In early 1918, American troops were reaching France and beginning to make an impact on the ebb and flow of the war. While the previous combatants had been largely deadlocked for years, fresh American troops could turn the tide of otherwise evenly matched fights.
Germany was on the losing side of this power shift and needed to win the war before more American troops and equipment could arrive. A grand offensive was planned that would come to be known as the Fourth Battle of Ypres or the Battle of Lys.
If successful, it would have forced the British back to the channel ports and possibly caused an evacuation like that in nearby Dunkirk 22 years later.
A British artillery crew maneuvers its 18-pounder field gun at Saint Floris during the Battle of the Lys, also known as the Fourth Battle of Ypres. (Photo: Imperial War Museum)
A two-day artillery bombardment preceded an attack on April 9, 1918, that drove the Portuguese defenders in the Ypres Salient back five miles and cost 7,000 Portuguese lives.
British troops in the area were forced to pull back and cover the gaps of the withdrawing Portuguese soldiers and nightfall on April 9 found them in a precarious position. They held the high ground that the Germans desperately needed and they were outnumbered. The British 19th Division was attempting to hold off a concerted attack by the entire German Fourth Army.
In this brickfilm, a stop-animation movie made almost entirely with Legos, YouTube user Snooperking recreates that disastrous morning for the allies in April 1918 as the British attempt to hold the line and prevent the Germans taking the high ground.
Snooperking, YouTubeSnooperking does a pretty impressive job with the Legos, representing dead bodies from previous fighting with small skeletons and using different Lego heads to capture the fear of the attackers, the resolve of the defenders, and the utter panic when any soldier finds himself on the wrong end of the bayonet.
Luckily, while the middle weeks of April 1918 were disastrous for the British in terms of lost territory, they did bleed the Germans heavily for every yard of territory lost. The German offensive stalled and was called off at the end of April. German losses during the attack allowed for their stunning defeats a few months later as Allied forces, bolstered by American reinforcements, went on the offensive.
The U.S. Navy is now recruiting enlisted servicewomen to serve on submarines in 2016.
This move will take the 2011 decision to integrate female officers into the submarine force one step further, assigning female chief petty officers and senior petty officers to co-ed crews.
Navy officers are reportedly optimistic about the transition process — even despite a video-taped shower scandal that took place aboard the USS Wyoming — one of the first subs to be assigned female officers in late 2011.
Also known as “Washington’s Birthday,” Feb. 16 is now known as a federal holiday to honor all U.S. presidents. Military service is not a prerequisite to be President of the United States, but plenty had it on their resume when they took the oath of office.
We took a look back at four ex-commanders-in-chief throughout history and found the ones with the craziest war stories. Here they are.
President George Washington secretly planned an icy river crossing on Christmas day before surprise attacking enemy forces.
It was the winter of 1776 and then-Gen. George Washington and his Continental Army — low on morale after a series of defeats at the hands of the British — desperately needed a victory to prove their revolution would not be short-lived.
On Dec. 26, 1776, they got it. After secretly crossing the Delaware River the previous night with approximately 2,400 troops, Washington pulled off a daring raid on Hessian mercenaries in Trenton, N.J.
The freezing and tired Continental Army assembled on the Jersey shore without any major debacles. Once ready, Washington led his army on the road to Trenton. It was there that he secured the Continental Army’s first major military victory of the war. Without the determination, resiliency, and leadership exhibited by Washington while crossing the Delaware River the victory at Trenton would not have been possible.
He kept the operation completely secret — even from his own men — and eventually captured nearly 1,000 Hessian fighters, at the cost of just four of his own men, according to The History Channel.
With just four or five men, Teddy Roosevelt led a daring charge up a heavily-defended hillside.
Teddy Roosevelt was serving as the assistant secretary of the Navy at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, but he resigned his position to get himself out from behind a desk and into the fight. He organized and led a diverse mix of western cowboys, Native Americans, blacks, and easterners into the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry — better known as the “Rough Riders” — that later took Cuba’s San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898 from 500 Spanish defenders who had held off previous attacks throughout the day, according to The History Channel.
Mr. Roosevelt later said that the “charge itself was great fun” and “we had a bully fight.” He was nominated for a Medal of Honor, though he did not receive it during his lifetime. The battle buoyed his political career, as he won the governorship of New York in 1899, was elected vice president in 1900 and became president in 1901 following the assassination of President William McKinley.
Although his nomination for the Medal of Honor was rejected at the time (The American Legion’s Burn Pit has an interesting look at the reasons why), Roosevelt finally received his recognition on Jan. 16, 2001 from President Bill Clinton. Roosevelt remains the only president to receive the nation’s highest award.
“Facing the enemy’s heavy fire, he displayed extraordinary bravery throughout the charge, and was the first to reach the enemy trenches, where he quickly killed one of the enemy with his pistol, allowing his men to continue the assault,” his citation reads. “His leadership and valor turned the tide in the Battle for San Juan Hill.”
After his small patrol boat was sliced in half by a Japanese destroyer, John F. Kennedy saved the lives of his men and survived in enemy territory.
As a Navy lieutenant in charge of a patrol torpedo boat in the Solomon Islands, John F. Kennedy and his men were tasked with engaging and (hopefully) damaging Japanese destroyers that were supplying enemy troops. On the moonless night of Aug. 1, 1943 however, it was Kennedy’s PT-109 that was damaged — or more specifically — it was sliced in half.
The destroyer, later identified as the Amagiri, struck PT-109 just forward of the forward starboard torpedo tube, ripping away the starboard aft side of the boat. The impact tossed Kennedy around the cockpit. Most of the crew were knocked into the water. The one man below decks, engineer Patrick McMahon, miraculously escaped, although he was badly burned by exploding fuel.
After he personally recovered some of his men and helped them to a nearby island — including towing a wounded sailor using a life-vest strap clenched in his teeth — Kennedy would later swim out from shore and to other nearby islands to look for food, fresh water, and American patrols.
They finally reached Cross Island (which was thought to be Nauru Island) and met up with some natives who agreed to pass a message along for them. On a coconut shell, Kennedy carved out: “Nauro Isl. Commander. Native knows posit. He can pilot. 11 alive need small boat. Kennedy.”
Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for the incident, along with the Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained, according to the JFK Library. He later tried to downplay his role in the incident, as his chance for heroism “was involuntary,” he quipped, according to The Smithsonian. “They sank my boat.”
After getting hit by anti-aircraft fire that set his plane’s engine on fire, George H.W. Bush still finished his bombing mission and then bailed out in the Pacific.
On Sep. 2, 1944, then-Lt. George H.W. Bush and his squadron was conducting a bombing mission on a Japanese installation on the island of Chichi Jima when they were attacked by anti-aircraft fire. The 20-year-old Bush, piloting a Grumman TBM Avenger, continued with the mission despite the damage to his aircraft.
With him on the mission were two men — Radioman 2nd Class John Delaney and Lt. Junior Grade William White. Their aircraft was struck by intense anti-aircraft fire on the mission. With the cockpit filling with smoke and with Bush expecting the plane to explode at any minute, he completed his bombing run, flew as far as he could over the water, instructed the two men to bail out, and then parachuted out of the aircraft.
After ditching his aircraft, Bush survived for roughly four hours in a life raft before he was picked up by a Navy submarine, according to The History Channel. The only one rescued on that day, the future president would later receive the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery. The rest of his squadron however, suffered a gruesome fate at the hands of the Japanese, as James Bradley uncovered in his book “Flyboys.”
Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. was known for his courage and skill on the battlefield in world War II, but he was nearly as well known for his colorful character. He carried ivory-handled pistols, designed his own sword, and once burned a crate of Red Cross cash after he was offered free coffee.
Patton was moving through Bastogne, Belgium in December 1944 with one of his drivers, Francis “Jeep” Sanza. Patton spotted a Red Cross canteen truck and told Sanza to pull over.
The men got out of the Jeep and went to order food. Sanza got two crullers and a coffee, for which he was charged 10 Francs. The Red Cross worker then told Patton that he could have his snack for free. The general became angry that the Red Cross would give him special treatment but still charge his men. He demanded the woman show him the money the Red Cross had collected.
“So she takes out this orange crate filled with money, puts it down on the ground. He took out a lighter, lit one bill, let it burn and then ignited the whole box. Then he took a shovel from the Jeep and buried the ashes.”
Patton seems to have escaped punishment for his outburst, likely because his forces broke through German lines in Bastogne at the end of the same month. His success allowed 101st Airborne Division paratroopers under German siege to escape and pushed the German forces across of the Rhine River.
In his 38 years of service before becoming the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces during World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower had never been in combat.
It was never his plan to avoid combat; in fact, he was considering giving up his commission because he thought he’d hit the glass ceiling of his military career. He felt like he was being held back, but in actuality, he was being groomed. In 1941, he was unproven, but he had the recommendation of great men such as Pershing, Conner, MacArthur, and Krueger, who believed he would make a good commander.
Shot by First Lt. Mike Scotti on his home camera,and told through the journal entries of Kristian Fraga, “Severe Clear” is a first-person account of the Marines who were on the front lines of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
“Here is the truth about being a Marine that you won’t find on the local news,” Scotti says behind a jiggling, hand-held camera. “We’re loud. We drink too much, fight too much and swear too much. Truth be told, our rifles are the only things we think about more than sex.”
Watch this brief clip that captures some of the ups and downs of this roller coaster documentary:
Case in point comes from this Terminal Boots video of “The World’s Most Motivated Boot.” Deacon, John and Joseph nail how a Marine fresh to the fleet looks, acts and talks.
As the video description reads: “Here is an example of a Marine in the fleet prior to the disgruntlement phase of enlistment. Watch closely, in just six months time, he will shed his cocoon, get a DUI and blossom into a beautiful sh-tbag.”
The US Lockheed U-2 Spy plane is arguably one of the most capable platforms in the sky, but it needs backup when it comes in for a landing.
With only two wheels, the aircraft is incredibly unsteady when it touches down, and pilots have their hands full during the entire landing process.
The solution? Send a back-up pilot to trail the plane in a car while offering control inputs. The ground pilot can reach speeds around 140 mph while attempting to keep up with the aircraft. And without his help the plane could ground loop or worse.
Retired US Navy Adm. William McRaven said Tuesday that Russia was the greatest external security threat to the US.
McRaven, a former Navy SEAL and special-operations commander, said Putin has outplayed the US.
He praised Biden for efforts early in his presidency to press Putin on US national interests.
During a recent discussion of the challenges the new Biden administration faces, retired Adm. William McRaven said Russian President Vladimir Putin has outplayed the US and that Russia is the greatest external security threat.
“I am often asked where do I think the greatest external security threat is, and I always point to Russia,” McRaven, a former Navy SEAL and special-operations commander, said at a Chatham House event on Tuesday. “A lot of people think about China, but Russia jumps to mind first.”
While he acknowledged that Russia is not the superpower it once was, he stressed that “Putin has outplayed us.”
“He has played the great game better than anyone on the world stage,” McRaven said of the Russian president. Pointing to Russian actions in Crimea, Ukraine, Syria, and even the US that were detrimental to American interests, he said: “Putin is a very dangerous person.”
China is often regarded as the pacing threat for the US, and during the Trump administration, tremendous emphasis was put on countering China with less attention paid to Russia.
Nonetheless, Russia is a great power rival, listed as a leading threat alongside China in the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
“We do need to find areas where we can partner with the Russians,” McRaven said, “but make no mistake about it, I think we need to take a hard line with respect to Russia … We need to let Putin know that there are lines you just shouldn’t cross.”
McRaven praised President Joe Biden’s first phone call with Putin, in which the president, according to a White House readout, “made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies.”
Biden is said to have discussed arms-control concerns, asserted US support for Ukraine, and pressed Putin on the massive SolarWinds cyberattack that affected a number of federal government agencies and bureaus, election interference, and the poisoning of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
“I was pleased to see the president in his first phone call with President Putin addressed Alexei Navalny issue,” McRaven said. “I don’t think President Trump would have done that.”
As president, Donald Trump did not condemn Russia over the poisoning of Navalny, whom Russia recently put in prison.
Commenting on his discussion with Putin, Biden said Thursday that he “made it clear to President Putin, in a manner very different from my predecessor, that the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions — interfering with our election, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens — are over.”
“We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people,” he added.
McRaven said Tuesday that the US needed to not only make its position clear to Russia but also rebuild and leverage alliances “to make sure that Russia understands how they need to play.”
The Biden administration has made priorities of rebuilding alliances, reengaging in international affairs, and leading with confidence and humility. The president’s foreign-policy approach stands in stark contrast with Trump’s “America First” policies.
During his presidency, Trump was criticized by Democrats and some Republicans for pushing away allies and partners while at times cozying up to adversaries.
In particular, critics expressed concern as Trump struck a conciliatory tone toward Russia, despite warnings from across the intelligence community and other parts of the US government that Russia was engaged in activities that harmed US interests.
In an opinion column published in August, McRaven wrote that Trump was “actively working to undermine every major institution in this country” as the US struggled with “rising threats from China and Russia,” among other challenges.
One of his more famous op-eds was a 2019 article titled “Our Republic Is Under Attack From the President,” in which he said: “If this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office.”
He said Trump’s actions threatened the trust of American’s allies and partners.
“If our promises are meaningless, how will our allies ever trust us? If we can’t have faith in our nation’s principles, why would the men and women of this nation join the military,” McRaven wrote. “And if they don’t join, who will protect us? If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us — where will the world end up?”
After retiring from the Navy in 2014, he went into academia and has written best-selling books on leadership, including “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … and Maybe the World” and “Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations.”
Congress has created a new subcommittee on military intelligence and special operations.
Part of the House Committee on Armed Services, the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations will have jurisdiction over the policy, programs, and accounts that are related to military intelligence, national intelligence, weapons of mass destruction, and conventional weapons counter-proliferation, counterterrorism, sensitive operations, and special operations.
Representative Ruben Gallego (Democrat, Arizona) was chosen to head the subcommittee. Gallego served six years in the Marine Corps (2000-2006), reaching the rank of corporal and deploying once to Iraq for a 12-month deployment. Gallego holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Harvard University.
Representative Gallego said in a statement on Twitter that “When I walk to the committee room for the House Armed Services Committee, I walk by a wall with names of all service members that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. 24 of those names are men I served with. As the new Chairman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations, I serve in their name and honor. I remember being a young man in war hoping someone was looking out for me. If you are out there, know that I am.”
Representative Stephanie Murphy (Democrat, Florida) will serve as the vice-chair of the subcommittee. Murphy has experience in the field from her stint at the Pentagon office that oversees the Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict (SO/LIC) office.
It will be interesting to see if the new subcommittee will have any real jurisdiction—and thus power—given the plethora of lawmaking bodies with similar duties already in existence. There are, for example, the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Select Committee on Intelligence, the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the House Committee on Armed Services
Representative Adam Smith (Democrat, Washington), the chair of the Armed Services Committee stated that the new subcommittee will allow Congress to exert more scrutiny and oversight were needed.
“As the country faces unprecedented threats from our adversaries and competitors, especially the disruptive impact of disinformation attacks, we will ensure that special operations forces and the Defense Intelligence Enterprise are postured to address those threats,” Walsh said.
“It is critical that these highly sensitive areas of the Committee’s jurisdiction receive the time and attention they deserve, and this new subcommittee structure will facilitate exactly that.”
Gallego has indicated that the subcommittee will be reviewing the deployment of special operations forces across the world to ensure that they are utilized for the US’ best national interest.
One of the least impressive wars in American history is the Toledo War. In 1835, a time after Ohio gained statehood and when Michigan was still a territory, war broke out between the two over who controlled Toledo. Two separate maps were drawn on either side, each claiming the highly profitable city of Toledo. Ohio and Michigan mustered their respective militias and prepared for war.
Luckily, or sadly, if you’re the type who enjoys violence, nothing happened. Instead, everyone got drunk and just shot their guns into the air. Only one person was actually injured, Sheriff Joseph Wood of Michigan, but he was stabbed in a bar fight. Additionally, Michiganders also managed to kill one Ohioan’s pig. Tensions were so high that President Andrew Jackson had to step in and sort things out. Toledo went to Ohio, while Michigan laid claim to the Upper Peninsula. In the long run, the forests and mines of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan turned out to be far more beneficial than the pretty-neat Toledo Zoo.
Today, the “war” is a funny footnote in American history that everyone from Michigan and Ohio will remind you of when it’s time for one the state’s sports teams to play the other’s. Out of pure speculation, let’s pretend that the two states prepared for a second Toledo War. For this scenario to play out, each state would act as their own country, not using any forces outside of already-established bases and National Guards, one half of the number of troops each state gives towards active duty as loyalists, and 2.5% of the state’s GDP (slightly above the world average for military expenditure).
Guard Troops: 14,934.
Additional troops from Active: 1,044.
Military expenditure: $13.2 Billion.
Two things would make Michigan a formidable foe: Detroit Arsenal and the large lakes secured by a sizable Coast Guard. The Detroit Armory produced many of the U.S. Armed Forces’ tanks from 1940 until its transfer to civilian use in 2001. Michigan is a large hub for the Coast Guard with two stations, one in Detroit and the other in Traverse City. Michigan is also home to two Air National Guard Bases, Battle Creek ANGB and Selfridge ANGB. They also have Camp Grayling, the largest National Guard training center in the USA, both by physical size and number of troops trained.
Despite these benefits, Michigan is the underdog in nearly every statistic. The fact that it also has no sizable Active Duty installation outside of the Coast Guard puts Michigan at another disadvantage.
Guard Troops: 27,208.
Additional troops from Active: 3,397.
Military expenditure: $16.87 Billion.
Other than higher numbers, a key strength Ohio has over Michigan is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. This probably contributes to the 5,358 airmen who enlisted active duty out of the total 6,793 Ohioans who serve. Those numbers would definitely be able to manage the five other Air National Guard bases scattered throughout Ohio.
In this fight, there’s no doubt about who controls the air — but that’s about it. In a full-scale war against Michigan, Ohio would greatly lack in ground and naval troops.
Winner: Depends on how long the war goes.
Ohio’s vastly superior Air Force would overpower Michigan in a heartbeat, but that’s about all they’ve got going on. Michigan has the means of production and self-sustainability to counter Ohio’s lack of ground and naval capabilities if the war drags on.
Who do you think would win in this fictional fight? What other states would you like to see duke it out in a fictional war? Let us know in the comments!