Joe Biden has, once again, proven that his mouth engages long before his brain. Biden was speaking in New Jersey when he stated that, the capture of bin laden (I think he meant killing) was the most audacious plan of the last 500 years. Biden went on to say that the plan only had a 48% chance of success. Joe seemed genuinely astounded by this. I don’t know a single military leader who believes that operations, especially covert special forces operations, are guaranteed success. Some missions are so fraught with risk that they are called “suicide missions” For someone assigned to one of these suicide missions, a 48 % success rate might sound pretty darn good. At any rate, I, like most of our fellow citizens, am proud of the courageous and skilled action of Navy Seals Team 6. However, I just don’t think that the killing of one man, hidin out in a 3rd world nation will in the long run prove to be one of the great history changing events. Especially, once viewed from 500 years in the future. One thing that should be mentioned is that operations such as Navy Seals 6 have been ongoing since 2001. For obvious reasons, they are not all publicized. At any rate, I have my own choices of audacious plans that have had an impact on history and the way our world has been shaped. 1. Washington Crosses the Delaware and captures Trenton. Without this audacios plan executed on Christmas night and the next day, there would be no United States. Americans were beaten, short of supplies and Washington’s army was falling apart. Let’s see 1776 was less than 500 years ago. 2. Cortes Conquers Mexico. Now this took audacity. With a few hundred solldiers, some horses, and the ability to plan militarily and politically Cortes conquered the most powerful native nation at the time in the Americas. It set the stage for Spain becoming the richest and most powerful nation in the world from 1521 till the 18th century. 3. Nelson wins at Trafalgar. Napoleon needed in 1805 the ability to transport his armies across the English Channel to invade England. He had the combined navies of France and Spain with a plan to sail up the coast having naval protection for his transports. There was much audacity in Nelson at all times. He had already lost an arm and an eye. However, his audacity here was to turn conventional naval battle tactics on its head. Instead of 2 fleets in lines firing broadsides at each other, Nelson proposed an approach of the enemy in columns that sailed directly into the broadsides of the enemy with the expectation of breaking up the enemies’ lines and having one fleet cross the T of the other. These tactics worked but the lead British ships would and did take tremendous punishment. Nelson was on one of the lead ships the HMS Victory and was killed on the day of the battle. 4. D-Day June 6, 1944. The largest combined arms battle ever or since. This is the most complete and audacious plan ever and it was just 68 years ago! Military planners did not even try to estimate a success rate. The enterprise was so audacious, so complex, and so historic that even Josef Stalin was impressed. Stalin, in his comments, noted that the Allies had succeeded where Hitler and Napolieon had failed. 5. Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign 1863. Grant had been known as audacious from his first campaigns against Forts Henry and Donelson. The capture of Vicksburg was essential to the Union war effort as it would split the Confederacy in two. Union naval leaders deserve much credit for audacity in this campaign as well. Vicksburg sits on a bluff on the Mississippi River where the River OxBows. 19th Century naval vessels had to take considerable punishment from cannon situated on the Vicksburg bluffs. They also could not elevate their guns effectively to fight back. Grant’s audacious plan was to march down the west side of the Mississippi and to have naval transports run past Vicksburg and to pick up his troops where the ground was suitable for moving and fighting. Once his troops disembarked Grant had no means to supply his army as the naval vessels could not go upstream past Vicksburg. Grant marched first east to Jackson Mississippi. He drove off forces of Joe Johnston. He then destroyed the railroads around Jackson and to Vicksburg. He then marched east and defeated the Confederate Forces under Pemberton. After an unsuccessful attempt to take Vicksburg by assault, Grant laid seige to Vicksburg. The Confederates surrendered on July 4, 1863. The importance of the Civil War to American History cannot be understimated. It was successful Union armies that ended slavery. 6. The Battle of Vienna 1683. This was the last and most serious incursion by the Muslim Turks into the heart of Europe. Some argue that the Turkish Empire was in decline. I don’t see that decline as inevitable. A victory outside Vienna and the practical and psychological advantages that would bring could have changed many things especially since France’s Louis XIV was making trouble for the Holy Roman Empire on their Western Border. The audacity belonged to the King of Poland, Jon Sobieski. He had made commitments to the Holy Roman Emperor to defend Vienna. Poland had their own problems with certain neighbors and it took a courageous decision to empty his kingdom of fighting men. Sobieski was put in charge of the battle plan due to the superiority of the cavalry. The Battle of Vienna saw the largest charge of cavalry in Worl History. 7. The Battle of Midway 1942. Military Historian John Keegan calls the Battle of Midway the most important Battle of the Pacific War. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Army and Navy forces ran wild. American Naval forces in the Pacific were out numbered, out gunned, and unprepared. Outnumbered and outgunned U.S. Naval forces set a trap for the Japanese Naval forces. The Japanese were attempting to eliminate U.S Naval Carriers in the Pacific. From Admiral Nimitz to the guys bombing the Japanese Carriers, this was an exercise in “audacity”. 8. Pizzarro conquers the Inca Empire. Just see my comments on Cortes. These guys were certainly audacious and had successful plans. 9. Mac Arthur at Inchon. Douglas MacArthur executed the most audacious battle plan of his great career during the Korean War. His actions at Inchon, which changed the entire complexion of the Korean War, was a textbook case of combined arms operations. The U.S. Navy deserves much credit for the success of this event. 10. Yamamoto at Pearl Harbor. This was an unbelievably risky and audacious plan. Japanese Admiral Yamamoto was a fan of America. He had gone to college in America. The audacious plan had the Japanese fleet traveling across the North Pacific, unobserved, to launch the attack on Pearl Harbor. But, is was not an original plan. The Japanese actually copied another attack made by the British against the Italian fleet at Taranto. The historic significance of this event did not work out well for the Japanese or Nazi Germany. Winston Churchill had been trying to get America into the war and Franklin Roosevelt was sympathetic but hesitant. Of course, once the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred the USA was in WW2. The one part of this audacious plan that totally failed was the diplomatic end. The Japanese diplomats were supposed to deliver a declaration of war prior to the attack. Once Admiral Yamamoto learned of all of the diplomatic facts and mistakes , he replied, “I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant” . So it was. So at any rate if others have their own contributions, I welcome the debate.