Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The last American cavalry charge, and the first Taliban WiFi assault — where is it?

Reacting with alacrity to Monday night’s bo-ring debate, my friend Tim Noah had the gumption to find the last American who led a cavalry charge. It was Lt. Edwin P. Ramsey, in January 1942 in the Philippines. (Unless you wanna count 5th SF Group riding with the Northern Alliance in northern Afghanistan in 2001, but ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

Reacting with alacrity to Monday night's bo-ring debate, my friend Tim Noah had the gumption to find the last American who led a cavalry charge. It was Lt. Edwin P. Ramsey, in January 1942 in the Philippines. (Unless you wanna count 5th SF Group riding with the Northern Alliance in northern Afghanistan in 2001, but that was more indirect approach, not conventional U.S. forces.)

Horse cavalrymen must have been pretty tough hombres. Lt. Price is now 95 years old, and hanging out in Los Angeles -- not unlike Wyatt Earp did a century ago, I guess. When the Japanese prevailed (temporarily) in the Philippines, Ramsey went underground and became a guerrilla leader.

Two possibly related questions: How many American WiFi signals can you pick up from the middle of Bagram Air Base? (A: 54.) How many Taliban WiFi signals can you pick up? (A: Zero.)

Reacting with alacrity to Monday night’s bo-ring debate, my friend Tim Noah had the gumption to find the last American who led a cavalry charge. It was Lt. Edwin P. Ramsey, in January 1942 in the Philippines. (Unless you wanna count 5th SF Group riding with the Northern Alliance in northern Afghanistan in 2001, but that was more indirect approach, not conventional U.S. forces.)

Horse cavalrymen must have been pretty tough hombres. Lt. Price is now 95 years old, and hanging out in Los Angeles — not unlike Wyatt Earp did a century ago, I guess. When the Japanese prevailed (temporarily) in the Philippines, Ramsey went underground and became a guerrilla leader.

Two possibly related questions: How many American WiFi signals can you pick up from the middle of Bagram Air Base? (A: 54.) How many Taliban WiFi signals can you pick up? (A: Zero.)

Finally, a little-known bayonet fact: O.P. Smith, one of our greatest generals and one of our most under-rated, once did a study of the use of the bayonet in World War I and concluded it was over-rated. He even interviewed surgeons about the wounds that they saw and concluded that the bayonet was actually used very little. I write a little about this in my new book, which has a chapter on him. Another little-known fact: Smith, though a Marine, studied under George C. Marshall at Fort Benning.   

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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