Sunday, October 25, 2020

Pre-election Melee - On Midrats


We don't do politics here ... but we do touch on how politics can impact national security issues ... so here we go! 

 Why has national security almost been a non-issue this election? What to expect if Trump gets a second term. 

 What and who will come to the front if Biden is elected. 

 What will drive the challenge regardless of who gets elected? 

 Come join us for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern as we discuss this and more with an open chat room and open phones if you want to join in.

It will be an open topic, open phones free for all ... so if you think our topics are bogus, bring your own!

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Fullbore Friday


I look at what some men did so young, and I look at pity at what little I have done, and am perplexed about all the complaining from others.

That photograph on the right? That is Horace Greasley looking down at Himler. As Peter outlines, 
He admitted to not know who the man was, only that he was a high ranking Nazi. He is shirtless because he was showing Himmler how skinny he was and was requesting more rations for the prisoner. Because that is what you do when you are carrying on a secret love affair with a Jewish girl that could get you killed, you stand up to the head of the SS and the guy most responsible for the Holocaust.
He was maybe 25 when that was happened. What else did he do?

Via TheTelegraph;
The reason for the frequency with which Greasley put his life in danger, he admitted with engaging good humour and frankness, was simple: he had embarked on a romance with a local German girl. Rosa Rauchbach was, if anything, running even greater risks than Greasley.

A translator at the camp where he was imprisoned, she had concealed her Jewish roots from the Nazis. Discovery of their affair would almost certainly have meant doom for them both.

Greasley recounted the almost incredible details of his wartime romance in the book Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? (2008), which he had been "thinking about and threatening to write" for almost 70 years. But while the book is described as an "autobiographical novel", the story was largely confirmed at his debriefing by MI9 intelligence officers shortly after the war.
He was 20 and working as a young hairdresser when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, 
But his war proved a short one. After seven weeks' training with the 2nd/5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, he landed in France at the end of the "Phoney War" as one of the British Expeditionary Force; on May 25 1940, during the retreat to Dunkirk, he was taken prisoner at Carvin, south of Lille.

There followed a 10-week forced march across France and Belgium to Holland and a three-day train journey to prison camps in Polish Silesia, then annexed as part of Germany. Many died on the way, and Greasley reckoned himself lucky to have survived.
In the second PoW camp to which he was assigned, near Lamsdorf, he encountered the 17-year-old daughter of the director of the marble quarry to which the camp was attached.

She was working as an interpreter for the Germans, and, emaciated as he was, there was, Greasley said, an undeniable and instant mutual attraction.

Within a few weeks Greasley and Rosa were conducting their affair in broad daylight and virtually under the noses of the German guards – snatching meetings for trysts in the camp workshops and wherever else they could find. But at the end of a year, just as he was realising how much he cared for Rosa, Greasley was transferred to Freiwaldau, an annex of Auschwitz, some 40 miles away.

The only way to carry on the love affair was to break out of his camp. 
Sometimes, Greasley reckoned, he made the return journey three or more times a week, depending on whether Rosa's duties among various camps brought her to his vicinity. His persistence in their love affair was not the only testimony to his daring. A wartime photograph shows Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, inspecting a prison camp and a shirtless skinny PoW close to the fence confronting him.
Rosa repaid his attentions, he said, by providing small food parcels and pieces of equipment for him to take back into the camp, eventually including radio parts which enabled 3,000 prisoners to keep up with the news by listening to the BBC.

Greasley was held prisoner, working for the Germans in quarries and factories, for five years less one day, and was finally liberated on May 24 1945. He still received letters from Rosa after the war's end, and was able to vouch for her when she applied to work as an interpreter for the Americans.

Not long after Greasley got back to Britain, however, he received news that Rosa had died in childbirth, with the infant perishing too. Horace Greasley said he never knew for certain whether or not the child was his.

After demobilisation he returned to Leicestershire, swearing that he would never take orders from anyone again. He ran a hairdressers', a taxi firm and a haulage company in Coalville, where he met his wife, Brenda, at a fancy dress party in 1970. They married in 1975, retiring to the Costa Blanca in Spain in 1988.

Greasley was delighted with the publication of his book and was to have undertaken a return visit to Silesia for a television company this spring, having, he said, been promised the company of "a very attractive 21-year-old female nurse for the entire journey". He died in his sleep before the offer could be made good.

Horace Greasley is survived by his wife and by their son and daughter.

First posted in July 2015. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Great Power Competition is Singular, not Plural

In the last couple of years, as the phrase "Great Power Competition" has grown in use, more often than not people use it to mean "China and Russia" not together, but to imply that - at least at sea - they are both growing to challenge the USN.

I'm sorry, but if the future is what you are building today, Russia does not fit that bill.

That is my take over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and give it a ponder with me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

USS Stout Returns

So, I guess we need to talk about the STOUT.

This is a regular topic here, so let's see what the navy has to say.
The Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) returned to Naval Station Norfolk today, marking the end of a nine month deployment to U.S. 2nd, 5th, and 6th Fleet areas of operation. In mid- January Stout’s crew departed Norfolk and operated under U.S. 2nd Fleet, taking part in the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Carrier Strike Group’s (CSG) Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), the final certification exercise prior to deployment. Upon successful completion and certification, Stout and the rest of the IKECSG immediately crossed the Atlantic to execute missions as assigned.

While in U.S. 6th Fleet Stout conducted two port visits in Rota, Spain, bookending their record-breaking 215 days at sea. Both port visits in Spain enabled the ship to take on fuel and fulfill other logistical requirements before continuing their mission at sea. 

As COVID-19 made frequent port visits unsafe, Stout competed the first modern Mid-Deployment Voyage Repair (MDVR) period at sea, spending a week executing scheduled maintenance and preservation to maintain mission readiness while deployed. Throughout deployment, Stout’s technicians executed depot level repairs on vital engineering and combat systems equipment. During that period the ship conducted morale events, like swim calls and steel beach picnics. 

Stout conducted nearly 40 replenishments-at-sea enabling their continuous support to the mission. To allow the crew time to relax and reenergize, they had a "rest & reset" period at sea.
Of course, one has to give a great nod of respect to the crew of the STOUT. As our Sailors have from even before the founding of our nation, they answered the bell - that is not the issue.

I have the three big pictures above for the simple reason that it saves me 1,000 words about how appearance matters for a Navy whose primary peacetime mission is presence. Our warships represent our nation - and looks matter. 

Yes to all in the above pullquote ... but that is an excuse, not a reason. The reason is that someone decided that - best told by them - it was best to keep the ship and its Sailors at sea, because?

...and don't blame COVID-19.

I'm sorry - but none of the missions outline justify what is clearly abuse of our Sailors' service.

If we don't have enough ships to do the missions we tell ourselves we "need" to do ... then leave those mission gapped. Deploy for 180 days as is standard for peace. If the powers that be want more, then they can buy us more ships - but we cannot have a navy ready for war if we are wearing them out at peace.

Yes, STOUT will look better after a lot of money and time ... but what a waste.

I note that we have already forgotten the lessons of 2017. There is nothing to be institutionally proud of a ship having to do depot level maintenance.  BZ to the crew, but raspberries to those who forced them to do it ... at peace.

How does the reality vibe with this?
"... Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander U.S. 2nd Fleet. “Sailors are our Navy’s asymmetric advantage..."


The Skipper is spot on, however;

“I don’t have the words to describe how immensely proud I am of this crew,” said Rich Eytel, commanding officer, USS Stout. “This crew defined what it means to be self-sufficient and resilient. We’ve gone for significant lengths of time without new parts, stretched our food and fuel limits, and they continued to give 110% every day. They faced our challenges head on, which allowed us to continue to meet all operational tasking.”

Those words do not cause cringe. Those words ring true ... but they are also words that speak to unnecessary sacrifice and abuse.

It speaks to a poorly run and utilized Navy.

You can spin all you want. You can spit at me for saying it ... but you know it to be true.

I don't know what it will take for our navy to stand up for itself, but right now we are in an abusive relationship with our COCOMs and those who should be standing up for it are not. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

A Beheading in France


Another chapter in Islam's slow war on France.

You need to take time today to read a critically important article by John Lichfield. Below I will pull extensively from it, but you need to read the whole thing.

On October 6, Mr Paty, 47, a much-liked history and geography teacher in a dull Paris suburb, produced for his middle school civics class a pair of the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed which provoked the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine five years ago.

Cartoons. History. A significance moment in their nation’s history. That is the job of a teacher. A secular teacher in a secular republic.

What happens when that republic allows, and indeed encourages, the growth of an imported culture that is contrary to those same values?

How can publishing such cartoons be justified, he asked the teenagers, if they offend people of the Islamic faith? Where does the freedom of expression end and respect for others’ feelings begin?

These questions are not easy, Mr Paty explained. That is why fundamental principles exist in democratic states such as France to help people of different faiths and opinions to get along without murdering one another (as they have in not-so-distant parts of French history). The complexities are the lesson. But this lesson cost Mr Paty his life. Ten days later he was dead – decapitated by a 19-year-old Chechen refugee to France as he walked home from school.

One of the pupils, a 13-year-old Muslim girl, had given her father a misleadingly lurid account of the lesson – from which she was absent. The father, with the help of a radical imam, started a campaign on the internet to have the teacher sacked. The lesson – or a false and inflammatory account of the lesson – became a cause celèbre on radical Islamic sites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Parents at the school received as many as 10 messages day, some from Algeria and other Islamic countries, calling Mr Paty a “criminal”, a “thug” and a “paedophile” and demanding that he should be sacked.

The murderer, Abdullakh Anzorov, was a Chechen Muslim, born in Moscow 19 years ago. He did not know Mr Paty or the school. He lived in Evreux in Normandy, 60 miles away.  It is likely — but not certain — that he acted alone, enraged by the lies that he had read on the web.

Anzorov followed Mr Paty as he left the Collège du Bois d’Aulne in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north west of Paris last Friday evening. He attacked him with a 12-inch butcher’s knife, stabbing him in the arms and abdomen and then beheading him. Anzorov was shot dead by police a few minutes later.

Twelve people have been arrested, including his father, grandfather and brother and the parent and imam (apparently unknown to Anzorov) who started the hysterical hue and cry online.

France once again starts to protest … but besides talk, what does their ruling class do?

In the grim litany of islamist terror attacks in France in recent years, the killing of one teacher may seem relatively unimportant. It will soon be the five-year anniversary of the Bataclan and associated attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015 which killed 130 people. Nine months earlier, in February 2015, 17 people died in the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Hypercacher supermarket – for which 12 alleged associates of the terrorists are currently on trial.

But forget the numbers. Mr Paty’s lone murder has struck a raw and angry nerve in France – and not just because of the appalling manner of his death. Tens of thousands of people turned out to mourn and honour the teacher in demonstrations in Paris and other French cities on Sunday.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The French ruling class and its people spoke this after every attack … and yet, what happens?

Secularism is France’s state religion, the soil in which French democracy grows. The state guarantees a freedom to believe, and a freedom not to believe. It must otherwise be neutral on all religious questions. Teachers in state schools, though poorly paid and often criticised, are regarded as a front-line infantry, or secular priesthood, which passes on these Republican values of tolerance, freedom of expression and secularism to new generations.

The fact that Mr Paty was brutally murdered precisely for trying to explain these principles has made him into a kind of Republican martyr. There is talk of him being buried in the Panthéon, the secular cathedral on the Paris left bank which is the last resting place of great French men and women.

This is the challenge.

Mr Paty, though, was not the only target of last Friday’s attack. Anzorov also left a garbled message for the President, posted moments after the murder: “To Macron, leader of the infidels, I have executed one of your dogs of hell…Calm down others like him or we will inflict on you a severe punishment.”

Is freedom of speech worth it? That is the wrong question. To even ask it is to advertise you don’t understand the challenge. Freedom of speech is the fundamental liberty that allows all the others to freely exist. It is a concept not just worth civil war, but general war on a global scale. 

Embedded deep in the West, and not just France, are those who have other plans than enjoying the fruits of The Enlightenment.

They see the game in full.

Don’t forget, modern day Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, much of Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco were once Christian areas. There is a history here. Know it as they do. Act on it as they do. Spain was once part of an Islamic empire and wars were fought to hold off further invasion deep in to France and modern Austria. 

As I am wont to say; history is sticky.

Back to today’s challenge. The policies of previous decades have not been successful, and things have gotten worse. To continue to do the same but expect a different result is just folly. Fixing the problem will be more challenging now than earlier, but the French Republic must stand up firm to the challenge of its own creation.

This was obviously influenced by the furious response in parts of the Islamic world to a speech Macron had given in Les Mureaux two weeks ago. Les Mureaux is a more troubled, multi-racial, outer suburb of Paris in the Seine valley 20 kilometres west of Conflans. In the speech, the President proposed new action to prevent French Muslims from becoming a separate community who give their allegiance wholly to the Koran rather than French laws or values.

He promised a law on “secularity and liberty” to combat extremist Islamist indoctrination by forbidding the teaching of children at home after the age of three and by ending the “importation” of foreign-financed imams. Mosques will be placed under greater surveillance. State funding will be available to mosques which sign a charter on secularism and democracy.

Does anyone here think this will fix anything? Does this point you down the narrow path, or simply delay the inevitable off ramp to a deeper and more dangerous abyss? 

Islam is not structured like Christianity and Judaism. To pretend it is only plays in to the ignorance that got you here. There are some Islamic sects that are not a threat to a free republic, but the sects that are driving the violence in France are on the rise and are not of that confession.

Sad it is here, but this is the natural result of decades of clearly self-destructive policies of mass immigration without assimilation from cultures that are now fully embedded and well pass the critical mass to be self-sustaining. 

Again, just look at what started this latest skirmish.

One of the pupils, a 13-year-old Muslim girl, had given her father a misleadingly lurid account of the lesson – from which she was absent. The father, with the help of a radical imam, started a campaign on the internet to have the teacher sacked. The lesson – or a false and inflammatory account of the lesson – became a cause celèbre on radical Islamic sites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Parents at the school received as many as 10 messages day, some from Algeria and other Islamic countries, calling Mr Paty a “criminal”, a “thug” and a “paedophile” and demanding that he should be sacked.

That is home grown.

The present situation is not sustainable and yet, as the murderer of the teacher shows, the present policies are doing nothing to stop it from getting worse.

France has, proportionally, the largest Muslim population in Europe – between five and six million, or just under tenth of its people. Many – probably as many as a half – are non-practising. The great majority are law-abiding and accept the primacy of national laws. But there has been a shift in the last 20 years, even among moderate muslims, towards a more overt expression of their faith and sense of Islamic identity.

I’ll repeat myself to emphasize the critical points; this was all known for decades. The path to today was well marked out and visible, but the ruling class pretended they did not see it. I have been warning in this venue for a decade and a half – but it has been obvious since the last few decades of the 20th Century that this crisis was coming. 

As previous generations of the ruling class failed to do their job, it is up to the present-day leaders and citizenship to fix the problem. As we are well past critical mass, the best path is now a narrow one – surrounded on one side by a gapping maw of the destruction of their nations as founded, and on the other being forced to become something they don’t want to be to defend it.

If the ruling classes won’t fix it, then the people will rise up – that is stepping through a door in to a dark room no well meaning person would like to see, but that is where it is heading.

Macron’s speech, clumsily worded in places, offered no snap solution. It offered a long-term strategy to create a barrier between the majority of the French Muslim population and a minority of extremists. This approach has been attacked, in the wake of Paty’s murder, by the Right and Far Right in France as a feeble response to the Islamist threat. Marine Le Pen of Rassemblement National called for a “real war against the poison of radical Islam…a real war to eradicate it finally”. Bruno Retailleau of the centre right Les Républicains said that “Islamism” must be “thrown out of the country by force”.

These are largely meaningless words. What sort of force exactly? What kind of real war? Most of France’s muslims are French and French born. They are not going anywhere. Any violent attempt to isolate an extremist but often submerged minority could prove disastrous.


But simple-sounding responses and explanations, whether offered by French politicians or by radical Muslim intellectuals, are not the solution. They are part of the problem. We should heed Mr Paty’s lecture to the 13 and 14-year-olds of Collège du Bois d’Aulne at Conflans-Saint Honorine.We should cling to the principles of tolerance and freedom which western societies have evolved from their own dark centuries of intolerance and violence. The principles are often muddled and confusing. But that is the lesson. Complexity is the lesson.

Exactly. What the ruling class needs to do is, as we say in NASCARistan, turn in to the skid. 

- Macron should publicly display the cartoons the teacher died for.

- All schools should do the same and while they are at it, pick a few scenes from “Life of Brian” that equally poke fun at Christianity and Judaism.

- Every newspaper should publish the cartoons.

- Saturate the intellectual marketplace to make a point.

You will be called names – but isn’t Paris worth a few idiots calling you names? Muslims and Islam can live just fine in the West, but not the kind that is causing the trouble in France.

Cowardice in the face of name calling and extremism brought on this crisis. If the French Republic, and the West for that matter, is a culture worth defending – then defend it.

Do that or lose it and accept what replaces it. What are you afraid of - being called names? 

Knives and Kalashnikovs may kill you, but words will never hurt you.

Stand or submit. Those are your options, and because of the errors of previous generations, you/we are running out of time to do it the easy way. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Middle East's Future Imperfect with Steven Cook - on Midrats

In a very rough year, there were sprinkles of renewed optimism about the Middle East as Israel established relations with a few of the Gulf Arab nations, but the Middle East is, and has been, always about more than Arab-Israeli relations.

From North Africa across the Mediterranean coast to Syria and across the Arabian Peninsula to Yemen, what is the state of play in the Middle East as a whole, and where are the trends taking the region?

Our guest this Sunday, October 18th from 5-6pm Eastern for the full hour to discuss this and more will be Steven A. Cook.

Steven is Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy. Cook is the author of False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East; The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square, which won the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s gold medal in 2012; and Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey.

He is a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine. He has also published widely in international affairs journals, opinion magazines, and newspapers, and he is a frequent commentator on radio and television. His work can be found on Prior to joining CFR, Cook was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution (2001–2002) and a Soref research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1995–1996). Cook holds a BA in international studies from Vassar College, an MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and both an MA and a PhD in political science from the University of Pennsylvania. He speaks Arabic and Turkish and reads French.  

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Fullbore Friday

So, what exactly have you done in your military career worth talking about? 

Let's take a moment to remember a great American Army officer, Major Larry Alan Thorne ... but let's not quite go there yet. 

First we need to check in with Lauri Allan Törni. NB: I'm going to outright steal from wikipedia, but they won't mind;

...Törni entered military service in 1938, joining the 4th Independent Jäger Infantry Battalion stationed at Kiviniemi; when the Winter War began in November 1939, his enlistment was extended and his unit confronted invading Soviet troops at Rautu.

During the battles at Lake Ladoga, Törni took part in the destruction of the encircled Soviet divisions in Lemetti.

His performance during these engagements was noticed by his commanders, and toward the end of the war, he was assigned to officer training where he was commissioned a Vänrikki (2nd lieutenant) in the reserves.[8] After the Winter War, in June 1941, Törni went to Vienna, Austria for seven weeks of training with the Waffen-SS, and returned to Finland in July; as a Finnish officer, the Germans recognized him as an Untersturmführer. Most of Törni's reputation was based on his successful actions in the Continuation War (1941–44) between the Soviet Union and Finland. In 1943 a unit informally named Detachment Törni was created under his command. This was an infantry unit that penetrated deep behind enemy lines and soon enjoyed a reputation on both sides of the front for its combat effectiveness. One of Törni's subordinates was future President of Finland Mauno Koivisto. Koivisto served in a reconnaissance company under Törni's command during the Battle of Ilomantsi, the final Finnish-Soviet engagement of the Continuation War, during July and August 1944. Törni's unit inflicted such heavy casualties on Soviet units that the Soviet Army placed a bounty of 3,000,000 Finnish marks on his head. He was decorated with the Mannerheim Cross on 9 July 1944.

The September 1944 Moscow Armistice required the Finnish government to remove German troops from its territory, resulting in the Lapland War; during this period, much of the Finnish Army was demobilized, including Törni, leaving him unemployed in November 1944.

Well, there's chapter 1. What is a communist hating Finn supposed to do now? Well, like many men of his age ...

In January 1945, he was recruited by a pro-German resistance movement in Finland and left for saboteur training in Germany, with the intention of organizing resistance in case Finland was occupied by the Soviet Union. The training was prematurely ended in March, but as Törni could not secure transportation to Finland, he joined a German unit to fight Soviet troops near Schwerin, Germany. He surrendered to British troops in the last stages of World War II and eventually returned to Finland in June 1945 after escaping a British POW camp in Lübeck, Germany.

He was a slippery fella ... and so ends chapter 2. But, he's not done with the communists yet;

As his family had been evacuated from Karelia, Törni sought to rejoin them in Helsinki but was arrested by Valpo, the Finnish state police.[ After escaping, he was arrested a second time in April 1946, and tried for treason for having joined the German Army. After a trial from October to November, he received a six-year sentence in January 1947. Imprisoned at the Turku provincial prison, Törni escaped in June, but was recaptured and sent to the Riihimäki State Prison. President Juho Paasikivi granted him a pardon in December 1948.

At this point you'd think he'd come to peace with Finlandization ... but no, not his style. The anti-communist game was still afoot; 

In 1949 Törni, accompanied by his wartime executive officer Holger Pitkänen, traveled to Sweden, crossing the border from Tornio to Haparanda (Haaparanta), where many inhabitants are ethnic Finns. From Haparanda, Törni traveled by railroad to Stockholm where he stayed with Baroness von Essen, who harbored many fugitive Finnish officers following the war. Pitkänen was arrested and repatriated to Finland. Remaining in Sweden, Törni fell in love with a Swedish Finn, Marja Kops, and was soon engaged to be married. Hoping to establish a career before the marriage, Törni traveled under an alias as a Swedish seaman aboard the SS Bolivia, destined for Caracas, Venezuela, where he met one of his Winter War commanders, Finnish colonel Matti Aarnio, who was in exile having settled in Venezuela after the war. From Caracas, Törni hired on to a Swedish cargo ship, the MS Skagen, destined for the United States in 1950.

While in the Gulf of Mexico, near Mobile, Alabama, Törni jumped overboard and swam to shore. Now a political refugee, Törni traveled to New York City where he was helped by the Finnish-American community living in Brooklyn's Sunset Park "Finntown". There he worked as a carpenter and cleaner. In 1953, Törni was granted a residence permit through an Act of Congress that was shepherded by the law firm of "Wild Bill" Donovan, former head of the Office of Strategic Services.

Like I said ... he was a slippery fella ... and I think you can see where this is headed;

Törni joined the US Army in 1954 under the provisions of the Lodge-Philbin Act and adopted the name Larry Thorne. In the US Army, he was befriended by a group of Finnish-American officers who came to be known as "Marttinen's Men" (Marttisen miehet).

With their support, Thorne joined the US Army Special Forces. While in the Special Forces, he taught skiing, survival, mountaineering, and guerrilla tactics. In turn he attended airborne school, and advanced in rank; attending Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Signal Corps in 1957. He later received a commission and a promotion to captain in 1960. From 1958–1962 he served in the 10th Special Forces Group in West Germany at Bad Tölz, from where he was second-in-command of a search and recovery mission high in the Zagros Mountains of Iran, which gained him a notable reputation. When he was in Germany, he briefly visited his relatives in Finland. In an episode of The Big Picture released in 1962 and composed of footage filmed in 1959, Thorne is shown as a lieutenant with the 10th Special Forces Group in the United States Army.


Deploying to South Vietnam in November 1963 to support Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces in the Vietnam War, Thorne and Special Forces Detachment A-734 were stationed in the Tịnh Biên District and assigned to operate Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) encampments at Châu Lăng and later Tịnh Biên.

During a fierce attack on the CIDG camp in Tịnh Biên, he received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star Medal for valor during the battle. This attack would later be described by author Robin Moore in his book The Green Berets.

Thorne's second tour in Vietnam began in February 1965 with 5th Special Forces Group; he then transferred to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV–SOG), a classified US special operations unit focusing on unconventional warfare in Vietnam, as a military advisor.

On 18 October 1965, as part of the operation Shining Brass, Thorne was supervising the first clandestine mission to locate Viet Cong turnaround points along the Ho Chi Minh trail and destroy them with airstrikes. Two Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF) CH-34 helicopters launched from Kham Duc Special Forces Camp and rendezvoused with a United States Air Force Cessna O-1 Bird Dog Forward Air Controller in inclement weather in a mountainous area of Phước Sơn District, Quảng Nam Province, Vietnam, 25 miles (40 km) from Da Nang. While one CH-34 descended through a gap in the weather to drop off the six-man team, the command CH-34 carrying Thorne and the O-1 loitered nearby. When the drop helicopter returned above the cloud cover, both the CH-34 and the O-1 had disappeared. Rescue teams were unable to locate the crash site. Shortly after his disappearance, Thorne was promoted to the rank of major and posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross.

After all that ... a helo midair. What a man.

We did not forget him ... and neither did his native Finland.

In 1999, Thorne's remains were found by a Finnish and Joint Task Force-Full Accounting team[nb 3] and repatriated to the United States following a Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport ceremony that included Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Ambassador Pete Peterson.

Shared grave of Thorne and fellow Vietnam War casualties in Arlington National Cemetery

Formally identified in 2003, his remains were buried on 26 June 2003 at Arlington National Cemetery, section 60, tombstone 8136, along with the RVNAF casualties of the mission recovered at the crash site. He was memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 02E, Line 126. He was survived only by his fiancée, Marja Kops, who later remarried.

He was 46.