Hyper Puissance, The American Way, and Donald Trump

United (States) Parcel Service.

United (States) Parcel Service. (Photo credit: matt.hintsa)

A quick change of plans here, I’ve an article cooking but didn’t start soon enough to get it sorted. Maybe tomorrow. This whose main theme goes back to 2011, explains a good bit about why Trump, as an entrepreneurial businessman, makes such an exceptional president. So enjoy, take the lesson, and vote for America, Vote Trump.


If you’ve been following along here, a few days ago, I posted on how Donald Trump was forcing American government (constitutionally, no less) to run at something like the speed of American business. That post is here.

But something was missing from that post, and it’s been bugging me, so I did a bit of digging in the archives the last few nights, and I found the article that spoke of it. It is one from the first month of NEO, and it was one that when Jess and I became friends she really liked, and asked me to rerun, and I think it deserves to run another time. Here it is.


Something I’ve been meaning to post about, given my interest in the military, freedom, and capitalism, is how they worked together to make the United States not only the most powerful nation in the history of the world but able to defeat the entire world, if necessary.

Pretty bold statement, isn’t it? Well, this isn’t going to be ironclad proof, but I think it is a given if America decided to.

Let’s start with a quote from Courtney Messerschmidt, Great Satan’s Girlfriend, herself:

Which may funnily enough hinge on a factor that is flat out tough to factor in:

Unbridled free inquiry.

“Courtney, free societies have, in general, a decided advantage when it comes to creativity and innovation, including in the military realm. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that”

All the cool kids know how Great Satan’s indispensable ally just to the east of Durand line sold access to that ditched sexed up chopper of Abottabad/Abottagood infamy. Theft of high tech and reverse engineering are the fortunes of unfree regimes and will directly impact the Diffusion of Military of Power.

Stuff that makes the West the BestWonderbra, BvB, individualism, scientific inquiry, rational critical thinking, democracy with it’s inherent capitalism, political freedom, dissidence and open free wheeling debate functions as kryptonite in Smallville in regards to autocrazies, despotries — and by extension — to their acquisition, development and deployment of military power.

Appears to be a dead link, Great Satan’s Girfriend is comatose but maybe you can find the article.

What she is saying here is that free inquiry and looking for the best solution (and being able to afford it) is what makes free armies so formidable.

The other thing is when fielded these same armies can react so fast that they may have 2 or three or even more decision cycles inside their opponents one.

Most of us, in business, don’t have a lot of use for an aircraft carrier, let alone a carrier battle group, that is why they are so expensive. There are less than 2 dozen in the world, ten of them American.

Each of the American ones is equal in power to most of the world’s air forces. They (some of them) are out there, all the time, 5-acre patches (plus their consorts) of the USA, representing all that we are. Freedom, Teamwork, Rock music, Movies, and all.

When the big steel battleships were coming into their own, it was a little different, the new developments were: Iron Ships, Steam Power, Radio Communications, Screw Propellers, and such. This was also the time when America was industrializing. An example of these early dreadnaughts is the USS Texas. These developments had very obvious commercial uses and therefore were much less expensive for navies to deploy.

So let’s go back to the infantry for a bit, it’s not nearly as sexy, even being the Queen of Battle, you tend to get all muddy. But what does the American military do so well? React. Small unit leadership is what we are all about. Spring and ambush on American forces and what do you get. If they are still doing it like they said they did when I was in college, this is what you get: Apaches and Warthogs, and Abrams and p****d off grunts (Oh, my) coming your way at a dead run all spitting fire, and if you are really unlucky even Spectre may show up to complete the ruin of your whole day. And that’s the first 30 seconds of your ambush, your day will probably still get worse. Try it at night and it will be worse.

OK, back to us civilians for a while, we compete, like our infantry, right down to the stubbornness to hold our positions. The other thing is, did you ever wonder why it is always the big companies running to Washington for help, while those of us in small business don’t? It really not the money, we could combine and find enough to at least rent some Congress-critters. It’s because, on anything remotely resembling a level playing field, we will outmaneuver the big companies so bad that we’ll run them all the way back home to mommy.

Why? Let’s think about it.

If I’m a supervisor at XYZ, Inc.that employs say 15,000 people (that would be a middle-sized company). I have probably something like 10 layers of management between me and the CEO, all of which have their bureaucracies to sustain, they aren’t all that interested in the company as a whole, they are interested in their little piece of it. So if I (a supervisor, remember) come up with a way to produce widgets at half the cost, how long is it going to take it to get out of the suggestion box and to a level where somebody says what a great idea. If XYZ is unionized, it’s going to be at least twice as bad. I don’t know either, but it will be a while, probably measured in years.

OK, now let’s say I’m a supervisor at Joe’s Widgets, LLC. where there are, say, 20 of us working. When Joe started the company he just copied what XYZ was doing and because his overhead was lower he made pretty good money. But now, I come up with the same idea and as before I sketch out how the process will work. I think I’ve got a pretty good idea, now what do I do? If Joe’s is like most companies this size when Joe comes to work, I ask him if he’s got a minute and he says yes. In some companies, this would be an after-work beer with the boss, but no matter. So, I go to Joe’s office and lay it out and he likes it, so later that day I’m talking to his support people and within a month it’s implemented. It will probably take a bit of tweaking, say another month and Joe’s cost has been cut in half. THAT is how small and/or informal businesses always win. That is also how Lockheed’s famed Skunk Works worked.

The other thing you notice is that its more fun to work in a small company where your effort is appreciated, as it usually is.

The real point here is whether we are talking about war or business, free inquiry, and minds that do not have to worry about being shot (or fired) for dissent are always able to run at high speed and outside the box. We’ve been doing this since at least when we decided the Redcoats needed to go home and it is what has fueled us all the way to where we are now.

The other thing that top-down management stifles is quality. If we remember the Soviet union designed really sexy widgets, their problem was that an 8th-grade shop class in America had better quality control. Courtney, again:

 

Cold War history continues the action for autocratic Commonwealth Russia. Long lol’d as more ‘evolutionary than revolutionary,” her defense industry is plagued with the horrible situation of being unable to redeem warranty claims by Pakistan, India, Iran and Algeria AND crank out new stuff at the same incredible instant. Since 1992, not a single state defense order has been fulfilled completely and on time.

If we allow ourselves to go over to the European model, we will need to set our sights to European levels in all areas including the lower productivity, higher unemployment, and the lack of what Courtney calls Hyper Puissance in both the military and commercial/cultural fields.

It amounts to a path to mediocrity, and I will never be ready for that.

Will you?


In talking with Jess after I reran this for her, I mentioned the aphorism that ended that other post, although in its more civilized form: “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way”. She commented that she had never heard it, and was stealing it. That night she went to a social function with another friend of mine and used it when they were dithering over the choice of the wine. 🙂 She said it raised some eyebrows, and that our friend (who is quite senior) commented that she was keeping company with Americans, which raised them even further. Well, Britain is perhaps the next best at this, but it is basically an American trait. That pandering to Europeans is another reason the ‘elites’ got Trump (Brexit too, I think).

Veteran’s Day

On 2012 for the first time as we observed Veteran’s Day, there was no one to take our salute. Florence Green, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, died on 4 February 2012 two weeks short of her 111th birthday, at King’s Lynn. She was the very last veteran of World War I.

And now they’re all gone, the doughboys, Tommies, the Diggers, the Canucks, and the Kiwis. And the men of the Second World War are following swiftly.

These are the men that have kept us free. For this holiday is about brave men.

The Great War, of course, is when the United States made its debut as the great world power. From our entry in 1917 until today is fairly termed “The American Century” for as the Pax Britannica ended in 1914 and chaos ensued between the wars as we hid in our continent and from 1945 the Pax Americana has been in place.

It could be fairly said that the wars of the 20th Century were the “Wars of Freedom”, for more people have been freed from tyranny by the United States and our allies than at any other time in history.

The legend of American bravery is known worldwide, from the Marine sergeant, who lead the charge at the battle of Belleau Wood, who led the charge with the command, “Come on you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever.”( Noting that it is now “Bois de la Brigade de Marine“, in their honor) to General McAuliffe’s response to the German demand to surrender at Bastogne, “Nuts” to the Admiral Nimitz’s comment on Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Thus it has been remarked the common bravery of American troops in every case in all the wars of these Planetary soldiers.

As probably everyone reading this knows, the average American idolizes American soldiers, they have gone from being the unwanted stepchildren of the revolution, because of the mistrust engendered by the occupying British regulars, to by far the most trusted of American institutions, trusted by over  80% of Americans. They have earned it and earned it the hard way by blood, toil, tears, honor, integrity, and sweat from Lexington Green to Afghanistan they have become a legend, at one and the same time, “America’s Army” and the “Army of the Free”. The Armed Forces are the best of America. If you were to ask the common people of anyplace they have been, you will find their fans, maybe not the government, but the people remember.

If you don’t happen to know, those streamers on the service flags are called battle streamers, each of them remembers a battle going back to Lexington Green. It has been a contentious life we have lived, and freedom always has enemies.

But they have done other things, they are often the first humanitarian aid anywhere in the world after a natural disaster, the mapping of the United States was done by the Army, your GPS system is courtesy of the Air Force and the Internet you’re reading this on was started by the US Department of Defense.

But let us not make the mistake many do, it’s not technology that wins wars, it’s men, and now women as well, women like these:

What do you think goes through the minds of women in the parts of the world that don’t offer women equal rights when these women show up in their midst as American officers and warriors? Think maybe some get the idea that women are equal to men.

I’d say things like this have done more to advance women’s rights than all the feminists yelling in the last fifty years. It was the same when the military integrated in 1948, that’s where it was all proved, although we already knew it, really, blacks have served bravely and well ever since Crispus Attucks was killed at the Boston Massacre.

But you know, it’s always had a cost, often a very high cost and a wise people don’t forget, no matter the technology, it has to be operated by people and by brave people, from the rifleman to the man who may have to turn the key to unleash Armageddon itself. And in American history, the military has never failed us, even when we and our political leadership has not been worthy of them. Many of us use as a catchphrase a rewording of the last line of our national anthem, instead of  “the Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave”, we are wont to say “The Land of the Free because of the Brave.”

We are also quite content, while not resting in our quest, to be known by the friends we keep.

But sometimes the brave are lost and then we honor our fallen countrymen, as they deserve. Bill Whittle a few years ago had something to say about American Honor, and I’d like you to read it.

On October 7th, 2002, I returned to Los Angeles from Arlington National Cemetery where we’d interred my father, 2nd Lt. William Joseph Whittle, who died from what may have been sheer joy during a fishing trip in Canada.

My dad served in the US Army in Germany, from 1944 through 1946. He was an intelligence officer, and was responsible for recording the time of death of the convicted War Criminals at Nuremburg after the war. He saw them hanged — he stood there with a stopwatch. He was 21 years old.

My father spent two years in the U.S. Military. He spent a lifetime in the corporate world. After twenty years as a world-class hotel manager, turning entire properties from liabilities into assets, he was let go without so much as a thank-you dinner or a handshake. Twenty years of service. He was a four-star general in the corporate world for two decades, and that was his reward.

Monday afternoon, at 1 pm, I stood underneath the McClellan arch at ANC. There were 13 family members there. There were also 40 men in uniform. I was stunned.

They took my dad’s ashes, in what looked like a really nice cigar box (what a little box for such a big man, I thought at that moment), and placed it in what looked like a metallic coffin on the back of a horse-drawn caisson. His ashes were handled by other twenty-one year old men, men as young as he had been, men whose fathers were children when my dad was in uniform. Everything was inspected, checked, and handled with awesome, palpable, radiating reverence and respect.

As we walked behind the caisson, the band played not a dirge, but a march… a tune that left me searching for the right adjective, which I didn’t find until the flight home. It was triumphal. It was the sound of Caesar entering Rome; the sound of a hero coming home. It was the only time during the service that I really began to cry.

Continue reading Honor

This is part of that Honor

Hyper Puissance, The American Way, and Donald Trump

United (States) Parcel Service.

United (States) Parcel Service. (Photo credit: matt.hintsa)

If you’ve been following along here, a few days ago, I posted on how Donald Trump was forcing American government (constitutionally, no less) to run at something like the speed of American business. That post is here.

But something was missing from that post, and it’s been bugging me, so I did a bit of digging in the archives the last few nights, and I found the article that spoke of it. It is one from the first month of NEO, and it was one that when Jess and I became friends she really liked, and asked me to rerun, and I think it deserves to run another time. Here it is.


Something I’ve been meaning to post about, given my interest in the military, freedom, and capitalism, is how they worked together to make the United States not only the most powerful nation in the history of the world but able to defeat the entire world, if necessary.

Pretty bold statement, isn’t it? Well, this isn’t going to be ironclad proof, but I think it is a given if America decided to.

Let’s start with a quote from Courtney Messerschmidt, Great Satan’s Girlfriend, herself:

Which may funnily enough hinge on a factor that is flat out tough to factor in:

Unbridled free inquiry.

“Courtney, free societies have, in general, a decided advantage when it comes to creativity and innovation, including in the military realm. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that”

All the cool kids know how Great Satan’s indispensable ally just to the east of Durand line sold access to that ditched sexed up chopper of Abottabad/Abottagood infamy. Theft of high tech and reverse engineering are the fortunes of unfree regimes and will directly impact the Diffusion of Military of Power.

Stuff that makes the West the BestWonderbra, BvB, individualism, scientific inquiry, rational critical thinking, democracy with it’s inherent capitalism, political freedom, dissidence and open free wheeling debate functions as kryptonite in Smallville in regards to autocrazies, despotries — and by extension — to their acquisition, development and deployment of military power.

What she is saying here is that free inquiry and looking for the best solution (and being able to afford it) is what make free armies so formidable.

The other thing is when fielded these same armies can react so fast that they may have 2 or three or even more decision cycles inside their opponents one.

Most of us, in business, don’t have a lot of use for an aircraft carrier, let alone a carrier battle group, that is why they are so expensive. There are less than 2 dozen in the world, ten of them American.

Each of the American ones is equal in power to most of the world’s air forces. They (some of them) are out there, all the time, 5-acre patches (plus their consorts) of the USA, representing all that we are. Freedom, Teamwork, Rock music, Movies, and all.

When the big steel battleships were coming into their own, it was a little different, the new developments were: Iron Ships, Steam Power, Radio Communications, Screw Propellers and such. This was also the time when America was industrializing. An example of these early dreadnaughts is the USS Texas. These developments had very obvious commercial uses and therefore were much less expensive for navies to deploy.

So let’s go back to the infantry for a bit, it’s not nearly as sexy, even being the Queen of Battle, you tend to get all muddy. But what does the American military do so well? React. Small unit leadership is what we are all about. Spring and ambush on American forces and what do you get. If they are still doing it like  they said they did when I was in college, this is what you get: Apaches, and Warthogs, and Abrams and p****d off grunts (Oh, my) coming your way  at a dead run all spitting fire, and if you are really unlucky even Spectre may show up to complete the ruin of your whole day. And that’s the first 30 seconds of your ambush, your day will probably still get worse. Try it at night and it will be worse.

OK, back to us civilians for a while, we compete, like our infantry, right down to the stubbornness to hold our positions. The other thing is, did you ever wonder why it is always the big companies running to Washington for help, while those of us in small business don’t? It really not the money, we could combine and find enough to at least rent some Congress-critters. It’s because, on anything remotely resembling a level playing field, we will outmaneuver the big companies so bad that we’ll run them all the way back home to mommy.

Why? Let’s think about it.

If I’m a supervisor at XYZ, Inc.that employs say 15,000 people (that would be a middle-sized company). I have probably something like 10 layers of management between me and the CEO, all of which have their bureaucracies to sustain, they aren’t all that interested in the company as a whole, they are interested in their little piece of it. So if I (a supervisor, remember) come up with a way to produce widgets at half the cost, how long is it going to take it to get out of the suggestion box and to a level where somebody says what a great idea. If XYZ is unionized, it’s going to be at least twice as bad. I don’t know either, but it will be a while, probably measured in years.

OK, now let’s say I’m a supervisor at Joe’s Widgets, LLC. where there are, say, 20 of us working. When Joe started the company he just copied what XYZ was doing and because his overhead was lower he made pretty good money. But now, I come up with the same idea and as before I sketch out how the process will work. I think I’ve got a pretty good idea, now what do I do? If Joe’s is like most companies this size when Joe comes to work, I ask him if he’s got a minute and he says yes. In some companies, this would be an after work beer with the boss, but no matter. So, I go to Joe’s office and lay it out and he likes it, so later that day I’m talking to his support people and within a month it’s implemented. It will probably take a bit of tweaking, say another month and Joe’s cost has been cut in half. THAT is how small and/or informal businesses always win.That is also how Lockheed’s famed Skunk Works worked.

The other thing you notice is that its more fun to work in a small company where your effort is appreciated, as it usually is.

The real point here is whether we are talking about war or business, free inquiry and minds that do not have to worry about being shot (or fired) for dissent are always able to run at high speed and outside the box. We’ve been doing this since at least when we decided the Redcoats needed to go home and it is what has fueled us all the way to where we are now.

The other thing that top-down management stifles is quality. If we remember the Soviet union designed really sexy widgets, their problem was that an 8th-grade shop class in America had better quality control. Courtney, again:

 

Cold War history continues the action for autocratic Commonwealth Russia. Long lol’d as more ‘evolutionary than revolutionary,” her defense industry is plagued with the horrible situation of being unable to redeem warranty claims by Pakistan, India, Iran and Algeria AND crank out new stuff at the same incredible instant. Since 1992, not a single state defense order has been fulfilled completely and on time.

If we allow ourselves to over to the European model, we will need to set our sights to European levels in all areas including the lower productivity, higher unemployment and the lack of what Courtney calls Hyper Puissance in both the military and commercial/cultural fields.

It amounts to a path to mediocrity, and I will never be ready for that.

Will you?


In talking with Jess after I reran this for her, I mentioned the aphorism that ended that other post, although in its more civilized form: “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way”. She commented that she had never heard it, and was stealing it. That night she went to a social function with another friend of mine and used it when they were dithering over the choice of the wine. 🙂 She said it raised some eyebrows, and that our friend (who is quite senior) commented that she was keeping company with Americans, which raised them even further. Well, Britain is perhaps the next best at this, but it is basically an American trait. That pandering to Europeans is another reason they got Trump (Brexit too, I think).

Veteran’s Day

These are the men that have kept us free.

The Great War, of course, is when the United States made its debut as the great world power. From our entry in 1917 until today is fairly termed “The American Century” for as the Pax Britannica ended in 1914 and chaos ensued between the wars as we hid in our continent and from 1945 the Pax Americana has been in place.

It could be fairly said that the wars of the 20th Century were the “Wars of Freedom”, for more people have been freed from tyranny by the United States and our allies than at any other time in history.

The legend of American bravery is known worldwide, from the Marine sergeant, who lead the charge at the battle of Belleau Wood, who led the charge with the command, “Come on you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever.”( Noting that it is now “Bois de la Brigade de Marine“, in their honor) to General McAuliffe’s response to the German demand to surrender at Bastogne, “Nuts” to the Admiral Nimitz’s comment on Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Thus has been remarked the common bravery of American troops in every case in all the wars of these Planetary soldiers.

As probably everyone reading this knows, the average American idolizes American soldiers, they have gone from being the unwanted stepchildren of the revolution, because of the mistrust engendered by the occupying British regulars, to by far the most trusted of American institutions, trusted by over  80% of Americans. They have earned it and earned it the hard way by blood, toil, tears, honor, integrity, and sweat from Lexington Green to Afghanistan they have become a legend, at one and the same time, “America’s Army” and the “Army of the Free”. The Armed Forces are the best of America. If you were to ask the common people of any place they have been, you will find their fans, maybe not the government, but the people remember.

If you don’t happen to know, those streamers on the service flags are called battle streamers, each of them remembers a battle going back to Lexington Green. It has been a contentious life we have lived, and freedom always has enemies.

But they have done other things, they are often the first humanitarian aid anywhere in the world after a natural disaster, the mapping of the United States was done by the Army, your GPS system is courtesy of the Air Force and the Internet you’re reading this on was started by the US Department of Defense.

But let us not make the mistake many do, it’s not technology that wins wars, it’s men, and now women as well, women like these:

What do you think goes through the minds of women in the parts of the world that don’t offer women equal rights when these women show up in their midst as American officers and warriors? Think maybe some get the idea that women are equal to men.

I’d say things like this have done more to advance women’s rights than all the feminists yelling in the last fifty years. It was the same when the military integrated in 1948, that’s where it was all proved, although we already knew it, really, blacks have served bravely and well ever since Crispus Attucks was killed at the Boston Massacre.

But you know, it’s always had a cost, often a very high cost, and a wise people don’t forget that no matter the technology, it has to be operated by people and by brave people, from the rifleman to the man who may have to turn the key to unleash Armageddon itself. And in American history, the military has never failed us, even when we and our political leadership has not been worthy of them. Many of us use as a catchphrase a rewording of the last line of our national anthem, instead of  “the Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave“, we are wont to say “The Land of the Free because of the Brave.”

We are also quite content, while not resting in our quest, to be known by the friends we keep.

A few years ago, Jessica reminded us that there are other victims of war besides our soldiers, here is that article:

Thin red line of heroes?

I don’t know how it is in the USA with civilian/military relations in everyday life, but, as ever, Kipling in his Tommy still sums up the British attitude:

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

As a sometime Army wife, I know this all too well.  For a long time, thanks to IRA activity, British soldiers were advised to wear civvies when off duty, and it is indicative of something bad that the first reaction of some of the Top Brass to the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby was to suggest that soldiers might want to revert to that; it is indicative of something right that our soldiers give the old two-fingered saute to such nonsense.

But there’s bound to be a divide between civilians and the military in times of peace when you have a professional army. Although the analogy with Monks might raise an eyebrow or two, there is a parallel (no, not that one).  Soldiers live a life apart. They are trained to do things which ordinary people don’t do, and probably don’t want to do.There has to be a high level of commitment, and at times the dedication to duty means that a soldier puts everything else to one side. Although no soldier’s wife worth her salt would dream of saying so, we all wait in terror for the knock on the door or the telephone call from the CO. Every time we kiss and wave good-bye, we know that for at least one of us, it is the final good-bye. And if your marriage doesn’t come to that honorable end, well the stress and strains on your man and marriage may make it come to another sort of end. The price soldiers pay to serve us all is huge.  But they also serve, who only stand and wait – and love.

Yes, here in the UK on 11 November, Armistice Day, we all remember our armed forces and the glorious dead, and we have pubic ceremonies where we celebrate and congratulate out Armed Forces; but what about the other 364 days? Well, unless there is a particularly horrible series of death, we forget – the ‘we’ being the vast majority of the population who know nothing and care less about our soldiers sailors and airmen.

I don’t know whether it is different in the US, but here, the armed forces are very much the Cinderella services – except when they are needed. Kipling, as ever, said it best:

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

But how thin does that red line have to be before it breaks?

This is part of that Honor

Nuts

What? You thought this was about last night’s debate, didn’t you? It’s not. It about what may well be the greatest battle victory in American history. It happened only seventy-one years ago, but most of us have forgotten it. From Great Satan’s Girlfriend.

On or about this date in 1944, Americans woke to read in alla papers that a war that was almost won looked like it might just get lost.

Beleaf it or don’t – few Americans are aware of the Battle of the Bulge in the last millennium. Nineteen thousand American soldiers were killed with more than 70,000 casualties. It was the largest combat action in the history of the American military.

And it lives evermore with those This We’ll Defend cats

After a day of hard fighting, the Germans broke through the American front, surrounding most of an infantry division, seizing key crossroads, and advancing their spearheads toward the Meuse River, creating the projection that gave the battle its name.

Stories spread of the massacre of soldiers and civilians at Malmedy and Stavelot, of fallschrimjager paratroopers dropping behind the lines, and of English-speaking German soldiers, disguised as Americans, capturing critical bridges, cutting communications lines, and spreading rumors. For those who had lived through 1940, the picture was all too familiar. Belgian townspeople put away their Allied flags and brought out their swastikas.

Police in Paris enforced an all-night curfew. British veterans waited nervously to see how the Americans would react to a full-scale German offensive, and British generals quietly acted to safeguard the Meuse crossings. Even American civilians who had thought final victory was near were sobered by the Nazi onslaught.

But this was not 1940. The supreme Allied commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower rushed reinforcements to hold the shoulders of the German penetration. Within days, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. had turned his Third U.S. Army to the north and was counterattacking against the German flank. But the story of the battle of the Bulge is above all the story of American soldiers.

Often isolated and unaware of the overall picture, they did their part to slow the Nazi advance, whether by delaying armored spearheads with obstinate defenses of vital crossroads, moving or burning critical gasoline stocks to keep them from the fuel-hungry German tanks, or coming up with questions on arcane Americana to stump possible Nazi infiltrators.

At the critical road junctions of St. Vith and Bastogne, American tankers and paratroopers fought off repeated attacks, and when the acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne was summoned by his German adversary to surrender, he simply responded, “Nuts!”

Within days, Patton’s Third Army had relieved Bastogne, and to the north, the 2d U.S. Armored Division stopped enemy tanks short of the Meuse on Christmas Day. Through January, American troops, often wading through deep snow drifts, attacked the sides of the shrinking bulge until they had restored the front and set the stage for the final drive to victory.

Never again would NSDAP Time Deutschland be able to launch an offensive in the West on such a scale. An admiring British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill stated, “This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.” Indeed, in terms of participation and losses, the battle of the Bulge is arguably the greatest battle in American military history.

Source: GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Battle Of The Bulge

I’ll only add a couple tidbits, Patton’s drive up to Bastogne was led by the 37th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division, commanded by a guy by the name of LTC (later GEN) Creighton Abrams. His boss, General Patton said of him, “I’m supposed to be the best tank commander in the Army, but I have one peer — Abe Abrams. He’s the world champion.” He went on to be the Chief of Staff of the Army, and yes, the M1 tank is indeed named for him.

Lots of legends came out of this battle, one is about the “Damned Engineers” who did an effective job of slowing down the panzers, sometimes by setting American fuel dumps, flowing down the hill towards the Germans, and then lighting the fuel. Improvised defenses at their best!

This is also the battle when somebody, probably a paratrooper said, “They’ve got us surrounded, the poor bastards.”

Veteran’s Day

For the first time as we observe Veteran’s Day, there is no one to take our salute. Florence Green, a member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, died on 4 February 2012 two weeks short of her 111th birthday, at King’s Lynne. She was the very last veteran of World War I.

And now they’re all gone, the doughboys, Tommies, the Diggers, the Canucks, and the Kiwis. And the men of the Second World War are following swiftly.

These are the men that have kept us free. For this holiday is about brave men, yesterday we talked about how the Unknown British Warrior was awarded the American Medal of Honor. Today I’ll note that five Americans, ranging from Ordinary Seaman to Lieutenant Colonel have won the Victoria Cross, plus the Unknown Soldier buried at Arlington, by order of the King.

The Great War, of course, is when the United States made its debut as the great world power. From our entry in 1917 until today is fairly termed “The American Century” for as the Pax Britannica ended in 1914 and chaos ensued between the wars as we hid in our continent and from 1945 the Pax Americana has been in place.

It could be fairly said that the wars of the 20th Century were the “Wars of Freedom”, for more people have been freed from tyranny by the United States and our allies than at any other time in history.

The legend of American bravery is known worldwide, from the Marine sergeant, who lead the charge at the battle of Belleau Wood, who led the charge with the command, “Come on you sons-of-bitches, do you want to live forever.”( Noting that it is now “Bois de la Brigade de Marine“, in their honor) to General McAuliffe’s response to the German demand to surrender at Bastogne, “Nuts” to the Admiral Nimitz’s comment on Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Thus has been remarked the common bravery of American troops in every case in all the wars of these Planetary soldiers.

As probably every one reading this knows, the average American idolizes American soldiers, they have gone from being the unwanted stepchildren of the revolution, because of the mistrust engendered by the occupying British regulars, to by far the most trusted of American institutions, trusted by over  80% of Americans. They have earned it, and earned it the hard way by blood, toil, tears, honor, integrity, and sweat from Lexington Green to Afghanistan they have become legend, at one and the same time, “America’s Army” and the “Army of the Free”. The Armed Forces are the best of America. If you were to ask the common people of anyplace they have been, you will find their fans, maybe not the government, but the people remember.

If you don’t happen to know, those streamers on the service flags are called battle streamers, each of them remembers a battle going back to Lexington Green. It has been a contentious life we have lived, and freedom always has enemies.

But they have done other things, they are often the first humanitarian aid anywhere in the world after a natural disaster, the mapping of the United States was done by the Army, your GPS system is courtesy of the Air Force and the Internet you’re reading this on was started by the US Department of Defense.

But let us not make the mistake many do, it’s not technology that wins wars, it’s men, and now women as well, women like these:

What do you think goes through the minds of women in the parts of the world that don’t offer women equal rights when these women show up in their midst as American officers and warriors? Think maybe some get the idea that women are equal to men.

I’d say things like this have done more to advance women’s rights than all the feminists yelling in the last fifty years. It was the same when the military integrated in 1948, that’s where it was all proved, although we already knew it, really, blacks have served bravely and well ever since Crispus Attucks was killed at the Boston Massacre.

But you know, it’s always had a cost, often a very high cost, and a wise people don’t forget that, no matter the technology, it has to be operated by people and by brave people, from the rifleman to the man who may have to turn the key to unleash Armageddon itself. And in American history, the military has never failed us, even when we and our political leadership has not been worthy of them. Many of us use as a catchphrase a rewording of the last line of our national anthem, instead of  “the Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave“, we are wont to say “The Land of the Free because of the Brave.”

We are also quite content, while not resting in our quest, to be known by the friends we keep.

But sometimes the brave are lost and then we honor our fallen countrymen, as they deserve. Bill Whittle a few years ago had something to say about American Honor, and I’d like you to read it.

On October 7th, 2002, I returned to Los Angeles from Arlington National Cemetery where we’d interred my father, 2nd Lt. William Joseph Whittle, who died from what may have been sheer joy during a fishing trip in Canada.

My dad served in the US Army in Germany, from 1944 through 1946. He was an intelligence officer, and was responsible for recording the time of death of the convicted War Criminals at Nuremburg after the war. He saw them hanged — he stood there with a stopwatch. He was 21 years old.

My father spent two years in the U.S. Military. He spent a lifetime in the corporate world. After twenty years as a world-class hotel manager, turning entire properties from liabilities into assets, he was let go without so much as a thank-you dinner or a handshake. Twenty years of service. He was a four-star general in the corporate world for two decades, and that was his reward.

Monday afternoon, at 1 pm, I stood underneath the McClellan arch at ANC. There were 13 family members there. There were also 40 men in uniform. I was stunned.

They took my dad’s ashes, in what looked like a really nice cigar box (what a little box for such a big man, I thought at that moment), and placed it in what looked like a metallic coffin on the back of a horse-drawn caisson. His ashes were handled by other twenty-one year old men, men as young as he had been, men whose fathers were children when my dad was in uniform. Everything was inspected, checked, and handled with awesome, palpable, radiating reverence and respect.

As we walked behind the caisson, the band played not a dirge, but a march… a tune that left me searching for the right adjective, which I didn’t find until the flight home. It was triumphal. It was the sound of Caesar entering Rome; the sound of a hero coming home. It was the only time during the service that I really began to cry.

Continue reading Honor

This is part of that Honor

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