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Sybil Ludington’s Ride: A Day Late

(Image 1: Sybil Ludington Monument)

Last night in 1777, 16 year old Sybil Ludington rode 40 miles to alert the American militia that the British had moved on Danbury, CT. Ludington was able to alert over 400 militia and she fended off an attack during her ride with her father’s musket.

(Image 2: Sybil Ludington Historical Marker)

Ludington’s ride was partially the result of her father being a colonel in the colonial militia:

On April 26, 1777, Colonel Ludington received word from a rider that the nearby town of Danbury was under attack by British troops and needed help. At the time, Ludington’s regiment had disbanded for planting season, and his men were miles apart at their respective farms. With the rider too tired to continue and Colonel Ludington focused on preparing for battle, young Sybil rose to the cause. Some accounts say she volunteered; others that her father asked for her service, but either way, she rode through the night alerting the Colonel’s men of the danger and urging them to return to the fight. She rode all night through dark woods and in the rain, covering anywhere from 20 to 40 miles (estimates vary). By the time she returned home, hundreds of soldiers were gathering to fight the British. Ludington’s troops arrived too late to win the battle, though they did fight with departing British soldiers.

(Image 3: Close Up of the Base of the Ludington Monument)


… completed her mission around daybreak, covering nearly 40 miles—more than twice what Paul Revere had ridden—raising 400 men, and even fighting off a highway man with her father’s musket. The militia caught up with the retreating British and beat them back, too late to stop the attack, but not too late to make them pay dearly.

Alexander Hamilton wrote Col. Ludington: “I congratulate you on the Danbury expedition. The stores destroyed have been purchased at a pretty high price to the enemy.”

Sybil received personal thanks from both Gen. George Washington and Gen. Rochambeau, the French commander fighting with the Americans.

Colonel Henry Ludington’s memoir claims:

“One who even now rides from Carmel to Cold Spring will find rugged and dangerous roads, with lonely stretches. Imagination only can picture what it was a century and a quarter ago, on a dark night, with reckless bands of “Cowboys” and “Skinners” abroad in the land. But the child performed her task, clinging to a man’s saddle, and guiding her steed with only a hempen halter, as she rode through the night, bearing the news of the sack of Danbury. There is no extravagance in comparing her ride with that of Paul Revere and its midnight message. Nor was her errand less efficient than his. By daybreak, thanks to her daring, nearly the whole regiment was mustered before her father’s house at Fredericksburgh.”

(Image 4: Sybil Luddington’s Tombstone)

I think Ms. Luddington would be particularly touched that this happened on the 241st  anniversary of her ride:

Yep, that’s a Ranger tabbed woman taking command of an operational company in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team/82nd Airborne Division. That’s progress!

H-Minus! & All the way!

Open thread!

(Sorry I was a day late on this, but things have been a wee bit busy…)


An Update On The Search For A Guadalcanal Veteran

I just wanted to take a minute to update you all on what happened with the search for a Guadalcanal veteran yesterday. As you can imagine we were not the only people on the case, but I pushed Greg Walcott’s lead to the points of contact in the request for assistance yesterday. But I appreciate every lead everyone recommended yesterday.

I received a couple of follow up emails. The first is from the volunteer coordinator at the hospice.


Thank you!

We did find someone to speak with our patient, however, I am forwarding all the correspondence I receive to them and allow them to follow through if they choose.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Carol Galione

And this second one is from the Deputy Executive Director at BRiDGES, whose request was tweeted out by the American Legion in NY:

Good evening Adam,

Thank you so much for what you did today!  It is kind and generous. I am bowled over by the response in the veteran community to help a fellow veteran.

At this time the family feels it will be too much for the veteran to speak with another veteran.

I really appreciate your efforts and if the family changes their mind, Hospice will reach out.

Thanks again!



So you all did good!

Stay sharp!

Open thread.

The American Legion In NY Requests Assistance On Behalf Of A Vet Who Fought On Guadalcanal!

Sorry to big foot TaMara’s post, but I wanted to get this up as quickly as I could.

I’m working my Marine Corps connections, as well as my contacts in the chaplaincy to see if they can do anything, but the farther and wider we can spread this, the more likely it is to get a hit.

Open thread!

Open Thread: “Wag the Prague” — Early Reviews

Read more

Pentagon Press Briefing On Syrian Air Strikes Live Feed

Here’s the live feed for the 10:00 PM EDT Pentagon press briefing on the US, British, and French air strikes on Syrian targets.

From Spencer Ackerman’s February 20, 2018 reporting at The Daily Beast, here are the details on the legal justifications that the Trump Administration produced to justify today’s strikes on Syria.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed a senator in a recently-revealed letter that President Trump considers himself to possess inherent constitutional authority to launch military action without any act of Congress, a sweeping assertion that appears to resurrect from the early George W. Bush years the most imperial notions of the presidency.

Now a group comprised mostly of former Obama administration attorneys is suing to force disclosure of a seven-page Justice Department document they believe codifies the broad legal claim. As they await a judge’s verdict, they believe the secret opinion they seek provides a blueprint for the presidency to put the final nail in the long-constructed coffin for Congress’ own constitutional authority over American war.

Last April, Senator Tim Kaine watched Trump launch a cruise-missile fusillade against a Syrian airbase firmly under the control of regime dictator Bashar Assad. Trump publicly justified attacking the airbase as a means to impose costs on Assad for his chemical weapons attack.

Significantly, doing so bore no relationship to any congressionally-authorized war—not any adversary targetable under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF)—nor any defense of the U.S., its allies or its articulable interests. Kaine wondered: what was the administration’s legal basis for striking the Shayrat airfield?

It took until October for Kaine to get an answer. Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, provided a three-sentence explanation in writing for a hearing on the AUMF; The Daily Beast acquired it after Kaine referenced it in a letter to Tillerson last week. Tillerson pointed to an asserted constitutional authority.

 “The April 6 U.S. missile strike on Shayrat airfield in Syria was not based on the authority of the statutory authorizations for use of military force that we have been discussing at this hearing,” Tillerson told Kaine.

“The President authorized that strike pursuant to his power under Article II of the Constitution as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive to use this sort of military force overseas to defend important U.S. national interests. The U.S. military action was directed against Syrian military targets directly connected to the April 4 chemical weapons attack in Idlib and was justified and legitimate as a measure to deter and prevent Syria’s illegal and unacceptable use of chemical weapons.”

The document, according to Office of Legal Counsel attorney Paul Colborn, is the product of attorneys across multiple federal agencies “providing advice and recommendations to the president and/or other senior Executive Branch officials regarding the legal basis for potential military action.” The undated document was apparently written on or around April 6, the day of the Syria strike. A Justice Department official declined to comment or explain the document further.

Citing the filings, Kaine on Friday raised warnings in a follow-up letter to Tillerson, first reported by NBC, that the authorities the administration claimed risked an end-run around Congress to “become precedent for additional executive unitary action, including this week’s U.S. airstrikes in Syria against pro-Assad forces or even an extremely risky ‘bloody nose’ strike against North Korea.” Tillerson last month declared that U.S. troops will remain in Syria indefinitely, for missions beyond the anti-ISIS mission that itself has only a tenuous connection to the 2001 AUMF.

Much more at the link!

Stay frosty!

Open thread.

The President’s Address Regarding Syria Live Feed

Here’s the live feed:

Stay frosty!

Open thread.

No Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy: Military Strikes And The Strategic Complications At The Heart Of The Syrian Problem Set

This morning the President warned Russia and its Syrian and Iranian clients that we had the nice, new missiles all ready to go as a response to both the chemical attack on Eastern Ghouta, as well as Russia’s attempts to warn the US and its potential allies – from both the existing US led coalition that is Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve or from a new, smaller coalition of the US, Britain, and France designed to just punish the Assad government for the chemical attacks – off of responding.

Always a good choice to avoid the pre-owned missiles. Sometimes they’re owned by little old ladies who only use them to get to and from church on Sunday. But sometimes they’re used by folks that just abuse them, don’t give them regular maintenance, and run up the mileage on them…

There are already reports of the Syrian military relocating its personnel and equipment to the Russian bases in Syria to protect them.

This makes anything more than a demonstration strike, which is what was done last year, much, much more dangerous and problematic. The reason for this is that in order to actually reduce Syria’s capability to make war, and specifically try to deter the future use of chemical weapons, means that the US and its partners would have to target Syrian personnel and equipment that are now within Russian lines, for lack of a better term. This is one of the major strategic complications as it would create a de facto reality that the US and its partners have just attacked Russian military sites in order to get at the Syrian assets we want to degrade, attrit, and reduce.

Another part of this strategic complication is that the Russian navy has both sortied its Mediterranean fleet to get it out of port where these ships would be easy targets and has conducted a live fire exercise.

The lone Russian air craft carrier is back in port in Russia – it is actually in dry dock for the better part of the next four years or so undergoing a refit. As a result this eleven vessel fleet has limited capability.

More worrisome is that the Russian’s have begun electronically jamming US intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (ISR) drones.

The Russian military has deployed jamming tactics against US drones that have affected the US military’s ability to operate in the region, NBC News reports.

US officials told NBC News that the Russian military has been jamming smaller US drones. The jamming is focused on the GPS systems of drones, which can result in things like the operators not knowing where the drone currently is, to more extreme results like crashes.

Department of Defense officials speaking to NBC News did not confirm if they lost any of the drones to crashes as a result of the jamming, but one official did say that the jamming is having an operational impact on military operations in Syria.

The drones that have been targeted are smaller surveillance drones, and not the larger ones with strike capability like the MQ-1 Predator or the MQ-9 Reaper, according to NBC News. US military drones are encrypted and are supposed to have defenses against electronic counter measures, suggesting that Russian capabilities are more advanced than previously thought.

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, then the commanding general for US Army Europe, said in in 2016 that he has seen Russian “electronic warfare capability at a tactical level that we absolutely don’t have.”

Russia’s ally in Syria, Iran, also reportedly has hacking capabilities. In 2011 it claimed that it hacked into a US RQ-170 Sentinel and forced it to land after it gained access to its GPS.

Russian jamming of our ISR drones is intended to communicate to US and allied military commanders that they will not have a friendly electronic environment if they go with an application of strategic air strikes. This complicates not only targeting, but any potential search and rescue operations that might need to be conducted if something went wrong.

There is another set of strategic complications I want to focus on, which is where Russia has moved its military assets over the past 6 months or so. Russia has begun building out its Western Military District. This is the Russian version of a geographic combatant command that borders the Baltics, Scandinavia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

This includes ramping up exercises and mobilizations under cover of wildfire season preparedness:

Here’s how Russia’s military is deployed in their military districts:

(Map 1: Russian Military Units)

And here’s how NATO and Russia’s military stack up right now:

(Figure 1: NATO Assets Vs. Russian Assets as of 2017)


(Figure 2: NATO and Russian Deployments as of 2016)

This second strategic complication should be of great concern. The Russian military, despite being much smaller than the US’s and much degraded by Russian economic realities from the vaunted Soviet military, has been deployed and positioned to threaten the US’s NATO and other allies in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Sweden and Finland have been moving towards a war footing, while our Baltic allies have also increased their readiness. Moreover, the Russians have been sniffing around the undersea transatlantic cables that connect the US and Europe for communications purposes. And we now know that Russia’s cyberwarfare capabilities means they don’t have to actually do anything military to retaliate. Russia could just take down parts or all of the US power grid. Russia has also been able to both penetrate for manipulation and penetrate to take down emergency communication systems, as well as planting false stories about natural disasters and terrorist attacks via social media penetrationImagine what happens should Putin decide to retaliate by turning parts of the US power grid off and interfering with 911 and emergency communications systems, while at the same time spreading disinformation made to look like actual news reports or official municipal, state, and/or Federal responses to the disaster he’s created.

Either a military response against US forces in Syria and Iraq, our NATO allies and partners in Europe, and/or a cyberwarfare response within the US are all potential Russian responses to a US led coalition military response to the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta last week. These are the strategic complications that the US and its potential allies face in developing their plans and sequels to them. These are the strategic complications faced by the President’s senior military, national security, and foreign policy advisors.

The final strategic complication is the one we started with, the one the President created for himself this morning. By threatening Russian and its Syrian and Iranian proxies with the nice, new, and smart missiles he’s tweeted himself into a corner. He either has to actually do something in response to the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta or he will have destroyed any credibility on this type of matter in the future, as well as weakened America’s strategic communication capabilities. Regardless of the strategic complications on the ground in Syria, in Europe, or within the cyber domain, the President has boxed himself in. The President has finally tweeted himself into trouble that he can’t tweet himself out of. Either he orders a response and risks an escalation or he backs down and loses what little face he had.

Stay frosty!

Open thread.