History Podcasts

U.S. Armed Forces

U.S. Armed Forces

On 9/11, Heather Penney Tried to Bring Down Flight 93

September 11, 2001 was supposed to be a typical day for Lieutenant Heather Penney of the District of Columbia Air National Guard. As Penney recalled in a 2016 interview with HISTORY, that morning she was attending a briefing at Andrews Air Force Base, planning the month’s ...read more

Why Were American Soldiers in WWI Called Doughboys?

It’s unknown exactly how U.S. service members in World War I (1914-18) came to be dubbed doughboys—the term most typically was used to refer to troops deployed to Europe as part of the American Expeditionary Forces—but there are a variety of theories about the origins of the ...read more

The Costliest Day in SEAL Team Six History

The Tangi Valley, located along the border between Afghanistan’s Wardak and Logar provinces some 80 miles southwest of Kabul, is a remote, inaccessible area known for its resistance to foreign invasion. Alexander the Great suffered heavy troop losses there during his campaign in ...read more

Navy SEALs: 10 Key Missions

1. D-Day Landings – 1944 On June 6, 1944, some 175 members of Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs)— predecessors of the Navy SEALS–were among the first invading forces to arrive on the beaches of Normandy. Approaching under heavy German fire, the demolitionists used explosives ...read more

SEAL Team Six and Delta Force: 6 Key Differences

1. Background Though Delta Force generally chooses its candidates from within the Army—most Delta operators come from the 75th Ranger Regiment or the Special Forces—the group also selects individuals from other branches of the military, including the Coast Guard, National Guard ...read more

The Birth of SEAL Team Six

After more than 3,000 Marines were killed in the Battle of Tarawa (November 1943), it became clear that the U.S. military was in need of better pre-invasion intelligence. Enter the Naval Combat Demolition Units and Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs), the forerunners of today’s ...read more

Where Did Memorial Day Originate?

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 25 cities and towns—including two named Columbus: one in Mississippi, one in Georgia—claim to have originated Memorial Day in the years immediately before Grand Army of the Republic leader John A. Logan ...read more

U.S. Special Ops: 6 Things You Should Know

1. The origin of America’s special forces can be traced all the way back to 1676.King Philip’s War, in which Native Americans clashed with British settlers and their Indian allies, was one of the bloodiest conflicts (per capita) in American history. In 1676, Governor Josiah ...read more

7 Unusual Experiments by the U.S. Military

1. The U.S. Camel Corps Horses were the Army’s primary form of transport during the 19th century, but things might have been very different if not for the failure of the U.S. Camel Corps. This unlikely experiment began in 1856 after Secretary of War Jefferson Davis imported a ...read more

9 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Armed Forces

At the beginning, the military was practically nonexistent. Believing that “standing armies in time of peace are inconsistent with the principles of republican governments [and] dangerous to the liberties of a free people,” the U.S. legislature disbanded the Continental Army ...read more

The Medal of Honor: 6 Surprising Facts

1. At first, the idea of a Medal of Honor was dismissed as too “European.”During the American Revolution, George Washington established the first combat decoration in U.S. history, known as the Badge of Military Merit. After the conflict it fell into disuse, as did its ...read more


KA-BAR

During the Vietnam War, Lance Corporal James H. Stogner, an 18-year-old Marine who carried extra ammo for his machine gun team, was in a desperate fight against the North Vietnamese Army. The only visibility in the total darkness were muzzle flashes, illumination flares, and tracers. NVA soldiers pushed across a field and killed Marines as they helplessly lay wounded in their path. The NVA then tried to overrun their position and captured Corporal Eli Fobbs, one of Stogner’s teammates. Armed with his KA-BAR knife, Stogner low crawled and killed two NVA soldiers without making a sound, then bum-rushed the final two who were torturing Fobbs. A violent hand-to-hand exchange ensued, and he killed the remaining NVA. Fifty-two years after his heroic actions, Stogner was awarded the Navy Cross.

The KA-BAR’s foundation is said to be based around a story that Wallace Brown, the then-owner of Union Cutlery Company, received in the mail in the early 1920s.

“Years ago an Alaskan hunter had shot a bear who then attacked him and knocked his rifle from his hands. In order for the hunter to protect his life, he took a knife made by Union Cutlery company and successfully killed the bear, which was the Kodiak bear species,” according to the KA-BAR website .

“The hunter in appreciation of the knife having saved his life sent the bear skin to President Wallace Brown. The thought then occurred to the management of the company that if the Kodiak bear is the strongest of the bear species, and the word bear is pronounced ‘bar’, and further, if the cutlery produced by the Union Cutlery Company was the best and strongest of its kind, then it should be very significant that ‘Ka-bar’ might truly represent the qualities of the company’s products. Thus the Ka-Bar trademark was adopted.”

In collaboration with U.S. Marines Captain Howard America and Colonel John Davis, Danford Brown (nephew of Wallace) submitted a fixed-blade fighting/utility knife for testing. The Marines have since carried the KA-BAR throughout World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Global War on Terrorism. The KA-BAR has been synonymous with the Marine Corps and has proven itself in combat countless times.


In All U.S. Military History, These Are the 5 Worst Generals

Key Point: There are several characteristics that make someone a bad general, from bad tactics, to poor planning, to insubordination.

It would be nice if all American generals were great. How might Vietnam or Iraq have turned out if a George Washington, a Ulysses Grant or a George Patton had been in command?

Alas, call it the laws of probability or just cosmic karma, but every nation produces bad generals as well as good ones—and America is no exception.

What is a bad general? Defining that is like defining a bad meal. Some would say that failure on the battlefield warrants censure. Others would say that it is not victory, but success in fulfilling a mission that counts.

But for whatever reason, some American commanders have lost the battle for history. Here are five of America's worst generals:

Horatio Gates:

Great generals have great talents, and usually egos and ambitions to match. Yet backstabbing your commander-in-chief in the middle of a war is taking ambition a little too far. A former British officer, Gates rose to fame as Continental Army commander during the momentous American defeat of a British army at Saratoga in 1777.

Many historians credit Benedict Arnold and others with being the real victors of Saratoga. Gates thought otherwise, and fancied himself a better commander than George Washington. It's not the first time that someone thought he was smarter than his boss. But Gates could have doomed the American Revolution.

During the darkest days of the rebellion, when Washington's army had been kicked out of New York and King George's star seemed ascendant, the "Conway cabal" of disgruntled officers and politicians unsuccessfully schemed to out Washington and appoint Gates.

How well that would have worked can be seen when Gates was sent to command American troops in the South. His poor tactical decisions resulted in his army being routed by a smaller force of Redcoats and Loyalists at the Battle of Camden in South Carolina in 1780.

Washington also suffered his share of defeats. But his persistence and inspiration kept the Continental Army in the field through the worst of times, which is why his face is on the one-dollar bill. If Gates had been in command, we might be paying for our groceries with shillings and pence.

George McClellan:

The American Civil War was a factory for producing bad generals such as Braxton Bragg and Ambrose Burnside.

But the worst of all was McClellan, the so-called "Young Napoleon" from whom Lincoln and the Union expected great things. McClellan was a superb organizer, a West Point-trained engineer who did much to build the Union army almost from scratch.

But he was overly cautious by nature. Despite Lincoln's pleas for aggressive action, his Army of the Potomac moved hesitantly, its commander McClellan convinced himself that the Southern armies vastly outnumbered him when logic should have told him that it was the North that enjoyed an abundance of resources.

Men and material the Union could provide its armies. But there was something that not even the factories of New York and Chicago could produce, and that was time. As Lincoln well knew, the only way the Union could lose the war was if the North eventually grew tired and agreed to allow the South to secede. Haste risked casualties and defeats at the hands of a formidable opponent like Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. The alternative was to split the United States asunder.

Ulysses S. Grant, who replaced McClellan, understood this. He gritted his teeth and wore down the Confederacy with incessant attacks until the South could take no more. McClellan was a proto-Douglas MacArthur who bad-mouthed his president and commander-in-chief. Grant left politics to the politicians and did what had to be done.

Had Lincoln retained McClellan in command of the Union armies, many former Americans might still be whistling "Dixie."

Lloyd Fredendall:

Not that Fredendall didn't have real issues that would have tried any commander. Woefully inexperienced U.S. soldiers found themselves against Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps veterans. The Americans lacked sufficient troops, supplies and air cover (when was the last time an American general had to fight a battle while being pounded by enemy bombers?)

Yet Fredendall's solution was to order an Army engineer company to build a giant bunker a hundred miles from the front lines. He also issued orders to his troops in a personal code that no one else understood, such as this gem of command clarity:

Move your command, i. e., the walking boys, pop guns, Baker's outfit and the outfit which is the reverse of Baker's outfit and the big fellows to M, which is due north of where you are now, as soon as possible. Have your boss report to the French gentleman whose name begins with J at a place which begins with D which is five grid squares to the left of M.

The Kasserine disaster had repercussions. It was a humiliating baptism of fire for the U.S. Army in Europe, and more important, caused British commanders to dismiss their Yank allies as amateur soldiers for the rest of the war.

Douglas MacArthur:

Listing MacArthur as one of America's worst generals will be controversial. But then MacArthur thrived on controversy like bread thrives on yeast.

He was indeed a capable warrior, as shown by the South Pacific campaign and the Inchon landing in Korea. But he also displayed remarkably bad judgment, as when he was commander in the Philippines in 1941. Informed that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor and were certain to attack the Philippines next, MacArthur failed to disperse his aircraft—the only force that could disrupt the Japanese offensive in the absence of the American fleet—and to attack Japanese airfields before the enemy wiped out his air force.

But his crowning achievement was bad generalship in Korea. Yes, the landing at Inchon unhinged the initial North Korean offensive. But the rash advance into North Korea was a blunder of strategic proportions. Advancing in dispersed columns across the northern half of the peninsula was an invitation to be destroyed piecemeal. Advancing to the North Korean border with China also was a red flag for Mao-Tse Tung, who feared that American troops on his border were a prelude to U.S. invasion.

Perhaps Mao would have intervened anyway. But MacArthur's strategy certainly helped unleash 300,000 Chinese "volunteers" who inflicted significant casualties on United Nations forces. Instead of holding a natural defense line around Pyongyang, which would have given the United Nations control of most of the peninsula, the UN troops retreated all the way back into South Korea in a humiliating reverse for U.S. power after the crushing victory of World War II.

Finally, there was MacArthur's insubordination. He called for bombing China, as if liberating Korea was worth risking 550 million Chinese and possibly war with Russia as well. Whatever its military wisdom or lack thereof, it was a decision that should not have been made by generals under the American political system. When he made public his disagreements with President Truman, Truman rightfully fired him.

Tommy Franks:

The early days of the 2003 Iraq War were bound to be a graveyard for military and political reputations, given the misperceptions and misjudgments behind America's ill-fated adventure in regime change and nation-building. But Franks, who commanded the invasion, made a bad situation worse.

Critics say that Franks and senior officials, such as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, concocted an invasion plan that used too few troops. It wouldn't take a large force to slice through the ramshackle Iraqi army and topple Saddam Hussein, but securing a country the size of Iraq required a larger force.

And what then? There appeared to be little serious planning for what would happen the day after Saddam was gone. Like it or not, the U.S. military would become the governing authority. If it couldn't or wouldn't govern the country, who would? America, the Middle East and the rest of the world are still reaping the consequences of those omissions.

Finally, when it comes to bad generals, let us remember Truman's immortal words about firing MacArthur:

I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the President. I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter:@Mipeck1. This piece was first featured several years ago and is being republished due to reader's interest.


U.S. Armed Forces - HISTORY

The United States Military makes up one of the largest and most powerful armies in the world. There are currently (2013) over 1.3 million active military personnel in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Why does the U.S. have a military?

The United States, like many countries, has a military to protect its borders and interests. Starting with the Revolutionary War the military has played an important role in the formation and history of the United States.

Who is in charge of the military?

The president is the Commander in Chief over the entire U.S. military. Under the president is the Secretary of the Department of Defense who is in charge of all the branches of the military except for the Coast Guard.

The Different Branches of the Military

There are five main branches of the military including the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard.

The Army is the main ground force and largest branch of the military. The Army's job is to control and fight on land using land troops, tanks, and artillery.

The Air Force is the part of the military that fights using aircraft including fighter planes and bombers. The Air Force was part of the Army up until 1947 when it was made into its own branch. The Air Force is also responsible for military satellites in space.

The Navy fights in the oceans and the seas throughout the world. The Navy uses all sorts of battleships including destroyers, aircraft carriers, and submarines. The U.S. Navy is significantly larger than any other navy in the world and is armed with 10 of the world's 20 aircraft carriers (as of 2014).

The Marines are responsible for delivering task forces on land, at sea, and in the air. The Marines work closely with the Army, Navy, and Air Force. As America's expeditionary force in readiness, the U.S. Marines are forward deployed in an effort to win battles swiftly and aggressively in times of crisis.

The Coast Guard is separate from the other branches as it is part of the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard is the smallest of the military branches. It monitors the U.S. Coastline and enforces border laws as well as helps with ocean rescues. The Coast Guard can become part of the Navy during times of war.

Each of the branches above have active personnel and reserve personnel. Active personnel work full time for the military. Reserves, however, have non-military jobs, but train on weekends throughout the year for one of the military branches. During times of war, the reserves can be called upon to join the military full time.


The Increasingly Dangerous Politicization of the U.S. Military

The U.S. military has been America’s most trusted institution for decades. It has managed to remain above the partisan political fray that has consumed many once-trusted cornerstones of American public life, from the church to schools to the Supreme Court. Yet the military has also become increasingly politicized over the past few years, in ways that profoundly threaten its reputation for nonpartisanship — as the recent imbroglio over the USS McCain demonstrates all too well. Left unchecked, this trend may gravely endanger the military’s ability to give trusted advice to future presidents and policymakers — which would have disastrous consequences for the nation’s security.

Using the U.S. military to score political points is a relatively recent phenomenon. Today, both major political parties assiduously recruit retired senior military officers to support their presidential candidates. This would have been unthinkable throughout most of American history, as retired senior officers deliberately steered clear of electoral politics. That changed in 1988, when retired Commandant of the Marine Corps P.X. Kelley endorsed George H.W. Bush for president, and in 1992, when a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, retired Admiral William Crowe, controversially endorsed Bill Clinton. Since then, both the Democratic and Republican national conventions have regularly featured a phalanx of retired generals and admirals lined up on stage behind the presidential nominee. But the politicization of the military grew even worse during the 2016 election, when retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and retired Marine Gen. John Allen were featured speakers at the Republican and Democratic conventions, respectively. As we wrote at the time, these speeches sharply undermined the nonpartisan reputation of the U.S. military.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has further upended longstanding norms of military nonpartisanship. President-elect Donald Trump began to speak regularly about “my generals,” placing a personal stamp of ownership — and by implication, alliance with his party — on the senior officers he would command over the next four years. He staffed his administration with many retired generals and admirals, clearly rewarding some for their public support during the election. Flynn was named national security advisor, serving briefly before being overtaken by scandal. Retired Marine Gens. John Kelly and James Mattis were named to lead the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense respectively, and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster was tapped to be the national security advisor while still on active duty. At times, it was unclear whether Trump made any real distinction between the retired generals he appointed and those still serving the nation in uniform, seemingly seeing both as extensions of his administration.

The president has continued to shred longstanding norms of military nonpartisanship in many other ways. In his first trip to the Pentagon as commander-in-chief, he signed a controversial bill restricting immigration in the Hall of Heroes (which honors those who have received the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor) with Secretary of Defense Mattis at his elbow. Two weeks before the 2018 midterm elections, he described a convoy of Central American refugees moving northward as a national emergency and hurriedly deployed active-duty troops to the Mexican border — even though the caravan, composed mostly of harmless refugees, posed no serious threat to U.S. national security. After Congress later blocked funding for his border wall project, Trump decided to fund it by diverting what will probably total $2.5 billion from the military budget. And shortly before Memorial Day, he signaled his intent to pardon a number of U.S. military members accused of war crimes, some before their cases had even gone to trial. After an extraordinary outpouring of objections from retired senior military officers, Trump has apparently delayed any decision on what would be an unprecedented intervention into the military justice system.

Both the president and vice president have spoken to troops using language normally reserved for partisan political rallies. The president has also employed explicitly partisan language in his holiday telephone calls to thank military personnel for their service. He has used these traditionally nonpartisan calls as opportunities to bash Democrats, complain about the judiciary, and opine about divisive domestic disputes on trade and border security. Disturbingly, some of his visits to military bases have taken on other trappings of politics, with the distinctive red hats featuring the Trump campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” spotted during presidential visits to Iraq and Germany. While some of these displays by troops do not strictly violate Pentagon guidelines, they remain an unwise expression of political support among a uniformed audience that the nation should always view as strictly nonpartisan.

The controversy surrounding the USS John S. McCain during the president’s visit to U.S. sailors in Japan last month is the latest blow to the norms of military nonpartisanship. Before Trump’s visit, members of the White House military office asked the Navy to either move the warship out of sight or conceal the name of the Aegis missile destroyer, which was in port for repairs. The reasons were unabashedly political. Staffers feared that the president would be offended by seeing the name of a ship that honors his longtime (and now deceased) political rival, Sen. John McCain, as well as his father and grandfather (who were both four-star admirals). The Navy worked hard to comply, placing a tarp over the ship’s name. Eventually, senior Navy leaders found out about the request, and it was quashed by the three-star admiral commanding Seventh Fleet. The tarp was removed the following day, before the president’s speech.

The scandal drew so much attention that the acting secretary of defense asked his chief of staff to investigate. Shortly afterwards, acting White House chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney gave an interview that he could have used as an opportunity to condemn this blatantly partisan and inappropriate White House directive. Instead, Mulvaney implicitly endorsed the request by describing it as “not an unreasonable question” and “much ado about nothing.” This alarming judgment will further encourage senior elected officials to misuse the military for pursue purely political goals.

Since Trump is disrupting all sorts of other norms about how U.S. presidents should behave, it may not be surprising that he and his administration are smashing the norms of military nonpartisanship as well. But the repercussions of these actions are enormous, because they fundamentally threaten the future effectiveness of the principal institution upon which the nation’s security rests. During military crises, the country’s senior military leaders must be able to deliver trusted, objective advice to elected officials. Those military leaders are the nation’s exclusive experts on the conduct of war there are no alternative sources of tactical and operational expertise that decision-makers can rely upon. If their advice comes to be seen as compromised by partisanship, the nation’s elected leaders will not be able to objectively assess their military options, and their life-and-death decisions about when and how to use force will suffer immeasurably as a result.

Reversing the increasing politicization of the military needs to be a high priority for both the Pentagon’s civilian and uniformed leadership. They should:


Longest Serving Guns in U.S. Military History

The United States military is currently seeking to replace its M4 Carbine and M249 squad assault weapon (SAW), while the M240 could also soon be replaced by a more modern platform. And while the M240’s replacement could even fill the role employed by the M2 .50 caliber, it isn’t likely the “Ma Deuce” will be retired anytime soon. Despite its nearly 90 years of service, it just does the job.

It is just one of a few weapons that remained in the American arsenal for decades. Here are what I would argue are just a sample of some of the longest serving guns in U.S. military history:

M1903 Springfield

Camouflaged M1903 Springfield sniper’s rifle with Warner & Swasey telescopic sight, in France, May 1918.

Arguably the best bolt action rifle ever employed by the U.S. military, the M1903 Springfield isn’t used today but it was in service for 60 years. A respectable run for any firearm.

The M1903 was developed after the Spanish-American War to replace the Springfield Model 1892–99 Krag–Jørgensen, a rifle that did the job but was clearly outclassed by the Spanish M1893 Mauser. Seeing the advantages that the Mauser offered, the American military copied the basic design and the result was the M1903 Springfield, chambered in .30-06.

It went on to be the standard infantry rifle during the First World War, and it stayed in that role until it was replaced by the M1 Garand in the late 1930s. The Springfield M1903 had a rate of fire of 10-15 rounds per minute, and it held five rounds in an internal box magazine. Its effective range was around 900 meters while its maximum range was 5,000 meters.

When the United States entered the Second World War in late 1941 production of the M1 Garand was only ramping up, so many American soldiers were still using the M1903. It was soon updated as the M1903A3, which featured improved sights, and while the rifle saw use in North Africa and notably in the Pacific, by D-Day most GIs had an M1 Garand. However, the M1903 was fitted with a scope and still used by snipers – as noted in the film Saving Private Ryan. It was employed as a sniper rifle in Korea and even the early stages of the Vietnam War.

The Colt 1911

Among the most famous of John Browning’s firearm designs was the Colt M1911 .45 pistol, which was used by the U.S. military from the 1911 until 1986 when it was finally replaced by the 9mm Beretta M9 pistol.

Often known as the .45, the M1911 was a single-action, semi-automatic handgun that was magazine-fed and recoil-operated. As noted by its famous moniker, it fired the .45 ACP cartridge. Some 2.7 million M1911 and the later M1911A1 variation were produced throughout its long service with the U.S. military. World War II production actually exceeded 1.9 million units, with versions produced by several companies including Remington Rand, Colt, Ithaca Gun Company, Union Switch & Signal and even Singer. It is worth noting that so many M1911A1s were produced during World War II that the government never actually ordered new pistols, and instead relied on existing parts inventories in the years following the war.

Modernized variants of the M1911 are still used today by the U.S. Army Special Forces and U.S. Navy.

The Browning M1919 Machine Gun

U.S. (Jerry Harrison) and W. German cadets training together – firing machine gun, W. Germany, 1960.

A testament to the designs of John Browning are that in addition to the M1911 is the fact that he also developed the innovative water-cooled M1917 .30 caliber heavy machine gun, which truly improved upon the Maxim and Vickers designs that were used during the First World War.

But he didn’t stop there he then improved his own design with the M1919 Browning, an air-cooled medium machine gun. The belt-fed, recoil-operate weapon had a reasonable rate of fire, ranging from 400-600 rounds per minute and an effective range of 1,400 meters.

During World War II it was used by infantry, mounted on Jeeps, tanks, aircraft and even landing craft on D-Day. While the development of general-purpose machine guns in the Cold War relegated the M1919 to a secondary role even 100 years later this .30 caliber weapon is still very much in use today.

M2 .50 caliber

Pfc. Kathy Simmons, 56th Engineer Company (Vertical), 2nd Engineer Brigade, of St. Helena Island, S.C., engages the 10-meter target with the M2 .50 caliber machine gun at the Temporary Machinegun Range, JBER-Richardson, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012. Army machine gun marksmanship is based on the concept that soldiers must be able to effectively apply their firing skills in combat. Teams, consisting of a gunner and assistant gunner, underwent basic non-firing training covering maintenance and immediate action drills and an initial 10-meter live fire grouping/setting course, and weapons qualification.

The same basic design principles of the M1919 were also applied to the M2 .50 caliber machine gun. It was during the First World War that American Expeditionary Force commander Gen. John J. Pershing called up the Army Ordnance Department to develop an even larger “heavy machine gun.”

Browning began to redesign his M1917 machine gun for a larger and more powerful round and that resulted in the development of the .50 inch (12.7mm) caliber firearm cartridge. A prototype weapon was tested in October 1918, but it was heavy, difficult to control, and fired too slowly for an anti-personal role. However, Browning continued to work on the weapon he developed water-cooled M1921 Browning machine gun.

Work continued after Browning died in 1926, and this led to a variant without a water jacket but with a thicker-walled, air-cooled barrel. Designed the M2 HB (Heavy Barrel), the weapon still has the heart and soul of the prolific arms designer. Introduced in 1933, it has been mounted on countless tanks, aircraft, ships and other military vehicles. As machine guns go, the M2 is an old workhorse that isn’t going out to pasture anytime soon.

M60 Machine Gun

A camouflaged infantryman armed with an M60 machine gun.

Adopted in 1957 as the U.S. military’s general-purpose machine gun, the M60 actually “borrowed” liberally from the German MG42 machine gun’s feed system while it also used the operating system of the FG42. The result was a gas-operated, air-cooled, belt-fed 7.62mm machine gun that was technically a crew-served weapon – meaning a team of three would transport, load and fire it – but it could still be handled by a single soldier.

Meant to replace both the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle and M1919A6 Browning machine gun, the M60 was introduced in 1957, it was perhaps the best Cold War era general-purpose machine gun. It saw use in Vietnam but has been used in nearly every major conflict around the globe since.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

9 Comments

February 6, 2021 at 10:05 am

” it was perhaps the best Cold War era general-purpose machine gun”.

You’re kidding, right? The M60 was a typical least-bidder weapon, made of thins stampings and plastic around a cast receiver. It had a relatively slow rate of fire and tended to break firing pins and chip bolt lugs in use. It was just another proof to those of us that had to use it in combat that “nothing was too good for our boys in green”. So we got the cheap stuff and the enemy got the reliable weapons.

Our NATO Allies and others got the superb FN-MAG and the MG-1s and -3s, and we got the pop riveted M60. Just our luck.

February 6, 2021 at 10:21 am

1. M249 SAW is the Squad AUTOMATIC Weapon, not ASSAULT Weapon.

2. The most prolific user of the 1911 pistol in today’s US military is the Marine Corps, which issues it to its Force Recon and Raider units as the M45.

3. The M60 was nowhere near the best GPMG of the Cold War. The FN-MAG was far better and in fact, it replaced the M60 as the M240 in US nomenclature.

Incidentally, the receiver and action of the M240 is basically a modified version of the Browning used on the M1919.


BlackFive

Friday, November 25, 2011

1783: Three months after the end of the Revolutionary War, the last British soldiers withdraw from New York City. British forces had held the city since 1776, and after its liberation, New York would become the first national capital under the Constitution.

1863: One day after capturing Lookout Mountain, Union forces under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant rout Gen. Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee on Missionary Ridge, breaking the Confederate siege of Chattanooga.

1864: The Confederate plot to burn New York City fails. Agents did manage to burn several hotels, but most of the fires either were contained quickly or failed to ignite. Robert Kennedy, a Confederate officer who escaped from a Union prisoner of war camp in Ohio, was the only operative to be caught.

1876: In Wyoming Territory,  Army cavalry soldiers defeat Cheyenne warriors under chiefs Dull Knife and Little Wolf, effectively ending the Cheyenne's ability to wage war.

1941: Adm. Harold R. Stark, the Chief of Naval Operations, warns Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, that both President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull think a Japanese surprise attack is a distinct possibility. The next day, the Japanese task force sets sail for Pearl Harbor.

1943: Five US destroyers under the command of Capt. Arleigh Burke sink three Japanese destroyers while receiving no damage themselves in the Battle of Cape St. George in the Solomon Islands, marking the end of Japan's "Tokyo Express" resupply route in the South Pacific.

1943: Bombers from the US 14th Air Force, based in China, strike the Japanese-held island of Formosa (Taiwan) for the first time.

1944: Four US carriers are damaged in a mass kamikaze assault by Japanese aircraft as US warplanes sink two Japanese cruisers off Luzon.

1961: The world's first nuclear-powered ship, the USS Constitution (CVN-65) is commissioned.

2001: US Marines from the 15th and 26 Marine Expeditionary Units land near Kandahar, becoming the first major combat force in Afghanistan.

2001: CIA operative and former Marine Johnny Michael Spann becomes the first US combat death in Afghanistan when hundreds of Taliban prisoners in the makeshift prison near Mazar-I-Sharif revolt

Medal of Honor: 1st Lt. Arthur MacArthur Jr., father of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, seizes "the colors of his regiment at a critical moment and planted them on the captured works on the crest of Missionary Ridge." The MacArthurs are the first father and son to be awarded the Medal of Honor. The only other pair is Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

Posted by Crush on Friday, November 25, 2011 at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Comments

1783: Three months after the end of the Revolutionary War, the last British soldiers withdraw from New York City. British forces had held the city since 1776, and after its liberation, New York would become the first national capital under the Constitution.

1863: One day after capturing Lookout Mountain, Union forces under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant rout Gen. Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee on Missionary Ridge, breaking the Confederate siege of Chattanooga.

1864: The Confederate plot to burn New York City fails. Agents did manage to burn several hotels, but most of the fires either were contained quickly or failed to ignite. Robert Kennedy, a Confederate officer who escaped from a Union prisoner of war camp in Ohio, was the only operative to be caught.

1876: In Wyoming Territory,  Army cavalry soldiers defeat Cheyenne warriors under chiefs Dull Knife and Little Wolf, effectively ending the Cheyenne's ability to wage war.

1941: Adm. Harold R. Stark, the Chief of Naval Operations, warns Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, commander of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, that both President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull think a Japanese surprise attack is a distinct possibility. The next day, the Japanese task force sets sail for Pearl Harbor.

1943: Five US destroyers under the command of Capt. Arleigh Burke sink three Japanese destroyers while receiving no damage themselves in the Battle of Cape St. George in the Solomon Islands, marking the end of Japan's "Tokyo Express" resupply route in the South Pacific.

1943: Bombers from the US 14th Air Force, based in China, strike the Japanese-held island of Formosa (Taiwan) for the first time.

1944: Four US carriers are damaged in a mass kamikaze assault by Japanese aircraft as US warplanes sink two Japanese cruisers off Luzon.

1961: The world's first nuclear-powered ship, the USS Constitution (CVN-65) is commissioned.

2001: US Marines from the 15th and 26 Marine Expeditionary Units land near Kandahar, becoming the first major combat force in Afghanistan.

2001: CIA operative and former Marine Johnny Michael Spann becomes the first US combat death in Afghanistan when hundreds of Taliban prisoners in the makeshift prison near Mazar-I-Sharif revolt

Medal of Honor: 1st Lt. Arthur MacArthur Jr., father of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, seizes "the colors of his regiment at a critical moment and planted them on the captured works on the crest of Missionary Ridge." The MacArthurs are the first father and son to be awarded the Medal of Honor. The only other pair is Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.


What Are the Branches of the US Military?

What is the military? In simple terms, the U.S. Armed Forces are made up of the six military branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy and, most recently, Space Force.

There are three general categories of military people: active duty (full-time soldiers and sailors), reserve & guard forces (usually work a civilian job but can be called to full-time military duty), and veterans and retirees (past members of the military). And of course, there are the millions of family members and friends of military members, past and present.

But you're here to learn more about the military. There is much to learn. So first the basics.


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Learn About the Military

Get a brief overview of the six service branches of the U.S. armed forces:

The Air Force is part of the Department of Defense (DOD). It&rsquos responsible for aerial military operations, defending U.S. air bases, and building landing strips. Service members are known as airmen. The reserve components are Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

The Army is part of the DOD and is the largest of the five military branches. It handles major ground combat missions, especially operations that are ongoing. The Army Special Forces unit is known as the Green Berets for its headgear. Service members are known as soldiers. The reserve components are Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It&rsquos responsible for maritime law enforcement, including drug smuggling. It manages maritime search and rescue and marine environmental protection. It also secures ports, waterways, and the coasts. Service members are known as Coast Guardsmen, nicknamed Coasties. The reserve component is Coast Guard Reserve.

The Marine Corps is part of the DOD. It provides land combat, sea-based, and air-ground operations support for the other branches during a mission. This branch also guards U.S. embassies around the world and the classified documents in those buildings. Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) members are known as Raiders. All service members are referred to as Marines. The reserve component is Marine Corps Reserve.

The Navy is part of the DOD. It protects waterways (sea and ocean) outside of the Coast Guard&rsquos jurisdiction. Navy warships provide the runways for aircraft to land and take off when at sea. Navy SEALs (sea, air, and land) are the special operations force for this branch. All service members are known as sailors. The reserve component is Navy Reserve.

The Space Force is a new service, created in December 2019 from the former Air Force Space Command. The Space Force falls within the Department of the Air Force. It organizes, trains, and equips space forces to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and to provide space capabilities to the joint force.


Watch the video: United States Armed Forces USA (January 2022).