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Old 01-01-2009, 09:36 PM  
Amnorix Amnorix is offline
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This Day in History

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Old 01-21-2009, 09:08 AM   #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rausch View Post
Looking back I think we can say it was a complete FAIL on all levels.
Oh yes, the Versailles Treaty failed completely -- that is obvious. The more interesting question is the degree to which it was actually a CAUSE of the rise of the National Socialists and Hitler. That is a much closer question and less obvious.

The worldwide Depression shares a huge portion of the blame for fertilizing the soil in which Hitler sowed, as JOhn originally noted.
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:11 AM   #92
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:17 AM   #93
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Hopefully today will be the day Herm is fired and a new HC is announced so I can get back to doing actual work.
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:21 AM   #94
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Hopefully today will be the day Herm is fired and a new HC is announced so I can get back to doing actual work.
Are you telling us that you're a candidate for the job? Mike Shanahan, is that you?
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:28 AM   #95
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Are you telling us that you're a candidate for the job? Mike Shanahan, is that you?
hahaha, yeah, I'm Shanarat. Thanks. I might have to go kill myself now.
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:36 AM   #96
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hahaha, yeah, I'm Shanarat. Thanks. I might have to go kill myself now.
Your secret is safe with me, Shanny.
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:02 AM   #97
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Your secret is safe with me, Shanny.
I swear I just shuddered. I have a dentist appointment this weekend, and I had the same exact feeling when I saw you called my Shanny as when I think about my teeth getting scraped.
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:03 AM   #98
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The Battle of Khe Sanh. Maps:

the region:



The base perimeter and airstrip:







A color coded and better marked version of the third map, above, can be found here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KhSh9colkey.png
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:56 AM   #99
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January 21, 1968 marked the commencement of the NVA's all out assault on the Khe Sanh Combat Base (KSCB). The Marines at Khe Sanh suffered an intense three month battle for survival to avoid being overrun by numerically superior regular North Vietnamese troops. Cut off by land and reinforced solely by air, the desperate struggle continued until a relief convoy of Marines arrived.

The Battle of Khe Sanh had several interesting compoentns. A vociferous disagreement between the Commander in Chief, Westmoreland, who was an Army general, and the Marines who never wanted to be at Khe Sanh in the first place, and then were incensed when criticized for not properly defending the base. More interesting, however, is what has become the "Riddle of Khe Sanh". WHY did the North Vietnamese really attack that place, at that time. Although they suffered horrendous casualties and placed extraordinary strain on the American forces, there are certain legitimate questions as to whether it was really designed to overrun the base at all, or rather whether it was designed to distract the Americans from teh Tet Offensive, which would be launched two weeks later. The motives and reasoning of General Giap will never be known until North Vietnam opens its archives on the issue.

Background and Buildup

KSCB was the ultimate result of what had begun as a special forces base in the northeast corner of Southern Vietnam, strategically positioned only a few miles East of the Loatian border (and the Ho Chi Minh Trail) and Northern Vietnam itself. From KSCB, so called SOG (Special Observations Group) teams were airlifted into Laos to observe and impede enemy movements.

(by the way, if you are interested in this stuff, great books by former SOG, John Plaster:

http://www.amazon.com/SOG-Secret-Ame...2558776&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Command...2558776&sr=1-3

By 1968, however, the special operations units had moved even closer to the Laotian border, at Camp Lang Vei. KSCB was instead primarily manned by the marines. SOG would use KSCB to coordinate with headquarters, as KSCB had an airstrip.

In the late summer and fall of 1967, the North Vietnamese launches a series of especially intense, but seemingly disconnected assaults all along the South Vietnamese border. While in no case actually successfully, and while always taking disproportionately higher casaulties, American units saw their combat efficiency greatly decline and some units were knocked out of action altogether as a result of these assaults.

By January, 1968, American intelligence had learned that a full NVA division was in the region of Khe Sanh, with two additional divisions available in support. These considerable forces had substantial logistical support from the nearby Ho Chi Minh trail. Westmoreland and the other commanders were forced to choose between committing additional forces to defend the base, or abandoning it. Over the strident objections of most of the Marine commanders, Westmoreland decided to reinforce the base.

On January 20, a NVA Lieutenant defected, and revealed secret plans for an all out attack. The attack commenced on January 21, 1968. The assault penetrated portions of the base's outer defensive network of surrounding hills, and long range bombardment set off explosions in the base's main ammunition dump.

As North Vietnamese units maneuvered to surround the base, additional American forces were drawn into the growing fray. Meanwhile, the most focused bombardment in the history of warfare began on the Ho Chi Minh trail. On an average day, 350 tactical fighter/bombers and 60 B-52 heavy bombers operated in the air above Khe Sanh. Army and Air Force elements were involved, as well as Navy units pulled from Operation Rolling Thunder strikes against North Vietnam. Intense interservice rivalry disputes were created about command of the air forces employed.

Separately, an airlift was required to supply the troops. Starting at 60 tons per day of support, the airlift required 180 tons per day to supply the troops when all 5 batallions were engaged. As spring approached, low-lying cloud cover (sometimes only 2,000 feet) as well as NVA anti-aircraft efforts made resupply missions extremely hazardous. As a result, airdrops were often utilized.

As American commanders focused efforts on the threatened base, the Tet Offensive was about to begin.

Lang Vei was overrun almost instantly, as American troops were shocked to see at least 12 Soviet-built amphibious tanks involved in the operation.

By mid-March, American intelligence detected that NVA troops were leaving the Khe Sanh region. The battle was not yet over, however, as over 1,000 shells landed on the base on March 22, and the ammo dump was once again targetted.

On April 1, Operation Pegasus was launched to relieve the base. By April 8, however, all hostilities had ceased.

Allied casualties were 205 killed, almost 2,000 wounded, and about 60 missing and presumed killed, excluding special forces, aircraft crews, and troops arriving or leave from the base aboard aircraft. The NVA was estimated by Americans to have suffered 10-15,000 dead, but there is absolutely no way to have any certainty about these numbers. 1,602 NVA bodies were physically observed.


RIDDLE OF KHE SANH

One of the more interesting questions regarding the Battle of Khe Sanh is what was the strategic thinking behind launching the assault. Some have speculated that the NVA sought a second Dien Bien Phu, a decisive engagement to win the war. Westmoreland certainly thought so, and committed extensive reinforcements to win the battle. In his opinion, the concentration of enemy forces at a fixed point was a good thing.

Another theory is the so-called Option Plan. That Khe Sanh would be launched nearly simultaneously with the Tet Offensive, and resources redirected to whichever one seemed most likely to succeed.

Finally, and perhaps most likely, is that Khe Sanh was a diversion to distract American forces from the Tet Offensive, which was the real move to win war. At the time of the NVA build up around Khe Sanh, they had at least a full division in place whiel the Marines had only a single brigade at KSCB. A quick rush would likely have overwhelmed the marines. Instead, the slow build up to 3 full divisions. Second, the sole water source of the base was a stream 500 meters outside the main camp, and the NVA forces never sought to cut the Americans off from that critical supply. Neither were the telephonic land lines ever cut, even though the Vietnamese had invested the base.

By the end of January, in response to the assault, the Americans had moved over 50 battalions to the Khe Sanh region, significantly affecting its ability to resist the Tet Offensive that was launched at that time.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:10 AM   #100
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January 22.

On this date, 1944, Allied forces in World War II launched Operation Shingle, an amphibious assault near Anzio, Italy. This was the beginning of what would come to be called the Battle of Anzio. The amphibious assault was designed to outflank the German "Winter Line", which was a series of difficult to penetrate defensive fortifications making excellent use of the rugged terrain of central Italy. Fortified by concrete bunkers, gun pits, barbed wire, minefields and hinged upon the almost-impregnable fortress of Monte Cassino, the Allies had been stalled out in front of the Winter Line for nearly a year. Field Marshall Kesselring (Luftwaffe), was more than adequately fulfilling his responsibilities of holding down Allied units and defending Rome and the Southern approaches to the Reich.

About 15 German divisions were employed in defending the Winter Line.



INITIAL PLANNING

Initally, the Americans were extremely resistant to the idea of an amphibious end run around the Winter Line and amphibious assault on Anzio. The American and British high commands were at frequent loggerheads over what the Americans deemed the British undue infatuation with the Mediterranean and the "soft underbelly" of Europe, and what the British deemed the inflexible concentration by Americans on a French landing. Of particular concern to Americans in launching this operation was the consumption and concentration of extremely scarce landing craft that would be needed for D-Day in France.

Eventually, a direct appeal by Churchill to President Roosevelt and Marshall Stalin was accepted, and the operation approved. Churchill argued, successfully, that the operation, if successful, would (1) help relieve pressure on Russia prior to the formal opening of a "second front' in France, and (2) force the Germans to commit additional forces to Italy prior to D-Day.

The strategy was clear. Force Kesselring to weaken the Winter Line to respond to the Anzio beachhead, or continue to defend the Winter Line and risk the loss of Anzio and then Rome, and the cutting off of German forces at the Winter Line.

From the start, however, American commanders in Italy, notably Mark Clark, were concerned that the force allotted to the task was too small, and that the operation would stalemate. The key to this problem was the shortage of landing vessels. The scale of this problem is realized when one understands that amphibious assaults are typically one-way missions. It is extremely hard to extract forces under fire from a beachhead.

Conceived and executed as an attack by a single corp, Generals Clark and Lucas envisioned this as a task more appropriate for two corps, or even a full army.

The initial landings were unopposed, and approximately 36,000 men landed with nary but some Luftwaffe strafing runs to deal with. Within a day, the Americans had moved 2-3 miles inland, captured the port, and began fortifying the tiny bridgehead and pouring in materials. This was contrary to General Lucas's superior's expectations, however. They had envisioned a quick and vigorous offensive assault at the rear of the Winter Line.

Winston Churchill, known for memorable phrases, is reported to have said: "I had hoped we were hurling a wildcat into the shore, but all we got was a stranded whale"

While Lucas's actions could be read as permitted under his orders, and he was outnumbered in the region by German divisions, historians have generally sided against him. By doing nothing but sitting down and defending, he exposed his troops to tremendous risks without causing any considerable difficulties to the German forces in the area.

Masterful defensive tactician Kesselring was prepared. He had already made contingency plans to react to amphibious assaults. His rapid response units quickly moved to interpose themselves, while additional reinforcements were lined up. His request to OKW (German High Command) was granted, and he received three additioanl divisions transferred from other, quieter, fronts, and three operational reserve divisions in Italy under OKW command were released to him.

Three days after the landings, the beachhead was surrounded by three German divisions, including the vaunted Hermann Goering Division.

By January 30th, American reinforcements had placed over 60,000 soldiers into the beachhead. The Germans, building up rapidly and overland, had over 70,000 to defend the line. Lucas attacked first. A two pronged attack gained several miles of territory, but failed to obtain the strategic results he had hoped.

By February 3, the defending Germans, now consistuted as the 14th Army under General von Mackensen, had over 100,000 troops, and launched an attack to liquidate the salient created by the earlier Allied offensive. By February 10th, after fierce fighting, the Allies had lost the salient. A poorly coordinated Allied attack was repulsed, and on February 16th launched a concerted attack to liquidate the beachhead and hurl the Allies back into the sea. By February 18, the Allies were more or less back within the defensive perimeter they had initially created on the day after the landing. The assault petered out as a result of exhaustion.

On February 22nd, Clark, operating under pressure from his own commander, British Marshall Alexander as well as Churchill, ordered Lucas replaced by General Truscott. Lucas's perceived lack of drive and negative view of the operation had finally resulted in his dismissal. Kesselring, in his Memoirs, would note that the original landing force was badly flawed, lacking armor, and would have died had it over-extended itself. Alexander, in his official report months later, would state that the final result was probably the best result that could have been achieved.

The Germans and Allies, accepting that the weather and tactical situation would not permit a decisive breakthrough by either, more or less sat down to await spring. Meanwhile, Truscott planned for a breakthrough to be timed to coordinate with Alexander's Operation Diadem, a massive assault all along the Gustav Line (the main line of the Winter line).

By late May, the beachhead consisted of 150,000 allied troops, including 5 US and 2 British divisions. Opposite them were 5 German divisions in well prepared entrenchments. The German divisions by this point, however, were not operating at high efficiency, with shortages of officers and NCOs.

On May 23rd, Truscott's assault began with 1,500 artillery pieces, a timed aerial bombardment, and the advancement of his troops. Initial fighting was severe, with over 100 US tanks lost in the first day of the breakout. The US Third Division suffered 955 casualties, the mos tin a single day of any division in the US army in the entire war.

His assault was going well and the goal of the attack, to cut off the entire German 10th Army, appeared within reach when Clark ordered Truscott to take a hard left turn and drive for Rome. Truscott bitterly resented this order, but was uanble to contact Clark and regretfully implemented it.

By June 2nd, the entire German line had collapsed. Hitler, who apparently was not completely incapable of learning from his mistakes (i.e. Stalingrad), ordered the German 14th Army not to hold Rome at all costs.

Clark's incomprehensible order had cost the Allies the chance to cut off 7 German divisons from retreating through Italy to reform further north and stall American advances for the remainder of the war.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:15 AM   #101
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:15 AM   #102
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Are these posts too long? Am I boring people?
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:26 AM   #103
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I'm new here but I really enjoy them. I love history. My dad was in Viet Nam in 1968.My grandfather was in WW2 in Italy but don't know what year.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:37 AM   #104
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I'm new here but I really enjoy them. I love history. My dad was in Viet Nam in 1968.My grandfather was in WW2 in Italy but don't know what year.
If he was in Italy proper, he was almost certainly dealing with some part of the Winter Line. After we took Sicily, we waited a bit, but then we pretty quickly got into Italy and then up to the Winter Line. From there, things went south (or rather, DIDN'T go North) for a helluva long time.

Part of it was German troop quality, including Kesselring, who proved himself (although an air force guy) a masterful defensive tactician. Part of the problem was the Italian landscape, which was brutal. And another part was that we kept pulling forces out in preparation for Operation Overlord.

EDIT: P.S. thanks to your family for their service to our nation.
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:41 AM   #105
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Are these posts too long? Am I boring people?
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