Attacks and Offensive

Attacks and Offensive


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Military actions designed to take control of enemy trenches were called attacks or offensives. Whereas an attack usually involved a division (16,000 men), an offensive was much larger and would use at least one corps. The main objective of an attack was to break the enemy line but an offensive was an attempt to hold any positions that were taken during the operation. This meant sustained fighting in forward positions and raised serious problems of supplying soldiers with ammunition, food and water.

Before attacks and offensives took place, heavy artillery was used to soften up the enemy trenches. At the offensive at the Somme in the summer of 1916 General Douglas Haig ordered an eight-day preliminary bombardment before sending 750,000 men (27 divisions) to attack the German trenches. The following year, Haig decided on a ten day bombardment during the offensive at Ypres (the Battle of Passchendaele). This barrage involved 3,000 guns firing 4,283,550 shells at the German defences.

The First, Second, and Third Armies will take steps to deceive the enemy as to the real front of attack, to wear him out, and reduce his fighting efficiency both during the three days prior to the assault and during the subsequent operations. Preparations for deceiving the enemy should be made without delay. This will be effected by means of -

(a) Preliminary preparations such as advancing our trenches and saps, construction of dummy assembling trenches, gun emplacements, etc.

(b) Wire cutting at intervals along the entire front with a view to inducing the enemy to man his defences and causing fatigue.

(c) Gas discharges, where possible, at selected places along the whole British front, accompanied by a discharge of smoke, with a view to causing the enemy to wear his gas helmets and inducing fatigue and causing casualties.

(d) Artillery barrages on important communications with a view to rendering reinforcements, relief, and supply difficult.

(e) Bombardment of rest billets by night.

(f) Intermittent smoke discharges by day, accompanied by shrapnel fire on the enemy's front defences with a view to inflicting loss.

(g) Raids by night, of the strength of a company and upwards, on an extensive scale, into the enemy's front system of defences. These to be prepared by intense artillery and trench-mortar bombardments.

Nothing happened at first. We advanced at a slow double. I noticed that it had begun to rain. Then the enemy machine-gunning started, first one gun, then many. They traversed, and every now and then there came the swish of bullets.

It's a bloody death trap, someone said. I told him to shut up. But was he right? We struggled on through the mud and the rain and the shelling. Then came a terrific crack above my head, a jolt in my left shoulder, and at the same time I was watching in an amazed, detached sort of way my right forearm twist upwards of its own volition and then hang limp. I realised that I had been hit.

I was suddenly filled with a surge of happiness. It was a physical feeling almost, consciousness of a reprieve from the shadow of death, no less. That I had just taken part in a failure, that I had really done nothing to help win the war, these things were forgotten - if ever indeed they had entered my consciousness.

I pressed on alone with my platoon guiding myself roughly by the sound of our guns behind us. We were occasionally held up by machine-gun fire and we met one or two stray parties of Scots Guards without officers. Finally we met a fairly large party of the Shropshires, who I knew should be on our right. The officer with them did not know where he was, but we agreed to go on together.

We ran into a small party of the enemy, of whom we shot six and took two prisoners, including an officer. We then learnt that we were on the outskirts of Courcelles. We had gone a great deal too far to the right. I tried to get back by going up a road to the left but could not get on owing to a machine-gun firing straight down the road. There were several dead men lying about this road, one particularly unpleasant one with his face shot away. These were the first sights of the kind I had seen and I was glad to find that they did not affect me at all. I had often feared that they might have some physical effect on me, as in ordinary life I hate and always avoid disgusting sights.

I went back to the beginning of the road, where I found a tank which, like everyone else, had lost its way in the mist. It consented to go up the road in front of us, and we were not troubled further by the machine-gun. I got on to another road which led straight up to the Halte on the Arras-Albert railway. This was the right of the final objective of my Company. There was a ruined building there from which a few shots were fired. We lay down and returned their fire with rifles and Lewis guns. Six Germans ran out with their hands up. We took them prisoner. Almost at the same time a party of the Shropshires came round on the left of the building. There was a steep bank on the edge of the railway, along which I told my men to dig themselves fire-positions

So we obtained our objective. Not only were we the first to do so but we were the only platoon in the Company who succeeded in doing so at all. I sent a report to the Commanding Officer and later in the day I got his reply - only two words - "Well done."

It was then 9 a.m. Not long afterwards I saw No. 1 Company coming over the hill behind us. Fryer came on to see me. We heard that No 2 Company, which had come through No. 4, as No. 1 had through No. 3, was on our left, but there was a considerable gap between. Fryer and I started walking down the edge of the railway embankment towards No. 2. Suddenly we noticed an enemy machine-gun shooting through the hedge along which we were walking. It was just in front of us and we had almost walked into it. We hurried back and on the way were fired at by machine-guns from the other side of the railway cutting. Fryer told me to take a Lewis gun and a couple of sections and capture or knock out the machine-gun. It was rather an alarming thing to be told to do.

However, I got my Lewis gun up to within about eighty yards of it, creeping along the hedge. The Lewis gun fired away. When it stopped I rushed forward. Looking back I saw that I was not being followed. I learnt afterwards that the first two men behind me had been wounded and the third killed. The rest had not come on. One or two machine-guns from the other side of the railway were firing at us. I dropped a few yards away from the gun I was going for and crawled up to it. At first I saw no one there. Looking down I saw one man running away up the other side of the cutting. I had a shot at him with my revolver. Presently I saw two men moving cautiously below me. I called to them in what German I could at the moment remember to surrender and throw up their hands. They did so immediately. They obviously did not realise that I was alone. They came up the cutting with their hands up, followed, to my surprise, by others. There were eighteen or nineteen in all. If they had rushed me then they would have been perfectly safe, for I can never hit a haystack with a revolver and my own men were eighty yards away.

There we were in the gallery and the open bit in front of us. A jamb: one or two shells very near us. Then my orderly and I rushed the little open bit but couldn't get far as the men in front were still jambed: the rest of the platoon were then about ten yards behind me, and my orderly and myself and another man were immediately in rear of the platoon in front. About five minutes after the Germans plumped ten shells all exactly at the mouth of the gallery trench and wiped out two of my sergeants (one was not much good, he was wounded severely all down the left side but will recover, the other, the best junior sergeant I had has since died) and the whole of one section. The men were all wounded and buried except two who dug the others out. One man is missing completely. A shell burst on him, I believe. After these ten perfectly placed shells they switched off a little to our right where they did no damage.

All this time I could see nothing of the progress of 2 and 3 Companies as the trench and a fold in the ground hid them from our view. Bullets continued to strike round us. The German trench hereabouts was made by bundles secured to poles and filled in with earth. I sat there smoking and fingering that hurdle and could see about ten men in front of me behind me a little open space with some old equipment - a black leather pouch and a haversack, and then the trench with my platoon sergeant smoking a pipe, his back against one side, his feet against the other.

Suddenly they began to move forward in front. Up we scrambled along a piece where the breastworks were very low. I saw a man fall about twenty yards in front and soon after stepped over him. He was shot through the head, which was lying in a puddle of blood. Next, moving quickly, came on a German lying right in the trench. He pointed to his feet imploringly. They were wrapped and bandaged with sandbags and showed signs of having been trodden in to the mud. I just avoided them and shouted to the men to do the same. Here the trench branched off into a dugout with wallpaper and what looked like a gas apparatus outside. An unarmed German was limping about on one leg, smoking. The cigarettes I learned subsequently had been given him by our men.

We jambed again. This time, however, by looking over the top which I did sparingly, I could see the attack. On the extreme left, perhaps 800 yards away, I could see British infantry pushing forward in rushes of about a platoon, extended to three or four paces. The Germans were bursting wooleys right on the parapet of the hastily thrown up trench: nearer to me I could see a platoon of Grenadiers doubling forward thirty yards at a time whilst two platoons kept up a hot fire from the trench to cover them. It was a stereotyped attack and as far as I could see perfectly executed. Another platoon followed the first. I don't think I saw any fall but some motionless forms were left behind each time. I could see very little more and so sat down in the trench and waited.

An hour later heard: "Attack is held up by machine-gun fire, the Irish are not getting on on the left, no sign of the Canadians on the right. One company (No. 3) has got forward 250 yards but have been badly cut up. Major Barrington Kennet is killed, Mr. Creed is wounded, Mr. Garey is missing." This was not gathered all at once but dribbled through in various messages sent to the C.O. Then the wounded began to come along. Perhaps a hundred of them. Mostly slight wounds, feet, thighs, shoulders, two with smashed wrists. Very pale like all wounded and mostly profane. One said that only eight men of his platoon were left for the last rush, and that two other platoons had suffered heavily. The wounded all gave remarkably accurate accounts of the attack as we pulled them or helped them along the very narrow trench.

I write from the battlefield of the Great Push with thousands of shells passing in a tornado overhead, and thousands of unburied dead around me. It seems easy to say that, but you who have not seen it can hardly conceive the awfulness of it all.

My battalion has been in it for eight days, and one-third of it is left - all shattered at that. And they're sticking it still, incomparable heroes, all. We are lousy, stinking, ragged, unshaven, sleepless. Even when we're back a bit we can't sleep for our own guns. I have one puttee, a dead man's helmet, another dead man's gas protector, a dead man's bayonet. My tunic is rotten with other men's blood, and partly splattered with a comrade's brains. It is horrible, but why should you people at home not know?


You would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but few remember the much smaller ariel attack on the Italian harbor of Taranto. This took place at the start of November 1940, and it changed the balance of power in the Mediterranean at the time. Aerial attacks on naval targets were not unknown, but their effectiveness varied, often depending on the number of anti-aircraft defenses in place both on ships and around harbors, from guns to balloons or even torpedo-catching nets.

Early in the war, the British faced a potentially powerful Italian navy largely stationed in Taranto. The Italians employed a strategy of defending the surrounding region by sitting tight in port with a strong amount of firepower, in this case, six battleships, 16 heavy and light cruisers, and 13 destroyers.

The Fairy Swordfish, one of the types of planes to be involved in the attack. By Tony Hisgett – CC BY 2.0

It was decided that a nighttime aerial attack might do enough damage to turn the tide and 21 soon to be obsolete, but still functional, biplane bombers gathered on the freshly constructed carrier HMS Illustrious. The Italian Fleet at Taranto was well-guarded by anti-aircraft guns and a shallow harbor with some anti-torpedo netting, but they weren’t expecting such a daring nighttime raid.

Troop Movements at the Battle of Taranto. By Dove – CC BY-SA 3.0

The first wave of bombers went in at about 11 PM, their way lit by a flare. A dive bombing run on some oil tanks further illuminated the harbor. The harbor had a lot of barrage balloons, but many had been blown away recently, leaving the bombers able to dodge the remaining ones.

The attack came in two waves, bringing down one battleship and crippling multiple other battleships and cruisers, in addition to damaging the harbor and inflicting many casualties. The targets were difficult to identify, and the bombers described the run as hellish, one responding to a request for another run by saying “they only asked the Light Brigade to do it once.”

Despite the anti-aircraft fire, only two planes were brought down. One of the two-man flight crews was captured. The other was killed. Comparing damages especially given the small scale of the engagement, the attack on Taranto was an astounding success. The tide had certainly been turned in the Mediterranean as the British navy was able to exert much more influence, though the balance of power did shift again as the war progressed.


Charlie Company

The small village of My Lai is located in Quang Ngai province, which was believed to be a stronghold of the communist National Liberation Front (NLF) or Viet Cong (VC) during the Vietnam War.

Quang Ngai province was therefore a frequent target of U.S. and South Vietnamese bombing attacks, and the entire region was heavily strafed with Agent Orange, the deadly herbicide.

In March 1968, Charlie Company—part of the Americal Division’s 11th Infantry Brigade—received word that VC guerrillas had taken control of the neighboring village of Son My. Charlie Company was sent to the area on March 16 for a search-and-destroy mission.

At the time, morale among U.S. soldiers on the ground was dwindling, especially in the wake of the North Vietnamese-led Tet Offensive, which was launched in January 1968. Charlie Company had lost some 28 of its members to death or injuries, and was down to just over 100 men.


Contents

After the breakout from Normandy at the end of July 1944 and the Allied landings in southern France on 15 August 1944, the Allies advanced towards Germany more quickly than anticipated. [d] The Allies faced several military logistics issues:

  • troops were fatigued by weeks of continuous combat
  • supply lines were stretched extremely thin
  • supplies were dangerously depleted.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower (the Supreme Allied Commander on the Western Front) and his staff chose to hold the Ardennes region which was occupied by the U.S. First Army. The Allies chose to defend the Ardennes with as few troops as possible due to the favorable terrain (a densely wooded highland with deep river valleys and a rather thin road network) and limited Allied operational objectives in the area. They also had intelligence that the Wehrmacht was using the area across the German border as a rest-and-refit area for its troops. [23]

Allied supply issues Edit

The speed of the Allied advance coupled with an initial lack of deep-water ports presented the Allies with enormous supply problems. [24] Over-the-beach supply operations using the Normandy landing areas, and direct landing ships on the beaches, were unable to meet operational needs. The only deep-water port the Allies had captured was Cherbourg on the northern shore of the Cotentin peninsula and west of the original invasion beaches, [24] but the Germans had thoroughly wrecked and mined the harbor before it could be taken. It took many months to rebuild its cargo-handling capability. The Allies captured the port of Antwerp intact in the first days of September, but it was not operational until 28 November. The estuary of the Schelde river that controlled access to the port had to be cleared of both German troops and naval mines. [25] These limitations led to differences between General Eisenhower and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of the Anglo-Canadian 21st Army Group, over whether Montgomery or Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, commanding the U.S. 12th Army Group, in the south would get priority access to supplies. [26] German forces remained in control of several major ports on the English Channel coast into the autumn, while Dunkirk remained under siege until the end of the war in May 1945. [ citation needed ]

The Allies' efforts to destroy the French railway system prior to D-Day were successful. This destruction hampered the German response to the invasion, but it proved equally hampering to the Allies, as it took time to repair the rail network's tracks and bridges. A trucking system nicknamed the Red Ball Express brought supplies to front-line troops, but used up five times as much fuel to reach the front line near the Belgian border. By early October, the Allies had suspended major offensives to improve their supply lines and supply availability at the front. [24]

Montgomery and Bradley both pressed for priority delivery of supplies to their respective armies so they could continue their individual lines of advance and maintain pressure on the Germans, while Eisenhower preferred a broad-front strategy. He gave some priority to Montgomery's northern forces. This had the short-term goal of opening the urgently needed port of Antwerp and the long-term goal of capturing the Ruhr area, the biggest industrial area of Germany. [24] With the Allies stalled, German Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal) Gerd von Rundstedt was able to reorganize the disrupted German armies into a coherent defensive force. [24]

Field Marshal Montgomery's Operation Market Garden achieved only some of its objectives, while its territorial gains left the Allied supply situation stretched further than before. In October, the First Canadian Army fought the Battle of the Scheldt, opening the port of Antwerp to shipping. As a result, by the end of October, the supply situation had eased somewhat. [ citation needed ]

German plans Edit

Despite a lull along the front after the Scheldt battles, the German situation remained dire. While operations continued in the autumn, notably the Lorraine Campaign, the Battle of Aachen and fighting in the Hürtgen Forest, the strategic situation in the west had changed little. The Allies were slowly pushing towards Germany, but no decisive breakthrough was achieved. The Western Allies already had 96 divisions at or near the front, with an estimated ten more divisions en route from the United Kingdom. Additional Allied airborne units remained in England. The Germans could field a total of 55 understrength divisions. [27] : 1

Adolf Hitler first officially outlined his surprise counter-offensive to his astonished generals on 16 September 1944. The assault's ambitious goal was to pierce the thinly held lines of the U.S. First Army between Monschau and Wasserbillig with Army Group B (Model) by the end of the first day, get the armor through the Ardennes by the end of the second day, reach the Meuse between Liège and Dinant by the third day, and seize Antwerp and the western bank of the Scheldt estuary by the fourth day. [28] : 1–64 [29]

Hitler initially promised his generals a total of 18 infantry and 12 armored or mechanized divisions "for planning purposes." The plan was to pull 13 infantry divisions, two parachute divisions and six panzer-type divisions from the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht combined German military strategic reserve. On the Eastern Front, the Soviets' Operation Bagration during the summer had destroyed much of Germany's Army Group Center (Heeresgruppe Mitte). The extremely swift operation ended only when the advancing Soviet Red Army forces outran their supplies. By November, it was clear that Soviet forces were preparing for a winter offensive. [30]

Meanwhile, the Allied air offensive of early 1944 had effectively grounded the Luftwaffe, leaving the German Army with little battlefield intelligence and no way to interdict Allied supplies. The converse was equally damaging daytime movement of German forces was rapidly noticed, and interdiction of supplies combined with the bombing of the Romanian oil fields starved Germany of oil and gasoline. This fuel shortage intensified after the Soviets overran those fields in the course of their August 1944 Jassy-Kishinev Offensive.

One of the few advantages held by the German forces in November 1944 was that they were no longer defending all of Western Europe. Their front lines in the west had been considerably shortened by the Allied offensive and were much closer to the German heartland. This drastically reduced their supply problems despite Allied control of the air. Additionally, their extensive telephone and telegraph network meant that radios were no longer necessary for communications, which lessened the effectiveness of Allied Ultra intercepts. Nevertheless, some 40–50 messages per day were decrypted by Ultra. They recorded the quadrupling of German fighter forces and a term used in an intercepted Luftwaffe message—Jägeraufmarsch (literally "Hunter Deployment")—implied preparation for an offensive operation. Ultra also picked up communiqués regarding extensive rail and road movements in the region, as well as orders that movements should be made on time. [31]

Drafting the offensive Edit

Hitler felt that his mobile reserves allowed him to mount one major offensive. Although he realized nothing significant could be accomplished in the Eastern Front, he still believed an offensive against the Western Allies, whom he considered militarily inferior to the Red Army, would have some chances of success. [32] Hitler believed he could split the Allied forces and compel the Americans and British to settle for a separate peace, independent of the Soviet Union. [33] Success in the west would give the Germans time to design and produce more advanced weapons (such as jet aircraft, new U-boat designs and super-heavy tanks) and permit the concentration of forces in the east. After the war ended, this assessment was generally viewed as unrealistic, given Allied air superiority throughout Europe and their ability to continually disrupt German offensive operations. [34]

Hitler's plan called for a Blitzkrieg attack through the weakly defended Ardennes, mirroring the successful German offensive there during the Battle of France in 1940—aimed at splitting the armies along the U.S.—British lines and capturing Antwerp. [35] The plan banked on unfavorable weather, including heavy fog and low-lying clouds, which would minimize the Allied air advantage. [36] Hitler originally set the offensive for late November, before the anticipated start of the Russian winter offensive. The disputes between Montgomery and Bradley were well known, and Hitler hoped he could exploit this disunity. If the attack were to succeed in capturing Antwerp, four complete armies would be trapped without supplies behind German lines. [35] : 19

Several senior German military officers, including Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model and Gerd von Rundstedt, expressed concern as to whether the goals of the offensive could be realized. Model and von Rundstedt both believed aiming for Antwerp was too ambitious, given Germany's scarce resources in late 1944. At the same time, they felt that maintaining a purely defensive posture (as had been the case since Normandy) would only delay defeat, not avert it. They thus developed alternative, less ambitious plans that did not aim to cross the Meuse River (in German and Dutch: Maas) Model's being Unternehmen Herbstnebel (Operation Autumn Mist) and von Rundstedt's Fall Martin ("Plan Martin"). The two field marshals combined their plans to present a joint "small solution" to Hitler. [e] [f] When they offered their alternative plans, Hitler would not listen. Rundstedt later testified that while he recognized the merit of Hitler's operational plan, he saw from the very first that "all, absolutely all conditions for the possible success of such an offensive were lacking." [35] : 24

Model, commander of German Army Group B (Heeresgruppe B), and von Rundstedt, overall commander of the German Army Command in the West (OB West), were put in charge of carrying out the operation.

In the west supply problems began significantly to impede Allied operations, even though the opening of the port of Antwerp in late November improved the situation somewhat. The positions of the Allied armies stretched from southern France all the way north to the Netherlands. German planning for the counteroffensive rested on the premise that a successful strike against thinly manned stretches of the line would halt Allied advances on the entire Western Front. [37]

Operation names Edit

The Wehrmacht ' s code name for the offensive was Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein ("Operation Watch on the Rhine"), after the German patriotic hymn Die Wacht am Rhein, a name that deceptively implied the Germans would be adopting a defensive posture along the Western Front. The Germans also referred to it as Ardennenoffensive ("Ardennes Offensive") and Rundstedt-Offensive, both names being generally used nowadays in modern Germany. [ citation needed ] The French (and Belgian) name for the operation is Bataille des Ardennes (Battle of the Ardennes). The battle was militarily defined by the Allies as the Ardennes Counteroffensive, which included the German drive and the American effort to contain and later defeat it. The phrase Battle of the Bulge was coined by contemporary press to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps. [38] [39]

While the Ardennes Counteroffensive is the correct term in Allied military language, the official Ardennes-Alsace campaign reached beyond the Ardennes battle region, and the most popular description in English speaking countries remains simply the Battle of the Bulge.

Planning Edit

The OKW decided by mid-September, at Hitler's insistence, that the offensive would be mounted in the Ardennes, as was done in 1940. In 1940 German forces had passed through the Ardennes in three days before engaging the enemy, but the 1944 plan called for battle in the forest itself. The main forces were to advance westward to the Meuse River, then turn northwest for Antwerp and Brussels. The close terrain of the Ardennes would make rapid movement difficult, though open ground beyond the Meuse offered the prospect of a successful dash to the coast.

Four armies were selected for the operation. Adolf Hitler personally selected for the counter-offensive on the northern shoulder of the western front the best troops available and officers he trusted. The lead role in the attack was given to the 6th Panzer Army, commanded by SS-Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich. It included the most experienced formation of the Waffen-SS: the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. It also contained the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend. They were given priority for supply and equipment and assigned the shortest route to the primary objective of the offensive, Antwerp, [28] : 1–64 starting from the northernmost point on the intended battlefront, nearest the important road network hub of Monschau. [40]

The Fifth Panzer Army under General Hasso von Manteuffel was assigned to the middle sector with the objective of capturing Brussels. The Seventh Army, under General Erich Brandenberger, was assigned to the southernmost sector, near the Luxembourgish city of Echternach, with the task of protecting the flank. This Army was made up of only four infantry divisions, with no large-scale armored formations to use as a spearhead unit. As a result, they made little progress throughout the battle.

Also participating in a secondary role was the Fifteenth Army, under General Gustav-Adolf von Zangen. Recently brought back up to strength and re-equipped after heavy fighting during Operation Market Garden, it was located on the far north of the Ardennes battlefield and tasked with holding U.S. forces in place, with the possibility of launching its own attack given favorable conditions.

For the offensive to be successful, four criteria were deemed critical: the attack had to be a complete surprise the weather conditions had to be poor to neutralize Allied air superiority and the damage it could inflict on the German offensive and its supply lines [41] the progress had to be rapid—the Meuse River, halfway to Antwerp, had to be reached by day 4 and Allied fuel supplies would have to be captured intact along the way because the combined Wehrmacht forces were short on fuel. The General Staff estimated they only had enough fuel to cover one third to one half of the ground to Antwerp in heavy combat conditions.

The plan originally called for just under 45 divisions, including a dozen panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions forming the armored spearhead and various infantry units to form a defensive line as the battle unfolded. By this time the German Army suffered from an acute manpower shortage, and the force had been reduced to around 30 divisions. Although it retained most of its armor, there were not enough infantry units because of the defensive needs in the East. These 30 newly rebuilt divisions used some of the last reserves of the German Army. Among them were Volksgrenadier ("People's Grenadier") units formed from a mix of battle-hardened veterans and recruits formerly regarded as too young, too old or too frail to fight. Training time, equipment and supplies were inadequate during the preparations. German fuel supplies were precarious—those materials and supplies that could not be directly transported by rail had to be horse-drawn to conserve fuel, and the mechanized and panzer divisions would depend heavily on captured fuel. As a result, the start of the offensive was delayed from 27 November to 16 December. [ citation needed ]

Before the offensive the Allies were virtually blind to German troop movement. During the liberation of France, the extensive network of the French Resistance had provided valuable intelligence about German dispositions. Once they reached the German border, this source dried up. In France, orders had been relayed within the German army using radio messages enciphered by the Enigma machine, and these could be picked up and decrypted by Allied code-breakers headquartered at Bletchley Park, to give the intelligence known as Ultra. In Germany such orders were typically transmitted using telephone and teleprinter, and a special radio silence order was imposed on all matters concerning the upcoming offensive. [42] The major crackdown in the Wehrmacht after the 20 July plot to assassinate Hitler resulted in much tighter security and fewer leaks. The foggy autumn weather also prevented Allied reconnaissance aircraft from correctly assessing the ground situation. German units assembling in the area were even issued charcoal instead of wood for cooking fires to cut down on smoke and reduce chances of Allied observers deducing a troop buildup was underway. [43]

For these reasons Allied High Command considered the Ardennes a quiet sector, relying on assessments from their intelligence services that the Germans were unable to launch any major offensive operations this late in the war. What little intelligence they had led the Allies to believe precisely what the Germans wanted them to believe-–that preparations were being carried out only for defensive, not offensive, operations. The Allies relied too much on Ultra, not human reconnaissance. In fact, because of the Germans' efforts, the Allies were led to believe that a new defensive army was being formed around Düsseldorf in the northern Rhineland, possibly to defend against British attack. This was done by increasing the number of flak (Flugabwehrkanonen, i.e., anti-aircraft cannons) in the area and the artificial multiplication of radio transmissions in the area. The Allies at this point thought the information was of no importance. All of this meant that the attack, when it came, completely surprised the Allied forces. Remarkably, the U.S. Third Army intelligence chief, Colonel Oscar Koch, the U.S. First Army intelligence chief and the SHAEF intelligence officer Brigadier General Kenneth Strong all correctly predicted the German offensive capability and intention to strike the U.S. VIII Corps area. These predictions were largely dismissed by the U.S. 12th Army Group. [44] Strong had informed Bedell Smith in December of his suspicions. Bedell Smith sent Strong to warn Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, the commander of the 12th Army Group, of the danger. Bradley's response was succinct: "Let them come." [45] : 362–366 Historian Patrick K. O'Donnell writes that on 8 December 1944 U.S. Rangers at great cost took Hill 400 during the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest. The next day GIs who relieved the Rangers reported a considerable movement of German troops inside the Ardennes in the enemy's rear, but that no one in the chain of command connected the dots. [46]

Because the Ardennes was considered a quiet sector, considerations of economy of force led it to be used as a training ground for new units and a rest area for units that had seen hard fighting. The U.S. units deployed in the Ardennes thus were a mixture of inexperienced troops (such as the raw U.S. 99th and 106th "Golden Lions" Divisions), and battle-hardened troops sent to that sector to recuperate (the 28th Infantry Division).

Two major special operations were planned for the offensive. By October it was decided that Otto Skorzeny, the German SS-commando who had rescued the former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, was to lead a task force of English-speaking German soldiers in "Operation Greif". These soldiers were to be dressed in American and British uniforms and wear dog tags taken from corpses and prisoners of war. Their job was to go behind American lines and change signposts, misdirect traffic, generally cause disruption and seize bridges across the Meuse River. By late November another ambitious special operation was added: Col. Friedrich August von der Heydte was to lead a Fallschirmjäger-Kampfgruppe (paratrooper combat group) in Operation Stösser, a night-time paratroop drop behind the Allied lines aimed at capturing a vital road junction near Malmedy. [47] [48]

German intelligence had set 20 December as the expected date for the start of the upcoming Soviet offensive, aimed at crushing what was left of German resistance on the Eastern Front and thereby opening the way to Berlin. It was hoped that Soviet leader Stalin would delay the start of the operation once the German assault in the Ardennes had begun and wait for the outcome before continuing.

After the 20 July attempt on Hitler's life, and the close advance of the Red Army which would seize the site on 27 January 1945, Hitler and his staff had been forced to abandon the Wolfsschanze headquarters in East Prussia, in which they had coordinated much of the fighting on the Eastern Front. After a brief visit to Berlin, Hitler traveled on his Führersonderzug ("Special Train of the Führer" (Leader)) to Giessen on 11 December, taking up residence in the Adlerhorst (eyrie) command complex, co-located with OB West's base at Kransberg Castle. Believing in omens and the successes of his early war campaigns that had been planned at Kransberg, Hitler had chosen the site from which he had overseen the successful 1940 campaign against France and the Low Countries.

Von Rundstedt set up his operational headquarters near Limburg, close enough for the generals and Panzer Corps commanders who were to lead the attack to visit Adlerhorst on 11 December, traveling there in an SS-operated bus convoy. With the castle acting as overflow accommodation, the main party was settled into the Adlerhorst's Haus 2 command bunker, including Gen. Alfred Jodl, Gen. Wilhelm Keitel, Gen. Blumentritt, von Manteuffel and Dietrich.

In a personal conversation on 13 December between Walter Model and Friedrich von der Heydte, who was put in charge of Operation Stösser, von der Heydte gave Operation Stösser less than a 10% chance of succeeding. Model told him it was necessary to make the attempt: "It must be done because this offensive is the last chance to conclude the war favorably." [49]

On 16 December 1944 at 05:30, the Germans began the assault with a massive, 90-minute artillery barrage using 1,600 artillery pieces [50] across a 130-kilometer (80 mi) front on the Allied troops facing the 6th Panzer Army. The Americans' initial impression was that this was the anticipated, localized counterattack resulting from the Allies' recent attack in the Wahlerscheid sector to the north, where the 2nd Division had knocked a sizable dent in the Siegfried Line. Heavy snowstorms engulfed parts of the Ardennes area. While having the effect of keeping the Allied aircraft grounded, the weather also proved troublesome for the Germans because poor road conditions hampered their advance. Poor traffic control led to massive traffic jams and fuel shortages in forward units. Nearly 10 hours into the assault, one of the German V-2 rockets destroyed the Cine Rex cinema in Antwerp, killing 567 people, the highest death toll from a single rocket attack during the war. [51]

In the center, von Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army attacked towards Bastogne and St. Vith, both road junctions of great strategic importance. In the south, Brandenberger's Seventh Army pushed towards Luxembourg in its efforts to secure the flank from Allied attacks.

Units involved in initial assault Edit

Forces deployed North to South

Northern Sector: Monschau to Krewinkel

    , Mechanized / 2nd Infantry Division / 99th Infantry Division / 2nd Infantry Division / 2nd Infantry Division
  • 393rd Infantry Regiment / 99th Infantry Division
  • Combat Command B / 9th Armored Division
  • 394th Infantry Regiment / 99th Infantry Division , Mechanized

Central Sector: Roth to Gemünd

  • Surrounded and captured on the Schnee Eifel:
    • 422nd Infantry Regiment / 106th Infantry Division
    • 423rd Infantry Regiment [j] / 106th Infantry Division

    Southern Sector: Hochscheid to Mompach

    While the Siege of Bastogne is often credited as the central point where the German offensive was stopped, [52] the battle for Elsenborn Ridge was actually the decisive component of the Battle of the Bulge, stopping the advance of the best equipped armored units of the German army and forcing them to reroute their troops to unfavorable alternative routes that considerably slowed their advance. [53] [54]

    Best German divisions assigned Edit

    The attack on Monschau, Höfen, Krinkelt-Rocherath, and then Elsenborn Ridge was led by the units personally selected by Adolf Hitler. The 6th Panzer Army was given priority for supply and equipment and was assigned the shortest route to the ultimate objective of the offensive, Antwerp. [54] The 6th Panzer Army included the elite of the Waffen-SS, including four Panzer divisions and five infantry divisions in three corps. [55] [56] SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim Peiper led Kampfgruppe Peiper, consisting of 4,800 men and 600 vehicles, which was charged with leading the main effort. Its newest and most powerful tank, the Tiger II heavy tank, consumed 7.6 liters (2 U.S. gal) of fuel to go 1,600 m (1 mi), and the Germans had less than half the fuel they needed to reach Antwerp. [27] : page needed

    German forces held up Edit

    The attacks by the Sixth Panzer Army's infantry units in the north fared badly because of unexpectedly fierce resistance by the U.S. 2nd and 99th Infantry Divisions. Kampfgruppe Peiper, at the head of Sepp Dietrich's Sixth Panzer Army, had been designated to take the Losheim-Losheimergraben road, a key route through the Losheim Gap, but it was closed by two collapsed overpasses that German engineers failed to repair during the first day. [57] Peiper's forces were rerouted through Lanzerath.

    To preserve the quantity of armor available, the infantry of the 9th Fallschirmjaeger Regiment, 3rd Fallschirmjaeger Division, had been ordered to clear the village first. A single 18-man Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon from the 99th Infantry Division along with four Forward Air Controllers held up the battalion of about 500 German paratroopers until sunset, about 16:00, causing 92 casualties among the Germans.

    This created a bottleneck in the German advance. Kampfgruppe Peiper did not begin his advance until nearly 16:00, more than 16 hours behind schedule and didn't reach Bucholz Station until the early morning of 17 December. Their intention was to control the twin villages of Rocherath-Krinkelt which would clear a path to the high ground of Elsenborn Ridge. Occupation of this dominating terrain would allow control of the roads to the south and west and ensure supply to Kampfgruppe Peiper's armored task force.

    Malmedy massacre Edit

    At 12:30 on 17 December, Kampfgruppe Peiper was near the hamlet of Baugnez, on the height halfway between the town of Malmedy and Ligneuville, when they encountered elements of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, U.S. 7th Armored Division. [58] [59] After a brief battle the lightly armed Americans surrendered. They were disarmed and, with some other Americans captured earlier (approximately 150 men), sent to stand in a field near the crossroads under light guard. About fifteen minutes after Peiper's advance guard passed through, the main body under the command of SS-Sturmbannführer Werner Pötschke arrived. The SS troopers suddenly opened fire on the prisoners. As soon as the firing began, the prisoners panicked. Most were shot where they stood, though some managed to flee. Accounts of the killing vary, but at least 84 of the POWs were murdered. A few survived, and news of the killings of prisoners of war spread through Allied lines. [59] Following the end of the war, soldiers and officers of Kampfgruppe Peiper, including Joachim Peiper and SS general Sepp Dietrich, were tried for the incident at the Malmedy massacre trial. [60]

    Kampfgruppe Peiper deflected southeast Edit

    Driving to the south-east of Elsenborn, Kampfgruppe Peiper entered Honsfeld, where they encountered one of the 99th Division's rest centers, clogged with confused American troops. They quickly captured portions of the 3rd Battalion of the 394th Infantry Regiment. They destroyed a number of American armored units and vehicles, and took several dozen prisoners who were subsequently murdered. [61] [58] [62] Peiper also captured 50,000 US gallons (190,000 l 42,000 imp gal) of fuel for his vehicles. [63]

    Peiper advanced north-west towards Büllingen, keeping to the plan to move west, unaware that if he had turned north he had an opportunity to flank and trap the entire 2nd and 99th Divisions. [64] Instead, intent on driving west, Peiper turned south to detour around Hünningen, choosing a route designated Rollbahn D as he had been given latitude to choose the best route west. [50]

    To the north, the 277th Volksgrenadier Division attempted to break through the defending line of the U.S. 99th and the 2nd Infantry Divisions. The 12th SS Panzer Division, reinforced by additional infantry (Panzergrenadier and Volksgrenadier) divisions, took the key road junction at Losheimergraben just north of Lanzerath and attacked the twin villages of Rocherath and Krinkelt.

    Wereth 11 Edit

    Another, smaller massacre was committed in Wereth, Belgium, approximately 6.5 miles (10.5 km) northeast of Saint-Vith on 17 December 1944. Eleven black American soldiers were tortured after surrendering and then shot by men of the 1st SS Panzer Division belonging to Schnellgruppe Knittel. Some of the injuries sustained before death included bayonet wounds to the head, broken legs, and their fingers cut off. The perpetrators were never punished for this crime. [65] [66] In 2001, a group of people began working on a tribute to the eleven black American soldiers to remember their sacrifices. [67]

    Germans advance west Edit

    By the evening the spearhead had pushed north to engage the U.S. 99th Infantry Division and Kampfgruppe Peiper arrived in front of Stavelot. Peiper's forces were already behind his timetable because of the stiff American resistance and because when the Americans fell back, their engineers blew up bridges and emptied fuel dumps. Peiper's unit was delayed and his vehicles denied critically needed fuel. They took 36 hours to advance from the Eifel region to Stavelot, while the same advance required nine hours in 1940. [ citation needed ]

    Kampfgruppe Peiper attacked Stavelot on 18 December but was unable to capture the town before the Americans evacuated a large fuel depot. [68] Three tanks attempted to take the bridge, but the lead vehicle was disabled by a mine. Following this, 60 grenadiers advanced forward but were stopped by concentrated American defensive fire. After a fierce tank battle the next day, the Germans finally entered the town when U.S. engineers failed to blow the bridge.

    Capitalizing on his success and not wanting to lose more time, Peiper rushed an advance group toward the vital bridge at Trois-Ponts, leaving the bulk of his strength in Stavelot. When they reached it at 11:30 on 18 December, retreating U.S. engineers blew it up. [69] [70] Peiper detoured north towards the villages of La Gleize and Cheneux. At Cheneux, the advance guard was attacked by American fighter-bombers, destroying two tanks and five halftracks, blocking the narrow road. The group began moving again at dusk at 16:00 and was able to return to its original route at around 18:00. Of the two bridges remaining between Kampfgruppe Peiper and the Meuse, the bridge over the Lienne was blown by the Americans as the Germans approached. Peiper turned north and halted his forces in the woods between La Gleize and Stoumont. [71] He learned that Stoumont was strongly held and that the Americans were bringing up strong reinforcements from Spa.

    To Peiper's south, the advance of Kampfgruppe Hansen had stalled. SS-Oberführer Mohnke ordered Schnellgruppe Knittel, which had been designated to follow Hansen, to instead move forward to support Peiper. SS-Sturmbannführer Knittel crossed the bridge at Stavelot around 19:00 against American forces trying to retake the town. Knittel pressed forward towards La Gleize, and shortly afterward the Americans recaptured Stavelot. Peiper and Knittel both faced the prospect of being cut off. [71]

    German advance halted Edit

    At dawn on 19 December, Peiper surprised the American defenders of Stoumont by sending infantry from the 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Regiment in an attack and a company of Fallschirmjäger to infiltrate their lines. He followed this with a Panzer attack, gaining the eastern edge of the town. An American tank battalion arrived but, after a two-hour tank battle, Peiper finally captured Stoumont at 10:30. Knittel joined up with Peiper and reported the Americans had recaptured Stavelot to their east. [72] Peiper ordered Knittel to retake Stavelot. Assessing his own situation, he determined that his Kampfgruppe did not have sufficient fuel to cross the bridge west of Stoumont and continue his advance. He maintained his lines west of Stoumont for a while, until the evening of 19 December when he withdrew them to the village edge. On the same evening the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division under Maj. Gen. James Gavin arrived and deployed at La Gleize and along Peiper's planned route of advance. [72]

    German efforts to reinforce Peiper were unsuccessful. Kampfgruppe Hansen was still struggling against bad road conditions and stiff American resistance on the southern route. Schnellgruppe Knittel was forced to disengage from the heights around Stavelot. Kampfgruppe Sandig, which had been ordered to take Stavelot, launched another attack without success. Sixth Panzer Army commander Sepp Dietrich ordered Hermann Priess, commanding officer of the I SS Panzer Corps, to increase its efforts to back Peiper's battle group, but Prieß was unable to break through. [73]

    Small units of the U.S. 2nd Battalion, 119th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division, attacked the dispersed units of Kampfgruppe Peiper on the morning of 21 December. They failed and were forced to withdraw, and a number were captured, including battalion commander Maj. Hal D. McCown. Peiper learned that his reinforcements had been directed to gather in La Gleize to his east, and he withdrew, leaving wounded Americans and Germans in the Froidcourt Castle [fr] . As he withdrew from Cheneux, American paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division engaged the Germans in fierce house-to-house fighting. The Americans shelled Kampfgruppe Peiper on 22 December, and although the Germans had run out of food and had virtually no fuel, they continued to fight. A Luftwaffe resupply mission went badly when SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke insisted the grid coordinates supplied by Peiper were wrong, parachuting supplies into American hands in Stoumont. [74]

    In La Gleize, Peiper set up defenses waiting for German relief. When the relief force was unable to penetrate the Allied lines, he decided to break through the Allied lines and return to the German lines on 23 December. The men of the Kampfgruppe were forced to abandon their vehicles and heavy equipment, although most of the 800 remaining troops were able to escape. [75]

    Outcome Edit

    The U.S. 99th Infantry Division, outnumbered five to one, inflicted casualties in the ratio of 18 to one. The division lost about 20% of its effective strength, including 465 killed and 2,524 evacuated due to wounds, injuries, fatigue, or trench foot. German losses were much higher. In the northern sector opposite the 99th, this included more than 4,000 deaths and the destruction of 60 tanks and big guns. [76] Historian John S. D. Eisenhower wrote, ". the action of the 2nd and 99th Divisions on the northern shoulder could be considered the most decisive of the Ardennes campaign." [77] [78]

    The stiff American defense prevented the Germans from reaching the vast array of supplies near the Belgian cities of Liège and Spa and the road network west of the Elsenborn Ridge leading to the Meuse River. [79] After more than 10 days of intense battle, they pushed the Americans out of the villages, but were unable to dislodge them from the ridge, where elements of the V Corps of the First U.S. Army prevented the German forces from reaching the road network to their west.

    Operation Stösser Edit

    Operation Stösser was a paratroop drop into the American rear in the High Fens (French: Hautes Fagnes German: Hohes Venn Dutch: Hoge Venen) area. The objective was the "Baraque Michel" crossroads. It was led by Oberst Friedrich August Freiherr von der Heydte, considered by Germans to be a hero of the Battle of Crete. [80]

    It was the German paratroopers' only night time drop during World War II. Von der Heydte was given only eight days to prepare prior to the assault. He was not allowed to use his own regiment because their movement might alert the Allies to the impending counterattack. Instead, he was provided with a Kampfgruppe of 800 men. The II Parachute Corps was tasked with contributing 100 men from each of its regiments. In loyalty to their commander, 150 men from von der Heydte's own unit, the 6th Parachute Regiment, went against orders and joined him. [81] They had little time to establish any unit cohesion or train together.

    The parachute drop was a complete failure. Von der Heydte ended up with a total of around 300 troops. Too small and too weak to counter the Allies, they abandoned plans to take the crossroads and instead converted the mission to reconnaissance. With only enough ammunition for a single fight, they withdrew towards Germany and attacked the rear of the American lines. Only about 100 of his weary men finally reached the German rear. [82]

    Chenogne massacre Edit

    Following the Malmedy massacre, on New Year's Day 1945, after having previously received orders to take no prisoners, [83] American soldiers murdered approximately sixty German prisoners of war near the Belgian village of Chenogne (8 km from Bastogne). [84]

    The Germans fared better in the center (the 32 km (20 mi) Schnee Eifel sector) as the Fifth Panzer Army attacked positions held by the U.S. 28th and 106th Infantry Divisions. The Germans lacked the overwhelming strength that had been deployed in the north, but still possessed a marked numerical and material superiority over the very thinly spread 28th and 106th divisions. They succeeded in surrounding two largely intact regiments (422nd and 423rd) of the 106th Division in a pincer movement and forced their surrender, a tribute to the way Manteuffel's new tactics had been applied. [85] The official U.S. Army history states: "At least seven thousand [men] were lost here and the figure probably is closer to eight or nine thousand. The amount lost in arms and equipment, of course, was very substantial. The Schnee Eifel battle, therefore, represents the most serious reverse suffered by American arms during the operations of 1944–45 in the European theater." [27] : 170

    Battle for St. Vith Edit

    In the center, the town of St. Vith, a vital road junction, presented the main challenge for both von Manteuffel's and Dietrich's forces. The defenders, led by the 7th Armored Division, included the remaining regiment of the 106th U.S. Infantry Division, with elements of the 9th Armored Division and 28th U.S. Infantry Division. These units, which operated under the command of Generals Robert W. Hasbrouck (7th Armored) and Alan W. Jones (106th Infantry), successfully resisted the German attacks, significantly slowing the German advance. At Montgomery's orders, St. Vith was evacuated on 21 December U.S. troops fell back to entrenched positions in the area, presenting an imposing obstacle to a successful German advance. By 23 December, as the Germans shattered their flanks, the defenders' position became untenable and U.S. troops were ordered to retreat west of the Salm River. Since the German plan called for the capture of St. Vith by 18:00 on 17 December, the prolonged action in and around it dealt a major setback to their timetable. [27] : 407

    Meuse River bridges Edit

    To protect the river crossings on the Meuse at Givet, Dinant and Namur, Montgomery ordered those few units available to hold the bridges on 19 December. This led to a hastily assembled force including rear-echelon troops, military police and Army Air Force personnel. The British 29th Armoured Brigade of British 11th Armoured Division, which had turned in its tanks for re-equipping, was told to take back their tanks and head to the area. British XXX Corps was significantly reinforced for this effort. Units of the corps which fought in the Ardennes were the 51st (Highland) and 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Divisions, the British 6th Airborne Division, the 29th and 33rd Armoured Brigades, and the 34th Tank Brigade. [86]

    Unlike the German forces on the northern and southern shoulders who were experiencing great difficulties, the German advance in the center gained considerable ground. The Fifth Panzer Army was spearheaded by the 2nd Panzer Division while the Panzer Lehr Division (Armored Training Division) came up from the south, leaving Bastogne to other units. The Ourthe River was passed at Ourtheville on 21 December. Lack of fuel held up the advance for one day, but on 23 December the offensive was resumed towards the two small towns of Hargimont and Marche-en-Famenne. Hargimont was captured the same day, but Marche-en-Famenne was strongly defended by the American 84th Division. Gen. von Lüttwitz, commander of the XXXXVII Panzer-Korps, ordered the division to turn westwards towards Dinant and the Meuse, leaving only a blocking force at Marche-en-Famenne. Although advancing only in a narrow corridor, 2nd Panzer Division was still making rapid headway, leading to jubilation in Berlin. Headquarters now freed up the 9th Panzer Division for Fifth Panzer Army, which was deployed at Marche. [87]

    On 22/23 December German forces reached the woods of Foy-Nôtre-Dame, only a few kilometers ahead of Dinant. The narrow corridor caused considerable difficulties, as constant flanking attacks threatened the division. On 24 December, German forces made their furthest penetration west. The Panzer Lehr Division took the town of Celles, while a bit farther north, parts of 2nd Panzer Division were in sight of the Meuse near Dinant at Foy-Nôtre-Dame. A hastily assembled British blocking force on the east side of the river prevented the German Battlegroup Böhm from approaching the Dinant bridge. The 29th Armoured Brigade ambushed the Germans knocking out three Panthers and a number of vehicles in and around Foy Notre Dame. [88] By late Christmas Eve the advance in this sector was stopped, as Allied forces threatened the narrow corridor held by the 2nd Panzer Division. [87]

    Operation Greif and Operation Währung Edit

    For Operation Greif ("Griffin"), Otto Skorzeny successfully infiltrated a small part of his battalion of English-speaking Germans disguised in American uniforms behind the Allied lines. Although they failed to take the vital bridges over the Meuse, their presence caused confusion out of all proportion to their military activities, and rumors spread quickly. [34] Even General George Patton was alarmed and, on 17 December, described the situation to General Dwight Eisenhower as "Krauts . speaking perfect English . raising hell, cutting wires, turning road signs around, spooking whole divisions, and shoving a bulge into our defenses."

    Checkpoints were set up all over the Allied rear, greatly slowing the movement of soldiers and equipment. American MPs at these checkpoints grilled troops on things that every American was expected to know, like the identity of Mickey Mouse's girlfriend, baseball scores, or the capital of a particular U.S. state—though many could not remember or did not know. General Omar Bradley was briefly detained when he correctly identified Springfield as the capital of Illinois because the American MP who questioned him mistakenly believed the capital was Chicago. [34] [89]

    The tightened security nonetheless made things very hard for the German infiltrators, and a number of them were captured. Even during interrogation, they continued their goal of spreading disinformation when asked about their mission, some of them claimed they had been told to go to Paris to either kill or capture General Dwight Eisenhower. [36] Security around the general was greatly increased, and Eisenhower was confined to his headquarters. Because Skorzeny's men were captured in American uniforms, they were executed as spies. [34] [90] This was the standard practice of every army at the time, as many belligerents considered it necessary to protect their territory against the grave dangers of enemy spying. [91] Skorzeny said that he was told by German legal experts that as long he did not order his men to fight in combat while wearing American uniforms, such a tactic was a legitimate ruse of war. [92] Skorzeny and his men were fully aware of their likely fate, and most wore their German uniforms underneath their American ones in case of capture. Skorzeny was tried by an American military tribunal in 1947 at the Dachau Trials for allegedly violating the laws of war stemming from his leadership of Operation Greif, but was acquitted. He later moved to Spain and South America. [34]

    Operation Währung was carried out by a small number of German agents who infiltrated Allied lines in American uniforms. These agents were tasked with using an existing Nazi intelligence network to bribe rail and port workers to disrupt Allied supply operations. The operation was a failure. [93]

    Further south on Manteuffel's front, the main thrust was delivered by all attacking divisions crossing the River Our, then increasing the pressure on the key road centers of St. Vith and Bastogne. The more experienced U.S. 28th Infantry Division put up a much more dogged defense than the inexperienced soldiers of the 106th Infantry Division. The 112th Infantry Regiment (the most northerly of the 28th Division's regiments), holding a continuous front east of the Our, kept German troops from seizing and using the Our River bridges around Ouren for two days, before withdrawing progressively westwards.

    The 109th and 110th Regiments of the 28th Division fared worse, as they were spread so thinly that their positions were easily bypassed. Both offered stubborn resistance in the face of superior forces and threw the German schedule off by several days. The 110th's situation was by far the worst, as it was responsible for an 18-kilometer (11 mi) front while its 2nd Battalion was withheld as the divisional reserve. Panzer columns took the outlying villages and widely separated strong points in bitter fighting, and advanced to points near Bastogne within four days. The struggle for the villages and American strong points, plus transport confusion on the German side, slowed the attack sufficiently to allow the 101st Airborne Division (reinforced by elements from the 9th and 10th Armored Divisions) to reach Bastogne by truck on the morning of 19 December. The fierce defense of Bastogne, in which American paratroopers particularly distinguished themselves, made it impossible for the Germans to take the town with its important road junctions. The panzer columns swung past on either side, cutting off Bastogne on 20 December but failing to secure the vital crossroads.

    In the extreme south, Brandenberger's three infantry divisions were checked by divisions of the U.S. VIII Corps after an advance of 6.4 km (4 mi) that front was then firmly held. Only the 5th Parachute Division of Brandenberger's command was able to thrust forward 19 km (12 mi) on the inner flank to partially fulfill its assigned role. Eisenhower and his principal commanders realized by 17 December that the fighting in the Ardennes was a major offensive and not a local counterattack, and they ordered vast reinforcements to the area. Within a week 250,000 troops had been sent. General Gavin of the 82nd Airborne Division arrived on the scene first and ordered the 101st to hold Bastogne while the 82nd would take the more difficult task of facing the SS Panzer Divisions it was also thrown into the battle north of the bulge, near Elsenborn Ridge. [ citation needed ]

    Siege of Bastogne Edit

    Senior Allied commanders met in a bunker in Verdun on 19 December. By this time, the town of Bastogne and its network of 11 hard-topped roads leading through the widely forested mountainous terrain with deep river valleys and boggy mud of the Ardennes region was under severe threat. Bastogne had previously been the site of the VIII Corps headquarters. Two separate westbound German columns that were to have bypassed the town to the south and north, the 2nd Panzer Division and Panzer-Lehr-Division of XLVII Panzer Corps, as well as the Corps' infantry (26th Volksgrenadier Division), coming due west had been engaged and much slowed and frustrated in outlying battles at defensive positions up to 16 kilometers (10 mi) from the town proper, but these defensive positions were gradually being forced back onto and into the hasty defenses built within the municipality. Moreover, the sole corridor that was open (to the southeast) was threatened and it had been sporadically closed as the front shifted, and there was expectation that it would be completely closed sooner than later, given the strong likelihood that the town would soon be surrounded. [ citation needed ]

    Gen. Eisenhower, realizing that the Allies could destroy German forces much more easily when they were out in the open and on the offensive than if they were on the defensive, told his generals, "The present situation is to be regarded as one of opportunity for us and not of disaster. There will be only cheerful faces at this table." Patton, realizing what Eisenhower implied, responded, "Hell, let's have the guts to let the bastards go all the way to Paris. Then, we'll really cut 'em off and chew 'em up." Eisenhower, after saying he was not that optimistic, asked Patton how long it would take to turn his Third Army, located in northeastern France, north to counterattack. To the disbelief of the other generals present, Patton replied that he could attack with two divisions within 48 hours. Unknown to the other officers present, before he left Patton had ordered his staff to prepare three contingency plans for a northward turn in at least corps strength. By the time Eisenhower asked him how long it would take, the movement was already underway. [94] On 20 December, Eisenhower removed the First and Ninth U.S. Armies from Gen. Bradley's 12th Army Group and placed them under Montgomery's 21st Army Group. [95]

    By 21 December the Germans had surrounded Bastogne, which was defended by the 101st Airborne Division, the all African American 969th Artillery Battalion, and Combat Command B of the 10th Armored Division. Conditions inside the perimeter were tough—most of the medical supplies and medical personnel had been captured. Food was scarce, and by 22 December artillery ammunition was restricted to 10 rounds per gun per day. The weather cleared the next day and supplies (primarily ammunition) were dropped over four of the next five days. [96]

    Despite determined German attacks, the perimeter held. The German commander, Generalleutnant (Lt. Gen.) Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz, [97] requested Bastogne's surrender. [98] When Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander of the 101st, was told of the Nazi demand to surrender, in frustration he responded, "Nuts!" After turning to other pressing issues, his staff reminded him that they should reply to the German demand. One officer, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard, noted that McAuliffe's initial reply would be "tough to beat." Thus McAuliffe wrote on the paper, which was typed up and delivered to the Germans, the line he made famous and a morale booster to his troops: "NUTS!" [99] That reply had to be explained, both to the Germans and to non-American Allies. [k]

    Both 2nd Panzer and Panzer-Lehr division moved forward from Bastogne after 21 December, leaving only Panzer-Lehr division's 901st Regiment to assist the 26th Volksgrenadier-Division in attempting to capture the crossroads. The 26th VG received one Panzergrenadier Regiment from the 15th Panzergrenadier Division on Christmas Eve for its main assault the next day. Because it lacked sufficient troops and those of the 26th VG Division were near exhaustion, the XLVII Panzerkorps concentrated its assault on several individual locations on the west side of the perimeter in sequence rather than launching one simultaneous attack on all sides. The assault, despite initial success by its tanks in penetrating the American line, was defeated and all the tanks destroyed. On the following day of 26 December the spearhead of Gen. Patton's 4th Armored Division, supplemented by the 26th (Yankee) Infantry Division, broke through and opened a corridor to Bastogne. [96]

    On 23 December the weather conditions started improving, allowing the Allied air forces to attack. They launched devastating bombing raids on the German supply points in their rear, and P-47 Thunderbolts started attacking the German troops on the roads. Allied air forces also helped the defenders of Bastogne, dropping much-needed supplies—medicine, food, blankets, and ammunition. A team of volunteer surgeons flew in by military glider and began operating in a tool room. [100]

    By 24 December the German advance was effectively stalled short of the Meuse. Units of the British XXX Corps were holding the bridges at Dinant, Givet, and Namur and U.S. units were about to take over. The Germans had outrun their supply lines, and shortages of fuel and ammunition were becoming critical. Up to this point the German losses had been light, notably in armor, with the exception of Peiper's losses. On the evening of 24 December, General Hasso von Manteuffel recommended to Hitler's Military Adjutant a halt to all offensive operations and a withdrawal back to the Westwall (literally Western Rampart). Hitler rejected this.

    Disagreement and confusion at the Allied command prevented a strong response, throwing away the opportunity for a decisive action. In the center, on Christmas Eve, the 2nd Armored Division attempted to attack and cut off the spearheads of the 2nd Panzer Division at the Meuse, while the units from the 4th Cavalry Group kept the 9th Panzer Division at Marche busy. As a result, parts of the 2nd Panzer Division were cut off. The Panzer-Lehr division tried to relieve them, but was only partially successful, as the perimeter held. For the next two days the perimeter was strengthened. On 26 and 27 December the trapped units of 2nd Panzer Division made two break-out attempts, again only with partial success, as major quantities of equipment fell into Allied hands. Further Allied pressure out of Marche finally led the German command to the conclusion that no further offensive action towards the Meuse was possible. [101]

    In the south, Patton's Third Army was battling to relieve Bastogne. At 16:50 on 26 December, the lead element, Company D, 37th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division, reached Bastogne, ending the siege.

    On 1 January, in an attempt to keep the offensive going, the Germans launched two new operations. At 09:15, the Luftwaffe launched Unternehmen Bodenplatte (Operation Baseplate), a major campaign against Allied airfields in the Low Countries. Hundreds of planes attacked Allied airfields, destroying or severely damaging some 465 aircraft. The Luftwaffe lost 277 planes, 62 to Allied fighters and 172 mostly because of an unexpectedly high number of Allied flak guns, set up to protect against German V-1 flying bomb/missile attacks and using proximity fused shells, but also by friendly fire from the German flak guns that were uninformed of the pending large-scale German air operation. The Germans suffered heavy losses at an airfield named Y-29, losing 40 of their own planes while damaging only four American planes. While the Allies recovered from their losses within days, the operation left the Luftwaffe ineffective for the remainder of the war. [102]

    On the same day, German Army Group G (Heeresgruppe G) and Army Group Upper Rhine (Heeresgruppe Oberrhein) launched a major offensive against the thinly-stretched, 110 kilometers (70 mi) line of the Seventh U.S. Army. This offensive, known as Unternehmen Nordwind (Operation North Wind), was the last major German offensive of the war on the Western Front. The weakened Seventh Army had, at Eisenhower's orders, sent troops, equipment, and supplies north to reinforce the American armies in the Ardennes, and the offensive left it in dire straits.

    By 15 January Seventh Army's VI Corps was fighting on three sides in Alsace. With casualties mounting, and running short on replacements, tanks, ammunition, and supplies, Seventh Army was forced to withdraw to defensive positions on the south bank of the Moder River on 21 January. The German offensive drew to a close on 25 January. In the bitter, desperate fighting of Operation Nordwind, VI Corps, which had borne the brunt of the fighting, suffered a total of 14,716 casualties. The total for Seventh Army for January was 11,609. [18] Total casualties included at least 9,000 wounded. [103] First, Third, and Seventh Armies suffered a total of 17,000 hospitalized from the cold. [18] [l]

    Allies prevail Edit

    While the German offensive had ground to a halt during January 1945, they still controlled a dangerous salient in the Allied line. Patton's Third Army in the south, centered around Bastogne, would attack north, Montgomery's forces in the north would strike south, and the two forces planned to meet at Houffalize.

    The temperature during that January was extremely low, which required weapons to be maintained and truck engines run every half-hour to prevent their oil from congealing. The offensive went forward regardless.

    Eisenhower wanted Montgomery to go on the counter offensive on 1 January, with the aim of meeting up with Patton's advancing Third Army and cutting off most of the attacking Germans, trapping them in a pocket. Montgomery, refusing to risk underprepared infantry in a snowstorm for a strategically unimportant area, did not launch the attack until 3 January, by which time substantial numbers of German troops had already managed to fall back successfully, but at the cost of losing most of their heavy equipment.

    At the start of the offensive, the First and Third U.S. Armies were separated by about 40 km (25 mi). American progress in the south was also restricted to about a kilometre or a little over half a mile per day. On 2 January, the Tiger IIs of German Heavy Tank Battalion 506 supported an attack by the 12th SS Hitlerjugend division against U.S. positions near Wardin and knocked out 15 Sherman tanks. [104] The majority of the German force executed a successful fighting withdrawal and escaped the battle area, although the fuel situation had become so dire that most of the German armor had to be abandoned.

    On 7 January 1945 Hitler agreed to withdraw all forces from the Ardennes, including the SS-Panzer divisions, thus ending all offensive operations. On 14 January, Hitler granted Gerd von Rundstedt permission to carry out a fairly drastic retreat in the Ardennes region. Houffalize and the Bastogne front would be abandoned. [105] Considerable fighting went on for another 3 weeks St. Vith was recaptured by the Americans on 23 January, and the last German units participating in the offensive did not return to their start line until 25 January.

    Winston Churchill, addressing the House of Commons following the Battle of the Bulge said, "This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory." [106]

    Infantrymen fire at German troops in the advance to relieve the surrounded paratroopers in Bastogne [m]


    Although victorious in World War I, the conflict left France exhausted, shaken, and gun shy. The country had suffered 1,358,000 killed, and 4,265,000 wounded, of whom roughly 1,500,000 were permanently maimed, plus another 535,000 missing or made prisoner. That equated to 73% of the 8,410,000 men mobilized during the conflict. And that was aside from the extensive property damage, as most of the fighting on the Western Front had occurred on French soil &ndash and in the most productive French regions, at that.

    To avoid a repetition in case of a future war, the French built the Maginot Line to fortify and secure the Franco-German border. They also stationed most of their mobile forces in the north, to plunge into Belgium &ndash through whose territory the Germans had invaded in 1914 &ndash and fight the invaders as far forward and away from French soil as possible.

    However, while the French had fortified the south and stationed strong forces to the north, they paid little attention to a stretch of wooded and broken terrain in the center: the Ardennes Forrest. The French deemed that region impassable for enemy armor, and left it lightly defended. The Germans, adopting a plan devised by up and comer general Erich von Manstein, disagreed, and massed most of their tanks in that sector.

    The Battle of France began on May 10th, 1940, with a German attack in the north through Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. According to plan, French and British armies advanced into Belgium to contest the issue there. On May 16th, once the Allies&rsquo mobile forces were committed in Belgium, the Germans unleashed their surprise armored attack through the Ardennes.

    The French and British were wrong footed. Their mobile forces were stuck in Belgium, and could not disengage and turn around to deal with the Germans in the Ardennes. Nor did they have reserves to stop the rampaging Panzer divisions that overwhelmed the local defenders, burst through their lines, and raced to the English Channel, to cut off the French and British armies in Belgium from the rest of France. On June 20th &ndash only 40 days from the start of the German offensive &ndash the French were forced to surrender.


    5. Password attack

    Because passwords are the most commonly used mechanism to authenticate users to an information system, obtaining passwords is a common and effective attack approach. Access to a person&rsquos password can be obtained by looking around the person&rsquos desk, &lsquo&lsquosniffing&rsquo&rsquo the connection to the network to acquire unencrypted passwords, using social engineering, gaining access to a password database or outright guessing. The last approach can be done in either a random or systematic manner:

    • Brute-force password guessing means using a random approach by trying different passwords and hoping that one work Some logic can be applied by trying passwords related to the person&rsquos name, job title, hobbies or similar items.
    • In a dictionary attack, a dictionary of common passwords is used to attempt to gain access to a user&rsquos computer and network. One approach is to copy an encrypted file that contains the passwords, apply the same encryption to a dictionary of commonly used passwords, and compare the results.

    In order to protect yourself from dictionary or brute-force attacks, you need to implement an account lockout policy that will lock the account after a few invalid password attempts. You can follow these account lockout best practices in order to set it up correctly.


    Significant Cyber Incidents

    This timeline records significant cyber incidents since 2006. We focus on cyber attacks on government agencies, defense and high tech companies, or economic crimes with losses of more than a million dollars.

    Below is a summary of incidents from over the last year. For the full list, click the download link above.

    May 2021. The world’s largest meat processing company, Brazilian-based JBS, was the victim of a ransomware attack. The attack shut down facilities in the United States, Canada and Australia. The attack was attributed to the Russian speaking cybercrime group, REvil.

    May 2021. On May 24th, hackers gained access to Fujitsu’s systems and stole files belonging to multiple Japanese government entities. So far four government agencies have been impacted.

    May 2021. Cybersecurity researchers identified a North Korean hacking group to be responsible for a cyber espionage campaign, targeting high profile South Korean government officials, utilizing a phishing methodology. The group’s targets were based in South Korea and included: the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA), ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador of the Embassy of Sri Lanka to the State (in ROK), International Atomic Energy Agency Nuclear Security Officer, Deputy Consul General at Korean Consulate General in Hong Kong, Seoul National University, and Daishin Securities.

    May 2021. On May 14, Ireland’s national health service, the Health Service Executive (HSE), was the victim of a ransomware attack. Upon discovering the attack, government authorities shut down the HSE system. The attackers utilized the Conti ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS), which is reported to be operated by a Russia-based cybercrime group.

    May 2021. The FBI and the Australian Cyber Security Centre warned of an ongoing Avaddon ransomware campaign targeting multiple sectors in various countries. The reported targeted countries are Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jordan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Spain, UAE, UK, US. The targeted industries include: academia, airlines, construction, energy, equipment, financial, freight, government, health, it, law enforcement, manufacturing, marketing, retail, pharmaceutical.

    May 2021. On May 6, the Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, was the target of a ransomware attack. The energy company shut down the pipeline and later paid a $5 million ransom. The attack is attributed to DarkSide, a Russian speaking hacking group.

    May 2021. On May 4th and 5th, the Norwegian energy technology company Volue was the victim of a ransomware attack. The attack resulted in the shutdown of water and water treatment facilities in 200 municipalities, affecting approximately 85% of the Norwegian population.

    May 2021. A large DDoS attack disabled the ISP used by Belgium’s government, impacting more than 200 organizations causing the cancellation of multiple Parliamentary meetings.

    May 2021. A Chinese hacking group compromised a Russian defense contractor involved in designing nuclear submarines for the Russian navy.

    April 2021. A hacking group compromised the social media accounts of Polish officials and used them to disseminate narratives critical of NATO. German authorities have reported that the same group has also attempted to compromise members of the Bundestag and state parliament.

    April 2021. Hackers linked to the Chinese military conducted an espionage campaign targeting military and government organizations in Southeast Asia beginning in 2019

    April 2021. Malware triggered an outage for airline reservation systems that caused the networks of 20 low-cost airlines around the world to crash

    April 2021. Russian hackers targeted Ukrainian government officials with spearphishing attempts as tensions between the two nations rose during early 2021

    April 2021. Hackers linked to Palestinian intelligence conducted a cyber espionage campaign compromising approximately 800 Palestinian reporters, activists, and dissidents both in Palestine and more broadly across the Middle East.

    April 2021. Two state-backed hacking groups—one of which works on behalf of the Chinese government—exploited vulnerabilities in a VPN service to target organizations across the U.S. and Europe with a particular focus on U.S. defense contractors.

    April 2021. MI5 warned that over 10,000 UK professional shave been targeted by hostile states over the past five years as part of spearphishing and social engineering campaigns on LinkedIn.

    April 2021. Swedish officials disclosed that the Swedish Sports Confederation was hacked by Russian military intelligence in late 2017 and early 2018 in response to accusations of Russian government-sponsored doping of Russian athletes

    April 2021. French security researchers found that the number of attacks hitting critical French businesses increased fourfold in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    April 2021. The European Commission announced that the EC and multiple other EU organizations were hit by a major cyberattack by unknow

    April 2021. Chinese hackers launched a months-long cyber espionage campaign during the second half of 2020 targeting government agencies in Vietnam with the intent of gathering political intelligence

    March 2021. The North Korean hacking group responsible for a set of attacks on cybersecurity researchers in January 2021 launched a new campaign targeting infosec professionals using fake social media profiles and a fake website for a non-existent security service companyo target

    March 2021. Suspected Iranian hackers targeted medical researchers in Israel and the U.S. in an attempt to steal the credentials of geneticists, neurologists, and oncologists in the two countries

    March 2021. Suspected Russian hackers stole thousands of emails after breaching the email server of the U.S. State Department

    March 2021. Suspected state hackers targeted the Australian media company Nine Entertainment with a ransomware variant, disrupting live broadcasts and print production systems.

    March 2021. Suspected Russian hackers attempted to gain access to the personal email accounts of German parliamentarians in the run-up to Germany’s national elections

    March 2021. U.S. Cyber Command confirmed that it was assisting Columbia in responding to election interference and influence operations.

    March 2021. The head of U.S. Cyber Command testified that the organization had conducted more than two dozen operations to confront foreign threats ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections, including eleven forward hunt operations in nine different countries.

    March 2021. A group of Chinese hackers used Facebook to send malicious links to Uyghur activists, journalists, and dissidents located abroad.

    March 2021. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team found evidence of Chinese hackers conducting a cyber espionage campaign against the Indian transportation sector

    March 2021. Polish security services announced that suspected Russian hackers briefly took over the websites of Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency and Health Ministry to spread false alerts of a nonexistent radioactive threat.

    March 2021. Both Russian and Chinese intelligence services targeted the European Medicines Agency in 2020 in unrelated campaigns, stealing documents relating to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.

    March 2021. Ukraine’s State Security Service announced it had prevented a large-scale attack by Russian FSB hackers attempting to gain access to classified government data.

    March 2021. Lithuania’s State Security Department declared that Russian hackers had targeted top Lithuanian officials in 2020 and used the country’s IT infrastructure to carry out attacks against organizations involved in developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

    March 2021. Suspected Iranian hackers targeted government agencies, academia, and the tourism industry in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE as part of a cyber espionage campaign.

    March 2021. Chinese government hackers targeted Microsoft’s enterprise email software to steal data from over 30,000 organizations around the world, including government agencies, legislative bodies, law firms, defense contractors, infectious disease researchers, and policy think tanks.

    March 2021. Suspected Chinese hackers targeted electricity grid operators in India in an apparent attempt to lay the groundwork for possible future attacks.

    February 2021. A Portuguese-speaking cyber criminal group accessed computer systems at a division of Oxford University researching COVID-19 vaccines, and are suspected to be selling the data they collected to nation states.

    February 2021. North Korean hackers targeted defense firms in more than a dozen countries in an espionage campaign starting in early 2020.

    February 2021. Hackers associated with the Chinese military conducted a surveillance campaign against Tibetans both in China and abroad.

    February 2021. Russian hackers compromised a Ukrainian government file-sharing system and attempted to disseminate malicious documents that would install malware on computers that downloaded the planted files.

    February 2021. Hackers linked to the Vietnamese government conducted a nearly three-year cyber espionage campaign against human rights advocates in the country by using spyware to infiltrate individuals’ systems, spy on their activity, and exfiltrate data.

    February 2021. Ukrainian officials reported that a multi-day distributed denial-of-service attack against the website of the Security Service of Ukraine was part of Russia’s hybrid warfare operations in the country.

    February 2021. The US Department of Justice indicted three North Korean hackers for conspiring to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrencies.

    February 2021. Iranian hackers took control of a server in Amsterdam and used it as a command and control center for attacks against political opponents in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and India.

    February 2021. North Korean hackers attempted to break into the computer systems of pharmaceutical company Pfizer to gain information about vaccines and treatments for the COVID-19.

    February 2021. Suspected Iranian hackers targeted government agencies in the UAE as part of a cyber espionage campaign related to the normalizations of relations with Israel.

    February 2021. The French national cybersecurity agency announced that a four-year campaign against French IT providers was the work of a Russian hacking group.

    February 2021. Suspected Indian hackers targeted over 150 individuals in Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and India using mobile malware, including those with links to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, the Pakistan Air Force, and election officials in Kashmir.

    February 2021. Ten members of a cybercriminal gang were arrested after a campaign where they tricked telecom companies into assigning celebrities’ phone numbers to new devices, stealing more than $100 million worth of cryptocurrencies.

    February 2021. Unknown hackers attempted to raise levels of sodium hydroxide in the water supply of Oldsmar, Florida by a factor of 100 by exploiting a remote access system.

    February 2021. Two Iranian hacking groups conducted espionage campaigns against Iranian dissidents in sixteen countries in the Middle East, Europe, South Asia, and North America.

    January 2021. Hackers linked to Hezbollah breached telecom companies, internet service providers, and hosting providers in the US, UK, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Palestinian Authority for intelligence gathering and data theft.

    January 2021. North Korean government hackers engaged in a sophisticated social engineering campaign against cybersecurity researchers that used multiple fake twitter accounts and a fake blog to drive targets to infected sites or induce them to open infected attachments in emails asking the target to collaborate on a research project.

    January 2021. Suspected Indian hackers active since 2012 were attacked business and governments across South and East Asia, with a particular emphasis on military and government organizations in Pakistan, China, Nepal, and Afghanistan, and businesses involved in defense technology, scientific research, finance, energy, and mining.

    January 2021. Unidentified hackers breached one of the data centers of New Zealand’s central bank.

    January 2021. Hackers linked to the Chinese government were responsible for ransomware attacks against five major gaming and gambling countries, demanding over $100 million in ransom.

    December 2020. Iranian state hackers used a Christmas theme for a spearphishing campaign targeting think tanks, research organizations, academics, journalists, and activists in the Persian Gulf, EU, and US

    December 2020. Chinese hackers targeted the Finnish parliament, breaching the email accounts of parliament members and other employees

    December 2020. African Union staff found that Chinese hackers had been siphoning off security footage from cameras installed in the AU headquarters

    December 2020. One Saudi hacking group, One UAE hacking group, and two unknown government-sponsored hacking groups used spyware purchased from the Israeli vendor NSO Group to hack 36 phones belonging to Al Jazeera employees.

    December 2020. Facebook found that two groups of Russians and one group of individuals affiliated with the French military were using fake Facebook accounts to conduct dueling political information operations in Africa.

    December 2020. More than 40 Israeli companies had data stolen after Iranian hackers compromised a developer of logistics management software and used their access to exfiltrate data from the firm’s clients

    December 2020. Unknown state-sponsored hackers took advantage of territory disputes between China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan to target government and military organizations across South Asia, including the Nepali Army and Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense, and the Afghan National security Council and Presidential Palace.

    December 2020. Facebook announced that its users had been targeted by two hacking campaigns, one originating from state-sponsored Vietnamese hackers focused on spreading malware, and the other from two non-profit groups in Bangladesh focused on compromising accounts and coordinating the reporting of accounts and pages for removal

    December 2020. Suspected Chinese hackers targeted government agencies and the National Data Center of Mongolia as part of a phishing campaign

    December 2020. Hackers accessed data related to the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer during an attack on the European Medicines Agency.

    December 2020. Over 200 organizations around the world—including multiple US government agencies—were revealed to have been breached by Russian hackers who compromised the software provider SolarWinds and exploited their access to monitor internal operations and exfiltrate data.

    December 2020. A criminal group targeted the Israeli insurance company Shirbit with ransomware, demanding almost $1 million in bitcoin. The hackers published some sensitive personal information after making their demands and threatened to reveal more if they did not receive payment.

    December 2020. CISA and the FBI announced that U.S. think tanks focusing on national security and international affairs were being targeted by state-sponsored hacking groups

    December 2020. Suspected state-sponsored hackers from an unknown country conducted a spear phishing campaign against organizations in six countries involved in providing special temperature-controlled environments to support the COVID-19 supply chain.

    November 2020. A Mexican facility owned by Foxconn was hit by a ransomware attack that the hackers claim resulted in 1,200 servers being encrypted, 20-30 TB of backups being deleted, and 100 GB of encrypted files being stolen.

    November 2020. North Korean hackers targeted COVID-19 vaccine developer AstraZeneca by posing as recruiters and sending the company’s employees fake job offers that included malware

    November 2020. Chinese hackers targeted Japanese organizations in multiple industry sectors located in multiple regions around the globe, including North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

    November 2020. Suspected Chinese government hackers conducted a cyber espionage campaign from 2018 to 2020 targeting government organizations in Southeast Asia

    November 2020. A North Korean hacking group engaged in software supply chain attacks against South Korean internet users by compromising legitimate South Korean security software

    November 2020. One Russian and two North Korean hacking groups launched attacks against seven companies involved in COVID-19 vaccine research

    November 2020. A group of hackers for hire launched attacks against a group of targets in South Asia, and particularly India, Bangladesh, and Singapore. These attacks included the use of a custom backdoor and credential theft

    November 2020. A group of Vietnamese hackers created and maintained a number of fake websites devoted to news and activism in Southeast Asia that were used to profile users, re-direct to phishing pages, and distribute malware

    November 2020. U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA conducted offensive cyber operations against Iran to prevent interference in the upcoming U.S. elections.

    November 2020. Hamas used a secret headquarters in Turkey to carry out cyberattacks and counter-intelligence operations

    October 2020. The U.S. government announces that Iranian hackers targeted state election websites in order to download voter registration information and conduct a voter intimidation campaign

    October 2020. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry responded to accusations that Chinese state-sponsored hackers were targeting the U.S. defense industrial base by declaring that the United States was an “empire of hacking,” citing 2013 leaks about the NSA’s Prism program.

    October 2020. India's National Cyber Security Coordinator announced that cyber crimes in India cost almost $17 billion in 2019.

    October 2020. A Russian cyber espionage group hacked into an unidentified European government organization

    October 2020. Iranian hackers targeted attendees of the Munich Security Conference in order to gather intelligence on foreign policy from the compromised individuals

    October 2020. Greek hackers defaced the website of the Turkish Parliament and 150 Azerbaijani government websites in support of Armenia.

    October 2020. The FBI, CISA and U.S. Cyber Command announced that a North Korean hacking group had been conducting a cyber espionage campaign against individual experts, think tanks, and government entities in South Korea, Japan, and the United States with the purpose of collecting intelligence on national security issues related to the Korean peninsula, sanctions, and nuclear policy

    October 2020. The FBI and CISA announced that a Russian hacking group breached U.S. state and local government networks, as well as aviation networks, and exfiltrated data

    October 2020. A North Korean hacker group carried out attacks against aerospace and defense companies in Russia.

    October 2020. An Iranian hacking group conducted a phishing campaign against universities in Australia, Canada, the UK, the U.S., the Netherlands, Singapore, Denmark, and Sweden.

    October 2020. Suspected Iranian hackers targeted government agencies and telecommunications operators in Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, and the UAE as part of a cyber espionage campaign

    October 2020. The NSA warned that Chinese government hackers were targeting the U.S. defense industrial base as part of a wide-ranging espionage campaign

    October 2020. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre found evidence that Russian military intelligence hackers had been planning a disruptive cyber attack on the later-postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

    October 2020. The U.S. indicted six Russian GRU officers for their involvement in hacking incidents including the 2015 and 2016 attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure, the 2017 NotPetya ransomware outbreak, election interference in the 2017 French elections, and others.

    October 2020. Iran announced that the country’s Ports and Maritime Organization and one other unspecified government agency had come under cyberattack

    October 2020. Microsoft and U.S. Cyber Command both independently undertook operations to take down a Russian botnet ahead of the U.S. election.

    October 2020. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security revealed that hackers targeted the U.S. Census Bureau in a possible attempt to collect bulk data, alter registration information, compromise census infrastructure, or conduct DoS attacks

    October 2020. U.S. government officials revealed that suspected Chinese hackers were behind a series of attacks on entities in Russia, India, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Malaysia

    October 2020. A Chinese group targeted diplomatic entities and NGOs in Africa, Asia, and Europe using advanced malware adapted from code leaked by the Italian hacking tool vendor HackingTeam

    October 2020. Iranian hackers exploited a serious Windows vulnerability to target Middle Eastern network technology providers and organizations involved in work with refugees

    October 2020. A cyber mercenary group targeted government officials and private organizations in South Asia and the Middle East using a combination of methods including zero-day exploits

    October 2020. In the midst of escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, an unknown intelligence service conducted a cyber espionage campaign targeting Azerbaijani government institutions

    October 2020. A previously unknown cyber espionage group was found to have been stealing documents from government agencies and corporations in Eastern Europe and the Balkans since 2011.

    October 2020. The UN shipping agency the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reported that its website and networks had been disrupted by a sophisticated cyber attack

    October 2020. North Korean hackers targeted a ministry of health and a pharmaceutical company involved in COVID-19 research and response

    September 2020. American healthcare firm Universal Health Systems sustained a ransomware attack that caused affected hospitals to revert to manual backups, divert ambulances, and reschedule surgeries

    September 2020. French shipping company CMA CGM SA saw two of its subsidiaries in Asia hit with a ransomware attack that caused significant disruptions to IT networks, though did not affect the moving of cargo

    September 2020. Russian hackers targeted government agencies in NATO member countries, and nations who cooperate with NATO. The campaign uses NATO training material as bait for a phishing scheme that infects target computers with malware that creates a persistent backdoor.

    September 2020. Chinese hackers stole information related to Covid-19 vaccine development from Spanish research centers

    September 2020. Iranian hackers targeted Iranian minorities, anti-regime organizations, and resistance members using a combination of malware including an Android backdoor designed to steal two factor authentication codes from text messages.

    September 2020. Three hackers operating at the direction of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were indicted by the United States for attacks against workers at aerospace and satellite technology companies, as well as international government organizations.

    September 2020. A ransomware attack on a German hospital may have led to the death of a patient who had to be redirected to a more distant hospital for treatment.

    September 2020. The U.S. Department of Justice indicted five Chinese hackers with ties to Chinese intelligence services for attacks on more than 100 organizations across government, IT, social media, academia, and more

    September 2020. The FBI and CISA announced that Iranian hackers had been exploiting publicly known vulnerabilities to target U.S. organizations in the IT, government, healthcare, finance, and media sectors.

    September 2020. CISA revealed that hackers associated with the Chinese Ministry of State Security had been scanning U.S. government and private networks for over a year in search of networking devices that could be compromised using exploits for recently discovered vulnerabilities

    September 2020. One government organization in the Middle East and one in North Africa were targeted with possible wiper malware that leveraged a ransomware-as-a-service offering that has recently become popular on cybercrime markets

    September 2020. Georgian officials announce that COVID-19 research files at a biomedical research facility in Tbilisi was targeted as part of a cyberespionage campaign

    September 2020. Norway announced it had defended against two sets of cyber attacks that targeted the emails of several members and employees of the Norwegian parliament as well as public employees in the Hedmark region. It later blamed Russia for the attack.

    August 2020. A North Korean hacking group targeted 28 UN officials in a spear-phishing campaign, including at least 11 individuals representing six members of the UN Security Council.

    August 2020. Hackers for hire suspected of operating on behalf of the Iranian government were found to have been working to gain access to sensitive information held by North American and Israeli entities across a range of sectors, including technology, government, defense, and healthcare.

    August 2020. New Zealand’s stock exchange faced several days of disruptions after a severe distributed denial of service attack was launched by unknown actors

    August 2020. U.S. officials announced that North Korean government hackers had been operating a campaign focused on stealing money from ATMs around the world.

    August 2020. Suspected Pakistani hackers used custom malware to steal files from victims in twenty-seven countries, most prominently in India and Afghanistan.

    August 2020. Ukrainian officials announced that a Russian hacking group had begun to conduct a phishing campaign in preparations for operations on Ukraine’s independence day

    August 2020. Taiwan accused Chinese hackers of infiltrating the information systems of at least ten government agencies and 6,000 email accounts to gain access to citizens’ personal data and government information.

    August 2020. A Chinese cyber espionage group targeted military and financial organizations across Eastern Europe

    August 2020. The Israeli defense ministry announced that it had successfully defended against a cyberattack on Israeli defense manufacturers launched by a suspected North Korean hacking group

    August 2020. An Iranian hacking group was found to be targeting major U.S. companies and government agencies by exploiting recently disclosed vulnerabilities in high-end network equipment to create backdoors for other groups to use

    August 2020. Pakistan announced that hackers associated with Indian intelligence agencies had targeted the mobile phones of Pakistani government officials and military personnel

    August 2020. Seven semiconductor vendors in Taiwan were the victim of a two-year espionage campaign by suspected Chinese state hackers targeting firms’ source code, software development kits, and chip designs.

    August 2020. Russian hackers compromised news sites and replaced legitimate articles with falsified posts that used fabricated quotes from military and political officials to discredit NATO among Polish, Lithuanian, and Latvian audiences.

    July 2020. Israel announced that two cyber attacks had been carried out against Israeli water infrastructure, though neither were successful

    July 2020. Chinese state-sponsored hackers broke into the networks of the Vatican to conduct espionage in the lead-up to negotiations about control over the appointment of bishops and the status of churches in China.

    July 2020. Canada, the UK, and the U.S. announced that hackers associated with Russian intelligence had attempted to steal information related to COVID-19 vaccine development

    July 2020. The UK announced that it believed Russia had attempted to interfere in its 2019 general election by stealing and leaking documents related to the UK-US Free Trade Agreement

    July 2020. Media reports say a 2018 Presidential finding authorized the CIA to conduct cyber operations against Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China. The operations included disruption and public leaking of information.

    July 2020. President Trump confirmed that he directly authorized a 2019 operation by US Cyber Command taking the Russian Internet Research Agency offline.

    June 2020. Uyghur and Tibetan mobile users were targeted by a mobile malware campaign originating in China that had been ongoing since 2013

    June 2020. A hacking group affiliated with an unknown government was found to have targeted a range of Kurdish individuals in Turkey and Syria at the same time as Turkey launched its offensive into northeastern Syria.

    June 2020. The most popular of the tax reporting software platforms China requires foreign companies to download to operate in the country was discovered to contain a backdoor that could allow malicious actors to conduct network reconnaissance or attempt to take remote control of company systems

    June 2020. Nine human rights activists in India were targeted as part of a coordinated spyware campaign that attempted to use malware to log their keystrokes, record audio, and steal credentials

    June 2020. A Moroccan journalist was targeted by unknown actors who sent him phishing messages that could have been used to download spyware developed by Israeli NSO group

    June 2020. North Korean state hackers sent COVID-19-themed phishing emails to more than 5 million businesses and individuals in Singapore, Japan, the United States, South Korea, India, and the UK in an attempt to steal personal and financial data

    June 2020. The Australian Prime Minister announced that an unnamed state actor had been targeting businesses and government agencies in Australia as part of a large-scale cyber attack.

    June 2020. In the midst of escalating tensions between China and India over a border dispute in the Galwan Valley, Indian government agencies and banks reported being targeted by DDoS attacks reportedly originating in China


    Contents

    One of the aims of war is to demoralize the enemy facing continual death and destruction may make the prospect of peace or surrender preferable. The proponents of strategic bombing between the world wars, such as General Douhet, expected that direct attacks upon an enemy country's cities by strategic bombers would lead to a rapid collapse of civilian morale so that political pressure to sue for peace would lead to a rapid conclusion. When such attacks were tried in the 1930s—in the Spanish Civil War and the Second Sino-Japanese War—they were ineffective. Commentators observed the failures and some air forces, such as the Luftwaffe, concentrated their efforts upon direct support of the troops. [3] [4]

    Terror bombing is an emotive term used for aerial attacks planned to weaken or break enemy morale. [5] Use of the term to refer to aerial attacks implies the attacks are criminal according to the law of war, [6] or if within the laws of war are nevertheless a moral crime. [7] According to John Algeo in Fifty Years among the New Words: A Dictionary of Neologisms 1941–1991, the first recorded usage of "Terror bombing" in a United States publication was in a Reader's Digest article dated June 1941, a finding confirmed by the Oxford English Dictionary. [8] [9]

    Aerial attacks described as terror bombing are often long range strategic bombing raids, although attacks which result in the deaths of civilians may also be described as such, or if the attacks involve fighters strafing they may be labelled "terror attacks". [10]

    German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and other high-ranking officials of the Third Reich [11] frequently described attacks made on Germany by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during their strategic bombing campaigns as Terrorangriffe—terror attacks. [nb 1] [nb 2] The Allied governments usually described their bombing of cities with other euphemisms such as area bombing (RAF) or precision bombing (USAAF), and for most of World War II the Allied news media did the same. However, at a SHAEF press conference on 16 February 1945, two days after the bombing of Dresden, British Air Commodore Colin McKay Grierson replied to a question by one of the journalists that the primary target of the bombing had been on communications to prevent the Germans from moving military supplies and to stop movement in all directions if possible. He then added in an offhand remark that the raid also helped destroy "what is left of German morale." Howard Cowan, an Associated Press war correspondent, filed a story about the Dresden raid. The military press censor at SHAEF made a mistake and allowed the Cowan cable to go out starting with "Allied air bosses have made the long awaited decision to adopt deliberate terror bombing of great German population centers as a ruthless expedient to hasten Hitler's doom." There were follow-up newspaper editorials on the issue and a longtime opponent of strategic bombing, Richard Stokes MP, asked questions in the House of Commons on 6 March. [12]

    The controversy stirred up by the Cowan news report reached the highest levels of the British Government when on 28 March 1945 the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, sent a memo by telegram to General Ismay for the British Chiefs of Staff and the Chief of the Air Staff in which he started with the sentence "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. " [13] [14] Under pressure from the Chiefs of Staff and in response to the views expressed by Chief of the Air Staff Sir Charles Portal, and the head of Bomber Command, Arthur "Bomber" Harris, among others, Churchill withdrew his memo and issued a new one. [14] This was completed on 1 April 1945 and started instead with the usual euphemism used when referring to strategic bombing: "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of the so called 'area-bombing' of German cities should be reviewed from the point of view of our own interests. ". [15]

    Many strategic bombing campaigns and individual raids of aerial warfare have been described as "terror bombing" by commentators and historians since the end of World War II, but because the term has pejorative connotations, others have denied that such bombing campaigns and raids are examples of "terror bombing".

    Defensive measures against air raids include: [16]

    • attempting to shoot down attackers using fighter aircraft and anti-aircraft guns or surface-to-air missiles
    • the use of air raid shelters to protect the population
    • setting up civil defence organisations with air raid wardens, firewatchers, rescue and recovery personnel, firefighting crews, and demolition and repair teams to rectify damage – extinguishing all lights at night to make bombing less accurate
    • Dispersal of war-critical factories to areas difficult for bombers to reach
    • Duplication of war-critical manufacturing to "shadow factories"
    • Building factories in tunnels or other underground locations that are protected from bombs
    • Setting up decoy targets in rural areas, mimicking an urban area with fires intended to look like the initial effects of a raid

    World War I Edit

    Strategic bombing was used in World War I, though it was not understood in its present form. The first aerial bombing of a city was on 6 August 1914 when the German Army Zeppelin Z VI bombed, with artillery shells, the Belgian city of Liège, killing nine civilians. [17] The second attack was on the night of 24–25 August 1914, when eight bombs were dropped from a German airship onto the Belgian city of Antwerp. [18]

    The first effective strategic bombing was pioneered by the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) in 1914. [19] [20] The mission was to attack the Zeppelin production lines and their sheds at Cologne (Köln) and Düsseldorf. Led by Charles Rumney Samson, the force of four aircraft inflicted minor damage on the sheds. The raid was repeated a month later with slightly more success. Within a year or so, specialized aircraft and dedicated bomber squadrons were in service on both sides. These were generally used for tactical bombing the aim was that of directly harming enemy troops, strongpoints, or equipment, usually within a relatively small distance of the front line. Eventually, attention turned to the possibility of causing indirect harm to the enemy by systematically attacking vital rear-area resources.

    The most well known attacks were those done by Zeppelins over England through the course of the war. The first aerial bombardment of English civilians was on January 19, 1915, when two Zeppelins dropped 24 fifty-kilogram (110-pound) high-explosive bombs and ineffective three-kilogram incendiaries on the Eastern England towns of Great Yarmouth, Sheringham, King's Lynn, and the surrounding villages. In all, four people were killed and sixteen injured, and monetary damage was estimated at £7,740 (about US$36,000 at the time). German airships also bombed on other fronts, for example in January 1915 on Liepāja in Latvia.

    In 1915 there were 19 more raids, in which 37 tons of bombs were dropped, killing 181 people and injuring 455. Raids continued in 1916. London was accidentally bombed in May, and in July the Kaiser allowed directed raids against urban centers. There were 23 airship raids in 1916, in which 125 tons of ordnance were dropped, killing 293 people and injuring 691. Gradually British air defenses improved. In 1917 and 1918, there were only 11 Zeppelin raids against England, and the final raid occurred on August 5, 1918, which resulted in the death of KK Peter Strasser, commander of the German Naval Airship Department.

    By the end of the war, 51 raids had been undertaken, in which 5,806 bombs were dropped, killing 557 people and injuring 1,358. These raids caused only minor hampering of wartime production, by later standards. A much greater impact was the diversion of twelve aircraft squadrons, many guns, and over 10,000 men to air defenses. The raids generated a wave of hysteria, partially caused by media. This revealed the tactic's potential as a weapon that was of use for propagandists on both sides. The late Zeppelin raids were complemented by the Gotha bomber, which was the first [21] [22] heavier-than-air bomber to be used for strategic bombing.

    The French army on June 15, 1915, attacked the German town of Karlsruhe, killing 29 civilians and wounding 58. Further raids followed until the Armistice in 1918. In a raid in the afternoon of June 22, 1916, the pilots used outdated maps and bombed the location of the abandoned railway station, where a circus tent was placed, killing 120 persons, most of them children.

    The British also stepped up their strategic bombing campaign. In late 1915, the order was given for attacks on German industrial targets, and the 41st Wing was formed from units of the RNAS and Royal Flying Corps. The RNAS took to the strategic bombing in a bigger way than the RFC, who were focused on supporting the infantry actions of the Western Front. At first, the RNAS attacked the German submarines in their moorings and then steelworks further in targeting the origin of the submarines themselves.

    In early 1918 they operated their "round the clock" bombing raid, with lighter bombers attacking the town of Trier by day and large HP O/400s attacking by night. The Independent Force, an expanded bombing group, and the first independent strategic bombing force, was created in April 1918. By the end of the war, the force had aircraft that could reach Berlin, but these were never used.

    Interbellum Edit

    Following the war, the concept of strategic bombing developed. Calculations of the number of dead to the weight of bombs would have a profound effect on the attitudes of the British authorities and population in the interwar years. As bombers became larger, it was fully expected that deaths would dramatically increase. The fear of aerial attack on such a scale was one of the fundamental driving forces of the appeasement of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. [23]

    These early developments of aerial warfare led to two distinct branches in the writings of air warfare theorists: tactical air warfare and strategic air warfare. Tactical air warfare was developed as part of a combined-arms attack which would be developed to a significant degree by Germany, and which contributed much to the success of the Wehrmacht during the first four years (1939–42) of World War II. The Luftwaffe became a major element of the German blitzkrieg.

    Some leading theorists of strategic air warfare, namely strategic bombing during this period were the Italian Giulio Douhet, the Trenchard school in Great Britain, and General Billy Mitchell in the United States. These theorists thought that aerial bombardment of the enemy's homeland would be an important part of future wars. Not only would such attacks weaken the enemy by destroying important military infrastructure, they would also break the morale of the civilian population, forcing their government to capitulate. Although area bombing theorists acknowledged that measures could be taken to defend against bombers—using fighter planes and anti-aircraft artillery—the maxim of the times remained "the bomber will always get through". These theorists for strategic bombing argued that it would be necessary to develop a fleet of strategic bombers during peacetime, both to deter any potential enemy, and also in the case of a war, to be able to deliver devastating attacks on the enemy industries and cities while suffering from relatively few friendly casualties before victory was achieved. [24]

    In the period between the two world wars, military thinkers from several nations advocated strategic bombing as the logical and obvious way to employ aircraft. Domestic political considerations saw to it that the British worked harder on the concept than most. The British Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service of the Great War had been merged in 1918 to create a separate air force, which spent much of the following two decades fighting for survival in an environment of severe government spending constraints.

    In Italy, the airpower prophet General Giulio Douhet asserted the basic principle of strategic bombing was the offensive, and there was no defense against carpet bombing and poison gas attacks. The seeds of Douhet's apocalyptic predictions found fertile soil in France, Germany, and the United States, where excerpts from his book The Command of the Air (1921) were published. These visions of cities laid waste by bombing also gripped the popular imagination and found expression in novels such as Douhet's The War of 19-- (1930) and H.G. Wells's The Shape of Things to Come (1933) (filmed by Alexander Korda as Things to Come (1936)). [25]

    Douhet's proposals were hugely influential among air force enthusiasts, arguing as they did that the bombing air arm was the most important, powerful, and invulnerable part of any military. He envisaged future wars as lasting a matter of a few weeks. While each opposing Army and Navy fought an inglorious holding campaign, the respective Air Forces would dismantle their enemies' country, and if one side did not rapidly surrender, both would be so weak after the first few days that the war would effectively cease. Fighter aircraft would be relegated to spotting patrols but would be essentially powerless to resist the mighty bombers. In support of this theory, he argued for targeting of the civilian population as much as any military target, since a nation's morale was as important a resource as its weapons. Paradoxically, he suggested that this would actually reduce total casualties, since "The time would soon come when to put an end to horror and suffering, the people themselves, driven by the instinct of self-preservation, would rise up and demand an end to the war. ". [26] As a result of Douhet's proposals, air forces allocated greater resources to their bomber squadrons than to their fighters, and the 'dashing young pilots' promoted in the propaganda of the time were invariably bomber pilots.

    Royal Air Force leaders, in particular Air Chief Marshal Hugh Trenchard, believed the key to retaining their independence from the senior services was to lay stress on what they saw as the unique ability of a modern air force to win wars by unaided strategic bombing. As the speed and altitude of bombers increased in proportion to fighter aircraft, the prevailing strategic understanding became "the bomber will always get through". Although anti-aircraft guns and fighter aircraft had proved effective in the Great War, it was accepted there was little warring nations could do to prevent massive civilian casualties from strategic bombing. High civilian morale and retaliation in kind were seen as the only answers—a later generation would revisit this, as Mutual Assured Destruction. [27]

    During the interwar period (1919–1939), the use of aerial bombing was developed as part of British foreign policy in its colonies, with Hugh Trenchard as its leading proponent, Sir Charles Portal, Sir Arthur Harris, and Sidney Bufton. The Trenchard School theories were successfully put into action in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) where RAF bombers used high-explosive bombs and strafing runs against Arab forces. The techniques of so-called "Air Control" included also target marking and locating, as well as formation flying. Arthur Harris, a young RAF squadron commander (later nicknamed "Bomber"), reported after a mission in 1924, "The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means, in casualties and damage. They know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured". [28]

    Despite such statements, in reality, RAF forces took great care when striking at targets. [ citation needed ] RAF directives stressed:

    In these attacks, endeavour should be made to spare the women and children as far as possible, and for this purpose, a warning should be given, whenever practicable. It would be wrong even at this stage to think that airpower was simply seen as a tool for rapid retribution. [29]

    A statement clearly pointed out that the ability of aircraft to inflict punishment could be open to abuse:

    Their power to cover great distances at high speed, their instant readiness for action, their independence (within the detachment radius) of communications, their indifference to obstacles, and the unlikelihood of casualties to air personnel combine to encourage their use offensively more often than the occasion warrants. [29]

    In strikes over Yemen in over a six-month period, sixty tons of bombs were dropped in over 1,200 cumulative flying hours. By August 1928, total losses in ground fighting and air attack, on the Yemeni side, were 65 killed or wounded (one RAF pilot was killed and one airman wounded). [30] Between the wars the RAF conducted 26 separate air operations within the Aden Protectorate. The majority were conducted in response to persistent banditry or to restore the Government's authority. Excluding operations against Yemeni forces—which had effectively ceased by 1934—a total of twelve deaths were attributed to air attacks conducted between 1919 and 1939. [31] Bombing as a military strategy proved to be an effective and efficient way for the British to police their Middle East protectorates in the 1920s. Fewer men were required as compared to ground forces. [32] [ page needed ]

    Pre-war planners, on the whole, vastly overestimated the damage bombers could do, and underestimated the resilience of civilian populations. Jingoistic national pride played a major role: for example, at a time when Germany was still disarmed and France was Britain's only European rival, Trenchard boasted, "the French in a bombing duel would probably squeal before we did". [33] At the time, the expectation was any new war would be brief and very brutal. A British Cabinet planning document in 1938 predicted that, if war with Germany broke out, 35% of British homes would be hit by bombs in the first three weeks. This type of expectation would justify the appeasement of Hitler in the late 1930s. [33]

    During the Spanish Civil War, the bombing of Guernica by German aviators including the Condor Legion, under Nationalist command, resulted in its near destruction. Casualties were estimated to be between 500 and 1500. Though this figure was relatively small, aerial bombers and their weaponry were continually improving—already suggesting the devastation that was to come in the near future. Yet the theory that "the bomber will always get through" started to appear doubtful, as stated by the U.S. Attaché in 1937, "The peacetime theory of the complete invulnerability of the modern type of bombardment airplane no longer holds. The increased speeds of both the bombardment and pursuit plane have worked in favor of the pursuit . The flying fortress died in Spain."

    Large scale bombing of the civilian population, thought to be demoralizing to the enemy, seemed to have the opposite effect. Dr. E. B. Strauss surmised, "Observers state that one of the most remarkable effects of the bombing of open towns in Government Spain had been the welding together into a formidable fighting force of groups of political factions who were previously at each other's throats. ", a sentiment with which Hitler's Luftwaffe, supporting the Spanish Nationalists, generally agreed. [34]

    World War II Edit

    The strategic bombing conducted in World War II was unlike any before. The campaigns conducted in Europe and Asia could involve aircraft dropping thousands of tons of conventional bombs or a nuclear weapon over a single city.

    Area bombardment came to prominence during World War II with the use of large numbers of unguided gravity bombs, often with a high proportion of incendiary devices, to bomb the target region indiscriminately—to kill war workers, destroy materiel, and demoralize the enemy. In high enough concentration, it was capable of producing a firestorm. [35] The high explosives were often delay-action bombs intended to kill or intimidate those fighting the fires caused by incendiaries. [36] : 329

    At first this required multiple aircraft, often returning to the target in waves. Nowadays, a large bomber or missile can be used to the same effect on a small area (an airfield, for example) by releasing a relatively large number of smaller bombs.

    Strategic bombing campaigns were conducted in Europe and Asia. The Germans and Japanese made use of mostly twin-engined bombers with a payload generally less than 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg), and never produced larger craft to any great extent. By comparison, the British and Americans (who started the war with predominantly similarly sized bombers) developed their strategic force based upon much larger four-engined bombers for their strategic campaigns. The payload carried by these planes ranged from 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) for the B-17 Flying Fortress on long-range missions, [37] to 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) for the B-24 Liberator, [38] 14,000 lb (6,400 kg) for the Avro Lancaster, [39] and 20,000 lb (9,000 kg) B-29 Superfortress, [40] with some specialized aircraft, such as the 'Special B' Avro Lancaster carrying the 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) Grand Slam. [41]

    During the first year of the war in Europe, strategic bombing was developed through trial and error. The Luftwaffe had been attacking both civilian and military targets from the very first day of the war, when Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. A strategic-bombing campaign was launched by the Germans as a precursor to the invasion of the United Kingdom to force the RAF to engage the Luftwaffe and so be destroyed either on the ground or in the air. That tactic failed, and the RAF began bombing German cities on 11 May 1940. [42] After the Battle of Britain, the Germans launched their night time Blitz hoping to break British morale and to have the British be cowed into making peace.

    At first the Luftwaffe raids took place in daylight, but changed to night bombing attacks when losses became unsustainable. The RAF, who had preferred precision bombing, also switched to night bombing, also due to excessive losses. [43] [44] Before the Rotterdam Blitz on 14 May 1940 the British restricted themselves to tactical bombing west of the Rhine and naval installations. The day after the Rotterdam Blitz a new directive was issued to the RAF to attack targets in the Ruhr, including oil plants and other civilian industrial targets which aided the German war effort, such as blast furnaces that at night were self-illuminating. After the Butt Report (released in September 1941) proved the inadequacy of RAF Bomber Command training methods and equipment, the RAF adopted an area-attack strategy, by which it hoped to impede Germany's war production, her powers of resistance (by destroying resources and forcing Germany to divert resources from her front lines to defend her air space), and her morale. [45] The RAF dramatically improved its navigation so that on average its bombs hit closer to target. [46] Accuracy never exceeded a 3 mi (4.8 km) radius from point of aim in any case. [47] [ page needed ]

    The United States Army Air Forces adopted a policy of daylight precision bombing for greater accuracy as, for example, during the Schweinfurt raids. That doctrine, based on the erroneous supposition that bombers could adequately defend themselves against air attack, entailed much higher American losses until long-range fighter escorts (e.g. the Mustang) became available. Conditions in the European theatre made it very difficult to achieve the accuracy achieved using the exceptional and top-secret Norden optical bombsight in the clear skies over the desert bombing ranges of Nevada and California. Raids over Europe commonly took place in conditions of very poor visibility, with targets partly or wholly obscured by thick cloud, smokescreens, or smoke from fires started by previous raids. As a result, bomb loads were regularly dropped "blind" using dead-reckoning methods little different from those used by the RAF night bombers. In addition, only the leading bomber in a formation actually utilized the Norden sight, the rest of the formation dropping their bombs only when they saw the lead aircraft's bombload falling away. Since even a very tight bomber formation could cover a vast area, the scatter of bombs was likely to be considerable. Add to these difficulties the disruptive effects of increasingly accurate anti-aircraft fire and head-on attacks by fighter aircraft and the theoretical accuracy of daylight bombing was often hard to achieve. [48] [49] Accuracy, described as "pinpoint", never exceeded the best British average of about a 3 mi (4.8 km) radius from point of aim in any case. [47] [ page needed ] Postwar German engineers considered the bombing of railways, trains, canals, and roads more harmful to production than attacks on factories themselves, Sir Roy Fedden (in his report on a postwar British scientific intelligence mission) calling it "fatal" and saying it reduced aero-engine production by two thirds (from a maximum output of 5,000 to 7,000 a month). [50]

    Strategic bombing was a way of taking the war into Europe while Allied ground forces were unable to do so. Between them, Allied air forces claimed to be able to bomb "around the clock". In fact, few targets were ever hit by British and American forces the same day, the strategic isolation of Normandy on D-Day and the bombing of Dresden in February 1945 being exceptions rather than the rule. There were generally no coordinated plans for the around-the-clock bombing of any target.

    In some cases, single missions have been considered to constitute strategic bombing. The bombing of Peenemünde was such an event, as was the bombing of the Ruhr dams. The Peenemünde mission delayed Nazi Germany's V-2 program enough that it did not become a major factor in the outcome of the war. [51]

    Strategic bombing in Europe never reached the decisive completeness the American campaign against Japan achieved, helped in part by the fragility of Japanese housing, which was particularly vulnerable to firebombing through the use of incendiary devices. The destruction of German infrastructure became apparent, but the Allied campaign against Germany only really succeeded when the Allies began targeting oil refineries and transportation in the last year of the war. At the same time, the strategic bombing of Germany was used as a morale booster for the Allies in the period before the land war resumed in Western Europe in June 1944.

    In the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service and the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service frequently used strategic bombing over Singaporean, Burmese, and Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Chongqing, Singapore, and Rangoon. However, the Japanese military in most places advanced quickly enough that a strategic bombing campaign was unnecessary, and the Japanese aircraft industry was incapable of producing truly strategic bombers in any event. In those places where it was required, the smaller Japanese bombers (in comparison to British and American types) did not carry a bombload sufficient to inflict the sort of damage regularly occurring at that point in the war in Europe, or later in Japan.

    The development of the B-29 gave the United States a bomber with sufficient range to reach the Japanese home islands from the safety of American bases in the Pacific or western China. The capture of the Japanese island of Iwo Jima further enhanced the capabilities that the Americans possessed in their strategic bombing campaign. High-explosive and incendiary bombs were used against Japan to devastating effect, with greater indiscriminate loss of life in the firebombing of Tokyo on March 9/10, 1945 than was caused either by the Dresden mission, or the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Unlike the USAAF's strategic bombing campaign in Europe, with its avowed (if unachievable) objective of precision bombing of strategic targets, the bombing of Japanese cities involved the deliberate targeting of residential zones from the outset. Bomb loads included very high proportions of incendiaries, with the intention of igniting the highly combustible wooden houses common in Japanese cities and thereby generating firestorms. [52] [53] [54] [55]

    The final development of strategic bombing in World War II was the use of nuclear weapons. On August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States exploded nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 105,000 people and inflicting a psychological shock on the Japanese nation. On August 15, Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan, stating:

    Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should We continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization. Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers.

    Cold War Edit

    Nuclear weapons defined strategic bombing during the Cold War. The age of the massive strategic bombing campaign had come to an end. It was replaced by more devastating attacks using improved sighting and weapons technology. Strategic bombing by the Great Powers also became politically indefensible. The political fallout resulting from the destruction being broadcast on the evening news ended more than one strategic bombing campaign.

    In the Korean War, the United States Air Force (USAF) at first conducted only tactical attacks against strategic targets. Because it was widely considered a limited war, the Truman Administration prohibited the USAF to bomb near the borders of China and the Soviet Union in fear of provoking the countries to enter into the war. [56] The Chinese intervention in the war in November 1950 changed the aerial bombing policy dramatically. In response to the Chinese intervention, the USAF carried out an intensive bombing campaign against North Korea to demoralize the North Koreans and inflict as much economic cost to North Korea in order to reduce their ability to wage war. The extensive bombing raids on North Korea continued until the armistice agreement was signed between communist and UN forces on July 27, 1953. [57] [58]

    In the Vietnam War, the strategic bombing of North Vietnam in Operation Rolling Thunder could have been more extensive, but fear by the Johnson Administration of the entry of China into the war led to restrictions on the selection of targets, as well as only a gradual escalation of intensity.

    The aim of the bombing campaign was to demoralize the North Vietnamese, damage their economy, and reduce their capacity to support the war in the hope that they would negotiate for peace, but it failed to have those effects. The Nixon Administration continued this sort of limited strategic bombing during the two Operation Linebacker campaigns. Images such as that of Kim Phuc Phan Thi (although this incident was the result of close air support rather than strategic bombing) disturbed the American public enough to demand a stop to the campaign.

    Due to this, and the ineffectiveness of carpet bombing (partly because of a lack of identifiable targets), new precision weapons were developed. The new weapons allowed more effective and efficient bombing with reduced civilian casualties. High civilian casualties had always been the hallmark of strategic bombing, but later in the Cold War, this began to change.

    Strategic bombing was entering a new phase of high-intensity attacks, specifically targeting factories that take years to build and enormous investment capital.

    Post–Cold War Edit

    Strategic bombing in the post–Cold War era is defined by American advances in and the use of smart munitions. The developments in guided munitions meant that the Coalition forces in the First Gulf War were able to use them, although the majority—93% [59] —of bombs dropped in that conflict were still conventional, unguided bombs. More frequently in the Kosovo War, and the initial phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom of 2003, strategic bombing campaigns were notable for the heavy use of precision weaponry by those countries that possessed them. Although bombing campaigns were still strategic in their aims, the widespread area bombing tactics of World War II had mostly disappeared. This led to significantly fewer civilian casualties associated with previous bombing campaigns, though it has not brought about a complete end to civilian deaths or collateral property damage. [60]

    Additionally, strategic bombing via smart munitions is now possible through the use of aircraft that have been considered traditionally tactical in nature such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon or F-15E Strike Eagle, which had been used during Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to destroy targets that would have required large formations of strategic bombers during World War II. [ citation needed ]

    During the Kosovo campaign NATO forces bombed targets far from Kosovo like bridges in Novi Sad, [61] power plants around Belgrade, [62] flea market in Nis, [63] [64]

    During the 2008 South Ossetia war Russian aircraft attacked the shipbuilding center of Poti. [65]

    Air warfare must comply with laws and customs of war, including international humanitarian law by protecting the victims of the conflict and refraining from attacks on protected persons. [59]

    These restraints on aerial warfare are covered by the general laws of war, because unlike the war on land and at sea—which is specifically covered by rules such as the 1907 Hague Convention and Protocol I additional to the Geneva Conventions, which contain pertinent restrictions, prohibitions and guidelines—there are no treaties specific to aerial warfare. [59]

    To be legal, aerial operations must comply with the principles of humanitarian law: military necessity, distinction, and proportionality: [59] An attack or action must be intended to help in the defeat of the enemy it must be an attack on a legitimate military objective, and the harm caused to civilians or civilian property must be proportional and not excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. [66] [67]

    Terrorangriffe (terror raids) or Terrorhandlungen (terrorist activities) . Terrorflieger (terror flyers or terrorist airman). No one in Germany used such terminology in connection with German bombing raids against cities in England

    . Western Allies . were "air pirates." "They are murderers!" screamed the headlines of an article emanating from Berlin on February 22. Not only did the writer denounce the allied "terror bombing", but he also stressed the "special joy" that the "Anglo-American air gangsters" took in the murder of innocent German civilians.


    Jan 30, 1968 CE: Tet Offensive

    On January 30, 1968, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops launched the Tet Offensive against South Vietnamese and United States targets. The Tet Offensive became a major turning point in the Vietnam War.

    Social Studies, U.S. History, World History

    Tet Offensive

    The Tet Offensive changed public perception of the Vietnam War. Although a costly loss for communist forces from North Vietnam and the Viet Cong, the series of attacks led South Vietnamese and United States citizens to question the outcome of the war.

    Photograph courtesy U.S. Army

    On January 30, 1968, communist-affiliated troops from North Vietnam and the Viet Cong (a distinct political organization) launched what became known as the Tet Offensive against South Vietnam and its American allies. The Tet Offensive was one of the largest military operations of the Vietnam War, and became a key turning point in the conflict.

    The Tet Offensive was a surprise series of attacks launched during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year festival. Many South Vietnamese troops were on holiday when the attacks began, and the military was caught off guard. The campaign initially targeted more than 100 cities and towns, including the strategic southern capital of Saigon, now named Ho Chi Minh City.

    The Tet Offensive was a catastrophic military failure for the communists. Historians estimate as many as 50,000 communist troops died in the effort to gain control of the southern part of the country. The South Vietnamese and American losses totaled a fraction of that number.

    Although a military loss, the Tet Offensive was a stunning propaganda victory for the communists. In fact, it is often credited with turning the war in their favor. The South Vietnamese began to lose influence as Viet Cong guerrillas infiltrated rural areas formerly held by the South Vietnamese government. The offensive frayed the relationship between the South Vietnamese and the United States.


    Learning Objectives

    Greater insight into wireless offensive security and expanded awareness of the need for real-world security solutions
    Implementing attacks against WEP and WPA encrypted network
    Executing advanced attacks such as PRGA key extraction and one-way packet injection
    Using alternate WEP and WPA cracking techniques
    Using various wireless reconnaissance tools
    Understanding of how to implement different rogue access point attacks
    Familiarity with the BackTrack wireless tools


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