Military History Podcast

Military History Podcast

United States

Bringing you the strangest anecdotes, innovative technology, and most significant events of Military History.

Episodes

US Special Operations Forces  

US Special Operations Command, or SOCOM, is divided up into the following. I will talk about each individual unit listed.
Army: 75th Ranger Regiment, Special Forces (Green Berets), 160th SOAR (Night Stalkers)
Navy: SEALs, and SWCCs (Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen)Air Force: Pararescuemen (PJs), Combat Controllers (CCTs)Marine Corps: Marine Force ReconJoint: Delta Force, DEVGRU, 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Intelligence Support Activity For more information, read:
US Special Forces by Samuel Southworth
Chosen Soldier by Dick Couch
That Others May Live by Jack Brehm
Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Audible (visit audiblepodcast.com/militaryhistory for a free audiobook download)

Planning the American Civil War  


This episode answers four basic questions:
Why were both North and South so unprepared for war?Which side had the initial advantage?Did the South have to secede?  Did the North have to respond with military force?Was Northern victory inevitable? For information on sources, email me.

Farragut and the Vicksburg Campaign  

Vicksburg was a Confederate fortress guarding the Mississippi River during the American Civil War.  It was the only thing stopping the Union from taking control of the all-powerful Mississippi waterway.  Although the Vicksburg Campaign is most famously associated with General Ulysses Grant (whose capture of the fortress is considered a major turning point in the war), there were many earlier Union campaigns to take control of Vicksburg.  One of these campaigns, led by Navy Admiral David Farragut, is the focus of this episode.

The script for this episode was written by Jacob Bains from Texas.  If you would like to submit your own script, please send it to militaryhistorypodcast@gmail.com

Democracy in Iraq  

Why has democracy failed in Iraq?  Here are some potential theories, with their originators in parentheses:
Modernization (Rostow, Lipset): Iraq is not wealthy, urban, modern, or secular enough to support democracy.  It has not followed the same path to development that Western democracies have set out, and thus, it is not yet ready.Cultural (Huntington, Weber): Iraqis are not inherently suitable for democracy, simply because their culture favors an authoritarian style of government.Marxist (Moore, Marx): Iraq still has a strong landed elite and a weak bourgeoisie, meaning that it is not ripe for class conflict and thus, it is not ripe for social and political developmentVoluntarist (Di Palma): Iraq lacks the strong leadership needed to usher the country into a democratic phase. Each of these theories has its flaws and counterexamples, which will be discussed in this episode.  This is not meant to define one theory as better than the rest...it is simply meant to put all ideas on the table.

For more information, read:
Huntington's Third Wave
Di Palma's To Craft Democracies
Bellin's Authoritarianism in the Middle East
Colton's Putin and Democratization
Johnson's Political Institutions and Economic Performance
Lipset's Political Man
Marx's Communist Manifesto
Moore's Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy
Rostow's Stages of Economic Growth
Selbin's Revolution in the Real World
Skocpol's Social Revolutions in the Modern World
Varshney's India Defies the Odds
Weber's Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Troop Surge in Iraq  

This episode focuses on the decision-making strategies that President Bush used in December of 2006 before choosing to commit the troop surge.  Things discussed include: the release of the Iraq Study Group Report, the 2006 midterm elections, Bush's meeting with Generals Keane and Downing, and Bush's relationship with General Petraeus and Secretary Gates.  At the end of the episode is a recap on the success of the troop surge, as well as an analysis of President Bush's leadership during December 2006 and January 2007.

For more background information on Iraq, listen to: Iraq Study Group Report Assessment, Iraq Study Group Report Recommendations, Invading Iraq, Occupying Iraq, Iraq's Environment, and Medal of Honor in Iraq.

Forces of Nature (2)  

Whether they are seen as acts of God, or as simple climate-related occurrences, natural events have always had a sizeable impact on military operations. At the small end of the scale are the little changes in terrain or weather that may affect a battle or a small war. For example, many armies have postponed their campaigns due to inclement weather conditions, and many militaries have suffered from rampant disease. On the other end of the scale are the times when nature has so much of an impact that the fate of an entire nation or civilization is decided upon it. In the words of Charles Darwin, these are times when “the war of nature” results in the downfall of one party and the rise of another.
Colonization Smallpox: Rampant disease severely weakened the Aztecs and Incas, allowing small bands of Spanish conquistadors (led by Cortez and Pizarro, respectively) to easily overthrow two great empires.Revolutionary Wind and Fog: Heavy winds subsided after the Battle of Long Island, allowing American troops to evacuate and fight another day.  Their retreat was concealed by a dense fog.  Later, just before the Battle of Trenton, a heavy fog concealed the Americans long enough to conduct a surprise attack which greatly boosted the morale of the Continental Army.Russian Winter: Cold temperatures forced Napoleon to retreat after he failed to conquer Russia and find accommodations in Moscow.  The lack of grass and unfrozen roads resulted in the destruction of up to 75% of Napoleon's Army as it marched back to France. For more information, read:
Hopkins' The Great Killer
Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel
McCullough's 1776
Burton's Napoleon's Invasion of Russia
Tolstoy's War and Peace
George's Napoleon's Invasion of Russia

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

Forces of Nature (1)  

Whether they are seen as acts of God, or as simple climate-related occurrences, natural events have always had a sizeable impact on military operations.  At the small end of the scale are the little changes in terrain or weather that may affect a battle or a small war.  For example, many armies have postponed their campaigns due to inclement weather conditions, and many militaries have suffered from rampant disease.  On the other end of the scale are the times when nature has so much of an impact that the fate of an entire nation or civilization is decided upon it.  In the words of Charles Darwin, these are times when “the war of nature? results in the downfall of one party and the rise of another.

Thales' Eclipse: Halted the epic Battle of Halys River, thereby saving one or both of the participants (Lydia and Media) from destruction.Kamikaze (Divine Wind): Created a storm that destroying the invading Mongol fleets, thereby saving Japan from foreign conquest.Athenian Typhoid: Wreaked havoc throughout Athens, contributing to its downfall in the Peloponnesian War.Bering Land Bridge: Facilitated the "invasion" of North America.Clouds over Kokura: Obscured the primary target for the "Fat Man" atomic bomb, thereby saving Kokura but resulting in the destruction of Nagasaki.Legend of Quetzacoatl: Convinced the Aztecs that Cortez was the reincarnation of Quetzacoatl, thereby facilitating the Spanish conquest of Latin America. For more information, read:
Darwin's Origin of Species
Herodotus' Histories
Mitchell's Eclipses of the Sun
Lamont-Brown's Kamikaze
Daniels' Almanac of World History

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine
Occupying Iraq (2003-2007)  

This episode covers the period between Bush's declaration of "Mission Accomplished" and the change in coalition leadership (from General Casey to General Petraeus).  The following major events and topics are discussed:

2003: Deaths of Saddam's two sons (Qusay and Uday), capture of Saddam, Baathist Purge, National Museum looting, and Bremer's disbanding of the Iraqi Army.2004: Sectarian violence and displacement, Operation Vigiliant Resolve (1st Fallujah), Battle of Ramadi, Battle of Husaybah, Battle of Mosul, Operation Phanton Fury (2nd Fallujah), Blackwater USA, medals of honor.2005: January and December Legislative Elections, Battle of Haditha, Abu Ghraib.2006: Handing three provinces to Iraqi authority, death of Zarqawi, execution of Saddam, Al-Askari mosque bombing, Operation Together Forward (Baghdad), Battle of Ramadi.2007: Battle of Haifa Street (Baghdad), creation of the new Counterinsurgency Field Manual (3-24). For more information, read:
Iraq Study Group Report
Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24
No End in Sight (film)
http://iraq.liveleak.com/
www.iraqstatusreport.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFijzDyJnVE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epfmuHr4_b8&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGQaPYzFZ8o

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

The Philosophy of War (2)  

According to Lawrence Keeley, "90-95% of known societies engage in war". Why? What compels homo sapiens to kill each other? Why do we fight? Part one will describe two hypotheses.

War is Necessary:
Aristotle says in Nicomachean Ethics that "we fight war so that we may live in peace". This notion is echoed by many other famous thinkers including Marx (an advocate of a final proletarian revolution in order to establish a worker's paradise) and Zoroaster (the first monotheist to discuss the final battle of judgment between good and evil).

War is Logical:
Using Darwin's logic, mankind continues to fight wars because it is the means through which our species survives. Thomas Malthus adapted this into a population argument, stating that humans fight wars in order to keep populations small and manageable. Samuel Huntington took this one step further by saying that war negates massive youth bulges. Lastly, John Nash (the economist) proved, through game theory, that war is a more logical choice than peace.

War is Accidental:
AJP Taylor argued that all wars are unintended and unhappy escalations of smaller conflicts. Warmongering is neither inherent nor unavoidable. Taylor's ideas link closely to the pacifistic ideas of Tolstoy and Gandhi.

For more information, read:
Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
Communist Manifesto by Marx
Holy Avesta, Holy Bible, Holy Qur'an
Origin of Species by Darwin
An Essay on the Principle of Population by Malthus
Environmental Science by Richard Wright
Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

The Philosophy of War (1)  

According to Lawrence Keeley, "90-95% of known societies engage in war". Why? What compels homo sapiens to kill each other? Why do we fight? Part one will describe two hypotheses.

War is Rational:
Sun Tzu argued that political struggles would eventually lead to armed conflict. Clausewitz took this one step further by saying that "war is a mere continuation of policy by other means". Machiavelli completed this entire line of thought by saying that war was the most efficient means of attaining any political goal.

War is Inevitable:
Hobbes argued that humans are inherently violent. Raymond Dart and Robert Ardrey found a scientific basis for this by claiming that homo sapiens became the dominant humanoid through their martial prowess (and we have kept this prowess ever since). Another group of philosophers believe that war can be attributed to the reckless aggression caused by testosterone in males.

For more information, read:
Sun Tzu's Art of War
Clausewitz's On War
Machiavelli's The Prince
Mao's Quotations
Hobbes' Leviathan

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

Joan of Arc  

Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was a poor peasant girl from Lorraine. One day, she had a vision in which three saints urged her to lead the French to victory over the English in the Hundred Years' War. She traveled to Charles VII's court and was appointed head of the French Army (headed to relieve the besieged city of Orleans) because her unlikely presence would inspire hope in the French forces. Upon arriving in Orleans, Joan launched several counterattacks against the English and broke the siege in only eight days. Then, she led a campaign to clear the English out of the Loire River Valley, eventually liberating the city of Reims.

During a later skirmish, Joan was captured and tried for heresy. She was found guilty and burned at the stake. Later, she was exonerated and made a saint. She has served a symbol of French nationalism and feminist pride ever since.

For more information, read:.
Joan of Arc: Her Story by Regine Peroud Joan of Arc: A Military Appreciation by Stephen Richey

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine and Audible

Frederick the Great  

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, is considered the best commander of the European Enlightenment.  Despite possessing relatively few people and resources, he transformed the tiny Prussian state into a great military power (which arguably wouldn't be brought down until 1945).  Strategically, he modernized the Prussian military into a well-trained, well-disciplined unit.  He taught them to fire faster, march with more precision, and deploy artillery quicker.  Tactically, he employed oblique tactics which massed all units on one side of the battle line in order to sweep through the enemy forces one at a time (instead of all at once).  This allowed Frederick to achieve victories against numerically-superior enemies at Hohenfriedberg, Rossbach, and Leuthen. 

For more information, read:
Frederick the Great by Gerhard Ritter
Frederick the Great by Giles MacDonogh
Frederick the Great by Christopher Duffy
Military Blunders by Geoffrey Regan
Dictionary of Battles by David Chandler
Extreme War by Terrence Poulos

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

Lincoln's Assassination  

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a southern sympathizer and a self-proclaimed modern-day Brutus, on April 14th, 1865 (five days after the end of the Civil War). Booth snuck into Lincoln's viewing Booth at the Ford's Theater while Lincoln was watching "Our American Cousin" and shot him in the back of the head. Booth then jumped down onto the stage and ran out the back door. The ensuing manhunt eventually caught up with him in the swamps of the Potomac River. He was shot, and his co-conspirators were hanged.

The event has many interesting stories associated with it:
Lincoln had a dream in which he walked into the East Room of the White House and saw a casket. He asked the soldiers why there was a casket and the soldiers told him that the President had been assassinated. He had the dream three days before being assassinated.Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's son, stood by his father's body as he passed away. Strangely, Robert Todd Lincoln would also stand by the sides of Presidents Garfield and McKinley (both shot by assassins) as they lay dying.Robert Todd Lincoln once fell onto the train tracks but was saved by Edwin Booth, John's brother.Boston Corbett, the soldier who fatally wounded Booth, shot him in the exact same spot that Booth shot Lincoln. There are also several conspiracy theories about the Lincoln Assassination:
Vice President Johnson indirectly communicated with Booth on the day of the assassination. He stood to gain the most from the death of Lincoln.Confederate Secretary of State Judah Benjamin might have ordered the assassination of the opposing head of state for tactical reasons. Benjamin destroyed all of his records after the surrender, and then fled to England and never returned.Secretary of War Edwin Stanton disliked Lincoln for his moderate stance on many issues. Stanton prevented Ulysses Grant (and his military escort) from attending "Our American Cousin" with Lincoln (and potentially saving his life). He also lowered security on the bridge that Booth used to flee into Maryland. He also destroyed a few pages of Booth's diary before it was used as evidence in court. For more information, read:
The American Presidents by David Whitney
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer (The History Channel)
The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told by Rick Beyer

Crassus vs. Spartacus  

Crassus was the wealthiest man in Rome.  Before he joined the First Triumvirate with Pompey and Caesar, he struggled to make a name for himself.  His big break came with the outbreak of the Third Servile War, when Spartacus led a slave rebellion throughout the Italian Peninsula.  Spartacus and his men wreaked havoc throughout the region, defeating several Roman legions.  Although his original plan was to escape to Gaul and head home, Spartacus decided to head south towards Sicily.  However, his transport (the Cilician Pirates) failed to arrive in time, and Crassus was able to bring his legions in from behind to trap Spartacus.  In the ensuing battle, Spartacus was killed and many more slaves were crucified.  Crassus achieved some fame but in the end, his career would pale in comparison to Pompey and Caesar.  He was killed in Parthia after a failed showing at the Battle of Carrhae by having molten gold poured down his throat.

For more information, read:
Plutarch’s Lives (http://classics.mit.edu/Plutarch/crassus.html)
http://www.livius.org/so-st/spartacus/spartacus.html

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazines.

The Anglo-Dutch Wars  

Today's episode's script was written by Andrew Tumath of Aberdeen, United Kingdom.  To submit your own script, please send them to me at militaryhistorypodcast@gmail.com

The Anglo-Dutch Wars were a series of the distinct conflicts waged between England and the United Provinces (modern-day Netherlands) in the middle years of the 17th-century. Fought for different reasons, alongside different allies, and with different results, the wars pitted the two great maritime powers of the period against each other, until both came to realise that the real threat came from the France of Louis XIV. Almost uniquely maritime in nature, there wasn’t a single action in the three conflicts in which an English army faced a Dutch one. 

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine
Iraq's Environment  

This episode is an analysis of the environmental impacts of the current war in Iraq.  There are several major categories, each of which will be discussed.  This episode is meant to be an overview of the rarely-discussed ecological situation in Iraq, rather than a persuasive piece towards one viewpoint or another.  The entire episode will revolve around environmental issues--political and strategic issues and biases will not be included.

Negative Effects:Oil Fires: Saddam lit oil wells on fire, resulting in extreme air pollution.Oil Spills: the oil wells spilled into the surrounding ground and sea, ruining vast expanses of animal habitats.Depleted Uranium: DU munitions used by Coalition forces have chemically wounded thousands of Iraqis and Americans.War Machines: Military vehicles and structures wreak havoc through the fragile deserts of Western and Northern Iraq.Munitions: Unexploded ordinances and explosion craters have wrecked acres and acres of potential farmland.Water Pollution: Unnatural or unhealthy chemicals, such as oil and human biomass, have entered waterways in large quantities, thereby rendering them unusable.Infrastructure Damage: The lack of leadership in Iraq means that significant environmental problems, such as broken sewage systems, never get fixed.Fiscal Allocation: Funds allocated to defense could have been used to pursue environmentalist initiatives. Positive Effects:Iraq War is a major catalyst for the “alternative energies initiative?.Saddam’s ecologically harmful policies will no longer devastate the Iraqi ecosystem.Iraq’s relationship with the United Nations has improved, meaning that UN environmental agencies can now safely enter the region. For more information, read:
Environmental Science by Richard Wright
The Gulf War Aftermath by Mohammed Sadiq
Desk Study on the Environment in Iraq by the United Nations Environment Program
The Iraq Quagmire by the Institute for Policy Studies
The Environment Consequences of the war in Iraq by the UK Green Party

Special thanks to: Captain Christopher Green, Corporal Trent Davis, and Master Sergeant Jonny Lung

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

The John McCains  

John McCain Sr: Admiral, Commander of Fast Carrier Task Force in South Pacific during WWII
John McCain Jr: Admiral, Commander of Pacific Command during Vietnam War
John McCain III: Navy aviator, shot down in Hanoi, tortured as a prisoner of war for 5.5 years, currently running for Republican nomination for President of the United States

Other presidential candidates with military experience are:
Chris Dodd: Army ReserveMike Gravel: Lieutenant, Counter-Intelligence Corps (West Germany)Ron Paul: Captain, Flight Surgeon (US Air Force)Duncan Hunter: Lieutenant, US Army Rangers For more information, read:
http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/198503/delenda.est.carthago.htm
http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/jsmccain.htm
www.realclearpolitics.com
http://www.azcentral.com/news/specials/mccain/articles/0301mccainbio-chapter3.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/15/politics/15mccain.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1198992044-jBYur2uP0d4d90Hp7uLjtA


Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

Sports - War minus the Shooting  

The title of this episode comes from the following George Orwell quote: “Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard for all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting." This is meant to be a fun episode on the similarities between football, chess, and war. Please take each analogy with a grain of salt.

Football (two armies fighting to reach the opposing camp/end zone):
Kick-off Team: SkirmishersQuarterback: Tactical CommanderHead Coach: Strategic CommanderHalfback: Light Infantry ReservesFullback: Heavy Infantry ReservesTight End: Heavy CavalryLinemen (offensive and defensive): Heavy InfantryWide Receivers: Light CavalryCornerbacks: Light CavalryLinebackers: Light InfantrySafeties: Heavy CavalryKicker: Artillery

Chess (two armies fighting to defeat the opposing commander):
Pawns: Heavy InfantryRooks: ArtilleryKnights: Light CavalryBishops: Light InfantryQueen: Heavy CavalryKing: Tactical Commander

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

Food of WWII  

This episode is written by Russell Holman of Merrimack, New Hampshire.  If you would like to submit a script to Military History Podcast, please send me an email at militaryhistorypodcast@gmail.com

The mighty American military during WWII would have been nothing without its surprisingly-important rationing system.  Food kept the United States going, so therefore, it is well worth studying.  Throughout WWII and the years beyond, the US entered/exited several "eras" of rations:
A RationsB RationsK RationsC RationsLRRP RationsMREs For more information, read:
http://science.howstuffworks.com/mre.htm
http://www.olive-drab.com/od_rations.php
http://nsc.natick.army.mil/media/print/OP_Rations.pdf

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

Aircraft Carriers  

Aircraft Carriers are the ultimate tool of modern power projection.  They are symbols of both naval strength and air superiority.  This episode covers their history and their future:
1840s: Balloon Carriers are invented1900s: Seaplane Carriers are invented1910s: Modern aircraft carriers are invented1930s-1940s: WWII (five major carrier battles)
Pearl Harbor: Japan's six carriers surprise the United States NavyCoral Sea: Japan's three carriers engage America's two carriers (both lose one carrier)Midway: America's three carriers engage Japan's four carriers and sink all four, with the help of codebreakers and reconnaissance.  Considered a turning point in the Pacific WarPhilippine Sea: America's sixteen carriers destroy or disable all but 35 of the 500 Japanese carrier-based aircraftLeyte Gulf: America's seventeen carriers decisively defeat the Imperial Japanese Navy in the largest naval battle in history WWII-present: US Carrier Strike Groups control the seas For more information, read:
http://www.sandcastlevi.com/sea/carriers/cvchap1a.htm
http://www.navy.mil/navydata/ships/carriers/cv-list.asp
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/carriers.htm
http://science.howstuffworks.com/aircraft-carrier.htm
http://www.combatreform2.com/submarineaircraftcarriers.htm
The Pacific War Companion by Daniel Marston
Jane’s Warship Recognition Guide
Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft Carriers (1921-1945) by Mark Stille
US Navy Bluejacket’s Manual

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine

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