The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Search for the U.S.S Saratoga(1977)

I cribbed this off the internet, to me it plays with the theme I am running with the "Red Storm Rising".  In the Book the "Bears" look for the American Naval Aviation ships so the Backfires and Blinders can go after them.  The Bears are considered the premier assignments for Soviet Naval Aviation. 

A Flight by the Crews of the 392nd ODRAP in search for the Aircraft Carrier “USS Saratoga”
In the late seventies, regular flights by the long-range reconnaissance aircraft Tu-95RTs (NATO: “Bear D”) of the 392 ODRAP to Cuba had already become quite routinary. But since the task had always been fairly complex and important, and its fulfillment in isolation from the regiment, far from the Russian shores, the selection of crews received special attention. The aircraft commanders and navigators were selected from a level of training usually not lower than 1st Class. The qualifications and skills of all the other members of the aircrews were taken into account, as well as their psychological readiness to fly in long flights. The team spirit of the crews was also checked in the air.

The total length of the flight route from the airfield at Olen’ya, Kola Peninsula, USSR,  to the airfield at San Antonio de los Baños, 20 kms. SW of Havana, Cuba, was 10,150 km, and the flight time, taking into account the prevailing winds, was usually 15:40 to 16:00 hours. They  always flew at night, so as to land in Cuba in the morning hours, before strong cumulus and thunderstorm clouds developed. The flights were over the Barents and Norwegian Seas, and over the Eastern, Central, and Western Atlantic Ocean. Major disruptions to the flights were mostly winds and jet air currents. During the flights, the Soviet pilots had to cross frontal clouds. When entering the jet stream they faced the strong turbulence of air masses, and buffeting for a long time while flying in the clouds over the ocean, without any landmarks. At the same time, they tried to save fuel by flying across the ceiling “at a distance”, that is, constantly selecting the flight mode at which they got the minimum fuel consumption per kilometer. The art of such flights was thus learned and utilized by almost all the crews of the regiment, and this saved them not just once, giving them the necessary additional kilos of fuel at the right time. In addition, the Cold War over the ocean was in full swing, and they often had to meet with U.S. and NATO fighters, which not always behaved amicably and peacefully.
Sometimes the crews had to perform tasks, from the outcome of which could depend the future of their flying careers. About one such case tells us Col. (ret.) Pavel Pavlovich Burmistrov, who flew in the 1970s as navigator in the crew of Squadron Commander Major Nikolai Gordeyevich Fedotov.

Intercept Saratoga! – A Photo for Fidel Castro

December, 1977. After completing a long non-stop night flight, and meeting the sunrise over the ocean while approaching the island of Cuba, the crews of Majors Nikolai Gordeyevich Fedotov and Ghennady Nikolayevich Simachov landed safely at the airport of San Antonio, 40 kilometers from Havana. At that time I was flying as navigator in Major Fedotov’s crew. Flying with him was easy and interesting. After completing all the necessary formalities to carry out on arrival and a short hop in a bus, our crews were accommodated in a comfortable villa in Casablanca, one of the oldest and most beautiful areas in Havana, drowning in greenery. To their credit, the Cubans were able to provide for the flight crews’ R&R. Any problems about this were immediately solved.
Col. V.I. Dubinsky
On the second day, came to us in the villa Colonel V. I. Dubinsky, a former commander of the 392nd ODRAP, and our flight director in Cuba. We were always glad to communicate with him. He informed the crew about the state visit to the island of Cuba taking place at that time, by the Commander in Chief of the Soviet Navy, Admiral Serghey G. Gorshkov. Along with him, was the Commander of the Naval Aviation, Colonel-General Mironenko. They decided matters of naval cooperation between the two friendly nations. Among those considered were the issue of basing some units of the Soviet Naval Aviation at the Cuban airfields.
From the beginning of the visit to Cuba, Tu-95RTs landed in the island, so the Commander of the Navy ordered the Commander of the Naval Aviation to show Cuban leader Fidel Castro, how effective was the work of Soviet aircrews when carrying out sorties in their search for warships of the U.S. and NATO naval forces along the U.S. east coast, in the Bermuda Triangle, and in the Central and Western Atlantic Ocean.
At that time, a major US capital ship, the multitasking aircraft carrier “USS Saratoga” was returning from a tour in the Mediterranean Sea together with its carrier group, composed of six surface warships. Our crew was ordered to prepare for a flight to search and discover the group in order to take aerial photographs of the aircraft carrier. The task was familiar to us, but the level of interest in its implementation in this occasion left a definite impression in us.

TU-95RTs (NATO: Bear D) similar in type to the “Bear D” Col. Burmistrov flew from Cuba as navigator in 1977. The navigator sat in the nose, under the refueling “cannon”.
TU-95RTs (NATO: Bear D) similar in type to the “Bear D” Col. Burmistrov flew from Cuba as navigator in 1977. The navigator sat in the nose, under the refueling “cannon”.
The crews immediately began preparations for the flight. According to the fleet intelligence reports, the alleged objective area had been identified. The navigators planned the flight route, taking into account the estimated position of the aircraft carrier at the time of its discovery. The weather at the time of departure and throughout the flight route was favorable, the weather conditions would allow us to perform the task. The pre-calculated flight duration, taking into account the wind, was about 14 hours, each aircraft taking 82 tons of fuel. The flight was scheduled to start at night, at 3:00 hours local time, so as to arrive at the area of detection in the morning, and confidently produce photographs of the aircraft carrier at a low altitude. Cumulus and strong cumulus clouds at that time of the day were still underdeveloped, and could not prevent the taking of photographs. Typically, high-quality images were always obtained when taking pictures of ships from a height of not less than 300 meters. If we went below 300 m, the  flight itself produced an effect, besides giving the body extra adrenaline, but more often than not led to photographs of the vessel that did not show the deck, which spoiled the result of the photographic reconnaissance.
On the eve of departure, during preparations, we worked out in detail all the possible variations of the flight and the interaction between both experts in the crew and the crews themselves, and thoroughly tested and prepared the photographic equipment. As standard equipment the TU-95RTs had a perspective camera AFA-42/100 and two hand-held cameras AFA-39, one on the nose and another in the tail cabin.
To ensure secrecy, the decision was made of taking off at a 2-minute interval from the airfield at San Antonio, and proceed to the flight route in radio silence mode. After the first aircraft climbed, the leading aircraft would shoot a signal rocket from onboard, and the use of radio equipment was to be reduced to a minimum. This would enable the approach in secret to the search area, and prevent the withdrawal of the carrier from the group. The American naval commanders had in the past taken this course of action many times before, when they wanted to avoid identification and photographing of the carrier. In case of threat detection, sometimes the aircraft carrier sailed away from the main group, sometimes hiding under storm clouds. The last calculated position of the aircraft carrier at the time of departure turned out to be some 700 km to the east of Bermuda Islands. The flight time before the expected moment of detection was estimated to be about 5 hours.
The preparations for the take-off complete, now only remained some time for pre-flight rest.
The trip by bus through Havana at night was short. An hour later, we were at the airport and started the preflight preparations. Taking off at the exact preset time, and flying through all of Cuba from west to east, the tactical group took a course towards the area of the proposed encounter with the A/C “Saratoga.” The night sky in these latitudes is very starry, ideal for the study of Astronomy. To control our location I used a sextant and a pair of stars, thus defining it. Below, the Atlantic Ocean, its western part. Behind – the Bahamas, the islands in front of the Bermudas, which would take an additional three and a half hours to reach.
Radio communication between the two crews was not engaged, and the use of ELINT equipment was kept to a minimum. At the estimated distance, in the left sector, the onboard airborne radars were turned on to illuminate, thereby correcting the airplane’s flight path to the Bermudas Islands, clarifying its position on the map. Then we got to the target search area. All the restrictions on the onboard radio equipment were released, the onboard radar was switched on to its maximum range, 400 km. The real work began for all the specialists of the intelligence gathering complex.

Photo: Two Tu-95RTs flying in pair. In the1970s. Photo taken by Flight Engineer M.V. Matveyev from his position in the lead aircraft.
Photo: Two Tu-95RTs flying in pair. In the1970s. Photo taken by Flight Engineer M.V. Matveyev from his position in the lead aircraft.
I reported to the captain that to the detection perimeter of the USS Saratoga we still had some 600 km to fly. The commander gave the order to the SIGINT operator to start listening for radio broadcasts in the flight and guidance networks of the American naval aviation. There were no radio exchanges, reported the operator.
The ELINT operator was tasked with monitoring the work of the ship’s equipment which provided the American task group’s electronic jamming defense. According to his report, this type of defense was also not observed. The crew of the led aircraft confirmed this information.
Major N.G. Fedotov, the leader of the tactical group, decided to follow the same course, to be sure to reach the center of the assumed target area. When we were at a distance of 400 kms. from the target zone, the navigator-operator reported that there was a large mark on the position indicator radar. It was almost in the flight path of the aircraft.
Usually, many ships may be found in this area. Their evaluation may go from a giant tanker with oil coming to America, to a large container ship. These vessels have a fairly large displacement and can provide the same indications on the radar screen as an aircraft carrier. There’s only one  solution: Fly an additional 200 km., then it will be clearly visible on the radar – it’s either one target, or many. And on the horizon the sun was coming out, shining directly in our eyes, as we flew towards dawn, on the east. Altitude: 7800-8100 m; beneath us, still dark; overcast at 3-4; the ocean calm. It was getting light right before your eyes.
Having reached 250 kilometers from the target, the SIGINT operator reported to the commander that naval aircraft were being sent from the aircraft carrier. Simultaneously, the ELINT operator confirmed the operation of the carrier’s anti-aircraft defenses. The call sign of the “USS Saratoga” left no doubt that the information from fleet headquarters was correct, and that we were in the right course. I quickly prepared an urgent radio transmission: “Arrived at the search area, according to ELINT equipment found the aircraft carrier “Saratoga,” place, altitude, remaining fuel, time.”
15 minutes later came up to us a pair of F-4 “Phantom” jet fighters. By their ID numbers and inscriptions it was evident that they were precisely from the A/C “Saratoga.” At an order from the commander, the radio operator transmitted a report of the interception by fighters to the CP in Cuba, to the CP of the Northern Fleet’s Naval Aviation, and to the Navy General Staff in Moscow.
The pair of Phantoms split, one went to the led aircraft, the other stayed with us. This one got closer, up to 15-20 meters, by the rear. The American pilots, using their portable cameras, took photographs of our aircraft. The SIGINT operator in the tail position took photos of the fighter jets with his AFA-39 camera, as a confirmation of the interception.

An F-4 Phantom II. Interception over the Atlantic. Photo taken by the crew of a TU-142 of the 76th OPLAP.
An F-4 Phantom II. Interception over the Atlantic. Photo taken by the crew of a TU-142 of the 76th OPLAP.
Then the SIGINT operator on the intercom informed the commander that the Americans had come quite close, about 10 meters, and that the second pilot (the RIO – tr.) got closer to the canopy and was showing a big photo of a naked woman. After that, he removed his oxygen mask and smiled broadly, pointing to the photograph, then to the West.
We knew that the American pilots in the air usually did not behave towards us too friendly, and now such extravagance… I told the SIGINT operator that that could not possible be. “It does,” -he replied- “Right now the Phantom is going forward, to your position.”
After undoing my safety belts and parachute straps, I leaned against the front windshield of the cockpit, and immediately saw very close to us the cockpit of a fighter, the broad smile of its pilot, and photos of women. The American pilot, after six months of combat patrol in the Mediterranean Sea, and just a day away from home, was just bursting with excessive  emotion. Realizing his desire to communicate, I still showed him with a gesture that he should not approach any closer, and that he was better off going further away to the side. He was surprisingly understanding, removed the photo, and the fighter immediately went to the left at a safe distance from our plane.
At some 200 kms. from the target, from the radar screen it was obvious that there were no errors – that was a task force of a few ships. The only thing to do then was to perform the main task – to descend to low altitude and take a good shot of the A/C “Saratoga.”
At 180 kms from the target we began to descend, behind us, following us, after being ordered, the led aircraft also began to descend. The escorting Phantoms were nearby. Below it was already clear enough, the weather was excellent, and the onboard fuel was quite enough for a flight at low altitude.
We had already worked out the descent in pairs. The leader would descend to the desired low altitude, the led or wingman’s aircraft would take a safe altitude, higher than the leader, at no more than 300 meters, depending on cloud cover. I checked the onboard AFA-42/100 camera, the angle of inclination of the viewfinder already set at the desired inclination, so that the contrails from the running engines do not affect the quality of the photograph.
Near the target. The radar was already at a scale of 60, the target was clearly illuminated. We turned towards it. The lower edge of the cloud cover was at 1500 meters. From an altitude of 1200 meters and at a distance of 40 kms, the entire group could be examined visually.

An F-4 Phantom II from Squadron VF-31 (in 1977 it was based aboard the aircraft carrier "Saratoga") intercepts a  Tu-95RTs. Photos taken by a crew from the 392nd ODRAP. From Major I.F. Gladkov’s family archives.
An F-4 Phantom II from Squadron VF-31 (in 1977 it was based aboard the aircraft carrier “Saratoga”) intercepts a  Tu-95RTs. Photos taken by a crew from the 392nd ODRAP. From Major I.F. Gladkov’s family archives.
We descended and remained at an altitude of 300 meters. The led crew, at 600 meters. The entire carrier group, consisting of the aircraft carrier and six escort ships, was following a western heading. Clearly visible from afar was the massive hull of the “Saratoga.” We began to maneuver so as to pass along its side no closer than 1.5 kilometers. At the same time, the accompanying Phantom started to maneuver near an open camera port on the left side of our aircraft, so that its fuselage covered the aircraft carrier, thus preventing any photograph. 15 minutes before he had been smiling at us widely, shortly after, maneuvering dangerously, trying to disrupt the completion of our task. We had our own task, he had his own…
We got closer to the aircraft carrier. On the deck superstructure the number 60 was clearly visible, but on the flight deck there were several aircraft, no more than 15 units, the rest seemed to be hidden beneath the deck. It was also clearly seen a helicopter flying close to the aircraft carrier, at an altitude of about 100 meters, following the same heading.
I pointed the camera’s viewfinder to the middle of the hull, and as soon as the nose of the aircraft carrier appeared, I pushed the shutter button. I heard the characteristic sound of the device’s functioning and saw the green light of the film advancer flash briefly. The photo shooting completed, I reported to the captain. But there was no certainty that the Phantom accompanying us did not ruin it. To get a duplicate image, we tried another run, but from the other side of the  aircraft carrier.
We prepared and sent a radio transmission to the CP in Cuba: “Visually detected the A/C “Saratoga” № 60, heading 280 degrees,  speed 15 knots, latitude, longitude, weather in the area, sea state, visibility, balance of fuel, time of detection. ”
After the duplicate run we turned to shoot the escort ships, but we approached them at a distance no closer than 1 km. From the tail position the SIGINT operator duplicated the whole shooting with the AFA-39 camera. At an order of the group leader, Major N.G. Fedotov, we exchanged flight altitude with the wingman. They started to overfly and photograph the ships, and we repeated the maneuver 300 meters above them.
While we were flying at low altitude, the accompanying Phantoms, having used up all their fuel, managed to refuel directly in the air from a tanker that rose from the deck of the aircraft carrier, and again came back to us.

In the photo: F-4 Phantom II from Squadron VF-31 lands on the aircraft carrier Saratoga. 1977.
In the photo: F-4 Phantom II from Squadron VF-31 lands on the aircraft carrier Saratoga. 1977.
After working in the area with the remaining available fuel, our crews went into a climb to flight level 9000-9300 meters, reported on the completion of work to the CP, then took a withdrawing heading from the area. The fighters escort accompanied us to about 200 kilometers from the aircraft carrier, and together went back and headed to their floating airfield.
Flying on a fixed route west of the island of Bermuda, we successfully completed this flight, landing at the San Antonio airfield. After landing, we reported to Colonel V.I. Dubinsky on the completion of this crucial task. He shook everyone’s hand and announced his gratitude, while adding that next day he’d call on us, while the navigator’s group would continue its work.
After landing, the Commander of the Soviet Navy, Admiral S.G. Gorshkov, gave orders to take the results of the aerial reconnaissance of the A/C “Saratoga,” and make a commemorative album for Fidel Castro.
Early in the morning we, together with V.V. Alexeyev, the navigator of Simachov’s crew, were taken to the CP of the anti aircraft defense of Cuba in Havana. Our films had already been processed and a large number of photos had been printed. Together with the specialists in  photographic equipment from the technical support team of our flights, we decoded all the images, selected those of the highest quality, and started to design the commemorative album. We printed it in Russian and Spanish.
By evening it all was ready, it came out perfectly.
The next morning arrived at the villa the Commander of the Naval Aviation himself, Colonel-General Mironenko, looked at the album, and took it to a meeting between Admiral S.G. Gorshkov and Fidel Castro. After the meeting, he met once again with us, and said that while  looking at the album very carefully, Fidel Castro said: “I know that in Cuba land Soviet planes and that they perform some of these tasks. But now, I personally see how like no one else they have direct contact with our potential enemy. These pilots should be proud of themselves.”
Mironenko also said that after the meeting with Fidel Castro, the Commander of the Navy, Admiral S.G. Gorshkov, gave him the command to present the crew commanders and the aircraft navigators with awards.
Exactly one year later, Major N.G. Fedotov was awarded the Order of the Red Banner, Major Simachov and I were awarded the Medal “For Military Service”, Capt. Alekseyev received a commendation from the Commander of the Soviet Navy. The other crew members received thanks from the Commander of the Naval Aviation.

A TU-95RTs of the 392nd ODRAP, escorted by an F-4 Phantom from VF-31, overflies the “USS Saratoga” (CV-60)
A TU-95RTs of the 392nd ODRAP, escorted by an F-4 Phantom from VF-31,
overflies the “USS Saratoga” (CV-60)
USN aircraft carrier “USS Saratoga”. North Atlantic, 1971. From the personal files of Ivan Tretyakov.
USN aircraft carrier “USS Saratoga”. North Atlantic, 1971. From the personal files of Ivan Tretyakov.
Col. Pavel Pavlovich Burmistrov
Col. Pavel Pavlovich Burmistrov
The commanders of the two TU-95RTs, Majors Nikolai Gordeyevich Fedotov and Ghennady Nikolayevich Simachov
The commanders of the two TU-95RTs, Majors Nikolai Gordeyevich Fedotov and Ghennady Nikolayevich Simachov
Villa in Casablanca, in the Nuevo Vedado sector of Havana, where the crews were accommodated by the Cuban Government.
Villa in Casablanca, in the Nuevo Vedado sector of Havana, where the crews were accommodated by the Cuban Government.

Recollections of a Bear Intercept on December 19th, 1977

by CDR Dean Steele USN (ret.) – December 8th, 2010
Lt. Dean Steele - Pilot of VF-31 - USS Saratoga - 12-19-1977 A
I just read the report from Pavel Burmistrov (“A Photo for Fidel Castro”). I’ll give you some of my impressions about the report from our standpoint, together with more info on our launch and intercept. It is very interesting how perceptions can be radically different from the two sides
In December 1977 I was a lieutenant assigned to Fighter Squadron VF-31 flying the F-4 Phantom from the USS Saratoga (CV-60).  We were just completing a six month Mediterranean deployment and were excited to be returning home before Christmas.  As I recall, this deployment was being completed right on schedule without the undesired extension that occasionally happened.
The two F-4 squadrons onboard, VF-31 and VF-103, were primarily tasked with air to air missions including air defense of the task force.  We were provided initial guidance information from ship radar controllers as well as the E-2C Hawkeye airborne platforms of Airborne Early Warning Squadron VAW-123.  The Radar Intercept Officers (RIOs) in the back seat then acquired the incoming aircraft on radar and directed us to intercept, or in a hostile environment, gave us the missile firing parameters.
When there was a possibility that a Soviet aircraft would pay us a visit, we would be upgraded to a 5 minute alert status, which required us to be in the aircraft, on the catapult, and ready to go.  When the launch command came we could then start the engines, complete final checks, and be ready to launch as soon as the ship had turned into the wind. Standing alert was boring (and sometimes cold and uncomfortable), but the possibility to launch and intercept an “enemy” aircraft that in wartime was capable of sinking our ship was exciting. We also enjoyed chatting with the squadron personnel and catapult crew who were also standing by for launch.
It was always expected that any potential Soviet attacker would be escorted when it reached possible ordnance release distance from the ship.  This meant we needed to turn immediately and race out to intercept.  After intercept we would escort the Soviet aircraft, take pictures for the intelligence folks and often attempt to get in any photo they took of the ship to show they had not arrived without being intercepted.
In this case as I recall, we intercepted at good range, flew formation on the tail (as usual), and waved to the Bear crew looking out of the observation windows, so we could communicate with them. We also compared the relative sizes of our government issued cameras with the friendly Soviet Bear crew in the tail.  All in fun. The chance to see and, at least with hand signals, communicate with the Soviet crew was fun. No pilots I knew on our side had any real animosity toward the Bear crews. Yes, they were the potential enemy and all, but we realized we were just the “soldiers” on each side. Of course, in an actual combat situation we would have done anything possible to down the plane prior to missile launch.
As the Bear descended to fly past the ship it flew through a rather thick overcast.  I flew as close to the tail as possible to preclude loosing visual contact, and was about to drop back to a safer radar trail when we broke out underneath the overcast.
Going past the ship I’m sure we did try to get between the Soviet airplane and the USS Saratoga, and might have flown a bit too close in order to “look good” while going by the ship, as well as an attempt to insert my plane into the photography, if possible. That would prove to Soviet Intel folks that we had escorted their planes. As for myself, my “maneuvering dangerously” at the time struck me that the Bear pilot was being extremely smooth, thus allowing me to more safely tuck in closer. The reason for getting close was to better see the crew. Due to the size of the Bear we could not get too close to the cockpit (I tried once but it was a bit scary). I didn’t consider it dangerous but maybe I was a bit cocky. We fighter drivers often prided ourselves in the ability to fly close, and in so doing I might have exceeded the parameters the Bear crew was used to seeing.
I do remember my back seater, Lt. jg. E. Holland, carrying a Playboy centerfold and pointing toward Cuba when showing it. It was also interesting to see the faces of the crew and have some interaction. That was the reason for the Playboy centerfold. I never considered the Playboy centerfold “extravagant”, but maybe his feelings could have better been translated as “in poor taste”, which I guess was true. Ha!
Lt. Jg E. Holland RIO of VF-31
I can’t remember the details of the refueling but we often did that, and the speeds the Bear flew made it pretty simple to refuel while flying a loose formation.  The refueling aircraft simply took over the escort while we “plugged”.  After refueling was complete we would monitor the refueling drogue retraction and give the pilot a thumbs up, indicating that his plane looked good and the drogue had stowed correctly.  We then signaled that we would resume flying lead and the tanker would depart.
After the Bears departed we were told to divert to NAS Bermuda since the ship was busy off loading ammunition.  This process required the carrier to steer alongside the ammo ship while ordnance was passed via helicopter and cable.  This allowed the carrier to get rid of its ammunition before entering port and for it to then be readily available to pass to another ship or be taken back to a port where it could be appropriately stored.  I distinctly remember us (naively) hoping we would receive orders to fly directly home to NAS Oceana, VA, where our wives awaited, but sadly that did not happen.  A few hours later we flew back and landed on the big gray boat instead.
Pavel Burmistrov in his report indicated a belief that carriers would often sail away from the task force to avoid being detected by incoming Soviet aircraft.  I was not privy to those decisions about the larger tactical picture but seriously doubt that.  I never heard of a carrier departing the rest of the battle group to hide. I strongly suspect we maintained a defensive posture a lot like we would during an actual Soviet attack in a combat situation.  If weather presented itself, a carrier might have occasionally ducked into a rain shower to avoid visual detection, but I believe the major effort was to exercise all defensive measures of the task force as an exercise.  Remember, a carrier skipper also had to think about landing airborne planes before their fuel ran out.  For this reason, and the safety of the deck crew, I doubt they would drive the ship into any serious weather.

F-4J of VF-31 - USS Saratoga - December 1977
McDonnell-Douglas F-4J Phantom II of VF-31 aboard “USS Saratoga”, December 1977
Author: Miguel Vargas – Caba
From Miguel Vargas – Caba for War History Online
All Photos Provided by the Author
A Short Glossary of Soviet Military Organization and Terminology
AFAAviatsionnyy Fotograficheskiy Apparat – Aviation Photographic Apparatus/Air photocamera.
CP – Command Post – The reconnaissance airplanes of the SNA usually reported their findings to their home base, in this case the airbase at San Antonio, near Havana, Cuba, to the SNA’s Headquarters in Leningrad, USSR, and to the Soviet Navy’s Headquarters in Moscow.
Lead/Led aircraft – A system in use by the Soviet Naval Aviation whereby a Bear rarely flew alone, especially when flying outside the USSR. Two airplanes were the norm with the “Lead” or “Leader” navigating the flight routes, while the “Led” or “Wingman”, followed the “Lead” close behind.
ODRAPOtdyel’nyy Dal’nyy Razvedyvatel’nyy Aviatsionny Polk [lndependent Long-Range Reconnaissance Air Regiment] – A division of the Soviet Naval Aviation. The Tupolev TU·95RTs Bear D aircraft usually belonged to these regiments, in all the fleets of the SNA.
OPLAP Otdyel’nyy Protivo-Lodochnyy Aviatsionny Polk [Independent Antisubmarine Air Regiment] – A division of the SNA. The Tupolev Tu·142 (Bear F) was usually assigned to these regiments.
Olen’ya – (also known as Olenyegorsk) – Primary airfield of the Soviet Naval Aviation in the Kola Peninsula, 92 km south of Murmansk, and from where  TU·95RTs took off after refueling on their long flights to the Central Atlantic Ocean, Cuba, Guinea, and Angola.
Pilot 1st Class – Soviet pilots, both in the Air Force and in the Naval Aviation, were ranked according to a particular system – different from that used in the West – whereby the pilots started as Pilot 4th Class and progressed towards the 1st Class level, regardless of their rank. This system was based on experience and length of service rather than rank.
RTsRazvedyvatel’nyy Tselekazannyy [Reconnaissance Target Indicator] – The type of mission function this particular version of the Bear was tasked with while on operational flights.
SNA – Soviet Naval Aviation – Sometimes, even in Western writings, it is known by its Russian acronym AV-MF, which stands for Aviatsiya Voyenno-Morskogo Flota, or literally: “Aviation of the Military Seagoing Fleet.”

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Roland and the SA-8 "Red Storm Rising"

  This is a continuation of my "Red Storm Rising" post that I was doing.   In the book, the SAMS were a major target for the Tanks and TOW systems that were used to protect the NATO forces.  In the book, the A10 was a major nemesis of Soviet Armor and the mobile SAM system were used to try to protect the advance of the Armored formations.    I actually do have experience with the "Roland" system.   During Frankonian Shield  and more information was here.
     This was my first field problem and it was a big exercise, we had Americans, Germans, French,  that I knew of.  We were running around the countryside doing our thing and we were in one of these...
   We were on a hilltop and we were DFing equipment and the Germans put some tanks and infantry on the hill we were at along with a couple of Roland Missile systems to protect the tanks.   I had a few minutes so I walked over to say "hi" and practice my real bad German, I was already trying to learn the language.   I was speaking to the "Herr Feldwebel" or the NCO in charge and he was showing how it worked.  He had me climb in and set in the seat and turn the system on and it used a joystick on the side to turn and a turnwheel at the tip of the joystick and that is used to fine tune the radar on the target.  Well I was moving it around there was a blip and the NCO hit a button and I guess it interrogated the IFF system and it came back "French",

well the French was aggressors and they had launched a push for the hill and the one next to us.  Well I got a lock on the helicopter and he hit a button and it was registered a "kill".  Man that was some real neat stuff, let me tell you. 

Well the French got upset I suppose and sent in more Helicopters to take out the tanks and Rolands on the hill we were on.  Well the Germans called in the Phantoms,
Well Helicopters cannot operate when Jets are around and they left.  so the French assault on our hill failed.   We were cut off for 3 days surrounded by the French and it was great being away from our first sergeant trying to sneak up on us.   Needless to say, this really set the bar high for subsequent field problems.  This one was still one of my favorite exercises.    The Soviets used an integrated SAM system to protect their Armored Formations with overlapping systems going from low to the Ground up to the high altitudes that bombers like to fly.  

The Roland is a Franco-German mobile short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. The Roland was also purchased by the U.S. Army as one of very few foreign SAM systems.
Roland was designed to a joint French and German requirement for a low-level mobile missile system to protect mobile field formations and fixed, high-value targets such as airfields. Development began in 1963 as a study by Nord Aviation of France and Bölkow of Germany with the system then called SABA in France and P-250 in Germany. The two companies formed a joint development project in 1964 and later (as Aérospatiale of France and MBB of Germany) founded the Euromissile company for this and other missile programs. Aerospatiale took primary responsibility for the Roland 1 day/clear-weather system while MBB took primary responsibility for the Roland 2 all-weather system. Aerospatiale was also responsible for the rear and propulsion system of the missile while MBB developed the front end of the missile with warhead and guidance systems. The first guided launch of a Roland prototype took place in June 1968, destroying a CT-20 target drone and fielding of production systems was expected from January 1970. The test and evaluation phase took much longer than originally anticipated with the clear-weather Roland I finally entering operational service with the French Army in April 1977, while the all-weather Roland II was first fielded by the German Army in 1978 followed by the French Army in 1981. The long delays and ever-increasing costs combined with inflation meant Roland was never procured in the numbers originally anticipated.

The Roland SAM system was designed to engage enemy air targets flying at speeds of up to Mach 1.3 at altitudes between 20 meters and 5,500 meters with a minimum effective range of 500 meters and a maximum of 6,300 meters. The system can operate in optical or radar mode and can switch between these modes during an engagement. A pulse-doppler search radar with a range of 15–18 km detects the target which can then be tracked either by the tracking radar or an optical tracker. The optical channel would normally be employed only in daylight against very low-level targets or in a heavy jamming environment.
The Roland missile is a two-stage solid propellant unit 2.4 meters long with a weight of 66.5 kg including the 6.5 kg multiple hollow-charge fragmentation warhead which contains 3.5 kg of explosive detonated by impact or proximity fuses. The 65 projectile charges have a lethal radius of 6 meters. Cruising speed is Mach 1.6. The missile is delivered in a sealed container which is also the launch tube. Each launcher carries two launch tubes with 8 more inside the vehicle or shelter with automatic reloading in 10 seconds.
For defense of fixed sites such as airfields the shelter Roland can be integrated in the CORAD (Co-ordinated Roland Air Defense) system which can include a surveillance radar, a Roland Co-ordination Center, 8 Roland fire units and up to 8 guns.
  • Roland 1 – This is the fair-weather daylight-only, version used by the French and Spanish armies on the AMX-30R chassis.
  • Roland 2 – This is the all-weather version employed on the AMX-30R and Marder chassis and also as a shelter mount in either a static location or mounted on a 6×6 or 8×8 all-terrain truck. Euromissile, MaK, IBH and Blohm and Voss of Germany in 1983 proposed the Leopard 1 tank chassis as a carrier for the Roland system to appeal to those countries who already used the Leopard I tank.
 Germany was to buy 12,200 missiles 340 Roland 2 fire units installed on the Marder (IFV) chassis to fully replace the towed Bofors 40 mm guns systems and Contraves Super Fledermaus fire control systems in service with the Bundeswehr Corps-level air defense regiments. Each regiment would have 36 fire units in 3 batteries of 12. Eventually 140 fire units were procured and equipped 3 regiments with one assigned to each army corps. The Luftwaffe had a requirement for 200 Roland 2 shelter systems mounted on MAN 8×8 trucks for the close-in defense of airfields and as mobile gap-fillers for the MIM-23 HAWK SAM systems. 95 systems were eventually procured from the mid-1980s with 27 of those used to defend American air bases in Germany. In 1998–99 10 Roland LVB systems were installed on MAN 6×6 trucks to be air-transportable in the Transall C-160 for the German rapid reaction forces. The German Navy also procured 20 truck-mounted shelter systems for defense of naval bases. In February 2003 the Bundeswehr cancelled a planned upgrade of Roland and announced it would phase-out all of its Roland systems. This was completed by the end of 2005. The Luftwaffe and Navy have also withdrawn Roland and it is no longer employed by Germany. The German Army will replace Roland with the new and much more capable development: LFK NG). A battery of German systems have been passed on to Slovenia.

he 9K33 Osa (English: wasp) is a highly mobile, low-altitude, short-range tactical surface-to-air missile system. "9K33" is its GRAU designation. Its NATO reporting name is SA-8 Gecko. Its export version name is Romb.

The SA-8 was the first mobile air defense missile system incorporating its own engagement radars on a single vehicle.
All versions of the 9K33 feature all-in-one 9A33 transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) vehicles which can detect, track and engage aircraft independently or with the aid of regimental surveillance radars. The six-wheeled transport vehicles BAZ-5937 are fully amphibious and air transportable. The road range is about 500 km.
The 1S51M3-2 radar system on the SA-8 TELAR received the NATO codename Land Roll. It was derived from the naval `Pop Group' radar system but is smaller since it does not require the elaborate stabilisation system. An improved system designated the SA-8B `Gecko' Mod 1, was first seen in Germany in 1980. It had improvements added to the launcher configuration, carrying six missiles in ribbed containers. The system is reported to be of the frequency-agile monopulse type. It consists of an elliptical rotating surveillance antenna mounted on top of the array, operates in H band (6 to 8 GHz) and has a 30 km acquisition range against most targets. The large pulsed J band (14.5 GHz) engagement antenna is mounted below it in the centre of the array and has a maximum tracking range of about 20 km.
Mounted on either side of the tracking radar antenna is a small J band parabolic dish antenna to track the missile. Below that is a small circular antenna which emits an I band uplink capture beam to gather the missile shortly after launch. The final antennas in the array are two small white rectangular ones, one on either side of the array mounted alongside the I band. These are used for command uplink to the missile. This twin antenna system permits the 'Land Roll' radar to control up to two missiles simultaneously against a single target. Furthermore, the two missiles can be guided on different frequencies to further complicate ECM. There is also a tubular device fitted to and above the tracking radar; this is a 9Sh33 electro-optical tracker. It can be used to track the target when the main tracking radar is jammed by ECM.
A 9K33 battery comprises four 9A33B TELAR vehicles and two 9T217 transloader vehicles on BAZ-5939 chassis with reload missiles and a crane. A reload time of five minutes has been reported per TELAR.
In addition to the TELARs, each regiment is also assigned a single radar collimation vehicle 9V914 (initially on the BAZ-5938 chassis but more often found on the ZiL-131 truck). This vehicle assists in the alignment of the TELAR's radar systems, ensuring accurate target tracking and engagement.

Engagement range for the early versions is approximately 2–9 km (1.3-5.6 miles) and engagement altitudes of between 50–5000 m (164-16,400 ft). The 9M33M2 "Osa-A" missile extends the ranges out to 1500-10000m (1-6.2 miles) and engagement altitudes to 25–5000 m (82-16,400 ft). The 9M33M3 missile greatly enhances the altitude engagement envelope to 10–12000 m (33-42,500 ft), and as such are also able to fly further (about 15 km/9 miles) but the system is not able to engage targets at longer ranges, due to other factors such as the radar tracking of the missiles. The system is designed for use primarily against jet aircraft and helicopters in any kind of weather.
The 9M33 missiles are 3.158 m (10.3 ft) long, weigh 126 kg (278 lb) and use command guidance. There is also a backup low-light optical tracking system for heavy ECM environments. The latest 9M33M3 missiles have an increased total weight of 170 kg (375 lb) in order to provide the extended range coverage and larger warhead. Propulsion is provided by a dual-thrust solid fuel rocket motor. Both versions feature a missile speed of around Mach 2.4 (peaking at around Mach 3) for a maximum target engagement speed of around Mach 1.4 for the original missile and Mach 1.6 for the M2\M3 missiles. The warhead for the initial and M2 versions weighs 19 kg (42 pounds), increased to 40 kg (88 lb) in the M3 version to improve performance against helicopters. All versions have impact and proximity fuzes.
There have been unconfirmed reports of other possible versions of the missile with both infra-red and semi-active radar terminal homing seekers.
Each TELAR is able to launch and guide two missiles against one target simultaneously. Kill probability is quoted as being 0.35-0.85 for the Osa and 0.55-0.85 for the Osa-AK and Osa-AKM (presumably depending upon target aspect, speed, maneuverability and radar cross section). Reaction time (from target detection to launch) is around 26 seconds. Time to prepare for engagements from being in transit is around 4 minutes and missile reloading takes around 5 minutes. Each battery of four TELARs is usually accompanied by two reload vehicles carrying 18 missiles in sets of three, with a crane mounted on the reload vehicles to assist in moving the missiles.
When launched the booster motor burns for two seconds, this permits the radar to gather and control it at very short ranges (about 1.6 km). The sustainer motor has a 15-second burn, bringing the missile to a top speed of about Mach 2. Once launched the missile is command-guided for the whole flight, and the warhead is detonated by its proximity fuze or possible command. The warhead is said to have a lethal radius of 5 m at low altitude against a F-4 Phantom size target.

  • 1S51M3 ("Land Roll") - C band target acquisition radar, H band conical scan target tracking radar and two J band pulse mode fire control radars (range 35 km/22 miles for acquisition, 30 km/19 miles for tracking and 25 km/16 miles for guidance). Mounted on the TELAR.

  • P-40 ("Long Track") - E band early warning radar (also used by the SA-4 and SA-6, range 175 km/108 miles), mounted on a tracked vehicle (a modified AT-T).

  • P-15 ("Flat Face A") or P-19 ("Flat Face B") or P-15M(2) ("Squat Eye") - 380 kW C band target acquisition radar (also used by the SA-3 and SA-6, range 250 km/155 miles), mounted on a ZiL-131 truck.

  • PRV-9 or PRV-16 ("Thin Skin") - E band height finding radar (also used by the SA-4 and SA-6, range 240 km/148 miles), mounted on a KrAZ-255B truck.

Type Surface-to-air missile
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1971-present
Used by See list of present and former operator
Production history
Designer MKB "Fakel"
Designed 1960-1972
Manufacturer Znamya Truda Plant
Produced 1970-1988
Variants 9M33, 9M33M1, 9M33M2, 9M33M3, 9A33BM3
Specifications (9K33M3)
Weight 170 kg
Length 3158 mm
Diameter 209.6 mm
Warhead Frag-HE
Contact and proximity

Propellant Solid propellant rocket motor
15 kilometres (9.3 mi)
Flight altitude 12,000 metres (39,000 ft)
Boost time 2 s boost, then 15 s sustain
Speed 1020 m/s
dual-thrust rocket motor.
Accuracy 5 m

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Falkland Island...from Argentina's point of view

I had posted several months ago about the Falkland war and the sinking of the HMS Sheffield after she was hit by an exocet missile from the Argentinian Air force.  The post is Here.   I saw this post and it was talking about the Argentinian point of view of the conflict and I learned a few things I didn't know about before.

The Falklands War is often perceived, from the British perspective, as a victory that confirmed the British imperial status in the post-WWII world. Even though the war was criticized by the British public as unnecessary, it won the Conservative Party government a second term in Government for it was indeed a clear and decisive British victory.
On the other side, the Argentinian public deemed the war unnecessary as well; it was forced upon them by the ruling military junta. The conflict which started on 2nd of April 1982, lasted for 74 days and claimed the lives of 649 Argentinians military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and 3 Falklands civilians. It proved to be a stand-off between the British recapturing lost territory and a dictatorship with expansionist tendencies.
Argentina had for long wanted to claim the Falklands (or the Las Malvinas, as the Argentinians called it), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which had all been under British rule since 1833 and populated by British settlers who were loyal to the crown.

The HMS Invincible, pictured here in 1990, which took part in the conflict. Wikipedia / Public Domain
The HMS Invincible, pictured here in 1990, which took part in the conflict.
In Argentina, a military junta under the name National Reorganization Process was the government in the period of 1976-1983 and ruled with an iron hand, dealing with political with imprisonment and execution. The man behind the junta, who was the main advocate of the attack, was Admiral Jorge Anaya. He estimated that the British would not pursue a military conflict, but would rather choose a diplomatic solution, in which the Argentinians could further promote the idea of sovereignty over the archipelago.
The campaign was designed and executed in the midst of devastating economic stagnation in Argentina, which provoked civil unrest. To divert the civilian attention from the fall of living standard and the inflation climb of 600%, a military government did what it does best – mobilize the population towards a general nationalistic sentiment for the islands, several hundred kilometres from the Argentinian coast, that were under British colonial rule.
They called it the illegal usurpation of Las Malvinas. The preparations for war included a power shift in the military junta, from its initial leader, General Roberto Viola, to General Leopoldo Galtieri, on whose behalf Admiral Anaya organised the Argentinian Navy to participate in the attack.

The Argentinian Submarine ARA Santa Fe, which was crippled during the conflict and scuttled by the British. Wikipedia / Public Domain
The Argentinian Submarine ARA Santa Fe, which was crippled during the conflict and scuttled by the British.
Before the invasion took place, the Argentinan junta helped CIA suppress the communist elements in Nicaragua by funding the Nicaraguan counter rebels, or the Contras. This is why the Argentinians had reasons to believe that the US would keep a neutral stance if an invasion were to take place.
Also, Admiral Anaya relied on the fact that the US objected the use of force by the British during the Suez crisis in 1956. On top of that, in 1981, Britain accepted the independence of it former colony, Rhodesia, which was an example of how Britain was slowly renouncing its colonial past.

Argentinians were mainly influenced by the events of Indian annexation of the island of Goa, in 1961. The annexation was condemned by the international community but was later accepted as an irreversible act.

Argentine POWs
Argentine POWs at Port Stanley
On March 19th, 1982, the Argentinians launched an invasion of the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, 165 kilometres from the coast of Patagonia. Following the initial invasion, they started to disembark on the shores of the Falklands Islands on April 2nd.
Concerning the occupation of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British deployed two submarines, but it wasn’t until the invasion of the Falklands that they had taken the matter seriously.
The war was never officially declared although both sides did declare the Islands areas a war zone and officially recognized that a state of war existed between them. Hostilities were limited almost exclusively to the territories under dispute and the area in the South Atlantic where they lay.
Argentina’s original intention was to mount a quick, symbolic occupation, followed rapidly by withdrawal, leaving only a small garrison to support the new military governor. This strategy was based on the Argentinean assumption that the British would not respond militarily.

Royal Navy Sea Harrier. Wikipedia / Pubic Domain
Royal Navy Sea Harrier.
Argentinian assault units were indeed withdrawn to the mainland in the days following the invasion, but strong popular support and the rapid British reaction forced the Junta to change their plans and reinforce the islands since they could not afford to lose the islands once the British came out to fight.
When the conflict broke out, the UN called for peace talks, the immediate end to the hostilities and urged both parties to resolve the conflict diplomatically. The US feared that Argentina would ask the Soviet Union for help, and so they stood firmly on the side of the British.
On the South American mainland, Chile actively helped Great Britain with intelligence support. The support was evident, and Argentina was forced to keep some of its best trained and best-equipped mountain troops on the Chilean border to counter the possible military intervention by the neighboring British ally. The intervention never took place, but the Argentinians were on high alert throughout the war.
British forces landed on the islands, after which a war for aerial domination commenced. Several intense dogfights occurred during the war. The British were using Harriers as their main combat airplane while Argentina used Mirage III fighter jets, which were purchased from France several years before the war.
The Mirage was not good enough for the Argentinian air force to successfully engage the far more nimble RAF fighters. Other than the Mirage, Argentine Air Force used American A-4 Skyhawks, Israeli Daggers, the Israeli version of the Mirage fighter, and English Electric Canberras.
The most significant naval incident of the war was the sinking of the ARA Belgrano, an Argentinean WWII-era light cruiser, by the nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror on May 2nd, 1982. 323 men aboard the ARA Belgrano lost their lives.
The retaliation for this loss occurred two days after, when a British Type 42 Destroyer, HMS Sheffield, was bombed by a naval air strike. The British lost 20 men with another 24 others severely injured.

ARA Belgrano sinking on May 2nd 1982
ARA Belgrano sinking on May 2nd, 1982.
After the British victory on land, their terms for the Argentinian surrender proved to be much harsher than originally expected by the Junta, but Argentina accepted them on 14th of June 1982. Argentinean troops withdrew from the islands, leaving them in British hands.
The relations between the two countries were strained for a while, until their official normalization in 1989. Argentina continues to debate the sovereignty of the Falklands to this day. In 2013, a referendum was held on the Falkland Islands, after which the majority stated that they wish to stay under the British crown.
The Falklands conflict remains the largest air-naval combat operation between modern forces since the end of the Second World War.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Couple of things...

I am in a big city at the behest of my employer, I am participating in a "Safety Conference", my employer runs a very safe and ontime operation and we feel good about that until we compare ourselves to the oil and gas industry and we realize that we still have a way to go.

    I am still there and a Mechanic from Beijing gave all us participants a souvenir from his homeland.  It is a small thing but I though it was very neat and very nice thing that he did.  

It is a bookmark of a leaf and it has artwork drawn into it.   I though it is very neat and I really appreciate the gift.

    On another hand, I saw where Hillary released a message from her twitter account...

  I know it is humor but the number of dead people surrounding the Clinton's seem to increase...


The lessons from WWI aided the U.S Army in WWII

 I am working on my next "Red Storm Rising "Post, I am using SAM(Surface to Air Missile) system in the next comparison.  Hopefully I will have it up tomorrow.   Meantime I ran across this article and
I shamelessly cribbed this from "Angry Staff Officer".   I am a fan of history and always believed that the lessons from WWI helped the Army in WWII.  I also believe that the lessons from Vietnam were used by my generation of leaders in the Army that was used to great effect in Desert Storm.  The officers swore that they will not have "Another Vietnam".  Same principles applied here from WWI to WWII.

We’re in the early months of the centennial of U.S. participation in World War I, the so-called, “War to end all wars.” With the vantage of 20/20 hindsight, we now know that rather than “making the world safe for democracy,” as Woodrow Wilson hoped, World War I instead set the stage for the next round of global conflict. The United States entered the war in 1917 as a relatively unknown quantity. The U.S. Army was tiny in 1917, and many wondered whether it would be able to mobilize enough men to really make a difference. In the end, the U.S. was able to put over a million military personnel in Europe – enough to sway the balance of power in Europe against the Central Powers. November of 1918 saw the Armistice signed and a tenuous peace return to the world. And suddenly, America felt and saw the power of her military might. This came at the cost of hundreds of thousands of killed, wounded, and missing servicemen. 

 Great Depression Unemployment Line
After the initial euphoria of victory wore off, Americans began to ask what had been gained from the war. As the Great Depression swept the world and Germany slid towards totalitarianism, this question became all the more pertinent. When war flared again in 1939, one can hardly blame those who advocated for U.S. isolationism given that U.S. participation in the Great War seemingly did little to prevent another conflagration. But what these people didn’t realize was that America would win World War II because of their experience in World War I.

When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, the Army more closely resembled that of the Civil War than that of World War II. The horse was still the prime mover for the majority of the Army. The National Guard was still organized in state entities with no division alignments, ill-suited for modern warfare. The Army had few effective machine guns and virtually no modern artillery. There were no tanks or aircraft. Thus it was that machine guns, automatic rifles, gas masks, grenades, artillery, tanks, and aircraft all had to be supplied by the French and British in the first year of U.S. participation in the war.

While the equipment and organization of the Army lagged behind the rest of the world in 1917, there were greater and more serious gaps at the strategic level. Very few leaders had commanded or maneuvered anything larger than a brigade. Now the Army was designing divisions of 28,000 men – a massive and unwieldy organization. The Army would struggle to keep command and control across these huge units throughout the entirety of the war. There was very little concept of command and staff operations in the U.S. Army at the strategic level at the outset of the war. And the man chosen to lead the new American Expeditionary Force had some strong ideas about warfare that did not mesh with the realities on the battlefields of Europe. General John J. Pershing stated that, “the ultimate success of the army depends upon their proper use in open warfare…Aggressive offensive based on self-reliant infantry.” In other words, Pershing said that movement and maneuver in the open would be the foundation of U.S. tactics rather than the trench warfare of literally everyone else. 

There was a problem with this, of course. The French and British had been trying this for years – with calamitous results. In fact, just as the U.S. was entering the war, the French were annihilating a large part of their army in the Nivelle Offensive. The enormous losses they incurred from this operation caused whole divisions to mutiny. This led to massive reforms within the French Army. The Germans were already moving toward infiltration tactics. All sides were experimenting with combined arms with tanks, airplanes, artillery, and infantry working together. And here came the Americans, scoffing at the battle-hardened British and French, saying that trench warfare had made them immobile and scared to attack. As one American brigade commander told his men in 1917, “The war will be won in the open; the Boche is in the trenches now and has been for four years. We have got to be able to drive him out and that is why this French instruction is valuable; but remember we are going to get him out into the open and then all the old and fixed principles of our school of warfare will come into play.” In the first American offensives of 1918 at Cantigny and Chateau-Thierry, thousands of Americans died in droves in front of German machine guns and under bursting artillery shells. Divisions were cleaned out in weeks and had to be revitalized with barely-trained replacements. It was an unsustainable form of warfare.

Throughout 1918, the Americans struggled to adapt their tactics to their adversaries. They fielded tanks at St. Mihiel, built up a formidable Air Service, and slowly learned how to fight war in the 20th century. Pershing and his staff began to learn that prosecuting war on the battlefield was not the only fight; as important was negotiating with allies. Unfortunately, Pershing was not a man cut out for diplomacy. While he certainly looked the part, he lacked the temperament for dealing with his British and chaumont_1919French counterparts – with whom he clashed constantly. To his credit, he had been placed in an incredibly difficult situation: raise, arm, train, and field the largest American army ever created while staving off British and French attempts to take all his troops for their own offensives. But he didn’t make it easier on himself by blowing up at his allied counterparts and creating what could have been international incidents, had the Allies not needed American assistance so badly. Fortunately, he had some good subordinates, such as George C. Marshall. It was Marshall who not only organized and planned the Meuse-Argonne Offensive – the war-ending battle – but who smoothed over Pershing’s relations with everyone from foreign generals to Pershing’s own irate division commanders who objected to his micromanagement.
It was junior officers – men like Marshall, George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower (although he was never afforded the opportunity to fight in Europe), Mark Clarke, Lesley McNair, and Walter Kruger, amongst so many – who looked at the lessons from World War I and realized that the U.S. Army needed to change if it wanted to be competitive on the battlefield in another war. They knew that the Army could not sustain the disastrous casualty rates that “open warfare” had caused.
So they began to change the Army after the World War. Change was slow because they were still fighting the general officers who had grown up in the pre-World War I Army. Patton and Eisenhower were threatened with court martial if they didn’t stop publishing articles about such heretical things as the tank being the basis for offensives rather than dismounted infantry. Efforts of the World War I generation were not helped by popular distrust in the military as the Army battled small budgets, low manpower authorizations, and increasing responsibilities around the world. Marshall moved his way through the Army staff system, overseeing sweeping changes to doctrine and staff procedures. By 1939, he was the Army Chief of Staff; the WWI officer corps was finally in a position to effect the changes that they had envisioned and written about for twenty years. It wasn’t a moment too soon: the same day Marshall was sworn in, Germany invaded Poland.
 George Patton with a Tank
In 1940, Marshall – remembering the poor performance of commanders in World War I – began the GHQ Maneuvers in the southern U.S. He called up National Guard divisions and paired them with Regular Army divisions to create full-scale army maneuvers: hundreds of thousands of men moving around Texas, Louisiana, and the Carolinas. Here he and other military leaders were able to evaluate new technologies, test new doctrine, and get a feel for whether commanders were effective or not. Many were not, and were relieved of command, probably saving many lives in the coming conflict. The entire maneuvers provided Marshall and other key leaders the informational snapshot that they needed in order to start building the Army to war footing. Just as the maneuvers were winding down in the winter of 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. was at war again.

One of the first things that the War Department did in 1942 was to operationalize the National Guard. One of the key lessons from World War I was that the Guard was needed on the front lines, but that they needed a time to train up. The other move was to get rid of the 28,000-man monstrosity of a division. The Army’s divisions were cut down in size, made more agile and adaptive, and given greater lethality through the addition of more enablers. The Army got rid of the brigade and replaced it with the regimental combat team, composed of an infantry regiment, a field artillery battalion, and an engineer company. Infantry regiments gained antitank capabilities as well as their own organic artillery companies. These smaller and faster forces proved far more effective than their lumbering predecessors of World War I. The Army adopted a tank corps as well and began training for combined arms warfare. Although the Army was still behind the 8-ball when it entered combat in 1942, the results would have been far more disastrous had it not been for the efforts of the generation of officers who had lived through the Great War.

 Generals Eisenhower and Marshall
Another key take-away from World War I was building relationships with Allies. Marshall and Eisenhower were far more patient men than Pershing had been, and were able to navigate the diplomatic pitfalls of being an allied commander far better than someone like Patton or MacArthur would have. But Marshall did have his breaking points. For example, during a 1944 planning conference with the British, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was demanding an Allied invasion of the island of Rhodes, at which Marshall finally exploded, allegedly stating, “No American is going to land on that goddam island!” These outbursts were minimal, however, and the American and British coalition managed to stay together to defeat the Nazis and the Japanese. 
 Bonus Army in Washington
There was one more way that World War I taught the U.S. people a lesson, and that was in the realm of veterans’ affairs. Between 1919-1920, the U.S. military sent millions of servicemembers back into civilian life. Many were wounded – both physically and mentally – and there was no real plan to take care of these “ex servicemen” as they were called at the time. Congress had passed a bill in 1924 granting a bonus to those who had honorably served during the war, but during the Great Depression the payouts had been
Police clash with Bonus Marchers (Wikimedia Commons)
cut back. In 1932, thousands of veterans descended on Washington D.C. in the infamous Bonus March. They were eventually evicted at gunpoint and with tear gas by Army units in one of the most shameful treatment of veterans in our nation’s history. MacArthur, Patton, and Eisenhower all took part in this execrable affair. With that living in recent memory, veterans services organizations and WWI veterans in Congress resolved that nothing like it should ever happen again. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 provided a whole range of benefits to veterans returning to society, the chief of which was access to a college education. This act is commonly known as the GI Bill.
From the battlefield to the staff room to the college campus, World War I veterans made their presence felt. While World War I would lead to World War II, it was American experience in the first that brought victory to the second.