Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler - We Are The Mighty
Articles

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

It’s sometimes easy to forget that World War II wasn’t originally a world war and that many countries hoped to let continental Europe fight it out against each other (including the United States). Some countries held on to hopes of remaining neutral and passed strict laws to prevent their people from joining the fight.


For those who wanted to take the fight to the Nazis, this was a bit of a problem. A few dozen U.S. pilots defied neutrality laws to join the Royal Air Force while some American soldiers like Lewis Millet ran away to join the Canadian Army.

For Irish soldiers, approximately 4,500 of them, the best option was to run away from the Emerald Isles and join the British Army. Irish Brigades had served well in other conflicts including World War I, the Mexican-American War (against the U.S), and the American Civil War (on behalf of the Union).

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Irish soldiers kill time during the first World War. Photo: Public Domain

The men were grouped into the 38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade which was formed at the request of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The 38th was commanded by Brig. Morgan John Winthrop O’Donovan.

O’Donovan was a World War I veteran who received the Military Cross for bravery. He led the 38th Brigade from soon after its formation in early 1942 to July of that year, overseeing the initial training and preparations to ship out to North Africa.

O’Donovan was later replaced by Brigadier Nelson Russell, another World War I veteran and holder of the Military Cross. Russell got his for leading a daytime raid of an enemy trench as a 19-year-old lieutenant.  He was also known for a stint playing cricket for Ireland.

Under Russell, the 38th Irish Brigade was sent to the invasion of French North Africa. After suffering a bomb attack by the Luftwaffe as they were getting off of their ships, the Irish Brigade fought its way through Africa alongside the British and American forces. The Irish were deployed into the mountains around Tunis during the battle for the capital.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
The war in Tunisia was characterized by tank combat and blistering temperatueres. Here, British soldiers practice anti-tank marksmanship in the Tunisian Desert. Photo: British Army Sgt. Loughlin

When the Allies made it into the city, the Irish Brigade was the first to march through the streets. After the celebrations at Tunis, the 38th was sent with other victorious units to prepare for the landings at Sicily in Operation Husky.

The Allies landed on Jul. 9, 1943. The 38th’s major objective was a small village at the center of the Axis defenses in the Sicilian mountains. They made it to the objective and, on Aug. 3, began their assault against it. In a single night of fighting, they pushed the Axis our of the village and away from the ridgeline. They continued to push forward, helping other Allied soldiers capture and kill Axis forces.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Soldiers with the 38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade search houses in Sicily in 1943. Photo: Public Domain

On Aug. 17, after just over 5 weeks of fighting, the Axis had been pushed off the island and forced to return to Italy.

The Irish Brigade was then sent to take part in the invasion of Italy, a task which would occupy them for the rest of the war. They came ashore just a few days after the initial landings and then began pushing the Germans north past one defensive line after another. By this time, the Italian Army had withdrawn from the war and it was only German soldiers holding the peninsula.

Still, the Fuhrer’s troops made the Allies fight for every mile with well-established defensive lines that the 38th Irish and the other Allied forces had to break through. The Irish didn’t make it out of Italy and into Austria until May 8, 1945, the same day that Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies.

Since the men of the 38th (Irish) Infantry Brigade were mostly deserters from the Irish Army, they were officially blacklisted in Ireland from any jobs that received any money from the state and were branded as traitors by both the government and the population.

This punishment lasted for nearly 70 years until a 2013 pardon cleared all men of the Irish Brigade of wrongdoing.

For a more detailed account of the Irish Brigade’s exploits in Tunisia and Italy, check out the Irish Brigade’s campaign narratives and suggested reading.

Articles

Military Families Advisory Network introduces 2021-2023 Advisory Board

Military and veteran spouses selected from nationwide search to represent their communities and provide a deeper understanding of what today’s military families need and value

One of MFAN’s greatest assets, the advisory board is a talented group of military and veteran spouses who are leaders, changemakers, and champions for military families in their community and around the world. Organized as a peer-influencer model, advisors utilize their unique perspectives and diverse networks to provide an authentic pulse on the most pressing issues facing the military community today. The work of the advisory board not only informs MFAN’s research, programming, and strategic priorities, but connects leaders in the public and private sectors – including the White House, U.S. Congress, U.S. Department of Defense, corporate partners, and military and veteran service organizations – with the lived experiences of military families.

The 14 advisors were selected from over 260 total applicants, a program record. MFAN’s fifth cohort represents 10 states and includes spouses of active duty service members and veterans from all six branches of service and the National Guard.

“Our advisory board is the foundation for all we do – informing us on emerging trends that are starting to take root in military households and allowing MFAN to stay one step ahead on key issues like military housing and food insecurity,” said Shannon Razsadin, MFAN president and executive director. “We’re thrilled to welcome our new advisors. I look forward to learning from them and working together to serve our incredible community.”

Advisors apply for and are selected to serve two-year terms. Candidates are selected by the MFAN Board of Directors.

Through a rigorous application and interview process, the new advisors have offered insights into critical areas affecting the military community like food insecurity, access to affordable housing, financial readiness, education, health care, employment and entrepreneurship, military and veteran caregiving, the transition to civilian life, LGBTQIA+ rights, and more.

“Choosing from our largest applicant pool yet, we’re incredibly grateful for everyone’s interest and commitment to serving the military community with us,” said Rosemary Williams, chair of the MFAN board of directors. “In selecting our new advisors, we focused on building a diverse and unique team with the ability to represent the entire military community. We’re thrilled to work with this impressive group and support our most deserving families.”

2021-2023 advisory board members include:

  • Joanne Coddington (Army Veteran, Army Spouse – North Carolina)
  • Heidi Dindial (Navy Veteran, Navy Spouse – Virginia)
  • Jennifer Gibbs (Coast Guard Spouse – Minnesota)
  • Jennifer Goodale (Marine Corps Veteran, Marine Corps Spouse – Virginia)
  • Joanna Guldin-Noll (Navy Spouse – Pennsylvania)*
  • Lauren Hope (Army Spouse – Colorado)
  • Kyra Mailki (Air Force Spouse – Colorado)
  • Cindy Meili (Air National Guard Spouse – New York)
  • Mary Monrose (Navy Spouse – Hawaii)
  • Rachel Moyers (Air Force Spouse – Missouri)
  • Hana Romer (Marine Corps Veteran, Marine Corps Spouse – California)*
  • Alexandra Simon (Navy Spouse – Louisiana)
  • Margaret Van Lieshout (Army Spouse – Louisiana)
  • Mychael Willon (Army Spouse – Virginia)

*Served on 2019-2021 Advisory Board

If you are interested in scheduling an interview with a 2021-2023 advisory board member or with an MFAN spokesperson, please contact media@militaryfamilyadvisorynetwork.org.

Feature image: U.S. Army

Articles

US Navy destroyer’s crew caught in bizarre gambling and fireworks scandal

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
The guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) is assisted by a tug boat as it pulls away from the pier at Naval Station Norfolk. (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Amber O’Donovan)


An investigation into events that led to the reliefs of the commanding officer, former executive officer and command master chief of the guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge earlier this month implicated 15 other officers and senior leaders on the ship in the scandal.

Cmdr. Sean Rongers, Cmdr. Brandon Murray, and Command Master Chief Richard Holmes, were relieved April 7 by Destroyer Squadron 28 commander Capt. Richard Brawley after an investigation found fireworks were being stored aboard the Bainbridge in violation of Navy instructions and unlawful gambling was taking place among officers, officials said.

A 149-page preliminary inquiry report released to Military.com through a Freedom of Information Act request found the ship’s leaders also failed to get a pregnant officer transferred off the ship in keeping with Navy policy, conducted certain ship maneuvers that endangered gear, and encouraged relaxed uniform guidelines under long underway periods with the sale of “no-shave chits.”

A command climate survey also obtained by Military.com dating from February also found that the ship’s top officers presided over a command marked by exeptionally poor trust in leadership and leadership and organizational cohesion.

According to the February investigation, Rongers, the commanding officer, directed the purchase of just under $1,500 worth of fireworks for a July 4 display aboard the Bainbridge, using funds from the ship’s morale, welfare and recreation account. In April 2015, Rongers directed a subordinate to purchase the fireworks, knowing that the ship had conducted a similar fireworks display in 2013.

The subordinate, whose name is redacted in the report, negotiated a deal with the company Phantom Fireworks to buy the pyrotechnics. An overnight trip was made to purchase the goods, which included fireworks with names like “The Beast Unleashed” and “Swashbuckler 72-shot.”

Some of the fireworks purchased were not available for sale in Virginia, the investigation shows. Then, while the ship was operating in the Virginia Capes area, near Virginia Beach, Rongers dispatched rigid-hulled inflatable boats to pick the fireworks up at Rudee Inlet in a late-night operation.

Rongers told investigators that the fireworks were brought aboard via late-night boat operations in order to avoid force protection measures or other regulations that might have prohibited them coming through the main gate when the ship was pierside in Norfolk, Virginia. He also said he checked with another officer about the legality of using MWR funds for fireworks and got the all-clear. The officer, whose name is redacted in the investigation, denied that Rongers had checked with her.

The fireworks were stored in black trash bags in the ship’s pyro locker, near its barbershop. Ultimately, however, officials from Destroyer Squadron 28 got wind of the fireworks plan when a prospective weapons officer from the Bainbridge raised concerns, saying he had already confronted Rongers and Murray, the executive officer about having them stored aboard ship.

Rongers had the fireworks removed from the ship and loaded into his own car. The MWR funds used to purchase them were never reimbursed, however.

Investigators found that Rongers and Murray failed to do the research needed to ensure the fireworks purchase and display were legal. They violated MWR policy prohibiting funds from being used to pay for “hazardous activities,” according to the report, and Rongers “rationalized” his actions because a fireworks display had taken place before, even though Navy policy prohibits fireworks being stored aboard ship and transported the way that they were.

Rongers did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Military.com.

The gambling accusations stem from a weekly Friday night officers’ poker game that took place in the Bainbridge officers’ wardroom with Rongers and Murray’s consent and participation during the ship’s 2015 deployment. There was a $10 buy-in, and participants played with chips in lieu of money and kept scores and money owed written on a piece of paper.

Concerns arose after an officer was asked to pay a buy-in fee she claimed she was never informed about. A legal officer approached Rongers and Murray with doubts about the legality of the command-sanctioned game, according to the report, but they dismissed these concerns, saying no one was forced to play.

Ultimately, the game was temporarily closed down and replaced by a non-gambling game night with activities like Uno and Risk. However, the game started up again later in the deployment, investigators found.

The investigation also revealed a booming business: the purchase of “no-shave chits” which allowed Navy personnel to grow facial hair or, if female, to wear their hair in a ponytail during long periods underway. At $30 a pop, the MWR raised nearly $12,700 on a single deployment from sale of the chits, the investigation found. The ship’s leaders sanctioned this practice, and Rongers even purchased a chit at one point, documents show. While the practice of selling the chits is fairly common, investigators found, it is not permitted by policy.

Bainbridge leadership also fell afoul of policy when an officer became pregnant. Though regulations stipulate that pregnant sailors need to be transferred off-ship by the 20th week of pregnancy, she was not transferred until some five weeks after that deadline, even though the report shows she repeatedly brought the matter to the attention of her chain of command. Moreover, Murray waited until January 2016 — past the pregnancy’s 20-week point — to inform the ship’s placement officer of the need to transfer the officer, even though he was aware of the situation in November, the investigation found.

Finally, Rongers’ handling of the Bainbridge on breakaways following underway replenishment caused alarm among sailors and led to the loss of some gear, the investigation found. On multiple occasions, witnesses testified, Rongers would conduct the breakaways at high speed, before personnel and gear were secured. In one case, sailors ordered to clear the deck could hear items tumbling around as the ship broke away. Two aluminum drip pans were lost over the course of the deployment, and one “killer tomato” or inflatable naval gunnery target, was struck loose by the wind, but was ultimately recovered.

Investigators faulted many other officers for failing to take appropriate action in light of the improper behavior taking place aboard the Bainbridge. While Rongers and Murray were advised they were suspected of violating articles 92 and 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, violation of a general order and conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman, respectively, 16 others were cited on suspicion of dereliction of duty or violation of a general order.

These include the ship’s chief engineer, the supply corps officer, the weapons officer, the force protection officer, the recreational services officer, the Tomahawk leading chief petty officer and others, though the names of these individuals were redacted.

Investigators recommended that Rongers face non-judicial punishment for directing a subordinate to illegally transport and store fireworks. They also recommended that the ship’s chief petty officers ensure sailors are taught lessons on “misplaced loyalty” with regards to the fireworks incident, since many aboard ship were found to have covered for leadership, rather than adhered to policy.

While the investigation does not cover how problems with the ship’s command affected the rank-and-file, a command climate survey from the time reveals troubling trends. Fifty-three percent of sailors on the Bainbridge rated their trust in leadership unfavorably, according to the survey. On leadership cohesion, 63 percent of sailors gave unfavorable ratings, and 47 percent of sailors rated organizational cohesion unfavorably. Organizational processes received a 52 percent unfavorable rating, and 42 percent of sailors rated their job satisfaction unfavorably.

A spokesman for Naval Surface Force Atlantic, Lt. Cmdr. Myers Vasquez, said Rongers, Murray and Holmes remain assigned to SURFLANT in Norfolk. Vasquez said the administrative process was still ongoing for the sailors named in the investigation and declined further comment.

Articles

Green on Blue: The allies who attack U.S. troops while their guard is down

A Jordanian police officer shot five people, including two U.S. security trainers, at the King Abdullah Training Center in Amman, Jordan on November 9th. Though not the dictionary definition of a “Green-on-Blue” attack, it does show a rise in these types of insider attacks against U.S. personnel. A Green on Blue attack is how NATO describes attacks on NATO and Coalition forces in Afghanistan by Afghan security forces. It’s important to remember that U.S. and Jordan have a long history of cooperation that predates 1991’s Operation Desert Storm.


Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
U.S. Marines and British airmen with 51st Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, search a building for threats as part of Exercise Eager Lion at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center in Amman, Jordan, May 15, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sean Searfus)

Green on Blue attacks, by their nature, are difficult to predict. They are damaging to morale, unit cohesion, and international relations. They sap public support for training missions from the people of the United States and cause a loss of credibility for U.S. allies. As the U.S. begins to increase its presence in Iraq to combat ISIS, the shift in Green on Blue tactics is troubling, considering the already-strained U.S. training missions in Iraq.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
A special operations team member with Special Operations Task Force West greets new Afghan Local Police recruits on their first day of training in Farah province (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Chadwick de Bree)

There are 91 incidents of Green on Blue attack in the Afghan War so far, with 148 Coalition troops killed and 186 wounded. 15% of all Coalition casualties in Afghanistan were Green on Blue attacks in 2012. Security measures were put in place to ensure NATO forces have overwatch when these attacks are likely to occur. The Long War Journal blog keeps a tally on Green on Blue attacks.

2015

April 8, 2015

An Afghan soldier kills a U.S. troop and wounds two more at the governor’s compound in Jalalabad. U.S. troops kill the gunman.

January 29, 2015

One Afghan soldier, a Taliban infiltrator working security, kills three U.S. security contractors and wounds one more at Kabul International Airport.

2014

Sept. 15, 2014:

An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF trainers in Farah province, killing a trainer and wounding another and an interpreter before being killed.

Aug. 5, 2014:

An Afghan fires on US officers at a key leader engagement at the Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul City. U.S. Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene is killed and 16 ISAF personnel are wounded. The attacker was killed by Afghan soldiers.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chuck Hagel, and the U.S. assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Heidi Shyu, participate in singing the congregational hymn during a military funeral in honor of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene. Greene is the highest-ranking service member killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)

June 23, 2014:

Two U.S. military advisers are wounded when an Afghan policeman shoots at them as they arrive at the Paktia provincial police headquarters in Gardez. The attacker is killed in return fire. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.

Feb. 12, 2014:

Two US soldiers are shot and killed with four wounded by two men wearing Afghan National Security Force uniforms in eastern Afghanistan. Several civilians are also wounded by crossfire. The two are killed by Coalition troops.

2013

Oct. 26, 2013:

A member of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) wounds two NATO troops in a firefight at a base on the outskirts of Kabul; the Afghan soldier is shot and killed during the clash. The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack and appears to be a result of a dispute between Australian and Afghan troops.

Oct. 13, 2013:

A member of the Afghan National Security Forces kills a US soldier in Paktika province and wounds another. The Afghan escapes.

Oct. 5, 2013:

A local security guard kills a senior ISAF member in southern Afghanistan; the gunman is killed following the incident.

Sept. 26, 2013:

An Afghan soldier shoots at ISAF troops in Paktia, killing an American soldier and injuring several others. The attacker is then shot and killed. The Taliban claimed the attack.

Sept. 21, 2013:

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier shoots up ISAF special forces in Paktia province, killing three and injuring one. The attacker is shot and killed.

July 9, 2013:

A “rogue” ANA soldier fires at Slovakian troops at Kandahar Airfield, killing one and injuring at least two more. The attacker was captured by Afghan forces. He later escapes from a detention facility and joins the Taliban.

June 8, 2013:

ANA soldiers kill two US soldiers and a civilian adviser in Paktika and wound three other Americans. One of the attackers is killed and another captured.

May 4, 2013:

An ANA soldier kills two ISAF troops in an attack in Western Afghanistan.

April 7, 2013:

An ANA soldier fires on Lithuanian soldiers in an armored vehicle at a post in the village of Kasi, wounding two Lithuanian soldiers. The attacker is captured and handed to the Afghans.

April 7, 2013:

Afghan Local Police fire on a US outpost after US troops attempted to arrest a Taliban commander visiting the ALP. No one is hurt.

March 11, 2013:

An Afghan Local Policeman fires on US Special Forces at a military base in Wardak province, killing two and wounding eight. The attacker and two Afghan policemen are killed.

March 8, 2013:

Three ANSF soldiers in an ANSF vehicle drive onto a US military base in Kapisa province, and fire on US troops and civilians, killing one civilian contractor and wounding four US troops. The three attackers are killed.

Jan. 6, 2013:

An ANA soldier fires on British and Afghan troops at Patrol Base Hazrat. He kills one British soldier and wounds six more. He is shot by Afghan security forces while fleeing. The Taliban take credit.

2012

Dec. 31, 2012:

Two ANA soldiers fire on Spanish troops as they patrol in Herat province; no one was killed or injured in the incident.

Dec. 24, 2012:

An Afghan policewoman kills a US civilian adviser inside the Interior Ministry building. The shooter is captured.

Nov. 11, 2012:

An Afghan soldier fires at British troops in Helmand province. One British soldier is killed and one wounded. The Afghan shooter is wounded.

Nov. 10, 2012:

Two Afghan soldiers fire at Spanish troops from the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Badghis province. The two Afghan soldiers are captured; one wounded. One Spanish soldier is wounded.

Oct. 30, 2012:

An Afghan policeman shoots and kills two British soldiers in Helmand province. The policeman escapes.

Oct. 25, 2012:

A “trusted” Afghan policeman kills two US soldiers at a police headquarters in Uruzgan province. The attacker escapes to join the Taliban.

Oct. 13, 2012:

An employee of the National Security Directorate kills a US soldier and a US State Department employee in a suicide attack in Kandahar province. Also killed in the attack were the deputy NDS chief for Kandahar and three other Afghans.

Sept. 29, 2012:

An Afghan soldier shoots at Coalition forces in Wardak province. One US soldier and a civilian contractor are killed and two US soldiers were wounded. Three other Afghan soldiers are also killed with several others wounded.

Sept. 16, 2012:

An Afghan soldier fires on a vehicle inside Camp Garmser in Helmand province; six NATO troops and a foreign civilian worker are wounded in the attack.

Sept. 16, 2012:

Afghan policemen open fire on a group of Coalition soldiers in Zabul province, killing four and wounding two. The attacker is killed in an exchange with several other Afghan policemen wounded.

Sept. 15, 2012:

A member of the Afghan Local Police fires on a group of British soldiers in Helmand province, killing two and wounding two. The attacker was killed in a firefight.

Aug. 28, 2012:

An Afghan soldier shoots and kills three Australian soldiers in Uruzgan province. Two more Australian soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Aug. 27, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in Laghman province. The attacker was killed by ISAF soldiers.

Aug. 19, 2012:

A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police turns his weapon on a group of ISAF soldiers in southern Afghanistan, killing one soldier and wounding another.

Aug. 17, 2012:

An Afghan Local Police officer kills a Marine and a Navy Corpsman and wounds an ISAF soldier during a training exercise on an Afghan base in Farah province. He was killed in the ensuing firefight.

Aug. 17, 2012:

An Afghan soldier shoots and wounds two NATO soldiers in Kandahar province; the attacker is killed.

Aug. 13, 2012:

A policeman wounds two US soldiers in Nangarhar province. The attacker flees.

Aug. 10, 2012:

Three US Marines are killed and one wounded in an attack in Helmand province. The attacker was captured.

Aug. 10, 2012:

Three US soldiers are killed and one wounded in an attack by an Afghan Local Police commander and his men in Helmand province. The Afghan police commander flees.

Aug. 9, 2012:

US troops kill an Afghan soldier who was attempting to gun them down at a training center in Methar Lam district in Laghman province; two US soldiers are wounded.

Aug. 7, 2012:

Two Afghan soldiers kill a US soldier and wound three others in Paktia province before defecting to the Taliban.

Aug. 3, 2012:

An Afghan Local Policeman wounds one ISAF soldier at a base in Panjwai district in Kandahar province.

July 23, 2012:

Two ISAF soldiers are wounded in an attack in Faryab province. The attacker is killed by ISAF troops.

July 22, 2012:

A member of the Afghan National Police (ANP) kills three civilian trainers who worked for ISAF in Herat province, wounding another. The attacker is killed.

July 5, 2012:

Five ISAF are wounded by an Afghan soldier in Wardak province.

July 1, 2012:

Three British military advisers are killed and another ISAF member is wounded in an attack by an Afghan Civil Order policeman in Helmand province.

June 18, 2012:

An ISAF soldier is killed by “three individuals in Afghan Police uniforms” in the south.

May 12, 2012:

Members of the Afghan Uniformed Police kill two British soldiers and wound two more in Helmand province.

May 11, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills a US soldier and wounds two others in Kunar province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.

May 6, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills one US Marine and wounds another in the Marjah district of Helmand province. The gunman is killed by return fire.

April 26, 2012:

An Afghan commando kills a US Special Forces soldier and an Afghan interpreter in Kandahar province. The Commando is killed by returned fire.

April 25, 2012:

An Afghan Uniformed Policeman wounds two ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province.

April 16, 2012:

An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers in Kandahar province; no casualties or injuries.

March 26, 2012:

An ISAF service member dies after a shooting in eastern Afghanistan.  He was shot by an alleged member of the Afghan Local Police. The attacker was killed by return fire.

March 26, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills two British troops and wounds another ISAF service member in Helmand province. The attacker is killed by return fire.

March 14, 2012:

An Afghan interpreter hijacks an SUV, wounds a British soldier, then attempts to run down a group of US Marines. The attacker crashes his truck and sets himself on fire.

March 2, 2012:

An Afghan soldier attacks ISAF soldiers at Camp Morehead in Kabul; no casualties.

March 1, 2012:

An Afghan soldier and a teacher open fire on NATO troops in Kandahar province, killing two and wounding two more, before being killed in returned fire.

Feb. 25, 2012:

An Afghan policeman guns down two US military officers in the Interior Ministry in Kabul before escaping.

Feb. 23, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills two US troops in Nangarhar province.

Feb. 20, 2012:

A member of the Afghan Uniformed Police kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan and wounds two.

Jan. 31, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in Helmand province; the Afghan commander says it was an accident, but the shooter was detained.

Jan. 20, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills four ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. According to AFP, the attacker shot and killed four unarmed French soldiers and wounded another 15 at their base in Kapisa.

Jan. 8, 2012:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier and wounds three others in southern Afghanistan. The attacker is shot and killed by another US soldier.

2011

Dec. 29, 2011:

An Afghan soldier kills two ISAF soldiers in eastern Afghanistan. The dead are two non-commissioned officers of the French Foreign Legion. The Taliban claimed the attack.

Nov. 9, 2011:

Three Australian soldiers are wounded when an Afghan soldier shoots them at an Australian base in Uruzgan province.

Oct. 29, 2011:

An Afghan army trainee fires at a forward operating base in Kandahar province being used to train ANA troops. He kills three Australian soldiers and one interpreter, wounding at least nine others.

Aug. 4, 2011:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier while dressed as a policeman in eastern Afghanistan.

July 16, 2011:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan after a joint patrol. The attacker runs away.

May 30, 2011:

An Afghan soldier kills an ISAF soldier in southern Afghanistan. The two were in guard towers. The Afghan flees the scene.

May 13, 2011:

Two NATO soldiers mentoring an Afghan National Civil Order brigade are shot and killed inside a police compound in Helmand province.

April 27, 2011:

A veteran Afghan air force pilot opens fire inside a NATO military base in Kabul, killing eight and a contractor.

April 16, 2011:

A newly recruited Afghan soldier who was a Taliban suicide bomber detonated at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman, killing five NATO and four Afghan soldiers. Eight other Afghans were wounded, including four interpreters.

April 4, 2011:

An Afghan soldier opens fire on ISAF vehicles in Kandahar province

April 4, 2011:

An Afghan Border Police officer in Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, shoots and kills two US soldiers, then flees. ISAF reports on April 7 the attacker was killed when he displayed hostile intent after being tracked down in Maimana.

March 19, 2011:

An Afghan hired to provide security at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province shot six US soldiers as they were cleaning their weapons, killing two and wounding four more. The attacker was killed by three other US soldiers.

Feb. 18, 2011:

An Afghan soldier fires on German soldiers at a base in Baghlan province, killing three and wounding six others. The attacker was killed.

Jan. 18, 2011:

An Afghan soldier shoots two Italian soldiers at a combat outpost in Badghis province, killing one and wounding the other before escaping.

Jan. 15, 2011:

An Afghan soldier argues with a Marine in Helmand, threatens him, and later returns and aims his weapon at the Marine. When the Afghan soldier fails to put his rifle down, the Marine shoots him.

2010

Nov. 29, 2010:

An individual in an Afghan Border Police uniform kills six ISAF soldiers during a training mission in eastern Afghanistan; the attacker is killed in the incident.

Nov. 6, 2010:

Two US Marines are killed by an Afghan soldier at a military base in Helmand province. The shooter flees to the Taliban.

Aug. 26, 2010:

Two Spanish police officers and their interpreter are shot dead by their Afghan driver on a Spanish base in Badghis province. The shootings set off a riot outside the base; shots were fired at the base and fires were set. Officials say 25 people were wounded. The attacker was shot dead by other Spanish officers.

July 20, 2010:

An Afghan soldier kills two US civilian trainers at a training base in northern Afghanistan. One NATO soldier is wounded. The attacker dies.

July 13, 2010:

An Afghan soldier kills three British troops in Helmand province. The attacker flees to the Taliban.

2009

Dec. 29, 2009:

An Afghan soldier fires on NATO troops preventing them from approaching a helicopter. He kills a US soldier and injures two Italian soldiers before being injured by NATO troops’ return fire.

Nov. 3, 2009:

An Afghan policeman shoots and kills three UK Grenadier Guards and two members of the UK Royal Military Police; six other British troops are severely wounded alongside two Afghans. The incident occurred while the soldiers were resting after a joint patrol.

Oct. 28, 2009:

An Afghan policeman fires on American soldiers during a joint patrol in Wardak province, killing two and injuring two more before fleeing.

Oct. 2, 2009:

An Afghan policeman kills two American soldiers in Wardak province.

March 27, 2009:

An Afghan soldier shoots and kills two US Navy officers in Balkh province. According to theMilitary Times, the attacker also wounded another US Navy officer. The attacker then fatally shot himself.

2008

Oct. 18, 2008:

An Afghan policeman standing on a tower hurls a grenade and fires on a US military foot patrol as it returned to a base in Paktika province, killing one US soldier. The U.S. returns fire, killing the policeman.

Sept. 29, 2008:

An Afghan policeman fires at a police station in Paktia province, killing one US soldier and wounding three others before being shot himself.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How one pilot became Santa Claus to the kids of West Berlin

After the Second World War ended, Germany was split in two. The Allies took control over Western Germany while the communists shrouded the eastern half behind the Iron Curtain. Berlin, Germany’s capital, was also famously split in two. The city is nestled deep into the heart of Eastern Germany, leaving the West Germans living there to fend for themselves in a war-torn city without supplies.

Starting in June of 1948, the communists tried their best to cut West Berlin off from the outside world. In what was later dubbed the “Berlin Blockade,” the Soviets shut down all railway, road, and canal access to Western citizens. Just as quickly, allied humanitarian missions were carried out to get food and supplies to the starving people of West Berlin. Between June 24th, 1948, and September 30th of the following year, 278,228 air missions, collectively called “Operation Vittles,” delivered over 2,326,406 tons of supplies to keep the city alive.

But one man, Lt. Gail Halvorsen, went behind his commander’s back to deliver a little extra and help raise the children’s spirits. His personal mission was dubbed Operation Little Vittles.


Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

For this, the kids gave him the exceedingly clever nickname, “Uncle Wiggle Wings.”

(National Archives)

Lt. Gail Halvorsen arrived in Germany in July, 1948, and was given orders to fly one of the C-54 Skymasters into the city to ferry supplies. On his day off, he decided to walk around the airfield with a camera to get a couple good shots of aircraft taking off and landing. When he made it to the fence at the end of the runway, he noticed that a group of children were gathered to watch the planes.

They asked him all sorts of questions about the planes and their mission and, as a demonstration of good faith, he gave them the two sticks of gum he had in his pocket. The impoverished kids divvied the two sticks, splitting it evenly amongst the large gathering — they didn’t fight over who got the biggest piece. In fact, it was said that the kid missed candy so much that just smelling the wrapper was good enough.

Halvorsen was heartbroken. He promised the children that he’d return with more. He told them that he’d always “wiggle his wings” when he was flying overhead with candy.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

Among all the fan mail and shipments of candy, Halvorsen also received plenty of marriage proposals from the ladies back home. Take notes, fellas.

(National Archives)

The very next day, he tied a bunch of candy to handkerchief parachutes and tossed it out of his plane to the kids waiting below as he took off. Halvorsen continued to do this every single day and, as he did, the daily gathering of kids grew larger.

His commanding officer, Lieutenant General William H. Tunner, heard of what he was doing and was reportedly upset. It wasn’t until every newspaper in the region (and back home) started reporting on the heroics of “Uncle Wiggly Wings” or “The Chocolate Flier” that the general officially allow Halvorsen to continue.

Soon enough, people began sending candy to Halvorsen’s unit. Folks back in the States started sending candy by the box, large candy makers donated to Halvorsen’s cause, and the West German children shared the bounty amongst themselves.

As Christmas, 1948, drew nearer, Halvorsen knew he’d have to do something big. By this point, candy makers had supplied him with 18 tons of candy and another 3 tons was given by private donors. In a single night, instead of tossing it to the kids gathered by the runway’s end, Halvorsen spread it across the entire city.

For one night, the spirit of Christmas was brought to the people of West Berlin. The kindness of Lt. Halvorsen, his crew, and the innumerable candy donors would never be forgotten.

To more on this story, listen to the silky smooth narration of Tom Brokaw below.

MIGHTY HISTORY

6 deadliest battles for troops to fight in

For better or worse, the grunts handle the main chunk of the fighting. These are your combat arms troops — infantry, scouts, tankers, artillerymen, etc.


The supply guys in the back can usually get a bit comfy knowing that they probably won’t get called to the front line — except in the case of total war when the front line is so decimated that everyone, back to front, needs to push into the fray.

To quantify the level of suck, we’ve ranked the following battles by a metric that measures the percentage of casualties in relation to troops present on the battlefield and total loss of life from both sides. Thankfully, for today’s troops, full-scale battles aren’t as catastrophic as they were before the advent of modern medicine.

6. Battle of Antietam (Civil War)

Fatality Rate: 3.22%

Starting things off is the single bloodiest day in American military history: Sept. 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam. Within the span of 12 hours, around 25 percent Union troops and 31 percent of Confederate troops were wounded, captured, or killed. Six Generals died as a result of the battle along with 3,454 other troops.

The battle is considered a Union victory strategically and it paved the way for the Emancipation Proclamation, delivered just five days later. But, when the dust settled outside of Sharpsburg, Maryland, no one knew who won. If the Confederacy waited a few more hours, it could have gone in their favor, Lincoln would have never had the confidence to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, and the South would have had stronger European allies, thus drastically changing the course of the war.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

5. Battle of Gettysburg (Civil War)

Fatality Rate: 4.75%

The three-day battle between Gen. Meade’s Army of the Potomac and Gen. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia would be remembered both as the turning point of the Civil War and for the enormous loss of life.

With between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties on both sides, the Battle of Gettysburg is the costliest battle in U.S. history. The fighting for the “Little Round Top” alone left nearly 1,750 dead.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Time to do grunt stuff, boys!

4. Battle of Tuyuti (Paraguayan War)

Fatality Rate: 8.71%

The Paraguayan War became the bloodiest of all Latin American wars when Paraguay pushed its boundaries on all sides, unifying the previously-uneasy alliances between Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

While the entire war would cost Paraguay nearly 70 percent of its total adult male population, the Battle of Tuyuti cost the Paraguayans nearly their entire force in a failed surprise attack on the Triple Alliance encampment.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Note to self: Never piss off all of your neighboring countries at the same time.

3. Battle of Okinawa (World War II)

Fatality Rate: 35.48%

The battles of the Pacific Theater finally culminated in one of the last major battles of WWII, which saw the deaths of 240,931 troops and Okinawan conscripts. While the American troops suffered over 82,000 casualties with 14,009 deaths, the Japanese lost up to 80% of their defense forces.

The reason for such a high Japanese death toll is two-fold: First, pitting untrained, conscripted Okinawan civilians against the battle-hardened American forces that fought through the Pacific isn’t exactly an even match. Second, the Japanese refused to surrender. After witnessing the horrors of Okinawa, mental fatigue was widespread among American GIs.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

2. Battle of the Argonne Forest (World War I)

Fatality Rate: 39.48%

The final Allied offensive of World War I was also its bloodiest. For years, German troops pushed down the French and British troops, but they finally managed to stand up again with the aid of the Americans. When H-Hour finally began on Sept. 26th, the Allies expended more ammunition than both sides of the American Civil War – in just the first three hours.

The loss of life was astounding on both sides. 28,000 Germans, 26,277 Americans, and an estimated 70,000 French soldiers were on the push towards Sedan, France. French forces finally managed to recapture the Sedan railway hub in the final days. Then, it was announced that the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11th, 1918, bringing an end to the war.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
It was also the largest American military operation with 1.2 million troops operating under Gen. Pershing’s command.

1. Battle of Cannae (Second Punic War)

Fatality Rate: 53.42%

This battle is remembered throughout history for many reasons. Hannibal’s impressive march on a Roman Army twice as large, the first recorded use of the “Pincer movement,” but also the overwhelming defeat of that massive Roman army.

The scholar Polybius estimated that, of the 86,400 Romans who fought, only 770 Romans made it out alive. The Carthaginian forces managed to only lose 5,700 of their 50,000 and only 200 out of their 10,000 cavalrymen.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Everyone thought elephants in battle would be a terrible idea until they had to fight elephants in battle.

Articles

Go behind the scenes with the military side of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler


“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” was an ambitious project for Tina Fey to undertake for a couple of reasons: First, it’s a drama and not a comedy. Second, she plays a journalist embedded with the U.S. military in Afghanistan, which means the movie tees up a lot of military details that Hollywood has a history of getting wrong — much to the chagrin of the military community.

But fortunately for Ms. Fey, the production team behind “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” knew a few things about making a movie that deals with military subjects, not the least of which was understanding how to navigate the Pentagon’s approval process.

“Because of this script we had a need from the beginning to get the U.S. military to support the project,” producer Ian Bryce said. “The military does quite well to make these movies great.”

Bryce approached the Department of Defense’s director of entertainment media, Philip Strub, a guy he’d worked with before on other military-related movies. Strub had some reservations about whether “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” ultimately presented the U.S. military in the right light.

“But we talked it through,” Bryce said.

Ultimately Bryce was able to convince Strub that “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” was an accurate, positive portrayal of the American military experience, and so the effort got the green light from the Pentagon for direct U.S. military support. The crew wound up using Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico to replicate Bagram Air Force Base as well as the surrounding lands to replicate the wilds of Afghanistan.

The movie features Air Force pararescue airmen and their assets including H-60 helicopters and CV-22 tiltrotors. And although access to the real people and machinery made the shoot easier (and provided a greater guarantee of accuracy), Bryce pointed out that it still took a great deal of coordination to get the job done while honoring the fact that making movies wasn’t the U.S. Air Force’s primary duty.

“We recognized and embraced the fact that we were guests on a military facility,” Bryce said. “They are doing much more serious stuff.”

Watch:

The digital HD version of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” has just been released  and contains special features including an interview with the author of the original book, in-depth looks at life in Afghanistan and how war correspondents cope with stress, and deleted scenes. Look for the Blu-Ray version on June 28.

Check out more about “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” here and here.

Articles

This could be the Air Force’s next jet trainer (and aggressor aircraft too)

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Lockheed Martin


The Northrop T-38 Talon is one of the oldest aircraft still serving in the United States Air Force, functioning as an advanced jet trainer for future fighter pilots who’ll eventually make their way to the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15 Eagle, or F-22 Raptor. The Talon gives trainee pilots a feel for what it’s like to fly and fight in a supersonic aircraft that can mimic the handling characteristics of current 4th generation fighters to a fair degree. But with the impending advent of the Air Force’s brand new F-35A Lightning II, and the upcoming F-X Next Generation Tactical Air fighter, which will supersede the F-22 and F-15, it’s time for a new lead-in trainer. One that’s better suited to adapting future fighter pilots to the ultra-modern cockpits of the next level of fighter aviation.

Well, that, and the Talon is just plain old. Having taken to the skies for the first time in early 1959, and with full-rate production ceasing in 1972, the T-38 is due to be retired and replaced in the coming years with an aircraft that’ll be able to serve the needs of the Air Force going into 2020 and beyond. Though the formal program to replace the aging T-38 hasn’t yet started, Lockheed Martin has already taken the initiative to showcase its proposal for a prospective T-X trainer.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Lockheed Martin

Working closely with Korea Aerospace Industries to redevelop their FA-50 Golden Eagle (which Lockheed Martin helped fund back in the 1990s), they came up with the T-50A. The Golden Eagle was actually built from the ground up as a supersonic light fighter, similar to the T-38’s fighter variant, the F-5 Freedom Fighter/Tiger II. Modifications that’ll meet T-X specifications include a new dorsal refueling receptacle, designed to mate with the typical boom/probe setup used by Air Force fighters, and a state-of-the-art glass cockpit similar to the one found in the F-35 Lightning II, featuring a large area display (LAD). The T-50A will also be equipped with the FA-50’s integrated EW (electronic warfare) suite, but will likely lack the 20mm .

The aircraft that eventually wins the T-X contract could also very well be used for the Air Force’s unique F-22 Raptor air combat training program as adversary “Red Air” fighters.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Korea Airspace Industries

 

Articles

A Navy carrier just broke the record for dropping bombs on ISIS

The USS Harry S. Truman is celebrating the work of its crew after setting the record for ordnance dropped on ISIS. The Truman launched over 1,118 ordinance pieces against terrorist targets over the past five months, surpassing the 1,085 dropped by the USS Theodore Roosevelt‘s pilots in 2015.


Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
The USS Harry S. Truman launches a jet during training operations. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class K.H. Anderson/USN

The Truman’s Carrier Air Wing 7  flew 1,407 combat sorties and dropped over 580 tons of ordnance on the Islamic State.

“Since our arrival in the Arabian Gulf, the Truman Strike Group has been conducting operations around the clock,” Capt. Ryan B. Scholl, Truman’s commanding officer, told a Navy journalist. “This deployment is busier than any other I’ve seen. Every Sailor is doing great work individually and executing as a combat team to reach this milestone. It is due to this dedication as a combined force that Truman is making a significant difference fighting for our country.”

The bombing missions by the Navy and Air Force, in addition to raids by the Army’s Delta Force and artillery strikes by the U.S. Marine Corps, have weakened ISIS and helped allied ground forces push them back. The strikes have been moving so quickly that the Pentagon has warned of shortages of bombs.

Meanwhile, the Navy has also hit ISIS targets with cruise missiles when necessary.

All these blows have left ISIS weak, but it has failed to dislodge them entirely. While the predictions continue that ISIS will soon collapse, the fact that the organization is largely self-funded by taxing economic activity and collecting money from black market trade has made it hard to starve the group out. Recent airstrikes targeting ISIS cash and financial leaders — as well as the capturing and killing of ISIS accountants — have hurt the group’s ability to pay its fighters.

And strikes alone can not wipe out the terrorist organization. A January piece from the Council on Foreign Relations pointed out that ISIS had about 30,000 fighters when airstrikes began and had lost 20,000 fighters to strikes by Jan. 2016. Still, their total number of fighters hovered somewhere around 30,000 due to the presence of new recruits.

The recent financial troubles of the so-called caliphate have finally triggered a downtick in fighter numbers, but it’s likely that Navy air wings will be busy dropping bombs on the terrorists for a long time to come.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Green Beret whistleblower risked his career to change US hostage policy

In 2001, Lt. Col. Jason Amerine was one of the first U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan to avenge the 9/11 attacks. He is a Green Beret, the U.S. Army’s elite special forces with five primary missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counterterrorism. Amerine helped tribal leader and future Afghan President Hamid Karzai launch a guerilla war against the Taliban with U.S. help and was instrumental in the capture of Kandahar.


 

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Amerine and fellow Green Berets with Karzai in 2001

 

Amerine was injured by friendly fire that killed three other special operators. He received a Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart for his actions. In 2002, he was a special guest a President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address. The Army made him a “Real Hero” in the video game “America’s Army.” They even made him into an action figure.

 

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

 

In 2014, Amerine presented a plan to California Congressman Duncan Hunter to help with legislation concerning how the United States recovers hostages. Members of Congress have security clearances and are constitutionally charged with oversight. Amerine did not go to the media, put documents on the internet, or violate laws.

But he did hurt the FBI’s feelings.

The Army did not take kindly to Amerine’s disclosure to Congress and initiated what seemed to be a retaliatory investigation into his actions. It turned out the FBI complained to the Army about Amerine’s criticism of the Bureau’s efforts to recover Warren Weinstein, a captured aid worker who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan, Caitlan Coleman, an American who was captured in Afghanistan while pregnant in 2012. Throughout the investigation, the Army prevented Amerine from retiring and even stopped paying him, unlike its treatment of alleged deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who were paid throughout their trials. He was under investigation for almost a year.

 

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

“The investigation undermines the right of servicemembers to petition the government, and appears to violate the statutory protections for military whistleblowers,” Hunter said in a letter co-written by California Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

A spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division said of Amerine’s case, “We reject any notion that Army CID initiates felony criminal investigations for any other purpose than to fairly and impartially investigate credible criminal allegations that have been discovered or brought forward.”

A staffer of Representative Hunter’s said a plan was developed in the Pentagon to secure the release of Weinstein. The FBI would have released Haji Bashir Noorzai, a Taliban member in prison in the U.S. for drug trafficking, in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Berghdal, who was released by the time of the investigation into Amerine. Coleman, a U.S. citizen, and her husband, Canadian Joshua Boyle, held by the Taliban, and Dr. Shakil Afridi, a spy for the CIA in Pakistan, held by Pakistan as well as Weinstein. This deal did not take place and Bergdahl was released through a different deal.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
Weinstein as a captive.

 

CNN reported the key issues with current American strategy as of 2014 was lack of communication by the U.S. government to families of hostages and a lack of coordination about how to free them. If there were more coordination, the FBI could have told the CIA not to strike the house where Weinstein was being held. For the families, the government wouldn’t communicate because they don’t hold security clearances.

President Obama ordered a review of hostage procedures after three Americans, journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, were beheaded by ISIS. Representative Hunter’s bill proposed a “Hostage Czar,” a pointman who would coordinate hostage releases with necessary agencies.

Amerine’s West Point colleagues banded together to create a White House “We the People” petition, where 100,000 signatures would oblige the White House to respond to the petition that it provide whistleblower protection and end the investigation.

 

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

 

Rep. Hunter, long a dogged supporter of the military and veterans (himself a former Marine officer and Iraq and Afghanistan veteran), announced Amerine’s retirement with full pay and benefits as a Lt. Col. Amerine was cleared of any wrongdoing and received the Legion of Merit.

“What’s most frustrating is that the FBI refused to work with Jason,” Hunter wrote on his Congressional website. “It’s my firm belief that failures to safely recover Americans held captive in hostile areas is a direct result of that refusal.  What’s also frustrating is that some senior Army leaders—including General Mary Legere—refused to give Jason the respect and opportunity to explain what we all knew was true: the FBI wanted Jason out of the way.  The easiest thing to do was whisper an allegation to the Army, and the Army took the bait, investigating Jason for reasons that were unsupported by any of the facts.

Articles

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.”

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

… 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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

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.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

NOW: This Powerful Film Tells How Marines Fought ‘One Day Of Hell’ In Fallujah

MIGHTY HISTORY

The US invaded Iraq 15 years ago today

The US invaded Iraq 15 years ago on March 20, 2018.


The invasion was approved by Congress and had majority support among the American public, but is now considered one of the greatest foreign policy blunders in US history.

Former President George W. Bush’s administration sold it on the pretext that Saddam Hussein had, or was trying to make, weapons of mass destruction (most notably nuclear weapons), and that Iraq’s government had connections to various terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

Also read: John Bolton still thinks the Iraq War was a good idea

While Hussein’s links to terrorism and nuclear ambitions turned out to be untrue, the US occupied the country for nearly eight years before pulling out, creating a power vacuum that ISIS filled.

Two years later, the US military was back in the country — this time fighting a completely different enemy.

Here’s a look back at the last 15 years:

“The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade,” Bush said during the 2002 State of the Union Address.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
U.S. President George W. Bush at the 2002 State of the Union address in January 2002. (Wikipedia)

For more than a year after 9/11, the Bush administration made similar comments about Hussein’s nuclear ambitions, and also his ties with terrorism.

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Vice President Dick Cheney said in August 2002.

“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said on CNN in September 2002.

These statements, and others made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, turned out to be based on faulty intelligence.

Some disagreed with the Bush administration’s intelligence assessments, including former Commander of US Central Command Gen. Anthony Zinni, and even argued that the administration lied about Hussein’s nuclear ambitions and links to terrorism.

On March 20, 2003, after Bush gave Hussein 48 hours to relinquish power, the US launched Tomahawk cruise missiles on Baghdad in a strategy the Pentagon called “shock and awe.”

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

The “shock and awe” bombing strategy was followed by an invasion of about 130,000 US troops.

In early April 2003, Baghdad fell, symbolized by the toppling of a state of Hussein in Firdaus Square.

In May 2003, Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln in a fighter jet while wearing a flight suit, and announced that major combat operations in Iraq were over.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

A large sign reading “Mission Accomplished” hung behind him as Bush spoke, but in reality, the US military would fight a long, brutal insurgency for years after his speech.

In March 2004, a few months after Saddam Hussein was captured near Tikrit, four Blackwater contractors were killed and hung by insurgents from a bridge in Fallujah.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

The incident led to a nearly year-long battle for Fallujah.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
An Iraqi T-72 tank during the Liberation of Fallujah by Iraqi

The insurgents that US troops battled over the coming years were a diverse group, composed of criminals, former Iraqi soldiers, Sunni militias, and eventually foreign fighters such as al-Qaeda.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
al-Qaeda fighters.

In 2004, and in the coming years, US troops battled insurgents not just in Fallujah, but all across Iraq, including Mosul, Samarra, Najaf, Abu Ghraib (where it was discovered US troops were torturing and abusing detained Iraqis), and many more.

In January 2005, photographer Chris Hondros captured US troops accidentally killing the parents of 5-year-old Samar Hassan seen below.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

The incident shined light on a growing concern that US troops were often accidentally killing civilians.

One of the most egregious incidents came in 2007 when Blackwater contractors killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in Baghdad.

By 2007, as Iraq was in chaos and US troops were battling a bloody insurgency that some characterized as a game of whack-a-mole, the US decided to deploy 30,000 more troops to the country in what became known as the “surge.”

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
(Photo by US Air Force Staff Sgt. DeNoris A. Mickle)

With nearly 900 killed, 2007 was also the bloodiest year for US troops in Iraq, which added to the growing anti-war sentiment among the American population.

Some of the sentiment, however, had been tempered over the previous four years by Bush’s decision to not allow the media to photograph the coffins of returning US troops — something they knew helped the Vietnam protesters in the 1970s.

Source: NBC

Related: How the Iraq War inspired North Korea to build nukes

Growing anti-war sentiment led not only to the Republicans losing Congress in 2006, but also the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

Shortly after Obama’s inauguration, he announced the drawdown from Iraq, which culminated in the last troops leaving in December 2011.

In total, the war in Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, 4,500 American troops, and cost over $2 trillion.

But the Iraqi government and army could not fill the power vacuum left behind by the departing US military. In 2014, a new terrorist group called ISIS began taking large swaths of northern Iraq.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
This photo from an ISIS video shows a painful part of the ISIS recruit training.

ISIS, which was founded by Abu Musab al Zarqawi in 2004, entered Mosul in June 2014.

In 2014, a few thousand troops were sent back to Iraq to dislodge ISIS, but this time the US had a new strategy.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
US soldiers gather at a military base north of Mosul, Iraq, January 4, 2017. (Photo by US Army)

Whether learning from old mistakes or simply because there was a new administration with a different agenda, US troops this time were deployed mainly to train and support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish militias battling ISIS.

More: The US is beginning to draw down from fighting in Iraq

In October 2016, the main battle for Mosul began, where the Iraqi military slowly retook the city with US artillery support. By July 2017, the city had fell after a long siege.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler
(Photo by US Army)

An AP investigation found that 9,000-11,000 civilians were killed in the battle for Mosul.

In December 2017, the Iraqi military declared the country “fully liberated” from ISIS. Although sectarian tensions still remain, Iraq has become more stable since the fall of ISIS.

Thousands of Irishmen deserted their military to fight Hitler

There remains disagreement about who or what is responsible for ISIS gaining so much ground in Iraq. Some blame Bush’s initial invasion, some blame Obama’s drawdown.

While the two are not mutually exclusive, it cannot be denied that the Bush administration initiated the fighting.

Articles

Meet the soldier who designed looks for Beyoncé

Army veteran Timeekah Murphy (aka Murph) went from serving 12 years in the military to dressing Beyoncé in Black is King. Now the CEO and designer of the fast-rising, high-end fashion brand Alani Taylor Co. creates iconic, genderless pieces that combine high fashion and streetwear that have caught the attention of celebrities like Beyoncé, Cardi B., Karrueche Tran, Paris Hilton, and Nick Cannon. 

“I started making clothes in 2010 when I was in the military. I was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, and didn’t want to look like everyone else so I learned to sew on my own. I was teaching the weekend after service myself until it became second nature to me,” Murphy said in an interview with HelloBeautiful. Named for Murphy’s daughter, Alani Taylor is marked by androgynous designs and excellent craftsmanship. 

Murphy plans to start a showroom in Atlanta and give other creatives a platform to share their gifts with the world. Murphy will also expand her portfolio in the industry by releasing a new collection with Jah Cherise called KopyCat.

The designer believes in the power of prayer and manifestation. Before moving to Los Angeles, Murphy added dressing for Beyoncé to her annual prayer box, where she writes down twenty things she wants that year. Before leaving Texas, Murphy added “I want to design for Beyoncé” in the box. “And a year later I go to the prayer box and that’s what I pull out. We did Lion King for [Beyoncé]…I was on Cloud 10 for a good two weeks when it did happen,” Murphy told Edible Wordz.

“I design based on myself. I am a masculine female that wanted to find a way to represent myself, not as a feminine woman or a woman trying to look like a man. I know who I am and I know how I need to look to feel comfortable. So I created a brand that has no boundaries or placed [people] in a box of what people say fashion should be. There is no gender in my brand. You’re either fly or you’re not,” Murphy told HelloBeautiful. 

From Paris Fashion Week to the Grammy’s to DaBaby’s music video Lonely and beyond, Murphy’s looks are definitely fly. 

Featured Image: (Left) Murphy wearing Alani Taylor via Instagram. (Right) Beyoncé wearing Alani Taylor in Black is King.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information