Germany Has Its Knickers in a Twist

Trump said he would move troops out of Germany, and he is doing exactly that. Free-Riders in NATO? Trump’s Rhetoric In US-German Relations.

To shift military concentration to Poland, to increase presence in the Indo-Pacific region, to disengage from multilateral relations, to incentivize Germany to contribute more to NATO, or all of the above? Which of these is the reason for Trump’s latest plan to withdraw 9500 US troops from German bases?

Some of the troops will be coming home. A number will be moving to Poland, which the Poles have wanted for some time now. The rest will be moving around Europe.

Germany has been banking on our funding their defense for a very long time. And reaping the benefits of a large number of US troops living in Germany, spending money. And that may have made since in the 1950s. It makes less sense today.

And while I haven’t looked in a while, the German military is, or at least has been, in a sorry condition. When they don’t have enough weapons to outfit all of their military, I would say they are doing something wrong. (On Black Friday of last year, on one day, US civilians bought enough weapons to outfit the US Marine Corps. Probably not the kinds of guns the Marines would want, but in sheer numbers… On. One. Day.)

And the German Defense Minister is saying that they will get closer to their 2 percent commitment this year, but the reason might surprise you. Or maybe it won’t. US troop withdrawal a cause for NATO concern, German defense minister says.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has suggested that a threat by Washington last month to pull out some 9,500 troops from the country will not damage ties between the two nations, however, the withdrawal plan will trigger a debate among NATO countries.

“If they [the troops] stay in Europe, then this remains a commitment towards NATO. But if they were to be restationed in the Indo-Pacific region, then that would indicate a change to US strategy.

Yes, they might have to pay for their own security. The HORROR! Oh, and then there is that 2 percent of GDP commitment. That’s the amount they are supposed to be spending on defense.

NATO countries agreed in 2014 to increase defense spending to 2% of total GDP by 2024. Germany currently falls well short of that target, in the region of 1.3%, although is likely to come a little closer this year owing to the coronavirus taking a bite out of its GDP.

My position has been for a very long time, that if the Germans don’t care about their own security, why should we? Yes they are sort of between real friends and real enemies, but we don’t have to subsidize their laziness with 40,000 people living in their country. And Poland would love to have us move farther east. But Moscow would think we were threatening an invasion if we moved everyone from Germany to Poland.

Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Contines

Since this mess is, in part, due to the inept Obama Administration, the media doesn’t seem to care. A Bloody Week on Ukraine’s Front Lines Catches Washington’s Attention.

So. Russian-backed forces (no one believes the, “It’s not our fault” protestations of Moscow) have started killing medics. A violation of international law isn’t of interest to the media.

Combined Russian-separatist forces — operating under Moscow’s command — have continued their daily drumbeat of shelling Ukrainian troops and towns in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where Ukraine and Russia have been fighting a low-intensity land war since the spring of 2014. There’s been a steady trickle of combat deaths in the Donbas for more than six years. And Europe’s only ongoing war often falls from the headlines. But the killing of a Ukrainian medic on Monday spurred notably incensed reactions from both Kyiv and Washington.

And it shows no signs of being resolved.

On Tuesday, seven more Ukrainian soldiers were wounded during another day of heavy fighting. The Ukrainian military reported that combined Russian-separatist forces attacked their positions with Soviet-era anti-tank missile systems, mortars, grenade launchers, heavy machine guns, and small arms.

75 Years of the Nuclear Age

The GadgetJuly 16, 1945. 5:29 AM Mountain Time, near Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The Gadget was detonated – the 1st nuclear explosion – by the Manhattan Project. It was a plutonium implosion device.

At 05:29:21 (July 16, 1945) local time, the device exploded. It left a crater of radioactive glass in the desert 10 feet (3.0 m) deep and 1,100 feet (340 m) wide. At the time of detonation, the surrounding mountains were illuminated brighter than daytime for one to two seconds, and the heat was reported as being as hot as an oven at the base camp. The observed colors of the illumination ranged from purple to green and eventually to white. The roar of the shock wave took 40 seconds to reach the observers. The shock wave was felt over 100 miles (160 km) away, and the mushroom cloud reached 7.5 miles (12.1 km) in height. After the initial euphoria of witnessing the explosion had passed, test director Kenneth Bainbridge commented to Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer, Now we are all sons of bitches. Oppenheimer later stated that, while watching the test, he was reminded of a line from the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

(The Gadget was similar to Fat Man, which was dropped on Nagasaki on the 9th August that year. Little Boy, which was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, was a uranium gun-trigger.)

Video of the blast is all over YouTube. Here is a short one.

The best documentary I have seen on The Manhattan Project is The Day After Trinity. It is currently available on YouTube; how long that will be the case is anyone’s guess. When it was filmed, several of the scientists from The Manhattan Project were still alive for interviews.

It was later determined to be an 18-to-20 kiloton explosion. (The equivalent of 18,000 tons of TNT or more) Relatively small by modern standards. Thermonuclear – or hydrogen – bombs are measured in megatons. (The largest -Tsar Bomba of the USSR – measured 50 megatons)

25 Years Since the Massacre at Srebrenica

The world hasn’t learned a damn thing. Bosnia’s Srebrenica massacre 25 years on – in pictures.

On 11 July 1995, Bosnian Serb units captured the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In less than two weeks, their forces systematically murdered more than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) – the worst act of mass killing on European soil since the end of World War Two.

For those of you who don’t know the history of the United Nations, that body was assembled at the end of World War II expressly to make sure that genocide never happened again. They have been a terrible failure.

Lightly-armed UN peacekeepers, in what had been declared a UN “safe area”, did nothing as the violence raged around them.

Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan later declared: “The tragedy of Srebrenica will forever haunt the history of the United Nations.”

This is why I call them the Useless Nitwits. They didn’t even try to stop the Massacre; the stood aside.

The pictures are disturbing. Serbia is denying that it was genocide.

And what have we learned? Srebrenica 25 years on: how the world lost its appetite to fight war crimes.

The Duty to Intervene is a policy that enshrined at the UN after Bosnia and Rwanda, but it was twisted in Libya into Regime Change in 2011. Which is very different. It will probably not be invoked again in my lifetime. And it shows.

China has incarcerated more than a million Muslim Uighurs and forced contraception, sterilisation and abortions on them.

They won’t even be called to account because NBA sneakers, and cheap smartphones are more important than human-rights. Especially if the humans whose rights are being violated are way far away from the Liberal enclaves on the coasts.

World War III?

Could be. China opens another front, steps up cyberattacks that target India: Intel.

China has opened another front against India with sustained DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks on Indian information websites and the country’s financial payments system. DDOS attacks are malicious attempts to overwhelm a network by flooding it with artificially created internet traffic. A variety of targets were zeroed in on, including government websites and the banking system including ATMs.

The 21st Century was supposed to be the Asian Century. I don’t think this is quite what people expected.

This is on top of the border clash. Fists, stones and clubs: China and India’s brutal high altitude, low-tech battle.

India and China’s militaries have some of the world’s most sophisticated modern weaponry, but their deadliest scrap in over 50 years was fought using fists, rocks wrapped in barbed wire and clubs studded with nails.

There is an understanding between the nuclear-armed neighbours that despite their decades-old failure to demarcate their huge border, their troops in the disputed and inhospitable region will not use firearms.

My guess is that agreement will last until someone gets a decided advantage in some part of the conflict, and then all bets will be off.

The D-Day Invasion

In honor of the troops that went ashore in France on June 6th 1944. Shamelessly stolen from myself…

The BBC did 1 hour segment entitled “Bloody Omaha” as part of the series BBC Timewatch. (See the link to the full BBC show below the video.) It concentrates on the American landing at Omaha Beach

I love this short film, and I love the song. This video embedded below is how 3 guys recreated the Omaha Beach landing for the camera in a couple of days. Saving Private Ryan had a few more people, 1000 extras, and a lot more money. Below the video is a link to the full documentary. It is about an hour. (It was an episode on a BBC show.) And if you haven’t seen the 1962 movie The Longest Day, you should. It has truly an all-star cast, from John Wayne and Richard Burton to Red Buttons and Fabian.

The entire episode of BBC Timewatch, “Bloody Omaha” can be found at this link. It is just under an hour long at 56 minutes, more or less. Plan accordingly.

Another Bletchley Park Cryptanalyst Has Passed Away

Ann Mitchell: 19 November 1922 – 11 May 2020.

I don’t think much was made of the passing of Ann Mitchel. Bletchley Park codebreaker who helped change course of World War II dies aged 97.

Even after that movie about Alan Turing, people still don’t seem to understand what an impact Bletchley Park had on WWII.

She played an integral role in bringing about that peace, thanks to her work in Hut 6, a ramshackle wooden structure home to some of Bletchley Park’s brightest minds.

There, for nine hours a day, six days a week, from September 1943 until the final exultant hours of VE Day, the young Oxford graduate would create complex diagrams used to break strings of incomprehensible Enigma code used by the Nazis.

It is interesting that the journalist/editors at The Scotsman choose the term “incomprehensible” for the Enigma codes. I suppose any sufficiently complex Mathematics is indistinguishable from magic, at least to people in journalism. (With apologies to Arthur Clarke.) In reality, they were not incomprehensible; decoding them was exactly what they did at Bletchley Park. (Haven’t they seen that movie?)

Not many women were studying Math at Oxford University in 1940, but that is exactly what Ann Mitchell did, though after the war she would switch to psychology and become a marriage guidance counselor.

Ann was just a kid, but she was discreet, intelligent, and modest, and although she would never describe herself as a codebreaker, she was recruited for her mathematical ability.

The average age of people who worked at Blechley Park and are still alive is now 97; they won’t be with us much longer. One of the reasons the British are still speaking English and not German, is in a very large part to the work done by the folks at Bletchley Park. They helped the French, the Belgians, and the rest as well, defeat the Nazis. (Hat tip to Schneier on Security.)

Cecile Rol-Tanguy: French Resistance Fighter Passes Away

She died during the remembrance of the 75th anniversary of Germany’s surrender in WWII. She was 101. French Resistance hero Cecile Rol-Tanguy dies at age 101.

She joined the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) with her husband Henri.

She later recalled how she used their children’s strollers to transport messages, weapons and explosive material.

The greatest generation. Today we have a fit if our internet connection isn’t 100 Mbps.

A P-38 Lightning Story

By a veteran who would know. This Veteran Tells What It Was Like to Fly the P-38 in World War II.

Jim Kunkle did it all. He flew the Lightning. He shot down German fighters. He earned America’s second highest award for valor in battle. During the mid-1940s’ transition from props to jets, he piloted almost every other fighter and then, when he took his uniform off, Kunkle continued flying. He still flies today, at age 88. Americans don’t use the term as much as our British friends, but James K. Kunkle, of Santa Ynez, California, is a “total aviation person.”

Attacks across the channel before D-Day. A run in with the “Abbeville Boys.” Strafing Germans in the Falaise Pocket. A description of what it was like to fly the P-38. Worth a look.

The Shot Heard Round the World

Lexington and Concord. April 19th, 1775. Part 2, of today’s history lesson. Lexington and Concord: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.

The first shot was fired in Lexington.

the King’s troops marched into the small town of Lexington around 5:00 am to find, facing them, a militia company of more 70 men led by Captain John Parker. When the vanguard of the British force rushed forward upon the town green, Captain Parker immediately ordered his company to disperse. At some point a shot rang out– historians still debate who fired the shot. The nervous British soldiers fired a volley, killing seven and mortally wounding one of the retreating militiamen. The British column moved on towards Concord

The British did burn some supplies in Concord. The Minutemen numbering 400 from Concord and the surrounding area formed up and marched toward the North Bridge.

At that bridge, usually calld the Old North Bridge, is where the first British casualties came.

The Minute Men formed up and marched down the hill. As they did so, the British soldiers, intimidated by the colonial numbers and orderly advance, retreated to the opposite shore and prepared to defend themselves. When Davis’s company came within range, British soldiers opened fire, killing Isaac Davis and also Abner Hosmer, another Acton Minute Man. Major Buttrick of Concord shouted, “For God’s sake, fire!” and the Minute Men replied with their own volley, killing three British soldiers and wounding nine others. This volley is the volley considered “the shot heard round the world.” The rest of the British troops retreated back to town.

Smith and Pitcairn soon ordered a return to Boston, which devolved into a rout as thousands of minute men patriots descended on the area. As the British were attacked from all sides by swarms of angry Minutemen along what is now known as Battle Road. When they reached Lexington, John Parker and his men had their revenge, firing on the British regulars from behind cover.

The day ended with 73 dead and more wounded British soldiers, as well as 49 dead American militia.

The lesson of the day:

On April 19, 1775 they were simply loyal British subjects who believed that they were standing up to defend and fight for their rights. In doing so they changed the world forever.

I leave you with “The Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which was sung at the dedication of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837. Well the first stanza is below. Click this link for the entire poem.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
    Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
    And fired the shot heard round the world.

Paul Revere’s Ride – April 18th 1775

History Lesson. Part 1. The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere

245 years ago tonight Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott left on their journey to warn the Minutemen that British regulars were marching to seize the colony’s stores of arms, powder, and shot. The next morning, the American Revolution began.

Click thru for the details.

Maj. Kim Campbell and a Shot-to-hell A-10 Thunderbolt

The A-10 was designed to keep its pilot alive, even flying close air support, and all the damage that could bring. Air Force Pilot Landed Damaged A-10 Using Only ‘Cranks and Cables’.

On April 7, 2003, Major Kim Campbell was flying a close air support mission over downtown Baghdad.

“We were originally tasked to target some Iraqi tanks and vehicles in the city that were acting as a command post, but on the way to the target area we received a call from the ground forward air controller or FAC, saying they were taking fire and needed immediate assistance.”

The FAC ultimately turned out to be a member of the captain’s squadron. Once over the target area, they descended below the clouds to positively identify the friendly troops and the enemy’s location.

After her last past over the enemy position she was hit by hostile fire knocking out both hydraulic systems. But an A-10 pilot doesn’t need no hydraulics, because it has manual redundancy.

After realizing both of her hydraulics systems were impaired, Major Campbell said she had to put the jet into manual reversion, as the back-up system. She said that manual reversion is a system of cranks and cables that allow the pilot to fly the aircraft under mechanical control.

With the aircraft in that degraded mode, she flew for an hour, back to her base, and landed safely. Click the link above for a view of the damage to her aircraft.

“I am incredibly thankful to those who designed and built the A-10 as well as the maintainers who did their part to make sure that jet could fly under any circumstances, even after extensive battle damage,” said Major Campbell.

See this link for a compilation of images of A-10s battle damage.

Your WWII History Lesson for the Day

I know, we just had a history lesson yesterday. You’ll survive. You might actually learn something. (It will only hurt for a minute!) The Friday Flyby – Bombing Germany.

Sarge has some info on the bombing campaigns in WWII to inflict punishment on Germany.

The B-17F, the B-24 Liberator, the Lancaster, Handley Page Halifax B.III. And info on the German Flak guns, and German fighters like the Messerschmitt Bf 109, and the venerated P-51 Mustang, that could provide cover for the bombers all the way to Germany and back.

Click thru. Sarge always has good info.

As for yesterday’s history lesson, it was on the Soviet side of WWII.

Marina Raskova – The Russian Amelia Earhart

Marina Mikhaylovna Raskova (Мари́на Миха́йловна Раско́ва): 28 March 1912 – 4 January 1943. She was the first female navigator in the Soviet Air Force in 1933, and the first woman teacher the following year. The Female Soldier: Marina Raskova.

She became famous – at least in the Soviet Union – for setting a number of long-distance records.

This included the famous ‘Flight of the Rodina’ covering 6000km from Moscow to Komsomolsk, which she conducted with two other female pilots, Polina Osipenko and Valentina Grizodubova. However the flight ran into difficulties at the end of its 26 and a half hour journey when poor visibility hampered the landing. As the navigator’s pit was vulnerable in crash landings, Raskova bailed out with a parachute while the two pilots completed the landing. She survived with no water and almost no food for 10 days before she found her way to landing site and reunited with her team. All 3 women were decorated with the ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ award, the first women ever to receive it.

At the outbreak of WWII, the Soviets were unprepared, and a lot of men were killed and material was destroyed in the early days.

Raskova proposed the creation of women’s aviation units and used her celebrity status to propose the idea directly to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Following a speech by Raskova in September 1941 calling for women pilots to be welcomed into the war, Stalin ordered the creation of 3 new air regiments, the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, and the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, dubbed The Night Witches [Z-Deb’s Note: The 46th Taman Guards were origianally the 588th Night Bomber Regiment. “Guard status” was an honor they got later, after completing lots of missions.]

Raskova herself commanded the 125th Bomber Regiment. That regiment went on to fly 134 missions, dropping 980 tons of bombs on the German Army.

She died January 4th, 1943 making a forced landing.

The Winter War: November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940

I missed a somewhat important anniversary on Friday. History.com asks What was the Winter War?

Finland had been part of the Russian Empire, but was not part of the USSR. In 1939, Stalin decided to change that. It didn’t go well.

The Civil Guard was called up, and it included a hunter by the name of Simo Häyhä. He would become history’s deadliest sniper, with over 500 kills. We will have more on him at a later date.

Technically it was a victory for the USSR. Finland gave up 11 percent of its territory in the treaty ending the war.

For the Soviets, meanwhile, victory came at a heavy cost. During just three months of fighting, their forces suffered over 300,000 casualties compared to around 65,000 for the Finns.

The performance of the Soviet Army may have also convinced the Germans that their planned invasion of Russia would be easy.

The U-boat War in WWI and WWII

OldAFSarge has a your history lesson for the day. Chant du Départ: Sea Wolves.

In both World Wars the enemy was anything but incompetent. Especially those sailors who served in Germany’s Ubootwaffe1. In both wars they nearly brought Britain to her knees. It was, to paraphrase the Duke of Wellington, a damned near run thing.2

When you mention “U-Boats3” most people think of World War II, while some might remember that the sinking of RMS Lusitania was a proximate cause of the United States entering World War I. (Though not really, Lusitania went down in May of 1915, the U.S. entered the war in April of 1917. Though the sinking did shift public opinion in the U.S. against the Germans 4.) Of Germany’s top five submarine captains (based on tonnage sunk), four are from World War I.

Go read the whole thing, but be warned; it is not short. Sarge is very thorough with his naval history. Which I always found a bit odd, since the “AF” stands for “Air Force,” and not something else.

The Night of Black Snow: The Firebombing of Tokyo, 9 March 1945

Operation Meetinghouse: March 9th and 10th, 1945. Operation Meetinghouse: The 1945 firebombing of Tokyo was the single deadliest air raid in history.

When we think of how World War Two came to an end, we recall the atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, before the situation escalated to the point of the Allies commissioning a nuclear weapon, some devastating air raids were green-lighted.

An air-raid conducted on the night of March 9-10, 1945, is regarded as the single deadliest air raid in the history of the war. It damaged a greater area and led to more deaths than either of the two nuclear bombings. Reportedly, over 1 million people had their homes destroyed during the Tokyo bombing that night, and the estimated number of civilian deaths is recorded as 100,000 people. Subsequently, the Japanese would dub this event the Night of the Black Snow.

YB-29 SuperfortressThe introduction of the B-29 Superfortress bomber in 1944 meant that bombing raids on Japan could become a more regular occurrence. First from China, then from Mariana Islands. Precision bombing wasn’t working however, so subtlety was abandoned.

When command of the 20th Air Force came to General Curtis LeMay in January 1945, he immediately set about planning a new tactic. His first change was to switch from general purpose to incendiary bombs and fragmentation bombs. These were used from high altitude in February on Kobe and Tokyo. The next step, boosted by the fact that Japanese anti-aircraft batteries had proved less effective at the low altitude of 5,000 feet to 9,000 feet, was to launch a low-altitude incendiary attack.

Bombs carrying jelled gasoline, and napalm ignited a huge flaming “X” in the city. Fire services were destroyed within 2 hours. 16 square miles were incinerated. 100,000 people died and a million were made homeless.

Tokyo was only the first city to be bombed in this fashion. The Fire Raids on Japan.

On March 12, Nagoya was hit. About 1 square mile of the city burned. Osaka was hit on the 13th. Kobe was targeted on the 16th.

In the space of ten days, the Americans had dropped nearly 9,500 tons of incendiaries on Japanese cities and destroyed 29 square miles of what was considered to be important industrial land.

Given what the Japanese were doing to POWs, there was little to say this wasn’t justified. Shot down pilots were tortured, killed with boiling water, and subjected to medical “experiments” that even the Nazis hadn’t tried. I leave you to find references. I won’t inflict those nightmares on you.

Germany surrendered on the 7th of May 1945, but the Japanese still refused to surrender. And so in August, we had the bombing of Hiroshima on the 6th, and three days later there was the bombing of Nagasaki. The Japanese surrendered six days after Nagasaki.

The Polish Navy in Exile During WWII

ORP Błyskawica A history lesson from Old AF Sarge at Chant du Départ: Storm, Lightning and Thunder. Plus an Eagle. You might learn something. (It will only hurt for a minute.)

The Polish destroyer, ORP Błyskawica. (The photo is by Piotr Parda – występujący czasami pod pseudonimem Topory. Click for more info.)

Note that “ORP” stands for Okręt Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, “Warship of the Republic of Poland.” So ORP is analogous to “USS” and “HMS.”

Błyskawica is Polish for “Lightning.” ORP Błyskawica is currently a museum ship in Poland.

Her sister ship ORP Grom (Thunder) was lost.

ORP Grom was lost in the Norwegian campaign after being hit by two bombs from a German Heinkel He-111 bomber.

A third ship (different class) was named “Gale,” ORP Wicher was first ship sunk during WWII. ORP Burza (“Storm”), a Wicher-class ship, was evacuated to Great Britain and with ORP Błyskawica survived the war.

The decision was made to evacuate the destroyers of the Polish navy at the start of the war, because it was clear that they would be either captured or destroyed. It was styled Operation Peking or the Peking Plan.

Anyway Sarge has more info on the service of these ships in the effort to defeat the Nazis. The Polish government in Exile, which existed in London until 1990 (after Lech Wałęsa became President, the government in exile was dissolved.)

As for the title of this post, The Polish Home Army was based in Great Britain during the war. I’m not sure how the Polish naval ships serving with the allies during WWII styled themselves.

US Navy Seizes Weapons Bound for Yemen

This is worrisome. U.S. Navy Intercepts MASSIVE Cache of Iranian Made Weapons In Arabian Sea.

The weapons were apparently bound for the Houthis in Yemen, in violation of UN resolutions.

The weapons seized include 150 ‘Dehlavieh’ anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), which are Iranian-manufactured copies of Russian Kornet ATGMs. Other weapons components seized aboard the dhow were of Iranian design and manufacture and included three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, Iranian thermal imaging weapon scopes, and Iranian components for unmanned aerial and surface vessels, as well as other munitions and advanced weapons parts.

I don’t expect the media to make much of this, since Iran was Obama’s friend, or something. (Hat tip to Ninety Miles from Freedom.)