What is the Spirit of the Bayonet? TO KILL! Kill with Cold Blue Steel!

President Obama displayed ignorance when he characterized bayonets as being similar to horses – obsolete weapons in modern warfare. As an initial matter, the bayonet is a soldier’s last remaining means of defense when the soldier’s primary weapon system is no longer works for whatever reason. In addition, bayonets are a weapon of psychological intimidation; bayonet charges have long incited fear in enemy forces, particularly in conscript or green forces. Finally, bayonets work well for prisoner control, adding a little extra sobering reminder of the fate that will befall any prisoner who tries to escape . . .

Although not common, modern history does provide examples of the use of the bayonet in combat, especially by British Infantry. For example, in 1982, British soldiers conducted a successful bayonet charge up Mount Tumbledown during the Falkland war.  In 2004, British soldiers in Al Amara, Iraq, again used a bayonet charge to dislodge entrenched fighters of Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army in the Battle of Danny Boy. Most recently, there have been multiple documented cases of British forces using bayonet charges to great effect against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

If you believe some of what is being written today, the last American bayonet charge occurred in the Korean War. However, there are numerous documented cases of bayonets being used in small-unit skirmishes during the Vietnam War. The largest of these took place at Khe Sanh on March 30, 1968 by members of Bravo Co., 1st Bn. 26th Marines. There is anecdotal evidence of bayonet usage occurring during the U.S. Army’s 1st Cav’s hard-won fight at LZ X-Ray, in the Ia Drang Valley of the Central Highlands, 1965.

Although the U.S.M.C. still trains recruits on the use of the bayonet, apparently the U.S. Army no longer does so. Nonetheless, the bayonet is still an essential part of an infantryman’s kit. Perhaps Obama thinks that modern warfare can be conducted entirely via drones, but last month’s attack in Benghazi proved that drones are not a substitute for infantry / ground forces.

Now, I will be the first to admit that, despite the motivational “rah rah” chants they teach you in basic training, the situations that call for the use of the bayonet, are – to use Obama’s recent catch phrase, “not optimal.” If the battle has come to the point where you are ordered to “fix bayonets,” you know that things are NOT going according to plan. Nonetheless, the bayonet will continue to an important “Plan B” for infantry forces, at least until light sabres become a reality.

For those looking for more reading on the topic, I recommend Tim Ripley’s “Bayonet Battle: Bayonet Warfare in the Twentieth Century.” Thoughts and comments by folks with recent in-theater infantry experience (Iraq, Afghanistan etc) is appreciated.

comments

  1. avatar Joseph says:

    Amen Bro. I remember bayonet training well during Army basic training in 1968 at Ft. Polk. It is an intimidating, if obviously short range weapon. I wouldn’t want to be charged by a dude with a bayonet on the end of his rifle. I imagine “fix bayonets” is an order you wouldn’t forget, if you lived through what came afterwords. BTW, there was an incident in Iraq where a squad of soldiers fixed bayonets when they ran low on ammo, but were rescued before hand to hand was necessary. Saw it on a documentary on the history channel.

  2. avatar Loyd says:

    There are more bayonets in the military today than in 1916. Army has 419K bayonets, Marines 200K+ I read somewhere today.
    1916 estimate: 216K

  3. avatar Trust no one says:

    I was a 31b and we did bayonet training. Loved the bayonet range it was almost as fun as throwing grenades.

    1. avatar Billy Wardlaw says:

      Me too! But that doesn’t mean its not an antiquated practice. Changes or amendments to basic military training always lag way behind the more specialized training. The fact that the bayonet is an antiquated WWI implement was never more clear to me that when I was busted down by my drill sargent for asking a apparently stupid question in basic training. He had just finished illuminating us on the procedure for extracting your bayonet from a fallen enemy should twisting is fail – “simply fire a round and let the recoil assist you”, he said! To which I inquired, ” excuse me Drill Sargent, if I have a round in my weapon, why am I sticking him with a bayonet in the first place?”
      Much later in life it would occur to me that in a theater of war with weapons of limited rate of fire and capacity, shooting was generally reserved for medium and long ranges of engagement. That is, if you are hopping from trench to trench, sprinting the open ground between, or moving down the blind corners of a trench-line, odds are you still have rounds in your weapon, since you are relying more on the bayonet, and haven’t done much shooting in the meantime.
      So there I was in basic learning an ancient art, the purpose of which had long been made virtually obsolete.

      1. avatar LongPurple says:

        You were being taught about “extracting your bayonet from a fallen enemy” by firing the rifle.
        The key word is “fallen”, or on the ground. It would then be much safer to fire a .30 round.
        My training emphasised that use of the bayonet was close combat, which was similar to a massive street fight. There would be a chaotic melee of groups and pairs of combatants all over the area.
        A rifle bullet you fired at an enemy could travel clean through him and continue on to kill one of your buddies. Of course, officers would be able to use their .45s with less danger of over-penetration. If they hit their target, that is.

        1. avatar LongPurple says:

          I don’t think there was any intent to conserve ammunition — just reduce the “friendly fire” casualties.

  4. avatar Accur81 says:

    Word. Better to be shot, than to be shot and stabbed and pounded. We trained with bayonets and sentry elimination in the Marine Corps. I’m disappointed that the Army stopped doing so, but I notice the Army getting a whole lot more gentle as time passes.

  5. avatar TTACer says:

    Apparently he forgot about this ancient history “Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan” as well.

    1. avatar Gregolas says:

      Great book. The author did such a thurough job interviewing the paticipants that though it’s history, it reads like a Tom Clancy novel. Well worth your time.

      1. avatar anonymous says:

        “Great book. The author did such a thurough job interviewing the paticipants that though it’s history, it reads like a Tom Clancy novel. ”

        If it’s a “great book”, then it’s nothing “like a Tom Clancy novel”.

        In Clany’s fantasy world,

        Every soldier is brave, every officer a gentleman, nobody despises anyone else, the different services pretty much get along, the commander is tough but fair.

        Clancy seems to think readers have a naivete about the military that borders on the moronic.

    2. avatar nonnamous says:

      I second that, its really excellent. Shows the difficulty in uniting a group of warlords to support peace as well

    3. avatar Sbaker33 says:

      Thanks for posting that. Just bought the book.

  6. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

    A story from Iraq that I can’t forget is of Army Staff Sergeant David Bellavia. While he didn’t use a bayonet per se, it came down to hand to hand with a bad guy and him using his knife to end it. Great hero. Great story of cold steel in battle even in the 21st century.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/04/david-bellavia-iraq_n_1649125.html

    1. avatar nonnamous says:

      House to House – great book. Probably the most intense book I have ever read. I read that scene and literally couldn’t put it down. I read a lot and that’s saying something.

      1. avatar Jim Scrummy says:

        I had the same experience with Bellavia’s book. An amazing read. Could not put it down. Read in about 7 hours.

  7. avatar TTACer says:

    In fairness to the president, he did say “fewer” not “none”

    1. avatar dru says:

      why let the facts get in the way of a good story

      1. avatar Anon in CT says:

        Fact is there are far more now – around three times as many. Fact

        1. avatar karlb says:

          Are they issued to soldiers or simply stored?

        2. avatar stifledbf3 says:

          Soldiers hump them around. If you’re clearing a house and someone jumps on top of you, and you’re wearing 90 lbs of gear, I think you’d be awful happy to have a bayonet strapped to your waist. Weapon of last resort always has a place.

        3. avatar Jericho941 says:

          Numbers from where?

  8. avatar David W. says:

    Horses are obsolete? No one apparently told the special forces that.

    There is a picture of a special forces guy. On a horse. Giant ass grin on his face, knowing that he was going to be on that horse, against TANKS.

    “Starting on 22 October, Team Alpha, traveling on horseback in support of Dostum’s cavalry, decisively demonstrated to the Afghans the U.S. commitment to their cause. From an OP near the villages of Cobaki and Oimatan, team members began systematically calling in CAS missions. In one eighteen-hour period they destroyed over twenty armored and twenty support vehicles using close air support.” http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/Afghanistan/Operation%20Enduring%20Freedom.htm

    “Meanwhile, Sgt. 1st Class Andy Marchal and a roving band of Americans and Afghans were making the enemy miserable. They blew up ammunition dumps, tanks and other hardware in advance of Dostum’s army. So stealthy and lethal were Marchal’s guerrillas, Stanton writes, Taliban troops speculated on their radios that a monster was loose.” http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/10/news/adna-horse-soldiers10/2

    1. avatar Tommy Knocker says:

      @David…and may I add that the CIC made this remark just days after at the WTC site a statue was dedicated to those Green Berets. What kind of man says things like that? I just have to shake my head in amazement where this country is today.

      http://www.myfoxny.com/story/19862371/horse-soldier-statue-dedicated

      1. avatar David W. says:

        “What kind of man says things like that? I just have to shake my head in amazement where this country is today.”

        This is my first presidential election where I’m old enough to vote. My vote is NOT going to Obama.

      2. avatar irock350 says:

        I think you missed the part where he said FEWER horses are used now. What kind of a man can’t read a simple a quote. I have to shake my head in amazement at where this country is today.

        1. avatar Max says:

          Um, yeah, but we’re talking about the bayonets here. And fact is, there are many MORE bayonets now then there were 60-100 years ago and they’re still issued to soldiers.

          What kind of a man can’t read into the context of a comment?

        2. avatar irock350 says:

          If you follow the thread to which I replied it is discussing horses. Nice try, though.

  9. avatar sanchanim says:

    Nice one Joe. Thanks for providing a more modern perspective.

  10. avatar إبليس says:

    The old “Assault Weapons” Ban didn’t permit bayonet mounts. Now we all know the AWB was about control and not crime fighting. But are there any stats on bayonet murders in the US?

  11. avatar RAN58 says:

    Funny, didn’t do bayonet training when I entered the Army in 1977 as an 11B but did later in the mid 1980’s when the 7th Inf Div went light. I was a 35M by then working on Huey avionics, but the post CG felt everyone should go through the Lightfighter one week course which included survival training, how to use Soviet bloc weapons, hand to hand training and the use of a bayonet.
    “What’s the spirit of the bayonet?” “Kill!”

  12. avatar jwm says:

    Naked steel still has it’s use. Even if not primarily as a weapon, any one that’s spent a little time in the field will find any number of uses for the blade.

    As a last resort weapon it’s still valid. I was never in a bayonet charge but the training course helps to instill some of that aggression that’s so necessary in a recruit.

  13. avatar Skyler says:

    I remember hearing stories early in Iraq where riots were prevented by an ostentatious display of a company of Marines formed up and fixing bayonets.

  14. avatar Adam says:

    The bayonet is the firearms equivalent of the soles of your feet on a bike, the brakes of which suddenly fail: a useful, last-ditch backup, when faced with total mechanical failure. Especially with a weapon as finicky as the M16, the bayonet is an important tool.

    Here’s the after-the-fact MSM factcheck:
    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/how-many-bayonets-does-the-u-s-have-quite-a-few/

    Recently, a very funny (but a bit creepy) poster has emerged:
    http://nationalpostnews.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/obamalarge.jpeg

    Speaking of unicorns, brony gun nuts (full disclosure–I’m the latter, not the former) may enjoy this:
    http://i.neoseeker.com/mgv/574321-Liege/321/86/vbha1_display.gif

    1. avatar Todd S says:

      I do love the last one

  15. avatar the last Marine out says:

    The bayonet is still used in riot control, also is a great weapon to take out a guard with out making sounds or sounding a alarm , and is a 1000 use survival tool , I always also had a K-bar in combat. and in hand to hand combat ,you can kill the enemy to take his weapon if out of ammo. or have a downed rifle,. they should also issue a pistol as was done in WW1 to all combat troops…

  16. avatar Billy Wardlaw says:

    I hate disingenuous political statements, particularly from people who’s side I am ostensibly on, in part because they sacrifice the rational high ground, and they make all of us look petty. Pres. Obama did not display any ignorance on the actual topic of discussion – not the one you are making it – that is the topic of quality (or in this case capability) over quantity. To say he “characterized bayonets as being similar to horses – obsolete weapons in modern warfare.” is woefully missing or dodging his point. To say we have less ships in our navy than we did in 1917, is a far more ignorant thing to say, as it both demonstrates no apparent awareness of what it takes to conduct a modern war or the actual capabilities of modern naval vessels. And to say that we have “fewer horses and bayonets” in reply, is not characterizing bayonets as being similar horses – it is demonstrating that counting the number of horses or bayonets in use in a modern military is NO indication of its capability (that is unless your military has a high number of them, and in that case you can be certain you suck at your job).

    I tire of the b.s. argument that if you are cutting military spending you are cutting capability or are some how unpatriotic. The military’s budget has skyrocketed over the last 15 years largely because we were on an escalated war footing, so leaving alone the actual nuances of modern military technology and its expenditures, if you are ramping down your war footing, which we have been and are doing, the budget should be doing the same. That’s the simple math of it.

    Now for the technology and expenditures. Every single industry any of us can think of, that is not on the way out, has steadily and exponentially in many cases, improved such that it can do more, with less, and do it cheaper – see Kurzweil’s law of accelerating returns. To think that the military is somehow exempt from this is to be willfully obtuse. And it is reason to look a lot more closely at how this money is being spent and why. To wave the banner of “its for the defense!” every time a microscope gets anywhere near that budget is a disservice to yourself and the rest of you fellow tax-payer citizens.

    1. avatar Phil H says:

      Thank you.

    2. avatar Anon in CT says:

      So with all the advances in computers and other tech, perhaps government workers like teachers could start doing more with fewer people? Oh wait, teachers are one of Obama’s big backers so he will always lobby for more of them.

      Even the most high tech ship can only be in one place at a time. And when you over-deploy ships, you prematurely wear out the systems and the crews. I am happy to have a rational, fact-based discussion about what the end-strength of the US Navy should be – too bad the President prefers ignorant, school yard taunts.

      1. avatar Todd S says:

        I already do more with fewer, Anon. So do most teachers. My class sizes have steadily increased since I started teaching 16 years ago. In your expert opinion, exactly how many students should I have in a chemistry laboratory? In all of my years teaching chemistry, I have yet to have an accident involving more than a “band-aid” type of injury. Put 35 kids in my lab and I can’t necessarily make that statement.

        But, as you say, the teacher’s UNIONS are big donors. Most of the rank-and-file I teach with haven’t seen a thing from the Feds other than regulations and over-testing.

      1. avatar karlb says:

        A ship might only be able to be in one place at one time, but the range of its might is exponentially greater than a dreadnought’s was. How wide an area of influence does an aircraft carrier have? To call the CIC ignorant when Romney keep hardening to numbers of ships and planes is disingenuous at best.

        1. avatar Blake says:

          the problem being the old “all your eggs in one basket” problem. When you’ve fewer ships, you cannot afford to absorb any losses. Also, capital ships like carriers require a lot of maintenance, and when due for a major refit, a carrier can spend a year in dry dock.

        2. avatar karlb says:

          Blake, are you suggesting going back to an earlier times, then? I agree with the problems, but I do not think the solution is to look to 1916 as the guide to what we should do now. A red herring argument if I ever smelled one.

  17. avatar Tim says:

    I thought Obama’s Battleship comment was way better than the horses and bayonets comment anyway.

  18. avatar irock350 says:

    Since when does the word fewer mean none? Perhaps we should focus more the poor reading comprehension skills of conservative writers. Everything in your article point ts to the President’s statement being correct. The bayonet and the horse are used far fewer in modern combat than in previous wars. Everything Joe wrote confirms the presidents statement. We used horses once in eleven years and we haven’t made a formal bayonet charge since Korea.

  19. avatar Joe Grine says:

    Ya know, I though about mentioning the book “House to House,” but honestly, my memory is vague about whether U.S. Army Infantry School teaches the use of the bayonet in MOUT operations. I can see some advantages to using bayonets in urban warfare, but also some distinct disadvantages.

  20. People have been predicting the death of the bayonet for decades.
    The shrinking length of infantry weapons and advanced weapon systems
    are generally cited as reasons for the bayonets decline.

    Sometimes an alternative is given, such as large knives, matcheties, or tommahawks.
    Good weapons all, no doubt, but each is something extra to hump.

    The bayonet combines two important items already carried into a useful hand to hand weapon.

    I really do not think the bayonet is going away any time soon, though.
    Humanity has been using spears since before we discovered fire, after all.

    I think most people who work with or carry firearms recognise that without ammunition,
    a firearm is a fancy rock, or a fancy stick, depending on weather it’s a long arm or handgun,
    and want some insurance. How many of us here carry a knife ?

    Yes, a knife is a wonderfuly flexible tool, but at it’s core, it is a weapon.

    Strap it to the end of something long, and it’s utility as a weapon is increased manyfold.

    It simply makes sense.

    1. avatar LongPurple says:

      +1
      There have long been some in the Military establishment who consider the pistol and bayonet as “obsolete”. They tried to get rid of the pistol by replacing it with the carbine. That didn’t work out. The bayonet survives as well. It’s both mighty intimidating, and mighty effective in close combat.

      1. avatar sanchanim says:

        Plus how else do I get my can of Spam open if I don’t have a can opener!!!!

        1. avatar LongPurple says:

          If you have lost your P38 you better beg, borrow, steal, shit,or give birth to one.

  21. avatar g says:

    Aren’t modern bayonets just rifle mounts for fighting / utility knives? Aren’t the Marines still using the same basic ka-bar from WW2? A good knife is still a good knife, I suppose…

    The 1917 Enfield bayonet was 17 inches of nasty, but bayonet charges were far from useful in WWI unless you liked getting mowed down by machine gun fire or blown to bits by artillery. It got more use in trench-to-trench fighting. And I’d think it’d be a mistake to suggest that fighting with bayonets is the go-to tactic of modern warfare (but as others have noted, as a last ditch tactic… sure.)

    Regardless, Mr. Romney got the debate equivalent of getting cold-clocked by that bayonet line that Obama used (seemed obvious he’d prep by his team to use this as a response to Romney’s stump speech criticisms).

    This is the same Mitt Romney who just weeks ago, insinuated we should just start passing out guns to Syrian rebels or initiate military action against Libya. Surprise surprise, now all of a sudden in last night’s debate, he’s more apologetic and cautious. Do you trust Mitt Romney to NOT send our young men and women off to die in another sandbox hellhole war? (Libya, Syria, iran). I don’t.

    1. avatar sanchanim says:

      With all due respect.
      Obama has had Saudi Arabia and Qatar helping to move weapons to rebels in Syria for some time now.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/world/middleeast/jihadists-receiving-most-arms-sent-to-syrian-rebels.html?_r=0

      1. avatar g says:

        I guess it’s a matter of semantics, but my impression was that Mr. Romney favored direct sales (selling American arms) rather than the current policy of having our Arab allies in the region (SA and Qatar) do the work. I think for most Americans, that’s probably more palatable since hopefully SA and Qatar wouldn’t sell the Syrians weapons in excess of their needs, especially considering that if/when the Bashar regime is overthrown, you now have a Syria filled with a loose collection of armed militias.

        I’ve also read that current Iraqi police / army are also engaging in arms sales with the Syrian rebels as well. Whether it’s Saddam-era AKs or American-made ARs, I haven’t heard specifics.

  22. avatar Ed says:

    we use donkeys in AFG all the time and they are in the horse family. how do you think we get gear up to the top? cant cary everything.

  23. avatar Vermin says:

    The real problem with Hussein’s statement wasn’t that he put bayonets and horse in the same category; it was that it indicates that he’s too ignorant to understand the importance and applications of naval power.

    1. avatar karlb says:

      I agree. I am sure that talking with the Secretary of the Navy has kept him on the dark about these things.

      1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

        And clearly 3.5 years of using the USN to project US military power around the world is the sort of thing one delegates to second- or third-tier advisors. Obama is too elitist to sully his hands with that whole commander-in-chief business. (Sigh.)

    2. avatar Mark N. says:

      I guess that’s why we have three carriers in the Persian Gulf and another in the South China Sea. And why we maintain such a large fleet in the Phillipines, with forays into the Indian Ocean…And you know, of course, that down sizing of the military was the brain child of SecDef Gates when he worked for Bush, and continued while he worked for Obama. And that the ships the navy is pressing for now are “littoral combat ships” that have limited utility in deep sea and limited survivability. In fact, other than our carriers, most of the ships in the Navy have limited survivability in the face of modern weapons,and their primary utiilty is as a missile platform.

      1. avatar sanchanim says:

        You are correct from a certain perspective. The movement of the military as a whole has been to transform to a fast response group. The idea is we can move quickly and and be almost anywhere in the world with a military force. This has been outlined in the military war college doctrine.
        This however was somewhat stalled in that we got stuck in Iraq, and also Afghanistan, which absorbed resources.
        We have seen the traditional battle ship go the way of the dinosaur. Small missile boats which carry the tomahawk platform, as well as carrier groups remain intact however. We also have a new line of hunter fast attack subs as well. Well they aren’t really new new, but within the last decade.
        I think Romney’s idea is to bolster key areas so we are able to spread the power across a greater geographical area. This means adding some ships.
        Now that we are apparently the worlds police force, we need to be better equipped to handle the task, which means having a few extra battle groups in key locations.
        This isn’t a massive build up but more a strategic addition. The world has changed slightly and our ability to meet our security needs have also changed.
        Air power is still a critical factor. With modern weapons platforms, being able to use precision munitions and the speed at which we can deploy aircraft is key. Missiles launched from the fast frigates, and subs is also a key component. With AWACS, F-15 or 16’s, plus missile ships we can put a lot of ordinance into a specific location pretty quickly.

    3. avatar Vermin says:

      The Obamatron defense of your god king is as predictable, incoherent, and silly as usual and follows the same tried and tired pattern it always does: Step 1) Heap undeserved praised upon The One; Step 2) Allege his greatness, knowledge, and virtue follow from Step 1; and Step 3) Make irrelevant accusation against Republican.

      Obama’s point was that Romney is wrong in calling for a larger Navy because ships, like horses and bayonets, are much less relevant to our military than they once were. He thinks that because he is an idiot.

      1. avatar irock350 says:

        Way to miss the point completely. He was comparing Horses and Bayonets to the Navy of 1916. We don’t need a navy the same size as we did in 1916 because our tacticsand and weapons have changed; similarly, the US military fields fewer horses and bayonets than it once did. Its not a hard concept,nor was it incomprehensible from the debate transcripts or video feeds.

        1. avatar Vermin says:

          That’s exactly the same thing I just said. He’s completely wrong about it, and so are you.

        2. avatar Robert Farago says:

          Here’s a thought: we need a bigger Navy because tactics and weapons have changed. Just thought I’d put it out there. Oh, and Sun Tzu fans might argue on the tactics front, too.

        3. avatar irock350 says:

          Vermin you insinuated that thepresdients comparions made horses,bayonets and Naval ships irrelevant, which was not the case. In fact he stresses the importance of our modern nuclear navy when he made the battleship comment. Your tenuous grasp on reading comprehension belies your inability to draw direct comparisons.

        4. avatar Vermin says:

          No, I correctly pointed out that Obama compared ships, which are as relevant and now as they have ever been, to horses and bayonets, which are much less relevant now than they have been in the past.

          And for the love of god, you can start making cracks about my reading comprehension when you stop misusing the word belie.

        5. avatar irock350 says:

          Vermin what you missed was the direct comparison between Horses and Bayonets to the Navy and Ships of 1916, He didn’t compare all ships and the entirety of our Navy to Horses and Bayonets, just to the Navy of 1916.

        6. avatar Vermin says:

          That is simply not an accurate characterization of what the jackass brayed.

      2. avatar Vermin says:

        RF-

        That’s what the Navy and Marine Corps have been saying for years.

        The Light Worker knows better.

      3. avatar irock350 says:

        Vermin here is exactly what Big O said, “You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed we have these things called things called aircraft carriers and planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

        He draws a direct correlation between horses and bayonets and the Navy of 1916. He then goes on to state that the reasoning behind the smaller navy is because the nature of the military has changed. He does not suggest as you have stated that he puts ships in the same category as Horses and bayonets because they “are much less relevant to our military than they once were,” far from it, he reasons that we have fewer ships because the nature of our military and our naval vessels has changed since 1916. He is implying that we need less because they can do more.

        1. avatar Vermin says:

          You begin by quoting him. Then you inaccurately describe what you just posted. Then you contradict yourself and repeat the same thing I’ve been saying the whole time.

          Your last sentence is an accurate description of his point. He’s wrong. Changes in tactics, technology, and mission have reduced the need for horses. They have not similarly reduced the need for ships. That’s why his analogy is idiotic.

      4. avatar irock350 says:

        “Here’s a thought: we need a bigger Navy because tactics and weapons have changed. Just thought I’d put it out there. Oh, and Sun Tzu fans might argue on the tactics front, too.” -Robert Fargo

        Robert, I have never been a big fan of Sun Tzu I much prefer Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book of the Five Rings. Howwver there is one passage in the The Art of War that I think is relevant here in this discussion. Tzu expounds upon the virtues of haste and cleverness in battle and in one passage he states, “If the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.”

        Since our conversation started because the two pundits were arguing over the Military’s enormous budget I think this passage fits rather nicely. The States resources are growing thin and we cannot sustain increased budgets for expenditures that do not bring about significant increases in our military’s strength. We don’t need a bigger Navy, we have the largest, strongest and most capable Navy of any other nation on earth. We have more Aircraft Carriers, Nuclear Subs, Destroyers, Conventional Subs and Frigates than any of our potential enemies or allies. Adding more to our vast naval arsenal because we have less ships now than we did during WWI or the time of the Great White Fleet isn’t a valid reason for the increase in expenditures. We are already building more Aircraft Carriers to add to the 11 we have currently, even though most countries have only 1 or 2. We have 77 Nuclear subs in a time where our closest competitor has only 33. If Britain’s might was measured by her navy’s wooden wall, then our iron and steel naval power is the equivalent to the Great Wall of China. Specifically what tactics have changed that render our Navy incapable? What weapons have changed that our Navy isn’t already employing?

  24. avatar Fyrewerx says:

    I recall practicing the vertical butt stroke, smash, and slash until I was doing it in my sleep.

  25. avatar Anon in CT says:

    FWIW, in the Canadian Army, a rifle bayonet was and still is standard issue. It resides in a scabbard on your belt or load bearing vest. I know of several occasions where fixed bayonets were used to control unruly mobs in the former Yugoslavia – nobody was stabbed, but the sight of naked steel had a salutary effect.

  26. avatar speedracer5050 says:

    Took bayonet training as an 11Bravo in 1981 at Ft Benning Ga. Was tough but enjoyed it and learned a lot more about just how many uses it really has over the next 15 years.
    Still own one like I was issued!!!
    As for the Army getting softer when my oldest son joined the Army they were issued “Stress Cards” during basic training. I can proudly say that at least he learne one thing good from his old man… He sold his cards for $20 each to all the wusses who felt they needed extras!!!
    He did well, spent 6 yrs at Ft Campbell Ky with the 101st Puking Buzzards!!! LOL!!

  27. avatar Average_Casey says:

    As Marines, we were taught to use them but we are taught to use any weapon necessary in battle. I think the statement just shows Obama’s ignorance about our training. A Commander in Chief who doesn’t know what is used by the military doesn’t make me comfortable. I wish our Presidents served in the military but that isn’t an option this election.

  28. avatar Michael B. says:

    Barack Obama is a habitual straw man abuser.

    1. avatar Vermin says:

      The amusing part is that he usually loses to the strawman.

  29. avatar Hasdrubal says:

    Wish I’d seen this earlier. When I was in Iraq (Army 2007-2008), all my company’s bayonets were locked in a big plastic bin. Every month we had to pull them out, count them, check them off on the inventory sheet, then pack them back up and lock the bin. Chain of command refused to issue them out because they were afraid someone might lose one.

    Or use one. Probably both. And this was in an infantry unit.

  30. avatar LTC F says:

    The bayonet and horses comment wasn’t the issue. The lack of knowledge of naval power was. When I was in the Joint world we used to joke with our Navy Brothers that the Carrier Battle Group was a giant, self licking, ice cream cone. The destroyers and attack subs form a picket to protect the carrier from enemy submarines. The cruisers protect the carrier from aircraft and missles. The Air Wing protects the carrier from other aircraft. Thats an exageration, but a carrier requires a whole lot more ancilliary ships than a battle ship did in WWII.

    Also as a submariner who used to work for me said, there are only two types of naval vessles. Submarines and targets. Submarines are not ships that go under water. Submarines are boats. Ships that go under water are called “sunk”.

    1. avatar speedracer5050 says:

      As an enlisted man and later a senior NCO(E6P) when I got out in 1996 we were always reminding our new butter bar looies and fresh out of basic recruits that The Book which most officers and some non combat personnel believed was the Way everything was supposed to work had 3 good uses.
      1. It made great ass wipe when there was nothing else to use.
      2. It was great for starting a cooking fire if needed when it rained.
      3. If you were getting some rare and well deserved down time you could always read it and get a few good laughs from it.
      Otherwise throw it in your ruck and forget about it. Listen to your senior NCO’s and Officers who had combat experience.
      They all said one thing consistently: keep your weapon and your bayonet clean, sharp and oiled. They may not save your life but they could save your buddies life.

    2. avatar g says:

      “giant, self licking, ice cream cone”

      LOL. I just about choked on my hot morning beverage reading that one.

    3. avatar smwlce says:

      “Thats an exageration, but a carrier requires a whole lot more ancilliary ships than a battle ship did in WWII.”

      and we sure didn’t remember the lessons of WWII in regards of the applicability of aircraft carriers and battleships because we seem to think battleships are somehow obsolete compared to carriers.

      and I think the lack of battleships is another deplorable legacy of the post-cold war military condition.

  31. avatar Joe Grine says:

    I experienced some of the same type of thinking when I was in.. esp. from peacetime officers, whose career enhancement tends to be a whole lot bigger of a priority than realistic training. The unfortunate reality is that you don’t get promoted in the Army by being great – you get promoted by not having things get too F**ked up under your command. Some items of kit are notorious for getting stolen and sold to pawn shops off base: bayonets, gas masks, compasses, MREs, and the big daddy of them all: NVDs. In many units, if any of these units come up missing in the field, they will keep everybody in the field for 2 or 3 extra days.

  32. avatar GS650G says:

    Barry can’t even pronounce Corpsman, military matters are not in his paygrade.

    1. avatar Vermin says:

      I had a bayonet while I was a Corpse-man.

  33. avatar A Brit in MI says:

    Sabres are available right now! In fact, they have been used as a cavalry weapon for a long long time. And they come in different weights, so you can get a light sabre also!

    However, maybe Joe was referring to ‘lightsabers’, the Star Wars plasma cutter!
    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lightsaber

    Sorry to be pedantic but it’s hump day.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      Sorry for not being up on Star Wars nomenclature.

  34. avatar Lemming says:

    Actually, I’m more aghast at him calling submarines “ships” than the bayonet thing.

  35. avatar bontai Joe says:

    Just for my education, I was assuming that everyone in the military that gets issued a rifle also gets issued a bayonet? Along with other standard stuff like a helmet, canteen, etc?

  36. avatar Elliotte says:

    “Nonetheless, the bayonet will continue to an important “Plan B” for infantry forces, at least until light sabres become a reality.”

    And once lightsabers become a reality, there will also be lightsaber bayonets too.

  37. avatar "Dr." Dave says:

    I lugged a useless bayonet with me on two tours.

    And they are brown, now, not blued.

    1. avatar Joe Grine says:

      Yeah, but the chant says “blue” steel, not brown. “What makes the Grass Grow Green?” Blood! Blood! Bright Red Blood!

  38. avatar Not Chicken Little says:

    Right on! When you fix bayonets, you had damn well better remember the “spirit of the bayonet” and be ready to KILL OR BE KILLED! I still remember many of the moves along with the butt stroke – if I ever have to use them (God help me I hope not) I can assure you I will be 100% with that spirit!

  39. avatar irock350 says:

    I just want to point one thing out, when you berate the President for insinuating that Bayonets are obsolete weapons on the battle, your next paragraph shouldn’t lead off with, “Although not common, modern history does provide examples of the use of the bayonet in combat…”

  40. avatar David says:

    Bayonets are just look cool. And they help if you want to be super OG and stick your rifle in the ground spear style.

    Historical nerdy question for the author or anyone else. I read/heard somewhere that up to and including the Civil War a bayonet charge was considered “low”. Meaning – it was a bragging point for an officer to order a bayonet charge, but almost a shame. A depiction of this can be seen in movie Gettysburg. Great war flick and bayonet action flick BTW. So is is true or false?

  41. avatar Cpt Guillermo Valenzuela says:

    Obsolete weapons in modern warfare??? … here I share, for those who care about us soldiers, an example of the real value of a bayonet as part of our gear

    The battle
    Location: Nayaf… April 4, 1994

    When Toloza and 16 soldiers arrived that morning at the headquarters of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, saw their 350 occupants were gone and they were surrounded by militia.

    After several hours of combat, Salvadorans ran out of ammunition and soldier Natividad Mendez, Toloza’s friend for three years, lay dead on the floor, after receiving two bullets probably fired by a sniper. Twelve others were injured and the fire raged.

    The wounded were placed in a transport and Toloza and three other soldiers tried to reach their base. Soon they ran into fighters of Al Sadr. A dozen of them tried to capture one of the Salvadorans. Toloza’s immediate reaction was to defend his mate, all he got in his hands was his knife. When reinforcements arrived, Salvadorans and a small American contingent resisted attacks defending two bases while trying to recover control of a hospital.

    Spanish troops failed to fight and only after long delays agreed to send vehicles and soldiers to evacuate the Salvadorans. The chief of operations, salvadoran Colonel Francisco Flores said he did not question the decision of the Spanish, but added in an ironic way, that could have helped before.

    Tolozas Patrol Status

    One of his friends was dead, 12 others were wounded and the remaining four soldiers were still fighting, surrounded and almost out of ammunition. Corporal Samuel Gonzalez Salvadoran Toloza said a prayer, opened his knife and attacked Iraqi fighters.

    In one of the few cases of combat in the Iraq conflict, Toloza stabbed several attackers who had gathered around one of their comrades. The attackers withdrew stunned momentarily, just at a time when a column came to rescue the Salvadorans.

    We never thought of surrender. I was trained to fight to the end, said Toloza, one of 380 Salvadoran soldiers whose heroism has been the talk, while abundant criticism against other members of the coalition.

    After Action Review

    Back then, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the Centralamerican unit has earned a fantastic reputation among the coalition members.

    Phil Kosnett, who directed the Coalition Provisional Authority in this holy city of the Shiites, said he owes his life to Salvadorans who repelled an attack in March well organized resistance against the three vehicles of his convoy. Kosnett has proposed that six of Salvadorans receive the Bronze Star medal awarded by the U.S. Army who show exceptional courage in combat.

    It is said that some smaller contingents come from interest. With Salvadorans, that is not the case. They gave people a lot more than we would expect of them. Are perhaps the bravest troops and most professional I have worked, Kosnett said.

    Salvadorans say they came to Iraq to keep the peace, not to fight, perhaps to placate public opinion in his country.

    We did not come here with the intention of firing our weapons, said Col. Hugo Orellana Calidonio Cuscatlan battalion commander. But we are prepared to repel an attack. Our country went through a similar situation 12 years ago. Therefore, the people of El Salvador can understand what is happening here.

    We’re here to help and we’re doing, our relationship with the people was excellent, they were happy with us, Orellana said. But that did not stop that April 4that elements loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr took control of the city and attacked Camp Baker.

    Cheers,

    1. avatar bontai Joe says:

      Thank you for sharing the history of that event. A gun is better than a knife, but a knife is better than nothing. And in close combat, a knife is deadly for as long as you possess it, it does not run out of bullets like a gun. Reading this reminded me of the first Salvadoran I ever met almost 40 years ago. A serious student who worked harder than anyone else I knew at the time. A very humble man, but with strong good character. I have since learned that this is true of many from El Salvador, an exceptional people. I now know that their military is also exceptional.

  42. avatar TrueAmerican says:

    I have to say I’m really disappointed , but not surprised, by some of what I read in this thread. It’s one thing to not agree with your President but the contempt and utter disdain is sickening and a disgrace to the fighting man (and woman) that this very thread references.

    When I was in the service I definitely disagreed with the President at the time (first Bush). I thought and still think he didn’t have the best interest in me and Americans like me. But as a serviceman I would follow whatever lawful orders given by the President disseminated to me.

    You don’t think our enemies read things like this? This is what they feed on. Believe me they will use it if they can see an advantage to it. Don’t think so? Check your history. Enemies have used sickening disdain and bias is past wars when was really a poor example to all it’s citizens. Yet those citizens, despite those obstacles performed bravely with enemies on multiple fronts.

    I’m not gonna to write a dissertation here but many here speak as if our current President doesn’t know his hand from his elbow. I’ll tell you what , if that is indeed true then imagine what this county would be by a man who LOST an election to a man who can’t tell his hand from his elbow?

    I don’t expect President Obama to know anything about a bayonet since he’s never been in the service. Hell, alot of people who WERE in the service don’t know what a bayonet is.

    By the way, I remember it as “SPIRIT OF THE BAYONET!! KILL KILL KILL”. Not one “KILL”, you want to make sure he’s dead three times over. lol
    Totally forgot the moves though, was it “slash, thrust and then strike with weapon”?

  43. avatar Albert W. Glaze says:

    In looking up the specific data to the teaching and uses of “THE BAYONET” and the last date entered being over 1 year and 2 months, 13 days, then I am the latest if not the last to enter a point of veiw.
    I am retired 24 years and 2 months to the day tomorrow. I am not sure any longer what term of time is considered a career MARINE, but after 8 yrs and 10 months either I left on my own legs or be brought home in a bag.
    I promised that would never happen. In any case, I was taught the 4 spirits of the bayonet. My D.I. was from FORCE RECON. When you failed his training, Master Sargent made sure you knew why you failed and why you weren’t in theU.S. Marines any longer. You can still serve the The United States. JUST NOT HERE.
    I was also taught why the statement “THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE MARINES”.
    The 4 spirits: 1. TO KILL. 2. TO FEED. 3. TO DIG. 4. TO HEAL.
    Reason of the statement:
    THE FEW:Few can stand to the demands.
    THE PROUD: Because we understand why we have to do this job for the sake of safety and freedom for all.
    THE MARINES: OUR TITLE AND BADGE OF HONOR,
    A BROTHERHOOD & FAMILY FOR ALL

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