War Stories is a narrative show that takes the broad arcs of warfare and shares the stories behind crucial points their development. In each season, the show revolves around a single topic and traces a path from before its invention to the modern-day with a focus on the people who made it happen.
What is it that makes a good marksman? Is it their training? Their weapon? Maybe they’re just born that way, or raised with a rifle in their hands. In our Season Two premiere, we take a look at the shift to the modern rifle and the individuals who sometimes had the power to change the course of an entire battle with their weapon.
There were a lot of crazy ideas in World War II. But possibly none more than dropping the 82nd Airborne Division on Rome in order to seize it after Italy capitulated. In this episode, Angry Staff Officer follows two US officers on their secret mission to Rome to negotiate with Italian leadership, and the result this would have for the airborne operation.
Nearly every one of our episodes focused on humans' interactions with a particular type of inanimate object on the battlefield, sometimes the way in which the object is wielded by others, sometimes the actions those humans have to take in order to survive the ordeal. It's not just inanimate objects, though, that have found their way into militaries, but animals besides humans that have been used for most everything from hauling weapons to carrying troops to serving as weapons themselves.
In this episode, Staffer and Adin are joined by Hannah Palsa, a PhD student at Kansas State University studying WWII's Dogs for Defense program.
Hello! We've missed you during our extended hiatus.
As both Staffer and Adin have been holed up in their respective bunkers and finishing up their book projects, they found some extra time to talk to one another. After hearing from listeners on Twitter, one topic was requested more than all the others...
To wrap up the season of Loose Rounds, Adin and Angry Staff Officer ventured to Washington, DC and the Association of the United States Army's annual conference. There, they held a live show, brought together by Nammo, which covers everything from what a trade show might've looked like before the Battle of Crecy to how the podcast came into being.
What's the simplest item that's changed the shape of warfare? The bullet? The boot? How about the humble wheel? In this episode of Loose Rounds, Adin and Angry Staff Officer trace the development of the wheel throughout history, and how it's shaped how wars are fought on and off the battlefield.
For nearly as long as people have been fighting, they've had ships to take them to the fight, or to use as weapons of war themselves. From the coracle to the trireme to the battleship, has there been an overall arc toward the perfect naval vessel?
Before compasses, sextants, and the telescope, there was the map. They were simple things to begin with. Then they became essential, allowing explorers and conquerors to leave their home lands for far off destinations. Then they became something even more.
Members of the military oftentimes talk about how little they need to get by. Without the creature comforts the everyday person may come to expect. But there's one thing they've needed from the first days we fought wars. Food. In this episode of Loose Rounds, Angry Staff Officer and Adin take a look at the history of eating in the field and whether there's a higher purpose to field rations than jamming it full of calories, protein, and vitamins.
Until someone invents a solution to time travel, distance on the battlefield will define how wars are fought. Communications have attempted to solve for this problem since wars first began: first with runners, up to the present day with radio communications. But how much have things really changed over those thousands of years? Angry Staff Officer and Adin take a look.
Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics. Right? In the third episode of the series, Adin and Staffer discuss the incorporation of logistics into professional militaries and how, in some ways, logistics helped bring about an international trading system.
What's the quality that defines a sniper? Is it the pulling of the trigger? The skilled stalking of their target in the hours or days prior to making a shot? The mathematical and physics-based knowledge that prevents them from making an error?
In our season finale, we look at the future of the sniper and whether the mythos they've cultivated over the centuries can withstand scopes that aim for them, guns that can fire thousands of yards, and robots that do what they do, only better.
For something so central to our lives, the role of blood wasn't something we could explain for much of our history. We knew it was important, and when someone was bleeding out on the battlefield, you needed to fix them, but just how you would go about doing that was a source of constant trial and error. In the second Loose Rounds discussion, Adin and Angry Staff Officer look at how blood transfusions came into being on the battlefield and how it changed how wars were fought.
In the Vietnam War, snipers returned to some of their earliest environmental roots while simultaneously reaching the pinnacle of their development: taking part in long missions, independently, where high value targets were taken out. Carlos Hathcock, a Marine from Arkansas, would grow to become one of the best of them.
In our first episode of Loose Rounds, a mini-series produced in partnership with Nammo, we discuss the humble mortar. You know, the tubes that fire grenade-looking munitions into the air? It turns out they have a far deeper and wider history than you might've expected. We trace that path and all the ingenious things people have done with them in the meantime.
On War Stories, we often focus on what’s happening at the proverbial tip of the spear: the latest and greatest, at least for the time, weapons platforms, how militaries shifted their fighting styles to accommodate these technologies, and what it felt like to use these on the frontlines of the battlefield. After all, those weapons are what gets top billing when we talk about the most interesting parts of warfare. What we sometimes miss are all the bits and pieces that make those weapons effective: camouflage patterns in clothing that allow soldiers to hide in their environments, infrared glint tape that helps designate friend from foe to aircraft up above a battlefield, shipping containers that changed the way militaries could move, to only name a few. In each episode of Loose Rounds, the War Stories team takes a look at one of these underrated technologies and traces its importance throughout history.
By the time Lyudmila Pavlichenko joined the rest of her peers at the International Student Assembly at American University in Washington, DC, much of the country knew her name. As well as the Nazis who despised her for the deadly aim she took with her rifle.
When the Soviet Union invaded Finland in late 1939—the action that kicked off the Winter War—they expected an easy fight, if there was one at all. Instead, they found a military with an intimate knowledge of Finland's terrain, and one that was willing to fight. Among them was a man who very nearly became one with the freezing environment in an effort to take a stand against the invading nation.
We know World War I for a number of things: trenches, poison gas, the ever-present thrum of artillery. But it also served as the birthplace of the sniper. And one of the best couldn't be found on the Western, or even Eastern Front. Instead, Billy Sing fought on the shores of Gallipoli.
After hearing the news about the discovery of the Indianapolis wreck, we thought we should unlock this Patreon episode that we recorded over the course of the summer. Make sure you sign up if you'd like more of them hitting your download queue in the future!
While the world watched Cuba as it became a potential nuclear missile launch site, another threat lay off the east coast in the Sargasso Sea. Four Soviet submarines waited for the outbreak of hostilities, and each carried the power to start World War III.
Over the past seven episodes, we've traced the development of armored warfare through the end of traditional, horse-driven cavalry to the armored warfare of Desert Storm. But as military planners and politicians face asymmetric threats and limited conflicts around the globe, how should we look at the role of tanks?
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) of the 1970s emphasized a number of qualities: proactive leadership, heroism, and a recognition of the young life of their country that rose in the wake of great tragedy. These qualities weren't just given lip service, but imbued within enlisted service members and officers of all levels. So when their country was under attack in late 1973, it should come as no surprise that Zvi Greengold and the men of Task Force Zvika rode under those banners, even with a task force that was only four tanks strong.
Nazi Germany fielded a military with many components designed to amaze as much as to destroy. While this philosophy meant that many designs never left the drawing board, one that did was the Tiger Tank—a relatively beastly model whose gun could rip through nearly every form of enemy armor before the ill-fated tank even had a chance to strike. The units comprised of these Tigers, heavy panzer battalions, saw some of their fiercest combat on the most treacherous of battlefields—the eastern front.
The 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, the first of its kind, was stood up in 1941. The theory governing their use had yet to be tested on the field of battle. In November of the following year, Lieutenant Colonel Hershel Baker and the men of the 601st found themselves on the Queen Mary departing for that ultimate of testing grounds. Only a few months later, they found themselves along Gabès Road in Tunisia with the 10th Panzer Division bearing down upon them.
Well before the threat of World War II entered societies' collective minds, smaller regional conflicts gradually simmered away across Europe. One of these, the Spanish Civil War, might not have drawn much notice from leaders in the United States, but the same could not be said for those who ruled Germany and the Soviet Union. In it, they found the perfect testing ground for the future weapons that would come to define the 1940s and much of our world to this day.
Near the end of 1917, a young captain by the name of George S. Patton received orders from the chief of the newly created U.S. Tank Corps, Colonel Samuel Rockenbach. His task was to launch the light tank school of the U.S. Army. However, it wasn't long before he had to take his lessons from the classroom and test them on the battlefield of the Saint-Mihiel Salient.
In Northern France on July 14th, 1916, a cavalry unit from Hyderabad made what most consider to be the final cavalry charge of World War I before the invention of tanks. The unit, Deccan Horse, represented the last gasp of the old way of battle — a way upended by the grinding slog of the Great War. This is their story.