Steven L. Ossad

writer, historian, technology analyst, and Wall Street staff ride guy

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Selected Works

Finalist, 2011 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award A hero who faced down Pancho Villa with only a pistol and turned the tide of battle during the Salerno Operation in late 1943, John Lucas discovered at Anzio that his comrades were more dangerous than his enemies.
Brevet Colonel, Commander of the 30th Indiana Volunteers, and recipient of the Medal of Honor - all by the age of 23 - Henry Lawton's career spanned four decades until he fell in battle "bringing democracy to a distant land."
Featured on the Center of Military History Civil War Website
The only American armored division commander to die in battle, Maurice Rose was the son and grandson of rabbis who rose from private to general to lead the premier American armored force to victory over the Nazi empire.
Winner, 2003 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award
Creator of the modern American Rangers, Darby led his men to great victories and a catastrophic defeat, but was always in the thick of the action.
Martin Blumenson spent his life writing the history of an institution he respected greatly and knew intimately, the United States Army. He inspired generations of his students and successors to the highest standard of excellence.
Soldier, historian, biographer, memoirist, "novelist", and companion of Socrates, at the end of his life Xenophon wrote a small book proposing reform of the Athenian cavalry. A discussion of specific suggestions, the Hipparchicus reflects decades of the author's experience as an army commander. The wily survivor of battles, court intrigues, assassinations and staggering betrayals offers subtle insights on leadership - as well as observations valuable to modern theorists and practioners of the "mounted service" that will always resonate.
The Battle of Kadesh, the greatest chariot clash in all recorded history - and the arche-type for maneuver warfare - pitted the war-hardened Hittites against a young, untested Pharaoh. The struggle that followed shaped the destinies of the two dominant empires of the early Iron Age. Recorded by Rameses as a great Egyptian victory, it is a case study of how a brilliant and well-executed public relations campaign can trump performance - and reality.
More than 3,500 years ago, Abraham, the leader of the Hebrews, led his battalion on a daring, long-distance, commando raid to rescue hostages. Hidden in a very brief passage of Genesis is the story of the first organized military action and victory of the Jewish people, a tale of courage, inspired leadership and battle far from their borders. It is as if God wrote the prequel to Operation THUNDERBALL, the Israel Defense Forces dramatic rescue of Jewish hostages at Entebbe, Uganda on July 4, 1976.
Does it make any sense to talk about a "philosophy of war?" What kinds of things would be discussed in such an academic sub-category? Whose works would make up the canon of study? On that point, why is it that Carl von Clausevitz's early 19th century book "On War" is virtually the only work generally accepted as a work of war philosophy? In a world where war is so common, why is there so little systematic examination of its "first principles?" These are only a few of the questions that spark this general inquiry.

Major General John P. Lucas at Anzio: Prudence or Boldness?, Global War Studies, Fall, 2011

Finalist, 2011 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award

MG John Porter Lucas


For more than sixty-five years, participants and military historians have argued the question of whether US VI Corps commander Major General John P. Lucas should have captured the Alban Hills immediately after the successful landing at Anzio in late January 1944. This article addresses that question beginning with an examination of Lucas’s career and the circumstances under which he was selected for command of Operation SHINGLE. Next, it examines the rationale, underlying assumptions, plans, and orders issued for the campaign to ascertain where the responsibility lay for the disaster that ensued. It argues that the senior Allied commanders, especially US Fifth Army commander Lt. General Mark Clark and 15th Army Group commander General Sir Harold Alexander, bear the full burden of failure. They countenanced the selection of a man they knew to be unfit for command for purely expedient reasons and allowed a complex amphibious operation to proceed in spite of insufficient planning, resources, and rehearsal. Ignoring basic internal inconsistencies between the British and American positions about SHINGLE’s purpose, immediate goal, and ultimate objective, Fifth Army then issued written orders that were intentionally ambiguous and designed to give the top commanders cover in the event the operation foundered. When that happened, they laid the blame on Lucas. The controversy over the Alban Hills was a “straw man” argument and irrelevant in assessing Lucas’s role at Anzio. Many have rightly used the word scapegoat; indeed, it is difficult to find a more cynical example of perfidy in the Allied high command during World War II. The treatment of John Lucas – an honorable and brave soldier who should have been hailed a great hero after Salerno but instead languishes in the shadow of history – contains a warning that will always be relevant.

Operation SHINGLE, 22 January 1944

Hitler called it an “abscess.” Winston Churchill, the chief sponsor and loudest cheerleader for the endeavor, called it a “disaster” and admitted that it was his “worst moment in the war.” Lt. General Mark Clark, the American commander, described it as a “barren little strip of hell.” American GI’s, their British brothers-in-arms, as well as their German adversaries had more profane and gruesome descriptions. The bloody four-month agony of Anzio was one of the most difficult and costly campaigns ever fought by an Anglo-American army. In spite of its disappointing results, it was also a heroic stage upon which the grim determination, bravery and sacrifice of soldiers from both sides was displayed. In just one measure of gallantry and courage, of the nearly seventy Medals of Honor awarded to ground soldiers fighting in Italy, one in four went to men at Anzio.

Anzio Landing, 22 January 1944

Lucas at West Point

Washington's Birthday, Feb 22, 1911

Part of the ceremony was a cadet riding demonstration; Lucas rode the stallion 'Hardeman'

That night, Lucas wrote his mother about it - and cramming for an exam

John P. Lucas Papers, Army War College Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, PA

Lucas' Assembly Obituary

Lucas and the Pancho Villa Raid on Columbus, NM, March 1916

Martin Blumenson on Anzio

The Gamble That Failed (1963)
Global War Studies

US Army Anzio Campaign Streamer

US Army Publications & Sources

Other Sources

The Commanders

The Allies

CG, Fifth Army LTG Mark Clark and OC, 15th Army Group Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander

Alexander's Memoirs

Clark's Memoirs

Lucas (center) with his Commanders

Page from Lucas' famous diary

The Germans

Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, OB Sud, (left) and Generaloberst Eberhard von Mackenson, CG, Fourteenth Army

Kesselring's Memoirs