Ike's Son Remembers George S. Patton Jr.

The author, who once served under General Patton and whose father, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was Patton's commanding officer, shares his memories of "Ol' Blood and Guts"

On the morning of December 19, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower strode into the gloomy school building in Verdun that housed the main headquarters of General Omar Bradley’s Twelfth Army Group. He had called a meeting of all the senior commanders under Bradley. More than just the building was gloomy; the weather outside was a dark gray, and the tactical situation facing the American Army in Europe was also dark. Adolf Hitler’s gigantic Ardennes counteroffensive had been launched three days before, and German Gen.Read more »

The Day When We Almost Lost the Army

Debate over America's involvement in World War II came to a head in July 1941 as the Senate argued over a draft extension bill. The decision would have profound consequences for the nation.

On July 19, 1941, when Gen. George Catlett Marshall, Army chief of staff, stepped before the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, his gray civilian suit could not disguise the proud bearing of a soldier and commander of men. His shoulders squared, but not conspicuously so, his chin receding slightly, and thin lips compressed with resolution, his tall figure exuded dignity, authority, and singleness of purpose. He considered his mission that day as among the most vital of any during his distinguished 39-year career in uniform: to save the still anemic U.S. Army from emasculation. Read more »

Mutiny At West Point

In 1817, “Old Pewt’s” rebellious cadets met their master in Sylvanus Thayer

It was June 15, 1817, and up at West Point newly elected President James Monroe, staunch friend of the Military Academy, was in a towering rage. The place was in poor shape, its curriculum had unraveled, examinations were unknown, and discipline was non-existent. The acting superintendent, Captain Alden Partridge, Corps of Engineers, seemed to be running a “Dotheboys Hall” of sorts, where favoritism governed and cadets were being graduated without reference either to academic standing or military ability.Read more »

From Saigon To Desert Storm

How the U. S. military reinvented itself after Vietnam

It’s hard to remember now, but the outcome of the 1991 Persian Gulf War stunned the world. Few people even at the Pentagon expected it to be as one-sided as it was. Before Operation Desert Storm, Iraq’s armed forces were widely seen as a formidable adversary, hardened by years of war against Iran and supplied with the best equipment Saddam Hussein’s oil riches could buy. Iraq had 900,000 soldiers—more than the U.S. Army—and they had had months to entrench themselves in Kuwait and southern Iraq.

Soldiers learn desert warfare at the Army’s National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, in 1982.
 
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“The So-called Charge Was Murder”

A young GI making the journey from war to peace, and from enmity to friendship, finds amid the most tremendous change smoldering embers of an old tyranny

 

In the spring of 1952, I, like many college graduates that year, received an official government letter whose contents we knew before the envelope was opened. Army basic training followed, with daily, almost hourly, assurances that in a matter of months we would be holding Korean hilltop positions, where Old Joe Chink, as the Army then liked to term the enemy, was momentarily expected. Read more »

“Just One More River To Cross”

The final hours of the war were every bit as perilous as all the other ones for this American POW

World War II was ending with more of a whimper than a Waterloo for the Anglo-American forces in Europe. The Battle of Berlin was shaping up just 60 miles to the south of where I stood, but, by design, the American and British forces were to have no part in that carnage. I was unaware that Roosevelt and Churchill had ceded this piece of real estate to Stalin.Read more »

“You Will Be Afraid”

Next to Winston Churchill, Gen. George Patton gave the war’s most famous speeches. But nobody knew quite what he said—until now.

Millions of people have seen the movie Patton, which begins with a view of the general standing before a giant American flag giving a speech to his troops. The actor George C. Scott gave a superb performance in this film; all who ever saw the general in action will agree that he came as close to being George S. Patton, Jr., as is humanly possible. The script for the movie speech itself was a fair representation of the talks to soldiers that Patton actually gave on several occasions. Read more »

1855 150 Years Ago

Humvees With Humps

 

On March 3 Congress appropriated $30,000 for the U.S. Army to import camels form the Levant and put them to work in the desserts of the Southwest. The law was a pet project of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, who as early as 1851, when he was still a senator, had suggested using camels as a way to ease communication with California. Along with Maj. Henry C.

 
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MIA

A search begun in a Washington, D.C., boardinghouse 140 years ago continues today as a $100-million-a-year effort to reunite the U.S. military and American families with their missing soldiers

Atop a half-mile-high mountain deep in the heart of the A Shau Valley in central Vietnam, a poisonous worm snake winds itself onto the edge of a spade. After a fleeting glance, the U.S. sergeant holding the spade, Tammi Reeder, 34, flicks her wrist and flings the vermilion serpent into the double-canopy jungle surrounding this mountaintop enclave. It is the fourth such snake in an hour and about the millionth over the past several weeks, so this group of 10 U.S.Read more »

“The Shah Always Falls”

A soldier-historian looks at how the world has changed in the past decade and finds that America is both hostage to history and likely to be saved by it

Military historians sometimes write biographies of people they call military intellectuals. Such people are interesting because they can have a vast effect on history, and also because they combine in one career two modes of life normally considered incompatible, the life of thought and the life of action. Read more »