It spelled the doom of Communist massed armies

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

This Kind of War by T.R. FehrenbachIn Nevada, at Frenchman’s Flat, a bright flash and ugly mushroom cloud signified a change in the tactical battlefield, T. R. Fehrenbach notes (in This Kind of War) — a change that had not come about at Hiroshima:

In its early years the atomic device had remained a strategic weapon, suitable for delivery against cities and industries, suitable to obliterate civilians, men, women, and children by the millions, but of no practical use on a limited battlefield — until it was fired from a field gun.

Until this time, 1953, the armies of the world, including that of the United States, had hardly taken the advent of fissionable material into account. The 280mm gun, an interim weapon that would remain in use only a few years, changed all that, forever. With an atomic cannon that could deliver tactical fires in the low-kiloton range, with great selectivity, ground warfare stood on the brink of its greatest change since the advent of firepower.


The atomic cannon could blow any existing fortification, even one twenty thousand yards in depth, out of existence neatly and selectively, along with the battalions that manned it. Any concentration of manpower, also, was its meat.

It spelled the doom of Communist massed armies, which opposed superior firepower with numbers, and which had in 1953 no tactical nuclear weapons of their own.

The 280mm gun was shipped to the Far East. Then, in great secrecy, atomic warheads — it could fire either nuclear or conventional rounds — followed, not to Korea, but to storage close by. And with even greater secrecy, word of this shipment was allowed to fall into Communist hands.

At the same time, into Communist hands wafted a pervasive rumor, one they could neither completely verify nor scotch: that the United States would not accept a stalemate beyond the end of summer.


  1. Bob Sykes says:

    In the late 50′s and early 60′s, the Army converted its combat units to the Pentomic Division. This consisted of 25,000 men in 5 large independent brigades, each subdivided into 5 units at each level. So a company had 5 platoons.

    The stated idea was to scatter the division over a wide front and depth and to push support units down the chain of command so that something useful would survive an atomic strike.

  2. Altitude Zero says:

    Eisenhower was great at this sort of thing — nothing ever over, but letting the USSR and ChiComs know that there were hotheads in the US who were ready to use nukes, and maybe, just maybe, he couldn’t keep a lid on them this time. Nixon tried this when he was in office as the famous “Madman Strategy”, but he was much more ham-handed using it than his old boss Ike. And of course this caused the USSR to move heaven and earth to achieve strategic nuclear parity to the US, which ended up helping to bankrupt them. Funny how things work…

  3. Lu An Li says:

    Practice atomic bombing runs were done during the Korean War by Far East air force units [USA], done in such a manner so the adversary knew these bomb runs were occurring. A distinct signal sent and received.

    Never heard of this one with the atomic cannon.

  4. Kirk says:

    Pentomic was one of those nutty consciously “new-wave” ideas that really should have been shot in the head before birth. I think it could actually be analyzed somewhat better as a “full employment initiative” for field and flag rank Regular Army officers, because it came with a designed-in top-heavy and sclerotic command structure that was impossible to work within.

    What they should have done was abandoned the idea of a divisional structure entirely, and made the basic tactical units better able to self-support, while training for and enabling a flatter hierarchy-reduced command structure. Pentomic tried to micro-manage everything and spread out at the same time, which was nuts. The model they should have gone for was a more robust Armored Cav regiment, with multiple redundant higher headquarters to coordinate it all.

    However, that wouldn’t have been “cool” enough, so they wasted the money on Pentomic.

    I am also really leery of the entire idea of using nukes on Communist armies. The reality is, I am afraid, that the militaries of the Communist states were only ever the toreador’s cape, and while we were focused on that, they infiltrated our institutions starting from their footholds in academia and the media. The irony is, final victory for them only came after the economic collapse of the various Communist nation-states.

    Not sure what we’re going to do, but if I were in charge of defending the United States these days, I’d be sorely tempted to begin by nuking every single institution of “higher learning” in the country, and starting over with some other model. I’m not sure that the current plague of SJW and other “activists” is survivable, due to the insidious damage they’re doing to our ability to transmit and pass on our intellectual capital and values. Nowadays, if you want to hear a genuinely “American” citizen’s voice, you almost certainly have to start talking to people who were never captured by the intellectual madness that’s overtaken academia at all levels. Not even the tiny little rural community colleges have escaped the damage wrought by the identitarians.

    So, yeah… The “Commie Hordes” were kinda not the real problem; we should have been watching the campuses, and let the rest of the world figure out dealing with the hordes. They got bored and jaded with it all after long enough of living under the manifest failures of socialism–Maybe that should have been our strategy from the beginning. Pat the nice delusional commies on the head, say “Isn’t that cute…”, and wait for the immature assholes to grow up…

    Socialism never works. It’s designed around the non-existent “nobility of mankind”, and reliant on the fantasy that people will work for someone else’s benefit. That may work for your first generations of idiots that buy into the “pie in the sky, by and by” thing, but once they notice that the only people really benefiting are the self-appointed administrative nomenklatura, well… Natural cynicism and criminality take over, along with self-interest and greed.

    It’s a lot smarter to design your society around that sad fact of human nature from the get-go, and just rely on sheer human bastardry for running things. You won’t go far wrong on that count… Rely on man’s inherent “good nature”, and you’re gonna starve in the dark.

    The surprising thing to me is how many people experience this kind of crap at the micro-level, and never manage to extrapolate it out to the macro. Every budding socialist I ran into during my Army years, I put in charge of something like the office snack store or running a common area. About 80% of them never made the intellectual connection between “Hey, these assholes are ripping the communal snack bar off incessantly/not cleaning as they go…” to grasping that applying the same ideas to society at large would work out precisely the same way. The 20% that did make the leap? LOL… I may be going to hell for enjoying seeing the light of idealism burn out in their little eyes, but it was delightful to watch their realization that other people are utter bastards, and that their little altruistic fantasies about human nature were entirely erroneous.

    It may well be that I was taking out my own issues with it, after my own epiphany on human bastardry. “See? People really are bastards…”.

    There are reasons we make heroes out of people who act selflessly, and hold them up as examples. Main one? The rarity and splendor of such counter-survival traits in the general population. If we were really all inherent Stakhanovites, you’d never hear about any sort of heroes at all, because they’d be so damn common. The fact that we even have such a concept, that of “hero”, ought to be a telling thing for these numpty naifs. But, they never figure it out, ‘cos “Stupid…”.

  5. Altitude Zero says:


    Agreed, most of us righties back in the seventies and eighties probably overestimated the international Communist military threat, and underestimated the domestic Communist infiltration threat. Admittedly, when you had a country with tens of thousands of tanks, nuclear weapons, Spetznaz, KGB, etc, etc on the one hand, and a bunch of dirty hippies on the other, it was an easy mistake to make, but still…

  6. Kirk says:

    I think we have to acknowledge that the dirty hippies won, but the real question is, what, precisely, did the idiots win?

    I’m dubious of the proposition that these morons can run much of anything, TBH. The history is against it, from Plymouth Rock forward to the communes of the sixties and seventies. In the end, the whole thing collapses into a pile of self-contradictions that just keep accruing more and more failures.

    The only three “-isms” I believe in are the triune gods of Pragmatism, Empiricism, and true Egalitarianism. All else is dross, and all too prone to self-delusion and sophistry. Show me what works, and I’ll “believe“. If you can’t…? Nope. Not in a million ‘effing years will I take you seriously.

    To me, it’s way more notable and significant that the great “philosophers” of the past (such as Marx and his ilk…) have left no lasting legacy of a functional organization or even family structure for us to observe as a validation of their ideas.

    Today’s progressives are well on their ways towards demonstrating the same lack of long-term success; like the idiot class that ran the Western Roman Empire into the ground, they’re only going to leave a legacy of epic failure and collapse.

  7. Kirk says:

    Regarding potential paths forward through the idiocracy–Read these articles, and look into a firm called Morning Star Company:

    Ways of organization like this are the future, I believe. The current hierarchy-and-fixed-status system we have going is a vestigial remnant of our primitive past that we badly need to discard and work past.

    Gary Hamel, the author of that second article, has written a book called “Humanocracy” that I’m still in the process of digesting. I think he makes some excellent points, and I’m in full agreement with a lot of what he says, but I do have to admit to some slight cynicism in observing the buzzword quotient therein…

    He, of course, also has a website:

    Unlike most of the business management crap I run across, a lot of this makes really good sense to me.

  8. Jim says:

    “dirty hippies”

    Is that what they’re calling the NWO these days?

  9. Jim says:

    “Socialism never works. It’s designed around the non-existent “nobility of mankind”, and reliant on the fantasy that people will work for someone else’s benefit. That may work for your first generations of idiots that buy into the “pie in the sky, by and by” thing, but once they notice that the only people really benefiting are the self-appointed administrative nomenklatura, well… Natural cynicism and criminality take over, along with self-interest and greed.”

    In reality, people work for someone else’s benefit for eight hours each day, five days each week, twelve months each year, forty years each lifetime.

    It’s called “capitalism”. You may have heard of it.

  10. Kirk says:


    Are you being intentionally obtuse, or just stupid? Someone working for a paycheck is working more for their own benefit than they are their employers, which is not the same thing as playing the self-sacrificing “Hero of Labor” and working yourself to death in the mines for the everlasting glory of the Motherland.

    If you’re getting low wages and lousy conditions under capitalism, the sad fact is, that’s what the job is worth–If you want better, improve your skills. That’s what we call an incentive, and it doesn’t exist under socialism, which is why those economies went to shit over the long haul.

  11. The White King says:

    I will believe in hierarchy-less systems when I see them in action, up close and personal.

    I do not believe they are real. When I do see stories about a company that has supposedly implemented such a system, there are nearly often sufficient clues to indicate that there absolutely is a hierarchy, it just isn’t formal and explicit. Which therefore makes it far more abusable and difficult to navigate and understand, and therefore more evil.

  12. Kirk says:

    And, so we have a perfect illustration of why we’re stuck with the dysfunctional status quo.

    I’ve seen flat organizations in action, as subsets of a military hierarchy. They worked, and they worked better than the “Big Army” elements I was used to. The problem with them is that you have to have grown-ups without egos getting in the way to make them work. So long as you recruit and tolerate the immature and power-seeking, you’re going to have immature power-seekers running the show, because they’re inherently the most sociopathic and thus, most likely to wind up running things.

    It’s an interesting phenomenon to observe; my friends school that she taught at early in her career was filled with some really sharp, dedicated teachers that only cared about the kids and teaching. Because none of them wanted to do the admin BS, as they saw it, they let the most incompetent and sociopathic individual among them move over to admin. I’ll leave extrapolating the results of that as an exercise for the reader… Took about ten years, but that incompetent venal bitch turned that school into a nightmare of petty BS that led directly to several early retirements and a suicide. The hierarchy failed there, as they always do.

    Like the wise computer said in War Games, the only way to win is not to play the game.

    A good part of the issue with changing things, though, is illustrated here: Because people can’t imagine anything else, they keep going back to the default. If you don’t want petty tyranny, then don’t support the friggin’ petty tyrants. At any level. What you tolerate is what you get more of, and if you’re going to put up with some rampant asshole telling you how to mow your lawn in the Homeowner’s Association, well… Yeah. You’re probably going to put up with Hugo Chavez types telling you how to run your business and life–Which will end about as satisfactorily as life under the HOA will.

  13. The White King says:

    It’s not a question of not imagining it. It’s a question of having repeatedly seen such systems degenerate into exactly what they claim to oppose.

    Your school story is what always happens, in every organization of any type. You cannot remove these types of people from the population, and you cannot guarantee you haven’t recruited them. You must plan around these tendencies from the start. A hierarchy-less system explicitly fails to make any sort of plan for them – I’ve seen this exact thing happen in groups of pure volunteers that supposedly were all about love of the topic. The networks and cliques start forming and the whole thing eventually falls to pieces. You need at least one absolute authority at the top with the ability and wisdom to say “You, you’re pissing me off, get the hell out”. Without that, you can’t fix these systems.

    Your army example exists in the context of a larger hierarchy that presumably could bleed off all the power-hungry. Like whoever it was said, it’s amazing what you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit – but that only takes you so far; you can’t organize a society on the basis of operating in the shadows with whatever power hasn’t been noticed.

    If you really believe in the idea, go to it. All I’m saying is that I’ve repeatedly seen it blow up and I recommend against what will be a waste of time.

  14. Jim says:

    Kirk claims, baselessly, that employees work primarily for their own benefit, as opposed to the benefit of their employer’s shareholders, just before alleging, unabashedly, that employee compensation is proportional to the value of the labor so compensated.

    I regret to inform Kirk that if employees were working primarily for their own benefit, they would be working for themselves, as certainly they would not be working for their employer’s shareholders, and that if employee compensation were proportional to the value of the labor so compensated, this would be a grevious failure to maximize shareholder value.

    Costs of living balloon as investments perform while employee compensation stagnates or declines because employees are not a meaningful constituency of capitalism.

    Competence has no value. If only you owned the equity.

    Sorry, playa.

  15. TRX says:

    “What they should have done was abandoned the idea of a divisional structure entirely, and made the basic tactical units better able to self-support, while training for and enabling a flatter hierarchy-reduced command structure.”

    [shock] HERETIC! APOSTATE!
    [points finger] REEEEEEE!!!

  16. TRX says:

    “I’ve seen flat organizations in action, as subsets of a military hierarchy. They worked, and they worked better than the “Big Army” elements I was used to.”

    The British Commandos operated like that in their early days. Staff officers would designate targets or missions, and then it might be a sergeant who did the planning, logistics, and led the field work. They skipped most of the layers of useless administrative overhead… until they were established enough to develop their own.

    Most organizations work best when they’re “lean and hungry” and have a specific short-term goals. When they get fat and lazy they accumulate clerical staff, adjutants, yeomen, human resources termites, safety compliance gestapo, political cadres, diversity enforcement, personal assistants… the useless bureaucratic overhead will eventually grow to the limit of the organization to support it.

  17. VXXC says:

    Politics is POWER, not ECONOMICS.

    “I think we have to acknowledge that the dirty hippies won, but the real question is, what, precisely, did the idiots win?”

    They won POWER. And ALL THE MONEY in the WORLD.
    The rest of us are just tenants.
    In a one party system, that the NWO dirty hippies won.

    Socialism doesn’t work? Socialism ALWAYS WORKS as POLITICS because it’s giving away money you didn’t earn. And Hippies/NWO won by SOCIALISM; because the masses agreed to be bought for pennies on the dollar, for instance 9 cents of every dollar spent on COVID relief. That’s the real people y’all.

    The masses sold out to Socialism, and it works as a power platform. Because politics is POWER, not economics. Socialism doesn’t work?
    Tell that to: Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Tito, Mussolini, FDR, every living Democratic official or voter, Hell tell it to every Republican politician. Tell it to Mitch McConnell, Nixon. Bush 43. Tell it to Mohammed – Halal or Booty and Islamic forced charity =socialism 100%.

    Socialism as a formula for gaining and keeping and increasing power is the greatest formula for winning power known to man, War is second place and Islam 3d place.

    The Constitutional government we had worked so poorly that in the end no one wanted it; not the politicians, not the voters, not the Army, not the People. That’s why and how the Republic died in 2021. The Republic is dead because everyone wanted something else, and for those of you who think you can kill the republic and keep the freedoms ala carte…I’m going to enjoy watching you suffer, unto the utmost. [If you're listening Deep State- make me an offer]. I’m not greedy or treasonous, just tired of playing the Chump. For the rest of you: you’ll really miss the Republic, you have no idea.


    The Constitution was written by hard working White European English Speaking men for hard working, honest, brave English Speaking greater Anglosphere men. When power was shared beyond that demographic it was doomed, and it’s gone.

    Politics is POWER, not results beyond gaining and keeping POWER, Politics is absolutely not Economics.

    Actually I’m not against American Socialism put into practice as a partially paid for safety net. aka Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment insurance, Disability.

    My objection here is conflating Politics [Power] with Economics [Money]. They are very distinct, this is a horrific category error.

    Socialism works wonderfully as a formula for POWER, it limps along and drives the productive and competent, hard working nuts but lets be honest: the productive and competent are always going to be driven nuts by the rest, especially the rest in charge. No -ism except Social Darwinism and unbridled Capitalism ala Ireland 1847 will satisfy those who despise all non-hackers [gunny hartman].

    But from the standpoint of POWER or ECONOMICS$ the Republic and Constitution sucked, it was putting a 25mph max speed limit on both. None stood for it because it just stopped working for what we really want, my fellow Americans.

    Politics is POWER, not ECONOMICS.

  18. Paul from Canada says:

    Kirk: “The problem with them is that you have to have grown-ups without egos getting in the way to make them work.”

    THIS is the problem.

    ANY organization or club or whatever — condo owners association, shooting range/club board of directors, governing body of the International Pokemon Players Federation, doesn’t matter — sooner or later the busybody sociopath power-hungry Karens show up and ruin it with petty power politics.

    The smaller the organization, the worse it usually is. This is Sayre’s law: “Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.”

    This is how you get the current ZAMPOLIT bull you have in the military. A faction feels it is more important to have “x” political feature (diversity, LGBTQ, etc.) represented than doing the actual job. The politics and personal or clique power becomes the most important thing and the actual role of the organization becomes secondary.

    VXXC has it right. For some people, power (and the more petty it is, the worse it is), is the prime objective. Viz: the TSA goon, parking or bylaw enforcement, “mall cop”, customs goon, and so on.

  19. Jim says:

    “condo owners association”

    They must perish.

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