World War Two: Philippines (Part 1-3A); Reinforcements

When General MacArthur assumed command of U.S. Army Forces in the Far East, there was no program in the War Department for any immediate large-scale reinforcement of the Islands. As a matter of fact, the War Department specifically told MacArthur that he could have “no additional forces, except approximately 400 reserve officers to assist in training the Philippine Army.·…

Within a few days, there was a complete reversal of policy in the War Department. The first sign of this change came on 31 July when General Marshall approved a proposal by the War Plans Division to reinforce the Islands’ defense “in view of the possibility of an attack.” The next day MacArthur was informed that he would receive substantial reinforcements and Marshall told his immediate staff, “It was the policy of the United States to defend the Philippines.” This statement so impressed the Chief of the War Plans Division that he entered it in his office diary.

The reasons for this change of policy are nowhere explicitly stated. Undoubtedly many factors both political and military contributed to the American Government’s firm stand in July and August 1941. One of these was recognition of the potentialities of air power and especially of the Army’s new heavy bomber, the B-17, called the Flying Fortress. In Stimson’s opinion, the success of B-17 operations in Europe was responsible for creating an optimistic view in the War Department that the Philippines could be successfully held. A striking force of such heavy bombers, it was argued, would act as a deterrent to Japanese advances southward and would strengthen the United States position in the Far East.

Another cause for optimism was the recall of General MacArthur to active duty. No one knew as much as he about the. Philippines and no one believed more completely that it could be held if the Japanese allowed sufficient time for reinforcement. The possibility of establishing an effective defense against Japan in the Philippines and thereby preventing Japanese domination of the Western Pacific without altering the major lines of strategy already agreed upon “had the effect,” Stimson said, (Henry L. Stimsol and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and War (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948, p. 388.). “of making the War Department a strong proponent of maximum delay in bringing the Japanese crisis to a climax. . . . In their [Stimson’s and Marshall’s] eyes the Philippines suddenly acquired a wholly new importance and were given the highest priority on all kinds of military equipment.”

Ground Forces

The first official War Department program for a large-scale reinforcement of the Philippines during this period was proposed by War Plans on 14 August. In a memorandum for the Chief of Staff, General Gerow argued that those reasons which had limited the size of the Philippine garrisonlack of funds, personnel, and equipment, plus the inability of the Navy to support a large force-were no longer entirely valid. “With its present strength,” he pointed out, “there was a real doubt if the Philippine garrison could resist a Japanese attack, a contingency which he considered probable in view of Japan’s attitude.” To strengthen the garrison and increase its chances of holding Luzon and especially Manila Bay, General Gerow recommended that the Philippines be reinforced by antiaircraft artillery, modern combat planes, and tanks. The amount that could be sent, Gerow admitted, would be limited by the number of ships available for transport duty to the Far East. “The best that can be done at the moment,” therefore, would be “to adopt a definite plan of reinforcement and carry it forward as availability of shipping permits.”

Gerow’s recommendations were approved and two days later, on 16 August, General MacArthur was notified that the following units would sail from San Francisco between 27 August and 5 September: the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment (AA) consisting of 76 officers and 1,681 enlisted men; the 194th Tank Battalion (less Company B), with 54 tanks, 34 officers, and 390 enlisted men; and one company (155 men) of the 17th Ordnance Battalion.

There hid been some mention earlier of the possibility of sending a division to the Philippines, and on 5 September the Chief of Staff asked MacArthur if he wanted a National Guard division (probably the 41st). MacArthur replied that he did not need this division since he already had one U.S. Army division (the Philippine Division) and was mobilizing ten Philippine Army divisions. He asked instead for authority to reorganize the theoretically square Philippine Division into a triangular division, adding, “Equipment and supply of existing forces are the prime essential.” I am confident if these steps are taken with sufficient speed,” he said, “that no further major reinforcement will be necessary for accomplishment of defense mission.”

The reinforcement of the Philippines now enjoyed the highest priority in the “Var Department. MacArthur’s request for permission to reorganize the Philippine Division was approved immediately. He was promised additional aircraft as well as the funds needed for airfield construction and the antiaircraft guns and equipment to protect the fields once they were built. “I have directed,” wrote General Marshall, “that United States Army Forces in the Philippines be placed in highest priority for equipment including authorized defense reserves for fifty thousand men.” As a result, General MacArthur’s requests for men and supplies during the next few months received almost instant approval by the War Department. “I wish to express my personal appreciation for the splendid support that you and the entire War Department have given me along every line since the formation of this command,” he told the Chief of Staff in a personal letter. “With such backing the development of a completely adequate defense force will be rapid.”

Through no fault of the War Department or a lack of desire on the part of the Chief of Staff, General MacArthur’s confidence in the rapid development of an adequate defense for the Philippines was not entirely justified. The task was a heavy one and limited by many factors beyond the control of the military. The industrial capacity of the United States was only just beginning to turn to the production of war material; the needs of a rapidly expanding citizen army had to be met; Great Britain and Russia were in critical need of supplies; and shipping space was extremely limited.

The reinforcements promised MacArthur on 16 August were dispatched with the greatest speed and by 12 September General Marshall was able to report considerable progress. The antiaircraft artillery regiment, the tank battalion of 54 tanks, and reserve supplies had already been shipped from San Francisco. During the month, 50 more tanks, and 50 self-propelled mounts for 75-mm. guns were to be sent.

These reinforcements reached MacArthur before the end of September. The arrival of the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment (AA) gave him 12 additional 3-inch guns, 24 37-mm. guns, and a similar number of machine guns. Armored reinforcement consisted of the 192nd and 194th Tank Battalions each with 54 tanks. And he could count on 25 more 75-mm. guns on self-propelled mounts (SPM) already en route and due to arrive in Manila on 15 October. The arrival of the two tank battalions with their 108 light tanks, M-3, were a welcome addition to the Philippine garrison. On 21 November a Provisional Tank Group consisting of the 192d and 194th Tank Battalions and the 17th Ordnance Company (Armored) was established, with Colonel James R. N. Weaver in command.

As Military Advisor, MacArthur had proposed a plan to protect the inland seas by emplacing heavy coastal guns at the entrance to the key straits leading into these waters. The War Department had approved this plan and sent 24 155-mm. guns (without fire control equipment) to the Philippine Commonwealth to carry out this program, scheduled for completion in April 1942. MacArthur now proposed to extend this plan to include northern Luzon and asked the War Department for 4 12-inch

and 4 8-inch railway guns, 22 more 155-mm. guns, and 30 searchlights. When emplaced, he argued, these guns would present an enemy advancing on Manila with “fixed position gunfire, the lightest of which will be of sufficient proportions to interfere with troop landings and the operations of lightly armored vessels.” The letter was received in Washington at the beginning of December, too late to result in action.

General MacArthur’s request for authority to reorganize the Philippine Division as a triangular division had been readily granted. To accomplish this reorganization, MacArthur said he needed an infantry regiment, a field artillery headquarters and headquarters battery, two field artillery battalions, a reconnaissance troop, and a military police platoon for the division. The War Department agreed to provide these units and the staff began the detailed work necessary to select and ship them.

MacArthur’s plans for the Philippine Division were explained in a letter he wrote to the Chief of Staff on 28 October. He wished, he said, to have the division at war strength and trained intensively for combat. “It would be impolitic,” he thought, “to increase the number of Philippine Scouts above the authorized 12,000, for all recruits would be taken from Philippine Army reservists to serve at higher rates of pay than the Philippine Army can pay.” The only way, then, to increase the strength of the division was to secure an additional infantry regiment and two battalions of artillery from the United States. With these units and the American 31st Infantry, he could form two American combat teams in the Philippine Division. The Scouts thus released could be used to bring the 91st and 92nd Coast Artillery Regiments of the Harbor Defenses up to strength, retain several small units already in existence, and provide station complements for Forts McKinley and Stotsenburg. The Philippine Division would then be free to train for combat and would be available “for instant use.”The entire plan,” he told General Marshall, “will be placed in effect upon the arrival of the new regiment.” MacArthur’s plans included also the establishment of four major tactical commands, directly subordinate to USAFFE.

On 2 October he requested authority, which was readily granted, to activate a headquarters and headquarters company for each “with average strength approximately those of Army Corps.” He also asked for army and corps troops to establish a balanced force, and for a field artillery brigade, a chemical company, three signal battalions, a medical supply depot, and a military police company, all at full strength and with complete organization and individual equipment. By the end of October he had requested almost 12,000 men: for the Philippine Division, 209 officers and 4,881 enlisted men; for army and corps troops, 340 officers and 6,392 enlisted men.

During the next month MacArthur continued to ask for additional units and individual specialists, and by the middle of November the War Department had approved for transfer to Manila 1,312 officers, 25 nurses, and 18,047 enlisted men belonging to units. Individual specialists totaled 200 officers and 2,968 enlisted men. The units selected for this overseas movement, including the 34th Infantry for the Philippine Division, were scheduled for shipment, first for January 1942, but later, ironically, on 8 December 1941.

These reinforcements and supplies were all intended for the regular U.S. Army establishment; requisitions for the Philippine Army were made and considered separately. His plan of induction had hardly been completed when MacArthur began to request from the War Department large amounts of supplies for his Philippine troops. During August alone he called for 84,500 Garand rifles (M 1), 330 .30-caliber machine guns, 326 .50-caliber antiaircraft machine guns, 450 37-mm. guns, 217 81-mm. mortars, 288 75-mm. guns with high-speed adapters, and over 8,000 vehicles of all types for the ten Philippine Army divisions he planned to mobilize. On 18 September he was told that because of lend-lease commitments and production schedules it would not be possible to send most of these items.

Especially unwelcome was the news that Garand rifles were not available and that the Philippine Army divisions would have to continue to use the Enfield and ’03’s with which they were equipped. MacArthur nevertheless continued to request equipment for the Philippine Army, asking, on 10 September, for 125,000 steel helmets, as well as chemical, engineer, and signal equipment. A month later, the request for the helmets was approved. They would be shipped immediately and the other equipment would be shipped at a later date.

Since the Philippine Army was not limited in size by law as was the U.S. Army, MacArthur was in the unique position of being able to raise as many troops as the War Department could equip. On 20 September he asked for “complete organizational equipment” for a number of army and corps units to be formed principally of Philippine Army personnel. Included were 2 155-mm. and 3 105-mm. howitzer regiments, a motorized battalion of 155-mm. guns, 3 antitank gun battalions, and service, signal, and medical units. These requests were approved and a shipping schedule established.

Most disturbing was the shortage of light artillery and machine guns in the Philippine Army divisions. By the end of September the Philippine Army had only 48 75-mm. guns. At least 240 were required to equip the artillery regiments of the ten reserve divisions and another 36 for field artillery training centers. Also needed were 37-mm. guns for the antitank battalions and .50-caliber machine guns. Realizing that the supply of these guns was limited, MacArthur expressed a willingness to accept as substitutes obsolete models or smaller weapons. “Strongly recommend,” he appealed to the Chief of Staff, “improvisation to the extent of providing substitute arrangement in spite of lowered efficiency for any types available in the United States.”

By mid-November, the War Department had taken action to ship 40 105-mm. howitzers to the Philippines. These weapons were to be given to U.S. Army units and would release to Philippine Army units a like number of 75’s. In addition, 10 75-mm. pack howitzers were to be taken from the vital Canal Zone and 48 British 75-mm. guns and 123 .30-caliber machine guns from the equally important Hawaiian garrison for the Philippine Islands, an indication of the importance which the defense of the archipelago had acquired in the eyes of the War Department. From the United States itself would come 130 75-mm. guns, 35 37-mm. guns (M1916) and 14 .30-caliber machine guns.

No action was taken until October to supply the thousands of vehicles MacArthur had requested. During that month a large number of jeeps, ambulances, trucks, and sedans became available and on the 15th the War Department released these vehicles for the Philippine Army, “subject to the availability of shipping.” A request for clothing for the Philippine Army was also approved, as was the equipment for ten 250-bed station hospitals and 180 sets of regimental infirmary equipment.

An early requisition for 500,000 C rations and enough 55-gallon drums to hold 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline was filled during the summer. Strangely enough, the drums arrived filled although the gasoline had not been requested. This unexpected windfall proved extremely fortunate. A large portion of the gasoline was stored on Bataan and was most welcome during the campaign.

The approval of requisitions and orders for shipment did not result in any immediate increase in the supplies of the Philippine Army. Time was required to order the stocks from depots and factories, pack and ship them to the port of embarkation, find the vessels to transport them, and finally get them to the Islands. In September, the Navy began sending cruiser escorts with Army transports and merchant ships on their voyages between Hawaii and Manila. This procedure frequently meant that the transports had to stop at Honolulu, sometimes reload, and then sail west at a speed equal to that of the slowest vessel in the convoy.

The shipment of supplies was dependent upon the number of cargo vessels available to the Army. This number was never large and the Navy, for a time, threatened even this limited supply. In September the Navy announced its intention to convert three transports to escort carriers. General Marshall protested this decision vigorously, pointing out to the Chief of Naval Operations that it would delay the delivery of much-needed reinforcements to MacArthur by over two months. Despite the favorable outcome of this protest, a large backlog of troops and approximately 1,100,000 tons of equipment destined for the Philippines had piled up in U.S. ports or depots by November.

A group of shipping experts, including representatives from the War Department General Staff, Office of the Quartermaster General, the Navy, and Maritime Commission, met on 10 November to discuss ways of breaking the shipping block. As a result of this meeting a shipping schedule was established which recognized the priority of the Philippines over Hawaiian defenses and advanced the troop movements scheduled for mid-January to 17 and 20 December.

Altogether, nine vessels were assigned to the Manila route, to sail in November and December. They would bring to MacArthur one light and one heavy bombardment group, a pursuit group, one reconnaissance squadron, a regiment of infantry, a brigade of field artillery, two battalions of light artillery, together with ground and air service units. Had these vessels, the last of which was to leave the United States on 20 December, reached the Philippines the Japanese would have faced a far stronger force when they landed on Luzon.

Air Forces In July 1941 the air force in the Philippines was still a token force, unable to withstand “even a mildly determined and ill-equipped foe.” Air Corps headquarters in Washington had been urging for some time that additional planes be sent to the Philippines and the Joint Board, early in 1940, had proposed an increase in air strength for the island garrison. The following July 1941 Major General Henry H. Arnold, chief of the newly created Army Air Forces, came forward ‘With the strongest proposal yet made for the reinforcement of the Philippines. This proposal called for the transfer to the Philippines of four heavy bombardment groups, consisting of 272 aircraft with 68 in reserve, and two pursuit groups of 130 planes each. These planes, wrote Brigadier General Carl Spaatz, chief of the Air Staff, would not be used for an offensive mission, but to maintain “a strategical defensive in Asia.

General Arnold’s recommendations, approved in August, were not easily carried out. To have raised that number of planes in the summer of 1941 would have meant stripping the fields in the United States as well as all other overseas bases. Moreover, many of the heavy bombers were still on the production lines. What could be scraped together was shipped immediately and by mid-August General Gerow reported to the Chief of Staff that thirty-one modern fighters of the P-40 type were on their way. Meanwhile General Arnold made arrangements to send fifty more directly from the factory. These, too, were soon on their way and by 2 October had arrived in the Philippines.

Some weeks earlier a historic flight of nine Flying Fortresses had reached Manila by air. These planes were part of the 19th Bombardment Group (H), which had been selected for transfer to the Far East. After a flight from Hamilton Field near San Francisco, the Group’s 14th Squadron, under Major Emmett O’Donnell, Jr., left Hickam Field in Hawaii on 5 September for Clark Field via Midway, Wake, Port Moresby, and Darwin. This pioneering 10,000-mile flight, almost all of it over water, was successfully concluded a week later, establishing the fact that the Philippines could be reinforced by air. But the Midway-Wake route could not be considered safe in the event of war with Japan since it passed over the mandated islands and work was begun after October to develop a South Pacific ferry route.

Once the pioneering flight had been successfully concluded, all heavy bombers sent to the Philippines went by air via the Central Pacific route. On 9 September, General Marshall told MacArthur that two additional squadrons of the 19th Group the 30th and 93d-would leave the next month. At that time the ground echelon of the two squadrons and the headquarters sailed from San Francisco. The air echelon of twenty-six B-17’s followed soon after.

By 22 October these planes had arrived at Hickam Field in Hawaii. After a short stopover they flew on to Clark Field where all but two reported on 4 November; the other two followed soon after. The flight of the 30th and 93d Squadrons was one in a scheduled series which called for the shipment of 33 heavy bombers in December, 51 in January 1942, and 46 more in February. By March 1942 the War Department planned to have 165 heavy bombers in the Philippines. 88 Scheduled for shipment after the 19th Bombardment Group was the 7th. The ground echelon reached Hawaii late in November and was held there until naval escort could be secured. The air echelon, scheduled to fly to the Philippines via the Midway route during late November and early December, had completed only the first leg of the journey before war came. In addition to heavy bombers, MacArthur was also promised a light bombardment group of three combat squadrons. [Estimated production of B-I7’s and B-24’s for the period was 220 aircraft, thus demonstrating the importance which the War Department attached to the defense of the Philippines at this time.]

Selected for shipment was the 27th Bombardment Group (L). The Air Corps experienced some difficulty in securing the 52 A-24’s for this group but by early November the planes had been collected. The pilots and ground personnel reached the Philippines during November but the A-24’s, loaded on a separate transport, were held at Hawaii with the ground echelon of the 7th Bombardment Group and failed to reach their destination.

At the end of November General Marshall summarized for the Secretary of War the air reinforcements already shipped or scheduled for shipment to the Philippines. At that time, he noted, there· were 35 B-17’s already in the Islands and 52 A-24’s were due there-they never arrived-on the 30th. Fifty P-40’s had reached MacArthur in September, Marshall explained to Stimson, thus giving him a total of 81 modern fighters. In addition, 24 P-40’s had left San Francisco on 19 October, and 40 more on 9 November. By 31 December, General Marshall estimated, the Philippines should have a total of 240 fighters of the latest type.

SOURCE: The Fall Of The Philippines by Louis Morton (United States Army Center of Military History)


Epic of Ishtar and Izdubar;Expedition Against Khumbaba, And Battle In The Black Forest (Part 23); Assyrian

At early dawn the shining ranks are massed,
And Erech echoes with the trumpet’s blast;
The chosen men of Erech are in line,
And Ishtar in her car above doth shine.
The blazing standards high with shouts are raised,
As Samas’ car above grand Sumir blazed.
The march they sound at Izdubar’s command,
And thus they start for King Khumbaba’s land;
The gods in bright array above them shine,
By Ishtar led, with Samas, moon-god Sin,
On either side with Merodac and Bel,
And Ninip, Nergal, Nusku with his spell,
The sixty gods on chargers of the skies,
And Ishtar’s chariot before them flies.

Across Cazina’s desert far have come,
The armies now have neared Khumbaba’s home;
Beneath grand forests of tall cedar, pine,
And the dark shades near Khar-sak’s brow divine.
A brazen gate before them high appeared,
And massive walls which their great foe had reared;
The mighty gates on heavy pivots hung,
They broke, and on their brazen hinges swung
With clanging roars against the solid wall,
And sent through all the wilds a clarion call.
Within his halls Khumbaba is enthroned,
In grand Tul-Khumba’s walls by forests zoned
With her bright palaces and templed shrines,
The sanctuaries of the gods, where pines
Sigh on the wafting winds their rich perfumes;
Where Elam’s god with sullen thunder dooms
From Kharsak’s brow the wailing nation’s round,
And Elam’s hosts obey the awful sound.
The giant here his castled city old
Had strengthened, wrung his tributes, silver, gold;
His palace ceiling with pure silver shines,
And on his throne of gold from Magan’s[1] mines
In all his pride the conqueror exults,
With wealth has filled his massive iron vaults.
Oft from his marble towers the plains surveys,
And sees his foes’ most ancient cities blaze;
While his “pa-te-si” lead his allied hosts,
And o’er his famous victories he boasts.

With Rimsin he allied when Erech fell,
The King of Sarsa, whose great citadel
Was stormed by Nammurabi the great Sar,
Ninrad of Erech, our King Izdubar.
Khumbaba’s ally was by him o’erthrown,
And thus appeared to take Khumbaba’s throne.
And now within his palace came a sound
That roared through all the forest, shook the ground:
“Our foes! our foes! the gate! hear how it rings!”
And from his throne the giant furious springs:
“Ho! vassals! sound the trump! ’tis Izdubar,
To arms! our foes are on us from afar!”
His weapons seizes, drives his men in fear
Before him with his massive sword and spear,
And as a tempest from his lips he pours
His orders, while his warrior steed he spurs
Along his serried lines of bristling spears;
Among the pines the army disappears.

The men of Accad now in squadrons form,
Arrayed to take Khumbaba’s towers by storm;
While Izdubar the forest black surveyed
Of pines and cedars thickly grown, and made
A reconnoitre of his hidden foe.
The road was straight; afar the turrets glow
With Samas’ light, and all the gods arrayed,
Ride o’er the pines and flash through their dark shade.
The glorious blaze of Accad’s glistening spears
One “kaspu” pass, and now the foe appears;
Beneath the deepest shadows of the pines
Khumbaba stands with solid battle lines
Before the marching host of Izdubar.
The forest echoes with the shouts of war,
As they sweep on with ringing battle cries,
Now loudly echoed from the woods and skies:
““Kar-ro! kar-ra!”[2] we follow Izdubar!”
And through the forests fly the bolts of war.

The foe beheld the gods in wrath above,
And Accad’s charging lines toward them move,
But bravely stand to meet the onset fierce,
Their mailed armor, shields, no arrows pierce.
And now in direst conflict meet the mass,
And furious still meets ringing bronze and brass,
Khumbaba on his mighty steed of war,
Above the ranks towers high a giant Sar,
And sweeps the men of Accad with his blade,
Till to his breast a heap of corpses made,
And fiercely urged his men to fight, to die;
And Izdubar, with helmet towering high,
His men has led with fury on the foe,
And massacres each man with one fell blow,
Who dares to stand in front with sword or spear,
And fighting by him stands his valiant seer.
The gods now rushing from the gleaming sky,
With blazing weapons carry victory;
The foe no longer stand before the sight,
And shouting fly away in wild affright.
Their monarch turned and slowly rode away;
And Accad’s hosts his men pursue and slay,
Until the forest deep resounds with cries.
To save himself each man in terror flies.

[Footnote 1: “Mag-an” or “Mizir,” Egypt, or the famous mines of Africa.]–[Footnote 2: “Karra! kar-ra!” (cry out) “Hurrah! hurrah!”]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature (1901): Translated by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton, M.A.

World War Two: North Africa (Part 1-1); Setting the Stage; The Axis 1940-42

American soldiers began striding through the surf to the beaches of Northwest Africa before dawn on 8 November 1942. They were the first of more than one million Americans to see service in the Mediterranean area during World War II-men of the II Army Corps in Tunisia, the Seventh Army in Sicily, the Fifth Army in Italy from Salerno to the Alps, and an elaborate theater organization.[N-1] The stream of American military strength which was to pour into that part of the world during the next two and one half years would include the Twelfth, Ninth, and Fifteenth Air Forces; the U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest African Waters; the Eighth Fleet; and a considerable American contribution to Allied Force Headquarters.

[N-1: At the time of the attack, French North Africa was within the boundaries of the European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army. On 4 February 1943, a separate North African Theater of Operations, U.S. Army was established. On 1 November 1944, this area (with modified boundaries) was renamed the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, U.S. Army.]

These first Americans to arrive in Northwest Africa were part of an Allied expeditionary force which linked ground, sea, and air units from both the United States and the British Commonwealth. They were participants in the first large-scale offensive in which the Allies engaged as partners in a common enterprise, an operation which transformed the Mediterranean from a British to an Allied theater of war. Occupying French North Africa was actually to be the first of a considerable series of undertakings adopted, planned, mounted, and executed under the authority of the Anglo-American Combined Chiefs of Staff. [N-2] Succeeding operations in the Mediterranean area proved far more extensive than intended. One undertaking was to lead to the next, each based upon reasons deemed compelling at the time, until at the end of hostilities Allied forces dominated the Mediterranean Sea and controlled most of its coastal region.

[N-2: The Combined Chiefs of Staff was an agency created in response to decisions reached at the ARCADIA Conference of American and British leaders in Washington in January 1942. The agency’s headquarters was in Washington, where the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with the British Joint Staff Mission (representatives of the British Chiefs of Staff Committee), but a large number of its sessions took place at special conferences attended by the Chiefs of Staff Committee. The Combined Chiefs of Staff acquired a structure of subordinate planners and a secretariat.]

After liberating French North Africa and clearing the enemy from the Italian colonies, the Allies sought to bring the entire French empire effectively into the war against the Axis powers. They reopened the Mediterranean route to the Middle East. They went on from Africa to liberate Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. They caused Mussolini to topple from power, and they brought his successors to abject surrender.

They drew more and more German military resources into a stubborn defense of the Italian peninsula, and helped the Yugoslavs to pin down within their spirited country thousands of Axis troops. Eventually, the Allies delivered a solid blow from southern France against the German forces which were opposing the Allied drive from the beaches of Normandy! They made Marseilles available for Allied use and they occupied northern Italy and Greece. In Italy they forced the first unconditional surrender by a large German force in Europe. The events following the invasion of French North Africa thus made of the Mediterranean a major theater in World War II’s titanic struggle. The momentous first step though not timorous, was hesitant, and somewhat reluctant; like the first step of a child it was more a response to an urge for action than a decision to reach some specific destination. The responsibility for this beginning rested more with the civilian than with the professional military leaders of the two countries. Whether the decision was wise or not, the critical factors affecting success, like those inviting the attempt, were largely political rather than military.

Axis involvement in the Mediterranean theater of war likewise mounted from small beginnings and after periodic inventories of the general military situation. Since the German Führer, Adolf Hitler, had precipitated the war much earlier than the Duce Benito Mussolini, had agreed to be ready; Italy remained a nonbelligerent until June 1940, and participated then very briefly in the attacks which led to French surrender.

The Mediterranean escaped major hostilities during this period of Italian preparations. Italian forces were assembled in eastern Cyrenaica for an eventual attack on Egypt in conjunction with an attack from the south to be launched from Ethiopia, while British forces were gathered to defend Egypt. But actual conflict was deferred.

After France’s capitulation in June 1940, and after the British Government refused to make peace by negotiation, Hitler reluctantly concluded that the war must be carried to British soil. His project for invading the United Kingdom was frustrated at an early stage by the failure of Reichsmarschall Hermann Gӧring’s Luftwaffe to eliminate the Royal Air Force and by the irreconcilable discrepancies between what the German Army required and what the German Navy could furnish for transport and escort shipping. He repeatedly postponed a decision to attack across the English Channel and eventually abandoned the idea. If he could not strike his enemy at home, he proposed instead to inflict a vital injury by seizing Gibraltar in co-operation with Spain and Italy and by supporting the Italians in their drive toward Egypt and the Suez Canal. He tried, mainly in this connection, to construct an anti-British alliance of Germany, Italy, France, and Spain, thus gaining for the Axis the French fleet along with French and Spanish strategic areas. His efforts failed.

Marshal Henri Petain engaged in an endless, elastic contest with the Nazis to hold fast to all things that were French. His government, ever under threat of military occupation of all of France at the Führer’s signal, served Hitler’s purpose by preventing the creation in the French colonies of an independent anti-Nazi French government.

Whatever concessions beyond the armistice agreements Petain might make at Nazi insistence and in return for the release of German held French prisoners, for example, the old Marshal would never commit French forces to fight beside the Germans. The French Navy, bitter as it was toward the British, would have scuttled its warships before allowing them to be used to advance Hitler’s aspirations. France, therefore, was not available for an alliance against the British and was left in control of its Northwest African colonies under pledge to defend them against attack from whatever side.

Francisco Franco set such an exorbitant territorial price upon a partnership with Germany as to make impossible an alliance which included Spain and France, and he engaged in such elaborate and effective procrastination as to render any genuine military contribution to the seizure of Gibraltar a matter for Nazi despair. When Hitler went to meet the Caudillo at Hendaye, France, on 29 October 1940, the Spanish dictator subjected him to the unusual experience of being a listener for hours. Rather than undergo such pain again, Hitler told Mussolini he would prefer to have several teeth pulled.

The fact that a new alliance of the four governments could not be attained became evident at a time when even the existing arrangement between Germany and Italy was somewhat strained. Although the two dictators had a friendly personal relationship, the Italians intended to wage a separate and parallel war in the Mediterranean. Hitler had always accepted the principle that the Mediterranean was an area of paramount Italian interest just as, farther north, German interests were exclusive.

He received in the autumn of 1940 clear indication that the Italians wished to proceed independently. Initially the Italians refused a German offer of an armored unit for use in the planned Italian campaign from Libya against Egypt. It was only after the campaign, begun on 12 September under the command of Maresciallo d’Italia Rudolfo Graziani, had bogged down that the Italians reluctantly accepted the German offer. On 28 October, moreover, although knowing Hitler’s opposition, and therefore dissembling their intentions, the Italians attacked Greece from Albania.

Hitler’s disgust at the opening of this new front in the Balkans by the Italians led him to withdraw temporarily his offer of German armored support for the Italian forces in Libya. This decision was confirmed during the Innsbruck conference of 4 and 5 November between Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht-OKW) and Maresciallo d’Italia Pietro Badoglio, the Chief of the Supreme General Staff (Stato Maggiore Generale). When both these adventures became engulfed in failure, the Italians on 19 December abandoned their reluctance to accept German reinforcements which Hitler, despite his irritation with Italian behavior, had again offered to supply for reasons of high military policy.

Hitler was already planning a Blitzkrieg against Russia to be executed during the summer of 1941. For that attack his Balkan flank had to be secure. He believed that the free use of the Mediterranean route by the British was equivalent to a large extra tonnage of transport shipping and the release of naval warships for other operations, an advantage to his major enemy which might make a complete Axis victory unattainable. He also wished to prevent the detrimental effect upon Italian morale and the severe loss of prestige for the Axis which would result from the loss of Libya and the related possibility of a separate Italian peace.

One large aviation unit (X. Fliegerkorps) received orders to shift to southern Italy in December 1940 and a small armored force began crossing from Naples to Tripoli in February, There it was to be combined with Italian mobile units under the command of Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel in an aggressive rather than a static defense. Rommel was subordinated to the Italian Commander in Chief Libya (Commandante del Comando Superiore Forze Armate Libia), Generale d’Armata Italo Gariboldi, who replaced Graziani in early February 1941. Rommel’s command, the German Africa Corps (Deutsches Afrika Korps), shortly reinforced by the addition of an armored division, received general directives from Hitler only after Mussolini had approved them, for the German forces were considered as agents of Italian military policy within the Axis partnership.[N-3]

[N-3: Hitler’s Order, 10 Dec 40, and Dir, 11 Jan 41 OKW/WFSt/Abt L, Nr. 33400/40 and OKW/ WFSt/Abt L, Nr. 44018/41; Orders signed by Keitel, 13 Jan and 3 Apr 41, OKW/WFSt/Abt L, Nr. 00 94/41; Order signed by Col Walter Warlimont, deputy chief of OKW/WFSt, 19 Feb 41, OKW/WFSt/Abt L (I Op), Nr. 44189/41. All in ONI, Führer Directives, 1939–1941.]

The German Africa Corps prepared for its eastward thrust toward Egypt while other German troops extended their hold over the Balkans and prepared to subjugate Greece. Some of the limited British forces in northern Africa were diverted to Greece to aid its defenders, but not enough to prevent the Peloponnesus from being swiftly overrun in April 1941, while almost simultaneously Rommel’s force swept across Libya with surprising speed to the Egyptian border. Only the port of Tobruk remained in British possession in the rear of the Axis units, where it was a continual threat to their long line of supply. The British Eighth Army, which was formed during the next few months of 1941, was not ready for another offensive to the westward before November, but Rommel also was obliged to pause. If these Axis thrusts in the Balkans and northern Africa were, on the one hand, followed by the dramatically successful airborne assault on Crete in May, they were, on the other hand, somewhat offset shortly afterward by the British and Gaullist-French seizure of Syria and by the British military occupation of Iraq. Turkey remained resolutely neutral.21

All Axis operations in 1941 were overshadowed by the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June. The requirements and preparations for this colossal effort precluded any extensive German commitments in the Mediterranean. Franco’s delays dragged out negotiations over German seizure of Gibraltar beyond the time when anything could be done about it without detriment to the impending attack against Russia.22 Throughout most of the year; therefore, the principal feature of the war in the Mediterranean was the battle over supply lines. German naval units were drawn into this struggle, like the ground troops, in a role at least nominally subordinate to the Italian Supreme Command.[N-4] 

[N-4: (1) The Italian Supreme General Staff was reorganized in June 1941. Its powers were greatly increased and it became the most important organ of command. Thereafter it was known as the Comando Supremo (Supreme Command). See Howard McGaw Smyth, “The Command of the Italian Armed Forces in World War II,” Military Affairs, XV, No. 1 (Spring, 1951), 38. (2) Hitler’s Order, 29 Oct 41, WFSt/Abt L (I Op), Nr. 441794/41, in ONI, Führer Directives, 1939–1941. (3) Vice-Admiral Eberhard Weichold (German Admiral, Rome), The War at Sea in the Mediterranean. U.S. Navy Press Release 26 Feb 47.]



German aviation harassed British shipping. German submarines joined Italian naval units in policing the waters of the Sicilian straits. The occupation of Crete, costly as it was, improved the Axis position greatly in the violent effort to strangle the connection between Malta and the eastern Mediterranean. The British island of Malta, between the Sicilian straits and Crete, was a base for aircraft, destroyers, and submarines which severely curtailed the flow of supplies and reinforcements from Italy to Tripoli. The fortunes of Rommel’s command seemed almost directly proportional to Axis success in neutralizing Malta.

If the Soviet Union had succumbed to the gigantic attack which began in June 1941, Hitler would presumably have undertaken in November an elaborate attack upon the Near East and have forced Spain to allow an attack against Gibraltar. Concentric drives by Rommel through Egypt, by a second force from Bulgaria through Turkey, and, if necessary, by a third element from Transcaucasia through Iran were also contemplated.

Success in these operations would have broken the British hold on the Middle East. But when, despite the heightened German need for petroleum from the Middle East for operations in 1942, the attack against the Russians fell short of success, the program scheduled for November was necessarily delayed. The British began a counteroffensive in northern Africa at that point which relieved the garrison cut off in Tobruk and drove Rommel’s forces back on EI Agheila. This advantage was abruptly canceled in January 1942, when Rommel made a second advance to the east which regained much of the lost ground. His command was renamed Panzerarmee Afrika, and received reinforcements and additional equipment to resume the attack against the British Eighth Army. From the EI Gazala Line he was expected to gain Tobruk and the coast directly east of it. [N-5]

[N-5: A panzer group headquarters (Panzergruppe Afrika) was created for Rommel in August 1941 with command over the German Africa Corps, Italian XXX Corps, and some small miscellaneous units. Rommel was promoted to General der Panzertruppen 1 July 1941 and to Generaloberst on 1

February 1942. (1) OKW, Kriegstagebuch (hereafter cited as OKW, KTB), I.IV.-3/’VI.42, Entries

21, 30 Apr, and 1, 7 May 42. Great Britain, Exhibit 227, USC, Rg 238. This document appears to be the only one of those comprising the text of the OKW war diary that was not destroyed. The OKW war diary, prepared by Hitler’s Plenipotentiary for Military History, Oberst Walter Scherff, was to be the basis for a history of the war as seen from the highest German level. (2) Rommel, Krieg ohne Hass, pp. 111-26. (3) MS # T- 3-PI (Kesselring), Pt. I.]]

Rommel’s success and the capture of Malta [The planned operation for Malta was Operation HERKULES] were interdependent, a fact which produced a decision to undertake seizure of the island. Heavy air attacks would be made upon it in April 1942 to cover the shipment to Tripoli, Bengasi, and Derna of the means required for the first phase of Rommel’s offensive. After he had seized Tobruk and pushed to Marsa Matriih, thus holding the area from which Malta might be helped by British land-based airplanes, he was to pause while mixed German and Italian forces, partly airborne and partly seaborne, gained possession of the island.

Supplies to Rommel could thereafter go forward from Italy to the African ports in sufficient volume and his offensive would be resumed. While these plans were maturing, more German forces reached the Mediterranean basin.

The German X. Fliegerkorps was replaced, beginning late in 1941, by the Second Air Force (Luftflotte 2) over which Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring exercised command as Commander in Chief South (Oberbefehlshaber Sued) from a new headquarters at Frascati, near Rome.

Kesselring, subordinated to the Duce, was expected to employ his aviation in conformity with directives issued or approved by Mussolini, and to have a relationship as air commander to the Italian Supreme Command similar to that of Rommel as ground commander to the Italian Commander in Chief in Libya. Kesselring as senior German officer also assisted Generalleutnant Enno von Rintelen, Commanding

General, Headquarters, German General at the Headquarters of the Italian Armed Forces (Deutscher General bei dem Hauptquartier der italienischen WehrmachtGerman General, Rome) in conveying German views to the Italians. If the action of the Italian Supreme Command was influenced by a spirit of deference to German military enlightenment, the Italians nonetheless insisted that the Germans at all times adhere strictly to the form of Italian control, and Hitler supported this arrangement.

Axis operations in 1942 began with marked successes and brought the coalition to the zenith of its fortunes in World War II. Rommel’s late May attack went much more rapidly than had been expected and succeeded in taking Tobruk in June almost immediately instead of being delayed by the kind of stubborn defense which had kept that port from the Germans in early 1941.

British losses of men and materiel were great, but the loss of Tobruk’s port was equally serious. 30 Rommel believed he could continue to Cairo before meeting effective resistance. At that juncture, Hitler was lured into a serious blunder. He had been unable to quiet his misgivings over the projected seizure of Malta, for he felt that the assault was inadequately planned and subsequent support perilously undependable. He therefore proposed to Mussolini that Operation HERKULES, the seizure of Malta, be postponed in favor of a continued drive into Egypt, and Mussolini, despite the demurrer of some of his military advisers, consented.

A new line of supply to Rommel was to run via Crete to Tobruk. Malta was allowed to recover. In July 1942, Rommel’s army got as far inside Egypt as the El Alamein position, some sixty miles southwest of Alexandria, before being held up by lack of supplies and the opposition of the British Eighth Army. On the Eastern Front, the German attacks on the southern sector pressed speedily toward the Don River, heading beyond it toward Stalingrad and the Caucasus.

Such was the situation in the Mediterranean when the Allies faced the question where to attack in 1942.

SOURCE: Northwest Africa: Seizing The Initiative In The West; by: George F. Howe (United States Army Center of Military History)

The Revolt in Heaven: Assyrian

This curious narrative is found on a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum. The original text is published in Plate 42 of Delitzsch’s work, ““Assyrische Lesestucke”.” I gave a translation of it in the “Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology,” Vol. IV, pp. 349-362.

This tablet describes the revolt of the gods or angels against their Creator. It seems to have been preceded by an account of the perfect harmony which existed in heaven previously. And here I would call to mind a noble passage in Job, chap, xxxviii, which deserves particular attention, since it is not derived from the Mosaic narrative but from some independent source, namely, that when God laid the foundations of the world, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” By “the sons of God” in this passage are to be understood the angels. In the beginning, therefore, according to this sacred author, all was joy and harmony and loyalty to God. But this state of union and happiness was not to last. At some unknown time, but before the creation of man, some of the angels ceased to worship their Creator: thoughts of pride and ingratitude arose in their hearts, they revolted from God, and were by his just decree expelled from heaven. These were the angels of whom it is said in the book of Jude that “they kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation.” [Footnote: Jude 6.] The opinions of the fathers and of other religious writers on this mysterious subject it were useless to examine, since they admit that nothing can be certainly known about it. The opinion that one-third of the heavenly host revolted from their Creator is founded on Rev. xii. 3, where it is said: “And there appeared a dragon in heaven, having seven heads … and his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth. And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels. And prevailed not: neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out–he was cast out into the earth and his angels were cast out with him,”

The Revelation of St. John was written in the first century, but some of the imagery employed may have been far more ancient, and for that reason more impressive to the religious mind of the age.

The war between Michael and the dragon bears much resemblance to the combat of Bel and the dragon recounted on a Chaldean tablet. [Footnote: See G. Smith, p. 100 of his Chaldean Genesis.] And it is not unworthy of remark that the Chaldean dragon had seven heads, like that spoken of in the Revelation. [Footnote: See 2 R 19, col. ii. 14, and my Assyrian Glossary, No. 108.]

At the creation harmony had prevailed in heaven. All the sons of God, says Job, shouted for joy. What caused the termination of this blissful state? We are not informed, and it would be in vain to conjecture. But the Babylonians have preserved to us a remarkable tradition, which is found in the tablet of page 42, and has not, I believe, been hitherto understood. It is unlike anything in the Bible or in the sacred histories of other countries. While the host of heaven were assembled and were all engaged in singing hymns of praise to the Creator, suddenly some evil spirit gave the signal of revolt. The hymns ceased in one part of the assembly, which burst forth into loud curses and imprecations on their Creator. In his wrath he sounded a loud blast of the trumpet and drove them from his presence never to return.


(The first four lines are broken. They related, no doubt, that a festival of praise and thanksgiving was being held in heaven, when this rebellion took place.)

5 The Divine Being spoke three times, the commencement of a psalm.
6 The god of holy songs, Lord of religion and worship
7 seated a thousand singers and musicians: and established a choral band
8 who to his hymn were to respond in multitudes …
9 With a loud cry of contempt they broke up his holy song
10 spoiling, confusing, confounding, his hymn of praise.
11 The god of the bright crown [1] with a wish to summon his adherents
12 sounded a trumpet blast which would wake the dead,
13 which to those rebel angels prohibited return,
14 he stopped their service, and sent them to the gods who were his enemies.[2]
15 In their room he created mankind.[3]
16 The first who received life dwelt along with him.
17 May he give them strength, never to neglect his word,
18 following the serpent’s voice, whom his hands had made.
19 And may the god of divine speech [4] expel from his five thousand [5] that wicked thousand
20 who in the midst of his heavenly son, had shouted evil blasphemies!
21 The god Ashur, who had seen the malice of those gods who deserted their allegiance
22 to raise a rebellion, refused to go forth with them.

(The remainder of the tablet, nine or ten lines more, is too much broken for translation.)

[Footnote 1: The Assyrian scribe annotates in the margin that the same god is meant throughout, under all these different epithets.]—[Footnote 2: They were in future to serve the powers of evil.]—[Footnote 3: It will be observed that line 15 says that mankind were created to fill up the void in creation which the ungrateful rebellion of the angels had caused. A friend has supplied me with some striking evidence that the mediaeval church also held that opinion, though it was never elevated to the rank of an authorized doctrine.]—[Footnote 4: See note 4. This is another epithet.]—[Footnote 5: The total number of the gods is, I believe, elsewhere given as 5,000.]

SOURCE: Babylonian and Assyrian Literature (1901): TRANSLATED BY H. FOX TALBOT, F.R.S.

World News Headlines: 12-18-2018

Syrian refugees in Germany required to renew passports at pro-Assad embassies;
Germany is forcing people displaced by the Syrian war to get documents and hand over money at Syrian consulates loyal to Bashar Assad. Refugee advocates say this is inhumane and supports the brutal Assad regime. Of the hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians who have come to Germany since 2014, many enjoy only “subsidiary protection” and not full refugee status. Among other things, this means that they are dependent on embassies loyal to the regime of President Bashar Assad. Under German law, people with various levels of political asylum or similar protection in Germany have to actively cooperate in procuring identity documentation, including passports. And more and more Syrians are being granted only subsidiary rather than full refugee status. Whereas 99.7 percent of Syrians coming to Germany in 2015 were classed as full refugees, last year only 38.2 percent were — with 61 percent enjoying only subsidiary protection.

Russia to deploy warplanes to Crimea amid Ukraine standoff; The Russian foreign minister claimed that Ukraine was planning an “armed provocation” in the coming weeks. Moscow-Kyiv relations have continued to deteriorate after Russia seized three Ukrainian ships at sea.The Russian Defense Ministry on Monday said it would “return” more than 10 warplanes to Crimea, according to Russian news agency Interfax. The ministry said fighter jets, including Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30’s, will be sent to the annexed Ukrainian territory as part of a “permanent deployment.” They are expected to arrive by Saturday.The announcement comes after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed in an interview that Ukraine was preparing an “armed provocation with Russia on the border with Crimea during the last ten days of December.”

Serbia and Kosovo clash over army at UN Security Council; The only mistake Kosovo made in creating an army was “waiting five years,” the country’s president has told the UN Security Council. But Serbia has urged the UN to “tame” Pristina. World powers discussed Kosovo’s decision to form an army at a UN Security Council session on Monday. Serbia and Russia have strongly protested the move. Addressing the council, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he was “very much concerned and a bit afraid” by the developments in the region. He urged international representatives to influence Kosovo leaders, saying that “someone has to curb, someone has to tame those people, because measures that they have taken recently are something that is not coherent with the 21 century.” At the same time, Vucic seemed to downplay fears that Serbia might intervene militarily over the creation of an army in Kosovo. “We will refrain ourselves of doing wrong steps in the future as well, because we suffered a lot in the past and we don’t have any more kids to spend in different types of wars, hostilities, and clashes,” he said.

Hungarians protest draconian ‘slave law’ as Orban cracks down on dissent; Hungary is seeing its largest protests in years, triggered by an employee-hostile law. But for the protesters, it’s about a lot more. Meanwhile, the government, led by strongman PM Viktor Orban, smells a conspiracy. For days, thousands of Hungarians have been protesting against the Orban government’s social policies and against the anti-democratic restructuring of their country. It’s a wave of protests the likes of which Hungary hasn’t experienced in a long time. In some cases, police have been using violence and teargas against protesters in the last few days, even though before that there had merely been some scuffles with the officers. Dozens of people, some of them not even part of the protests, were arrested, and many were only released after 12 hours or more. On Sunday, a large-scale peaceful rally organized by opposition parties and Hungarian trade unions took place without problems — initially. But late on Sunday evening the police again used tear gas against demonstrators when they mobbed the building of Hungary’s public radio station. Sunday night, a group of members of parliament, who have free access to the radio building, demanded in vain to be allowed to read a live petition on the news. They continued their protest in the radio building on Monday. At one point, one of the parliamentary protesters was forcibly thrown out of the building, although this is not permitted under current law for various reasons including parliamentary immunity.

UN: Hezbollah tunnels on Israel-Lebanon border violate truce; The UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL has confirmed the existence of tunnels under the Lebanon-Israel border. The announcement comes as the Lebanese and Israeli armies had a tense standoff along the border. The UN peacekeeping force on the Israel-Lebanon border said Monday that two of four tunnels allegedly dug by Hezbollah crossed the demarcation line between the two countries in violation of a UN resolution that ended the 2006 war. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said it had confirmed the existence of four tunnels found by Israel earlier this month, two of which crossed the Blue Line border demarcation between the two countries. “UNIFIL at this stage can confirm that two of the tunnels cross the Blue Line. These constitute violations of UN Security Council resolution 1701,” it said in a statement. Lebanon and Israel are technically still at war. Israel and Hezbollah, which has an armed wing stronger than the Lebanese army, last fought a war in 2006. President Michel Aoun, a political ally of Hezbollah, has said he is committed to upholding Security Council resolution 1701, which bans non-Lebanese state forces operating between the Litani River and the UN monitored Blue Line.

Strasbourg attack: Suspected accomplices arrested and charged; Two people have been arrested for supplying weapons to the Strasbourg Christmas market shooter. Meanwhile, the death toll from the attack has risen to five. Two people were arrested on Monday in connection with the gun attack that killed five people last week at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. A third suspect appeared in court suspected of involvement in supplying the weapon that alleged gunman Cherif Chekatt used in the December 11 attack according to an official close to the investigation. Chekatt, 29, died in a shootout with police in Strasbourg Thursday. The two individuals detained were also suspected of “playing a role in supplying the firearm,” said the official, who could not be named with the case ongoing. The arrests bring the number of suspects in custody since the attack to three; Chekatt’s parents and two of his brothers were questioned by police last week and released. The death toll from the attack rose to five Sunday night after a Polish man died of his wounds in a Strasbourg hospital. Barto Orent-Niedzielski, 36, lived in the city, where he worked at the European Parliament and as a journalist. According to some reports, Orent-Niedzielski fought the shooter and stopped him from entering a crowded club, possibly preventing more deaths.

Poland reverses Supreme Court retirements after EU order; Poland has undone a law that lowered the retirement age of Supreme Court judges after the EU’s top court ordered its reversal. The country’s judicial reforms have been at the center of a dispute with the EU. Polish President Andrzej Duda signed legislation late Monday reinstating around two dozen Supreme Court judges forced into early retirement. Earlier in the day, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) had ordered Poland to immediately suspend a law that lowered the retirement age from 70 to 65. The Polish parliament passed a revision to the law in late November following an interim ECJ order in October .
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, had asked the bloc’s top court to review the legislation over concerns the reforms gave the government control of the judiciary. The EU has been in a bitter dispute with Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party since it made sweeping changes to the judiciary after coming to power in 2015. The government says that the changes were necessary to make the Supreme Court more efficient.


Japan adopts new defense guidelines; Japan has approved new defense guidelines, including a plan to upgrade an existing destroyer into a de-facto aircraft carrier. The new National Defense Program Guidelines and the mid-term defense program for the next five years were adopted on Tuesday at a cabinet meeting. They highlight the tough security environment around Japan. This includes China’s rapid military buildup on the sea and in the air and its pursuit of dominance in outer space and cyber space. They say the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles remains essentially unchanged. Under the defense guidelines, Japan will launch a multi-dimensional and integrated defense force. It will function strategically in outer space and cyber space, in addition to the conventional domains of land, sea and air. The plans call for setting up a new space unit and expanding an existing cyber-defense unit. In order to strengthen defense in the Pacific Ocean, the guidelines call for refurbishing the nation’s largest destroyer Izumo over the next five years so it can effectively function as an aircraft carrier. Japan will acquire state-of-the-art F-35B stealth fighter jets that can take off and land on the refurbished Izumo. However, the fighters will only be used on the vessel in emergencies or for training, rather than being deployed on a regular basis. The measure is intended to clarify that the new Izumo will not be an “offensive aircraft carrier,” which Japan cannot possess under its war-renouncing Constitution and its “defense-only” national policy. Cabinet ministers also approved a plan to introduce 42 F-35Bs and 63 F-35As in phases to replace about 100 aging fighter jets.

UN adopts resolution on N.Korea human rights; The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights situation. The resolution submitted by Japan and the European Union won overwhelming support in a vote at the General Assembly on Monday. The resolution claims there is a lack of freedom of movement and expression in North Korea. It also condemns the nation’s systematic abductions of Japanese and other people and calls for the immediate repatriation of the abducted foreigners. Japan and the EU have jointly submitted similar resolutions every year since 2005 to solicit cooperation and support from the international community to improve human rights climate in the North. Before the vote, North Korea’s UN ambassador Kim Song argued that the draft resolution has nothing to do with human rights issues. He rejected it as a political plot by hostile forces. China and Syria also said they were against the draft resolution. The adoption comes after the UN Security Council postponed an annual meeting on human rights in North Korea as it failed to get enough support to hold it this month. The meeting has been held every December since 2014. The United States is aiming to hold it in January.

UN official: Syria unprepared for returnees; A Japanese member of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that Syria is not fully prepared to accept the displaced people that are coming back to the country. The head of the UNHCR office in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, Yumiko Takashima, spoke to NHK in Tokyo on Monday during her brief visit to Japan. Takashima said that half of Aleppo’s city center, which was once controlled by anti-government forces, remains badly damaged. She expressed concern about the safety of the returnees, citing occasional shelling at night. Takashima said social services are insufficient but that the UNHCR hopes to help improve the situation. She indicated as examples of support remedial classes for children who could not go to school during their absence and repairing bakeries. The refugee agency estimates that 250,000 out of the roughly 5.6 million people that have fled Syria will return next year. Takashima said the displaced Syrians are struggling but looking ahead. She called on the international community to offer its help.

Nissan’s Saikawa to attend alliance meeting; NHK has learned that Nissan Motor President Hiroto Saikawa will attend a meeting between Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault. The two-day gathering will begin later on Tuesday in Amsterdam. Saikawa has told reporters he plans to ask for the opportunity to explain the scandal involving former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn to his counterparts at Renault. Saikawa said it’s important to have mutual understanding of the incident among the alliance partners. He said he intends to report the outcome of Nissan’s in-house investigation into the scandal directly to the executives from Renault, which is Nissan’s biggest shareholder. Saikawa is also expected to exchange opinions on who will succeed Ghosn as Nissan chairman. Renault has expressed its intention to pick the next company chairman. But Nissan disagrees with that stance. The Japanese carmaker has decided to set up a panel that includes third-party experts and discuss Ghosn’s successor. The person will then be named based on the discussions.

Russia: Barracks built in Northern Territories; Russia has reportedly built military barracks on the Etorofu and Kunashiri islands, two of four Russian-held islands. Russia controls the islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two. Russia’s state-run TASS news agency reported on Monday that the defense ministry revealed four new housing complexes on the islands. It says 188 households are expected to move into them next week. The report says two similar facilities are scheduled to be built in Etorofu and one in Kunashiri next year. Homes, schools and sports facilities for the people on the islands will reportedly be renovated, bringing the total number of construction and repair projects for military personnel and civilians to over 200. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke to reporters on Monday about negotiations on a peace treaty with Japan. He said that the signing of a peace treaty based on the 1956 declaration means Japan has fully recognized the results of the Second World War. However, he added, Japan is not ready to do that. Lavrov reiterated that Russia is not illegally occupying the islands, but that they became Russia’s territory based on the outcome of the war. Russia’s presidential office says it is making adjustments with Japan to hold a bilateral summit on January 21st.

Malaysia files charges against Goldman Sachs; Malaysian authorities have filed criminal charges against US financial firm Goldman Sachs over the 1MDB scandal. Officials say the company and former employees were involved in the misappropriation of billions of dollars from the sovereign wealth fund. Attorney General Tommy Thomas says Goldman Sachs affiliates misappropriated 2.7 billion dollars in bond proceeds. The money is allegedly from the 6.5 billion dollars of bonds 1MDB issued between 2012 and 2013. Thomas says Goldman Sachs received about 600 million dollars in fees for the deal. He says the US investment bank is suspected of violating securities laws by filing false statements with regulators. Thomas added he would also seek criminal charges against Goldman Sachs affiliates. The incident occurred during the administration of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been indicted on a number of charges including money laundering. The current Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has pledged to get to the bottom of the 1MDB scandal.

France to launch digital tax; The French government says it’s going ahead with a new tax on digital revenue next month. The levy would hit Google, Facebook and other US IT giants. The move is despite the European Union’s decision to put its digital-tax plan on hold for this year. French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire says income from advertisements and the resale of personal information will be subject to the tax. Le Maire predicts the levy will bring in annual revenues of 500 million euros, or 570 million dollars. He said the government will continue to aim for an EU-wide digital tax. French media see the move as a way of balancing the country’s fiscal books. A series of protests has forced the administration of President Emmanuel Macron to postpone a fuel-tax hike until 2020 or later, and raise the minimum wage. These concessions will likely expand France’s budget deficit next year to 3.2 percent of gross domestic product. That would exceed a 3-percent cap stipulated by the EU.