The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history - We Are The Mighty
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The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

The Battle of Waterloo changed the course of history.


On June 18th, 1815, Napoleon suffered his final and most crushing defeat. For over a decade, the French emperor had conquered or invaded much of Europe, using his seemingly super-human charisma, leadership, and strategic thinking to threaten Europe’s conservative, monarchical order.

Even his defeat and exile in 1814 couldn’t stop him. By mid-1815, Napoleon had returned to mainland Europe and raised an army. And so had his enemies.

Waterloo was one of the most massive single-day battles in modern history, with an estimated 60,000 total casualties. Today, “Waterloo” is shorthand for a pivotal confrontation — or for massive defeat.

Here’s the story of one of the most important battles of all time.

Napoleon abdicated as emperor of France on April 6, 1814, after troops from the Sixth Coalition entered Paris. The French monarchy was restored to power a quarter-century after the French Revolution began — and Napoleon, who had once conquered much of Europe, was exiled to Elba, an island off the west coast of Italy.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

He didn’t stay there for long. On February 26, 1815, Napoleon left the island. His goal: to depose the French monarchy and regain his position as emperor.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Napoleon landed on the European mainland on March 1st, 1815, with 1,000 men at his command. By the time he reached Paris on March 19th, the king had fled. By June, Napoleon had nearly 250,000 troops at his command.

War was inevitable when Napoleon reclaimed power in Paris. The winners of the last war were already planning what Europe would look like without him: at the Congress of Vienna, which began in November of 1814, diplomats from European monarchies were busy redrawing the continent’s borders after Napoleon’s 1814 defeat. Napoleon was a dangerously charismatic figure capable of raising enormous armies and dead-set on overturning Europe’s anti-republican order. He had to be stopped.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

By early June, the “Seventh Coalition,” consisting of Prussia, Austria, the United Kingdom, Spain, and others had 850,000 soldiers at its command. In a March 25th, 1815 treaty, the major European powers agreed to dedicate 150,000 troops each to Napoleon’s defeat. The march to Waterloo — to a final confrontation, all-out between Napoleon and his enemies — had begun. In this map, the Coalition countries and their overseas holdings are shaded in blue. Napoleon and his lone major ally, the Kingdom of Naples, are shaded green.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Outnumbered by the Seventh Coalition and realizing it was only a matter of months until the allies would march into France, Napoleon decided on an offensive strategy. He calculated that quick victories against a nascent and disorganized coalition would force them to sign a peace agreement that left him as ruler of France. He sent his armies into Belgium, parts of which had a sympathetic French-speaking population, in early June.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

The Seventh Coalition mobilized in response. Their leaders included Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington, who at 46 was the same age as Napoleon and had led troops into battle in India and throughout Europe. Waterloo turned him into one of Britain’s greatest military heroes, and he later served as Prime Minister. He was voted the 15th-greatest Brit of all time in a 2009 BBC poll.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Gebhard von Blucher, who had defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Lepzig two years earlier, commanded the Prussian army.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Prince William II of the Netherlands commanded the 1st allied corps.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

It rained the evening before the battle. Napoleon had a slight numerical advantage. He commanded 72,000 troops. The allies had 68,000. And Wellington once said that Napoleon’s “presence on the field made the difference of 40,000 men.”

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Wellington chose to meet Napoleon behind a ridge in a valley, which offered his troops protection from direct artillery fire. It also gave him a defensible position where he could hold out until Prussian reinforcements arrived.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Wellington was in a defensive crouch and the Prussians were still far from the battlefield. But Napoleon delayed the start of the battle for 2 hours. He thought the ground was too muddy from rain to effectively deploy cavalry and artillery. This pause benefited the allied troops by allowing the Prussian reinforcements to draw nearer.

A day earlier, Prussian general Blucher’s army had been forced into retreat at Ligny, south of Brussels, in a battle that would prove to be Napoleon’s final victory. But rather than retreat into Prussia, as Napoleon had anticipated, Blucher was determined to reinforce Wellington’s position. His troops’ presence was decisive to the Seventh Coalition’s success.

Napoleon opened with a wave of attacks on Hougoumont farm, one of the most heavily-defended British positions. Napoleon thought that he could overwhelm Wellington’s army, spread its defenses for attacks on other fronts, and knock out one of Wellington’s strongholds. The British held the position throughout the day in the face of a French onslaught that nearly succeeded.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Napoleon sent wave after wave of troops at the center of Wellington’s line, hoping to break it before the Prussians arrived. He nearly succeeded around midday of the battle — but the Prussians finally arrived. They had gained crucial high ground as the French closed in on the British positions.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

When Napoleon’s feared cavalry finally charged, the British let loose with musket fire and grapeshot.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

The muskets of the day were extremely inaccurate and slow to reload. To ensure an effective volley of fire, the troops stood in a line and fired all at once.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

A single cannonball would routinely rip through an entire file of troops. At close range, cannons fired grapeshot, or a bag of hundreds of musket balls which would spray like a shotgun blast.

British battlefield tactics were key to the battle’s outcome. They formed “infantry squares,” lined with soldiers pointing their muskets outwards. The horses would not dare to charge at a wall of blades, and the French were forced to file between the squares. As a result, Napoleon’s army was slowly picked off.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

As the battle turned, Napoleon deployed his famous Old Guard, a regiment entirely composed of war veterans that was famous for never retreating. When the Old Guard was repelled, the French army lost heart.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

The battle was decided by nightfall. Napoleon, one of Europe’s most prolific conquerors and a leader who had irrevocably changed the face of the continent, had been defeated for good. Over a decade of war in Europe were over.

The allied victory made a hero out of Wellington, who went on to serve as Prime Minister. It allowed Prussia to reclaim the lands Napoleon had once annexed.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

But the immediate result of the Battle of Waterloo was absolute carnage. The French suffered a staggering 41,000 casualties, while the Seventh Coalition had around 24,000 casualties.

A cowed Napoleon returned to Paris. Realizing total defeat was looming, Napoleon abdicated as emperor on June 22nd. Considered an outlaw and wanted dead or alive by the Prussians, Napoleon thought about fleeing to the US — but eventually surrendered to the commander of the British frigate Ballerophon on July 15th.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

The Battle of Waterloo led to the final surrender of Napoleon, the end of the Napoleonic Wars which had started in 1803, and the Emperor’s exile to the island of Saint Helena, where he ultimately died in 1821.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Saint Helena is still one of the most isolated places in the world. The allies didn’t want to risk a repeat of the Hundred Days and sent Napoleon as far away as humanly possible.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Here’s what Jamestown, the island’s largest settlement, looks like today:

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

… and here’s the house where Napoleon lived in exile for the last 5 years of his life. He was kept in an especially cold and windy part of the British-controlled island, under constant watch to ensure that he wouldn’t try an escape.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Napoleon’s ushered in a resurgence of conservatism throughout Europe, chiefly through the Russian-led Holy Alliance of Austria, Prussia, and Russia, which focused on restraining republicanism on the continent.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

For European monarchs, Napoleon had embodied a dangerous wave of political change and an existential threat. At the Congress of Vienna, an agreement signed nine days before the Battle of Waterloo set the post-Napoleon borders of Europe and formed the basis of superficially stable monarchical and conservative order in the continent. But the Congress of Vienna was arguably a catastrophic long-term failure, since the regimes it preserved came apart disastrously in World War I, less than 100 years later.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

In the medium term, though, these alliances and agreements and Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo led to nearly four decades of relative peace throughout Europe — a quiet spell that ended with the republican revolutions that swept Europe in 1848, and the Crimean War in 1853.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

To commemorate the battle that vanquished Napoleon and changed Europe, King William I of the Netherlands had the Lion’s Mound built at Waterloo in 1826. The hill, created from soil from the battlefield, captures the momentousness of what took place at Waterloo — but it also changed the physical geography of the historic battlefield.

Today, “Waterloo” is a byword for epic confrontation, or, more specifically, for overwhelming defeat. Napoleon “met his Waterloo” 200 years ago — an event that set the stage for the next century of European history.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

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China deploys rappers to fight US missile defense

China’s fight against the deployment of a battery of Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense missiles has now expanded to the deployment of hip-hop.


No, you didn’t read that wrong – China’s now using a rap video as a form of public diplomacy against the ballistic missile defense system, according to a report by the New York Times. The video seems to be bombing, with less than 50,000 views on YouTube.

The video, in English and Chinese, urges South Korea to reconsider the system’s deployment.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
AiirSource Military | YouTube

Dubbed “CD Rev,” the rap group is based out of Sichuan, China, and has done other videos in support of Beijing’s government — including one on that country’s claims in the South China Sea, a maritime flashpoint involving five other countries, as well as a video celebrating the legacy of Mao Tse-Tung.

A London Daily Mail report from 2011 noted that Mao was responsible for at least 45 million deaths during “The Great Leap Forward,” a brutal attempt to shift the country from an agricultural-based economy to an industrial one.

The deployment of THAAD has drawn sharp criticism from China – and the reactions have included hacking that targeted the South Korean company that allowed the battery of missiles to be placed on a golf course it owned. The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs was also hacked. China has also been blocking videos of South Korean artists, particularly from the K-pop genre.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Heritage.org

South Korea recently elected Moon Jae-in, who has favored diplomacy with North Korea, as President after the impeachment and removal from office of Park Geun-Hye.

The THAAD battery, consisting of six launchers that each hold eight missiles along with assorted support vehicles, was deployed to South Korea to counter the threat posed by North Korea’s ballistic missiles. According to ArmyRecognition.com, the system has a range of over 600 miles.

The United States has other options to shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile, including the sea-based RIM-161 Standard SM-3. The system is considered far more capable than the MIM-104 Patriot systems that the United States, Japan, and South Korea have deployed.

Here’s the video from CD Rev:

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Another ship attacked off Yemen

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Galacia Spirit. (Photo: shipworld.org)


Nearly two weeks after a series of incidents involving the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), another ship has come under attack in the Bab el Mandab. This time, the ship targeted was a Spanish-flagged liquefied natural gas tanker passing near Perim Island, which is about 8.7 miles off the coast of the coast of Yemen.

According to a report by the British news agency Reuters, the Galicia Spirit, owned by the Teekay shipping group, came under attack by a rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire from a small boat. The RPG missed the LNG tanker, which was escorted by Djibouti naval vessel. The method used in the attack is similar to that used in the October 1 attack on HSV-2 Swift that caused a fire and damaged the former U.S. Navy vessel, which was on a humanitarian mission. HSV-2 Swift was towed away from the scene of the attack, which prompted the deployment of USS Mason, USS Nitze (DDG 94), and USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) to the region.

The Galicia Spirit would have potentially fared a lot worse than HSV-2 Swift did. Even though it is much larger than Swift at about 95,000 gross tons to the Swift’s 955, it is usually carrying a large amount of a highly flammable and volatile cargo (137,814 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas). That would have been a huge explosion.

Yemen has been wracked by a civil war between the government lead by Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The Houthi rebels were responsible for the attacks on Swift and Mason. Nitze fired Tomahawk cruise missiles at Houthi coastal radar sites after the attacks on Mason.

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North Korea warns that its new ICBM will send shivers down America’s spine

Pyongyang tripled down on Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s claim that North Korea is close to testing an intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday.


“We have reached the final stage of preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile,” Kim said in his New Year’s address, adding that, “Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing.”

“The ICBM will be launched anytime and anywhere,” the Korean Central News Agency said Sunday, quoting a North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
The launch of satellite-carrying Unha rockets is watched closely, since it’s the same delivery system as North Korea’s Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, which was tested successfully in December 2012 and January 2016. (Photo: Reuters/KNCA)

“Just because the U.S. is located more than ten thousand kilometers away does not make the country safe,” the Rodong Sinmun, the primary publication of the ruling Worker’s Party, asserted Wednesday.

“Soon our ICBM will send the shiver down its spine,” the paper warned. “There is nothing we are afraid of. In the future, phenomenal incidents to strengthen our national defense power will take place multiple times and repeatedly.”

“We have miniaturized, lightened and diversified our nuclear weapons, and they can be loaded on various delivery systems to be launched anytime and anywhere,” the Rodong Sinmun boasted.

In response to any such theoretical action, the U.S. promises shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile “if it were coming towards our territory or the territory of our friends and allies,” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said Sunday.

“If the missile is threatening, it will be intercepted. If it’s not threatening, we won’t necessarily do so,” Carter explained Tuesday.

The effectiveness of America’s missile interception capabilities is debatable.

The U.S. has a “limited capability to defend the U.S. homeland from small numbers of simple” North Korean nuclear-tipped ICBMs, the Pentagon’s weapons testing office warned in its annual report, according to Bloomberg.

“I am very confident in the systems and procedures” the U.S. Northern Command “will employ to intercept a North Korean ICBM were they to shoot it toward our territory,” Vice Admiral James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, told reporters.

Pyongyang “has set the goal of developing miniaturized nuclear weapons that can fit atop a missile capable of reaching the U.S. by the end of 2017,” former North Korean diplomat Thae Yong-ho told Yonhap News Agency Sunday.

“North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S. It won’t happen!” President-elect Donald Trump tweeted a day after Kim made North Korea’s ICBM ambitions clear.

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Today in military history: Apollo 13 returns to earth

On April 17, 1970, the Apollo 13 spacecraft safely returned to earth after suffering major malfunctions on its journey to the Moon. 

“Houston, we’ve had a problem,” Apollo 13 astronaut John “Jack” Swigert famously told the NASA Mission Control Center “Houston” during the Apollo 13 spaceflight. 

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Apollo 13 lunar module pilot Fred Haise chats with Guenter Wendt and other members of the pad closeout crew in the White Room following a countdown demonstration at Launch Complex 39A. Image Credit: NASA

200,000 miles from Earth, three astronauts and veteran test pilots were scrambling to adapt and overcome a seemingly impossible challenge. They were James Lovell — a Navy Captain and test pilot; Jack Swigert — a fighter pilot in the Air National Guard; and Fred Haise — a fighter pilot in both the Marine Corps and Air Force.

Two days into their mission to the Moon, an oxygen tank exploded, severely disrupting their supply of oxygen, electricity and water. They aborted their landing mission, and scrambled to implement creative and improvised solutions suggested by the support staff back in Houston. 

They’d have to improvise a way to make a square filter fit into a round hole. They’d conjured up a makeshift lifeboat. 

The support staff no longer cared what the spaceship had been designed to do – they had to figure out how to squeeze every bit of capability from the vehicle. 

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
A perilous space flight comes to a smooth ending with the safe splashdown of the Apollo 13 Command Module (CM) in the south Pacific Ocean, only four miles from the prime recovery ship, the U.S.S. Iwo Jima. The Command Module “Odyssey” with Commander, James A. Lovell Jr., Command Module pilot, John L. Swigert Jr. and Lunar Module pilot Fred W. Haise Jr. splashed down at 12:07:44 p.m. (CST), April 17, 1970. The crew men were transported by helicopter from the immediate recovery area to the U.S.S. Iwo Jima.

Overcoming nearly impossible odds, the crew guided the spacecraft back to earth, reentered the atmosphere and touched down in the Pacific Ocean, where they were recovered by the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima. 

Featured Image: The crew of the Apollo 13 mission step aboard the U.S.S. Iwo Jima, prime recovery ship for the mission, following splashdown and recovery operations in the South Pacific. Exiting the helicopter, which made the pick-up some four miles from the Iwo Jima are (from left) astronauts Fred W. Haise, Jr., lunar module pilot; James A. Lovell Jr., commander; and John L. Swigert Jr., command module pilot. The Apollo 13 spacecraft splashed down at 12:07:44 pm CST on April 17, 1970. (NASA Image)

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The US just tested an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile

An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile has been launched from a U.S. Air Force Base in California on a flight to a target in the Pacific Ocean.


The missile lifted off at 12:03 a.m. April 26 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

An Air Force statement said the mission was part of a program to test the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Another unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test Dec. 17, 2013 and again on Sep. 5, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales)

The 30th Space Wing commander, Col. John Moss, said Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of the U.S. nuclear force and to demonstrate the national nuclear capabilities.

In a Minuteman test, a so-called re-entry vehicle travels more than 4,000 miles downrange to a target at Kwajalein Atoll near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

“Team V is once again ready to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to successfully launch another Minuteman III missile,” Moss said. “These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities. We are proud of our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron to execute these missions for the nation.”

The 576th Flight Test Squadron will be responsible for installed tracking, telemetry, and command destruct systems on the missile.

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Skipper Of “The Last Ship” Looks To Help Families Of The Fallen

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history


TNT’s “The Last Ship” was a surprise hit last year, earning the loyalty of civilians and service members alike with a mix of great characters, intriguing plots, and technical accuracy. The last element, of course, is the one that always seems to trip up the military crowd because Hollywood is notorious for taking creative license with technical details and plot lines in the pursuit of “entertainment.” And while “The Last Ship” is no “Das Boot,” the series does pride itself on accuracy.

To whatever degree TNT’s “The Last Ship” is able to “get it right” real Navy-wise, veteran actor Eric Dane, who plays Commander Tom Chandler, the commanding officer of the USS Nathan James (DDG 151), credits the close working relationship between the show’s writers and the Navy officials in LA and at the Pentagon who are charged with making sure the sea service is well and accurately represented.

“There is no tension between the two camps,” Dane said from the podium in the Pentagon’s press briefing room. “If the Navy doesn’t like something we change it.”

That sort of cooperation is unusual if not unprecedented. Hollywood is motivated by commercial success, the thing that keeps the lights on around Century City and Burbank. The Department of Defense has other goals in mind.

“We judge the efforts we’ll support by two main criteria,” said Phil Strub, DoD’s director of entertainment media. “Whether they’ll paint the U.S. military in a fair light, and whether they’ll help recruiting.”

The tension between those two motivations historically has been an issue in that Hollywood has a tendency to find technical accuracy superfluous and boring and the Pentagon finds Hollywood’s fictions insulting. However in recent months that tension has seemed to mitigate in the face of commercial success like that of “American Sniper,” a movie that prides itself on accuracy and, more so, presenting military service in a more honest, apolitical, light.

“The goal of ‘The Last Ship’ is to show what the Navy does each and every day,” Dane said. “It’s my honor to go to the set and put on my blue digi-cams and play Commander Tom Chandler.”

Dane also allowed that – even in an era of computer-generated imagery – “The Last Ship” needs the U.S. Navy to succeed. “We need a real destroyer,” he said.

Beyond the hardware there are myriad details to nail down. “I thought the medical world had a lot of acronyms and jargon,” Dane said, referring to his popular role as Dr. Mark ‘McSteamy’ Sloan in the hit TV show ‘Grey’s Anatomy. “The military has a lot more.”

“The Last Ship” has been popular enough to earn a second season, which is scheduled to air on TNT in June.

Dane’s recent visit to the Pentagon was to thank the DoD public affairs officials for their work that has informed the show’s success. He was also there to announce that he is throwing his celebrity weight behind the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the national organization for all of those grieving the loss of a fallen service member.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Dane knows how it feels to lose a family member to military service. When he was seven his father was killed while serving in the Navy.

“I lost my military dad at a very young age,” Dane said. “Dealing with that loss has been a very big part of my life.”

“TAPS has been blessed with an effective network over the years, including the voices of Hollywood,” director and founder Bonnie Carroll said. “We’re very happy to be connected with Eric Dane who takes his role as Commander Tom Chandler very seriously. He portrays the Navy in the absolute best light.”

“Bonnie has been there for over 13 years,” said Rene Carbone Bardorf, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Community and Public Outreach. “When the funerals for the fallen are over and life stands still for the survivors TAPS has been very effective in giving them a sense of purpose and helping them make it though. Eric’s involvement is a great example of that. We are all a part of one military family, that one percent.”

Both Carroll and Dane admitted they haven’t quite figured out what form the actor’s support of TAPS will take, but if his impact with the crowd in the Pentagon’s briefing room was any indication, it will be effective whatever it is.

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The hater’s guide to the US Army

This is the third in a series about how branches of the military hate on each other. We’ll feature all branches of the U.S. military, written by veterans of that branch being brutally honest with themselves and their services.


The military is like a family that gets together and holds backyard wrestling tournaments every once in a while. They’re violent, they protect one another from outsiders, and are ridiculously mean to each other.

We’ve already shown how the other branches make fun of the Air Force and the Marine Corps. Here’s how the other branches hate on the Army (and how they should).

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Photo: US Army

The easiest ways to make fun of the Army

Like the Marine Corps, the Army gets called ‘dumb’ a lot. Since they gave out a lot of waivers for the military entrance test in the early 2000s, this isn’t without merit. Also, soldiers try to defend themselves by pointing out all the tough Army jobs that require a surprising amount of intellect such as Special Forces or Satellite Communications Operator. Coming from most soldiers, this is kind of like a mailroom employee pointing out how smart the computer engineers at Google are.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Soldiers also get ridiculed for the admittedly useless uniform they wore for most of the Global War on Terror. All sorts of reasons were given for why it was secretly brilliant, but two other camouflage patterns outperformed the ACU in the Army’s own tests before it was fielded. Since the Marine Corps had just gotten their own sweet digital camouflage before the ACU was fielded, there were a lot of (quite possibly true) accusations of copy-catting.

Body fat is another area the Army takes a lot of flak. Even though their body fat standards are actually in line with the other services, photos like the one below and an Army motto of “Army Strong” just made the jokes too easy.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Speaking of which, quite a few Army slogans have been duds with service members. “Army of One” worked for recruiting the video game generation, but it supported a lone warrior ideal that is the opposite of how the Army fights. “Be All You Can Be,” was extremely successful and ran for twenty years, but like “Army Strong” it’s perfect for memes with fat soldiers.

Why to actually hate the Army

As the largest ground force in the U.S., the Army has a lot of control over what gear and weapons go to both soldiers and, in a few cases, the Marines. When they choose correctly, all troops from all the branches usually end up with better gear for patrols like these weapon sights that let shooters see enemies through smoke and dust.

When they choose incorrectly, they spend $1.5 billion just to shut down a failed program, like they did with the Future Combat System. This was not a one-time thing.

This power to choose what ground combatants wear comes from the fact that the Army is the largest branch and by doctrine is the one in charge of taking and occupying enemy territory. But soldiers get really prima donna about this, making jokes any time airmen screw up on a rifle range or Marines get a vehicle stuck. “Not used to using a rifle, airman? It’d be easier if you were kicking back on the beach, right Marine?”

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

This is stupid since soldiers screw this stuff up too. Regularly. And when they crash a truck in the mountains or desert, they can’t even use the excuse that their equipment was primarily designed for fighting amphibious battles.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Yeah, soldiers did this while in their own vehicles, driving around their own base, operating near their own defenses.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Above: Not an airman’s fault.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Zero Marines in this picture.

Also, the Army makes really bold statements about how they’re “more tech-savvy than you,” which feels a bit arrogant and misguided coming from an institution whose public-facing website got hacked a few months ago because they didn’t use https. They also risked the exposure of thousands of Army families’ personal information with a faulty system in paying for childcare.

Why to love them

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history

Besides the fact that they began defending America the year before America existed? Or that they marched across Nazi-occupied Europe? Well, there’s the fact that American soldiers served more troop years in Iraq and Afghanistan than all the other services combined. Or, you could love them because their most elite soldiers, Delta Force, just liberated 70 ISIS hostages in a daring raid.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Photo: US Army

Then there’s the fact that they operate not only on the ground, but also in the water, the air, and space. Army Airborne units provide contingency response forces for both the European/African theaters and the entire world. That’s before you count the Army Rangers who can break into an enemy country and topple its land forces in hours or days of fierce fighting with little rest.

When it’s time to fight more subtle conflicts, Green Berets can slip into foreign countries and begin training up friendly militias and armies, safeguarding American interests while limiting risk.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon, The National Guard

The Army is also boss at disaster and humanitarian relief. They supported rescue and rebuilding efforts in Haiti, Nepal, and Japan. When the mission is closer to home, troops deploy as well. In just 2015, they’ve helped rebuild after hurricanes in South Carolina, rescue Texans from floodwaters, and fight forest fires in California.

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How realistic are the firearms in ‘Battlefield 1’?

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
EA capture


For once, Internet rumors have proved true. Swedish video-game developer DICE, a subsidiary of EA, is looking to the past for the setting of the newest installation in its Battlefield series of first-person shooters.

But how realistic are the weapons in Battlefield 1? It turns out — pretty realistic for a game of this sort. But there are a couple of odd anachronisms.

DICE launched the Battlefield series back in 2002 with Battlefield 1942, set during World War II. Most of the Battlefield games are set in the present or future, but one takes place during the Vietnam War. As such, the Battlefieldseries has a history with, ahem, history.

Today in 2016 we’re in the middle of the Great War centennial — and this no doubt inspired DICE’s decision to set Battlefield 1 during World War I. It’s also possible that the developers hoped to recreate the success of the excellent multiplayer game Verdun, which recreates the eponymous 1916 battle.

Having played some of their earlier games — namely Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam — and having been impressed with the level accuracy and detail, I decided to take a close look at some of the weapons that appear in the 60-second teaser trailer DICE recently released for Battlefield 1.

Melee Weapons

In the first 10 seconds of the trailer, we see what looks to be a German soldier wearing a Gaede helmet and a gas mask and bludgeoning an enemy with a trench club.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left — EA capture. At right — German soldiers in Gaede helmets, c. 1915. Photo via Reddit

A short while later, the trailer cuts to what appears to be a sabre-wielding Arab horseman charging through a desert. All pretty convincing.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left — EA capture. At right — Arab cavalry in 1916. Library of Congress photo

Lewis Gun

Thirteen seconds into the trailer, there’s a spectacular aerial shot of a Western Front battlefield from over the shoulder of an observer manning what appears to be a Mk. II Aerial Lewis Gun.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
EA capture

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
A Royal Air Force Bristol F.2 fighter with two Mk. II Aerial Lewis Guns. Photo via Wikipedia

Trench Gun

Another scene again shows a Gaede-wearing German dispatching an apparent American infantryman armed with what could be a Winchester M1897 Trench Gun or, alternatively, a Remington Model 10A Trench Gun, which the U.S. Marine Corps deployed in limited numbers during World War I.

The shotgun’s profile — it doesn’t appear to have an exposed hammer like the Winchester does — and its bayonet lug indicate it’s the latter weapon. However, the weapon lacks the wooden heat shield which fit to the top of the Model 10A’s barrel. The pump handle also appears to be missing!

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
EA capture

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Rock Island Auction photo

Maxim LMG 08/15

The trailer features a series of aerial dogfights over a number of different theaters. Twenty seconds in, we see a red German plane — possibly a Fokker Dr.I — chase an Allied biplane through a canyon, ultimately destroying it with its MG 08/15 Maxim machine guns.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
EA capture

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Aerial MG08. CRsenal photo

Tankgewehr M1918

At the 25-second mark, the world’s first anti-tank rifle — the German T-Gewehr — is briefly visible. A soldier sprints beside a British Mk. IV Male tank — which, by the way, is moving far too fast to be realistic. It’s quite the feat, considering the T-Gewehr weighed 41 pounds!

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left — EA capture. At right — New Zealand troops with a captured T-Gewehr. Imperial War Museum photo

Colt M1911

Halfway through the trailer, there’s a brief glimpse of a 1911 pistol. This scene also hints that the game could involve more than just trench combat.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left — EA capture. At right — Photo via Zwickelundkrieg

Gas Weapons

At the trailer’s midpoint, we finally get our first glimpses of gas warfare. A shattered ruin collapses under artillery fire and a Lewis Gun operator blasts a German infantryman before donning a gas mask.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left — EA capture. At right — A U.S. Marine test-fires an M1917 Lewis Gun in 1917. Library of Congress photo

Carcano M1891 Carbine

The trailer cuts to a group of what seem to be Italian infantry wearing Adrian helmet — and getting brutally cut down by machine-gun fire. The carbines they carry are the trailer’s first mystery. They’re not quite Carcanos, but what else would Italian troops be carrying in 1916?

The weapons lack the Carcano’s curved bolt handle, folding bayonet and magazine — but no other weapon fits the bill. Maybe this represents a rare oversight in DICE’s game design. Or maybe the weapon we see in the trailer is a placeholder for a gun that the designers are still working on rendering.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left — EA capture. At right — YouTube capture

SMLE

At 38 seconds, the iconic British Short Magazine Lee-Enfield makes an appearance as the camera pans across a trench full of British troops scrambling to fix bayonets.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left — EA capture. At right — British soldiers with Lee-Enfield rifles during World War II

Scoped Gewehr 98

For a split-second as a building explodes, we catch a glimpse of a sniper’s scope-equipped Gewehr 98 rifle.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left — EA capture. At right — A German soldier with a Gewehr 98. Capture from the 1943 film ‘Sahara’

MG 08/15 or Bergmann MG15nA

It’s difficult to see quite what this unrealistically armor-clad soldier is hip-firing, but it’s probably either a MG08/15 or possibly a Bergmann MG15nA — which had a carrying handle — as these were the only light machine guns Germany used during the war.

This brief scene concerns me, as the armor looks more like something from the 15th century than from World War I. Not only that, the MG 08/15 weighed nearly 40 pounds, so it was impossible to fire from the hip for very long.

While it’s true that the Germans experimented with infantry armor during World War I, most of the combatant nations — including Germany — found heavy armor to be impractical and never deployed it outside of static fortifications.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
EA capture

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left—Bergmann MG15nA. World.guns.ru photo. At right — Mg 08 15. Mitrailleuse.fr photo

Mauser C96 Bergmann MP18

Let’s round things out with a look at the weapons in the first promotional images DICE made available following the trailer’s debut. They show a man armed with a trench club in one hand, the iconic Mauser C96 in the other and a Bergmann MP18 submachine gun — complete with a trommel magazine slung at his side!

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
EA capture

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
At left — Mauser C96. Photo via Wikipedia. At right — Bergmann MP18. World.guns.ru photo

No doubt, once Battlefield 1 drops in October 2016, we’ll also see BARs,Chauchats, Lebels, Lugers and a host of Maxim guns. But what about more obscure weapons? Perhaps an Italian Villar Perosa, a French RSC 1917, a British Webley automatic or even a Pedersen Device jutting out of an M1903 Springfield.

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First African-American Marines finally get their own monument

It’s hard to imagine a time when the Marine Corps made black troops drill on separate fields, but that’s how it was for African-American leathernecks who were preparing to fight during World War II.


Dubbed the “Montford Point Marines” after their segregated training grounds at Montford Point on the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the 20,000 black Marines were finally honored July 29, 75 years after their service. The 15-foot tall memorial outside the gates of Camp Johnson is largely the result of efforts by the Montford Point Marine Association to commemorate the first African-American units in the Corps.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina – U.S. service members and guests listen to the National Chaplain of the Montford Point Marine Association, Reverend James E. Moore, as he delivers the invocation during the Montford Point Marine Memorial dedication ceremony held at Jacksonville, North Carolina, July 29, 2016.

“Today, as a result of the hard work and perseverance of so many of you here, across the country and those no longer with us, that vision is now a reality,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley, the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East at the memorial dedication.

“This inspiring memorial takes it rightful place among the other silent testimonials to the courage, dedication, and sacrifice of our men and women who have worn the cloth of this nation.”

The Montford Point Marines made up the 51st and 52nd Composite Defense Battalions, which mainly operated artillery and anti-aircraft guns. They were initially trained by white officers, but soon after their enlistment, several black NCOs took over the training and drilling of the first African-American Marines.

The units saw little action in the Pacific since the 51st and 52nd were assigned to outlying islands away from the main action. But some Montford Point Marines from ammunition and depot companies did see combat on Guam, Saipan, and Peleliu.

“This is something that I never thought would be possible,” Ivor Griffin, a Montford Marine who served 23 years, told Marines.mil. “I heard about it being in the making, and I thought it couldn’t be true, I thought we were the forgotten 20,000.”

The Montford Point Marines served from 1942 until 1949 when President Harry Truman desegregated the U.S. military and abolished all-black units.

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This is how presidents-elect learn about covert operations before they’re sworn in

Now that the Republican Party has officially nominated Donald Trump as its candidate for president, briefers from intelligence agencies will soon begin detailing America’s current covert operations to both Trump and likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.


And that’s if they haven’t already begun.

So how does a presidential candidate — and later a president-elect — get caught up on everything that’s going on in the cloak-and-dagger world of international intelligence?

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
President Barack Obama receives his daily intelligence briefing. Presidential candidates will not receive his level of information, but presidents-elect do. (Photo: White House Photographer Pete Souza)

Intelligence officials give them a series of briefings that former NSA Director Michael Hayden described as “a college seminar on steroids.”

When possible, the briefings take place in secure areas. But more often than not, briefers are sent to meet candidates and presidents-elect where they are.

In 1992, the Deputy Director of the CIA flew to Little Rock, Arkansas, and rented a cheap motel room to inconspicuously brief then-President-elect Bill Clinton.

When candidates are on the campaign trail, the briefers plan spots on the route where they can establish a temporarily secure area to brief.

These initial briefings to candidates are not as in depth as the president’s daily brief. The idea isn’t to give the candidate a detailed breakdown of each operation and how it works, it’s to give them a broad understanding of what America is doing around the world and why.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that all major candidates for president must receive the same intelligence briefing. (Photo: Kit Fox/Medill)

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that each candidate receives the exact same briefing. But this wasn’t always the case.

For instance, the intel briefings were first given to Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 election. During the run-up to Election Day, Eisenhower was receiving more sensitive information than Stevenson. This was because Eisenhower had extensive experience with intelligence from his command time in World War II, while Stevenson did not.

Once a candidate is selected, though, the briefings become more detailed and some of them become decision briefs. Even though the president-elect is not yet in charge, the intelligence agencies have to be prepared to immediately execute his or her orders on Inauguration Day.

The president-elect receives a roughly complete copy of the president’s daily brief — sometimes as early as election night. The only information omitted is operational information that isn’t useful to the president-elect.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
President John F. Kennedy was a war hero and senator before campaigning for the presidency. But he didn’t gain access to America’s top intelligence until after winning the election. (Photo: National Archives)

For presidents-elect who need a primer on intelligence, such as John Kennedy, there will also be a series of general briefings to provide context and understanding. For those with an extensive intelligence background, such as former Vice President and Director of Central Intelligence George H.W. Bush, the general briefings are skipped.

Once the president-elect has a base of knowledge about the situation, senior intelligence officials begin coming to him or her for their expected orders on Jan. 20. If the president-elect wants to cancel a covert operation or change its course, the decision is made ahead of time so the agency can prepare.

In 2000, then-President-elect Barack Obama made it clear that the detention and interrogation program would cease the moment he was in charge. That allowed Hayden to prepare to cut that program while keeping most other covert operations going full-bore.

You can learn a lot more about these briefings and their history in former-CIA Analyst John L. Helgerson’s book, Getting to Know the President. The book is available for free on the CIA’s website.

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4 insane things service members can do to stay awake

Not all deployments are created equal. Some troops primarily work at a desk performing critical operational tasks, while others are out and about undertaking various missions in the bush. Regardless, both schedules usually consist of long hours and a heavy workload which can run anybody down.


No matter the nature of the mission, staying in the fight and being alert is the key for any personnel deployed.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Cpl Daniel, a fire team leader, 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, posts security while members of the Afghan Narcotics Interdiction Unit search a compound during Operation Speargun in Urmuz, Afghanistan (USMC photo)

So if you’re worried about falling asleep when you need to be at your best, check out these simple tricks of the trade to stay awake whole on deployment.


 

1. Bangin energy drinks

May seem obvious to the average population that drinking a Redbull or pounding a Monster will get their minds firing on all cylinders. But in most cases, deployed troops just don’t sip a single energy drink — they take it to a whole new level by chugging multiple cans of the all mighty Rip-it.

Splashing water on your face works well too — but that’s no fun.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
US Army photo

2. Coffee lip

One ration the military never seems to ever run off of is coffee.

When you’re occupying a patrol base or sitting in a fighting hole, coffee machines will be scarce. So instead of filtering water through the grounds, pack a solid pinch of instant coffee from the ole handy dandy MREs into your lip. It tastes like sh*t, but it can help you keep shuteye at bay.

stay awake
US Army photo

3. “Spicy eyes”

This doesn’t refer to “the look” that civilian reporter who came by the FOB to interview the colonel gave everyone. It means sprinkling a small amount of Tabasco sauce onto your finger and rubbing the contents under your eyes. Spicy!

If it burns a little and wakes you back up, you’re doing it right.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
US Army photo

4. Pain

There’s nothing worse than drifting off while on post.

In fact, if you get caught sleeping, that’s a crucial offense. The human body has a natural way of rejuvenating itself by excreting adrenaline into the blood stream. You can accomplish this by pinching yourself, or if that doesn’t work, delivering a light love tap across your cheek.

It might seem a bit extreme, but it could also save your life and the lives of your comrades.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.


Feature image: U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Charles Dickens

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The first black fighter pilot was also an infantry hero and a spy

Eugene Bullard was born in Georgia in 1895. He emigrated to France, became both an infantry hero and the first black fighter pilot in World War I, and a spy in World War II.


Growing up in Georgia, Bullard saw his father nearly killed by a lynch mob and decided at the age of 8 to move to France. It took him nearly ten years of working through Georgia, England, and Western Europe as a horse jockey, prize fighter, and criminal before he finally moved to Paris.

Less than a year later, Germany declared war on France, dragging it into what would quickly become World War I. At the time only men over the age of 19 could enlist in France, so Bullard waited until his birthday on Oct. 9, 1914 to join the French Foreign Legion.

As a soldier, Bullard was exposed to some of the fiercest fighting the war had to offer from Nov. 1914 to Feb. 1916. He was twice part of units that had taken so many casualties that they had to be reorganized and combined with others.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Cpl. Eugene Bollard in the French 170th Infantry. Photo: Wikipedia

In Feb. 1916, Bullard was with France’s 170th Infantry at the Battle of Verdun where over 300,000 men were killed with another 400,000 missing, captured, or wounded in 10 months of fighting. Bullard would see only the beginning of the battle. From Feb. 21 to Mar. 5, 1916, he fought on the front where he later said, “the whole front seemed to be moving like a saw backwards and forwards,” and “men and beasts hung from the branches of trees where they had been blown to pieces.”

On Mar. 2, an artillery shell killed four of Bullard’s comrades and knocked out all but four of his teeth. Bullard remained in the fight, but was wounded again on Mar. 5 while acting as a volunteer courier between French officers. Another shell caught him, cutting open his thigh and throwing him across the ground. The next day, he was carried off the battlefield by an ambulance.

For his heroism at Verdun, Bullard was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and Médaille Militaire. Because of his wounds, he was declared unfit for service in the infantry.

While most men would have stopped there to accept the adulation of France, Bullard volunteered for the French Air Force and began training Oct. 5, 1916 as an aerial gunner. After he learned about the Lafayette Escadrille, a French Air Force unit mostly filled with American pilots, he switched to pilot training.

The story of Waterloo, one of the most epic battles in history
Eugene Jacques Bullard poses with his monkey who sometimes accompanied him on missions. Photo: US Air Force historical photo

As the first black fighter pilot, Bullard served in the Lafayette Escadrille Sep. to Nov. 1917 where he had one confirmed kill and another suspected. When America entered the war, Lafayette attempted to switch to the American forces. American policy at the time forbid black pilots and the U.S. went so far as to lobby for him to be removed from flight status in France. Bullard finished the war with the 170th, this time in a noncombat status.

Between World War I and II, Bullard married and divorced a French woman and started both a successful night club and a successful athletic club.

In the late 1930s, the French government asked Bullard to assist in counterintelligence work to catch German spies in Paris. Using his social position, his clubs and his language skills, Bullard was able to collect information to resist German efforts. When the city fell in 1940, he initially fell back to Orleans but was badly wounded there while resisting the German advance.

He was smuggled to Spain and then medically evacuated to New York where he lived out his life. In 1954, he briefly returned to Paris as one of three French heroes asked to relight the Eternal Flame of the Tomb of the Unknown French Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe.

Now: How a modern battalion of Army Rangers would perform in Civil War combat

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