New Shows Examine the CIA’s Past Role in Latin America’s Cocaine Trade
This article originally appeared at InSight Crime. A pair of new television programs tackles the role of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in the erection of Latin American drug routes, and while neither breaks much new ground, both reflect lingering suspicions regarding the agency’s legacy in the region. FX’s... Read more
America’s Spitfires
The sleekly elegant Supermarine Spitfire is the iconic British fighter of World War II, the plane that kept the formerly unstoppable German air force at bay in the Battle of Britain. And thanks to constant upgrades, the Spitfire remained a top-performing frontline fighter through the end of the war.... Read more
In 1987, a Rogue U.S. Navy Admiral Schemed for War With Iran
By 1987, the Iran-Iraq War had turned the Persian Gulf into a shooting gallery. As part of a total war strategy, both Baghdad and Tehran targeted merchant shipping to impede the other side’s war effort. During eight years of brutal fighting, hundreds of commercial vessels, many belonging to neutral... Read more
Soviet Nuke Attack Could Have Cut Off U.S. Missile Submarines
This story originally appeared on Oct. 16, 2015. A key component of the U.S. doctrine of mutually assured destruction — commonly and appropriately known as MAD — was that American troops would still be able to retaliate if the Soviet Union launched a nuclear attack. But for a time, the Pentagon... Read more
El fusil Baker convirtió a los soldados en letales tiradores a larga distancia
Un gélido día de enero de 1809, Thomas Plunkett ─ fusilero del 95º Regimiento de Fusiles británico ─ se encontraba fuera de la ciudad española de Cacabelos tumbado en el suelo con la espalda sobre la nieve. Cualquiera diría que no era lugar para un irlandés, pero... Read more
In 1981, Weather and Reporters Stymied a Complicated Air Ambush in Sudan
In reaction to Libya claiming all of the Gulf of Syrte as its territorial waters, in January 1981 U.S. president Ronald Reagan ordered the U.S. Navy to conduct a “freedom of navigation exercise” in that part of the Mediterranean Sea. During the exercise, there were dozens of tense encounters... Read more
The Union Cavalry Raid That Inspired James Mattis
On April 17, 1863, a former music teacher with a fear of horses — he was kicked in the head by one as a child — set off with 1,700 Union soldiers, the scouts in Confederate uniforms, on a raid deep into Mississippi. The raid by Col. Benjamin Grierson... Read more
Remembering the Vietnam War’s Bloody Urban Battle of Hue
Mark Bowden’s new history Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam pulls off a rare feat — it takes a conflict of terrible scale and consequence, and allows us to see it unfold at the street level, through the eyes of Vietnamese and American soldiers engaged in... Read more
The U.S. Army’s Failed Quest to Create Floating Tank Divisions
This story originally appeared on Feb. 1, 2016. Amphibious assaults are the domain of the U.S. Marines, not the Army. But there was a period in history when the Army tried to out-do the Marines in hitting the beach — including planning how to deploy entire divisions of amphibious... Read more
The Battlecarrier Was Part Battleship, Part Aircraft Carrier
This story originally appeared on Dec. 6, 2013. In the early 1980s, four Iowa-class fast battleships originally built during World War II—Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey and Wisconsin—were taken out of mothballs and returned to active duty. Nearly 900 feet long and displacing close to 60,000 tons, the battlewagons could... Read more
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