November 13, 2019
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Top 10 Stupid Military Blunders NUMBER 10: THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE During the Crimean War, a simple error of
miscommunication led to the deaths of over 110 British soldiers. In 1854 Lord Cardigan led the British Light
Cavalry against the Russian forces. The cavalry of almost 700 men wasn’t equipped with heavy
armor or weaponry, and were thus best suited to less dangerous missions. Commander of the British forces, Lord Raglan,
planned for Cardigan’s men to pursue a retreating Russian unit. However, his command was misinterpreted,
and the Light Brigade was sent charging against a different regiment, one that was heavily
armed and easily able to thwart the poorly-equipped British assault. The unit was only saved from total destruction
by a helpful charge from an allied French cavalry. Sources: Eyewitness To History, National Archives,
British Battles. NUMBER 9: THE SOVIET INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN In 1979, when the communist Afghan government
was threatened by insurgents, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev [Brez-nee-ev] invested billions
of dollars and sent more than 100,000 soldiers to try and stop the revolution. This was a near-impossible goal, as the uprising
had support from the US, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran and Egypt. Soviet actions received worldwide condemnation,
including the boycotting of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by 65 countries. After 10 years, and the loss of over 15,000
troops, the USSR withdrew from Afghanistan, having failed in their mission to protect
their communist interests in the country. Sources: Understanding War, Britannica, History
State, The Atlantic. NUMBER 8: THE MAGINOT LINE The $3 trillion Maginot Line [Madge-ee-no]
seemed like the ultimate defense for France’s vulnerable northern borders during the Second
World War. It comprised of a series of defensive positions,
including gun bunkers, remote-control periscopes, artillery shells, and several weeks’ worth
of food supplies. The problem? The line only stretched the course
of France’s border with Germany, leaving the 150-mile border with Belgium virtually
undefended. Sure enough, in May 1940, the Nazis advanced
through Belgium and began their invasion of France, which resulted in the deaths of over
300,000 French civilians. Sources: National World War Two Museum, Bill
Fawcett – ‘100 Mistakes that Changed History’. NUMBER 7: THE CÀDIZ EXPEDITION In 1625 the British sent 15,000 men on more
than 80 ships to invade the Spanish city of Càdiz. The men were mostly undisciplined
and inexperienced soldiers, who had been forced into service and were equipped with very limited
supplies. Shortly after arriving in the city, the forces
raided the wine vats that they found in the local houses and quickly succumbed to drunkenness. Realizing their mistake, the commanding officers
decided to withdraw. Either due to anger or disorganization, the departing ships left
behind over 1,000 intoxicated soldiers, who were later executed by the Spanish army. Sources: Historyweird.com, University of Wisconsin-Madison. NUMBER 6: THE BAY OF PIGS INVASION The Bay of Pigs invasion aimed to overthrow
communist Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1961. The attackers were 1,400 Cuban exiles who
had been trained by American forces. However, the CIA had underestimated the amount
of pro-Castro sentiment in Cuba and the Bay of Pigs Invasion found very little internal
support. Moreover, details of the operation had been
discovered by Cuban secret intelligence, a fact that American reconnaissance had failed
to discover. This meant that Cuban forces were easily able to outmanoeuvre the invaders. After less than one day of fighting, 114 anti-Castro
fighters had been killed and over 1,100 taken prisoner. Sources: JFK Library, BBC, History.com. NUMBER 5: OPERATION EAGLE CLAW In 1980 President Jimmy Carter ordered a plan
for the safe return of 52 American hostages, who were being held by Iranian revolutionaries. The plan, code-named ‘Operation Eagle Claw’,
was spectacularly over-complicated, involving 8 helicopters. Disaster quickly occurred: a dust cloud disabled
one helicopter and another two crash-landed. One of these crashed into a military plane
carrying fuel and troops, killing 8 US personnel. In the panic, the other 5 helicopters were
abandoned, which meant that the Iranians were able to repurpose them for their own use. After 444 days in captivity, the hostages
were released in January 1981. Sources: Spectator, Airpower, Mentalfloss. NUMBER 4: THE BATTLE OF SAN JACINTO In April 1836 the Mexican Army was defeated
in a battle that lasted just 18 minutes, despite them outnumbering their opponents with 1,200
men versus 910. When fighting against the Texian revolutionaries,
Mexican leader Santa Anna naively chose to make camp in a vulnerable location near the
San Jacinto River. Then, confident in his troop’s superiority,
he ordered his officers to lower their guard and allowed the soldiers to have a siesta. While the Mexicans napped, the Texians crept
quietly towards their camp, before launching a surprise attack. Conflicting orders by leading Mexicans led
to further confusion and – within 18 minutes – Mexican soldiers abandoned their campsite
and fled for their lives. 650 of them were killed, compared to only
11 Texian soldiers. Sources: San Jacinto Museum, History.com,
Texas A & M University. NUMBER 3: NAPOLEON’S INVASION OF RUSSIA Military general and first emperor of France
Napoléon Bonaparte was one of the most celebrated leaders ever. Yet, in June 1812, he made a colossal mistake,
vastly underestimating how easy it would be to invade Russia. The Russian road network was much poorer than
Napoleon had expected it to be, meaning the advance was severely slowed down. Instead
of the 30-day expedition that the troops were supplied for, the invasion attempt lasted
almost six months. Due to the extremely harsh winter weather
and the Russian policy of scorching any valuable earth, the French troops were struck by disease
and starvation. Of the 600,000 men that had left for Russia, only 100,000 made it back. Sources: Napoleon-series, History.com, European
History, BBC. NUMBER 2: THE BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN After the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn, American
cavalry commander George Custer gained a reputation as a tragic military hero who’d sacrificed
himself for his country. However, the reality was much more embarrassing. In the battle against four Native American
tribes, Custer made rash and ill-conceived decisions. He ignored the advice of his scouts,
tiring his troops by marching them through the Wolf mountains. He also weakened his forces
by dividing them into three. 274 out of 647 American soldiers were killed,
including Custer himself. Estimates of Native American casualties were as low as 36. The
battle was the most devastating defeat for the US Army during the Indian Wars. Sources: Smithsonian Magazine, Eyewitness
to History, History.com. NUMBER 1: THE NAZI INVASION OF THE USSR Apparently undeterred by Napoleon’s mistakes
in 1812, Adolf Hitler decided he too would embark on an invasion of Russia in June 1941. The advance initially went well; 150,000 Soviet
soldiers were either dead or wounded in the first week. However, the USSR could afford
these losses, as it had a total army of approximately 30 million men. Soviet resistance, combined with devastating
weather and stubborn tactical decisions, transformed the invasion into a war of attrition, which
the Nazis simply weren’t prepared for. Hitler’s army suffered the loss of at least
a quarter of its men and the dictator never achieved his goal of capturing Moscow. Furthermore,
the diversion of troops meant Hitler had weakened his position against the other allied forces,
potentially resulting in him losing World War Two. Sources: Armchair General, BBC, History, Military
History Online, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Tony wyaad

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