How The Berlin Airlift Beat Back Communism 70 Years Ago Today
On September 30, 1949, the U.S. and her allies completed their mission to rescue the people of Berlin from starvation and stave off the spread of Communism.

“The buildings were bombed and it seemed like there weren’t many men around—all ladies. It was real poverty. It was pitiful,” 93-year-old Ralph Dionne recalls of Germany in 1948.

“There was a gate around our barracks area…the old women would come to the gate begging to help with your laundry. They would take the laundry back home and bring it back faithfully. You could trust them. And they would get paid in cigarettes. That was the money of that time.”

Like so many American men his age, he was called to Europe to serve. But unlike most, Dionne’s mission was not to fight Germans. It was to help them survive. This massive Allied undertaking, the first battle of the Cold War, later came to be known as the Berlin Airlift.

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, Dionne recently shared his memories at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. Along with Cold War scholar Hope Harrison and curator of the Allied Museum in Berlin Bernd von Kostka, they painted a vivid portrait of the volatile post-WWII world and why Americans should still care about the Berlin Airlift today.

Berlin, 1948: The Front Lines of the Cold War

After its devastating defeat in the Second World War, Germany was on the precipice of doom. Its cities were in ruin, the people were demoralized, and its enemies were at the gates. The nation was divided into four sectors, controlled respectively by the victorious Allies: France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States.

Losing a staggering 27 million people in the war, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had little sympathy for the Germans in the Soviet-controlled sector. With the memory of Nazi occupation still fresh in their minds, the French were also understandably leery about helping Germany back on its feet. But although Great Britain and the United States both paid dearly in the war, as well, they were confident that a stable, reconstructed Germany was not only possible but essential to world stability.

By then, U.S. President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill believed Stalin and the intellectual contagion of Communism presented a far greater threat than resurgent German fascism. The Western Allies knew that a stable, democratic German republic would be an essential barrier to halting the spread of Communism into Western Europe.

On the other hand, Stalin knew that poverty and chaos would only make the German people more open to Russia’s proxy or outright rule. An unstable world, still reeling from the agonies of two world wars, was up for grabs to whichever ideology offered people their best chance for stability and peace. By the spring of 1948, the stage for the first battle of the Cold War had been set.

The Showdown between East and West

Hoping to get the Germany economy back on its feet, the Western Allies introduced a new currency—the Deutschmark—to the Western-controlled sectors of Germany and Berlin. Rightfully, Stalin saw this as a challenge to his power. In protest, on June 24, 1948, he launched a blockade on land, sea, and rail, denying all supplies to the still-devastated city of Berlin.

With the bombed-out capital still in ruins and a bitter winter approaching, Berliners needed food, clothing, and, above all, coal to heat homes and power rebounding German industry. Americans like Dionne, the British, and the French were going to make sure they got it. “Operation Vittles,” which later became known as the Berlin Airlift, was under way.

With Berlin 110 miles deep into the Soviet sector, the Airlift posed an enormous logistical challenge. The C-54 aircraft that Dionne worked on required constant maintenance due to the Airlift’s round-the-clock flights with heavy cargo.

“The heavy loads of landing after landing just seared the tires,” Dionne explained to the audience. We had to change the tires all the time.” It’s no wonder. At the peak of the Airlift, on April 16, 1949, 1,398 flights carrying more than 12,940 tons were flown to Berlin within just 24 hours. That’s an average of one flight every 62 seconds.

By May 1949, it was clear that Stalin’s blockade had backfired; the Western Allies had proven that they could carry on the Airlift indefinitely. They had shown Stalin they were willing to fight for the fate of Berlin, Germany, and Western Europe.

Stalin lifted the blockade on May 12, 1949, but the Airlift continued to ensure Berlin would be well supplied for the winter. The United States made its final flight on September 30, 1949.

Winchester Awarded U.S. Army Contract to Manage and Operate Lake City Army Ammunition Plant

Since 2001, Lake City has been run by  Alliant Techsystems, who owned Federal until they split into two companies (Vista Outdoors for commercial & Orbital ATK for military) in 2014 . Olin previously had the contract when they took it over from Remington in 1985.
This is a big change that will take effect in October 2020.
Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see M855A1 ammo hit the commercial market now.

CLAYTON, Mo., Sept. 27, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Olin Corporation (OLN) announced today that its ammunition division, Olin Winchester, LLC (“Winchester”), has been selected by the U.S. Army to operate and manage the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri. Following a one-year transition period, Winchester will assume full operational control of the Lake City plant on October 1, 2020. The contract has an initial term of seven years and may be extended by the U.S. Army for up to three additional years.

“Winchester is honored to have been selected by the Army to operate, maintain and modernize this unique, strategic asset of the U.S. Government’s munitions industrial base,” said Brett Flaugher, President of Winchester. “Our team is fully prepared and 100% committed to the safe, reliable, and responsible operation of Lake City, in the best interest of and service to the U.S. Military.”

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE’S AWARD NOTICE:

Olin Winchester LLC, East Alton, Illinois, was awarded a $28,313,481 fixed-price with economic-price-adjustment contract for production of small caliber ammunition and the operation, maintenance, and modernization of the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. Bids were solicited via the internet with three received. Work will be performed in Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 27, 2029. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois is the contracting activity (W52P1J-19-F-0742).

Burial at Arlington? Army looks at changing rules for who is eligible for interment

WASHINGTON – Troops who die on active duty but not in combat would no longer be eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a proposal released Wednesday by the Army aimed at conserving space at the nation’s most hallowed ground for fallen troops.

Without changes to eligibility, the cemetery, home to the remains of privates and presidents, would run out of room in 30 years to inter even troops who have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

The new criteria for burial include troops killed in combat, recipients of the Silver Star or a higher award, wounded who have received the Purple Heart, former prisoners of war, presidents and vice presidents, and combat veterans who have exceptional records of public service.

The new eligibility rules at the cemetery also would allow certain veterans, including those from the World War II era, to be laid to rest at the cemetery in above-ground facilities.

Acting Army Sec. Ryan McCarthy also proposed setting aside 1,000 grave sites for recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award for valor.

“Arlington National Cemetery is a national shrine for all Americans, but especially those who have served our great nation,” McCarthy said in a statement. “We must ensure it can honor those we have lost for many years to come.”

Congress mandated the proposed rule changes, which will be open to public comment. Without changes to eligibility, the 155-year-old cemetery would be filled to capacity sometime after 2050.

Why U.S. Patriot missiles failed to stop drones and cruise missiles attacking Saudi oil sites.
The U.S. is having trouble defending against low-flying drones and cruise missiles after years of the Pentagon focusing on longer-range threats.

A lot depends on the word “if”. In any event, the effectiveness of military defensive and offensive gear is a constant see-saw battle. Iran apparently detected this weakness and exploited it.
As has been said: “Only the enemy will tell you where you are weak.”

The United States is sending American troops to the Middle East to provide better air and missile defenses after an aerial attack on Saudi oil targets last week. The raid began around 4 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 14, with explosions rippling across the Kurais and Abqaiq Aramco oil processing facilities inside Saudi Arabia as the sound of defensive automatic machine-gun fire rang in the air.

In theory, the oil facilities both lay under the defensive umbrella of Patriot PAC-2 surface-to-air missile batteries that the U.S. sold to Saudi Arabia to intercept aircraft and missiles up to 100 miles away. However, if Saudi radars detected the 18 triangular drones and seven cruise missiles (judging by recovered debris) that bombarded them last week, they did so too late. Instead, they were forced to fire sporadically with automatic weapons, which didn’t prevent widespread damage that temporarily disrupted shipments of 5.7 million barrels of oil daily — half of Saudi Arabia’s output.

Indeed, while the U.S. troops are intended to provide help against this type of threat — believed to have been launched by Iran — air attacks by low-flying drones and cruise missiles are exactly the types of systems the U.S. is having trouble defending against after years of focusing on longer-range threats.

Today, September 18, 1947,  the US Air Force was “born” with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947. This was a major restructure of the nation’s military after World War 2. It created the National Military Establishment (later remodeled as the Department of Defense), the Department of the Air Force as a sub-department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council. The Army Air Forces became the United States Air Force.

The Real Robot Threat.

In the fall of 1989, the peoples of Eastern Europe rose up against their Communist oppressors. The tyrants ruling these nations had no moral compunction about shooting their subjects down, but fortunately, they couldn’t count on their armed forces to do it. So the Iron Curtain fell, and two years later, even the mighty Soviet Union was brought down when the Red Army, sent into Moscow, refused the orders of those attempting to brutally reinstate Stalinist rule.

But imagine what might have occurred had those soldiers been not human beings but robots, lacking in any sympathy or humanity, ready, willing, and able to reliably massacre anyone the authorities chose to be their targets.

This is the threat posed by the emerging technology known as “autonomous weapons.”…………….

This danger is illustrated by a recent paper written by a committee of artificial-intelligence experts, which included both strong advocates for autonomous weaponry and some with more cautious attitudes. Reaching a compromise, the group proposed that:

States should consider adopting a 5-year, renewable moratorium on the development, deployment, transfer, and use of anti-personnel lethal autonomous weapon systems . . .

The moratorium would not apply to:

  • Anti-vehicle or anti-materiel weapons

  • Non-lethal anti-personnel weapons

  • Research on ways of improving autonomous weapon technology to reduce non-combatant harm in future anti-personnel lethal autonomous weapon systems

  • Weapons that find, track, and engage specific individuals whom a human has decided should be engaged within a limited predetermined period of time and geographic region.

One cannot help but note that most of the applications called out to be excluded from the moratorium are those directed against civilians, rather than opposing armed forces.

Brotherhood of Heroes: The Marines at Peleliu, 1944–The Bloodiest Battle of the Pacific War

On September 15, 1944, the U.S. 3rd Amphibious Corp consisting of the Marine Corps 1st Division, Army’s 81st Division & supporting forces, invaded Peleliu in the Palau islands southeast of the Philippines.

This Band of Brothers for the Pacific is the gut-wrenching and ultimately triumphant story of the Marines’ most ferocious—yet largely forgotten—battle of World War II.

Between September 15 and October 15, 1944, the First Marine Division suffered more than 6,500 casualties fighting on a hellish little coral island in the Pacific. Peleliu was the setting for one of the most savage struggles of modern times, a true killing ground that has been all but forgotten—until now. Drawing on interviews with Peleliu veterans, Bill Sloan’s gripping narrative seamlessly weaves together the experiences of the men who were there, producing a vivid and unflinching tableau of the twenty-four-hour-a-day nightmare of Peleliu.

Emotionally moving and gripping in its depictions of combat, Brotherhood of Heroes rescues the Corps’s bloodiest battle from obscurity and does honor to the Marines who fought it.