D-Day

Remember them all. The picture is of both the old (right center) and new (left) memorials at Omaha Beach. The new memorial is amazing, and made of polished metal which is reflecting the sunrise.

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

A Funny Thing Happened

After my phone was tapped by the KGB as discussed in this post. Well, funny to me though I suspect it wasn’t to some others.

I was finishing up school in Chicago at the time of my brush with the KGB (and possibly the GRU). The cold war was still dragging on, and most Soviet intelligence operations were being run out of the Polish Consulate on Lakeshore Drive. How do I know this? Well, maybe some of my new “friends” might have mentioned something. Maybe it’s because of a story done by one of the local television stations.

As it turns out, they had been covertly following and taping the Chief of Station as he did his job. They had video of his meeting with people, picking up stuff, heck, they may have even caught him working dead letter drops. The thing is, they had done this for a year without detection. A. Year.

When the expose ran, it is fair to say that the excrement hit the rotary impeller. There was damage to operations, covers were apparently blown, and despite the frantic claims from the consulate that nothing was being done from there everyone knew there was. Needless to say, the Chief of Station (I forget what title he officially held) was recalled.

This was all going on about the time I was graduating and getting ready to leave. Having finished up my photographic internship at Playboy, I decided to walk from the North Side to downtown, and grab some stock shots of the city. It was a pleasant day, a nice walk, and I was getting some at least average city shots. As I came down along the lakeshore, I saw the Polish Consulate and decided to grab a photo or two of it.

As I was doing so, a vehicle pulled in and several people got out. In the middle of the group was the Chief of Station. He looked over, saw me taking photographs, and rather energetically flipped me off. Several times. He may have said something as well, but I couldn’t make it out. I waved as he went inside, then resumed my walk.

Several of us figured he was about to take a bullet to the back of the head (if you watched The Americans, Nina’s execution is remarkably accurate) once he was home. I actually felt a little bit sorry for him on some level, while the rest of me was just a touch gleeful at the whole thing (which may have splashed a bit of egg on some three letter agencies too). I heard years later that they didn’t shoot him, and am sorta glad.

All that said, I got a good laugh out of his reaction that day. He was the man in charge of tapping my phone, possibly bugging the apartment, and coordinating some of the other things that went on (apparently). It felt good to piss him off for a change, since his operations had pissed me off while they were happening.

Just a bit of memory that surfaced that I decided to share. With the test/procedure tomorrow, there may not be a post. Will see how it goes. Please do consider helping me get out of here by hitting the tip jar or the fundraiser.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

How To Spy On The Russians

Here’s Hoping I’m Wrong

Pins And Needles Time

Mock Away

Intel Wars

The Revenge Of HUMINT

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

The Revenge Of HUMINT

In yesterday’s post, I talked a bit about the push in the US to get away from human intelligence (HUMINT) because it truly is messy, as well as being offensive to Jimmy Carter’s sense of morality. Instead, the US went all-in on technology, which became National Technical Means (NTM) and is now apparently referred to as NRO Overhead Systems (NOS).

Now, satellites and other technical means can get you a lot of data. You can count ships, planes, and tanks; you can see structures being built; and, you can watch for movements and activities. However, there are strong limitations to satellites and related, and they don’t give you context to go with what you see. Which is why you need other means, including HUMINT.

Today, we have an unprecedented amount of information at our fingertips. Open-source intel groups do some fantastic work. There are websites and apps that track almost every aircraft in the air around the world. There are others that track ships, trains, and about any form of transportation you can imagine. Commercial overhead imagery is better than what aircraft and satellite cameras got early on.

Then, you add in professional and social media, plus the World Wide Web, and you have a situation that if it is not information overload, it is not far from it. Instead of frantic efforts to find out about a unit and maybe get a hint of its commander, you go to the unit’s website and get pretty much it’s complete order of battle. From social media, you can find out about morale and how things are going (hint: lower enlisted everywhere in the world are prone to bitching about things, they just now do it online as well as in the chow line). You may even find a professional writing by the commander, as well as his own social media posts. Thank you internet and computer technology!

But, all of that technology has thrown you right back into the HUMINT trap. Is that Pvt. Ivanabitchconstantly a real private, or disinformation? Is the information being posted by a “reputable source” online accurate, precise, or highly biased? Motivation matters as it tends to skew what is being posted.

As a quick aside, information tends to be either accurate, precise, or biased/bogus. When I wrote press releases for a part of DoD, the releases were accurate: the information within was valid. They were not, however, precise as while those designing and building various things want friends and even enemies to have some idea about the system, they sure were not stupid enough to tell everything including full performance data. I will note that a lot of USSR/Russian releases go the biased/bogus route as anything done by them is bigger, better, and does more than anything we design. They tend to advertise a lot of Ronco products in my book.

Finally, you have to take into account social filtering. This is the need to avoid getting in social trouble for what you are posting. Because the Chinese monitor and censor so heavily, people are very careful either to not post anything that could get them in trouble, or they use language that the censors don’t (yet) recognize as saying something other than what it might appear.

In both Russian and the Ukraine, the government is monitoring and even mild criticism can and will draw an official response. In Russia, it is also easy to note that other members of the public are quite happy to deal with complaints or objections to the war by a variety of means ranging from loss of job to loss of teeth. So, again, you get people either not saying what they think, or saying it in a way that will evade the censors for a while. Or, by finding platforms dark or deep that aren’t being monitored or from which they can’t be traced.

This all applies double to what is going on in the Kremlin and other centers of leadership at all levels. I think the following is universal: politicians leak; the leaks are always biased to hurt another and advance the leaker; and, the only thing more vicious than a cornered rat is a cornered political apparatchik. In Russia, politics has been a blood sport for centuries. What we might think of as a minor setback can literally be a matter of life or death. The higher you go, the more likely those are the stakes. Don’t believe me? First, study Russian history, and then go ask those Gazprom and other leaders that all just committed suicide after killing their wives and children. When someone tells me that the Russians won’t do X because they aren’t that way, or because of their children, I know they are ignorant of Russia and Russian history.

Which is why when I hear reports and rumors of discussions in the Kremlin and elsewhere, I tend to use a lot of salt. Why is that information leaking? Why is this or that spokesperson, minister, etc. saying X in public? What are they saying off camera? Is all the discussion of nuclear war a bluff? A legalistic warning and stage setting within Russia? A push to see how far they can push before getting pushback? Other? On that, I’m in wait and see mode as I know that at some point someone with a political axe to grind is going to leak something about it. Something that may not be accurate or precise, but will still reveal what was going on.

In the meantime, we still have to filter everything else. Those who continue to process everything through our cultural blinders are going to continue to be horribly wrong. Those who can set those aside and consider things from the Russian (Ukrainian, etc.) point of view are going to get it mostly right. At least on a threats and intentions basis. On a tactical/strategic basis, those who bleat about Russia having 10,000 X have yet to grasp that while that may be true, if even a third of X is useable it may constitute a miracle. At least with conventional. While I have strong questions about nuclear on both sides, as well as the reliability of the rockets, I also am in no hurry to get the answers and especially don’t desire to find out the hard way.

So, welcome back to the HUMINT trap. All our vaunted technology has brought us full circle back to the messiness that Peanut couldn’t stand.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

How To Spy On The Russians

Here’s Hoping I’m Wrong

Pins And Needles Time

Mock Away

Intel Wars

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

How To Spy On The Russians

More years ago than I care to think about, I was a guest at DragonCon and one of my panels was “How To Spy On The Soviets.” It was a fun thing, and I managed to piss off a couple of Navy Intel people, and get a few points across. This was the DragonCon where Tom Clancy and Larry Bond were guests, and I spent several evenings in Tom’s suite having/listening to very interesting conversations with a number of interesting people. For example, Tom had brought as a guest the former MIG pilot who had defected along with his then newest and greatest MIG in the Soviet arsenal. To say that our intel people had been glad to get both of them is an understatement.

I think it is time to update that panel a bit, as the situation has changed. Not the least, as I noted to John Ringo on Twitter yesterday, is that we are living in what is almost a post-OPSEC world.

If you are interested in a country, for whatever reason, you don’t have to be telepathic or a distance reader, or even have covert and overt sources there. If you do have overt or covert contacts, great, but keep in mind that HUMINT can be a very chancy thing.

Instead, it is amazing what you can find in open publications. This was true then, and is even more true now. Back then, you had to depend primarily on printed magazines, newspapers, press releases, etc. Today, you have the internet and if the counter-intel people were driven crazy back then trying to keep things out of print, I can’t imagine how they are handling today when pretty much everyone is posting videos and commentary across dozens of platforms.

I can’t vouch for today, but back then I found Western press releases (of which I wrote a few) tended to be restrained. They were accurate, but not necessarily precise as you needed people to know some basics, but you also didn’t want to tell anyone unfriendly the full capabilities of a given item or system. On the other hand, Soviet press releases tended to be a bit over the top. Capabilities were overstated because of the Soviet inferiority complex. Every system had to beat the public data on capabilities of Western items/systems by a large factor, while providing soft-serve ice cream and other aid to the operator, user, pilot, etc. Okay, little hyperbole there but not much…

These days, you can find online policy debates that once would have been hard to find or even classified. As but one example, you can find information on the “Escalate to De-Escalate” policy online as people in and out of government debate it. You can also find out who supports it and who doesn’t the same way.

It’s called research, a concept lost on the terminally stupid, but a thing that can be used by those truly interested in a topic/country/etc. to gather a huge amount of information. As John Ringo pointed out yesterday, in WWII (and even after) we were lucky to have any information on individual officers or the leadership of a given unit. Today, you can find the table of organization for pretty much any unit, along with details about its leadership, on their web site. Want to know the conditions and morale in a unit? Read what the enlisted have to say on various social media platforms. The amount of data that is available today is almost overwhelming.

It still won’t let you read a mind, but it can help you determine patterns in thinking of various leaders, which can give a clue towards intentions. It can show you weaknesses, problems, and more. Given that a lot of intel analysis is all about pattern recognition, the data field for such is amazing.

Which reminds me that I think I agreed to say a bit about how I got into being a Soviet Watcher. While I was in college, I wrote professionally for newspapers, magazines, and pretty much anyone who would pay me. At SpaceWorld magazine, I was a Correspondent-at-Large and gleefully covered space exploration around the world. Having been embarrassed a few year before at how little I knew about Soviet space efforts, I had dug in and learned all I could. In the course of that, I noticed a pattern in the data around Soviet launch failures. I wrote it up, noting that if the pattern held, the next launch was likely to have problems. It was published, and I moved on.

Low and behold, the next launch failed, rather spectacularly. The next thing I knew, my phone was (badly) tapped and I was approached by someone offering to share information on Soviet efforts if I would share open info with him. Long story short, all the antics ended up pissing me off and that’s when I really dug into things. I declined the offer and reported it to the FBI, and got rid of the bug by calling and reporting it from the tapped phone. I think it was gone in less than an hour.

A few years later, my Master’s thesis was entitled “The Soviet Watchers: A Directory of Western Observers of Soviet Space Efforts.” Yes, I wrote an open spook directory of people who could talk to the press and (mostly) offer some good info. I was very happy that one person declined to be in it (believing that such would hurt me and my effort), as I respected neither then nor their work. I was disappointed that I could not include one person, as the person who declined had helped drive them back to Langley.

I stepped away from detailed Soviet/Russian watching for a while, keeping up with just a few things to do with leadership. Some of the policy debates had caught my eye, for example. The last couple of months have been a crash course on getting back into the details on things at all levels. There are people far better than I at observing and explaining individual actions and campaigns, and there are yet others who are covering logistics and other important topics.

If you do decide to become a X-Watcher, especially a Russia Watcher, do take some basic precautions. Add an extra firewall to your computer, along with anti-malware software. Use VPN and Tor if you make forays into that country’s data nets. It may not completely protect you, but make them work for it. Be safe, have fun, and keep in mind how good you have it today.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

Going Nuclear

By Dawns Early Light…

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Moldova

I was going to do a play on the increase in nuclear threats, rather than a cute old movie, but frankly that’s now pretty much every day ending in Y. I’m going to get to Moldova in a moment, but we need to have yet another discussion on mores and bluffs that really aren’t bluffs.

More and more people in the Russian government are now warning that WWIII is imminent. Before dismissing it as yet more bluff and bluster out of the Kremlin, let’s go back and refresh our understanding of mores (More Azzzz). Mores are the cultural blinders we all wear, often unknowingly. Far too many dismissing this as all bluff fail to grasp that while there are elements that can be seen as a bluff, there are elements to it that are not.

Yes, there is a bit of “Let the Wookie win” in these statements. In other words, stop providing the Ukraine with the means to defend itself, stop the sanctions, etc. , or else… The grocery list of things where the Wookie, er, Vladimir, should be allowed to win grows longer every day, and there is an element of flinging excrement against the wall to it. If something sticks or smears, it’s intel on where they could or should push. If nothing sticks, the other aspect of this comes into play.

Buried within all the bluff and bluster is a real effort to set the stage for the use of special weapons. ‘We warned you…’ is an integral part of it for both maskirova and diplomatic purposes. It is also a warning that NATO countries could find themselves targets for conventional weapons as well as special. Look at the fact that all of the people warning that there will be WWIII if NATO and others don’t back off and let the Vladimir win are making the flat declaration that Russia is ALREADY at war with NATO. That they have taken the high road and not responded — yet.

Every day the war drags on, the more likely it is that Vladimir will, as Mark Tapscott puts it at Instapundit, go for door number three. By the way, if you are not reading Stephen Green’s and Sarah A. Hoyt’s regular updates at Instapundit, you should be.

There are already signs that he’s headed that way, and that he plans to make Moldova a part of that operation. Moldova has long been on Vladmir’s (and Russkiy Mir’s) list. If he can take and hold the South, he has a clear shot at it and using it to change the strategic (and tactical) balance.

I expect to see a growing number of false flag operations, and not just in the Ukraine or Moldova. In fact, here’s one from Russia, which has to be the most inept and incompetent false flag in quite some time.

The other thing I expect to see is an increase in the “Russia is at war with NATO” stance. As I’ve said before, they are not wrong — it is a proxy war. Ironically that is something they are familiar with given the number of proxy wars they and/or the Soviet Union have started over the years.

What is going to open the floodgates on this is the fact that the Ukraine has begun hitting targets inside Russia. That was something Vladimir et cie never expected or planned for, and in true sociopathic fashion they are proclaiming in private and in public that they are the true victims here. The decision to cut off gas to Poland and Bulgaria is not just a currency issue, it is an economic hit (and warning) at NATO.

While the Ukraine has done a limited amount in Russia before, Vladimir is going to see this as an escalation by NATO, not the Ukraine. The Ukraine are just Nazi dupes, remember? As the tempo increases and as he fails to get a needed major victory, I’m afraid that this author is correct on the need to start training troops now.

It’s been discussed here several times, but keep in mind that Vladimir rolled the dice in the initial invasion. It had to succeed, as his continued rule and life depend on it. So, yet again let me say, I expect him to continue to roll the dice in hopes that something breaks his way. I really wish that so much internal had not (apparently) been linked to May 9. The new Nazi’s were to be crushed and killed, Ukraine restored to Russia to the joy of its citizens, and more than likely Moldova would be restored as well.

Hasn’t worked out that way so far. If the Ukraine can keep hitting Russian logistics in the Donbas and inside Russia, as well as fight successfully against the Russian troops and proxies, it won’t happen. The best I see short-term is that Vladimir does not let May 9 drive him, and either goes for long-term efforts (that I don’t think will be as long term as he would like, thoughts for another day) or for control of the East and South. I don’t think he’s going to get either, but let’s get past May 9 and go from there.

If he does let May 9 drive things, expect to see a large number of false flag ops. They are a crucial part to Soviet/Russian nuclear use plans. From all reports, Vladimir does believe in the “Escalate to Deescalate” doctrine, and given what he regards as a war with NATO plus his troops being largely unable to succeed on the battlefield, he is quite likely to use special weapons. I can see chemical in some areas (as noted before Mariupol and the steel works), and I can see tactical nukes against either obstacles or more likely strategic command centers. Note the recent threat from Russia that they reserved the right to hit a command post in Kyiv even if members of NATO were present. Also note that Vladimir himself has now said that military sites in Britain and other NATO members are on the table because of their support of the Ukraine (and unsaid the support of hitting targets inside Russia).

Back on 24 March in this post, I stated “While I do not yet endorse his recommendations, I also don’t disagree with them.” in regards this article. I think we are at a point where a dispersal of our nuclear forces is in order, along with an enhanced deterrent alert with Britain. As I noted earlier in this post, we really should be training our troops for CBN operations and making sure they have MOPP gear and related supplies. In fact, it might not be a bad idea to disperse our conventional forces in Europe and/or Scandinavia, and even do some training on trenches and bunkers. Time for some drills.

For something a little less earth shattering, read this post from Trent Telenko and this reply from John Ringo. Mr. Telenko also makes a very good point that far too many so-called experts miss, namely the need to explore fault trees. Going for the easy shiny blinds you to reality. He also has a good post on how logistics should be done, courtesy of our own Air Force.

Kamil Galeev has two interesting threads going. In the first, he posts some videos and links to his new Telegram channel where he will be doing a more thorough job on video posting than he can do on Twitter. He also has an interesting post that not only looks at why the heck there is still trade with Belarus, but also offers a very different take on Lukashenko than you get most places. Given how uniformly our intelligence operations have failed, we may just want to revisit the conventional view of the strongman. Have to admit it is making me step back to think a bit.

Now, homework for the day. First, if you are interested in Russia and its relations with others, you may be interested in what has and is going on in Georgia (country, not the state). If so, I get a newsletter twice a week from civil.ge that is informative, interesting, and quite often written with a sense of humor. Second, courtesy of Sarah A. Hoyt at Insty, comes this history of Russia and the Ukraine. Unlike the books I linked the other day, this one goes back to medieval times as a starting point. Excellent read!

Finally, to try to end a very hard post with a laugh, I will say I don’t expect Vladimir to end the world. I think this may beat him to the punch. Did you not watch any of the movies? Don’t open the mysterious sarcophagus! Even if you have Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser right there with you ready to go.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

A Little Free Ice Cream

Rumors Of War

Three Times Is…

*****

If you like what you are reading, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

A Little Free Ice Cream

It may not be as much as normal, but here’s a little free ice cream for what has been a somewhat sucky day so far. At least when I finally did get to eat food, it was decent.

Two threads from John Ringo. The first is pointing out the obvious that has been being missed in regards the Moscva. As noted, there’s always a lunkhead in an X-wing and a thermal exhaust port. Of no surprise, Russian propaganda is now pushing the narrative that NATO sank the Moskva using the Ukraine as a proxy. Interesting that in some of the coverage, they are pushing that it was the UK/Commonwealth rather than the US. Keep in mind, this isn’t an accident but Kremlin/Vladimir approved. There is prep underway.

Still trying to sort through a lot of information. Part of the problem is, if I had heard half of it before it became clear how bad the situation was with the Russian military, I would have easily dismissed it. Now, however, that’s not possible and if some of what is coming out is true, the situation is even worse for the Russians than we think.

The second thread from John involves how his father earned a Bronze Star in WWII during the Battle of the Bulge. And was almost courtmartialed for earning said Bronze Star. No good deed goes unpunished.

Some Previous Posts:

Vladimir And The Ukraine

Answers, Ramblings, And A Bit More On Vladimir And The Ukraine

Your Must Read For The Day On Russia

The Puzzles In Play, And The Missing Pieces

Quick Thoughts On Ukraine/Putin

The Thing Behind The Curtain

Missing Pieces And Surprise Pieces

Thursday Update

Not A Lot To Add

Noted

Monday Update

Burn Notice

Accuracy, Reliability, And More

Putin, Trump, And The Coming Storm

Three Futures For Russia

Quick Thoughts

Saturday Update

Mismatched Locomotives

War, Ag, Demographics, And The Worst Is Yet To Come

Past, Present, And A Hungry Future

Huge Grain Of Salt

The Moskva

Retribution Inbound

Uncertainty And Preparation

Honest Question

Monday Morning Quick Brief

War Of The Memes

*****

If you like what you are reading, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

The Great Escape: Remembering The 50

A day late, but reposting from last year.

Today, I take the time to remember the 50. On this night, in 1944, prisoners of war staged a daring large-scale escape from Stalag Luft III. The movie is good, but isn’t accurate since it was a Royal Air Force show. All but three of the prisoners who escaped were recaptured, and of those, Adolph Hitler personally ordered the deaths of 50 of them. Today, I raise a glass to them, and to all who dared and risked all to do so.

If you want to know more, go hereherehere, and here.

July 4th, 1776

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Normandy

A view of the commemorative window in the cathedral at St. Mere-Eglise, France honoring the Airborn units that landed and freed the city on D-Day.

I wish I were back again this year. It is humbling to meet those still alive who survived, and an honor to tell a small part of their tales. It is fascinating and awe inspiring to explore all the fortifications that are still there, and illuminating to visit all the museums. It is a pleasure to talk with the locals, who are still very grateful to Americans and other allies for, as one lady put it, “our freedom.”

A view from inside a German gun emplacement at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France
Looking out over a marker describing the Mulberry artificial piers/harbor used at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France
The remains of ships and the supply system sunk just off the coast
What it looked like then
My Battlemug at Utah beach, just after sunrise
One of the old German bunkers converted into a home. You see this a lot as they were massive and destroying them is expensive and could do extensive damage to the surrounding area.
A tribute to Danish forces
These guns survived bombs and heavy shelling. Of the four, only one was destroyed by a lucky shot that got through as the magazine doors were open.
The statue of Major Richard Winters of Band of Brothers fame
The destroyed gun
A British survivor I interviewed (should still be up at Blackfive) who also survived one of the bloodiest battles of the campaign
Another converted bunker
A survivor of Utah Beach, with his daughter atop Pointe du Hoc. As he and I walked together, he looked around and said “I guess we didn’t have it so bad after all.”
At Juno Beach
La Flambe
Sunrise at Omaha Beach, our flag flanked by the new Les Braves and the old memorial
Inside the German command post at Quistreham
Outside the German command post at Ouistreham
Pegasus Bridge

There are lots more, thinking I need to do a new book…

Remembering The 50

Today, I take the time to remember the 50. On this night, in 1944, prisoners of war staged a daring large-scale escape from Stalag Luft III. The movie is good, but isn’t accurate since it was a Royal Air Force show. All but three of the prisoners who escaped were recaptured, and of those, Adolph Hitler personally ordered the deaths of 50 of them. Today, I raise a glass to them, and to all who dared and risked all to do so.

If you want to know more, go here, here, here, and here.