FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 5th through 8th 2018

Bama Beats Georgia

In a great national championship college football game that saw an amazing group of freshmen players on both sides, Alabama beat Georgia 26-23 in overtime.  And Mayhem is back!  The New Year’s resolution of the kinder, gentler, Mayhem didn’t even last two weeks…..


US Suspends Security Assistance to Pakistan

The relationship between the US and Pakistan has long been a complicated one.  The protracted 17 year war in Afghanistan has made us strained allies in the war against terrorism.  Defense Times is reporting the decision by the U.S. to suspend security assistance to Pakistan could have serious consequences for the American-led fight in Afghanistan, and potentially further strengthen ties between Islamabad and China.  As you’ll recall China is spending big money in Pakistan to develop and build the new silk road.  Our need to encourage Pakistan to assist the US conflicts with the government of Pakistan’s generally reluctance to put pressure on the tribal forces in Afghanistan they identify with more closely than those of western cultures.  Then there was that whole deal of allowing Osama bin Laden to hind in and flourish in Pakistan.  And it’s important to note that as we withdraw our influence or in this case money from the region, China is there to fill the gap.  Spokesperson for the United States Department of State Heather Nauert announced new restrictions on Thursday that cover security assistance above and beyond the $255 million for Pakistani purchases of American military equipment that the administration held up in August, but it was not immediately clear how much money and materiel was being withheld.  Nauert made clear the $255 million was still blocked. The new action targets payments of so-called Coalition Support Funds that the U.S. pays to Pakistan to reimburse it for its counterterrorism operations. Those funds are typically paid later in the year, and already require U.S. certification, so the effect of Thursday’s announcement was unclear.  The move comes days after President Donald Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet that accused Pakistan of playing U.S. leaders for “fools,” as well as a growing number of voices from the administration that have complained Pakistan is not doing enough to combat militants targeting U.S. personnel in neighboring Afghanistan.  On Monday, Trump said the U.S. had “foolishly” given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but “lies & deceit.” He reiterated longstanding allegations that Pakistan gives “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”  The big question facing the American effort in Afghanistan now becomes whether Pakistan retaliates by shutting down the supply lines for materiel into Afghanistan, known as the Ground Lines of Communication, or GLOC.  Hours before the announcement,  United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was asked if there were any signals from Pakistan that cutting the aid would result in the GLOC being closed, to which he responded, “We have had no indication of anything like that.”  But closing the GLOC remains a long-standing concern for the U.S. Those lines represent the cheapest way of getting supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, something the Pentagon learned the hard way between Nov. 2011 and July 2012, when Pakistan shut the GLOC routes down following an incident where 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.  Reporting in 2012 revealed that costs for getting needed supplies into Afghanistan went from $17 million a month to $104 million a month, a significant upcharge even by Pentagon budget standards. With significantly fewer troops in Afghanistan today than in 2012, the costs would not be quite so high, but could still hurt a Department of Defense that finds itself lacking budget stability.  Pakistan has for years tried to counterbalance its alliance with the U.S. with one from China, including with its military relationships. Industrially, Pakistan has agreed to work with China to produce a new submarine fleet as well as working together to develop what in Pakistan is known as the JF-17 jet fighter. In addition, China has developed the Azmat-class missile boat for Pakistan, which will carry Chinese-built weapons.  Notably, a Pentagon report from last June concluded that China will seek to develop a military base in Pakistan, which would represent only the second People’s Liberation Army military facility outside of China.  In an off-camera briefing with reporters on Friday, Mattis took a more conciliatory approach. He acknowledged Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts and emphasized that aid would be restored if the U.S. sees evidence of renewed effort by Pakistan.  So I’d say Pakistan has some choices to make.

New Sanctions Leveled Against Iran

I have been watching the Trump White House regarding their comments on the protests in Iran and I think they have taken the right tone in verbally supporting the people of Iran’s right to protest and also for specifically not endorsing or supporting regime change, despite the fact we’d like to see regime change in Iran. Trump administration officials unveiled new sanctions against five Iranian companies on Thursday as the White House continued to support protesters who have spent more than a week staging demonstrations against the Iranian government; all according to the Washington Examiner.  “These sanctions target key entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, which the Iranian regime prioritizes over the economic well-being of the Iranian people,” United States Secretary of the Treasury  Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on Thursday.  “As the Iranian people suffer, their government and the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] fund foreign militants, terrorist groups, and human rights abuses,” Mnuchin said. “The United States will continue to decisively counter the Iranian regime’s malign activity, including additional sanctions targeting human rights abuses.”  President Trump has long criticized the Iranian government for what he described as its disregard for the spirit of the nuclear deal his predecessor struck. Trump has also slammed the deal itself, calling it poorly negotiated and blaming it for the previous administration’s disregard for corruption in Tehran.  There is a lot to be said for that.  “We will not hesitate to call out the regime’s economic mismanagement, and diversion of significant resources to fund threatening missile systems at the expense of its citizenry,” Mnuchin said.


US Air Operations Over Syria – A Treasure Trove For Our Adversaries

This article is taken from Flight Global.  Russia and China are studying American air power over Syria and Iraq, and US Air Force generals are worried they have already learned too much.  In the past, the US competed against the Soviet Union’s brute force and China’s overwhelming numbers, but the two adversaries could soon outpace the US with more sophisticated and wider reaching surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. As the US has ramped up airstrikes against ISIS over the past two years, its peer adversaries have been watching and finding ways to close their capability gaps, says two top USAF generals – the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).  “We have to stop thinking like the champion and start thinking like the contender,” Lt Gen Mark Nowland, who handles operations, told an audience on Capitol Hill on 4 January “Our competitors are not only imitating us, they’re improving upon what we’ve done.”  Russia has gained valuable information operating in a contested airspace alongside the US over Syria and are incorporating those lessons in their strategy, says Lt Gen Vera Linn Jamieson, the USAF’s ISR chief.  In Syria, the USAF has observed Russia increase its use of precision guided munitions and fly longer sorties of up to 18-24h, Jamieson says. Meanwhile, Chinese forces have pushed their bombers for hours longer and have integrated their airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and refueling capabilities, she adds. With a newly established foreign base in Djibouti, China will have a unique opportunity to monitor US operations in the region.  “Our adversaries are watching us,” she says. “The skies over Iraq and specifically Syria have really just been a treasure trove to see how we operate. We also know we’re watched when we conduct operations off various coasts and also over the Korean peninsula.”  While Russia is not employing PGMs in the same way as the USA, they’re using the munitions at a much greater rate, Jamieson says. Syria has become a testing ground for not only munitions, but aircraft and cruise missiles.  “They have fired off cruise missiles, they have fire off air to air missiles, they have used long range aviation,” she says. “They have conducted their first what I would characterize as their first away game as a complete and continuous employment arena.”  These are examples of how as a nation we have failed to operate with our allies in a determined manner so as to enforce our values over the last nine years.


Ode To The Infantry Assaultman

Sadly this from the Marine Times: It is a sad day for many Marines around the world. The Marine Corps has decided to eliminate the military occupational specialty (MOS) known as the Infantry Assaultman.  What can we say about the Infantry Assaultman? He was a renaissance man of the infantry. Need a hole blown in a wall with a sophisticated demolition charge? He could do that. Are you in need of shooting a rocket into a building to ruin some asshole sniper’s day? Backblast area all clear and he was your man with a SMAW rocket on target. Where you perhaps short on manpower and needed someone to man a machine-gun and understand how to employ it? The 0351 Infantry Assaultman easily slipped into roles that were not his own and excelled. Why? Nobody really knows, it was just what he did. Nobody knew what to do with the assaultmen, so while they maintained their specific MOS skills, they also learned and picked up the skills from others as well.  The infantry assaultman was smart. He had to be. His job required that he be able to distinguish between friendly and enemy tanks through a thermal optic, memorize several different equations for demolitions and numerous explosive values, all in the blink of an eye. He was known as the Ph.D. of the infantry. With abnormally high ASVAB scores, the assaultman was a bit of a nerd in the infantry community, but lovable at the same time. He was a nerd, but he was the infantry’s nerd.  With the reassignment of the Javelin anti-tank missile to the TOW missile gunner MOS, it was only a matter of time before the assaultman went the way of the buffalo. We’ll forever hold you in our hearts 0351 Infantry Assaultmen, and we’ll miss the days of clearing your backblast before you sent a rocket of doom to the faces of insurgent terrorist assholes.  Semper Fidelis.


Fiery Cross Reef Now A Chinese Island Military Base

Fiery Cross Reef – known also as Northwest Investigator Reef and Yongshu Reef to the Chinese – ballooned from a group of scattered reefs in the Spratly Islands to a 2.8-square-kilometer fortification, which is now reportedly the third largest island in the vast waters.  In a year-end feature, Chinese state broadcaster China Central Television aired rare aerial footage of Fiery Cross Reef, which has been transformed into a big island dominated by a 3,125-meter runway, long enough for H-6K strategic bombers to land.  It also has a hospital, plus military installations that include early warning radars and close-proximity weapons systems.  With Beijing seemingly eager to militarize the sea, an initiative known as the “Great Wall of sand” was implemented. The island was created through eight months of non-stop reclamation in 2015 with monster cutter-suction dredgers used to suck up sand from nearby shoals via a technique known as hydraulic fill.  Chinese naval activities near the Spratly’s in 1987 began a race to occupy the islands early the following year with Vietnam and other countries that claim territory in the archipelago.  (photo left) Fiery Cross Reef was occupied by Chinese troops in February 1988, supposedly for the construction of a UNESCO marine observation station.  But China’s move to occupy Gac Ma Reef (Johnson Reef) was opposed by Vietnam and led to armed conflict in March that year. More than 60 Vietnamese sailors were reportedly killed – some shot while standing on the reef – when Chinese naval frigates opened fire and sank two Vietnamese ships. A member of a Chinese “survey team” was also injured during the skirmish.  By July 1988, the Chinese were reported to have built a 300-meter pier capable of handling 4,000-ton ships, a helipad, as well as the oceanographic observation station on Fiery Cross Reef.  (today’s photo right) The Obama administration ignored the Chinese buildup of the reef and failed to support the claims of other nations in the region.  And the Trump administration has concentrated on attempting to persuade China apply pressure to North Korea and has only minimally supported international findings of law.  While we have and continue to occasionally exercise Freedom of Navigation (FON) in the South China Sea, FON operations alone makes us look uninterested in the international implications.


Undersea Cables The Achilles’ Heel of Global Internet 

At a time when more than 95% of everything that moves on the global Internet passes through just 200 undersea fiber-optic cables, potential adversaries such as the US, Russia, China and Iran are focusing on these deep-sea information pipes as rich sources of intelligence as well as targets in war.  The weapons earmarked for the struggle include submarines, underwater drones, robots and specialized ships and divers. The new battlefield is also a gray legal zone: Current Law of the Sea conventions cover some aspects of undersea cables but not hostile acts.  Cables can also be attacked by terrorists and other non-state actors.  The damage from such hard-to-detect acts could be enormous, since a foe’s economy, in addition to military and diplomatic communications, could be blinded. As more nations exploit the Internet for political or military gain, it’s also clear that the tactical concept of undersea cables as critical assets to be attacked or defended is an idea whose time has come.  I saw this in a recent edition of Cyberwarfare: “In the most severe scenario of an all-out attack upon undersea cable infrastructure by a hostile actor the impact of connectivity loss is potentially catastrophic, but even relatively limited sabotage has the potential to cause significant economic disruption and damage,” a former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), retired Admiral James G. Stavridis (USNA ’76), (photo left) wrote in the foreword to a recent report, “Undersea Cables: Indispensable, Insecure.”  It’s hard to overstate the importance and vulnerability of the world’s undersea cables. Rishi Sunak, the Conservative British member of Parliament who authored the December report, noted that the world’s undersea Internet cables carried about US$10 trillion of financial transactions in a single day as well as huge volumes of data, from e-mails to classified government-to-government information.  “Were the network to disappear, the entire capacity of the Earth’s satellite network could handle just 7% of the communications currently sent via cable from the United States alone,” Sunak wrote.  Chokepoints where cables converge because of underwater terrain or other factors are especially vulnerable. One is the Luzon Strait near the Philippines, where all the undersea cables connecting Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan pass. The site’s vulnerability was underscored on December 26, 2006, when an undersea landslide severed six cables, temporarily disrupting Internet traffic throughout the region.  In the US, the bulk of trans-Atlantic Internet bandwidth comes ashore at a few sites within a 50-kilometer radius of New York City.  The contours of the new battlefield are enormous: Submarine cables can hug the ocean bottom only a few meters from the surface or straddle abysses as deep as Mount Everest is tall.  The locations of the world’s cables are also well mapped and available online, making them prey for specialized subs, ships, divers or something as simple as grappling hooks.  “Protection of the undersea cables that are an essential – and vulnerable – part of the global economy is yet another potential responsibility for a US Navy that is dangerously overstretched,” Joseph Callo, a naval authority and retired rear admiral in the US Navy Reserve, told Asia Times.  US intelligence officials contend that Russia is the chief offender in the new cable war. They have publicly disclosed that Russian submarines are “aggressively operating” near the Atlantic cables that serve the US mainland, as part of an asymmetric-warfare approach.  Covert Shores, a specialist website dedicated to analysis of maritime Special Forces and submarines, alleged in an updated article in August that the Russian Navy had been operating an advanced spy ship called the Yantar that is suspected of tapping into undersea Internet cables and carrying out other intelligence work on the sea floor.  Yantar “can host two deep submergence submarines for undersea engineering missions,” wrote H I Sutton, the author of the Covert Shores article. “These missions are thought to include cable cutting, laying of taps on undersea cables, removing other countries’ taps (‘delousing’) and related intelligence missions. She may also perform other special missions such as recovery of sensitive equipment from crashed aircraft or test missiles.”  The military website says the Yantar has been observed loitering off the US coast, Cuba, Turkey, Northern Cyprus and other sites where there are key undersea cable connections.  Rob Huebert, a senior fellow at the University of Calgary’s Center for Military and Strategic Studies, points to reports that the Russians have a special mini-submarine launched in 2003 that dives to a very deep range. He says the sub, variously called the Losharik or Project 201 and AS-12, is suspected of being able to carry out cable missions, though this is unconfirmed.  “If the Russians have this, it would be highly likely that both the Chinese and Americans have the same ability,” Huebert told Asia Times.  (Fireball note: Well I would hope so).  Actual evidence of Chinese or Iranian participation in cable-focused espionage activities is spotty. The US side points to Chinese activities in the South China Sea and Iranian actions in the Persian Gulf where civilian vessels rather than easily observed military ships with “gray hulls” are being used to carry out unknown activities.  Stavridis noted in his foreword that underwater cables are easy targets for unmarked civilian vessels that can do their work with conventional, non-military technology.  There’s a propaganda spin to such US allegations. But both Beijing and Tehran can be expected to engage in such activities if they see potential foes such as the US developing this capability.  Stavridis says a solution for the US side is to create “dark cables” that aren’t operational but can be kept in reserve for emergencies. He says another option is to engage Russia and others in bolstering international legal protections for undersea cables and other fiber-optic grids.


China Laying Down Third Aircraft Carrier

That bastion of some great information reports China started building its third aircraft carrier, with a hi-tech launch system, at a Shanghai shipyard last year, according to sources close to the People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLAN).  One of the sources said Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard Group was given the go-ahead to begin work on the vessel after military leaders met in Beijing following the annual sessions of China’s legislature and top political advisory body in March.  “But the shipyard is still working on the carrier’s hull, which is expected to take about two years,” the source said. “Building the new carrier will be more complicated and challenging than the other two ships.”  China has been trying to build up a blue-water navy that can operate globally and support its maritime security, but it so far has only one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning – a repurposed Soviet ship it bought from Ukraine that went into service in 2012.  Its first Chinese designed and built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is expected to go into full service later this year (photo above right).  The sources all said it was too early to say when the third vessel would be launched, but China plans to have four aircraft carrier battle groups in service by 2030, according to naval experts.  Shipbuilders and technicians from Shanghai and Dalian are working on the third vessel, which will have a displacement of about 80,000 tons – 100,000 tons more than the Liaoning, according to another source close to the PLAN.  Sources said the layout of the new aircraft carrier, including its flight deck and “island” command center, would be different from the other two.  “The new vessel will have a smaller tower island than the Liaoning and its sister ship because it needs to accommodate China’s carrier-based J-15 fighter jets, which are quite large,” the first source said.  “It has been suggested that they look to Britain’s warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has two small tower islands on the deck. That would create more space for the runway and aircraft, but no final decision has been made yet.”  China’s navy has meanwhile begun training its own fighter pilots, rather than recruiting them from the air force, as it prepares to expand the fleet, the official PLA Daily reported.


National Defense Strategy Forthcoming 

The Pentagon will unveil its National Defense Strategy on Jan. 19 United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced Friday.  Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, Mattis said a significant part of the strategy will remain classified, but promised to make at least part of the document open to the public.  “There will be a classified one that is relatively thick; there will be a shorter one that will basically lay it out unclassified, and we’ll get those copies to you,” Mattis said.  The National Defense Strategy is the second in a series of major reviews coming from the Trump administration. On Dec. 18, President Donald Trump unveiled the National Security Strategy, which spoke in broad terms. For the Pentagon, the NDS represents a chance to get into specifics.  Following the NDS, the Pentagon will also unveil the Ballistic Missile Defense Review and Nuclear Posture Reviews in February.  Last month, Deputy Secretary of Defense  Patrick M. Shanahan (photo below right) told reporters that he believes the National Defense Strategy will make a lasting impact on the Pentagon over the coming year, as it will drive where resources are allocated for the department.  Fireball note: here we are in January and we still don’t have a DoD budget for this year and have not plan to increase Defense spending beyond current legislative limits.






French Captain Alfred Dreyfus Publically Stripped of His Rank

The infamous Dreyfus Affair was a political scandal that divided the Third French Republic from 1894 until its resolution in 1906. The affair is often seen as a modern and universal symbol of injustice, and it remains one of the most notable examples of a complex miscarriage of justice. The major role played by the press and public opinion proved influential in the lasting social conflict.

The scandal began in December 1894 with the treason conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Alsatian and Jewish descent for allegedly communicating French military secrets to the German Embassy in Paris. He was convicted on flimsy evidence in a highly irregular trail the demonstrated the anti-Semitism permeating France’s military and because many praised the ruling, the French in general.  On January 5, 1895, Dreyfus is stripped of his rank in a humiliating public ceremony in the courtyard of Paris’ Ecole Militaire; also a highly irregular event.  Sentenced to life imprisonment (as France had outlawed the death penalty a few years earlier), Dreyfus was imprisoned on Devil’s Island in French Guiana, where he spent nearly five years.  (photo of his hut on Devil’s Island below right) Evidence came to light in 1896—primarily through an investigation instigated by Georges Picquart, head of counter-espionage—identifying a French Army major named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy as the real culprit. After high-ranking military officials suppressed the new evidence, a military court unanimously acquitted Esterhazy after a trial lasting only two days. The Army then accused Dreyfus with additional charges based on falsified documents. Word of the military court’s framing of Dreyfus and of an attempted cover-up began to spread, chiefly owing to J’accuse…!, a vehement open letter published in a Paris newspaper in January 1898 by famed writer Émile Zola. Activists put pressure on the government to reopen the case.  In 1899, Dreyfus was returned to France for another trial. The intense political and judicial scandal that ensued divided French society between those who supported Dreyfus (now called “Dreyfusards”), such as Sarah BernhardtAnatole FranceHenri Poincaré and Georges Clemenceau, and those who condemned him (the anti-Dreyfusards), such as Édouard Drumont, the director and publisher of the antisemitic newspaper La Libre Parole. The new trial resulted in another conviction and a 10-year sentence, but Dreyfus was given a pardon and set free. Eventually all the accusations against Dreyfus were demonstrated to be baseless. In 1906 Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French Army. He served during the whole of World War I, ending his service with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He died in 1935.  The affair from 1894 to 1906 divided France deeply and lastingly into two opposing camps: the pro-Army, mostly Catholic “anti-Dreyfusards” and the anticlerical, pro-republican Dreyfusards. The implications of this case were numerous and affected all aspects of French public life. In politics, the affair established the triumph of the Third Republic (and became a founding myth); in the renewal of nationalism, in the military. In religion, it slowed the reform of French Catholicism and republican integration of Catholics; and in social, legal, press, diplomatic and cultural life. It was during the affair that the term intellectual was coined. The affair engendered numerous anti-Semitic demonstrations, which in turn affected emotions within the Jewish communities of Central and Western Europe. These demonstrations affected the international movement of Zionism by persuading one of its founding fathers, Theodor Herzl, that the Jews must leave Europe and establish their own state.


Some Other Events From January 5:

1933 Construction begins on Golden Gate Bridge

1643 First divorce in the colonies

1972 Nixon launches the space shuttle program


The Curse of the Bambino Begins

As an out-of-towner from New York City, Harry Frazee had been regarded with suspicion by Boston’s sportswriters and baseball fans when he bought the team. He won them over with success on the field and a willingness to build the Red Sox by purchasing or trading for players. He offered the Senators $60,000 for Walter Johnson, but Washington owner Clark Griffith was unwilling. Even so, Frazee was successful in bringing other players to Boston, especially as replacements for players in the military. This willingness to spend for players helped the Red Sox secure the 1918 title.  The 1919 season saw record-breaking attendance, and Babe Ruth’s home runs for Boston made him a national sensation. In March 1919 Ruth was reported as having accepted a three-year contract for a total of $27,000, after protracted negotiations. Nevertheless, on December 26, 1919, Frazee sold Ruth’s contract to the New York Yankees.  Not all of the circumstances concerning the sale are known, but brewer and former congressman Jacob Ruppert, the New York team’s principal owner, reportedly asked Yankee manager Miller Huggins what the team needed to be successful. “Get Ruth from Boston”, Huggins supposedly replied.  No matter the circumstances Frazee was perennially in need of money to finance his theatrical productions.  According to one of Ruth’s biographers, Jim Reisler, “why Frazee needed cash in 1919—and large infusions of it quickly—is still, more than 80 years later, a bit of a mystery.” The oft-told story is that Frazee needed money to finance the musical No, No, Nanette, which became a Broadway hit and brought Frazee financial security. That play did not open until 1925, however, by which time Frazee had sold the Red Sox.  There were other financial pressures on Frazee, despite his team’s success. Ruth, fully aware of baseball’s popularity and his role in it, wanted to renegotiate his contract, signed before the 1919 season for $10,000 per year through 1921. He demanded that his salary be doubled, or he would sit out the season and cash in on his popularity through other ventures.  Ruth’s salary demands were causing other players to ask for more money.  Additionally, Frazee still owed as much as $125,000 from the purchase of the Red Sox.  Although the Yankee’s Ruppert and his co-owner, Colonel Tillinghast Huston, were both wealthy, and had aggressively purchased and traded for players in 1918 and 1919 to build a winning team, Ruppert faced losses in his brewing interests as Prohibition was implemented, and if their team left the Polo Grounds, where the Yankees were the tenants of the New York Giants, building a stadium in New York would be expensive.  These owners moved in the same social circles.  It’s likely, when Frazee hinted to the colonel that Ruth was available for the right price, the Yankees owners quickly pursued the purchase of the Babe’s contract.  Frazee sold the rights to Babe Ruth for $100,000, the largest sum ever paid for a baseball player. The deal also involved a $350,000 loan from Ruppert to Frazee, secured by a mortgage on Fenway Park. Once it was agreed, Frazee informed Barrow, the Red Sox GM, who, stunned, told Frazee that he was getting the worse end of the bargain.  Cynics have suggested that Barrow may have played a larger role in the Ruth sale, as less than a year later he became the Yankee general manager.   In the following years he executed a number of trades for Red Sox players from Frazee.  The $100,000 price included $25,000 in cash, and notes for the same amount due November 1 in 1920, 1921, and 1922; Ruppert and Huston assisted Frazee in selling the notes to banks for immediate cash.  The transaction was contingent on Ruth signing a new contract, which was quickly accomplished—Ruth agreed to fulfill the remaining two years on his contract, but was given a $20,000 bonus, payable over two seasons. The deal was announced on January 6, 1920. Reaction in Boston was mixed: some fans were embittered at the loss of Ruth; others conceded that the slugger had become difficult to deal with.  The New York Times top sports writer of the day Reisler suggested presciently, “The short right field wall at the Polo Grounds should prove an easy target for Ruth next season and, playing seventy-seven games at home, it would not be surprising if Ruth surpassed his home run record of twenty-nine circuit clouts next Summer.” That right field short porch in the Yankee Stadium contributed to building the “house that Ruth built.”  Again according to Reisler, “The Yankees had pulled off the sports steal of the century.”  According to Marty Appel in his history of the Yankees, the transaction, “changed the fortunes of two high-profile franchises for decades.”  The Red Sox, winners of five of the first sixteen World Series, those played between 1903 and 1919, would not win another pennant until 1946, or another World Series until 2004, a drought attributed in baseball superstition to Frazee’s sale of Ruth and sometimes dubbed the “Curse of the Bambino“. The Yankees, on the other hand, had not won the AL championship prior to their acquisition of Ruth. They won seven AL pennants and four World Series with Ruth, and lead baseball with 40 pennants and 27 World Series titles in their history.  Most pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training on February 13, 2018.  Photo above right is Babe Ruth and Shoeless Joe Jackson examining a bat.


Battle of New Orleans

The Battle of New Orleans was a series of engagements fought between December 14, 1814 and January 18, 1815, constituting the last major battle of the War of 1812.  The War of 1812 didn’t really solve anything and left the new American nation pretty much where it started.  We need to remember that during this same period Britain was far more involved in attempting to defeat Napoleon on the continent of Europe and the war against those pesky Americans was a sideline show.  With Napoleon defeated the US moved swiftly to negotiate a settlement prior to the British being able to move major forces to bear in the new world.  While it would have been difficult and cost a great deal more money the British did not have a settlement was made.  Back to New Orleans.  American combatants,  commanded by Major General Andrew Jackson, prevented a much larger British force, commanded by Admiral Alexander Cochrane and General Edward Pakenham, from seizing New Orleans and the vast territory the United States had acquired with the Louisiana Purchase.  The Treaty of Ghent had been signed on December 24, 1814 (but was not ratified by the US Government until February 1815), and hostilities continued without the involved parties knowing about the Treaty, until January 18 by which time all of the British forces had retreated, finally putting an end to the Battle of New Orleans.  By December 12, 1814, sixty British ships with 14,450 soldiers and sailors aboard, under the command of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, had anchored in the Gulf of Mexico to the east of Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne.  Preventing access to the lakes was an American flotilla, commanded by Lieutenant Thomas Catesby Jones, consisting of five gunboats. On December 14, around 1,200 British sailors and Royal Marines under Captain Nicholas Lockyer set out to attack Jones’ force. Lockyer’s men sailed in 42 longboats, each armed with a small carronade. Lockyer captured Jones’ vessels in a brief engagement known as the Battle of Lake Borgne. 17 British sailors were killed and 77 wounded, while 6 Americans were killed, 35 wounded, and 86 captured.  The wounded included both Jones and Lockyer. Now free to navigate Lake Borgne, thousands of British soldiers, under the command of General John Keane, were rowed to Pea Island (possibly now Pearl Island), about 30 miles east of New Orleans, where they established a garrison.  On the morning of December 23, Keane and a vanguard of 1,800 British soldiers reached the east bank of the Mississippi River, 9 miles south of New Orleans.  Keane could have attacked the city by advancing for a few hours up the river road, which was undefended all the way to New Orleans, but he made the fateful decision to encamp at Lacoste’s Plantation and wait for the arrival of reinforcements.  Meanwhile, General Jackson learned of the advances and position of the British encampment from Colonel Pierre Denis (born Denys) de La Ronde (upon whose plantation, commonly misnamed Versailles, Louisiana, the night battle was later largely fought) and his son-in-law, Gabriel Villeré, son of Colonel Jacques Villeré. The young major had escaped through a window after capture, when the advancing British invaded his family home.  That evening, Jackson, attacking from the north, led 2,131men in a brief three-pronged assault on the unsuspecting British troops, who were resting in their camp. After a brief encounter with his inferior numbers Jackson then pulled his forces back to the Rodriguez Canal, about 4 miles south of the city. The Americans suffered 24 killed, 115 wounded, and 74 missing, while the British reported their losses as 46 killed, 167 wounded, and 64 missing.   The Americans immediately began constructing earthworks to protect the artillery batteries. These defenses were christened Line Jackson. The Americans installed eight batteries, which included one 32-pound gun, three 24-pounders, one 18-pounder, three 12-pounders, three 6-pounders, and a 6-inch (150 mm) howitzer. Jackson also sent a detachment to the west bank of the Mississippi to man two 24-pounders and two 12-pounders on the grounded warship USS Louisiana. Even so, Jackson’s force was greatly outnumbered by the attacking forces. Jackson’s total of 4,732 men was made up of 968 U.S. Army regulars, 58 U.S. Marines (holding the center of the defensive line), 106 seamen of the US Naval battalion, 1,060 Louisiana militia and volunteers (including 462 free people of color), 1,352 Tennessee militia, 986 Kentucky militia, 150 Mississippi militia, and 52 Choctaw warriors, along with a force from the pirate Jean Lafitte‘s Baratarians. Jackson also had the support of the warships in the Mississippi River, including the USS Louisiana, the USS Carolina and the Enterprise, a steamboat.  On January 8, 1815, the British marched against General Andrew Jackson’s lines of defense. The Americans had constructed three lines of defense, the forward one four miles in front of the city, was strongly entrenched at the Rodriquez Canal, which stretched from a swamp to the river, with a timber, loopholed breastwork and earthworks for artillery.  The main attack began in darkness and a heavy fog, but as the British neared the main enemy line the fog lifted, exposing them to withering artillery fire. Lt-Col. Thomas Mullins, the British commander of the 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot, had forgotten the ladders and fascines needed to cross the eight-foot-deep and fifteen-foot-wide canal and scale the earthworks (that would have been important to remember), and in the dark and fog confusion descended as the British tried to close the gap. Most of the senior officers were killed or wounded, including Major General Samuel Gibbs, who was killed leading the main attack column on the right, consisting of the 4th, 21st, 44th, and 5th West India Regiments, and Colonel Rennie, who led a detachment of three light companies of the 7th, 43rd, and 93rd on the left by the river.  Possibly because of Thornton’s delay in crossing the river and the withering artillery fire that might hit them from across the river, the 93rd Highlanders were ordered to leave Keane’s assault column advancing along the river and move across the open field to join the main force on the right of the field. Keane fell wounded as he crossed the field with the 93rd. Rennie’s men managed to attack and overrun an American advance redoubt next to the river, but without reinforcements they could neither hold the position nor successfully storm the main American line behind it.  The two large main assaults on the American position were repulsed. Pakenham and his second-in-command, Major General Samuel Gibbs, were fatally wounded while on horseback, by grapeshot fired from the earthworks. Major Wilkinson of the 21st Regiment reformed his lines and made a third assault. They were able to reach the entrenchments and attempted to scale them. Wilkinson made it to the top, before being shot. The Americans were amazed at his bravery and carried him behind the rampart.  This assault occurred in the area where you see the two cannons by the treeline in the modern day photo.   With most of their senior officers dead or wounded, the British soldiers, including the 93rd Highlanders, having no orders to advance further or retreat, stood out in the open and were shot apart with grapeshot from Line Jackson. General Lambert was in the reserve and took command. He gave the order for his reserve to advance and ordered the withdrawal of the army. The reserve was used to cover the retreat of what was left of the British army in the field.  The Battle of New Orleans was remarkable for both its brevity and lopsided lethality, though some numbers are in dispute and contradict the official statistics. Charles Welsh and Zachary Smith echo the report of Adjutant-general Robert Butler, in his official report to General Jackson, which claimed that in the space of twenty-five minutes, the British lost 700 killed, 1400 wounded, and 500 prisoners, a total loss of 2600 men; American losses were only seven killed and six wounded. After the battle was over, around 500 British soldiers who had pretended to be dead rose up and surrendered to the Americans. One bugle boy climbed a tree within 200 yards of the American line and played throughout the battle, with projectiles passing close to him. He was captured after the battle and considered a hero by the Americans.  On February 4, 1815, the fleet, with all of the British troops aboard, set sail.  British army was making preparations to attack Mobile when news arrived of the peace treaty.  Although the Battle of New Orleans had no influence on the terms of the Treaty of Ghent, the defeat at New Orleans did compel Britain to abide by the treaty.

Other Events From January 8:

1877 Crazy Horse fights last battle

2011 Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords injured in shooting rampage

1946 Elvis Presley receives his first guitar

1918 Wilson announces his 14 Points