China on Oct. 11 protested the sailing of a US Navy ship near its territorial claims in the South China Sea, saying it would continue to take measures to protect Beijing’s interests in the vital waterway claimed by several nations.
A US official said the destroyer USS Chafee sailed near the Paracel Islands on Oct. 10, coming within 16 nautical miles (30 kilometers) of land. The Navy does not announce such missions in advance and the official spoke on condition of anonymity.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denounced the mission as dangerous and a violation of China’s sovereignty. She said the military verified the presence of the US ship by sea and air and warned it off.
“The Chinese government will continue to take firm measures to safeguard national territory, sovereignty, and maritime interests,” Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.
China claims the South China Sea and its islands virtually in their entirety, and its military expelled Vietnamese forces from the Paracels in 1974. The US does not take an official position on sovereignty claims, but the Navy regularly sails through the area to assert freedom of navigation.
China usually claims to have “expelled” Navy ships on such missions and its relatively mild response this time suggested the Chafee had not entered what it claims are its territorial waters.
The South China Sea has crucial shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and potential oil, gas and other mineral deposits. China has carried out extensive land reclamation work on many of the islands and reefs it claims, equipping some with air strips and military installations.
The battle for Iwo Jima in World War II became the bloodiest in U. S. Marine Corps history. But for survivors like Chuck Tatum, it also represents the best, the Marines and the United States has to give. For despite the 23,000 American casualties, including 5,400 dead, the flag atop Mount Suribachi, is a symbol of this nation’s willingness to fight for freedom and liberty, no matter what the cost. This episode is an in-depth interview with Chuck Tatum. These are his dramatic experiences in his own words.
SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Otto Skorzeny was one of the most celebrated and feared commandos of World War II. Daring operations such as the rescue of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and missions behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge made him known as “the most dangerous man in Europe.”
1. He saved the Austrian President’s life
After growing up in an middle-class family in Austria, Skorzeny grew disillusioned with the depressed state of the country’s economy following its defeat in World War I. He joined the Austrian branch of the Nazi Party in 1931 as part of its paramilitary wing. When Germany annexed Austria during the 1938 Anschluss, Skorzeny led a small paramilitary group to protect the Austrian president Wilhelm Miklas from assassination by the Austrian Nazi’s, arguing that killing Miklas would only encourage violent resistance to the coup. This initiative brought the attention of the Party leadership, and he was given a small SS command in charge of the presidential palace.
2. He studied special operations while recovering in the hospital
After World War 2 broke out, Skorzeny fought in the Netherlands, France and the Balkans with the Waffen-SS as a junior officer. He joined the 2nd SS Panzer Division in the invasion of the Soviet Union, taking part in several battles including the failed attempt to conquer Moscow. In 1942 he was wounded in the head by rocket fire and spent a long convalescence in a Vienna hospital. There he read everything he could on special operations and commando warfare, essentially becoming a self-taught expert. He was later appointed commander of the SS’s special operations schools specializing in infiltration and sabotage.
3. He rescued Benito Mussolini
Skorzeny was personally selected to by Adolf Hitler to lead the rescue of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini after he was deposed and imprisoned in 1943. Mussolini was closely guarded and was moved constantly to avoid detection. An initial raid by Skorzeny and his men failed when their transport plane was shot down, and Skorzeny was later shot down again and rescued at sea while personally leading an aerial reconnaissance mission off the coast of Sardinia. When Mussolini was finally located at a mountain hotel at Gran Sasso, Skorzeny and his men crash landed gliders in front of it and rescued the former dictator without a shot being fired. The raid gained Skorzeny fame as well as a promotion and the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, one of Germany’s highest awards.
4. He was accused of plotting to assassinate Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt
‘The Big Three’: Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin sit for photographs during the Yalta Conference in February 1945. (Photo: War Office Second World War Official Collection)
It was believed by Soviet intelligence that Skorzeny had been tapped to lead a mission to assassinate Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt at the Tehran conference in 1943. The other Allies thought the plot fanciful, and Skorzeny maintained after the war that the operation never existed and he had been named in order to provide credibility to it. Skorzeny did lead other operations throughout the war targeting foreign leaders, including a failed attempt to capture the Yugoslavian partisan leader Josep Tito that ended in a fiasco. Later, when it came to Hitler’s attention that his puppet Hungarian regent Admiral Miklos Horthy was secretly negotiating with the Red Army, Skorzeny led a successful raid to capture the Admiral’s son, forcing him to resign.
5. His face was on ‘wanted’ posters all across Europe
When Germany engaged in its last ditch attempt to defeat the Allied armies in Western Europe in the Battle of the Bulge, English-speaking soldiers under Skorzeny’s command wore American uniforms and spread chaos and paranoia behind American lines. Some of Skorzeny’s men who were captured claimed that Skorzeny himself was leading a raid to kill or capture U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower in Paris, though this was never actually part of the plan. This led to Eisenhower order wanted posters of Skorzeny posted all over Western Europe and contributed greatly to his reputation as a shadowy commando who could be anywhere.
6. He was acquitted of war crimes
After the Battle of the Bulge, Skorzeny was sent to command regular troops fighting the Soviets on the collapsing Eastern Front as an acting major general. He also oversaw a failed attempt to blow up the Rhine bridge at Remagan to deny it to American troops. After Germany surrendered, he was held as a POW for two years before the Dachau trials, where he was charged with illegally fighting in enemy uniform during the Battle of the Bulge. Skorzeny’s defense was that his troops discarded the uniforms before engaging in combat, and British commando’s testified on his behalf that they had used the same tactics. Facing the prospect of prosecuting Allied troops, the court acquitted Skorzeny.
7. He escaped from a military prison
While interned awaiting the results of a denazification court, Skorzeny escaped military prison in 1948 with the aide of former SS members dressed as U.S. military police, and later claimed the U.S. had assisted in the escape. After nearly two years in hiding, during which he was recruited by the CIA-backed Gehlen Organization in Germany as an intelligence operative, he set up a small engineering business in Madrid, Spain. It was suspected by some to be a front for the supposed ODESSA network, which was rumoured to be smuggling ex-Nazi’s out of Europe to Latin America and the Middle East. It is unclear if a centralized organization by that title ever actually existed, and that the name was actually a catch-all for scattered old-boy networks and smugglers who did help some Nazi’s escape. When Skorzeny’s memoirs were published in 1950 by the French newspaper Le Figaro, French Communists rioted outside the paper’s offices due to Skorzeny’s Nazi connections.
8. He was Eva Peron’s bodyguard
He was later sent by the Gehlen Organization in 1952 to be an military advisor to Egyptian dictator Mohammed Naguib, where he served with many other ex-SS and Wehrmacht personnel. Skorzeny oversaw training for Egyptian and Palestinian commando forces, including a young Yasser Arafat, and helped planned raids into Israel. Ironically, Skorzeny attempted to trade intelligence on the Egyptians to Israel’s Mossad if the famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal took him off a list of Nazi war criminals. Wiesenthal refused, but Skorzeny handed over the information anyway. He later divided his time between Spain and Argentina, where he served as an advisor to Argentinian president Juan Peron and bodyguard for his wife Eva. He also founded the Paladin Group after 1960, a freelance intelligence and mercenary organization that worked for governments from Libya to Greece.
9. He died of lung cancer
Skorzeny developed a spinal tumour in 1970 that left him paralyzed, but through intensive rehabilitation he was able to walk again. The cancer recurred, and he died of lung cancer in Madrid in 1975 and was eventually buried in his family’s plot in Austria. Skorzeny was a devoted Nazi for much of his life, and had served with and even protected some of the most vile war criminals of World War II. Though many specific details have never emerged, he helped at least some Nazi’s flee justice in Europe, and after the war he straddled the line between freelance mercenary and terrorist. But his personal bravery, skill and an astonishing career which spanned decades, which even his enemies acknowledge, make him on of the most colorful military figures of the 20th Century.
Questions consumed Capt. Carlyle S. “Smitty” Harris’ mind in the early days of his eight years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.
Harris’ thoughts focused mostly on his pregnant wife and two children back home near Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. Harris also wondered how the POWs could maintain any semblance of leadership and morale without a way to communicate with each other.
For eight long years of captivity, the questions lingered and gnawed at his mind.
Within five months after he’d joined the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron in Thailand, Harris launched his second F-105 Thunderchief mission on Thanh Hoa Bridge April 4, 1965. After Harris hit his target, his F-105 was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and he was forced to eject. About 20 people from a nearby village immediately captured the pilot, and he was quickly surrounded by almost 50 villagers armed with hoes, shovels and rifles. Just as he was about to be shot, an elderly man stepped in because of the government’s orders to capture American pilots alive. Harris remained in captivity for 2,871 days, much of it at the Hoa Lo Prison, which POWs nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton.
After Louise Harris learned her husband was missing, she remained at their home in Okinawa with their two young daughters, Robin and Carolyn, until after their son Lyle was born. Six weeks after Lyle’s birth, she took her family to Tupelo, Mississippi, where her sister lived. Even before she received her first letter from her husband from Vietnam, Louise believed he was alive and made certain the children kept the faith, too. As Lyle grew older, he’d tell his mother, “There goes Daddy,” when an airplane flew overhead.
Shortly after his capture, Harris was placed in a cell in the Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the “Hanoi Hilton,”with four other POWs, and, at that time, he remembered a conversation with an instructor at his survival school training. The instructor had told him about a tap code Royal Air Force POWs used during World War II, and Harris taught the other four POWs the code. Their captors put them back in solitary confinement a few days later, but that only helped them spread the code throughout the seven-cell area, and ultimately, to POWs throughout North Vietnam.
“As we were moved to other camps away from Hanoi, someone always took the tap code with them and was able to pass it on,” said Harris, who retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1979 and spent the next 18 years working in business, law and marketing in Mississippi. “So no matter where you went in the POW system in North Vietnam, if you heard a tap, the guy on the other side of the wall would respond with two knocks in return, and you’ve started the communication process.”
At the Hanoi Hilton and other POW camps in Vietnam, the tap code was not only a means to communicate with each other, but it also became a lifeline. In the code, the alphabet was arranged on a grid of five rows and five columns without the letter K, which was substituted with C. The first set of taps indicated which row the letter was on, and the second represented the column. So one tap followed by another tap meant the letter A, and a tap followed by two taps indicated B.
As soon as a POW returned from interrogation, he would begin tapping the wall to communicate what happened. When a prisoner returned from a particularly brutal interrogation, as soon as the guard turned the key and left the block, he’d hear a series of taps that communicated three letters: G, B and U for “God bless you.”
When Harris was being interrogated, for strength to resist demands for information, he thought back to his squadron commander in the 67th TS, Lt. Col. James R. Risner.
“While I was being interrogated the first couple of weeks, when it was pretty darned intense, I thought so much about Robbie Risner,” Harris said. “Mentally, I put Robbie Risner on a stool right beside me. It was my greatest effort to not do or say anything that he would not approve of. That really helped me.”
Risner was later captured, and confirmed the birth of Harris’ son after another POW first relayed the news through the tap code.
As the U.S. began its withdrawal from Vietnam, almost 600 POWs returned home in 1973, and Harris was finally released on Feb. 12. As he looked forward to his reunion with his family at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, one question remained in his mind: the reception with his children after eight years of captivity, especially the 8-year-old son he’d never met.
When Harris stepped into the quarters where his family was waiting, Robin and Carolyn squealed and ran to his arms. “Oh, thank you, Lord,” he said, “they haven’t forgotten.” But when he saw Lyle for the first time, his son didn’t hug him back. However, about a half-hour later, as his father opened his arms, Lyle ran across the room and fell into his embrace.
After eight years, Harris had the answers to all of his questions.
Hours before the Allied Forces hit the beaches of Normandy, courageous British and American soldiers entered France with parachutes and gliders to secure key bridges and enemy artillery positions. Their dangerous missions led the way for the D-Day invasion and ultimate victory in Europe. Wally Parr, Terance Otway and Bill True recount their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.
In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Army recognized a problem with their existing combatives program. At that point, the program had withered to having whatever martial arts enthusiast they happened to command at the moment teach techniques to units. For the Army, being a fighting force and all, this was a huge no-go and a revamp ultimately led to the advent of the Modern Army Combatives Program, which has been all the rage since the beginning of the All-Army tournament in 2004.
We all know the Air Force likes to copy big brother Army in a lot of areas, and this one is no different. Well, it is a little different. Did you even know there’s an Air Force Combatives Program? No worries, most of us didn’t.
The difference, and the problem, is that the AFCP isn’t nearly as widespread nor is proficiency in combatives seen as important as it is to Soldiers or Marines. Nonetheless, there is an Air Force Combatives Program and here are 5 of the best moves.
This is a basic flow that could be very useful in real-world situations where the goal isn’t just tapping out your rolling partner.
These two basic positions, along with a sweep, are taught in AFCP/MACP and are consistent with traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training. The basic idea here is to gain top position. With some practice, this becomes a vital combination for any airman.
When to use: After you’ve established dominant position from the bottom (i.e. closed guard).
4. Rear naked choke
The rear naked choke is one of the most popular submissions in existence. It’s seen on film and television, it was once used by law enforcement, and everyone seems to know it. At least everyone thinks they know it.
There are some finer points (hint: hand placement and back contraction) to the move that take it from a good positional hold on an opponent to an almost-immediate night-night for any unruly tough guys you encounter.
When to use: When your opponent has surrendered their back.
3. Guillotine choke
Another super well-known submission, the guillotine choke also has some finer points that many of us that “know” the move tend to miss.
This is much more than just a headlock. Master the fine points and this move becomes a sometimes-lethal fight-ender.
When to use: When your opponent is charging/rushing you with their head down, in a tackling motion.
2. Arm triangle
A much less popular but equally valuable move is the arm triangle. This move can be applied in all circumstances. Standing, laying, from the top or the bottom, the arm triangle can be thrown and landed to subdue an overly aggressive opponent with relative ease.
It’s essentially choking your opponent with their own failing/punching arms.
When to use: When your opponent is throwing punching or extending their arms.
Col. Walker “Bud” Mahurin was an American combat fighter pilot. Flying P-47s with the 56th FG in WWII, he became an ace three times over in the skies over France and Germany. He was shot down once but returned with the help of the French underground.
After the war Mahurin remained in the newly independent U.S. Air Force. The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 found him in the Pentagon, working on new fighter aircraft procurement. The skills he exhibited in WWII would once again be tested, this time in a new arena of air warfare…the jet age dogfight. In this episode, Mahurin tells his dramatic story of returning to combat in Korea.
An ISIS expert claims there is a glaring “Achilles heel” present in the US strategy in Iraq and Syria, stating that the lack of any planning for the political future of the region after the terrorist group is wiped out will nullify the military gains made against the group.
“Only a fool would call this a victory,” Hassan Hassan, a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and the co-author of “ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror,” told The New Yorker. “It’s only the expulsion of ISIS fighters from a wasteland. It’s not a victory, not only because of the destruction. It’s also not a victory because there’s a shameless lack of a political track to supplement the military track. That’s the Achilles heel of Operation Inherent Resolve. They don’t have a political vision about what will happen after ISIS.”
The destruction Hassan mentions is almost total in Raqqa. The activist journalism group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently claims that 90% of the city has been destroyed by the months of fighting between ISIS, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, and the US coalition.
The group has documented more than 3,829 airstrikes and 1,873 civilian deaths throughout the urban battle, and says 450,000 people remain displaced from the city.
Yet Hassan’s main argument is that the main threat to the success of the US-led mission is that there is no political plan for what will come after ISIS’s territorial defeat.
Professor Robert Pape, the director of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism at the University of Chicago, said he agrees.
“When we invaded and conquered Iraq in 2003 we created ungoverned space for Sunni Arabs in Iraq which then spilled over in nearby Syria,” Pape says. “The worry here is that as that area of Iraq and Syria now could remain ungoverned space from the perspective of the Sunni Arabs, this problem may just simply fester and continue.”
ISIS, and the war to defeat it, has inflicted enormous violence upon the Sunni Arabs of the region, and its effects will stick with the Sunni populations of Iraq and Syria for generations.
And throughout the campaign to liberate Sunni regions previously under the the rule of ISIS, Iraq has employed Shiite militias with ties to Iran, called the Popular Mobilization Forces, which have been suspicious of Sunni villagers in conquered ISIS territory. Iraq’s own security forces have also frequently resorted to brutality against civilians in places like Mosul, which was an ISIS stronghold until recently.
Meanwhile, vast swaths of eastern Syria remain controlled by Kurdish-led militias in the form of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or by the Shiite-led Syrian government.
An additional yet significant ethnic challenge lies in how to divide power between Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis in Syria and Iraq after the dust settles. Already, Iraq’s central government is asserting itself in regions controlled by Kurds around Kirkuk and Mosul, where clashes have occurred.
Such post-conflict realities in the Sunni regions of Iraq and Syria have led to widespread distrust between locals and the governments and militaries that now control them and have deepened the same feelings of political isolation among Sunnis that led to the rise of ISIS between 2007 and 2013.
According to Hassan, the “Achilles heel” of the US-led coalition’s strategy is that it makes no preparations to resolve these complex problems, and focuses solely on a military victory over ISIS. In his view, such a limited approach will only hasten the return of another Sunni insurgent movement in the region.
The Pentagon says the US State Department has approved the possible sale of the advanced THAAD missile-defense system to Saudi Arabia for $15 billion, citing Iran among threats in the Middle East.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in an Oct. 6 statement that it had notified the US Congress about the possible sale, saying the deal would “support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States.”
“This sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats,” the statement said.
Washington deployed THAAD, which is used to guard against ballistic-missile attacks, to South Korea this year for defense against North Korea.
Iran maintains one of the largest ballistic-missile programs in the Middle East, seeing it as a key element of defense against the United States and other opponents, including Israel and Gulf Arab states.
Both Washington and Saudi Arabia accuse Tehran of aggressive and disruptive behavior in the region.
Argunners will be publishing a series of amazing WWII photographs recently uncovered from the archives of General Charles Day Palmer, who was a four-star General. Most of the photographs were confidential photographs taken by the U.S. Signal Corps not fit for publication, Brig. Gen. was allowed to have them for private use after censoring (names of places etc.).
Charles Day Palmer was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 20, 1902. After graduating from Washington High School in Washington, D.C., he entered the United States Military Academy, where he graduated in 1924. During World War II, he worked in the British West Indies to establish military bases and ran projects on anti-submarine warfare. In 1944, he became the Chief-of-Staff of the 2nd Armored Division, nicknamed “Hell on Wheels”, participating in the Invasion of Normandy, break-out from Saint-Lo and the crossing of the Siegfried Line. In October, he was transferred as Chief-of-Staff to the VI Corps, where he received a battlefield promotion to Brigadier-General.
After World War II, Palmer took part in the Korean War. During his career, he received various valor and service awards such as the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and the Bronze and Silver Star. He passed away on June 7, 1999 in Washington, D.C. The photographs were shared by his grandson, Daniel Palmer, honoring the memories and service of his grandfather.
U.S. soldier examines the grave of an unknown U.S. soldier, who was buried by the enemy before retreating. The first American soldier that noticed the grave decorated it with mortar shells and ferns. (#P03)
Dead American and German soldiers at a cemetery before burial, place unknown. Each body is placed in a mattress cover. German prisoners are doing the work of digging the graves and placing the bodies in them. (#P04)
M-10 Tank Destroyer from the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion supporting the 143rd Infantry Regiment, 36th Division in Rohrwiller, February 4, 1945. You can see the town’s church damaged by shell blasts. (Backside – #P06)
Prisoners of War from the German Military Police force and Gestapo agents of the city of Strasbourg are led to the 3rd Infantry Division. POW are escorted by the French FFI. (#P07)
Dead horses and wrecked vehicles equipment of a German convoy are strewn along the road in the vicinity of Lug, Germany, following an attack from U.S. artillery. The Germans were trying to escape encirclement by 3rd and 7th Armies. (#P08)
A German underground ball-bearing factory in Germany, where all size bearings were made. Shown is a row of polishing and grinding machines used to finish the bearings. This might be in Schweinfurt? (#P09)
English M-5 Anti-tank mines are used to blow up German pill boxes. 400 lbs of TNT are being set off inside the pill box. (#P11)
American forces try to recapture Wingen-sur-Moder from German Mountain 6. SS-Gebirgsjäger Division troops, who infiltrated it during the night, dislodging American troops and taking a number of prisoners. The Hotel ‘Wenk’ had gasoline are in yard and it was hit by a tracer bullet, resulting in the burning seen in photograph. In the church tower on the left is a German lookout, who is also sniping at the U.S. soldiers. (#P12)
Helmet and rifle mark the spot in a ditch by road where two Infantrymen gave their lives, during a new drive by Seventh Army which opened on a front of fifty miles from Saarbrücken to the Rhine. (#P13)
Seventh Army men looking for snipers in the Bobenthal, Germany. (#P14)
When this wrecker towing a 155mm Howitzer became stuck in the mud in a road, nothing less than a bulldozer could budge it. (#P15)
Path of a B-17 as it crash-landed into a snow covered field on the Seventh Army front. Pilot escaped with minor cuts when he rode the plane in after the crew bailed out. Note: The pole in foreground was clipped by the plane as it came in. (#P16)
Obliterated German town (#P17)
Another Obliterated German town (#P18)
Charred remains of a German pilot, the plane was brought down by small arms fire on March 15, first day of Seventh Army offensive in Germany. – Interesting note, thanks to this forum, the plane was I.D. and it turns out that it is most likely an U.S. P-47! (#P19)
A German bridge is blown sky high by U.S. Engineers, destroying span as a defensive measure against German troops pressing towards the town. (#P20)
U.S. soldier standing next to the remains of a German soldier he just discovered near German Howitzers, which were destroyed by the Seventh Army. (#P21)
Argunners Magazine is looking for help identifying some of the places, personalities, equipment, or units that are shown on the photographs, as many of the backsides are unreadable due to age and wartime censoring. Contact us, if you can help. Supply the referral number in the e-mail (ex. Backside – #P01) so we know which photograph you are talking about.
On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched the largest amphibious military assault in history known as D-Day. More than 150,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion involved nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers. Some of the first men to hit the beach on D-Day were the U.S. Navy Combat Demolition Unit. Jerry Markham and John Talton were members of this elite group. In this episode, these courageous veterans tell their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.