Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lord Horatio Nelson : Act of Courage

Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) had been through it all. He had lost his right eye in the siege of Calvi and his arms in battele of Tenerife. He had defeated the Spanish at Cape St . Vincent in 1797 and had routed Napoleons Egyptian campaign by defeating his navy at the battle of the Nile on the following year. But none of the triumphs prepared him for the problems he faced from his own colleagues in the British Navy as they prepared to go to war against Denmark in February 1801.

Nelson, England's most glorious war hero , was the obvious choice to lead the fleet . Instead the admiralty choosen Sir Hyde Parker, with Nelson second in command. This war was a delicate bussiness; it was intended to force the disobedient Denmark to comply with a British embargo on the shipping of the military goods to france. The British navy at that time considered Parker as more stabile, older officer that would be better to lead the mission than Nelson.

Nevertheless Nelson took the assignment, but he saw a trouble ahead. He knew that time was essential. The faster British navy launched its fleet to attack the better. The Danes ( Denmark people) would have insufficient time to established their coastal defenses. The British fleet was ready to sail but Parker was a man with details...,everything must be in order. It wasnt his style to hurry . Nelson hated this unnecessary delay and cant wait to see action. Nelson reviewed intelligence reports, studied map and finally came up with the detailed plans for attacking Danes. He wrote letters to Parker urging him to seize an initiative for an early attack but Parker ignored him.

At Last, on March 11 , The British fleet set sail. Instead heading to Copenhagen , Parker harboured north of the city and called a meeting to his captains. He explained according to intelligence reports the Danes has prepared well built defense for Copenhagen. Danes fleet patrol from the north and south and their mobile artillery batteries could blast english ships to pieces. How could they win without suffering terrible loss to Danes fleet. To makes things seemed worse Parker was also receiving reports from most of the ship of navigators that the waters in Copenhagen were quite treacherous, places of sandbars and the winds would often changing side unpredictly.Navigating under bombardment in this waters would be dangerous.With all of these difficulties he offeres perhaps it was best to wait for Danes to leave harbor and to fight in the open sea.

Nelson can no longer be quiet.Finally he struck into the conversation "No war" he said "had ever been won by waiting". For him the Danish defenses looked very strong only for children at war. But he had worked out the strategy weeks earlier :he would attack from south , the easier approach, while Parker and a reserve force would stay to the city north . Nelason would use his mobility to take out the Danish Artillery batteries. He had studied the maps sandbars were no threat . aggresive action was more important. Nelson speech burned the captains motivations. He was still respected as Englands most respected leaders and his performance was catching . Even Sir Hyde Parker was impressed , and the plan was approved.

The next morning Nelson;s line of ship advanced on Copenhagen and the battle began. The Danish guns, firing British ship at close range and bring casualities on british side . Nelson lead from the deck of this main ship , HMS Elephant , urging his men to keep on pushing forward. He was in an excited, almost ecstatic state. A shot nearly killed him ."It is a warm work, and this day maybe the last to any of us at any moment. but marked you, i would not be elsewhere for thousands" . He wanted to there, in the heat of the battlefield.

Parker followed the situation development from the north. Now he regretted that he has agreed Nelson's plan. A defeat in here could ruin his career and he had seen enough. After four hours of fighting and bombardment the fleet had taken hard hits and gained no advance. Nelson still seemed to keep on pushing forward. And then Parker decided to hoist the flag number 39. A flag signal to retreat. Every ship that noticed must raised the same flag and pass the message to another ship. Once the flag is raised it signals that the attack was over ,British ships must was an order. The battle was over.

But a different scene happens on HMS Elephant ,Nelson's ship . A lieutenant told Nelson about the Flag no 39 . But Nelson ignored it. Instead he called his officers to raise flag no 16 which means " Attack enemy more closely". A few minutes later with Nelson flag's no 16 still flapping in the air. he said " You know men, i have only one eye - i have a right to be blind sometimes!!"And raising his telescoped to his blind eyes he remarked " i really couldnt see the signal.

Torn beetwen obeying Parker and obeying Nelson , the fleet captains chose Nelson . They would risk their careers along with his. But soon the danish defenses beginning to crack , some of british ships landed onshore. and the harbor surrendered and the Artilery guns began to slow their fires. Less than an hour from Parkers ordered to withdraw.
The next day Parker congratulated Nelson for the victory. He didnt mentioned nelson's disobedience. he hopes that his lack of courage would quietly be forgotten.


British navy choice on Parker, a man who was careful and methodical . such men may seem calm even strong, in times of peace.But they are hiding weakness, they think carefully and so afraid of making mistakes.

Lord Nelson instead operate accordingly to the opposite principal. Even though he is handicapped but he enter the battle with fierce determination. Other Sea lords are worrying about wind, enemy formation . but Nelson concentrate on his well planned strategy and his intuition to keep on pushing to victory .He sense that enemy is beginning to crumble. In the end his intuition was right.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Arab revolt 1917, Lawrence of Arabia : Art of Maneuver and Insurgency

Map : Aqaba location nowadays

The Turks enter WW I on the side of Germany . Their main enemy in the Middle Eastern theater were British , who were based in Egypt, but by 1917 they had arrived at a comfortable stalemate : The Turks controlled a strategic 800 miles stretch of railway that ran from Syria to Hejaz (the southwestern part of Arabia). Due west of the central part of this railway was the town of Aqaba , on the Red Sea , a key Turkish position from which they could quickly move armies north ans south to protect the rail way.

The Turks had already beaten back the British at the famous battler of “Gallipoli , a huge boost to their morale. Their commanders in the middle east felt secure. The English had tried to stir up a revolt against the Turks among the Arabs of Hejaz , hoping the revolt would spread north : the Arabs had managed a few rides here and there but had fought more among themselves than against the Turks. The British clearly coveted Aqaba and plotted to take it from the Sea with their powerful navy , but behind Aqaba was a mountain wall marked by deep gorges. The Turks had converted the mountain into a fortress. The British knew that even if their navy took Aqaba, they would be unable to advance inland, rendering the cities captured easily. Both the British and the Turks saw the situation the same way, and the stalemates endured.

In June 1917 The Turkish commander of the fort guarding Aqaba received reports of strange enemy movement in the Syrian dessert to the north east. It seemed that a 29 years old British British Liaison officer to the Arab name T.E Lawrence had trekked across hundreds of miles of desolate terrain to recruit an army among the Howeitat , Syrian tribes renowned for fighting on camels. The Turks dispatched scouts to find out more. They already knew a little about Lawrence : unusually for British officer of the time , he spoke Arabic, mixed well with the local people, and even dressed in their style. He had also befriended Sherif Faisal, later of the Arab revolt. Could he be raising an army to attack Aqaba? To the extent that this was possible, he was worth watching carefully. Then word came that Lawrence had imprudently told an Arabic chief , secretly in , that he was heading to Damascus to spread the Arab revolt . This was Turk’s great fear, for a revolt in the more populated area of the north would be unmanageable.

The army Lawrence had recruited could not have numbered more than 500 , but the Howeitats were great fighters on camel , fierce and mobile. The Turks alerted their colleagues in Damascus and dispatch troops to hunt Lawrence down , a difficult task given to the mobility of Arabs and the vastness of the dessert.In the next few weeks , the Englishman;s movement were baffling. To say the least :his troops move north toward Damascus but south toward the railway town of Ma’an, site of a storage depot used to supply Aqaba forty miles away . No sooner had Lawrence appeared in the area of Ma’an , however , than he disappeared , reemerging over a hundred miles north to lead a series of raids on the railway line between Amman and Damscus. Now the The turks were doubly alarmed and sent 400 cavalries from Amman to find him.

For a few days there were no sign of Lawrence . In the mentime an uprising several miles to the south of Ma’an surprised the Turks . An Arab tribe called the Dhumaniyeh had seized control of the town of Abu el Lissal , directly along the route from Ma’an to Aqaba .A Turkish battalion dispatched to take the town back found the blockhouse guarding it destroyed and the Arabs gone . Then suddenly something unexpected and quite disturbing occurred : out of nowhere Lawrence’s Howeitat army emerged on the hill above Abu el Lissal.

Distracted by the local uprising the Turks has lost track of Lawrence . Now linking up with the Dhumaniyeh , he had trapped a Turkish army at Abu El Lissal . The Arabs rode along the hill with enormous speed and dexterity., goading the Turks into wasting ammunition by firing on them. Meanwhile the midday heats took its toll on Turkish riflemen., and having waited until the Turks were sufficiently tired. The Arabs , Lawrence among them, charged down the hill, the Turkish closed their ranks, but the swiftly moving camel camel Cavalry took them from the flank and rear. It was a massacre :300 Turkish were killed and rest were taken prisoner.
Now Turkish commander at Aqaba finally saw Lawrence’s game : he had cut them off from the rail way line on which they are depended for supplies . Also seeing Howeitats’s success ,other Arab tribes around Aqaba joine up with Lawrence, creating a powerful army that began to wend its way through the narrow gorges toward Aqaba.
The Turks had never imagined an army coming from that direction. Their fortifications faced the other way, toward the sea and Arab fighters had a reputation for ruthlessness with enemies who resisted , and the commanders of the forts back in Aqaba began to surrender . The Turks sent out their 300- man garrison from Aqaba to put a stop to this advance but they were quickly surrounded by the swelling numbers of Arabs.
On July the 6th the Turks finally surrendered, and their commander watched in shock as Lawrence’s ragtag army rushed to the sea and takewhat had been thought to be an impregnable position . With this one blow T.E Lawrence had completely altered the balance and power in the middle east. His mission was a perfect example on the successful Insurgency / Guerilla warfare and an efficient use of Manouver tactics.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Inside S.A.S: Great Britain’s Elite Special Air Service

Men of the Special Air Services

When David Stirling formed the Special Air Services (SAS) in the Western Dessert during World War II, he knew he was creating a unique military unit – unique in both mission and composition. The SAS would assume all sorts off behind the lines mission such as airfield raids : Destroying more than two Luftwaffe geschwader ( 100 planes) during WWII in north Africa, Insurgence mission : infiltrated to enemy territories and worked with French resistance towards D-day preparation. As the war progressed Stirling’s concept evolved .Through selections the unit demand sheer individual quality but could still function as a member of a team. Men with the versatility to accomplish mission assigned to them.

Units mission
Through the half century since the formation of the SAS, the regiment mission has expanded to include counterterrorism , counter insurgency , deep penetration raids and intelligence gathering , bodyguard head of the state,acting as trainers for foreign special forces , designating targets for smart weapons and providing the “teeth” for British intelligence operations.

To be SAS operator ?

Psychological requirements

The SAS selection course does not rely on a battery of psychological tests or high tech computer profiles but on a procedure that has been used with slight modification for decades . Brecon beacons and Black Mountains of Wales are the site of this selection procedure. The location was choosen because they tested skills necessarily for SAS operations in the jungles of Asia , Hostile desserts and mountaneous terrain. Brecon beacons required a combination of outstanding land navigation skill and stamina to traverse. In virtually every conflict in which they’ve been enganged the SAS has had to survive in a hostile environment. By overcome Brecon beacon will select psychological profile of those who successfully complete the selection process . They will normally be intelligent, assertive , self sufficient , emotionally stable , forthright and alert. They will neither be excessively introverted nor extroverted and will not be dependant on orders to know what to do ( individual sustainable).

SAS Candidates

For 22nd SAS Regiment may apply from any regiment of the British army in cluding T.A territorial army. Royal Air forces and Royal Navy for the 21st and 23rd SAS regiment may apply directly from civilian lives .For officers must be between ages 22 to 34, while non commissioned officers between 19 to 34. Either must have a 3 years minimum experience in the regular troops. Before enduring selection course ,candidates will be briefed in the “Stirling Line” home of the 22nd regiment on what expected from them during the selection process.

Selection course : Who Dares wins
Selection courses will be held for four weeks long. Candidate will have the chance to take the course either in winter or summer season each year.They must undergo a physical examination and Army Physical Fitness test (APFT). Officers do their test on the third week while other ranks do their test on the fourth week. As officer candidate must undergo additional test for officers (usually called officer’s week) would be run by experience Non commissioned officers from the SAS training wing.

Leadups period

This period would stress on map reading and navigation using watches and compasses. Members from non infantry will have to put extra effort in this period in order to gain the speed rapidly. During this period candidates are well fed, with diets rich in high protein food to give them extra stamina for what they will face. Training is progressive :distance and load carrier. Needs for the individual to get tougher as the weeks progress to move from one RV ( rendezvous point )to another. NCO trainers would wait for them in each RV. By the end of leadup period , remaining candidates will be doing 15 hours march per day. At this point there is a humor saying that SAS stands for “Savage and sadistic”

Physical examination phase

In the third week for officers and fourth for the NCO candidates will face the famous “Long Drag” covering 60 km , carrying 25 kg rucksack and 5 kg more for the riffle and their belts. No matter what the weather, however the selection course go on. RV to RV. The SAS attitude is that war isn’t postponed for rain or snow, and neither is the selection course.

Officer’s week

During this week , officers who have already successfully completed the long drag must demonstrate their leadership , tactical planning ability , and briefing skills. They must plan an SAS style raid and brief experienced Nco on it, then take their question based on the NCO’s experience of such operation. The regular SAS NCO will test an officers poise and self confidence as well as planning ability.So tough the process so that only six percent of the officers candidate remain to pass the test. Not only this system ensure good officers, but the fact that the officers can normally take the lead in the basic selection course, having even already completed the tougher, gains the respect of those they will command.

Continuation trainining

Once they have successfully completed the selection course , candidates will move on a continuation training, where they will learn the basic of a special forces soldier and continue to be evaluated. As they leave the basic training wing, members of the regiment will see a sign reading “Death is nature’s way of telling you that you have failed the selection”
The continuation training lasted for fourteen weeks , added six week of jungle training and for those not already parachute qualified , four weeks of parachute training. Only after successful completion of these 24 weeks does the soldier become fully “badged” as a member of SAS and entitled to wear the sand colored beret and winged dagger badge.

SAS training is a tried and successful combinations of theory , practical demonstration and hand to hand practice.
Four man patrol concept. Are one of the first and critical learned in the standard SAS patrol. This concept is battle proven and has been practically used in Falkland , Northern Ireland and Iraq.

Weapons expertise starts with individual weapons such as the Browning or Sig pistols, H&K mp5 submachine gun , L1a1, Steyr aug and armalite. Note that the SAS has avoided being saddled with the SA-80 “bullpup” riffles that proved so disappointing when issued to the rest of the British army.

Secrecy and the mystique of SAS

As within many special operation unit, the secrecy among the SAS has created a myth about the men who wear the sand colored beret. Untill the hostage rescue in the prince gate in London on a few military community recognized it existence. So shrouded with mystery was the SAS that when the first American carried out exchange training , upon their return many assumed SAS with the better known Scandinavian Air Services.
In some cases truth are more truth is more incredible than myth but the SAS style is definitely not the one court to publicity. The pride in the regiment is that headlines such as : “Yesterday, a team reported as SAS member carried out a successful raids behind enemy lines…..” That is as far as they could get them self publicized. The appreciation and pride will only be shared inside their small special forces community. Inside ,their accomplishment are far more important and appreciated than people who doesnt understand the pride and professionalism which motivates them to undergo selection and training process to serve in the SAS.
“-Who dares wins-”

Source: “S.A.S: Great Britain’s Elite Special Air Service By Leroy Thompson”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Operation Fortitude : An art of Deception Part II

Map: Allies route on Normandy invasion

On April 1944 ,the picture is getting clearer for Hitler when he received another intelligence report from his agents in Switzerland that every Map of Pas De Calais area has been mysteriously bought. This sealed his conviction : Pas De Calais would be the target for Allied invasion. The next question stood still was : when will it happens?
Hitler continued to receive intelligence information. This time he collect information from an agent which German intelligence believed was a double agent,Juan Puyol (codename :GARBO) They continue to kept him because they want to know what the enemy want them to know. The agents reported that the location would be the coast of Normandy, on 5th,6th,7th of June 1944. Hitler and his German intelligence staffs believed that the allied wanted to disinformed them through Juan Puyol . He believed Normandy on 5th-7th June was a decoy. He had a feeling that he had seen through the “deception” .In fact he was “starring” at the truth.

June the 6th 1944 in the morning, Hitler wokes up suprisedly. The invaders had landed its massive troops on Normandy. Even at the critical moments he still hesitate if the attack was only a decoy. He feared if the invasion was only a bait while the real attack were still from FUSAG. He issued no orders to his Generals to mobilize his troops to Normandy,While they were anxious to quickly repel the allies in Normandy. One week later he finally found out that Normandy was the real invasion. His next action to counter the invasion was too late. The tide of wars has turned.

Keys to Victory :
Before Operation Overlord commenced, A deception plan was made by Allies intelligence. They launched “operation Fortitude” to create a disinformed situation in enemys top branch.It was initially envisioned that deception would occur through five main channels:

  • Physical deception
    to mislead the enemy with non-existent units(FUSAG) through fake infrastructure and equipment :Working with film Designers the allies elaborate set of rubber, plastic and woods that from a german reconnaissance planes would look like enormous camp of tents , airplanes and tanks.

  • Controlled leaks of information
    through diplomatic channels, which might be passed on via neutral countries to the Germans : Maps which was bought in Switzerland was meant to be a planted false information. The repatriated general was set to meet with troops heading to Normandy but he thought it was FUSAG the phantom unit.

  • Wireless traffic transmission
    the creation of non-existent units through simulation of the wireless traffic which would be detected by the enemy : German agents reported about transmission signaling FUSAG existence.

  • Use of German agents controlled by the Allies
    through the Double Cross System to send false information to the German intelligence services : Juan Puyol codename Garbo was sent out to bring the true information which confused Hitler to the end.

  • Public presence of notable staff associated with phantoms groups
    such as FUSAG (First U.S. Army Group), most notably George S. Patton, the best known senior Allied combat commander.

Operation Fortitude was a succesful deception operation. It decides the end result of operation Overlord , the operation that turned the tide of WW II.

Operation Fortitude : An art of Deception Part I

- Atlantic Wall 1944-

Months before D-day WW II on November the 3th 1943 , Adolf Hitler issued his renowned Directive 51 to his top brass Generals.
The document was his answer on the effort to prevail against the upcoming Allies invasion. Through the years he felt supremely confident that the german could repel the invasion.

Several years earlier he has buil the Atlantic wall , a line of forts across the coast from France to Norway. Hitler has also 10 millions of soldiers at his disposal supported by the most advanced military industry at that time.In the frontline he has legendary generals like Erwin von Rommel ,Field Marshall Gerd Von Runstedt, Heinz Guiderian. Addition to those facts, his intelligence was well infiltrated in all level of British military. With these enormous advantage power in Hitler’s grasp ,it would take more than normal effort for the allies to toppled Hitler.

They will need to land a massive armada somewhere in the continents’s shore. This wouldn’t be enough. Furtherly allied forces must concealed a stronghold at the beachhead before the Germans could repel them back to the water edge.

Inside directive 51 ,Hitler instructed his generals to concentrate their forces in Pas De Calais and strengthened their position along the Atlantic wall. This was very reasonable. Pas De Calais was the shortest point Allied forces could launched an invasion . It had number of major ports and the Allies would need a port to land their troops. This region was also the launching site for V-1 and V-2 rockets direct to Great Britain. It would be a perfect reason for the allies forces to invade Pas De Calais before Hitler would commenced the bombing operation.

In the early of 1944 ,Hitler received Several keys reports from his intelligence…., exactly what he had foreseen,precisely what he wanted to hear…… His Agents in England reported the indication of a forming enormous troops in southeastern of England . FUSAG (First United States Army Group) which was commanded by General Patton. They captured so many wire transmission signaling a presence of a massive troops. Clearly this troops are positioned to crossed into Pas De Calais. The most important was that among all of allies General , Hitler feared Patton the most. He demanded more information on Patton’s army. He ordered to reconnaissance the area through High flying recon planes. Their photograph showed enormous amounts of tanks , troops tents and planes squadron were marshalling in the area as if it was to launched an invasion. A captured German general who has been imprisoned in England was repatriated reported to Hitler that he notices a massive FUSAG troops activities on his way back to London.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Opening Credits


"-Warfare-" Journal welcomes all community interested in overviewing or sharing upon Military warfare. Feel free to share your Ideas, Analysis ,Facts and information on the military world.Please contact my email . Your contribution and suggestion toward the development of this blog is highly appreciated.Remember the only absolute things is change.
enjoy "evolving warfare!".

Warm Regards,

Michael Dica