Build-down

After every war in the nation’s history, the military has faced not only calls for demobilization but new challenges and new opportunities. It is happening again.

Not many people appreciate a military base closing. Like the shutting of a factory, it can devastate nearby towns, throwing thousands of people out of work. Merchants face losses and even bankruptcy as sales fall off. Home-owners put their houses on the market at distress prices and sometimes simply walk away from their mortgages. Even long-established military centers are not immune; the current round of closings includes the Mare Island Naval Base near San Francisco, which has operated since 1854. Read more »

The Seventeenth Largest Army

The old Regular Army, part fairy tale and part dirty joke, was generally either ignored or disdained. But its people went about their work with a dogged humdrum gallantry—and when the storm broke, they helped save the world.

 

“What do you want to go back to the Army for?” she cried. “What did the Army ever do for you?”

“What do I want to go back for?” Prewitt said wonderingly. “I’m a soldier. ” Read more »

West Point In Review

The old school is alive with the memory of men like Lee, Grant, Pershing, and Eisenhower

Each year most of West Point’s three million visitors enter the U.S. Military Academy through the Thayer Gate. They drive past the cluttered main street of Highland Falls, which the historian Samuel Huntington described as a town of a sort “familiar to everyone … a motley, disconnected collection of frames coincidentally adjoining each other, lacking common unity and purpose.” A moment later the visitors are in, as Huntington put it, “a different world [of] ordered serenity….Read more »

Landing At Tokyo Bay

Two letters from a Navy lieutenant to his wife tell the story of the last hours of World War II

YOKOSUKA 9·4·45

My dear: Read more »

Truman Vs. MacArthur

When the President fired the general, civilian control of the military faced its severest test in our history

AT 1:00 A.M. ON THE morning of April 11, 1951, a tense band of Washington reporters filed into the White House newsroom for an emergency press conference. Hastily summoned by the White House switchboard, they had no idea of what was to come. The Truman administration, detested by millions, had grown hesitant, timid, and unpredictable. The Korean War, so boldly begun ten months before, had degenerated into a “limited war” with no discernible limit, a bloody stalemate.Read more »

Winter Of The Yalu

A soldier remembers the freezing, fearful retreat down the Korean Peninsula after the Chinese armies smashed across the border

THERE ARE places on this globe to which history can point and say of a people, a nation, or an empire: “This was their high-water mark. Thus far they went and no farther.” The three legions that reached the Elbe in A.D. 9 only to be destroyed in the Teutoburg Forest were at such a point, for no Roman in arms ever saw the Elbe again. Both the Mongols and the Turks saw the walls of Vienna but never passed them. The British took Kabul more than once, but that was their outermost limit.Read more »

Culpable Negligence

A SUBMARINE COMMANDER TELLS WHY WE ALMOST LOST THE PACIFIC WAR

 

LIFE ABOARD

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Westpoint: 1978

What’s Happened to the Long Gray Line

No monument or institution has more power to stir the patriotic emotions of Americans, or evokes more poignintly the martial virtues of self-sacrifice and discipline, than the United States Military Academy at West Point. In the view of General George S. Patton, Jr., of the class of 1909, whose statue now belligerently confronts the academy library, West Point was “a holy place and I can never think of it without reverence and affection.” A general less given to extravagant speech or gestures, Lucius D.Read more »

Japan Strikes: 1941

Sixteen years before Pearl Harbor an English naval expert uncannily prophesied in detail the war in the Pacific. Now comes evidence that the Japanese heeded his theories—but not his warnings

As soon as Imperial Japan destroyed the Russian Navy in a spectacular sea battle at the Straits of Tsushima in 1905, a rash of would-be Cassandras began to foretell the day when the rays of the Rising Sun would spread eastward across the Pacific, bringing Japan head-on into conflict with the United States.Read more »