The Buzz

Kasserine Pass: America's Most Humiliating Defeat of World War II

Beware a Desert Fox when he’s cornered.

It was North Africa, in the winter of 1943, and American soldiers were feeling cocky as they prepared for their first ground battle against the Germans in World War II. So far, it hadn’t been a bad war for the U.S. Army. The GIs were well fed, well paid and well equipped, especially compared to their threadbare and envious British allies. Even better, their baptism by fire had been to splash ashore in Algeria and Morocco in November 1942, where the defenders had been unmotivated Vichy French soldiers who soon capitulated.

Nazi Germany's 5 Most Lethal Weapons of War

The forces of Nazi Germany in World War II were some of the most formidable fielded in any war. Backed by German science, engineering and modern mass-production techniques, it was a new type of highly mechanized warfare. Faster paced and deadlier than the armed forces that fought in the Great War just twenty years before, it overwhelmed slower-moving enemies and helped Germany subjugate an entire continent. Here are five examples of German war technology that very nearly ended Western civilization as we know it.

The Panzerkampfwagen VI (Tiger Tank)

Dreadnought: The Super Battleship That Changed Naval Warfare Forever

State-of-the-art battleship armament in the late nineteenth century involved a mix of large- and small-caliber weapons. Naval architects believed that most engagements would take place within the range of the smaller guns, and that a variety of guns would combine penetrating power with volume. Indeed, some argued that large armored ships with small weapons (armored cruisers, which were roughly the same size as battleships) could defeat battleships by saturating them with fire.

Hitler's Ultimate Weapon Wasn't Super Tanks or Submarines (But a General Like No Other)

On August 2, 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded the oil-rich country of Kuwait. President George H. W. Bush immediately ordered U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia to defend its ally, and demanded Saddam withdraw or risk U.S. invasion. About 2,500 miles to the northwest, I was a cavalry trooper in the tank-heavy Second Squadron, Second Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) preparing for the likely deployment to the Iraqi desert. To prepare for this future battle, we turned to the past for help: German General Erwin Rommel.

America's Nuclear Weapons: Everything You Always Wanted To Know (But Were Afraid To Ask)

Today, the U.S. nuclear deterrent is facing hard choices about modernization. The Air Force and Navy are drawing up plans for new bombers and a new generation of submarines. The American tactical arsenal will be modernized, at great cost. In effect, the result will be a smaller version of our Cold War nuclear deterrent, an idea that would have been harder to sell until the reemergence of Russia as a severe threat to U.S. security.

Russia's Nuclear Weapons: Everything You Always Wanted To Know (But Were Afraid To Ask)

In every respect, the current Russian deterrent is structured like its Soviet predecessor. ICBMs, launched either from silos or mobile launchers, remain the most reliable weapons and the mainstay of the Russian nuclear force. The Russian submarine force, almost moribund since the Soviet collapse and crippled yet again by a disaster in 2000 aboard the Russian submarine Kursk, has recovered somewhat, and Russian nuclear-missile-carrying submarines are now engaging in more patrols closer to the United States since 2009.

The Tragic Reason Why America's Nuclear Attack Submarines Are the Best in the World

The creation of SUBSAFE lead directly to tougher—and safer—submarines. (Another U.S. Navy submarine, Scorpion, was lost in 1968 but there is no conclusive explanation for the sinking.) In 2005, the USS San Francisco collided with a seamount at maximum speed—an estimated thirty miles an hour at a depth of 525 feet. SUBSAFE’s careful watch over submarine design and manufacture is credited with ensuring the San Francisco not only failed to sink, but that only one sailor died and the ship could even make it back to Guam on its own power.