SOLDIERS WERE GIVEN DAILY SITUATION MAPS LIKE THIS ONE FROM THE MORNING OF D-DAY: JUNE 6, 1944
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THE IDENTITY OF MODERN WARFARE “We men and women of the 21st century perceive ourselves as more humane than our ancestors,” says Oleg Kobtzeff, geopolitics professor at the American University of Paris. “The perception is not false, insomuch as resistance against the escalation of violence became organized.” The most immediate result of this attitude is a collective resistance to engage other countries in battle. This
with intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and “When men take up arms to set other trade agreements, which are evidence of men free,” said Woodrow Wilson, “There cooperation between nations. is something sacred and holy in the “One nation can always take land warfare.” from another nation, but ideals are much This year marks the 100th anniversary harder to defeat or abandon,” Sebastian of the start of World War I, a total war so points out. violent and so devastating – leading to a He’s right. If you aren’t fighting second, similarly devastating war – that against a country, it is hard to define the scholars and historians enemy. If the enemy is still struggle to categorize a plethora of insurgent its nature. In the century groups that all wear since these clashes, the civilian clothes and attitude towards war has carry AK-47s, it is hard changed because the to distinguish which world does not want to enemy you’re fighting. lose another generation. The only constant “In World War I between wars of then and II, the sides were and now is violence. clearly defined – the “From my war was against entire experience in Iraq nations,” says Christopher and Afghanistan, Sebastian, a Black Hawk I’ve realized that pilot in the U.S. Special in order to defeat Forces and veteran of Iraq any insurgency, the and Afghanistan. “The overwhelming majority goal was to destroy as of the population has much of both as possible to unite against that until that enemy lost the insurgency,” explains will or ability to continue Sebastian. “If there is the war.” a substantial division Today, the goal is not among the people, “WE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE to destroy as much as then that insurgency possible and the enemy will continue to live 21ST CENTURY PERCEIVE OURSELVES is not always another and breathe.” AS MORE HUMANE THAN OUR nation. Modern politics no The total deaths longer has national armies from the Crusades, ANCESTORS. THE PERCEPTION IS NOT fighting each other. Roman gladiator FALSE INSOMUCH AS RESISTANCE “Regardless of how clashes, and Hundred war is conducted, the Years’ War combined AGAINST THE ESCALATION OF end result will remain the come to just nine VIOLENCE BECAME ORGANIZED” same: men and women million. By contrast, 37 in uniform will bleed, million people died in civilians will suffer, and a cost will be paid has manifested itself in international World War I, and World War II took no institutions, such as the United Nations less than 60 million lives. by all,” adds Sebastian. Problems between countries are and European Union, which were U.S. President Woodrow Wilson solved by a combination of diplomatic founded in the decades after WWII. attempted to kick-start the League of maneuvering, economic sanctions and Contemporary players in the international Nations following World War I. But his appeasement. The new enemies are those arena endeavored to follow the liberal plan to shut down the war machine was that threaten the political stability of ideals of peace and humanitarianism. an idea ahead of its time. The 21st century is characterized by these nations. These enemies fight for Peace is perhaps the noblest of goals, an increasingly multi-polar world filled but it still has yet to be realized. ideologies, not nationalism.
STORY BY CAROLINE WILLAUER
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DECLINE OF THE GRAND ARMIES STORY BY JORDAN NADLER Sprawling national armies could be found in almost every European country, because service was mandatory for all men of a certain age. This trend of militarism contributed to the large clashes and casualties of World War I and II. Although the continent still engages in conflict, mandatory military service is almost extinct. Of the six great powers of WWII (Germany, France, Italy, Japan, United States, United Kingdom and Russia) Russia is the only country that still implements conscription. This takes the form of a 12-month draft, which is mandatory for all male citizens between the ages of 17-18, which was reduced from
the 18 months of service in 2008. Since the 1960s most European countries, including the United States and England, phased out mandatory military forces and replaced them with smaller, more efficient professional armies. The end of the Cold War had an effect on many European countries’ decisions to abolish conscription, once the threat of Russian aggression was gone. After 1991, many Western armies were no longer needed to defend their national territory, so many military missions became international and took place under UN or NATO jurisdiction. Two countries only recently phased out conscription: Italy in 2005, and Germany in 2011. Germany’s conscription changed with its shifting borders and
identities. Eager to separate themselves from their Nazi past and to reunite East and West, the state used conscription to unify all social levels through military service. During the 1950s, “Germany placed hundreds of thousands of young soldiers on either side of the Iron Curtain,” notes Adam Cowell in his New York Times article, ‘The Draft Ends in Germany, but Questions of Identity Still Endure.’ This led the country on to a reunification, “That was not just geographic and political, but which also created a single army bonded by conscription.” As one of the last of the former great powers to abolish mandatory military service, Germany brought the age of large European standing armies to a close.
WHAT WENT WRONG ON D-DAY STORY BY EMILY SEBAST IAN AND CAROLINE WILLAUER Operation Overlord, also known as the Invasion of Normandy, was meticulously planned for over a year by British Lieutenant-General Frederick E. Morgan, Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower. Joseph Stalin had appealed to the Allies to open a second front in Europe since Hitler invaded the USSR in 1941, but Winston Churchill knew he did not have the manpower to penetrate the complex German defense system known as the Atlantic Wall. From the beginning, the plan was risky; the German weapons technology was years ahead of the Allies’ and massive casualties would be inevitable. Eisenhower carried a handwritten note in his pocket during the summer of 1944 to be prepared for a grim press briefing: “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information
available. The troops, the air and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault is attached to the attempt it is mine alone.”
The Night Before: Paratroopers Inside Enemy Lines The night before the Normandy Invasion, a first wave of troops was dropped behind enemy lines to capture various lines of transport. Nearly 13,000 American paratroopers were dropped at various points along the Cotentin Peninsula to gain control of train lines and highways across to the Atlantic Ocean. Minutes before the paratroopers were set to jump, the planes went through a cloudbank. Pilots tried to compensate by speeding up – 40mph over the safe jump speed. Chaos ensued as paratroopers were tossed about inside the planes or jumped out, not knowing where they were. Those who were not shot down were crushed under the weight of their gear. Many drowned after they fell into one of the ingenious German natural defense
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systems: the plains flooded by the Douve and Merderet rivers. The men and equipment lost in the first few hours offered little hope. At least 60 percent of necessary weapons ended up falling into swamps or into enemy-controlled areas. Many regiments were split up and wandered with landing injuries, looking for others in American uniform. Those who were able to organize together found themselves without the specific tools to bomb German communication centers and bridges, as planned. A major objective of D-Day was to capture the town of Sainte Mere-Eglise, which was located along transportation lines between Cherbourg and Caen. The first team of paratroopers sent to the area did not have the element of surprise, due to a raging fire in the center of town that lit up the night sky. All of the paratroopers in the first round were either killed or taken prisoner within the hour. German troops considered the threat so minor that they went back to sleep after the landings. Lt. Colonel Ed Krause had landed one mile west of the village and was able
REMNANT S OF THE MULBERRY HARBOR to gather 180 men. By 6 a.m. Krause and his team had secured the village, cutting off German communication and their main route between Cherbourg and the rest of the army further up the Cotentin peninsula.
D-Day: Storming The Beaches
The American Rangers tasked with one of the most difficult aspects of Operation Overlord were those who had to climb the cliffs at Pointe-du-Hoc in order to destroy one of the most dangerous weapons: vintage French cannons from World War I that easily took out approaching aircrafts. They landed three miles east, on a beach near Pointe de la Percée, which put them 30 minutes behind schedule and too far away to signal to backup troops. Once at the cliffs, gunfire rained down on the soldiers. Special equipment created for this operation included retractable ladders and ropes with hooks that could be shot out of a gun. The ladders proved useless due to the German defenses laid out on the beaches, and many of the wet ropes were too heavy to shoot out of the casing. They reached the gun emplacements only to find that they had been removed and telephone poles had temporarily been installed. The second group headed south and found the guns in an apple orchard, where they had been removed in order to be saved from the bombardment. They were unguarded and destroyed with thermite grenades. The primary mission of the Rangers had been accomplished. Omaha Beach suffered tremendous loses due to heavily fortified German
posts and Allied bomber planes missing their mark by grave distances. The average distance that British bombers were off by was approximately two miles – a distance equal to 35 soccer fields. This not only alerted German troops to the presence of where the epicenter of attack would be, but also gave incoming troops a false sense of security by having infantry think the beaches were not stocked with heavy artillery. The attack on Gold Beach was intended to capture the town of Bayeaux. At first it seemed successful – the German commander fell for the fake paratroopers and had sent his men away from the area. The British troops had a relatively easy time getting control of the beach and moving inland to catch up with Canadian and American forces. But they were not able to capture Bayeux. The soldiers who landed on Utah Beach landed upwards of two kilometers off course, creating a potentially
disastrous break in the lines. Only by a miracle was the landing of Utah a success for the allies. Twenty-four hours into Operation Overlord, Allied troops had landed at the wrong drop points on all but one beach. Paratroopers were scattered all over the Cotentin peninsula. Sainte Mere-Eglise was under Allied control, but Bayeaux and Caen remained with the Nazis. It is safe to say that June 6, 1944 saw more failures than successes in terms of how many operations were completed. Still, D-Day was the foothold needed to start the three-month invasion, which turned the tide of war, and eventually led to the Liberation of occupied Europe. Eisenhower may have been prepared to take the blame for defeat, but he didn’t reveal this in his famous speech to soldiers just before D-Day, telling them, “I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!”
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Published on Jun 3, 2014