Free Markets, Free People

history

Hiroshima

In a few days the usual “outrage” for the “war crime” of dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima will begin to wend its way around the world.

That narrative grows stronger each year – mostly because of the death of the generation that fought the war in the Pacific and because the narrative continues to be fueled by a need for moral preening and fact free opinion that doesn’t ever seem to die out.

My father was one of those who fought through the Pacific war.  His bonafides were Saipan, Leyte and Okinawa.  He was a recon guy.  And following Okinawa, his next job was going to be the recon of the landing sites on Kyushu, the big southernmost island on what was considered the Japanese “mainland”.  Operation Downfall.  To be opposed by the Japanese “Ketsu Go” in defense of the Japanese home.

My dad never talked much about the war, but I remember the first time I brought up Hiroshima and the bomb and how many people it killed.  He didn’t waste much time on niceties, but turned his hard eyes on me and said, to both me and my two brothers, “if we hadn’t dropped that bomb, you and your bothers wouldn’t be here.  And a lot of your friends wouldn’t be here.  Because I wouldn’t have come back from the war and neither would have their dads.”

That was it.  He had no sympathy for the apologists.  He felt they were making their case in a contextless and ignorant way.  They didn’t know the facts, they hadn’t fought the enemy all the way across the Pacific and they hadn’t the foggiest notion of the mind of the enemy he had fought.  So he dismissed their criticism out of hand.

Bill Whittle had a similar experience as you’ll see in this video.  What Whittle does, however, is muster facts to make the argument that backed what my Dad had said all those many years ago.  He points out why it was both necessary and prudent to do what was done and how, in the end, it probably saved literally millions of lives.

Watch it.  Understand why Jon Stewart, who is featured in the video, is essentially ignorant and, frankly, stupid when he calls Harry Truman a “war criminal”.  And when the anniversary of this comes around on August 6th, be armed with these facts and do the generation that is all but gone a favor – dispute those that are historically ignorant and feel the urge to do a little moral preening to the detriment of those that fought and won that war.

Don’t let them get away with their moral preening and don’t let them ignore the facts for the narrative.  The decision to drop these bombs was hard, but it was right.  And it is the sort of decision none of those who stroke their own vanity by claiming the moral superiority of the present have ever or will ever be called upon to make.

All I have to day is “thank you” to those who made this tough but just decision.

Thank you for my life.

~McQ

Is ISIS transforming into a “functioning state?”

According to some, that’s exactly what is happening:

While no one is predicting that the Islamic State will become the steward of an accountable, functioning state anytime soon, the group is putting in place the kinds of measures associated with governing: issuing identification cards for residents, promulgating fishing guidelines to preserve stocks, requiring that cars carry tool kits for emergencies. That transition may demand that the West rethink its military-first approach to combating the group.

“I think that there is no question that the way to look at it is as a revolutionary state-building organization,” said Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is one of a small but growing group of experts who are challenging the conventional wisdom about the Islamic State: that its evil ensures its eventual destruction.

Granted, the tools it uses to establish and maintain control are terror and violence, however that’s not much different than hundreds of totalitarian regimes throughout history. And, at this point, it is in its first generation of “rulers”, which means they’re likely to be the most true to their warped “principles”. So corruption, pre se, isn’t yet a problem (they’re too frightened of their own organization to accept bribes, for instance).

Remember history, say the experts:

Drawing on parallels from history, experts say, the group’s violence can be seen in a different light. Mr. Walt mentioned the guillotine of the French Revolution, and the atrocities of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the Communist one in China — imperfect analogies, to be sure, but ones that underscored the violence and oppression that can precede creation of a revolutionary state.

Then there’s Pol Pot’s Cambodia. It finally failed, but the same formula was applied there.

The problem, of course, is this isn’t the way it had to be. Certainly the left will say “if that evil Bush hadn’t invaded Iraq, it wouldn’t be that way”. Well with people often disappearing into wood chippers in Saddam’s day, Iraq was already that way.

The problem, as we face it now, really comes down to ideology and neglect – squarely placed in this administration’s lap. Gen. Ray Odeirno, outgoing Army Chief of Staff, said as much in an interview:

But Odierno had pointed words on the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria – suggesting it didn’t have to be this way.

“It’s frustrating to watch it,” Odierno said. “I go back to the work we did in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and we got it to a place that was really good. Violence was low, the economy was growing, politics looked like it was heading in the right direction.”

Odierno said the fall of large parts of Iraq was not inevitable, reiterating concerns about the pace of the U.S. troop withdrawal there.

“If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have been prevented,” he said. “I’ve always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.”

But this administration wasn’t interested in staying longer regardless of the possible negative outcome of pulling troops from Iraq early. It had a campaign promise to fulfill, one of the few it ever has fulfilled. So it made routine SOFA negotiations impossible for Iraq to agree with, then blamed the lack of an agreement on Iraq and pulled our troops out before the job was done – giving ISIS the opportunity to rise.

Odierno made it clear that wasn’t the only problem we’ve let ‘rise':

“Two years ago, we didn’t think we had a problem in Europe. … [Now] Russia is reasserting themselves. We didn’t think we’d have a problem again in Iraq and ISIS has emerged.

“So, with Russia becoming more of a threat, with ISIS becoming more of a threat, in my mind, we are on a dangerous balancing act right now with capability.”

The answer to these problems?  Cut the end strength of the Army so we’re even less capable.

Can’t you just feel it?

We’re in good hands.

~McQ

Let’s dump the Confederate flag. And let’s also dump the “Congressional Black Caucus, La Raza, etc.

Victor Davis Hanson makes the point that what once began as an exceptional experiment in unity and was often dubbed “a melting pot”, has now become a grouping of humorless and easily offended factions always trying to claim the mantle of victimhood:

In the last half-century, Americans have increasingly tended to emphasize race and tribe in promoting “diversity,” rather than seeking to strengthen the more tenuous notion of unity with their fellow citizens. We have forgotten that human nature is fond of division and must work at setting aside superficial tribal affinities to unite on the basis of core values and ideas. Symbols, flags, organizations, and phrases that emphasize racial difference and ethnic pride are no longer just fossilized notions from the 1960s; they are growing fissures in the American mosaic that now threaten to split the country apart — fueling the suspicion of less liberal and more homogeneous nations that the great American experiment will finally unwind as expected.

Symbols, flags, organizations, and phrases that emphasize racial difference and ethnic pride are no longer just fossilized notions from the 1960s; they are growing fissures in the American mosaic that now threaten to split the country apart — fueling the suspicion of less liberal and more homogeneous nations that the great American experiment will finally unwind as expected.

So the answer?  Dump all the symbols and organizations that divide.  Drop the race exclusive organizations like La Raza and the Congressional Black Caucus.  Either that or keep your mouth shut when someone starts the National Association of White People.

You can’t have it both ways.  And remember something that is indeed unique about this land:

In an America that was originally founded by mostly Northern European immigrants, a Juan Lopez from Oaxaca is freely accepted as a U.S. citizen in a way that a white Bob Jones would never fully be embraced as a citizen of Mexico, a country whose constitution still expressly sets out racially chauvinistic guidelines that govern immigration law. Someone who appears African or European would have a hard time fully integrating as a citizen in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese society, in a way not true of Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese in America. The world assumes that in America a president, attorney general, secretary of state, or Supreme Court justice can be black; but it would be as surprised to find whites as high public officials in Zimbabwe as to find a black as prime minister or foreign minister in Sweden or Germany.

We are Americans and we come from all sorts of places and backgrounds, but when we come here we do indeed assimilate into the dominant culture?

Why?  Because it is that culture (which, by the way, is borrowed from some of the best of many different cultures) that has made this country both exceptional and great.  It’s is the “go to” place for those looking for a better life.  Our illegal immigration problem points to that.

But if the left has its way, we’ll all hyphenate our “american” identity, claim victim status and work to divide the polity into bickering hate groups who find everyone else (to include those back through the centuries) at fault for their status.

Were there wrongs committed in history against various races and ethnic groups?  Of course there were.  But we don’t live in that era.   What counts is where we are today.  If those wrongs no longer exist then any progressive worth their salt should be claiming … progress.  If you’re as old as I am, you don’t have to claim it – you’ve seen it up close and personal. But instead of touting the progress, progressives are the ones leading the charge to divide and weaken.  To make us all “victims”.

Quite being victims.  Victimhood is a choice. Grow a backbone and say no to the negativity of that nonsense. Drop the symbols and groups that emphasize race and/or victimhood.  Become Americans.  Work together.

See Charleston for how it is done.

~McQ

More Climate Science

A new study from National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado revealed that a ‘small’ nuclear exchange would solve the global warming problem.

That wasn’t what they intended it to show, but it sure would be a quick fix to this impending global climate change heating up disaster the President and John Kerry keep flogging wouldn’t it?      But seriously, it shows a drastic global cooling effect brought on by nuclear exchange.   The term nuclear winter is bandied about, but in this theoretical exercise things don’t go quite far enough to trigger Fimbulwinter.

In the study, only the US is still a superpower but we’re not the problem.   That term superpower may need to go to the shop for repair all things considered, but for once the study didn’t presume Evil Bush pushed the buttons to send us to perdition. Instead India and Pakistan square off and slug it out with low yield bombs in the Hiroshima class range.  To the tune of 100 15kt weapons.

What they collectively have 100 of that would need nuking isn’t clear, but assume bases, cities and so forth, and maybe re-nuking some targets.   It’s a study in long term effect after all, not military use of the weapons.   100 of them in the territory given certainly implies some tactical activity for their deployment as well as strategic hits on infrastructures and civilian centers. Therefore we can assume air bursts and ground bursts, as each one will have different effects for the purposes of the study.  As an aside, they must have really dedicated fighters and leaders in their model to continue fighting long enough to exchange 100 nukes.  Be that as it may, once the blasting is over the study simulates the effect on climate on land, sea and air.   The conclusion as you would expect is catastrophe not just for India and Pakistan, but globally.

We’re talking, according to the study, global cooling effect and the loss of the ozone layer for as long as a decade.    The cooling to be caused by 5 million metric tons of dust spewing into the atmosphere.

The conclusion is that 100 weapons of Hiroshima scale would throw up 5 million metric tons of sunlight blocking dust and drop average surface temperatures world wide 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit ( or for fuzzy foreigners 1.5 degrees Celsius).  That would be the lowest averages in over 1000 years. Here in the US we’d experience winters that were significantly colder by from 4.5 to 10.8 degrees F and cooler summers.  All of which would lead to lethal frosts and reduced growing seasons.  No doubt causing world wide famine and destruction of biblical plague proportions.   if it didn’t say that last part, it can be pretty much concluded though.   It was originally thought by previous studies that the temperatures would go back to something like normal after a decade or so, but this new study shows the cool temperatures could persist for 25 years or more.   Global precipitation would fall off and this would lead to forest fires world wide which of course would raise the amount of particulate in the atmosphere.   Somewhere in there dogs and cats probably start living together and there’s mass hysteria.

Now this is the third study of this nature that’s been done, and “their conclusions support each other”.    As the models get more sophisticated they show the effects of a limited regional nuke war to be more and more pronounced.

If you have access, you can see the detail of their findings here, but your bumbled journalist here gets a big 403 Forbidden from the link.

All of this stuff is cool, no pun intended, and interesting.  Well, other than perhaps the models might look to real climate history for some reference about effects of nuclear above ground detonations on the earth’s climate.  It’s not like the world hasn’t had any experience or history to go by.

First there’s the bombs.    100 bombs at 15kt each is 15000 kt, or 1.5 megatons.  That’s gonna be a bad start to anyone’s weekend.  After all 1 exploding dumb 250 lb iron bomb ruins your day if you’re nearby.

But the “BRAVO” hydrogen test shot on Bikini Atoll was 15 megatons all by itself, so, multiply this little ground war’s explosions by 10 and we’re in the same range as this one explosion on Bikini.   India and Pakistan are going to have to fight a little harder.   The United States alone, in atmospheric nuclear testing,  accounted for 137 megatons worth of explosions above ground over a 17 year period.  That works out to a little over 8 megatons worth of nuclear explosions per year for 17 years.   That’s just the US contribution.  France, Britain, The Soviets, ‘Red’ China,  all tested atmospheric bombs, all in the megaton range.   The Soviet Tzar Bomba was rated, by itself, as at, or over, 50 megatons.   Before the distinction is made about tests over the ocean, versus tests over the land, the US detonated 27 nuclear devices here in the US, above ground, in 1957 alone.

The various nuclear armed parties continued with these above ground tests up until 1980.

1.5 megatons causes drastic global cooling?

Then there’s the dust estimates – 5 million metric tons of dust high into the atmosphere.   By way of comparison, Mount St. Helens in 1980 is estimated to have blown 1.5 million metric tons 20 miles into the atmosphere with 500 million falling tons falling in Washington, Idaho and Montana.  Krakatoa in 1883 is estimated to have produced 12 BILLION metric tons of dust – I based this number on a study here – which estimates a 10,000 megaton nuke war would put 25 billion metric tons of dust into the atmosphere and that study estimates that amount to be about double the dust produced by Krakatoa.  Krakatoa is credited with screwing up the weather in 1884, with results like crazy prolific rain in Southern California and average Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures falling by 2.2 degrees F.

There’s no disputing the effect of dust in the atmosphere, there should be a serious dispute about the effect the amount of dust used in their sophisticated model will produce.   The warmers will probably claim that was why it didn’t get warmer until after 1980 when atmospheric nuclear testing stopped.

Finally there’s the business of stripping off the ozone layer in the atmosphere.   We can only speculate that our modern ozone must be different than the ozone available in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s since that old timer ozone didn’t all vanish when we nuked Enewetak in 1952 to the tune of 10.5 megatons worth of boom, dust and excited atomic particles.

It is safe to believe that some fair percentage of the people involved in these studies probably don’t remember atmospheric nuclear testing, or possibly even Mount St Helens, but they, or their elders who do, might consider cracking open a world history book from the WWII onwards and then a climate history review between 1945 and 1981.

And then try tuning their keeno sophisticated nuclear war climate models and running them again.

The Crimea (and beyond)

When the Russians more or less militarily annexed the Crimea a couple of days ago , it was pretty obvious the West wasn’t going to go to war over it, any previously mumbled promises to Ukraine that implied we might aside.  It’s still obvious, not that avoiding a war is a bad thing and all.

Who can blame Europe for not wanting another war? They’ve hosted so many, and I’m reliably told if you wander about you can still find nostalgic bits of wreckage to prove it.   There are parts left over from wars everywhere. Castles, forts, the Kaiser Wilhelm church (what’s left of it) in Berlin.  Graves….lots and lots of graves.  Graves of local men, and graves of men who came from across the world, and graves of civilians.

In January of this year, in Euskirchen Germany, a bulldozer operator was killed by a bomb from WWII, and it’s not uncommon for unexploded ordnance to be found, some dating back to the big fandango they held 100 years ago this year.   The Europeans have done a super job of cleaning up the place, and I’m 100% certain they aren’t interested in having to do it again anytime soon.

This is why, no one, not even the allegedly crazy Russians, really wants to die for real-estate to get it back into Russia.  Maybe some Ukrainians are willing to die out of pride for Ukraine, but the Russians prefer it be done with the bare minimum of shooting, explosions and death.   Even ‘crazy’ ‘evil’ people understand that upsets folks, and the shooting, explosions and death get out of control, and pretty soon it’s happening everywhere in sight.   The Russians don’t want a war either, but they’re not averse to picking up (re-acquiring) some real-estate on the cheap.

For my entire life we, Americans, helped keep the Russians from taking over the joint by being in places they wanted to be before they could be there. Kudos to NATO and all for asking us to stay.  But everybody knew when we parked Americans in their path all across Europe and the Russians did drive tanks through Fulda Gap…if they did it over American bodies; America was likely to take a war-like exception to it.  Geo-politics and military science is brutally practical about things like that, and the Russians understood.  America was across the ocean and much harder for Soviet tank division to blitzkrieg than a quick push to the east bank of the Rhine.  We made it difficult for them by being where they wanted to be in ways that only war, or government over throw, could clear us out of.  We stood in Western Europe and they stood in Eastern Europe and we glared at each other.  The Europeans understood where the fight was going to happen if it happened.  If some were nicer to the Soviets (now the Russians) than we liked, it was probably out of practicality.   At times they glared at both us and the Russians.

The ‘other’ people further east, in the Russian zone, just had to live with the Russians because clearing them out would wreck the joint, and everybody knew that too.  They didn’t glare at anybody because they didn’t dare.  Then the Soviet Union/Eastern Bloc collapsed, they became Russians again and Ukrainians and Latvians and Estonians and Lithuanians and Moldovans and Serbs and you get the idea.

The Europeans don’t want a war, the Russians don’t want a war, we don’t want a war.  Having so much experience in wars, and cleaning up after wars, one can understand the reluctance to do the centennial anniversary reenactment of 1914 this year with live rounds.

Still, Russian occupation of the Crimea should never have happened if the West was sincere about helping the Ukrainians keep their lands (especially after the Russians vs Georgia take-down in 2008).   I have mixed emotions about our policing the world, and our commitments to far flung places. But our word has to mean something too, and if we bother to give it, we ought to keep it.  Not keeping it leads to where we are, drawing red lines and erasing them just as quickly, making threats on an international basis and then barring a couple people from Disney World to show how much we mean it.   There’s a whole set of posts that could be written on why we let down our guard in Europe.  A quick hit list, military use fatigue, the cost, the simple hope that the not Soviet Russians weren’t going to start up the ‘let’s take over a country’ club again, resurgent Russian pride, feckless American policy, and a new world order.

The biggest one we hear about is this inane belief in some new order that has taken hold.  A magic set of rules for countries came into being when we hit the millennium.  Who knew?   It’s not clear, to me anyway, why that is, must be a side effect of climate change or something because I don’t recall any burning bushes or Jewish prophets with stone tablets making the news recently.   I do know our Secretary of State thinks they exist ( I mentioned feckless American policy); Angela Merkel seems to think they exist.  But maybe no one forwarded the memos to Vladimir Putin, because all in all he seems pretty proud of using the old rules, and so are his constituents.

No, there is no magic set of new rules.  I can’t even say it would be nice, because not only is it not real, it’s not even clearly laid out what it means internationally.  Furthermore the old rules still work and still apply.  Power and vacuums of power.  In fact these new rules already seem remarkably ineffective against people who still use the old rules. As a result there aren’t any new magic formulas or methods for getting the Russians to give Crimea back now either.    They certainly aren’t going to do it because we in the West tell each other that Russia is naked in the eyes of the world.  They aren’t going to do it no matter how many times some idiot calls them ‘evil’.   They aren’t going to do it because they suddenly understand they’re violating the 21st century rules.

Just because the West doesn’t want to apply power doesn’t mean the Russians can’t and won’t.   When a country can take over a chunk of another country in a week, there really isn’t much threats that will take months to show effect are going to do to stop them.   Done deals.  Because people don’t want to wait that long for results (especially the Ukrainians in this case), and life, and business, and in Europe’s case, the need to heat their houses, goes on.

If the West is serious, and worried about the Russians moving into Kiev, park ‘non-threatening’ NATO forces in Kiev.  Not just visiting, full time. Park a ‘non-threatening’ contingent of ground troops in Estonia (note the date of that article, last year…). See if the other Baltic countries would like to have permanent physical NATO contingents with troops who are not local. Go beyond ‘air policing’. Put the equivalent of a guard contingent on the equivalent of the Rhine bridges before the Russians do the equivalent of occupying the Rhineland.

And hit our own damn power reset button. Drill like hell for natural gas and oil here in the US and export it to Europe to cut their dependence on Russia.  The Russians will understand, they’ll bitch, but they’ll stop because they really don’t want the same war we don’t want.  There can’t be a whole lot in Estonia the Russians want to die for.

Project POWER back into the vacuum we’ve created before Putin again proves the old rules, the same ones Hitler used so well, still work just fine.   Do it before Chamberlain calls to say he wants his ‘new’ rules back.

Not gonna happen, I realize.  We have ‘smart’ diplomacy now, we lead from behind.  We’re going to jaw about the new international rules the millennium brought us, and threaten the Russians with our economic power even while we struggle to keep that power turned on for ourselves.

June 6th will Always be D-Day

Originally posted in 2007 

It actually started on June 5th. And it almost didn’t start then. The weather had turned bad. A great storm had blown in from the Atlantic. High wind and high seas had forced ships of all kinds back into bays and inlets. Low clouds made it impossible for aircraft to find landmarks. If the weather didn’t break, nothing would happen until at least July.

But the weather did break, and so, it began only a day later than planned.

There must have been about, oh, I don’t know, 15 of us there. Our two great men were there, Monty and Eisenhower. The poor weatherman had to talk first. Eisenhower asked Monty what he felt. ”Sure, I’ll do whatever you say, you know. We’re ready.” Then Eisenhower very calmly said, ”We’ll go.”

150,000 soldiers—American, British, Canadian, French, and many others—embarked on 5,000 ships, began moving towards places known today as St. Lô, Vierville-sur-Mer, Pouppeville, Arromanches, La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur, Pointe-du-hoc, Ouistreham.

The men on those ships, for the most part, didn’t know those names. They had simpler terms for the beaches where they would be spending the day—and for all too many, the rest of their lives. They called them Juno, Sword, Gold, Omaha, and Utah.

There were soldiers from many nations involved that day, all of whom deserve to be recognized and remembered. But as an American, it is the men from my country that I will write about.

Only about 15% of them had ever seen combat. But by this time, cold, wet, seasick, crammed into airless holds, or huddled on unprotected decks, many of them preferred combat to what they were going through on board ship.

Get us off these ships. I don’t care what’s waiting for us.

As it happened, though, it didn’t begin on the beaches, but in the air. On the night of June 5th, an armada of over 800 C-47 transport planes ferried the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions over the invasion fleet towards France. For them, the weather was still pretty bad. And it was dark.

It was going to be difficult. Everything depended on landing the pathfinders in the right place. Then the pathfinders had to light the dim beacons for the landing zones. The pilots carrying the airborne forces had to see the beacons, then they had to fly precisely, right over the landing zones.

And the Germans. Always the Germans, with searchlights and flares and the 88mm anti-aircraft cannon—the “flak” guns.

Getting everyone down alive, together, and ready to fight was going to be a chancy business. And the airborne troops knew it.

I lined up all the pilots. I says, ”I don’t give a damn what you do, but for one thing. If you’re going to drop us on a hill or if you’re going to drop us on our zone, drop us all in one place.”

But…they didn’t. The airborne forces were scattered. Almost no one landed on their programmed landing zone. Units from the two airborne divisions were scattered and intermixed, forcing officers and NCOs to create scratch units on the spot, with whomever they could find. The 101st Airborne Division commander, Maj. Gen. Maxwell Taylor, found that his new “unit” consisted of himself, his deputy commander, a colonel, several captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels…and three enlisted men. He quipped, “Never have so few been commanded by so many.”

And still they fought. Gen. Taylor soon had gathered a force of 90 officers, clerks, MPs, and a smattering of infantrymen. With them, he liberated the town of Pouppeville. Elsewhere, American soldiers gathered into groups, and struck out for an objective. Even if it wasn’t their objective, it was someone’s, and they were going to take and hold it.

And when they took it from the Germans, the Germans tried to take it back. But the paratroopers held.

It was a terrible day for paratroopers, but they did terrible fighting in there and they really made their presence known.

By this time, the Germans knew something was going on, if not precisely what. Their responses were confused. Their top field commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, had returned to Germany for a brief leave. He wasn’t the only one absent that night. The 21st Panzer Division’s commander, Lt. Gen. Edgar Feuchtinger, was spending the night in Paris with his mistress. Col. Gen. Freiderich Dollman, commander of the 7th Army, and many of his staff officers and commanders were 90 miles away in Rennes, on a map exercise. Ironically, the scenario for that exercise was countering an airborne landing.

The Germans were surprised, yet subordinate commanders began to take the initiative, seeking out the paratroops and engaging them, trying to determine what was happening. Was it the invasion? A diversion from the expected landings in Calais? What was happening?

Then, as the black night gave way to the cold, gray dawn of June 6th, they began to find out. Looming out of the fog, a vast armada of haze gray ships and landing craft began to move ashore.

At 5:50am, the warships began shelling Utah and Omaha Beaches. In the exchange of fire with German artillery on Utah Beach, one of the landing control ships was sunk. As a result, when the first wave came ashore on Utah beach at 6:30am, they were 2,000 yards south of their designated landing point.

It was a blessing in disguise. There was almost no enemy opposition. Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. made a personal reconnaissance past Utah beach, and found the beach exits almost undefended. He returned to the beach to coordinate the push inland. By the end of the day, 197 Americans were dead around Utah Beach, but the landing force had pushed inland.

At Omaha Beach, the story was much, much bleaker.

At around 6:30am, 96 tanks, an Army-Navy special Engineer Task Force, and eight companies of assault infantry went ashore, right into the teeth of withering machine-gun fire. Despite heavy bombardment, the German defenses were intact. Because the landing was at low tide, the men had to cross 185 yards of flat, open beach, as the well-protected German gunners cut them down. Tanks were sunk in their landing ships, or blown up at the edge of the water.

Them poor guys, they died like sardines in a can, they did. They never had a chance.

The men from the 29th Division’s 116 Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and the 1st Division’s 16th RCT were pushed off course in their landing craft by strong currents, and landed with machine gun bullets spanging off the gunwhales of their LCT’s. When the bow ramp dropped, men were riddled with bullets before they could even move. In a number of landing craft, every single soldier—and the navy coxswain piloting the boat—were killed in seconds by German fire as soon as the front ramp was lowered. Others, jumping off the sides of the ramp, burdened with their equipment, drowned as they landed in water over their heads. Many more died on the beach, at the water’s edge.

You couldn’t lay your hand down without you didn’t touch a body. You had to weave your way over top of the corpses.

The first instinct for many was to crouch behind the steel anti-tank obstacles, to take cover behind the bodies of fallen comrades, to try and scrape shallow trenches with their hands. And yet, they couldn’t. More assault waves were on the way, and the volume of fire was so great that to stay where they were meant certain death. The beach had to be cleared for the incoming waves of infantry, but to move across that open beach also seemed like a death sentence.

He started yelling, ”God damn it, get up. Move in. You’re going to die, anyway. Move in and die.”

And so they did. They crossed that empty expanse of beach to the only cover to be had, a narrow strip of rock shingle at the base of the cliffs, below a short, timber seawall.

Those who made it to the shingle in those first hours…just stopped. Behind them was a carpet of bodes, and a tide that ran red with blood, making the spray from the curling waves a sickly pink. Ahead of them were intact and well-armed German defenders. Those men cowering on the shingle behind the low seawall had seen their units destroyed, and watched successive waves being slaughtered as they hit the beach. Shocked and disorganized, they stayed beneath the seawall, in the only narrow strip of safety they could find.

Meanwhile, at Point-du-hoc, at 7:00am, the men of the 2nd Ranger battalion came ashore beneath the cliffs. Their mission was to climb the steep cliffs with grappling hooks and ropes, to capture the German heavy artillery threatening the Omaha and Utah landings.

Under heavy fire from the cliffs, they fired back with the small mortars that launched the grappling hooks. With their fellow rangers dying on the beach beside them, they grasped the ropes and climbed. They climbed until German riflemen picked them off. They climbed while they watched their buddies arch in pain, and then fall headlong to the rocky beach below. They climbed as the men above them plummeted into them while falling, threatening to tear their fragile grip from the rope. They climbed and climbed.

When they got to the top, the Germans were ready for them. But the Rangers were ready, too. So they fought their way through the pillboxes and trenches surrounding the gun emplacements. Pushing through the Germans, killing them to capture the guns.

Thet’s when they discovered that the guns weren’t there. The men of the 2nd Ranger battalion had captured empty concrete emplacements at the cost of half their number.

Back on Omaha Beach, the carnage continued.

Confusion, total confusion. We were just being slaughtered.

And as for the men (Huh. “Men.” Most of them hadn’t yet seen their twentieth summer.) who had survived the holocaust on the beach, and who now hid behind the tiny cover of the shingle? Well, who could have blamed them if they had just quit? Decided that this one taste of violence and death was enough for a lifetime? Who would’ve condemned them for deciding that they didn’t want to face what must have seemed like inevitable and horrible, painful death?

And yet…they didn’t. Somehow, they gathered whatever courage was left to them, and began to try and figure out how to get off that beach, and move inland.

We were recreating from this mass of twisted bodies a fighting unit again, and it was done by soldiers, not by the officers.

It was C Company of the 116th RCT, accompanied by men from the 5th Ranger Battalion, that began the push. At the top of the seawall was a narrow road, and on the other side of it, protecting a draw, was a mesh of barbed wire. Pvt. Ingram E. Lambert jumped over the wall, crossed the road, and set a Bangalore torpedo in the barbed wire obstacle. He pulled the igniter, but nothing happened. Caught in the open, Pvt. Lambert was cut down by machine gun fire.

His platoon leader, 2d Lt. Stanley M. Schwartz, crossed the road, fixed the igniter, and blew the torpedo. The men of C Company and 5th Rangers began crossing through the gap, some falling to enemy fire. As they left the beach, and assaulted through the draw, others followed. Those men shivering behind the seawall grabbed their rifles, stood up, and began leaving the beach, moving toward the Germans.

Other breaches in the German defenses followed. Company I of the 116th RCT breached the strongpoints defending les Moulins draw. The 1st Section of Company E, 16th RCT, who had come ashore in the first wave, along with elements of two other companies, blew their own gap in the wire, and moved inland. Company G, 16th RCT, needed four Bangalore torpedoes to cut a single lane in the wire and anti-personnel mines that were set up with trip wires.

The breaches were narrow, and tenuous. Follow-on waves still faced murderous fire from the bluffs overlooking the beaches, and there was still confusion as the timetable was set back by the initial fury of German defenses. The 18th RCT was originally scheduled to land at 10:30am, but didn’t get on the beach until 1:00pm. The 118th RCT was delayed even more. Yet, small groups of men somehow managed to open up tiny breaches in Germany’s "Atlantic Wall", through which the successive waves were able to pour through late in the afternoon.

But at such a cost! By the end of the day 3393 Americans were dead or missing, 3184 wounded, and 26 captured. It came close—very close—to being a total disaster at Omaha Beach. For instance, when night fell, B Company of the 116 RCT had only 28 fighting men left; less than a single platoon. The rest of the company had stained the French sands red with their blood. But the breaches in the German defenses had been made. The Americans were ashore, and they were moving inland. The “Atlantic Wall” had been broken, but at a heavy cost.

When I was relieved and I walked by, oh God, the guys that died that day — all those beautiful, wonderful friends of mine, the day before, the night before, kidding and joking.

Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt was the German Army’s Commander in Chief, West. He was a crusty old soldier who disdained the flashy accouterments of rank that a German field marshal usually wore. He was content merely to attach his marshal’s batons to the shoulders of his old regimental colonel’s uniform. He was also a realist.

At the end of the day, he called the Chief of Operations for the German Armed forces, Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl to update the German High Command on what had transpired. “What do you suggest we do now, Herr Feldmarschall?” Jodl asked.

“End the war, you fools! What else can you do?” replied the old warrior.
____________________
All quotes taken from the PBS documentary, D-Day.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed

Liberals Don’t Understand How Agricultural Subsidies Work

To be fair, they don’t understand how most things work, especially when there’s math involved, but this particular quirk is quite annoying.

I remember the first time I came across this general ignorance (see the comments), in a West Wing episode:

Actual dialog from a recent West Wing rerun:

Josh: What do I say to people who ask why we subsidize farmers when we don’t subsidize plumbers?
Farmer’s daughter 1: Tell ’em they can pay seven dollars for a potato.

Yes, I know it’s a TV show, but do people actually think like this? I always assumed that the reason we couldn’t get rid of farm subsidies was rent seeking by the farmers, but if people actually believe this, that could be part of the problem.

Yes, people actually do believe this. Indeed, here is David Sirota spouting the same ignorance:

GOP meat eaters aren’t free market – they want everyone to subsidize their eating via taxes that fund meat subsidies.

Among best ways to reduce meat consumption is to end ag subsidies so that the cost of meat is a true free market price – think: $9 burgers

David also makes the correct point that some GOP congressmen vote to keep these subsidies in place (particularly those in states with farms that benefit the most from them), but that doesn’t alleviate the complete misunderstanding of what these subsidies do.

In short: agricultural subsidies don’t reduce consumer prices, but instead raise them.

In fact, the entire point of these subsidies is to set minimum price levels (often called “price supports”) or trade barriers that create an artificial monopoly. The entire milk industry, as an example, is propped up with such subsidies. Why else do you think it costs about as much for a gallon of milk as does for a gallon of gas?

Although there had been several different forms of subsidies in the U.S. prior to the 1930’s, most were simple tariffs. When the Great Depression began, the Roosevelt Administration sought to prop up the nation’s farmers by raising their incomes. How did they propose to do that? Mainly by setting minimum prices and production quotas (remember Wickard v. Filburn?):

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president in 1933, he called Congress into special session to introduce a record number of legislative proposals under what he dubbed the New Deal. One of the first to be introduced and enacted was the Agricultural Adjustment Act. The intent of the AAA was to restore the purchasing power of American farmers to pre-World War I levels. The money to pay the farmers for cutting back production by about 30 percent was raised by a tax on companies that bought farm products and processed them into food and clothing.

The AAA evened the balance of supply and demand for farm commodities so that prices would support a decent purchasing power for farmers. This concept was known as “parity.”

AAA controlled the supply of seven “basic crops” — corn, wheat, cotton, rice, peanuts, tobacco, and milk — by offering payments to farmers in return for farmers not planting those crops.

The AAA also became involved in assisting farmers ruined by the advent of the Dust Bowl in 1934.

In 1936 the Supreme Court, ruling in United States v. Butler, declared the AAA unconstitutional. Writing for the majority, Justice Owen Roberts stated that by regulating agriculture, the federal government was invading areas of jurisdiction reserved by the constitution to the states, and thus violated the Tenth Amendment. Judge Harlan Stone responded for the minority that, “Courts are not the only agency of government that must be assumed to have capacity to govern.”

Further legislation by Congress restored some of the act`s provisions, encouraging conservation, maintaining balanced prices, and establishing food reserves for periods of shortages.

Congress also adopted the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, which encouraged conservation by paying benefits for planting soil-building crops instead of staple crops. The rewritten statutes were declared constitutional by the Supreme Court in Mulford v. Smith (1939) and Wickard v. Filburn (1942).

During World War II, the AAA turned its attention to increasing food production to meet war needs. The AAA did not end the Great Depression and drought, but the legislation remained the basis for all farm programs in the following 70 years.

The entire point of these subsidies is to increase the incomes of farmers. It has never had anything to do with making the price of a potato or a hamburger cheaper for consumers. By design, these programs intend to raise the price for agricultural products, as well as to transfer dollars from taxpayers to farmers.

How liberals like David Sirota and Aaron Sorkin came to think the exact opposite is puzzling. As Ronald Reagan said: “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

The fallacy of redistribution

Thomas Sowell, as he often does, puts the blue state model’s deficiencies into perspective in an easily understandable article. In this case he addresses redistribution.  If honest, even the most rabid redistributionist should come away from reading it understanding how redistribution is a doomed scheme.

Why?  For the same reason most blue state ideas fail.  They run counter to human nature.  In fact, they naively believe they can do something counter to human nature and it will both work and be sustainable.

Redistribution has been something tried among many nations in the past.  And, it has pretty much failed each and every time. Again the quesiton: “why”?

Those who talk glibly about redistribution often act as if people are just inert objects that can be placed here and there, like pieces on a chess board, to carry out some grand design.

But if human beings have their own responses to government policies, then we cannot blithely assume that government policies will have the effect intended.

Bingo.  While such schemes may work initially, they never factor in the reaction of human beings to something they find disagreeable, dishonest or just plain wrong.  Politician who want to tax things to change behavior find this out all the time.  But apparently we have to learn these lessons over and over and over again.  Throughout history, schemes which run counter to human nature rarely if ever succeed over any extended period of time.   There’s a reason for that:

In theory, confiscating the wealth of the more successful people ought to make the rest of the society more prosperous. But when the Soviet Union confiscated the wealth of successful farmers, food became scarce. As many people died of starvation under Stalin in the 1930s as died in Hitler’s Holocaust in the 1940s.

How can that be? It is not complicated. You can only confiscate the wealth that exists at a given moment. You cannot confiscate future wealth — and that future wealth is less likely to be produced when people see that it is going to be confiscated.

This would seem a simple lesson, given the amount of history in which it has been proven.  Yet, for whatever reason, politicians on the left (and many on the right) seem to discover it afresh in each generation.  That and the belief that the only reason it hasn’t worked in the past is because they weren’t in charge of its implementation.

We have one of those in office now.  For the “smartest guy in the room”, he has yet to understand how human nature works in this regard.

All I can say is if he’s unable to wrap his head around the consequences of pursuing such a policy and is still considered the “smartest man in the room”, it must be an awfully small (and empty) room.

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO

Facebook: QandO

Will Eurobonds Work?

(Originally posted at Risk and Return)

I have been skeptical and so is James Bianco:

The problem in Europe is simple – they created a common currency – the euro. For years, the market erred. It thought that meant that every sovereign debt had the same rating as Germany. I was buying Greek bonds. I was buying Irish bonds. I was buying Italian bonds. But I thought I was buying German bonds. Then, a couple of years ago, I had an epiphany – no, I was not buying German bonds; I was buying Greece, Italy, and Ireland, or whatever, not Germany.

Those countries, recognizing that they could borrow into infinity because everybody thought they were lending to Germany, pretty much did that and expanded their welfare states to the point where they cannot pay their debts.

Germany has disappointed everybody with its intransigence, its unwillingness to “get with the program,” and endorse massive ECB bond buying and Eurobonds. Their reason? They believe they will be stuck with the bill. Of course, they are right, they will be:

If a Eurobond market comes with with strict discipline/rules on borrowing and paying debt back, it might work.  Unfortunately no one will agree to a Eurobond market with strict discipline/rules.

If a Eurobond market comes with no discipline/rules, then it is just another way to trick the market into thinking they are buying German Bunds.   It will “work” for a while as the crisis will ease until everyone borrows too much money and then comes back much worse.

I am not even sure it will work more than a few days at this point, but maybe. Either way it is not a solution, but a stop gap at best. It is also a stop gap that should not be attempted unless an actual endgame is in sight:

So how do you fix the Euro crisis?  Unfortunately there are only three solutions and all are distasteful:

  • Call off the union and go back to legacy currencies.  This destroys the banking system who will be paid back with devalued/nearly worthless currencies.
  • Massive austerity.  This option is very unpopular among the electorates and will cause a bad recession/depression.
  • Fiscal union.  This is a nice way of saying Germany finally wins WW2.  Is the rest of Europe now ready to take orders from Berlin?  Didn’t they fight two wars to prevent this?

The only reason ECB printing keeps being mentioned is because the three options above are untenable and money printing is the only other thing they can think of.  Money printing does NOT fix anything, it just makes the problem better for a while until it comes back worse than before.

This dovetails with my analysis in The German Dilemma that their are no good options from the German perspective, and in fact fiscal union is far more problematic than commonly realized:

Full Fiscal Integration: Since all other solutions put in place circumstances that are unstable and merely kick the can down the road, the fundamental flaw in the Euro needs to be addressed. That is the lack of a unified fiscal policy. The answer then is the end of sovereignty, the creation of a US of Europe. An obvious objection is that Germany wants to be a sovereign nation. We’ll skip this niggling little detail, but even if they didn’t want to remain sovereign do they want to harmonize laws and economic policy with Greece and some of the other PIIGS? West Germany just  integrated with East Germany and the experience was traumatic featuring massive transfers to East Germans. The PIIGS will still not be competitive with Germany. That means internal adjustments (internal devaluation or austerity) to allow them to become more competitive for the PIIGS’ or massive transfers. Thus unifying the Eurozone under a single fiscal policy means massive transfers from Germany to the PIIGS to harmonize the welfare states and unify the debt and avoid austerity throwing the entire Eurozone into depression. Germans will pay for the debt in one fashion or another.

Cullen Roche points out that in the US we don’t worry much about the need for internal transfers between states to keep the system sound.  Today that is true, though it has led to large conflicts in our past, playing a role in civil unrest, uprisings, the conquest of a continent and near destruction of its former inhabitants and the Civil War. Our unity was easier to envision and still born of blood and tragedy.

I am not saying unification of Europe would lead to such tragedies and conflicts. However, we need to ask if Germany (or really all the countries) want to make the internal transfers that make such a system work? Germans would pay a great deal, Greece and the other PIIGS would suffer internal austerity to the extent that they contribute to the economic re-balancing. Do Europeans, or most importantly the Germans, view themselves as a people who will be responsible for paying all the bills to integrate the Greeks and others?

Are Europeans ready to think about their home countries in the same way Texans think of Texas? Their state, but completely subordinate to the US? Will they be able to secede? We answered that question in the US with a war of incredible savagery and destruction. My guess is a unified Europe would be far less stable. They will not choose a civil war comparable to the US, but instead countries leaving over time as well as never entering the union. That leaves us with all the problems we have now still being there. Without a European populace overwhelmingly in favor of a true union this will not work. We would be faced with a PIIGS like crisis with every election and the possibility of secession in each of the former countries.

The necessity of creating a union where there is no possibility of secession, where citizens are more loyal to the European sovereign entity than their own countries is incredibly unappreciated. Half measures will not work. If Texas were to get upset about staying in our own Union it would not matter how overwhelmingly popular the idea of leaving was in the Texas legislature, the US military will ensure that Texas stays a subordinate state. We decided that issue in 1865 at the cost of well over 600k casualties.

If a similarly firm enforcement of Eurozone union is not agreed to (and setting aside a war to force union) then why should the market assume the system will remain intact? Why consider the bonds issued by the various states, or the Eurozone as a whole, deserve a AAA rating?  My belief is that eventually the Eurozone will suffer other crises as states face local elections that wish to leave for one reason or another. Critically Eurobonds and fiscal Union make it easier for countries to leave, since the debt will be the Eurozone’s, not theirs. They can leave and stick the remaining members with the bill. That is an incentive which virtually ensures instability.

Treaties don’t matter if there is no enforcement mechanism, and all enforcement mechanisms at the end of the day have to have a credible belief in military force behind them to matter. Otherwise those who wish to exit can just thumb their noses at whoever stays behind. Has there ever been a successful union where the underlying members could leave? Not that I am aware of.

There are no good options, only more or less realistic ones.

June 6th will always be D-Day

Originally postedin 2007

It actually started on June 5th. And it almost didn’t start then. The weather had turned bad. A great storm had blown in from the Atlantic. High wind and high seas had forced ships of all kinds back into bays and inlets. Low clouds made it impossible for aircraft to find landmarks. If the weather didn’t break, nothing would happen until at least July.

But the weather did break, and so, it began only a day later than planned.

There must have been about, oh, I don’t know, 15 of us there. Our two great men were there, Monty and Eisenhower. The poor weatherman had to talk first. Eisenhower asked Monty what he felt. ”Sure, I’ll do whatever you say, you know. We’re ready.” Then Eisenhower very calmly said, ”We’ll go.”

150,000 soldiers—American, British, Canadian, French, and many others—embarked on 5,000 ships, began moving towards places known today as St. Lô, Vierville-sur-Mer, Pouppeville, Arromanches, La Rivière-Saint-Sauveur, Pointe-du-hoc, Ouistreham.

The men on those ships, for the most part, didn’t know those names. They had simpler terms for the beaches where they would be spending the day—and for many, the rest of their lives. They called them Juno, Sword, Gold, Omaha, and Utah.

There were soldiers from many nations involved that day, all of whom deserve to be recognized and remembered. But as an American, it is the men from my country that I will write about.

Only about 15% of them had ever seen combat. But by this time, cold, wet, seasick, crammed into airless holds, or huddled on unprotected decks, many of them preferred combat to what they were going through on board ship.

Get us off these ships. I don’t care what’s waiting for us.

As it happened, though, it didn’t begin on the beaches, but in the air. On the night of June 5th, an armada of over 800 C-47 transport planes ferried the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions over the invasion fleet towards France. For them, the weather was still pretty bad. And it was dark.

It was going to be difficult. Everything depended on landing the pathfinders in the right place. Then the pathfinders had to light the dim beacons for the landing zones. The pilots carrying the airborne forces had to see the beacons, then they had to fly precisely, right over the landing zones.

And the Germans. Always the Germans, with searchlights and flares and the 88mm anti-aircraft cannon—the “flak” guns.

Getting everyone down alive, together, and ready to fight was going to be a chancy business. And the airborne troops knew it.

I lined up all the pilots. I says, ”I don’t give a damn what you do, but for one thing. If you’re going to drop us on a hill or if you’re going to drop us on our zone, drop us all in one place.”

But…they didn’t. The airborne forces were scattered. Almost no one landed on their programmed landing zone. Units from the two airborne divisions were scattered and intermixed, forcing officers and NCOs to create scratch units on the spot, with whomever they could find. The 101st Airborne Division commander, Maj. Gen. Maxwell Taylor, found that his new “unit” consisted of himself, his deputy commander, a colonel, several captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels…and three enlisted men. He quipped, “Never have so few been commanded by so many.”

And still they fought. Gen. Taylor soon had gathered a force of 90 officers, clerks, MPs, and a smattering of infantrymen. With them, he liberated the town of Pouppeville. Elsewhere, American soldiers gathered into groups, and struck out for an objective. Even if it wasn’t their objective, it was someone’s, and they were going to take and hold it.

And when they took it from the Germans, the Germans tried to take it back. But the paratroopers held.

It was a terrible day for paratroopers, but they did terrible fighting in there and they really made their presence known.

By this time, the Germans knew something was going on, if not precisely what. Their responses were confused. Their commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had returned to Germany for a brief leave. He wasn’t the only one absent that night. The 21st Panzer Division’s commander, Lt. Gen. Edgar Feuchtinger, was spending the night in Paris with his mistress. Col. Gen. Freiderich Dollman, commander of the 7th Army, and many of his staff officers and commanders, were 90 miles away in Rennes, on a map exercise. Ironically, the scenario for that exercise was countering an airborne landing.

The Germans were surprised, yet subordinate commanders began to take the initiative, seeking out the paratroops and engaging them, trying to determine what was happening. Was it the invasion? A diversion from the expected landings in Calais? What was happening?

Then, as the black night gave way to the cold, gray dawn of June 6th, they began to find out. Looming out of the fog, a vast armada of haze gray ships and landing craft began to move ashore.

At 5:50am, the warships began shelling Utah and Omaha Beaches. In the exchange of fire with German artillery on Utah Beach, one of the landing control ships was sunk. As a result, when the first wave came ashore on Utah beach at 6:30am, they were 2,000 yards south of their designated landing point.

It was a blessing in disguise. There was almost no enemy opposition. Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. made a personal reconnaissance past Utah beach, and found the beach exits almost undefended. He returned to the beach to coordinate the push inland. By the end of the day, 197 Americans were dead around Utah Beach, but the landing force had pushed inland.

At Omaha Beach, the story was much bleaker.

At around 6:30am, 96 tanks, an Army-Navy special Engineer Task Force, and eight companies of assault infantry went ashore, right into the teeth of withering machine-gun fire. Despite heavy bombardment, the German defenses were intact. Because the landing was at low tide, the men had to cross 185 yards of flat, open beach, as the well-protected German gunners cut them down. Tanks were sunk in their landing ships, or blown up at the edge of the water.

Them poor guys, they died like sardines in a can, they did. They never had a chance.

The men from the 29th Division’s 116 Regimental Combat Team (RCT) and the 1st Division’s 16th RCT were pushed off course in their landing craft by strong currents, and landed with machine gun bullets spanging off the gunwhales of their LCT’s. When the bow ramp dropped, men were riddled with bullets before they could even move. Others, jumping off the sides of the ramp, burdened with their equipment, drowned as they landed in water over their heads. Many more died on the beach, at the water’s edge.

You couldn’t lay your hand down without you didn’t touch a body. You had to weave your way over top of the corpses.

The first instinct for many was to crouch behind the steel anti-tank obstacles, to take cover behind the bodies of fallen comrades, to try and scrape shallow trenches with their hands. And yet, they couldn’t. More assault waves were on the way, and the volume of fire was so great that to stay where they were meant certain death. The beach had to be cleared for the incoming waves of infantry, but to move across that open beach also seemed like a death sentence.

He started yelling, ”God damn it, get up. Move in. You’re going to die, anyway. Move in and die.”

And so they did. They crossed that empty expanse of beach to the only cover to be had, a narrow strip of rock shingle at the base of the cliffs, below a short, timber seawall.

Those who made it to the shingle in those first hours…just stopped. Behind them was a carpet of bodes, and a tide that ran red with blood, making the spray from the curling waves a sickly pink. Ahead of them were intact and well-armed German defenders. Those men cowering on the shingle behind the low seawall had seen their units decimated, watched successive waves being slaughtered as they hit the beach. Shocked and disorganized, they stayed beneath the seawall, in the only narrow strip of safety they could find.

Meanwhile, at Point-du-hoc, at 7:00am, the men of the 2nd Ranger battalion came ashore beneath the cliffs. Their mission was to climb the steep cliffs with grappling hooks and ropes, to capture the German heavy artillery threatening the Omaha and Utah landings.

Under heavy fire from the cliffs, they fired back with the small mortars that launched the grappling hooks. With their fellow rangers dying on the beach beside them, they grasped the ropes and climbed. They climbed until German riflemen picked them off. They climbed while they watched their buddies arch in pain, and then fall headlong to the rocky beach below. They climbed as the men above them plummeted into them while falling, threatening to tear their fragile grip from the rope. They climbed and climbed.

And when they got to the top, the Germans were ready for them. But the Rangers were ready, too. So they fought their way through the pillboxes and trenches surrounding the gun emplacements. Pushing through the Germans, killing them to capture the guns.

And when they did, they discovered that the guns weren’t there. The men of the 2nd Ranger battalion had captured empty concrete emplacements, at the cost of half their number.

Back on Omaha Beach, the carnage continued.

Confusion, total confusion. We were just being slaughtered.

And as for the men (Huh. “Men.” Most of them hadn’t yet seen their twentieth summer.) who had survived the holocaust on the beach, and who now hid behind the tiny cover of the shingle? Well, who could have blamed them if they had just quit? Decided that this one taste of violence and death was enough for a lifetime? Decided that they didn’t want to face what must have seemed like inevitable and horrible, painful death?

And yet…they didn’t. Somehow, they gathered whatever courage was left to them, and began to try and figure out how to get off that beach, and move inland.

We were recreating from this mass of twisted bodies a fighting unit again, and it was done by soldiers, not by the officers.

It was C Company of the 116th RCT, accompanied by men from the 5th Ranger Battalion, that began the push. At the top of the seawall was a narrow road, and on the other side of it, protecting a draw, was a mesh of barbed wire. Pvt. Ingram E. Lambert jumped over the wall, crossed the road, and set a Bangalore torpedo in the barbed wire obstacle. He pulled the igniter, but nothing happened. Caught in the open, Pvt. Lambert was cut down by machine gun fire.

His platoon leader, 2d Lt. Stanley M. Schwartz, crossed the road, fixed the igniter, and blew the torpedo. The men of C Company and 5th Rangers began crossing through the gap, some falling to enemy fire. As they left the beach, and assaulted through the draw, others followed. Those men shivering behind the seawall grabbed their rifles, stood up, and began leaving the beach, moving toward the Germans.

Other breaches in the German defenses followed. Company I of the 116th RCT breached the strongpoints defending les Moulins draw. The 1st Section of Company E, 16th RCT, who had come ashore in the first wave, along with elements of two other companies, blew their own gap in the wire, and moved inland. Company G, 16th RCT, needed four Bangalore torpedoes to cut a single lane in the wire and anti-personnel mines that were set up with trip wires.

The breaches were narrow, and tenuous. Follow-on waves still faced murderous fire from the bluffs overlooking the beaches, and there was still confusion as the timetable was set back by the initial fury of German defenses. The 18th RCT was originally scheduled to land at 10:30am, but didn’t get on the beach until 1:00pm. The 118th RCT was delayed even more.

By the end of the day 3393 Americans were dead or missing, 3184 wounded, and 26 captured. But the breaches in the German defenses had been made. The Americans were ashore, and they were moving inland. The “Atlantic Wall” had been broken, but at a heavy cost.

When I was relieved and I walked by, oh God, the guys that died that day — all those beautiful, wonderful friends of mine, the day before, the night before, kidding and joking.

Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt was the German Army’s Commander in Chief, West. He was a crusty old soldier who disdained the flashy accouterments of rank that a German field marshal usually wore. He was content to attach his batons to the shoulders of his old regimental colonel’s uniform. He was also a realist.

Knowing what D-Day meant, he called the Chief of Operations for the German Armed forces, Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl. “What do you suggest we do now, Herr Feldmarschall?” Jodl asked.

“End the war, you fools! What else can you do?” replied the old warrior.
____________________
All quotes taken from the PBS documentary, D-Day.

Dale
Twitter: @DaleFranks