Conference Program


85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

 Landscapes of War and Peace

April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky


Title: Coalitions Transforming Landscapes in Three Wars, 1780-1944
Abstract: While coalitions are formed for the purpose of altering strategic landscapes, the strategic contexts frequently exert unanticipated influences on the coalitions and partner nations themselves.
Dr. Joseph Stoltz examines French motivations in their participation in the American Revolutionary war. Far from merely combatting the same antagonist, the French monarchy also deployed considerable ground and naval combat power to the American continent. In "Old World Politics, New World Players: French Government Advisors in the American War of Independence," Stoltz finds they did so "to strengthen their advisory position" with a fledgling and presumably impressionable new national partner.
Dr. Jay Varoulo's paper, "The Northern Russian Expedition, Balkanization, and the Failed State," outlines how Entente and US forces arriving in Russia in 1918 at the request of a no longer surviving Provisional Government facilitated Balkanization in the Komi region of northern Russia. Confronted both with the specter of Bolshevism and the question of how and questions of sovereignty, the coalition briefly partnered with sympathetic local nationalists before withdrawing from Russia in 1919. The results suggest that Balkanization merits attention alongside political science theories of trusteeship, shared sovereignty, and institutional approaches.
Dr. Nick Sambaluk explores a different kind of changing coalition landscape in "Indonesia's Occupation of Mississippi: Lend-Lease, the Netherlands East Indies, and the Pacific Theater Coalition in WWII." The 1940 invasion of the Netherlands prompted both the United States and the Dutch colonies toward military preparedness. Japanese invasion displaced the Dutch-Indonesian aircrew training program, and its hosting in the United States constituted an opportunity for the American homeland to participate in coalition building.
Together, these three papers reflect the complexity of coalitions in war and their impact on the landscape, both physical and metaphorical.
 
Nicholas Sambaluk, Air University
Participant's Paper Title: Indonesia's Occupation of Mississippi: Lend-Lease, the Netherlands East Indies, and the Pacific Theater Coalition in WWII
Participant's Paper Abstract: Just as coalition warfare changes a strategic landscape, one aspect of the Lend-Lease Program allowed displaced European and Asian patriots and their hosts in Jackson, Mississippi an opportunity to uniquely participate in the Allied coalition in World War II, personifying international relations at the local level.
Nazi conquest of Holland in 1940 left the then-Netherlands East Indies (NEI) vulnerable to Japanese invasion, and mobilization efforts were still incomplete when Japanese forces invaded in the winter of 1941-42. NEI air crew training was hurriedly evacuated and relocated to headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi, which served as the hub of training for this 700-strong Royal Netherlands Military Flying School (RNMFS) group. This was the fifth largest US-hosted foreign aircrew training program during World War II (behind only that of the British, French, Chinese Nationalists, and Brazilians).
Spanning 21 months from May 1942 to February 1944, the trainees were celebrated by contemporary national media (ranging from the National Broadcasting Company to Walt Disney) as an emblem of the Allied coalition. Furthermore, the RNMFS personnel developed lasting bonds with members of the Jackson community at large and at a person-to-person level. At least 60 of the personnel, 10% of the group, married women they met while training in Mississippi.
While the most prominent elements of the Lend-Lease Program constitute the shipments of trucks, planes, ammunition, and fuel to the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, the foreign training programs represent a significant part of American coalition-building at mid-century. The RNMFS in Jackson represent a highlight among the total of nearly 25,000 officers and men from almost 30 countries who received aircrew training in the United States during the war and shows how stateside efforts helped build and maintain the Allied coalition.
Joseph Stoltz, Fred W. Smith Library for the Study of George Washington
Participant's Paper Title: Old World Politics, New World Players: French Government Advisors in the American War of Independence
Participant's Paper Abstract: When Britain's North American colonists fired on the British soldiers in April of 1775, they did so to the complete surprise of the Crown government and the insurrectionist leadership of the thirteen colonies which rebelled ultimately. The rebel colonies had only a scant tradition of unified strategic action, guarded jealously their military resources, and could agree eventually only on the amorphous policy goal of independence. As the major ally of the rebelling American colonies, France was uniquely positioned to advise on questions of policy and strategy that the young American government had never encountered before.

This paper will investigate French ambassadorial efforts to influence the military decisions of Congress and various state governments. It will also explore the French military's endeavors to advise the Continental Army on specific strategies and operations. Finally, it will argue that the French deployed their expeditionary force to mainland North America in 1780 to strengthen their advisory position.

Whether French ambassador Anne-César de la Luzerne, navy officers like Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector d'Estaing, or the famed army officer Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur de Rochambeau, French officials played an important role in guiding the Americans through the later stages of their war for independence. La Luzerne used the military resources at his disposal to directly influence congressional votes. D'Estaing tried two separate attempts to coordinate naval descents onto the American coast with Continental Army forces. Rochambeau offered the allied army commanding general George Washington valuable advice on numerous occasions that tempered Washington's desire for a faster, but unrealistic, operational tempo.

The French military had a long tradition of advising the military activities of numerous minor European states. That experience was a valuable resource in their alliance with the United States, and played an important part in the allied victory during the American War of Independence.
Joseph Varuolo, Air University
Participant's Paper Title: The Northern Russian Expedition, Balkanization, and the Failed State
Participant's Paper Abstract: Foreign involvement in failing states can quickly encounter issues of sovereignty and secessionism, and the impending centennial anniversary of the Northern Russian Expedition provides an opportunity to use a historical case to explore the viability of Balkanization. Entente coalition political pressure pushed US President Woodrow Wilson to send troops into Russia when the failed Russian Empire was giving way to the provisional government and then to the Russian Civil War (1917-23). This military incursion, known as the Northern Russian Expedition, was marred by broken promises and poor diplomacy, and it left an enduring diplomatic scar on US-Russian relations. The international community continues to struggle with the issues of sovereignty in collapsed and failing states, and while theories such as trusteeship, shared sovereignty, and institutional approaches provide limited success, an alternative is required. The Komi people of northwestern Russia at the close of World War I, anticipating a Balkanization of the old empire, worked to create an autonomous order from the contemporary chaos; it was a goal they preferred over either retrenchment into a recreated empire or submersion into the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Wilson's decision to send troops temporally if unintentionally aided the Komi people in their quest for a sovereign independent state, and their experience propels the question of Balkanization for collapsing and failed states. Ethnic or regional Balkanization could provide either an alternate or augmentation to the conventional approaches to failed states. Balkanization directly addresses the complex issues of domestic sovereignty and governance. The coalition's aid for the Komi people necessitates a look at Balkanization as a possible course of action for failing states, despite in an age of globalization.
Matthew Muehlbauer, United States Military Academy
Paul Springer, Air Command and Staff College