5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam - We Are The Mighty
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5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

When you’re asked what’s the most important tool for any U.S. service member who’s facing down a bad guy in battle, the most obvious response is his or her weapon.


When it comes down to it and the shots are flying, it’s the rifle or handgun that can make the difference between victory and defeat. But there’s a lot more to it than that, and oftentimes it’s what the trooper is actually wearing that can determine whether the bullets start flying in the first place.

Military uniform designers and suppliers over the last half century have been developing new ways to help soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines avoid fights if they want to and to survive them when things go loud. From things as simple as pocket placement and camouflage, to fabrics that won’t burn or show up in night vision goggles, the folks who build combat uniforms for America’s military have taken the best of material science and matched it with the conditions and operations troops are facing in increasingly complex and austere combat environments.

While the “modern” battle uniform traces much of its lineage to the Vietnam War, a lot has changed in the 50 years since that utilitarian design changed the course of what U.S. service members wear when they fight.

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5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

The Vietnam war saw the first major evolution in combat uniforms since World War II. When troops needed better access to their gear, clothing manufacturers answered the call.

(U.S. Military photo via Propper)

1. Combat uniform pockets

It was really the Korean war that introduced the pant-leg cargo pockets we all know today, according to an official Army history. But combat uniforms issued to troops in Vietnam took those to another level.

With bellowed pleats and secure flaps, there were few items the side cargo pocket couldn’t handle. Vietnam-era combat blouses also used an innovative angled chest pocket design that made it easier to reach items in the heat of battle.

In the 1980s, the U.S. military ditched the angled chest pockets for vertical ones, mostly for appearance, and the combat trousers maintained their six-pocket design until the 2000s.

But when America went to war after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, pocket placement and design took a quantum leap. Way more “utilitarian” than combat threads of Vietnam and the Cold War, the new battle rigs are like night and day — with everything from pen pockets near the wrist of a combat blouse, to ankle pockets on the trousers to bellowed shoulder pockets.

Interestingly, it was special operations troops that developed the shoulder pocket later adopted by both the Marine Corps and Army for their combat uniforms. During the opening days of the Global War on Terror, spec ops troops cut cargo pockets off their extra trousers and sewed them onto the arms of their combat jackets, giving them extra storage within an arm’s reach.

Modern combat uniforms now also incorporate internal pockets for knee pads and elbow pads, so when a trooper has to take a knee or go prone in a hurry, he’s not banging his joints on the dirt.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Marines in Iraq were issued fire-resistant flight suits to guard against burns from IED strikes.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

2. Combat uniform material

By Vietnam, the heavy cotton and polyester of the Korean War-era uniform were replaced with a tropical-weight cotton ripstop that was wind-resistant yet cooler for troops operating in the sweltering heat of Southeast Asian jungles.

Both trousers and jackets were made of this cotton-poplin material for years, until the Army adopted the so-called “Battle Dress Uniform” in the early 1980s. That uniform was made with a nylon-cotton blended material with was more durable and easier to launder than the Vietnam-era combat duds.

But the military was forced to offer a variation of the BDU in cotton ripstop after operations in Grenada proved the nylon-cotton blend material too hot in warmer climates.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
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Though today’s combat uniforms are made with similar materials to those of the BDU-era, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan proved that some front-line troops need kit that’s resistant to the flame and flash of roadside bombs and IEDs.

Early on, some troops — including Marines deployed to Iraq — wore flight suits manufactured with flame resistant Nomex during combat operations. But that fabric wasn’t durable enough for the rigors of battle on the ground. So companies developed new, more durable flame-resistant fabrics for combat uniforms like Defender-M and Drifire.

Now all the services offer variants of their standard combat uniforms in flame-resistant material that protects troops against burns from improvised bombs.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

American Special Forces soldiers adopted the camouflage pattern of ARVN Rangers dubbed “tiger stripe” to blend into the Southeast Asian jungles.

(Image by Bettmann/CORBIS by Shunsuke Akatsuka via Flicker)

3. Combat uniform camouflage

Ahhh, camouflage.

It’s like the 1911 vs. (everything) debate, or the M-16 versus the AK-47 argument.

For decades, the question of camouflage patterns has been as much art as it was science. And over the last half century, the U.S. military has seen no fewer than 11 different patterns bedecking America’s warfighters.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

The six-color Desert Combat Uniform is the iconic look of Operation Desert Storm.

(U.S. Military photo via Propper)

Most Joes in the Vietnam War were clad in olive drab combat uniforms. But special operations troops began using camouflage garments in greater numbers during the war, and acted as the bleeding edge for pattern development within the wider military.

From ARVN Ranger “tiger stripes” to old-school duck hunter camo, the commandos in The ‘Nam proved that breaking up your outline saved lives. With the adoption of the BDU in 1981, the military locked into the service-wide “woodland” camouflage pattern.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

The Marine Corps was the first service in the U.S. military to dramatically change its uniforms from the BDU design. The service also was the first to adopt a “digital” camo pattern.

(U.S. Military photo via Propper)

In the early ’90s, the services developed desert combat uniform with a so-called “six-color desert” pattern (also known as “chocolate chips”). These uniforms were issued to troops conducting exercises and operations in arid climates and were more widely issued to service members deployed to Operation Desert Storm.

The woodland BDU dominated for more than 20 years until shortly after 9/11. And it was the Marine Corps that took the whole U.S. military in an entirely different direction.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Soldiers complained that the UCP didn’t really work in any environment

(US Army)

The Corps was the first to adopt a camouflage pattern with so-called “fractal geometry” — otherwise known as “digital camouflage” — that diverges from the curvy lines and solid colors of woodland to a more three-dimensional scheme designed to literally trick the brain. While the Marines adopted a digital woodland pattern and a desert version in 2003, the Army decided to try a single pattern that would work in a variety of environments a year later.

Dubbed the Universal Combat Pattern, or “UCP,” the green-grey pallet flopped, with most soldiers complaining that instead of working in a bunch of environments, it made Joes stand out in all of them. As in Vietnam, special operations troops engaged overseas adopted a commercial pattern dubbed “Multicam,” which harkened back to the analog patterns akin to woodland.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

The Navy recently adopted a new camouflage uniform in a pattern developed by the SEALs.

(U.S. Navy)

Pressure mounted on the Army to ditch UCP and adopt Multicam, and by 2015, the service abandoned the one-size-fits all digital pattern and adopted Multicam for all its combat garments.

Likewise, the Air Force and Navy experimented with different patterns and pallets since the Army adopted UCP, with the Sea Service issuing a blue digital uniform for its sailors and the Air Force settling on a digital tiger stripe pattern in a UCP pallet. In 2016, the Navy ditched its so-called “blueberry” pattern for one developed by the SEALs — AOR 1 and AOR 2 — which looks similar to the Marine Corps “MARPAT” digital scheme.

The Air Force still issues its Airman Battle Uniform in the digital tiger stripe pattern to all airmen except those deploying to Afghanistan and on joint missions in the combat zone.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

New uniforms incorporate innovative technology from the outdoor sports industry.

(DoD)

4. Combat uniform design

Aside from the rapid development and deployment of new camouflage patterns, some of the most impressive changes to U.S. military combat uniforms have been with their overall design.

Gone is the boxy, ill-fitting combat ensemble of troops slogging through the rice paddies and jungle paths of Southeast Asia. Today’s battle uniform traces its design to the high-tech construction of the extreme outdoor sports world, from high-altitude climbing to remote big game hunting.

Troops in the services now have uniforms that have pre-curved legs and arms, angled and bellowed pockets that stay flat when they’re empty, Velcro closures and adjustable waists. The services even use specially-designed combat shirts that ditch the jacket altogether and use built-in moisture-wicking fabric to keep a trooper’s torso cool under body armor yet provide durable sleeves and arm pockets for gear needed in the fight.
With integrated pockets for knee pads and elbow pads, the new combat uniforms’ design takes “utilitarian” to a whole new level.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

US Marines inside the Citadel in Hue City rescue the body of a dead Marine during the Tet Offensive.

(Photo via Flickr)

5. Combat armor

Aside from the actual clothing an American combat trooper wears, there are a host of new protective items that make up his or her battlefield loadout. These items have evolved exponentially over the last half century, and many uniform manufacturers have supplied protective accessories to integrate with their clothing.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Students from the Saint George’s University of Medicine pose with a member of the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Urgent Fury.

(U.S. Military photo via Flickr)

Late in the war, the Vietnam-era soldier or Marine was issued a body armor vest that would protect him against grenade fragments and some pistol rounds. Made of ballistic nylon and fiberglass plates, the armor was best known as the “flak jacket.” It was heavy and didn’t protect against rifle rounds.

In the 1980s, the U.S. military developed a new body armor system using steel plates and Kevlar fabric that could stop a rifle round. First used in combat during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, the so-called Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops, or PASGT, was a revolution in personal protection.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Today’s armor and helmets are lighter, more protective and offer a host of methods to modify the loadout for specific missions.

(Photo courtesy Propper)

Still heavy and bulky, armor evolved over the years since 9/11 to be lighter, with a slimmer profile and much more protective than the flaks of yore. Today’s vests can protect against multiple armor-piercing rifle rounds, shrapnel and pistol shots — all in a vest that weighs a fraction of its PASGT brethren.

Like the armor vest, the “steel pot” of Vietnam has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. The new Army Combat Helmet and Marine Corps Lightweight Helmet can take multiple bullet strikes and shrapnel hits, allow for greater mobility than the Vietnam-era one or the PASGT and now incorporate various attachment points for accessories like night vision goggles, IR strobes and cameras.


MIGHTY CULTURE

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Surrounded by thousands of racers, Lt. Col. Frederick Moss stood out at the Army Ten Miler.

“I always get the question, ‘Why is this dummy running with this binder? He must be some staff guy that is all about his work.’ You know?” Moss joked, while discussing the annual race.

Indeed, Moss is a staff officer. He works for senior leaders at the U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters on Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Yet, the binder is not his work.

It’s his duty.


Inside, the pages hold the names of 58,000 American military members who died serving in Vietnam.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, stares into the camera for a portrait at the North Carolina Veterans Park in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Sept. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

He carries the white binder on all the military-oriented races. The Marine Corps Marathon. The Army Marathon. The Navy Nautical. Some of these races won’t allow backpacks for security purposes, such as the Army Ten Miler, so he hand-carried the book 10 miles through the streets of Washington, D.C.

“It’s an act of remembrance. It’s an act of appreciation for them and what they’ve done,” Moss said.

He recalled printing the names at home years ago. He walked away from his computer thinking the job would be finished when he returned. Instead, the printer was still spitting out papers.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, runs nearby the North Carolina Veterans Park in Fayetteville during a film production Sept. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Javier Orona)

“Wow, wait a minute. Now this can’t be right. It’s still going,” he said. “It went from 100 to 1,000 to 2,000. And that’s just the letter ‘A’ … 2,000 husbands, wives, uncles, brothers, cousins. They paid the ultimate sacrifice. And that’s really when this thing kind of hit me. This is really big. That’s a lot of people here.”

He originally printed the book to remember his father, Terry Leon Williams, after he died in 2012. Williams had survived Vietnam, but he rarely talked about the war.

“He was a Marine’s Marine. He’s a man’s man. I learned a lot from him, and I owe a lot to him,” said Moss.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, looks through the names of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with his son, Brandon, while visiting Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

Williams deployed twice, but in spite of his love for the uniform, the Marine didn’t wear it as he returned home from an unpopular war. He faced a country that offered protest, not praise.

“There’s still Vietnam veterans out there who feel some type of way about how they were received when they came back into this country,” Moss said.

That’s a vast difference from how the nation welcomed Moss in 2006. He had deployed to Iraq as a military police officer. When his airplane full of soldiers landed in Atlanta, firetrucks greeted them on the runway by spraying the plane with water.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with his son, Brandon, and wife, Cherie, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

“We got off the plane … and everybody was hugging and kissing us. It was crazy. Holy smoke! It was hundreds, thousands of soldiers walking through the airport … I thought to myself: my dad and his comrades didn’t get that. It wasn’t America’s finest hour. So, that’s why I chose in my small way to show appreciation, for him and them, for their service to this nation,” Moss said.

The binder is for his father, but also for his uncle, Henry, who returned from Vietnam, yet wasn’t really home.

“He didn’t make it. He came back, but he wasn’t the same. You know, the hidden scars of combat. He ended up committing suicide,” said Moss.

Moss’ father was soft-spoken. He spared few words and rarely squandered those words on comforting his children. During his teenage years, their relationship was horrible, Moss said. A strict father and a rebellious son often at odds, he described.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with his family in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Javier Orona)

“If you fell, he wasn’t going to hug you. He was going to tell you, ‘Get up. Dust yourself off. Fight on,'” he said.

He was more interested in teaching his son to defend himself than to show him affection.

“Sometimes, I feel like I’m running from him still,” Moss said, laughing.

His running days began in high school when he joined cross country track. Running calls him out of bed in the morning. He wakes up in the darkest hours and slips out of the house unnoticed. His wife, Cherie, jokingly calls it his “mistress” because she wakes up to an empty bed.

But Moss communes with God during those runs. He prays and listens to gospel music. Time and worry vanish. He might look at his watch at any moment and realize 20 miles have gone by. Just don’t let him sit through a meeting afterward, because he might fall asleep, he jokes.

He has run so many military races that he keeps his medallions in a bag. There’s no room to display them in the house.

Yet, after high school, his running stopped for a while. His first military experience took him off the track and tossed him toward the water.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, pages through a binder he printed holding the names from the Vietnam Memorial Wall during a film production day at his home in Spring Lake, North Carolina, Sept. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

“I joined the Navy, and I gained, like, 260 pounds,” he said, exaggerating the weight, with a laugh. He reached 260 pounds, but that’s not how much he had gained.

As he spoke, he pulls out a framed photo of himself in a white Navy uniform. A rounder version of himself looks into the camera, with a mustache hovering above his lips.

“This was pre-Army. I was like the ice cream man, right here. So I lost my love for running at the time because in the Navy, it’s all about systems and ships. Not a lot of room to maneuver to run on the ship,” he said.

He deployed twice with the Navy, to Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Later, Moss joined the Army as a staff sergeant. It was a rude awakening because, suddenly, he was in charge of soldiers without any prior experience in managing people.

“The Navy’s a little bit different. It’s not about people … it was about systems. I was an engineer in the Navy. A boiler technician. You need steam to make the ship go. To turn the turbines. To get power. To drink water. But you flip it, and you go to the Army, and the Army is all about people,” he said.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, takes a selfie with Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve, while showing him a binder representing the fallen veterans of the Vietnam War during the Army Ten Miler in Washington, D.C., Oct. 13, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

Those times in the military made him appreciate his father in ways he never could as a son.

When Moss commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army, his family surrounded him in celebration. He remembers sitting at a large round table with his father and relatives.

“I’ve got something to say,” Williams spoke, stopping the conversation around them.

Moss’ father pointed around the table to those who had served in the military. Four branches were represented there: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

“My son was enlisted Navy,” Williams said. “But my son did something different. I never thought my son would be a commissioned officer.”

A pause. A quiet befell the table as the family waited to see what might happen next. Williams stood and saluted his son. Moss stood and returned the salute. He could sense people holding their breath. The two men dropped their salutes and sat back down.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, runs from his home in Spring Lake during a film production day, Sept. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

Then, just before the conversation could resume, or an applause might follow, Williams spoke again.

“Now, you’re a lieutenant. You’re officially a punk. Nobody likes lieutenants!”

The table broke in laugher, cheering, and the family returned to their celebration. But a moment had caught during the exchange. A shifting in balance – a new respect – occurred as the older saluted the younger. His father had changed.

Serving in the Army had helped Moss see that change, because service was about sacrifice and legacy. Not individual fame, but a legacy carried by the collective. He saw the military as a family who passed traditions from generation to generation.

“That legacy just keeps going on and on. A legacy of war fighters. People who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and you don’t ever want that legacy to be lost. So, one of the things I do, is I carry this book. That book, to me, signifies that you never, ever forget what other people have done for this nation to make sure that we continue to be free,” said Moss.

The Army Ten Miler reminds Moss of that legacy and of his love for people. He calls it a family reunion, where year after year he hugs brothers and sisters in arms who return to D.C. for the run. It’s a small nuisance that backpacks aren’t allowed, but it’s also an honor for Moss to carry his father’s generation of veterans in his hands.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with his son, Brandon, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

“Sometimes the book is a little cumbersome, but it doesn’t bother me. Because it’s 58,000-plus fallen comrades in that book. What I’m doing for this short period of time is nowhere near the price they had to pay for us,” he said.

He reflects on those names through Washington, D.C., as he runs. He envisions their stories. He mourns with their families. He considers the children who never saw their fathers or mothers come home. Yet, he is grateful for one name who is not in his book. Not on the wall. Not on any official memorial except for the etching of his memories.

His father.

Terry Leon Williams.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

popular

Every Illuminati conspiracy theory is based on a hippie prank from the 1960s

In a way, the story of the modern “Illuminati” is a conspiracy theory in itself. But unlike many other Illuminati conspiracy theories, the origin story of today’s Illuminati is hilariously real. 

Modern day conspiracy theorists put the Illuminati in cahoots with other conspiracy regulars, including the Rothschild Family, billionaire George Soros, and the Freemasons. While the Illuminati were a real organization, there’s no evidence to support any ongoing activity.

The modern Illuminati were conceived as a prank between Marine Corps veteran and 1960s counterculture activist Kerry Thornley and Journalist Robert Anton Wilson. The idea was to create mass paranoia so that American would begin to question everything they read. It was called Operation: Mindf*ck and it seems to have worked all too well. 

The illuminati logo
The Illuminati logo looks so real, but it all started with a prank.

Around 1776, liberal, nonreligious scholars of the Enlightenment formed a secret society in Bavaria to oppose superstitious and religious encroachment on public life, to liberate people from the laws of religion. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t sit well with the Catholic Church, who pressured the ruler of the German state to outlaw the group. By 1788, the group functionally ceased to exist.

But that didn’t stop believers from blaming their troubles on the Illuminati. Some believed the society lived on, but simply got better about hiding their existence. The first conspiracy theories popped up around 1798. They claimed Illuminati were going to incite slave rebellions in the Caribbean and that they started the French Revolution. They even made an appearance in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

In the first years of the American Republic, fear of the Illuminati gave way to fear of the Freemasons. These fears even led to the formation of an Anti-Masonic political party. Somewhere along the way, the mass fears barely died down, and they never disappeared entirely. 

In the 19th century, European monarchs blamed the Illuminati for fomenting revolutions. In the 20th Century, the rise of international communism was put at the feet of the Illuminati. Then came Thornley and Wilson.

Kerry Thornley rose to prominence in the 1960s, having written a book about Lee Harvey Oswald in 1962, the year before Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Oswald and Thornley served together in the Marine Corps and knew each other well. Thornley’s book, The Idle Warriors was about his time in the Corps with Oswald. Thornley would go one to become a major counterculture writer in underground media, as well as a founder of Discordianism, a satirical religion.

Robert Anton Wilson was a Discordian adherent and Playboy staff writer who was also active in the counterculture movement. A New York Magazine article claims it was Wilson who detailed a plan to create paranoia in American media by attributing “all national calamities, assassinations, or conspiracies” to the secret Illuminati order. 

illuminati symbol on the dollar bill
See? It’s even on the dollar bill. It MUST be real.

The plan was laid out in a memo and named Operation: Mindf*ck, a name only hippies would come up with and execute. But Wilson and Thornley were more than just hippies. Wilson had access to reporters in the popular mass media. Thornley was already a producer of underground media. Through both means, they began to spread the idea of a secret Illuminati force that drove national news events. 

The movement got a real boost when New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison tried to pin JFK’s murder on Thornley due to his association with Oswald. Thornley was not found guilty and Wilson sent a letter to a Los Angeles Free Press reporter claiming that the jury were all Illuminati and he knew because all 12 were missing their left nipple. 

Since then, the Illuminati have been accused of creating a nuclear defense bunker in North Dakota, masterminding the 9/11 attacks, using the Denver International Airport as a headquarters, and of constantly trying to create a New World Order. In reality, it was all a joke that went a little too far. 

Articles

18 more photos from the hellish campaign that was Iwo Jima

Seventy-two years ago Marines raised the American flag over Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima on Feb. 23, 1945. Joe Rosenthal’s photo of the second flag-raising became one of the most famous photos of World War II, but the battle actually raged from Feb. 19 to Mar. 26. Here are 18 other photos from the battle where almost 7,000 Marines, sailors, Coast Guardsmen, and soldiers lost their lives:


1. The Marines landed on Iwo Jima in waves on tracked boats.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps

2. The water was thick with the Marines, sailors, and Coast Guardsmen of the landing force.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: National Archives and Records

3. At the beaches, the Marines poured onto the black, volcanic sand under Japanese fire.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps

4. Japanese artillery and mortars took out a lot of the heavy equipment as it got bogged down in the sand.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Robert M. Warren

5. The Navy used its big guns to destroy the lethal Japanese artillery where possible and to break open bunkers firing on U.S. troops.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Navy

6. This duel between the heavy guns played out on the island as constant explosions.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections

7. The Marines would advance when the fire was relatively light, trying to take Japanese positions before another artillery barrage.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps

8. When the fire was particularly heavy, they’d burrow into the sand for cover.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: National Park Service

9. Additional forces surged onto the beach as the first waves made their way inland. The reinforcements were made necessary by the stunning Marine losses. One 900-man regiment lost 750 Marines in just 5 hours.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections

10. Throughout the fighting up the beaches, Mount Suribachi dominated the landscape. The Marines knew it would be a tough fortress to capture.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps

11. Sailors and Coast Guardsmen continued to land materials at the secure beachheads, giving the Marines more ammunition and other supplies.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Coast Guard Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Paul Queenan

12. Moving up the mountain, the Marines had to use heavy firepower to stop Japanese counterattacks.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps

13. The Marines busted bunker after bunker and cleared trench after trench, but the march up Mount Suribachi was dangerous and long.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Government

14. Flamethrower tanks helped clear out the defending Japanese.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps Mark Kaufman

15. The Marines moved into the Japanese trenches that they had just knocked the enemy out of.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps

16. The Japanese bunkers had protected both the Japanese infantry and the big guns that were firing on the Marines.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: National Park Service

17. When the Marines first took the summit, they flew an American flag they had carried up. When it was spotted by Secretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal, Forrestal asked to keep it.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery

18. However, the Marines were set on keeping the symbol of their brothers’ sacrifice. Lt. Col. Chandler Johnson ordered a group of Marines to raise a second, larger flag and recover the original for the Corps.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Navy

The photo by Joe Rosenthal of the second flag raising became an icon of the Pacific campaign. The Marine Corps selected the image for the Marine Corps War Memorial.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Daniel J. McLain

MIGHTY TRENDING

US wants to hunt Chinese fighters with these new long-range missiles

The US military is developing a new, longer-range air-to-air missile amid growing concerns that China’s advanced missiles outrange those carried by US fighters.

The AIM-260 air-to-air missile, also known as the Joint Air Tactical Missile (JATM), is intended to replace the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) currently carried by US fighters, which has been a go-to weapon for aerial engagements. It “is meant to be the next air-to-air air dominance weapon for our air-to-air fighters,” Brig. Gen. Anthony Genatempo, Air Force Weapons Program Executive Officer, told Air Force Magazine.

“It has a range greater than AMRAAM,” he further explained, adding that the missile has “different capabilities onboard to go after that specific [next-generation air-dominance] threat set.”


Russia and China are developing their own fifth-generation fighters, the Su-57 and J-20 respectively, to compete against the US F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, and these two powerful rivals are also developing new, long-range air-to-air missiles.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

The Sukhoi Su-57.

In particular, the US military is deeply concerned about the Chinese PL-15, an active radar-guided very long range air-to-air missile (VLRAAM) with a suspected range of about 200 km. The Chinese military is also developing another weapon known as the PL-21, which is believed to have a range in excess of 300 km, or about 125 miles.

The PL-15, which has a greater range than the AIM-120D AMRAAM, entered service in 2016, and last year, Chinese J-20 stealth fighters did a air show flyover, during which they showed off their weapons bays loaded with suspected PL-15 missiles.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

J-20 stealth fighters of PLA Air Force.

Genatempo told reporters that the PL-15 was the motivation for the development of the JATM.

The AIM-260, a US Air Force project being carried out in coordination with the Army, the Navy, and Lockheed Martin, will initially be fielded on F-22 Raptors and F/A-18 Hornets and will later arm the F-35. Flight tests will begin in 2021, and the weapon is expected to achieve operational capability the following year.

The US military will stop buying AMRAAMs in 2026, phasing out the weapon that first entered service in the early 1990s for firepower with “longer legs,” the general explained.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Best battle proven tricks to win a ‘sniper duel’

Snipers face countless threats on the battlefield. Ambush. Exposure. Separation from friendly forces. But, one of the most dangerous is being hunted by another deadly sharpshooter.

“It becomes a game of cat and mouse,” US Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Rance, the sniper instructor team sergeant at the sniper school at Fort Benning, said in a recent interview with Business Insider. “You have to be very cautious.”


Sniper duels like those seen in “Enemy at the Gates” and that well-known scene from “Saving Private Ryan” are rare, but they do happen. During the Vietnam War, Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock battled several enemy snipers, reportedly putting a shot clean through the rifle scope and eye of a North Vietnamese Army sniper.

We asked a handful of top US Army snipers, marksman with years of experience and multiple combat deployments, how they hunt enemy sharpshooters. Here’s what they had to say.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Spc. Dane Pope-Keegan, a Scottsdale, Arizona native and sniper assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, performs reconnaissance and collects information during air assault training on July 10, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew McNeil / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

US snipers have been fighting insurgents in the Middle East for nearly two decades. These enemies, while dangerous, are often considered lower level threats because they lack the training that US forces have.

“Some of our lower threat level [enemies], just because they are carrying a long gun, they may not have the actual experience of a sniper,” Rance told BI. The far greater threats are from professionally trained shooters from advanced militaries like those of China, Russia, and possibly even Iran.

“As you get into the near-peer threats, adversaries that have the proper tools and training, it’s a greater challenge for us to go get them because often they are professional school-trained snipers,” he said. They know the tricks of the trade, and that makes them much more deadly.

When there is a suspected sniper holed up nearby, there are a few different options.

“The best answer might be to go around,” Army Capt. Greg Elgort, the company commander at Fort Benning, told BI. “But, if your mission requires you to go through, you have a lot of different offensive options that are available.” They don’t necessarily have to hunt the enemy down one-on-one.

Snipers regularly support larger military force elements, scouting out enemy positions and relaying critical information to other components of that larger force, which can strike with mortars, artillery or infantry assault to “root out and destroy” the enemy. The snipers can then assess damage caused by the strikes from a safe distance.

But, sometimes eliminating the threat falls squarely on the shoulders of the sniper.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

A U.S. Army sniper and infantryman with the U.S. Army Sniper School poses during a video shoot at Fort Benning, Georgia, Dec. 13, 2018.

(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Capt. David Gasperson)

The hunt is a tedious and dangerous game, as Rance said. US troops must pinpoint the emplaced sniper and range them without exposing themselves to fire.

“It’s going to take patience,” First Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a veteran sniper with more than a decade of experience, explained to BI recently. “You are waiting to see who is going to make a mistake first. Basically, it is going to take a mistake for you to win that fight, or vice versa, you making a mistake and losing that fight.”

Snipers are masters at concealing themselves from the watchful eyes of the enemy, but disappearing is no easy task. There’s a million different things that go into hiding from the enemy, and a simple mistake could be fatal.

According to the story of Hathcock, the renowned Vietnam War sniper, it was reportedly the glare of the enemy’s scope that gave away his position. “As a sniper, you are looking for anomalies, anything that sticks out, going against the pattern,” Rance explained.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

U.S. Army Spc. Artemio Veneracion, a native of North Hills, Calif., a sniper with Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, stationed out of Vilseck, Germany, looks through the scope of an M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS), during a combined squad training exercise with the Finnish Soldiers of the Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon at the Tapa Training Area, Estonia, June 15, 2016.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven M. Colvin)

These fights could easily be long and drawn out.

“In a real scenario, you could be in a situation for two, three weeks, a month maybe, determining a pattern, waiting for a mistake to be made,” Sipes said. Eliminating a threat could involve taking the shot yourself or using your eyes to guide other assets as they force the enemy “into a position to effectively neutralize them.” Either way, it takes time.

And, the waiting is tough.

“Staying in a position for an extended period of time, obviously it’s difficult,” Sipes told BI. “Patience is key. It’s terrible when you’re in that situation because it’s incredibly boring and you’re not moving. I’ve come out of situations with sores on my stomach and elbows and knees from laying there for so long.”

“It’s a cool story later,” he added.

No matter how tough it gets, a sniper must maintain focus, keeping his concentration. A sniper really only gets one shot, maybe two best case scenario.

“If they were to miss,” Rance explained, “they only have a few seconds to do that second shot correction before that target, seeks cover and disappears.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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If a nuclear bomb explodes nearby, this is why you shouldn’t get into a car


  • Nuclear blasts create fallout, which can harm you with large doses of radiation.
  • Cars offer little protection from fallout.
  • A surer way to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion is to go indoors, stay put, and listen to the radio.

The first thing you’d see if a nuclear bomb exploded nearby is a flood of light so bright, you may think the sun blew up.

Wincing from temporary blindness, you’d scan the horizon and see an orange fireball. The gurgling flames would rise and darken into purple-hued column of black smoke, which would turn in on itself. As a toadstool-like mushroom took shape, the deafening shock front of the blast would rip through the area — and possibly knock you off your feet.

Congratulations! In this hypothetical scenario, you’ve just survived a nuclear blast with an energy output of about 10 kilotons (20 million pounds) of TNT. That’s roughly 66% of energy released by either atom bomb dropped on Japan in 1945.

This scenario may sound far-fetched, but more than 14,900 nuclear weapons exist in the world, and kiloton-class nukes (like the one we just described) are now proliferating in favor of larger weapons. In fact, a 10-kiloton-or-less nuclear detonation by a terrorist is the first of 15 disaster scenarios that the US government has planned for.

No one could fault you for panicking after the sight and roarof a nuclear blast. But there is one thing you should never do, according to Brooke Buddemeier, a health physicist and radiation expert at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“Don’t get in your car,” he tells Business Insider — don’t try to drive, and don’t assume that the glass and metal of a vehicle can protect you.

Why vehicles and nuclear survival don’t mix

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Not where you want to be.

Avoiding driving after a nuclear blast is wise because streets would probably be full of erratic drivers, accidents, and debris. But Buddemeier says there’s another important reason to ditch the car: a fearsome after-effect of nuclear blasts called fallout.

Fallout is a complex mixture of fission products, or radioisotopes, that are created by splitting atoms. Many of the fission products decay rapidly and emit gamma radiation, an invisible yet highly energetic form of light. Exposure to too much of this radiation in a short time can damage the body’s cells and its ability to fix itself — a condition called acute radiation sickness.

“It also affects the immune system and the your ability to fight infections,” Buddemeier says.

Only very dense and thick materials, like many feet of dirt or inches of lead, can reliably stop the fallout.

“The fireball from a 10-kiloton explosion is so hot, it actually shoots up into the atmosphere at over 100 miles per hour,” Buddemeier says. “These fission products mix in with the dirt and debris that’s drawn up into the atmosphere from the fireball.”

Trapped in sand, dirt, cement, metal, and anything else in the immediate blast area, the gamma-shooting fission products can fly more than five miles into the air. The larger pieces drop back down, while lighter particles can be carried by the wind before raining over distant areas.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
A simulation of nuclear fallout conditions over Washington DC at different times of the year. | Bruce Buddemeier/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

“Close in to the [blast] site, they may be a bit larger than golf-ball-size, but really what we’re talking about are things like salt- or sand-size particles,” Buddemeier says. “It’s the penetrating gamma radiation coming off of those particles that’s the hazard.”

Which brings us back to why a car is a terrible place to take shelter.

“Modern vehicles are made of glass and very light metals, and they offer almost no protection,” he says. “You’re just going to sit on a road some place [and be exposed].”

Buddemeier says he’s asked people what their knee-jerk response to a nuclear blast might be. It wasn’t comforting.

“There was actually a lot of folks who had this notion — and it may be a Hollywood notion — of ‘oh, jump in the car and try to skedaddle out of town if you see a mushroom cloud.'” he says.

However, fallout is carried by high-altitude winds that are “often booking along at 100 miles per hour,” he says, and “often not going in the same direction as the ground-level winds. So your ability to know where the fallout’s gonna go, and outrun it, are… Well, it’s very unlikely.”

What you should do instead of driving

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
The protection factor that various buildings, and locations within them, offer from the radioactive fallout of a nuclear blast. The higher the number, the greater the protection. | Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Your best shot at survival after a nuclear disaster is to get into some sort of “robust structure” as quickly as possible and stay there, Buddemeier says. He’s a fan of the mantra “go in, stay in, tune in”.

“Get inside … and get to the center of that building. If you happen to have access to below-ground areas, getting below-ground is great,” he says. “Stay in: 12 to 24 hours.”

The reason to wait is that levels of gamma and other radiation fall off exponentially after a nuclear blast as “hot” radioisotopes decay into more stable atoms and pose less of a danger. This slowly shrinks the dangerous fallout zone — the area where high-altitude winds have dropped fission products. (Instead of staying put, however, a recent study also suggested that moving to a stronger shelter or basement may not be a bad idea if you first ducked into a flimsy one.)

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
The dangerous fallout zone (dark purple) shrinks quickly, while the much less dangerous hot zone (faint purple) grows for about 24 hours before shrinking back. Bruce Buddemeier. | Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

“Try to use whatever communication tools you have,” he says. He added that a hand-cranked radio is a good object to keep at work and home, since emergency providers, in addition to broadcasting instructions, will be tracking the fallout cloud and trying to broadcast where any safe corridors for escape are located.

There is only one exception to the “no cars” rule, says Buddemeier: If you’re in a parking garage with your car, the concrete might act as a shield. In that case, you could stay there and listen to a radio inside your car.

If everyone followed these guidelines after nuclear blast, he says, hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved.

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That time a British sniper blew the head off of an ISIS executioner during beheading training session

An ISIS militant teaching a class on how to behead captured prisoners was nailed in the head by a British sniper attached to the elite Special Air Service from 1,000 meters away.


The International Business Times says the 20-person execution class scrambled as the instructor’s head was taken “clean off” by the round from an Israeli-made .338 caliber DAN rifle. The bullet is designed to “tumble” as it moves through a target’s body, inflicting massive damage.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Israel Weapon Industries DAN .338 Bolt Action Rifle

“One minute he was standing there and the next his head had exploded,” a British military source told Express UK. “The commander remained standing upright for a couple of seconds before collapsing and that’s when panic set in. We later heard most of the recruits deserted. We got rid of 21 terrorists with one bullet.”

Express also reported that British SAS units are deployed in small numbers to combat Daesh terrorists to avoid an all-out ground war. The militants will either swarm to a location, making an airstrike a better defense or retreat using tunnels.

One tactic the SAS uses is setting “desert death traps” for jihadis by laying out dummies dressed as officers. The terrorist fighters are alerted by scouts and locals, take the bait, and are then gunned down by SAS snipers.

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What just happened in Yemen is ‘a nightmare’ for the US military

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Photo: Wikimedia Commons


The unfolding situation in Yemen is a huge geopolitical challenge for the US. A number of US allies, including Saudi Arabia, are attacking a rebel movement trained and supplied by Iran.

At the same time, the US is desperate for a nuclear deal with Tehran, reportedly giving ground on Iran’s demand that it be able to operate advanced uranium centrifuges in a heavily fortified, bomb-proof nuclear facility carved into the inside of a mountain even after a deal is signed.

At the same moment the US is wiling to retreat on major nuclear demands in the hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, the US’s own allies are launching a military coalition aimed at restraining Iranian power.

The US has been trying to triangulate, aiding Operation Decisive Storm with logistical and intelligence support while attempting to reassure Iranian negotiators, who are currently meeting with their US counterparts in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Yemen conflict presents an even more immediate problem for the US. As the Los Angeles Times reported on March 25th, Iran-allied Houthi rebels obtained US intelligence files left behind after raiding an air base in Sana, the capital.

The files were then passed on to Yemeni “officials” sympathetic to the Houthis, who are in turn suspected of relaying them to Tehran, according to the Times.

“This is a disaster for US counterterrorism efforts across the Horn of Africa,” Robert Caruso, a former US Navy intelligence officer, explained to Business Insider by email. “While it would be irresponsible to say what may have been compromised, this is a nightmare for our military and especially our counterterrorism forces in the region.”

Basically, the Houthi advance through Yemen may have just delivered crucial information about US intelligence operations in the Middle East to a US-listed state sponsor of terrorism. And that may complicate the US’s efforts in both Switzerland and the Arabian Peninsula.

The US may want to reassure Iran that it is willing to spare it the embarrassment and potential strategic cost of an even greater escalation against the Houthis, like an Egyptian and Saudi ground invasion. US negotiators also may be hamstrung by the Iranian possession of fresh US intelligence.

“News reports that Iranian military advisers now have classified information about US military and intelligence operations is extremely disconcerting and could be used to harm Americans if the nuclear deal fails,” Caruso wrote. “I think we will find later on that Iran deliberately targeted the airbase and the US facilities there to gather and exploit intelligence that could be used as leverage or to target Americans later on.”

The problem of balancing the nuclear negotiations against other aspects of the US relationship with Iran unique to Yemen. The US has troops in Iraq fighting ISIS and providing air cover to Iranian-allied militant groups. Meanwhile Hezbollah, and Iranian proxy, has a presence on every continent and Iran has plotted against targets inside the US as recently as 2011, when an Iranian effort to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US at an upscale Washington, DC restaurant was uncovered.

The US and Iran are strategically intertwined in Iraq, while Iran has the capability and perhaps even the intention of seriously undermining US interests around the world. Tehran realizes that it has plenty of potential leverage over its US negotiating counterparts.

That might explain why Tehran has demanded so many concessions in the nuclear negotiations — and gotten them.

More From Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 of the major cues that will tell you if your boot is lying

Everyone lies — it’s natural. To say you don’t lie is a lie in and of itself because you know damn well you’ve told a kid at some point that, “it gets better” knowing full-well it doesn’t — especially as an adult. In fact, the only real truth we have is that everyone lies.

So it makes sense that boots will lie their asses off to avoid punishment and, just like any other human, they’re bad at it. But even a bad liar can be convincing from time to time. Luckily, the Marine Corps developed the Combat Hunter Program, which enables those who receive the training to proactively assess an environment to gain a tactical advantage over the enemy. Like almost everything you learn while in the service, these lessons can be applied to other areas of life — one of those being lie detection.

Generally, by the time you take on boots, you’ve become wise enough to identify lies — probably because you told all those same lies when you were an FNG. But if you want to be extra sure that you’re getting the truth out of your newbie, watch for these cues:


5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

If they’re this bad, be especially cautious.

Sweating

In almost every case, when someone’s telling a lie, they’re nervous — they don’t want to get caught. When someone’s nervous, they have trouble controlling their perspiration.

Of course, this isn’t a foolproof metric, especially when there are external, environmental factors at play — you know, like the sun.

Unusually formal language

A person who is a little over-confident in their lie will usually use more formal language. Pay extra attention when someone drops the contractions. Look out for “did not”s and “do not”s in someone’s explanation.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fl0K4iGA49Oa97Zt6M.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=713&h=b89ae6db62ce7101878e655d34afbb8dca142eaa4720ad0d6a548a434c961083&size=980x&c=1821948856 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fl0K4iGA49Oa97Zt6M.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D713%26h%3Db89ae6db62ce7101878e655d34afbb8dca142eaa4720ad0d6a548a434c961083%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1821948856%22%7D” expand=1]

Direct eye contact

While it makes sense for someone who’s nervous or ashamed to look away from the person they’re lying to, it’s also a very obvious sign. Someone who’s trying their best to be convincing knows this and will compensate by looking you directly in the eye.

Too many details

Liars have a tendency to over-explain their story. Usually, this tactic is reserved for the more experienced liars. After all, if you’ve spent time creating, remembering, and parroting a lie, you’re going to watch all of those painstakingly plotted details to emerge, right?

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

If they’re wearing sunglasses, you might want to have them removed.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alex Kouns)

Fake smiles

If someone is lying to you and hoping to drive the persuasion home, they might smile. Naturally, we smile at each other to signal to another person that we’re genuine but, as Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting, suggests, an authentic smile is in the eyes — not the mouth.

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9 Military Categories The Oscars Forgot

Sure, the Academy Awards have categories like “Best Actor” and “Best Adapted Screenplay,’ and, yes, military movies like “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game” are in the mix this year. But all of that falls somewhat short of capturing the true military cinematic essence that this year’s crop of films produced. Here are nine categories that the Oscars forgot and the winners in each:


1. Best Misuse Of Government Property By A Leading Man: Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”

Because Bradley Cooper’s Chris Kyle was a super badass sniper, he had a phone so that generals and even the president could call him to tell him who he should put the crosshairs on next. What did Cooper’s Kyle use the phone for?  To call his wife, usually right before a firefight was about to break out.  And once it did he wouldn’t hang up (in order not to alarm her or anything).

2. Best Use of Kristen Stewart’s Bitch Face By An Actress In A Leading Role: Kristen Stewart, “Camp X-Ray”

Kristen Stewart plays a U.S. Army guard at Gitmo who develops a sympathetic relationship – through a prison door – with one of the detainees.  But her sympathy is buried under the same expression she’s used in every movie she’s ever been in, that signature bitchy pouty girl face, so it’s hard to tell when she’s sympathetic and when she’s bored or pissed off. But, hey, like B.B. King said, “You can play just one note if it’s the right one.” We say bravo, Ms. Stewart.

3. Best Supporting Actor In A Role About The Fact All Vets Are Doomed: Brad Hawkins, “Boyhood”

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Brilliantly filmed over a 12-year period, director Richard Linklater’s gem focuses on the life of a sometimes single mom and her two kids.  The mom’s third love interest is a returning vet who’s just back from Iraq. He seems like a nice, well-adjusted guy, but after a while he’s holding down a job as a prison guard and sitting on the front porch guzzling beer and yelling at the son about being a good-for-nothing, which is to say they got it exactly right because that’s what always happens to returning vets.

4. Best Portrayal Of The Perils Of Having Sex In Combat: “Fury”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uAKbSLsXxg

Brad Pitt’s Sherman tank crew stumble across the home of a war-weary German family with a hot daughter, and they enjoy a bit of normalcy. One of the crew hooks up with the daughter, and once they’re done the crew leaves and minutes later the family’s house gets blown to smithereens by an air strike.

5. Best WTFO? Moment: “300 – Rise of Empires”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb6w6Qz55jc

In the middle of a kick ass war-at-sea between ancient sailing ships, General Themistocles suddenly produces a horse that he rides all over the deck while slashing and stabbing his foe.  But it really gets good when the horse – without any hesitation – gallops through flaming wreckage, leaps into the water, and then jumps onto an enemy ship where Themistocles continues his savaging of the enemy – truly the year’s best WTFO? military movie moment.

6. Most Dramatic Flame-out Of A Military Movie Franchise: “Jarhead 2”

Three words: Straight. To. DVD.

7. Best Actress In A Role About The Joys Of Being A Military Mom: Michelle Monaghan “Ft. Bliss”

Michelle Monaghan plays a single mom soldier who returns home after 15 months in Iraq only to find that her 6-year-old son has forgotten who she is.  (What, did the rest of family hide all the pictures of her? And no Skype?) About the point her son starts to warm to her she’s sent back to Iraq because that’s how the Army rolls.  If the military wanted you to have a kid they would have issued you one.

8. Most Groundbreaking Guerrilla Warfare Sequence: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

One of the conniving chimps uses cute chimp moves to mollify two humans just long enough to get one of their automatic weapons and blow them away with it.

9. Best Actor In A Role About The Tortured Souls Of Those In The Intelligence Community: Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5CjKEFb-sM

Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the intel genius who knows a thing or two about code breaking.  Cumberbatch’s Turing is at odds with his sexual orientation and anti-social and basically pained by everything in his life – in other words, he’s a lot like most of those in the intel community.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Rewilding war zones can help heal the wounds of conflict

Where the Iron Curtain once divided Europe with barbed wire, a network of wilderness with bears, wolves, and lynx now thrives. Commemorating 100 years since the end of World War I, people wear poppies to evoke the vast fields of red flowers which grew over the carnage of Europe’s battlefields. Once human conflict has ended, the return of nature to barren landscapes becomes a potent symbol of peace.

These tragedies, which force people away from a place, can help ecosystems replenish in their absence. Though rewilding is typically considered an active decision, like the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park, abandoned rural land often returns to wilderness of its own accord. Today, as people vacate rural settlements for life in cities, accidental rewilding has meant large predators returning to areas of Europe, long after they were almost made extinct.


Sudden changes, such as the the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disasterin 1986, result in wildlife recolonising exclusion zones in previously developed areas.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Abandonment of Pripyat, Ukraine after the Chernobyl disaster ushered in wildlife.

Warfare can also result in human exclusion, which might benefit wildlife under specific conditions. Isolation and abandonment can generate wild population increases and recoveries, which has been observed in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

The strange link between war and wildlife

Fish populations in the North Atlantic benefited from World War II as fishing fleets were drastically reduced. Fishing vessels were requisitioned by the navy, seamen were drafted and the risks of fishing due to enemy strikes or subsurface mining deterred fishermen from venturing out to sea.

As a result, the war essentially created vast “marine protected areas” for several years in the Atlantic Ocean. After the war, armed with faster and bigger trawlers with new technology, fishermen reported bonanza catches.

A more gruesome result of World War II allowed opportunistic species such as the oceanic whitetip shark to flourish, as human casualties at sea proved a rich and plentiful food source.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

The growth of oceanic whitetip shark populations during WWII is a grisly example of how war can sometimes benefit wildlife.

(CC BY-SA)

Warship wrecks also became artificial reefs on the seabed which still contribute to the abundance of marine life today. The 52 captured German warships that were sunk during World War I between the Orkney mainland and the South Isles, off the north coast of Scotland, are now thriving marine habitats.

Exclusion areas, or “no mans lands”, which remain after fighting has ended may also help terrestrial ecosystems recuperate by creating de facto wildlife reserves. Formerly endangered species, such as the Persian leopard, have re-established their populations in the rugged northern Iran-Iraq frontier.

An uneasy post-war settlement can create hard borders with vast areas forbidden to human entry. The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a 4km by 250km strip of land that has separated the two Koreas since 1953. For humans it is one of the most dangerous places on Earth, with hundreds of thousands of soldiers patrolling its edges. For wildlife however, it’s one of the safest areas in the region.

Today, the zone is home to thousands of species that are extinct or endangered elsewhere on the Korean peninsula, such as the long-tailed goral.

Miraculously, even habitats scarred by the most horrific weaponry can thrive as places where human access is excluded or heavily regulated. Areas previously used for nuclear testing, such as the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean have been recolonizedby coral and fish, which seem to be thriving in the crater of Bikini Atoll, declared a nuclear wasteland after nuclear bomb tests in the 1940s and 50s.

War – still good for nothing

For all the quirks caused by abandonment, warfare overwhelmingly harms human communities and ecosystems with equal fervor. A review of the impact of human conflict on ecosystems in Africa showed an overall decrease in wildlife between 1946 and 2010. In war’s aftermath, natural populations were slow to recover or stopped altogether as economic hardship meant conservation fell by the wayside.

Humans often continue to avoid a “no mans land” because of the presence of land mines. But these don’t differentiate between soldiers and wildlife, particularly large mammals. It’s believed that residual explosives in conflict zones have helped push some endangered species closer to extinction.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Today’s European Green Belt traces the original route of the Iron Curtain.

(CC BY-SA)

However, where possible, accidental rewilding caused by war can help reconcile people after the fighting ends by installing nature where war had brought isolation. There is hope that should Korea reunify, a permanently protected area could be established within the current demilitarised zone boundaries, allowing ecotourism and education to replace enmity.

Such an initiative has already succeeded elsewhere in the world. The European Green Belt is the name for the corridor of wilderness which runs along the former Iron Curtain, which once divided the continent. Started in the 1970s, this project has sprawled along the border of 24 states and today is the longest and largest ecological network of its kind in the world. Here, ponds have replaced exploded land mine craters and forests and insect populations have grown in the absence of farming and pesticide use.

Where war isolates and restricts human movement, nature does seem to thrive. If, as a human species, we aim for a peaceful world without war, we must strive to limit our own intrusions on the natural paradises that ironically human warfare creates and nurture a positive legacy from a tragic history.

Feature image: SpeedPropertyBuyers.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

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These are the 12 characters in every war movie

With 100 years of war films combined with the infamously derivative nature of Hollywood, there were bound to be a few archetypical characters popping up here and there (and everywhere). As a result, any given war movie will have at least one of these guys:


1. The Recruit

Young, green, and completely new to war and death, the Recruit is a little naive but ready to tackle any challenges thrown at him. He or she will either lose his or her innocence or die. (Oops, spoiler alert).

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Or not.

If the story starts in basic training, the movie will see a number of characters grow and evolve into some of the other character types.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

It doesn’t have to just be a basic trainee, though. There are many stages of military training where a service member can show how green he or she may be. The longer they remain naive, however, the more likely they won’t make it to the end of the movie, because it makes their death more tragic and that is a great catalyst for the main character.

2. The Cocky Pilot

Everyone knows this guy before he even shows up. He knows his bird, he knows his job, and he knows the skies. So does everyone else. He might be a loose cannon, a renegade… a Maverick?

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

Sometimes the other pilots don’t entirely trust him; his leadership questions his judgement. He might be too good. You may not trust him at first either, but he’ll surprise you. He probably rides a motorcycle.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
. . . or a Taun-Taun.

3. The Drill Sergeant

Where would the platoon be without training? Who turns the recruit into the Dependable NCO (more on that later)? The Drill Sergeant of course. the most famous example being R. Lee Ermey’s Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, his lines are, at some point in their career, quoted incessantly by everyone who ever served ever.

You don’t see much of the Drill Sergeant lately, but if there’s a story that covers a character’s entire service or requires a group of raw recruits to congeal as a unit, they have to start somewhere. It’s usually basic training.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MCXpQQ4KEg

If you civilians are wondering why someone who is supposed to be scaring the undisciplined crap out of recruits to train them to be the best American fighting forces on the planet is depicted as being so funny, it’s because the drill instructors are funny. We just aren’t allowed to laugh until at least a year later.

4. The Crazy Officer/NCO

He could be a war junkie or he could be literally insane. The truth is, there’s a screw (or two) loose up there somewhere and unfortunately, everyone in his chain of command will still act on his orders. Because the Drill Sergeant trained us to.

If the Crazy Officer gets too crazy, you can be prepared for his downfall being central to either the main plot or one of the rising actions as the story goes along. If you hate him and he doesn’t really add anything to the unit like the Drill Sergeant does, chances are good he’s gonna die or just be removed in some way. Captain America in Generation Kill is also a good example of the Crazy Officer, but one the most memorable is Col. Kilgore from Apocalypse Now.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
You know what that smell is, reader.

5. The Dependable NCO

This is the guy you want leading you into battle… because he will lead you out of it. You will not only learn how to fight this war, but you’ll learn why you’re fighting it and why it matters to your country. He will probably save your ass at some point. He is 100 percent good, following the laws of war and protecting his men and civilians. This earns him some enemies among his own but he is still one bad ass good guy. Sgt. Elias in Platoon is a good example of the Dependable NCO.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90B5REGHc0w

Unfortunately, your emotional attachment to him means his days are probably numbered. He might be too good for the enemy to kill, so he will likely be killed by either friendly fire or in some sort of fragging incident. You will want to save him and so will many of his men… but they probably can’t. There are a few notable survivors, however.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

6. The Dependable Officer

A true leader, he is also undeniably human. Where the Dependable NCO knows the score in every situation, the Dependable Officer struggles with the morality of every decision he or she makes and weighs it against what his gut tells him. When it comes time to be decisive, he nails it. You would never know how long he or she thought about it. This is why his troops trust him. He also regularly pulls his people out of harm’s way.

The Dependable Officer sympathizes with the people he or she leads, but takes the fallout of the decision on and doesn’t let themselves get too carried away. No matter what, they will always do the right thing until they can’t go on.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

He is often an old school officer, never fraternizing, but knows his men well. The Dependable Officer may talk to other officers about his thoughts, but he will only reveal himself as a real person to his men if/when necessary.

Like the Dependable NCO, the Dependable Officer’s fate isn’t always sealed. For unknown reasons, The Dependable Officer actually has a much higher survival rate than the NCO.

7. The Gruff NCO

The saltiest of the salty, the grizzled, old Gruff NCO has been there and done that and survived. You don’t have to like him, and he doesn’t care if you do or not, but you will respect him. Chances are good he will make it to the end credits and teach you about life along the way.

8. The Incompetent Officer (or NCO)

The Incompetent Officer seems like he’s in the unit way too long. How can it not be clear to everyone how bad this person is at his job? The truth is we need this person to commit egregious acts of stupidity and inability for far too long, right up until the critical moment, because from his removal or comeuppance, a true leader will emerge.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Captain Sobel is kinda sad when you read about the real person. It’s still okay to make fun of David Schwimmer though.

If the true leader doesn’t emerge, then the incompetent one is used either as an example of what the worst case scenario for an officer could be, or to contrast with the really good people in the outfit, to make them look even better, like Captain America did to contrast Lieutenant Fick’s leadership in Generation Kill.

9. The Jokester

Usually the best part of that particular movie, the Jokester is the comic relief for a film or one of the central characters. They’re usually up against a person or system that is so unfunny and rigid so as to be like… an Army or something.

Still, their behavior doesn’t make them unlikeable, at least not on screen. Chances are good, however, in real like you would probably want to blanket party this person every night. But this isn’t real life, and watching mudwrestling with Ziskey and Ox seems like a great time.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

The Jokester doesn’t have to be an outright party animal. Joker in Full Metal Jacket may have been a Jokester, but he was actually still a good troop who did his job, even as a rifleman, despite his personal feelings about the war. Remember, Joker is the one who shot the Vietcong sniper at point blank range.

10. The True Leader

He emerges when he’s needed most. He handles every situation he’s in like an expert, even when he’s not. He wears a brave face for his men, but even so, the men know he cares for real. More often than not, when the True Leader shows up in a war film or show, the character is based on a real person.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Dick Winters: Reel Life vs. Real Life

The True Leader would have to be based on a real person who was a true leader, because if he were fictional, no one watching would ever be able to believe he did the things he did.

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam
Benjamin O. Davis: Reel Life vs. Real Life

11. The Sniper

This one is pretty self- explanatory. The Sniper isn’t in every movie, but when he’s there, he’s the guardian of the troops on the ground, the eyes in the sky, and the avenging angel of death who gets sh*t done when no one else can.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF40oKgQ9Jg

One thing is for certain: it really is awesome to watch sniper scenes.

12. The Veteran’s Veteran

Maybe he’s trained in a bunch of stuff the average troop will never see or even read about. Maybe we’re better off not knowing guys like this exist. Some of them are so awesome in battle, they don’t need a quick reaction force, close air support, or even a gun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc2OvrpzjvM

No matter how operator they may be, what makes them The Veteran’s Veteran is what they do for their fellow warfighter. Their feelings are usually captured in a meaningful speech during or after the battle.

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