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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

AirLand Battle Emerges: Field Manual 100—5 Operations, 1982 and 1986 Editions: TRADOC 50th Anniversary Series

Thursday, May 25th, 2023

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s 50th anniversary is July 1, 2023. In celebration, the TRADOC Communication Directorate in collaboration with the TRADOC Military History and Heritage Office, is sharing an article series highlighting key moments in TRADOC’s history to include the evolution of training, AirLand Battle, and gender integration.

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – In 1976, TRADOC distributed 176,000 copies of the new Field Manual 100—5 Operations. This massive publication and dissemination effort marked but one of Gen. William E. DePuy’s, TRADOC’s first commanding general, purposes for the manual—to drive rapid change throughout an Army confronting an upgraded Soviet threat in Europe and contending with the aftermath of the long Vietnam War. Fresh doctrine, Depuy reasoned, would serve as a guidon for the Army, shaping everything it did, from training and education, to developing leaders and new equipment. Another no less significant purpose was to provide Soldiers with clear and practical guidance on how to fight and win on the modern battlefield against a peer opponent.

However, significant criticisms of Depuy’s brainchild emerged almost as soon as the last manual left the presses. First, many assessed that it prioritized defensive operations; the chapter on defense was indeed more robust than the one tackling the offense. Consequently, the term Active Defense quickly emerged as a shorthand reference for the manual. Second, the manual stressed the science of the application of modern firepower and force ratios, ignoring, some argued, the fundamental human element in warfare. Third, others contended the doctrine focused too narrowly on the Western European battlefield to the detriment of other forms of conflict across the spectrum of war. Finally, operational commanders worried that, in concentrating on tactical combat at the forward edge of the battle area, the manual neglected a key element of Soviet doctrine—that of echeloning forces in depth to maintain the momentum of any attack. This emphasis might commit U.S. Army ground forces to an attritional fight they could not win. Whatever their specific objections, all critics agreed with Depuy that future success started with 100—5, the Army’s capstone field manual, and that 100—5 should direct the force in all that it did.

A series of TRADOC commanders—Gen. Donn A. Starry (1977-1981), Gen. Glenn K. Otis (1981-1983), and Gen. William R. Richardson (1983-1986)—took up the challenge and led the effort to revise the 1976 document, culminating in two new Operations manuals that appeared in 1982 and 1986 respectively. Their sustained, consistent, and collective efforts saw not just revised doctrine, but the development of training and the fielding of equipment to make the doctrine work in practice.

Taken together, the 1982 and 1986 editions of FM 100—5 addressed the perceived weaknesses of the earlier manual. For example, they introduced a concept, dubbed AirLand Battle, that dealt with the problem of Soviet offensive doctrine by emphasizing attacking throughout the depth of the battlespace through synchronized effort across the joint force. While the Army primarily managed the frontline fight, the Air Force (mainly) as well as Army attack aviation and long-range fires would attrite and disrupt second echelon Soviet forces. Furthermore, the new doctrine highlighted the value of maneuver and aggressive action with both local and deep counterattacks serving to shock adversaries and enhance the morale of Soldiers, who would now hit back as well as defend.

Although thankfully never tested in Western Europe, the TRADOC-led effort to transform Army doctrine and the force in tandem with it contributed directly to success in the Gulf War of 1990-1991. Echoes may also be heard today in the Army’s current multidomain operations concept.

By Courtesy, TRADOC Military History and Heritage Office

“Mentions In Dispatches: An Infantry Platoon in Viet Nam, June 1966 – June 1967”

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

I just found out about a brand-new book by Battle of Long Tan / Vietnam veteran, 2Lt Dave Sabben MG. According to the website, “It offers an extraordinary and fascinating, detailed insight into a one year tour of duty in Vietnam.” I’ve already ordered my copy but it would make a great gift or addition to your personal collection.

Dave Sabben was 20 years old when he volunteered for conscription in the Australian Army in 1965. He completed officer training at the Scheyville National Service Officer Training Unit and in January 1966 was posted to 6RAR in Brisbane and appointed commander of 12 Platoon, Delta Company aged 21.

Dave was recommended for a Military Cross for his leadership and actions in the Battle of Long Tan, but that was downgraded by higher echelons to a Mentioned In Despatches (MID). In 2008 this was upgraded to a Medal Of Gallantry (MG).

This high-quality coffee-style book, chock full of 500+ images, maps, letters, tables, diagrams, and will take you into an average Australian infantry platoon across a 12-month tour of duty in the year the 1st Australian Task Force was set up at Nui Dat, in Phu?o??c Tuy Province, South Vietnam.

It will take you from the early days – June 1966 – when a bare rubber plantation was occupied in the middle of the ‘enemy’ controlled province, while a new operational base was established.

Hundreds of soldiers enduring six two-hour sleep periods every three days for weeks on end. In between those periods of sleep, they patrolled with heavy kit in dust-dry or monsoonal-wet and dangerous conditions to clear the enemy from their own bases. And when not on patrol, they were digging pits, trenches, latrines, command posts, clearing the undergrowth around Nui Dat, and erecting barbed wire fences.

All proceeds go to Dave Sabben and the book is available directly from him at Click on the cover to add it to your basket.

Stepping Back in Time, U.S. Soldiers Invited to WWII Reenactment in Bulgaria

Sunday, May 7th, 2023

NOVO SELO TRAINING AREA, BULGARIA (April 23, 2023) – On 23 April, U.S. Army Soldiers from the Army Support Activity-Black Sea (ASA-Black Sea) stationed at Novo Selo Training Area (NSTA), along with the 1st Battalion 18th Infantry Regiment, and the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion attended a World War II reenactment in Yambol, Bulgaria.

The Military Historical Reenactment of “Hungarian Spring 1945” depicted the battle between the Bulgarians and Germans near Lake Balaton in Hungary at the end of World War II.

The event featured weapons, explosives, howitzers, military trucks, several motorbikes, and a stationary tank.

Twenty students from the National Military University “Vasil Levski” in Veliko Tarnovo and 45 volunteers from the Reenactment Club participated in the reenactment.

“U.S. Army soldiers were in the audience and watched the historical reenactment,” said Georgi Vardarov, Director of the Museum of Battle Glory. “By the time the Bulgarians were fighting the German-Nazi soldiers, the American Army was also fighting the German Army, but on the Western front,” said Vardarov as he emphasized the significance of bringing together Bulgarian and American military personnel during the reenactment.

The reenactment lasted an entire 20 minutes, and spectators had the opportunity to relive the historic battle through their own eyes.

“It is an honor to be here and learn so much about Bulgarian history and its role in World War II. I got the chance to see many historical vehicles and weapons that were key to the Bulgarians’ success in the battles they fought,” said Cpt. Avery Smith, a team leader assigned to the 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. “The re-enactment was phenomenal, and I could tell that a lot of details and training went into perfecting this performance for the guests. Their ability to preserve their history so well makes me proud to say we are military partners. Bulgaria is a beautiful country, and the community here in Yambol felt friendly and welcoming.”

Besides the reenactment, the museum also set up static displays of tanks and other military equipment from WWII for visitors to see up close.

“This event with the Yambol Military Museum was a wonderful way to educate not only myself but the rest of the U.S. Personnel who were present,” said James Adamski, deputy garrison Manager at NSTA, as he shared his appreciation for the opportunity to learn about Bulgarian history. “Very few people know of the Bulgarian History that was so very critical at the end of WWII.”

ASA-Black Sea continues to build strong relationships with the local communities as it emphasizes the importance of strengthening its ties with the people of Bulgaria.

By Joshua Rojas

It’s Pogue

Saturday, May 6th, 2023

Can we just cut it with the “POG” usage? The backronym “POG” was created by infantrymen who were Pogues but didn’t want to be called Pogues anymore. You know it’s true, there are loads of Infantrymen who are Pogues.

This photo was taken during the Vietnam war and it clearly uses the term “Pogue” which dates back to World War I and possibly as far back as the Civil War.

Oddly enough, this “POG” nonsense seems to have started with the Marines during the GWOT which explains quite a bit since they were handing out ASVAB waivers like candy. If “POG” actually stood for “Persons Other Than Grunts” where is the “T”? Wouldn’t it be “POTG”?

Either way my grunt friends, have fun cleaning the barracks while the REMFs do their day-to-day jobs.

Remembering the Sacrifices of Operation Eagle Claw

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

I remember waking up on the morning of 25 April, 1980 to hear President Carter announced to a stunned world that the United States had undertaken an ambitious raid into Iran to liberate 52 American hostages held illegally at our Embassy compound in Tehran. The assault force of what was known as “Operation Eagle Claw” can be seen here, loading C141s.

Unfortunately, the plan was complicated and the task force was made was made up of forces which hadn’t trained together long. The weather was problematic as well and as the task force began to organize a withdrawal from Iranian territory after one-too-many helicopter failures, disaster struck.

We lost eight American servicemen in a horrible aircraft ground collision during refueling operations where a hovering SH53 helicopter flew into a C130 full of fuel bladders.

However, their deaths were not in vain. The hostages were eventually repatriated and the accident was the watershed event that created, over the next several decades, the world’s preeminent Special Operations capability; USSOCOM and its components. Over forty years later, we wouldn’t be where are without the determination of that fledgling task force.

Join me in remembering those who had the guts to try; legends to a man.

The Shot Heard ‘Round The World

Wednesday, April 19th, 2023

We’d like to remind you that April 19th, 1775 is the true beginning of the American Revolution and not July 4th, 1776, the official date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

On the morning of April 19th, a year before the Continental Congress sat down to write the Declaration, events on the commons of Concord between British Troops bent on seizing the arms of the Militia and the Colonists resulted in what we now call the “Shot Heard ‘Round The World.”

It ignited the American Revolution, a worldwide conflict which would engulf the super powers of the day in battles as far away as India, and last for another eight years.

Rebellion had already been brewing on the North American continent for a decade. Finally, in the early hours of the day, North American Militiamen fired on British troops, starting a war that would result in the ascendency of the American Eagle over this land we now call the United States.

This battle is also where we draw our concept of the iconic Minute Man from.

Each Patriot’s Day, we honor those men at Concord and consider what it must have been for them to stand there together, in the face of the world’s greatest army and take up arms in the defense of their colony from oppression.

This militia came together on that morning to protect their arms from seizure by an oppressive government. That is an indisputable fact. We find the roots of the Second Amendment in the events of that day.

“Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

-John Parker
Captain of Militia

As the initial volleys of fire were exchanged near daybreak on Lexington Green, colonial volunteers fell back in the face of over 500 occupying British troops. But as the battle moved on to Concord, the tide turned, and the redcoats were routed as more and more colonists joined the fray.

The British troops retreated through Concord where they were reinforced. Despite boasting a strength of 1700 men, they remained no match for the determined colonists who forced them to retreat to the safety of Charlestown in Boston. The militiamen continued their pursuit which transformed into the Siege of Boston.

Today, join me in honoring those early American warriors who pledged their lives to give us our hard fought freedoms and this great land.

Stories of Service: TACP turning the tide of battle

Wednesday, April 19th, 2023


Some missions require exceedingly specialized skills and knowledge to be successful in highly contested environments. To win in these environments, highly trained battlefield Airmen embed with Army, Navy and Marine units to provide lethal airpower in the fight.

During a deployment in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel and Resolute Support, one such Air Force Special Warfare Tactical Air Control Party Specialist Tech. Sgt. Cam Kelsch, put years of training and preparation into action by providing guided precision strike airpower as close as 35 meters away to turn the tide of battle against an overwhelming enemy ambush.

In the span of six hours, with no regard for his own safety, he stepped into heavy enemy fire, and directed dozens of 40 mm and 105 mm rounds, two 500-lbs. bombs and saved the life of a wounded teammate … even after being shot himself in the chest plate.

Kelsch, alongside Army Rangers and Afghan special forces, were directed to find a high-value target in enemy-held territory. With clear skies and the moon’s illumination sitting high at 90%, Kelsch’s team made first contact with enemy forces outside of the target compound.

According to Kelsch, the contact resulted in a small firefight that quickly neutralized the enemy.

As the team successfully secured the target compound and interdicted the targeted individual, the force continued to encounter small enemy forces. Intelligence gathered during the operation within the compound led Kelsch and his team to believe there was a second high-value target nearby.

Due to the brightness of the night, Kelsch utilized the oversight of an AC-130-U “Spooky” gunship to develop a low-profile route for the assault force to maneuver to the next target compound: a creek bed with a 1-foot-wide path.

“When we were down in the creek bed, it was pitch black because we were covered in trees, and there were high walls on either side of us,” Kelsch said.

Then … chaos.

“It was like a bomb went off,” Kelsch said. “It was so bright and looked like fireballs going off all around me.”

Kelsch and his team were ambushed by enemy forces using assault rifles, fragmentation grenades and belt-fed machine guns.

“The fire was so overwhelming, I couldn’t stick my head out,” Kelsch said. “Bullets were ricocheting; dirt was being kicked up.”

Another teammate called out the position of the attackers … a mere 40 meters away.

“I realized that I had to get eyes on target, so I had to leave the protection of cover,” Kelsch said.

With no regard for his own safety, Kelsch exposed himself to fire to conduct danger close air strikes from the AC-130 with 40mm rounds to suppress the threat, several only 35 meters away from his position.

“If it weren’t for the true competency of that AC-130 crew, I wouldn’t be here today,” Kelsch said. “The aircrew really brought their A-game that night and made sure we got out of there.”

With a moment without fire in all directions, Kelsch and his ground force commander seized the opportunity to recover their wounded teammate. While dragging him to safety, Kelsch took a direct hit to the magazine on his chest rack the plate in his armor caught the bullet.

Upon recovering his wounded teammate and receiving more enemy fire, Kelsch opted to upgrade to the 105 mm rounds from the gunship, still danger close to his fighting position. The effective munitions proved enough to allow Kelsch and his team to fall back roughly 100 meters, but not before suffering an Afghan casualty.

At that time, the team elected to call for extraction.

To ensure aircraft could land so close to the ambush site, Kelsch directed a coordinated attack from two F-16 Fighting Falcons using precision-guided 500-lbs. bombs, neutralizing all remaining threats.

In the end, Kelsch’s actions played a role in completing a successful mission, suppressing multiple prepared forces and saving the lives of the joint special operations forces members. In 2019, for his gallantry in action that day, Kelsch was awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest award for valor in combat.

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs


Monday, April 17th, 2023

MACV SOG Legend John Stryker Meyer has a new website that links directly to SOGCast, his interviews with Jocko, as well as the books he’s written over the years.