spread the word.

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The 13 Funniest Military Memes This Week

Welcome to 2015! The holidays are over and, for some of us, the shine is already coming off the New Year. If you need a boost to face the next 52 weeks, try these 13 military memes that made us laugh.


The dog jumped; paratroopers just fall

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Hey, the dogs get parachutes too.

No loitering or soliciting

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
The only bum fights with national security repercussions

The best air shows require ordnance

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Why set down the controller? Can’t you pilot with those now?

It’s alright, you’ll sweat it out

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
As long as you wear a reflective belt

No s–t, there I was…

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
…it had been hours since lunch, and I was at the back of the line.

If they were equal, the Marines couldn’t spend so much time bragging

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Nope, just paid the same.

Dress for the job you want

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Pretty sure those toys are wearing their helmets though. Proper PPE, fellas, Proper PPE.

ENDEX, ENDEX, ENDEX

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Best feeling in the military is, right before you have to admit you screwed up, hearing ENDEX.

The miracle of birth

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Jets, the only babies that throw their own showers

Overly manly man has a sweet tooth

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
No. They don’t share them either.

Lock the door, leave the lights off

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
It’s always the duty. ALWAYS.

At least they included a spot for the helicopter

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Kind of surprised they settled for only one hole

Military service is steeped in tradition

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Worst time for a negligent discharge
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These 12 rare photos show the island city the US Navy built to invade Japan

In 1944, the U.S.’s progress in its island-hopping campaign through the Pacific brought it to Ulithi Atoll. From March to September, they bombed the Japanese forces stationed there until they eventually withdrew, believing the atoll was too small to accommodate an airfield and therefore not of value to either side.


The U.S. Navy disagreed. Forces landed in Sep. 1944 and began building one of the largest naval bases used in the war. At it’s peak, Ulithi Atoll housed 617 ships, had its own 1,200-yard airstrip, and hosted 20,000 troops on its recreation island, Mogmog.

Here are 12 photos from the massive base:

1. Ulithi Atoll primarily served as a massive anchoring and refueling point for Navy ships.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Photo: US Navy

2. Ulithi Atoll was home of the famous “Murderer’s Row,” where the Third Fleet’s massive aircraft carriers were parked in late-1944.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Photo: US Navy

3. Sorlen Island in Ulithi Atoll featured a 1,600-seat movie theater and a hospital. Water was pumped in from the ocean and distilled on site.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command

4. The airstrip was constructed on Falalop Islet. Hellcats and other planes were stationed there to protect the island and to bomb targets to the north.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Hellcats parked at Ulithi Atoll. Photo: US National Archives

5. Bombs were moved across the soft sand on trailers.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Photo: US Navy

6. Mogmog Island served predominantly as a rest and recreation facility where sailors could drink, lounge, and take in entertainment.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Photo: US National Archives/Charles Kerlee

7. An officer’s club was constructed on Mogmog.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Photo: US National Archives/Charles Kerlee

8. Religious services were held on the islands. Most of the natives consolidated onto a single island for the duration of the Navy’s stay, but some visited with sailors.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

9. Sailors enjoying themselves on the beach were still surrounded by their offices.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Photo: US Navy

10. The Navy set up floating dry docks to maintain and repair ships at the atoll.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Photo: US Navy

11. Ships at Ulithi were in danger from mines and suicide torpedo attacks. The USS Mississinewa, a tanker filled with aviation fuel, was sank in Nov. 1944 by a Kaiten suicide torpedo.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
US National Archives photo

12. The suicide torpedoes were a new Japanese weapon that was analyzed at the Ulithi facilities.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
U.S. Navy Photograph

Ulithi Atoll gradually drew down in size as ships moved north but remained in service through the end of the war. This video shows the sheer size of the fleet anchored there.

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How China’s navy rapidly modernized to rival the US’s

A recent report from the US Congressional Research Service details how China’s navy, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), has undergone a stunning modernization push that puts it near parity with the US.


In fact, China’s military posture and prowess in the Western Pacific presents the US with a challenge unseen since the end of the Cold War.

By perfecting deadly ballistic and cruise missiles, by buying and designing submarines, planes, and surface ships, by cracking down on corruption and improving internal organization and logistics, the PLAN presents US naval planners with plenty to think about going forward.

Though few expect a military conflict to emerge between the world’s two biggest economies, China’s brinkmanship in the South China Sea has lead observers to describe their strategy of escalation as a kind of “salami-slicing,” or steadily taking small steps to militarize the region without taking any one step that could be viewed as a cause to go to war.

However, the US military, with its global network of allies, doesn’t have the luxury of choosing which conflicts to get involved in, and therefore must take every threat seriously.

In the slides below, see how the PLAN has shaped into a world-class navy capable of dominating the South China Sea, and even the entire Western Pacific, if left unchecked.

China’s naval mission

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy recruits | Xinhua

Those who observe China’s specific modernization goals, as well as their expressed intents in their actions, have determined that the PLAN’s mission most likely focuses on the following goals:

1. To possibly curb Taiwan’s continued attempts at independence militarily.

2.  Asserting or defending China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea and generally exercising more control over the South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars of trade passes every year.

3.  Enforcing China’s assertion that it has a legal right to regulate foreign military activities in its 200-mile maritime exclusive economic zone, despite the protestations of their neighbors in the region.

4. Defending China’s commercial sea lines of communication with military and trading partners.

5. Usurping the US as the dominant regional power in the Western Pacific, and promoting China as a major world power.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Ballistic missiles

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
The DF-21D rolls through China’s 2015 military parade. | William Ide via Wikimedia Commons

China’s DF-21D “Carrier Killer” ballistic missile is the cause of much concern for US naval planners. The missile has a tremendous range of about 810 nautical miles, far beyond the range of a US aircraft carriers’ highest-endurance planes, effectively denying them the luxury of lurking off China’s coast in the Western Pacific while in striking range.

The DF-21D uses a range of sensors to adjust its course during firing. This means that it can hit a moving target at sea in sub-optimal conditions and presents difficulties to any missile trying to intercept it. The DF-21D can deliver a high-explosive, radio-frequency, or even cluster warheads, which all but guarantee a kill, even against a formidable target such as a US aircraft carrier.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Submarines

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
China’s Yuan-class attack submarine. | Congressional Research Service

The PLAN’s submarine fleet continues to undergo a modernization push that focuses on “counter-intervention” tactics against a modern adversary. The force has acquired 12 of Russia’s Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines and launched no fewer than four new classes of indigenously made submarines, all of which are vastly more capable than the Cold-War era vessels they’re replacing.

The PLAN has launched two diesel-electric (Song and Yuan class), and two nuclear classes (Jin and Shang class). But the Shang class was stopped after only two hulls were produced, which led the DOD to speculate that the PLAN may be exploring an updated version of this class.

As the DOD states:

Over the next decade, China may construct a new Type 095 nuclear powered, guided-missile attack submarine (SSBN), which not only would improve the PLA Navy’s anti-surface warfare capability, but might also provide it with a more clandestine, land-attack option.

Additionally, the Jin class can be armed with 12 JL-2 nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which, given the submarine’s range, could potentially hit any of the 50 states in the US from locations in the Pacific.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Submarine capabilities

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
A graph showing the relative difficulty of detecting different classes of Chinese and Russian submarines. | Congressional Research Service

The PLAN’s Russian-bought submarines remain some of the most capable in the fleet. Eight of the 12 Kilo classes (presumably the newer ones) carry the Russian-made SS-N-27 Sizzler cruise missiles, with a range of over 180 miles.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Cruise missiles

The PLAN possesses a large, varied inventory of cruise missiles. Some of their most capable missiles are Russian made, like the SS-N-22 Sunburn and the SS-N-27 Sizzler, but their indigenously made missiles are also rated highly.

China’s YJ-18 cruise missile goes into a supersonic-sprint phase when approaching a target, making it harder to stop. Other rangy platforms like the YJ-62, fired from surface ships, and the YJ-12, that can be fired from bombers, complicate the US’s naval plans with their versatility.

Source: Congressional Research Service

The Liaoning

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
China’s carrier Liaoning. | PLAN

The PLAN’s sole carrier, the Liaoning, has been referred to as a “starter” carrier, as its limited range and capabilities have made it primarily useful as a training craft. Having an aircraft carrier allows the PLAN to test carrier-launched aircraft and carrier-strike-group procedures in a realistic way.

The Liaoning has a displacement of about 50,000 tons and can support about 30 aircraft. US Nimitz-class carriers double both of those figures, and also provide catapults to launch planes with heavier weapons and fuel loads, increasing their range.

As the Liaoning is conventionally powered, and not nuclear-powered like the US carriers, it’s ability for long-range power projection is greatly diminished.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Future carriers

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
By late October 2015, with the installation of the 7.5-meter tall hangar below the soon to be flight deck, it’s pretty certain that this hull is going to be China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier. | Congressional Research Service

China is thought to be making rapid progress toward building additional aircraft carriers. Little is known of China’s future carriers, but they will most likely also feature the ski-jump platform of the Liaoning.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Carrier-based aircraft

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

With the help of the Liaoning, the PLAN has succeeded in fielding the J-15 “Flying Shark” carrier-based aircraft.

The J-15 is modeled after Russia’s Su-33 “Flanker,” just as much of China’s military hardware borrows from Russian designs. On land, the J-15 has a range of about 745 miles, but launching the plane from a ski-jump-style carrier platform means that it cannot carry as much fuel, and therefore has a reduced range. Only eight production J-15s are known to be flying at this time.

It has been previously reported that the PLAN seeks to create a short takeoff, vertical-landing plane for carrier-based use in the future. However, they still lack carrier-based reconnaissance plane like the US’s E-2 Hawkeye.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Land-based aircraft and drones

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Kevin A. McGill | Wikimedia Commons

The PLAN’s Air Force has been steadily developing new aircraft for “missions including offshore air defense, maritime strike, maritime patrol, antisubmarine warfare, and, in the not too distant future, carrier-based operations.”

The PLAN has been replacing their aging Chengdu J-7 variants and Shenyang J-8B/Ds with 24 Su-30MK2s, which were purchased from Russia in 2002.

Additionally, the PLAN has a licensed copy of Russia’s Tu-16 Badger bomber, the H-6 Badger, of which they likely have 30. The bombers are escorted by JH-7 Flounder fighter/bombers.

The PLAN, like most modern navies, is also pouring money into drones.

“Some estimates indicate China plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023,” according to the DOD.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Surface combatants

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
China’s Houbei-class (Type 022) fast-attack craft. | Congressional Research Service

Much like the submarine program, the PLAN’s fleet of surface combatants has grown rapidly since 1990, with the purchase of four Sovremenny-class destroyers from Russia and the launch of 10 new classes of indigenously built destroyers and frigates, as well as a new class of corvettes.

US naval planners consider several of the newer frigate classes to be nearly as capable as Western models, and note that shipboard air defense have notably improved in the newer classes.

China’s coast guard, which it wields as a sort of paramilitary force for enforcing their maritime claims, has also benefited from a large number of new cutters.

The newer ships have sophisticated radar and missile capabilities across the board, and future vessels are expected to truly rival the systems used by the US.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Amphibious ships

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
An unconfirmed conceptual rendering of a possible design for China’s Type 081 amphibious-assault craft. | Global Times Forum

According to the DOD:

China has built four large YUZHAO class amphibious transport docks, which provide a considerably greater and more flexible capability than the older landing ships, signaling China’s development of an expeditionary warfare and OTH (over the horizon/long range) amphibious assault capability, as well as inherent humanitarian assistance/disaster relief and counter piracy capabilities.

The Yuzhao class vessels carry helicopters as well as two Russian-designed Zubr class cushioned landing ships, the largest military hovercraft of its kind.

However, after conflicts in Africa, the PLAN was unsatisfied with the firepower aboard the Yuzhao class and reportedly thought to create a new vessel, the Type 081 (pictured above).

Source: Congressional Research Service

Floating sea bases

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
A notional artist’s rendering of a very large floating structure. | Liang Jun, People’s Daily China

Perhaps one of the more novel ideas being explored by the PLAN is very large floating sea bases. Only in the concept stage currently, these floating bases could host airstrips, barracks, docks, helipads, or security bases across their massive proposed 2-mile-long surface.

But experts on the topic speculate that these platforms would have ample peacetime uses, like supporting offshore oil rigs or even tourist destinations with duty-free shops.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Nuclear and EMP capabilities

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
China’s Jin class-ballistic-missile nuclear-powered submarine. | Congressional Research Service

The DOD cites Bill Gertz, writing for The Washington Times, as saying the following:

China’s military is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons that Beijing plans to use against US aircraft carriers in any future conflict over Taiwan, according to an intelligence report made public on Thursday [July 21]…. The report, produced in 2005 and once labeled “secret,” stated that Chinese military writings have discussed building low yield EMP warheads, but “it is not known whether [the Chinese] have actually done so.”

China also possesses a nuclear triad, or the ability to launch nuclear-armed warheads from submarines, land-bases silos, and bomber aircraft.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Maritime surveillance and targeting systems

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

China’s development and deployment of advanced and long-range radars in the South China Sea is well documented.

The PLAN can use these sensors, which “reportedly include land-based over-the-horizon backscatter (OTH-B) radars, land-based over-the-horizon surface wave (OTH-SW) radars, electro-optical satellites, radar satellites, and seabed sonar networks,” to guide their ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as more conventional forces.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Naval cyber warfare

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Wikimedia Commons

China’s military writing does not specify how they would use cyberwarfare in a naval conflict, but it should be assumed that network warfare would be part of any sea battle. The PLAN is known to have invested heavily in cyberwarfare.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Limits and weaknesses

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Lamar Salter

Though the PLAN has made major strides toward modernization and world-power status, they still lack in the following four key areas:

1. Joint operations with other parts of China’s military,

2. Antisubmarine warfare,

3. Dependence on foreign suppliers for some ship components,

4. Long-range targeting.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Conclusion

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Public domain

The PLAN and the other branches of China’s massive military have made impressive progress in modernizing they forces, but they still lag behind in some key areas.

The US Navy, unlike the PLAN, has commitments around the world. Currently two carrier-strike groups are stationed in the Mediterranean as the fight against ISIS rages on and Russia continues to threaten NATO territory and personnel.

The US would face extreme difficulties in abandoning their posts worldwide to focus on the Pacific, whereas China would leverage every possible dimension of warfare (psychological, informational, legal, cyber, conventional, and possibly even nuclear or electromagnetic) to assert their dominance in their immediate region.

However, the US has a built-in advantage that the Chinese cannot hope to design or buy — alliances. Through the US’s solid support of democratic and Western-leaning nations in the region, they have built a network of strong and determined allies that can band together against a rising authoritarian power like China.

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Stars of ‘Deepwater Horizon’ visit Keesler Air Force Base

BILOXI, Miss. — The airmen of Keesler Air Force Base were treated to a special screening of the upcoming film ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ as well as a visit from stars Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell and director Pete Berg (‘Lone Survivor’).


“Deepwater Horizon” tells the story of an explosion and oil spill on an offshore oil rig of the same name. The 2010 incident in the Gulf of Mexico was one of the world’s largest man-made disasters. Berg’s film honors the brave men and women whose heroism would save many on board. Along with Russell and Hudson, the film stars Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, and Dylan O’Brien.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Kurt Russell, Pete Berg, and Kate Hudson with assembled airmen at Keesler Air Force Base. | Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

In addition introducing the screening, Hudson, Russell, and Berg spent time touring the base, meeting troops and their families along top ranking military officials and got an up close view WC-130J aircraft.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Kurt Russell, Pete Berg, and Kate Hudson pose with assembled airmen in front of a WC-130J aircraft. | Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Kurt Russell meets an airman at Keesler Air Force Base. | Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Kate Hudson meets an airman at Keesler Air Force Base. | Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

‘Deepwater Horizon’ opens nationwide September 30. Watch the trailer below.

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17 Photos That Show Why Troops Absolutely Love The .50 Caliber Machine Gun

The M2 .50 caliber machine gun has been in production longer than any other, and it’s easy to see why troops love it.


Since the 1930s, “Ma Deuce” has been serving troops on the ground, in vehicles, and in aircraft, and with its effectiveness and reliability, it doesn’t look like this weapon is going out of style any time soon. Originally developed during World War I by John Browning, the weapon is now in the hands of U.S. troops and a number of NATO allies.

Here’s why:

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

The M2 .50 cal has served troops well in Iraq and Afghanistan as a fearsome automatic weapon usually mounted to vehicles.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

But it was just as deadly in Normandy in 1944 …

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

… As it is overlooking remote bases in Afghanistan today.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

With a belt-fed .50 BMG round, it packs serious punch that can effectively hit targets out to 1,800 meters.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

The weapon can fire a variety of ammunition types, such as standard ball, blanks, armor-piercing (AP), armor-piercing incendiary (API), armor-piercing incendiary tracer (APIT) …

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

… And the crowd favorite: Saboted Light Armor Penetrator (SLAP), which can bust through steel.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

Troops can find the .50 cal everywhere from the perimeter of the forward operating base …

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

… to the rails of U.S. Navy ships.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

Of course, two is better than one.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

Before they can fire it, soldiers usually learn how to disassemble, assemble, and adjust headspace and timing — tweaks made to the gun that allow it to fire safely. (The U.S. Army upgraded a number of their .50 cals to the M2A1, which doesn’t require headspace & timing adjustments).

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

Once it’s ready to go, soldiers place the rounds on the feed tray, make sure the cover is closed, and pull the bolt to the rear to load the weapon.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

Then it’s ready to rock and roll. The .50 can fire in single shot or fully automatic mode.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

At the rear, soldiers grab the “spade” handle and fire it using a butterfly trigger. They need to be careful however: There’s no safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge (Some variants have been fielded which feature a positive safety selector).

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

While it’s most often mounted to vehicles in a rotating turret …

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

… Ma Deuce can also be found on the side of helicopters.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

And with the use of a tripod, it can also be fired very effectively from the ground.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine

Correction: This post was updated with new information to reflect the fielding of the M2A1 variant and other versions, which feature safety selectors, and don’t require the need for adjustments to headspace and timing.

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Here’s what US intelligence knew about Hitler in 1943

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Via Flickr


One of history’s most brutal tyrants was a diagnosed schizophrenic on a mission to avenge his childhood years of repressed rage, according to Henry Murray, an American psychologist and a Harvard professor.

In 1943, the US Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, commissioned Murray to study Adolf Hitler’s personality to try to predict his behavior. In his 229-page report, “Analysis of the Personality of Adolf Hitler,” Murray described Hitler as a paranoid “utter wreck” who was “incapable of normal human relationships.”

“It is forever impossible to hope for any mercy or humane treatment from him,” Murray wrote.

After a frustrating childhood, Hitler felt obligated to exert dominance in all things.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Bundesarchiv

Hitler suffered from intolerable feelings of inferiority, largely stemming from his small, frail, and sickly physical appearance during his childhood.

He refused to go to school because he was ashamed that he was a poor student compared to his classmates.

His mother appeased him by allowing him to drop out.

“He never did any manual work, never engaged in athletics, and was turned down as forever unfit for conscription in the Austrian Army,” Murray writes.

Hitler managed his insecurities by worshiping “brute strength, physical force, ruthless domination, and military conquest.”

Even sexually, Hitler was described as a “full-fledged masochist,” who humiliated and abused his partners.

Much of his wrath originated from a severe Oedipus complex.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Hitler’s parents. | Wikimedia Commons

As a child, Hitler experienced the Oedipus complex — love of mother and hate of father — which he developed after accidentally seeing his parents having sex, Murray’s report says.

Hitler was subservient and respectful to his father but viewed him as an enemy who ruled the family “with tyrannical severity and injustice.” According to the report, Hitler was envious of his father’s masculine power and dreamed of humiliating him to re-establish “the lost glory of his mother.”

For 16 years, Hitler did not exhibit any form of ambition or competition because his father had died and he had not yet discovered a new enemy.

Hitler frequently felt emasculated.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Bundesarchiv

Another blow to Hitler’s masculinity: He was “incapable of consummating in a normal fashion,” old sexual partners shared with Murray.

“This infirmity we must recognize as an instigation to exorbitant cravings for superiority. Unable to demonstrate male power before a woman, he is impelled to compensate by exhibiting unsurpassed power before men in the world at large,” he writes.

As mentioned, when Hitler did have sexual relations with a woman, he exhibited masochistic behaviors. Hitler was said to have multiple partners, but eventually married his long-term mistress, Eva Braun, hours before the two committed suicide together in his Berlin bunker.

He suffered from indecisiveness and collapsed under pressure.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Wikimedia Commons

Even at the peak of his power, Hitler suffered from frequent emotional collapses from a guilty conscience.

“He has nightmares from a bad conscience, and he has long spells when energy, confidence, and the power of decision abandon him,” Murray writes.

According to Murray, Hitler’s cycle from complete despair to reaction followed this pattern:

• An emotional outburst, tantrum of rage, and accusatory indignation ending in tears and self-pity.

•Succeeded by periods of inertia, exhaustion, melancholy, and indecisiveness.

•Followed by hours of acute dejection and disquieting nightmares.

•Leading to hours of recuperation.

•And finally confident and resolute decision to counterattack with great force and ruthlessness.

The five-step evolution could last anywhere from 24 hours to several weeks, the report says

He was ashamed of his mixed heritage.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Hitler speaks to Joseph Goebbels. | Bundesarchiv

Hitler valued “pure, unmixed, and uncorrupted German blood,” which he associated with aristocracy and beauty, according to Murray.

He offered the following explanation of Hitler’s contempt for mixed blood:

• As a boy of twelve, Hitler was caught engaging in some sexual experiment with a little girl; and later he seems to have developed a syphilophobia, with a diffuse fear of contamination of the blood through contact with a woman.

• It is almost certain that this irrational dread was partly due to the association in his mind of sexuality and excretion. He thought of sexual relations as something exceedingly filthy.

Hitler denied that his father was born illegitimately and had at least two failed marriages, that his grandfather and godfather were Jews, and that one of his sisters was a mistress of a wealthy Jew.

He focused his hatred on Jews because they were an easy target.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Hitler marches to the Reichstag in Berlin in 1933. | Bundesarchiv

Murray explains that Jews were the clear demographic for Hitler to project his personal frustrations and failings on because they “do not fight back with fists and weapons.”

The Jews were therefore an easy and non-militarized target that he could blame for pretty much anything, including the disastrous effects after the Treaty of Versailles.

Anti-Semitic caricatures also associated Jews with several of Hitler’s dislikes, including business, materialism, democracy, capitalism, and communism. He was eager to strip some Jews of their wealth and power.

He was moody, awkward and received compliments on his eye-color.

Today in military history: RMS Lusitania torpedoed by German Submarine
Marina Amaral

According to Murray’s report, Hitler received frequent compliments on his grayish-blue eyes, even though they were described as “dead, impersonal, and unseeing.”

He was slightly below average in height and had a receding hairline, thin lips, and well-shaped hands.

Murray notes that the merciless Nazi leader was known to offer a weak handshake with “moist and clammy” palms and was awkward at making small talk.

Sources say Hitler appeared to be shy or moody when meeting people and was uncoordinated in his gestures. He was also incredibly picky about his food.

Here’s Murray’s full report:

Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler by Amanda Macias on Scribd

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QUIZ: Who said it, Joseph Stalin or Bob Dylan?

Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and Soviet political leader Joseph Stalin are famous for different reasons.


Dylan has been influential in popular music and culture for over five decades. Stalin, on the other hand, governed the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953.

Despite, their differences, when it comes to influencing people, they are both masters of poetry. We gathered some of their most famous quotes to make this quiz. Did the dictator or the folk singer say these things?

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These 7 recruiting ads from around the world just might get you to sign up (again)

The military recruiting playbook in the U.S. is pretty standard. The commercials show off the coolest gear while epic music plays. Maybe a Medal of Honor recipient makes an appearance.


Around the world, nations like Canada and Russia take a similar tack while Ukraine and others go with a quieter ad that focuses on the individual soldiers.

1. The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command keep it simple when making their commercial in 2013. It’s just a few simple, repeating music notes and a highlight reel of cool stuff they do, from rappelling out of planes to violently ending hostage standoffs.

2. The Swedish Military

Sweden wants you to know that their military may not dominate feature a lot of awesome special effects, but they have some great careers where you get to make a difference. It’s shockingly honest. Wanna bet Swedish soldiers still complain about their recruiters lying to them?

3. The Ukrainian Armed Forces

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7mj8KGRgKI

Ukraine is recruiting soldiers while fighting a much larger and more powerful military. Their commercial reminds Ukrainians that troops come from all backgrounds but come together to defend their people from violence.

4. The Russian Navy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWK03XePbXk

The Russian Navy commercial is pretty high-speed, but features a few unexpected scenes like when the naval gun turns towards the camera at 1:50 with the barrel covered. Of course, the glimpses of sailors working out shirtless around the 2:00 mark were expected.

A Russian Army commercial from the same time is also good.

5. Finland Defence Forces

Sure, you can have a normal job instead, but Finland wants their potential recruits to know that they could have a range target as a resume, an armored vehicle for their drive to work, and have their trade secrets protected by thick steel doors. It’s a quiet but poignant ad.

6. Australian Army

The Australian Army commercial feels more like the opening to a new TV show than a military recruitment ad. It features photogenic troops in parades and hangars while zero people fire a weapon. It also mentions the surprisingly small number of troops they field, less than 45,000.

7. Japanese Army

The Japanese Army walks a fine line. Japan became a relatively un-military country after World War II (by design) but is expanding military programs in response to Chinese expansion and terrorist threats. Their recruiting ads reflect this fine line, using innocuous graphics and pink backgrounds right after showing troops on the march.

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