Archive for the 'History' Category
One of the most famous naval battles in history occurred between the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia. Although the battle itself it ended in a draw, the introduction and successful use of ironclads nevertheless was a pivotal moment in naval history, and made wooden ships irrelevant. Dr. Scott Harmon, former Director of the USNA Museum discusses two historic pieces of iron that came from the battle’s participants.
This is a model of HMS Minerva, one of the last new warships produced by the British navy during the 18th century. As the dominant maritime power for centuries, the influences of the British navy were significant in the U.S. Navy’s development. From force structure and operational style, to ranks, to ship and cannon technology, the American navy relied heavily on the influences of its precursor, and many of those influences are still seen today. The Minerva was innovative in many ways, but today Naval Academy Museum education specialist Grant Walker takes us through two of the biggest.
One of the most well-know exhibits of the Naval Academy Museum is the collection of roughly two dozen model ships constructed almost entirely of bone by French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic Wars. Although not specifically US Navy history, the collection nevertheless helps set the stage for understanding the conditions into which the American Navy was born. The War of 1812 loomed on the horizon, and in that war the U.S. Navy would be put to the test.
As long as there have been politicians in the United States, there have been political cartoonists to criticize them. Many today say the bitter political climate in Washington is unprecedented, but perhaps that is not the entirely the case. Today’s object is a print from the Beverly R. Robinson Collection. 150 years ago, a debate over the naval aquisition process raged in Washington, and cartoonists picked up their pens to document it. Curator Rob Doane takes us through this particular print’s history, and the narrative of what was then a fierce political debate.
A project about stories also has its own story, and this series is no exception. In 2010, Midshipman (now Ensign) Chris O’Keefe, Naval Academy Class of 2012, conceptualized the series after listening to the BBC’s own podcast series about the history of the world. Since then, he and cameraman / editor Matt McMahon have filmed dozens of interviews and conducted research into the 100 objects presented in this series. Volunteers provided assistance and support in various ways, from Midshipmen helping with the early research, to the staff of the United States Naval Institute with technical support, and of course the assistance of the staffs of both the Naval Academy Museum and the Nimitz Special Collections and Archives. The series helps link the tangible items located at the Naval Academy with the ethereal figures of the past, and in doing so tells the wonderfully fascinating history of our Navy.
Ensign O’Keefe has started publishing these videos, which we’ll be posting here as well. Naturally, his first video is about John Paul Jones.
Often when telling a story, its best to start at the beginning. In our case, although the United States Navy didn’t begin with John Paul Jones, he is nevertheless considered the Father of the American Navy. Born in England, he cut his teeth as a sailor in merchant fleets, before coming to the United States. When war broke out, he joined the fight on the side of the upstart colonies, and won fame for his daring raid on English soil and his victories over British ships. After the war, he accepted a position as an admiral in the Russian navy. After a short time, he returned to Paris in poor health, and died shortly after in 1792. In the tumultuous days of the French Revolution, Jones’ grave was lost and it wasn’t until 1905 that it was rediscovered. After discovery, and with great ceremony, his remains were transported across the Atlantic. After several years were finally interred in the crypt underneath the iconic Naval Academy Chapel, where they remain today. This is the story of Jones in life, and in death.
Please join us at 5pm (Eastern U.S.), 4 Aug 13, for Midrats Episode 187: “From I to C of the BRIC with Toshi Yoshihara”:
Remember when “Afghanistan” became “AFPAC” in the second half of the last decade? Concepts morph the more you study them.
Just as you started to get used to the ‘Pacific Pivot” – in case you missed it this summer, it is morphing in to the Indo-Pacific Pivot.
Extending our view from WESTPAC in to the Indian Ocean, how are things changing that will shape the geo-strategic environment from Goa, Darwin, Yokohama, Hainan, to Vladivostok?
Our guest to discuss this and more will be Dr. Toshi Yoshihara, Professor of Strategy and John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and author of Red Star over the Pacific, which was just translated into Chinese.
A returning guest to Midrats, Dr. Yoshihara some of the last few months in China and India, bringing an up to date perspective on this growing center of power and influence.
Join us live or listen later from the archive by clicking here.
The word “hero” is overused today. But headline writers were correct in using the word this weekend when news broke of the death of Col. Bud Day.
George Everette Day spent five-and-a-half years of the Vietnam War in the infamous Hanoi Hilton POW camp. His courage earned him the Medal of Honor. One media outlet reported, “Colonel Day received the medal for his escape and evasion, brief though it was, and his refusal to yield to his tormentors.”
That’s not the whole story. Bud Day and other POW leaders set aside the temptation to escape – they decided to stay in the Hanoi Hilton – as an even greater act of courage.
While Bud Day did make an escape attempt shortly after he was shot down on August 26, 1967, the truth about escape attempts from the Hanoi Hilton became far more complex in the years following his capture.
By Jeong Lee
General Joseph Dunford, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander, has recently told the New York Times that America’s “presence post-2014 is necessary for the gains we have made to date to be sustainable.” His reasoning was that although the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are bearing the brunt of fighting, “at the end of 2014, [they] won’t be completely independent” operationally and logistically.
As the U.S. considers directly arming rebels in Syria, it would do well to heed the lessons of history and examine the positive, negative, and almost entirely unpredictable outcomes of such efforts. History is replete with such lessons including not only the obvious parallels to arming of the mujahedeen in Afghanistan but also the original story of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
In September 1940, the Japanese took control of French Indochina which had, during the Second World War, been governed by the Vichy government in France. To the north was pre-Maoist China, with Chiang Kai-Shek’s forces working with the U.S. military. General Claire Chennault’s 14th Air Force was based in Kunming, China, along with the area’s headquarters for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS.) The head of OSS, Major General William Donovan, was a highly decorated veteran of the first World War. When it came to Indochina, his direction to the base in Kunming was clear: “use anyone who will work with us against the Japanese, but do not become involved in French-Indochinese politics.”
“History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
- Mark Twain
In the introduction to his book 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era, LCDR BJ Armstrong, USN speaks to a problem with a lot of the foundational thinkers on the military art. Referring to modern policymakers, naval leaders, and analysts who do bring up Mahan, Armstrong states,
These writers and thinkers are mistaken. They focus solely on his most famous work and unthinkingly repeat the analysis taught by some academics. Few of these writers appear to have actually read the works of Alfred Thayer Mahan.
Bingo. Many people have a Cliff’s Notes thick understanding of Mahan because they have never been asked to, or made the independent effort to, read the primary source. As a result, many of them are reading modern commentary run through the intellectual grinders of deconstructionism and critical theory to the point that they aren’t even really reading about Mahan any more. They are reading one academic’s commentary on another academic who read a summary of Mahan.
The utility of Armstrong’s work is really rather simple; in each section he tees the ball up for a few pages and then steps away. He lets Mahan speak for himself in long form; not pull quotes or some temporally transposed mash-up of different works stitched together to make a post-modern point.
Some of the worst commentary on Mahan I have read has come from people who really should know better, and a lot of the fault lies in how we teach Mahan.
If you try to take a short cut about learning about a thinker by simply quoting what other people have said about them using a two-line pull quote followed by 55 pages of pontification – then are you really studying the thinker? Are we teaching from primary sources, or are we letting commentary and conjecture of lesser minds come to the fore?
Live by the gouge … be ignorant by the gouge.
Along those lines, there are other naval and military thinkers out there that most of us know about, but do we really know what they said – have we been provided the primary source in an easily digestible format like we see in 21st Century Mahan? As such, have we had a chance to see what can inform our decisions as we prepare for this century’s challenges?
Who would you like to see given a treatment like Mahan was given by Armstrong? Who should be next in line to be introduced anew?
Put your ideas in comments.