7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America's most elite warriors - We Are The Mighty
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7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Former Navy SEAL Task Unit Bruiser commander Jocko Willink, left, and Charlie Platoon leader Leif Babin. | Courtesy of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin


The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) oversees the American military units that take on incredibly difficult and unconventional missions.

These units contain some of the most elite warriors in the world.

And though each unit in SOCOM has its own culture, certain approaches are universal.

From their writings and from our interviews with former Navy SEAL commanders Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, former Delta Force commander going by the pseudonym Dalton Fury, and retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who led the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) branch of SOCOM before leading American forces in the war in Afghanistan — Business Insider noticed recurring lessons on leadership that could apply in any type of career.

We’ve collected those lessons here.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Students assigned to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL class 282 participate in Rock Portage at Coronado Island in 2010. | Seaman Kyle Gahlau/Navy Visual News Service via Flickr

A team’s success falls entirely on its leader

After returning from duty as a SEAL platoon commander in the 2006 battle of Ramadi in Iraq, Leif Babin became a SEAL training instructor. It was during one “Hell Week” of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S) in 2008 that he saw an incredible example of leadership at work, he wrote in his 2015 book “Extreme Ownership,” cowritten with Jocko Willink.

Babin and his fellow instructors split the SEAL candidates into teams of seven for a string of boat races, which required the teams to run with a 200-pound raft held aloft and then placed into the ocean for a short course. After several races, Boat Crew II was almost guaranteed to win and Boat Crew VI was almost guaranteed to come in last place.

The most senior instructor decided to swap the team leaders of Crews II and VI. To Babin’s surprise, Crew II performed well but never reached first, and Crew VI won nearly every race.

“When the leader of Boat Crew II took charge of Boat Crew VI … [h]e didn’t wait for others to solve his boat crew’s problems,” Babin wrote. “Rather than tolerate their bickering and infighting, he pulled the team together and focused their collective efforts on the single specific goal of winning the race.”

What it all comes down to, Babin writes, is “whether or not your team succeeds or fails is all on you.”

Manage your boss

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

Dalton Fury spent more than 20 years in the US Army as a Ranger and then as a Delta Force operator.

Fury is the pseudonym he uses for his writing, since his time in Delta Force, one of the  most secretive and elite forces in the US, has required him to conceal his true identity.

He sent us a collection of leadership lessons he learned in Delta Force and Rangers

Fury writes that part of being an effective leader is knowing not only how to instill confidence in your subordinates, but in your superior.

He explains that there are times in special operations where plan A isn’t going exactly as planned, and if the leadership in charge of the mission’s commander gets nervous, the entire thing could turn into a disaster. It’s why, Fury says, leaders need to assure their own leaders in advance that they are prepared for whatever unexpected situations arise.

 

Mitigate risk as much as possible

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
The Delta Force unit that served in the battle of Tora Bora.

Whoever’s in charge can’t waste time excessively contemplating a scenario without making a decision. But when it’s time to make that decision, all risk must be mitigated as much as possible.

Willink and Babin both write about situations in Ramadi in which delaying an attack until every detail about a target was clarified, even when it frustrated other units they were working with, resulted in avoiding tragic friendly fire.

Fury says it is the leader’s responsibility to “see the forest through the trees” and anticipate as many scenarios in a mission as possible, in order to always have a plan ready to go with the least risky choice available.

Have a set of standards that guide decisions

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal sits aboard a helicopter during active duty in 2009.

“There are a set of standards that you know are right,”McChrystal told Business Insider. “They may look and feel different at times, but those standards should guide you.”

He said that there was once a time when he was mulling over a weighty decision with a command sergeant major, and he was questioning what his values were telling him was right. They worked over the decision for six months.

“And at the end of that decision, I thought I had consensus, and I announced this decision, and I looked to him for approval and he said, ‘It was the right decision. But you could have made it six months ago.'”

“The reality is we often delay making decisions when we already know the right answer and we’re trying somehow to prevent ourselves from having to make that step because we’re trying to mitigate all the reaction we’ll get to it,” he said. “But sometimes you just have to cut bait and do it.”

Be the alpha, but don’t be overbearing

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Retired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink. | Twitter/Jocko Willink

As a SEAL officer, Willink needed to be aggressive. (“Some may even accuse me of hyper-aggression,” he said.) But he differentiated being a powerful presence to his SEAL team from being an intimidating figure.

He wrote that, “I did my utmost to ensure that everyone below me in the chain of command felt comfortable approaching me with concerns, ideas, thoughts, and even disagreements.”

“That being said,” he added, “my subordinates also knew that if they wanted to complain about the hard work and relentless push to accomplish the mission I expected of them, they best take those thoughts elsewhere.”

As Fury put it: “Play well with others — but remain the alpha.”

Be calm without being robotic

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Retired Navy SEAL commander Jocko Willink, left, during the 2006 battle of Ramadi in Iraq. | Courtesy of Todd Pitman

Willink says that while leaders who lose their tempers lose respect, they also can’t establish a relationship with their team if they never expression anger, sadness, or frustration.

“People do not follow robots,” he writes.

For Fury, this comes when a leader is humble. “And at that moment when you apply this secret, realizing you are not one of the action heroes — more Clark Kent than Superman — you have met the first standard for actually leading high-performance teams,” he wrote.

Trust your subordinates

Fury says that in the military, commanders establish relationships with officers they can trust to act on their own and come through in a crisis.

For example, Fury writes, “Year after year, commander to commander, maverick warrior … Jim ‘Serpico’ Reese, a stand-out Ranger and Delta officer, quite possibly would have made [Ulysses S.] Grant appear wanting when it came to working through chaos, calming nerves, and demanding the best out of subordinates.”

It’s this trust in each other that makes elite units so special.

When talking about the Navy SEALs in particular, McChrystal wrote in his book, “Team of Teams,” he said it is their intense, selfless teamwork from the top down that allows them to process any challenge with “near telepathy.”

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Delta Force operators in Afghanistan, their faces censored to protect their privacy. Courtesy of Dalton Fury.

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This is what battle was like for airmen during World War II

 


The Air Force today takes a ribbing from the other services for being soft, so it’s easy to forget that historically their mission has been one of the most dangerous. This was on display in World War II when Allied aircrews were tasked with bombing Nazi-occupied Germany and Imperial Japan.

In this clip, a World War II Royal Air Force veteran discusses what it was like flying bombers to Berlin through a wall of flak so thick that, as he describes it, it sounded like driving a car through a hailstorm. He also tells of the mission where their bomber was chased down by German fighters and forced to crash land.

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10 Sailors missing after USS John S. McCain collides in South China Sea

SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) — UPDATE POSTED AUG. 20, 9:42 P.M. (EDT)


The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21.

There are currently 10 Sailors missing and five injured.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

A family assistance center has been established. Families can call 011-81-46-816-1728 (international) or 243-1728 (DSN on base).

The ship is currently sailing under its own power and heading to port.

Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities. In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, Republic of Singapore Navy Fearless-class patrol ships RSS Gallant (97), RSS Resilience (82), RSN helicopters and Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are currently in the area to render assistance.

MV-22s and SH-60s from USS America are also responding.

Alnic MC is a 600-foot oil and chemical tanker with a gross tonnage of 30,000.

Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft. The extent of damage and personnel injuries is being determined. The incident will be investigated.

More information to follow.

——————-

UPDATED AT AUG. 20, 8:42 P.M. (EDT)

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore on Aug. 21.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

A family assistance center has been established. Families can call 011-81-46-816-1728 (international) or 243-1728 (DSN on base).

The ship is currently sailing under its own power and heading to port.

Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities. In addition to tug boats out of Singapore, the Republic of Singapore Navy ship RSS Gallant (97), RSN helicopters and Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark (55) are currently in the area to render assistance.

MV-22s and SH-60s from USS America are also responding.

Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft. The extent of damage and personnel injuries is being determined. The incident will be investigated.

More information to follow.

——————-

POSTED AUG. 20, 7:38 P.M. (EDT)

SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) — The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel Alnic MC while underway east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca, Aug. 21.

The collision was reported at 6:24 a.m. Japan Standard Time, while the ship was transiting to a routine port visit in Singapore.

Initial reports indicate John S. McCain sustained damage to her port side aft.

Search and rescue efforts are underway in coordination with local authorities.

More information to follow.

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This is the fascinating process of how samurai swords are made

Samurai are some of the most popular and enduring figures of Japanese culture. They are the heroes of poems, stories and movies in Japan and Western countries alike. The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, is perhaps the best-known example of that fascination. Samurai were part of the military noble class in feudal Japan, an era that stretched from the 12th century until 1876. Their role was mostly that of military officers, although they have also taken on the role of administrators when the need arose. Administrator-like samurai were mostly seen during the Edo-era, which spanned from 1603 to 1868.

The Warrior Class

This class of highly-trained warriors adhered to a very strict moral code that placed loyalty and honor above everything else. They had to be fearless, disciplined and stoic in the face of pain or danger. To give their lives on the battlefield for the sake of their master was not only a matter of course, it was a great honor. They obeyed the orders of their lord without question or hesitation. To fail in a task, to be cowardly or to disobey led to shame, disgrace and dishonor. In order to regain this honor, they could commit seppuku, a ritual suicide. However, there could be a conflict of interest when a higher lord was in disagreement with a samurai’s master. There have been records of samurai betraying their lord to follow the Emperor’s command.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Painting of Ōishi Yoshio committing seppuku in 1703 (Public domain/ Wikimedia Commons)

Symbols of the Samurai

The mark of the samurai was the right to bear two swords. Katana, tachi, wakizashi or tantō, the distinctive curved shape of these swords have made them memorable in war history. The smiths who forged these weapons were often considered both artisans and artists. As the weapon was considered an extension of the warrior’s soul, there was a spiritual dimension to the making of a samurai sword, and often, the smith was blessed by a priest before the beginning of his work.

A samurai sword was made from high-quality steel called tamahagane, which was obtained by smelting iron sand and charcoal in a clay furnace for 72 hours without interruption. The obtained steel was then broken to bits and sorted through by carbon content. The combination of high and low carbon-content steel forged a sword both sharp and strong. The pieces of steel were then heated, hammered and folded repeatedly by the smith (up to 16 times). It helped to distribute carbon more evenly, eliminating impurities and air bubble which could have weakened the sword, as well as creating layers that reinforced the blade.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
This exhibit features the samurai-style sword of Lt. Col. Richard Sakakida, a Japanese American U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps agent who served in the U.S. Army during World War II (U.S. Army)

Once the steel was ready, it was time to properly forge the blade. The core of the blade was made of low-carbon content steel for toughness, while the outer shell was made with high-carbon content steel, providing sharpness. The signature curved shaped was obtained through the cooling process. The blunt side of the blade was covered with a thick coat of clay while the sharp side was only lightly dusted. The blade was then taken out of the fire and plunged into water. The difference in cooling speed caused the blade to contract on one side, thus giving it a curved shape. The slower cooling process of the upper side of the blade also added a lot of flexibility to the weapon. The finished sword was thus meant to ally sharpness, toughness, and flexibility. It was a weapon designed for slashing and was very difficult to break.

Quality Assurance

Before being handed to a samurai, the blade was then polished, mounted and tested. The polishing process could take weeks to obtain a razor-sharp edge. As the samurai’s sword was such a powerful symbol, the creation of the hilt, guard, and scabbard was an art in itself. They were often made with precious materials (ivory, gold, silver, and rare woods) and depicted incredibly detailed carved or hand-painted scenes of Japanese mythology. The final step was to test the quality of the blade, as a samurai had to rely on his sword to survive on the battlefield. It was done by cutting through bamboo or corpses, to verify that it could easily cut through flesh and bone. It’s even speculated that new swords were tested by executing prisoners, as it was considered an honorable way to die.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Nicole Zurbrugg

The samurai’s final sword was as much a work of art as it was a lethal weapon. The quality of their swords, the rigidity of their moral code, their martial talents, and their fearlessness in the face of death all turned the samurai into warriors of legend–legends that still inspire fascination to this day, over 150 years after their disbanding.


Feature image: Wikimedia Commons

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6 things that 330 Marines can do on their own

Russia recently announced that a nuclear strike was on the table after Norway allowed 330 U.S. Marines into the country.


Not 330 Marine divisions. Not 330 tanks and their crews. But 330 Marines with their personal gear.

You know, enough Marines to firmly hold a small town, but about 380,000 fewer troops than the U.S. used to invade Iraq.

But Russia has freaked out like this is a huge military force staged on their border instead of a couple of hundred troops 600 miles away. Frants Klintsevitsj, the deputy chairman of Russia’s defense and security committee, even went on national TV and said that Norway had been added to Russia’s target list for nuclear weapons.

Listen to the author and other veterans talk about the damage 330 U.S. Marines can do on the Mandatory Fun podcast

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It turns out that most people have been underestimating Marines since 330 of them are apparently such a strategic threat that it necessitates a nuclear deterrent. In light of this new information, here are six things that 330 Marines could do on their own:

1. Conquer Russia, obviously

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Nicholas Lienemann

Clearly. Russia has basically admitted it.

2. Kill Xerxes and use his bones to beat the rest of the Persian Army to death

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
(Photo: Flickr/Guillaume Cattiaux)

The famed 300 Spartans at Thermopylae did a good job holding back the Persian forces, but they’re not a nuclear-equivalent force like the Marines are. And, the Marines enjoy a 10 percent size advantage against the Spartans. Expect the Marines to quickly cut their way through to Xerxes’ private traveling palace, dismantle the god-king, and use his bones as cudgels against the rest of the Persian army.

3. Install Gen. James Mattis as the Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

Since Idi Amin died in 2003, the Earth has gone without a Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas. While Amin was seen as a lackluster Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas, this was mainly because he was more interested in being a tyrant of humans than anything else.

But, 330 Marines could easily quash the lions or any other animal who tries to claim dominion over our planet’s living creatures. This would allow them to install their favorite candidate for anything ever, Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

Also read: 15 quotes from Gen. Mad Dog’ Mattis, slayer of bodies

4. Stop the invasion of Mars currently being conducted by the legions of Hell

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
(Video capture: WATM Logan Nye)

Since the traitor Olivia Pierce opened a portal to Hell and allowed legions of demonic forces with jetpacks and arm cannons to invade Mars, America has been cut off from the formerly steady argent energy produced on the red planet. But with only 330 Marines, the world could be cleared in days. It might be done within hours if the Marines can find any more of that power armor and some BFGs.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

 

5. Conquer all of Westeros and sit on the Iron Throne

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
(Photo: Flickr/Pat Loika)

Seriously, it’s been six seasons already. It’s time for the Marines to end the ongoing instability of Westeros and install a strong leader. Mattis would be a great king if he’s not interested in beasts and fishes, but there are certainly other Devil Dogs who could sit on the throne. Rob Riggle might do it.

6. Claim the Arctic circle for America, including the parts that are already property of other countries

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
(Photo: YouTube/BBC Newsbeat)

A race for resources has slowly gotten underway in the Arctic, and the 330 Marines in Norway could go ahead and take over the whole area. Since the Arctic circle is only 310 miles north of the Marines training area at Vaernes, Norway, it would actually be easier for them to head to the Arctic than for them to attempt an invasion of Russia.

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This Japanese pilot led the attack on Pearl Harbor then moved to the US

Mitsuo Fuchita was just shy of 40 years-old during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. When he took off in the observer’s deck of a Nakajima B5N2 ‘Kate’ torpedo bomber that day, he probably never imagined he would spend much of the rest of his life in the country he was set to destroy.


7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

Commander Fuchita was in the lead plane of the first wave of bombers that hit Hawaii that day. He was the overall tactical commander in the air and led the attacks that destroyed American air power on the ground and crippled the Navy’s battleship force — a strike group of 353 aircraft from six Japanese carriers.

It was Mitsuo Fuchita who called the infamous words “Tora! Tora! Tora!” over the radio to the other Japanese planes.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

He later wrote:

“Like a hurricane out of nowhere, my torpedo planes, dive bombers and fighters struck suddenly with indescribable fury. As smoke began to billow and the proud battleships, one by one, started tilting, my heart was almost ablaze with joy. During the next three hours, I directly commanded the fifty level bombers as they pelted not only Pearl Harbor, but the airfields, barracks and dry docks nearby. Then I circled at a higher altitude to accurately assess the damage and report it to my superiors.”

See Also: The attack on Pearl Harbor by the numbers

Fuchita next led the Japanese bombing of Darwin, the largest enemy attack ever wrought on Australia. He then led attacks on British Ceylon — now known as Sri Lanka — where he sank five Royal Navy ships.

He was still aboard the Akagi during the Battle of Midway, perhaps the most pivotal naval battle in American History.

When Midway began, Fuchita was below decks, recovering from appendicitis. He could not fly in his condition so he assisted other officers, coming up to the bridge during the fighting. When Akagi was evacuated that afternoon, Fuchita suffered two broken ankles as the bridge, already burning, exploded.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
A6M2 Zero fighters prepare to launch from Akagi as part of the second wave of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

He was soon promoted to staff officer rank and spent the rest of the war on the Japanese home islands. Fuchita was even one of the inspectors who went to assess Hiroshima after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city.

When WWII ended, he left the Navy and converted to Christianity after reading a pamphlet written by Jacob DeShazer, one of the Doolittle Raiders who was captured after the raid. He was converted by the pamphlet but was astonished upon meeting DeShazer  a few years later.

He called the meeting his “day to remember,” referencing the attack on Pearl Harbor. The experience with the Doolittle Raider changed him “from a bitter, disillusioned ex-pilot into a well-balanced Christian with purpose in living,” Fuchita wrote after the war.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Mitsuo Fuchita with Jacob DeShazer and family after WWII ended.

After his conversion, Fuchita toured the United States and Europe as a traveling missionary, regretting the loss of life he inflicted during the war. America, the country he attacked in 1941, eventually became his permanent residence. He wrote numerous books about his wartime experiences and conversion to Christianity.

Though he spent much of the rest of his life in the U.S., Mitsuo Fuchita died in Japan in 1973.

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This battle decided which cuss words you use

William the Conqueror defeated King Harold in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, changing the way Englishmen would speak — and cuss — for all of time.


7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Actors participate in a reproduction of the Battle of Hastings. Photo: Antonio Borrillo CC BY-SA 3.0

Before the war William was the Duke of Normandy, the area of western France that the Allies would invade almost 900 years later to defeat the Nazis. William had ambitions beyond the continent though, and sought out an audience with King Edward the Confessor of England. Edward had no children and no obvious heir.

William claimed that Edward promised him the throne during this conversation in 1060, but on his deathbed Edward named an English noble as his successor. Harold Godwine ascended to the throne in 1066 but William immediately called bull-scheisse and contested Harold’s claim.

For obvious reasons, Harold wasn’t eager to give up his throne. So William crossed the English channel with 7,000 soldiers. Harold had just finished fighting off a Norwegian invasion and was forced to face this new threat with a diminished number of troops.

About two weeks later, Harold and William met with their armies near Hastings. The battle raged all day Oct. 13, 1066, and Harold was killed at the end of the fighting.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

The Normans marched to London and William was crowned king. Once he ascended, William declared French, his native language, the official language of the court. This left the Germanic language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons, Old English, as a “lower” language.

According to the Oxford Dictionary blog, this created a two-tiered language that evolved into modern English. Words for things connected to the ruling class, like large homes and prepared meat, drew from French. So noblemen lived in mansions and ate buef (beef) and porc (pork), while an Anglo-Saxon lived in hus (houses) and raised cus (cows) and picg (pigs).

When it came to the lowest and most vulgar of words, like those for poop, butts, and sex, the Old English words with German roots, scheissearsch, and ficken, became terms of profanity. It shouldn’t be too hard to guess which words those evolved into.

(h/t Alex Schmidt of Cracked)

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Watch this Marine describe his personal battle at Tarawa

Louis Mamula was one of the Marines assigned to take Betio Island of the Tarawa Atoll in the Pacific.


What was supposed to be a tough but short battle where the Marines would quickly win became some of the bloodiest 76 hours in American history as obstacles on the approach and determined Japanese defenders made the Marines bleed for every bit of sand.

The idea behind capturing Betio Island in the Tarawa Atoll was that it would serve as the opening blow in a new front across the Japanese and give the Navy and Marine Corps a corridor through the Central Pacific to Japan.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Casualties and destruction after the battle for the Tarawa Atoll. (U.S. Navy)

But the landings ran into trouble as coral reefs and man-made obstacles in the water proved more troublesome than originally expected. Troops headed to the beaches sometimes had to get out of their amphibious vehicles and wade through chest-deep water to the beaches under fire.

On land, the situation wasn’t much better. The relatively flat island gave defensive machine gun positions wide fields of fire and favored the defender.

Mamula landed in this chaos and pushed forward with the other Marines of the 2nd Marine Division. In the video below, he discusses what it took to capture the island so well defended that the Japanese boasted, “a million Americans could not take Tarawa in 100 years!”

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This is what happens when the world’s best fighter jets face off against each other

Next-generation fighter jets, simulated aerial combat, and some of the best pilots from the US, British, and French air forces – no, this isn’t a scene from the next Hollywood blockbuster. It’s the latest combined exercise testing pilots’ ability to operate, communicate and dominate in a combat environment.


Called “Atlantic Trident,” this month-long exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, focused on anti-access and aerial-denial missions, which were meant to place the US, British, and French pilots in situations that tested their limits and capabilities.

“This exercise is great because it brings our best and some of our allies best fighters together to train and learn from each other in a very challenging environment,” said Col. Pete Fesler, 1st Fighter Wing commander. “It’s also a great way to test the capabilities of these advanced aircraft.”

The advanced aircraft participating included the F-22 Raptor, the F-35 Lightning II, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Dassault Rafale – all of which bring a lot of capabilities to the fight. The aircraft were supported by USAF Air Combat Command E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control aircraft and Air Mobility Command KC-10 Extender refueling aircraft.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard

According to Lockheed Martin, the Raptor’s unique combination of advanced stealth, supercruise, advanced maneuverability, and integrated avionics allow it to “kick down the door,” and then follow up with 24-hour stealth operations and freedom of movement for all follow-on forces – fully leveraging the Raptor’s technological advantages.

The F-35, meanwhile, is no slouch, either. The F-35 combines fifth generation fighter aircraft characteristics — advanced stealth, integrated avionics, sensor fusion and superior logistics support — with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history. This means the Lightning II can collect and share battlespace data with other friendly aircraft and commanders on the ground and at sea.

“The F-35 brings an unprecedented combination of lethality, survivability, and adaptability to joint and combined operations,” said Maj. Mike Krestyn, an F-35 pilot with the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

Pilots of both the F-22 and F-35 refer to their jets as aerial “quarterbacks,” capable of controlling an airspace by locating, identifying and sharing the location of enemy threats within a battlespace.

Then, allied aircraft like the Typhoon and Rafale can use their advanced weaponry to eliminate these threats.

All of these advanced aircraft provide lethality never before seen in aerial combat, and their pilots training and flying together enhances tactics, ensures coalition teams are on the same page and strengthens relationships.

“The Air Force and our partners must seek opportunities to develop, expand and sustain relationships wherever possible,” said Heidi Grant, deputy under secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs. “This enables us to amplify our collective strengths and improves our ability to confront shared challenges.”

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

 

From the pilots’ viewpoint, this is also a matter of “training like we fight.”

“We won’t go to war without our allies,” said Capt. Nichole Stilwell, a T-38 pilot with the 71st Fighter Training Squadron. “So we have to train together to make sure we get the most out of our capabilities.”

The Human Element

But, none of these capabilities mean anything without one crucial component.

“People,” Fesler said. “It doesn’t matter how advanced an aircraft is if we don’t have quality people flying and fixing them.”

It’s easy to get distracted by the sleek aircraft and their state-of-the-art capabilities, but this shouldn’t take away from how important the human element still is to air operations, he added.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

“There is so much more to this than simply flying an advanced jet and shooting stuff,” Fesler said. “There are people on the ground making sure these planes fly, people in support functions making sure missions happen and go smoothly, and there are people making sure pilots receive the training they need to be effective.”

So, exercises like this are really all about people – training them, developing them, testing them – and relationship building, he added.

Throughout the exercise, US, British and French pilots planned, flew and evaluated missions together, working side-by-side to develop tactics and talk about lessons learned from each day’s flights.

“This type of training is invaluable,” said Royal Air Force Wing Cmdr. Chris Hoyle, 1 (Fighter) Squadron. “It really places a premium on people and relationships, which both are very important to our success as allies.”

These bonds and friendships made at Atlantic Trident can also carry over into other operations.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

“This is a great foundation for us to build on,” Hoyle said. “Some of the US or French people I’ve met, or some my guys have met, can really create great opportunities in the future. If I need something, I can pick up the phone and call … and then the relationships we started here can really pay off down the road.”

Still, as pilots of each aircraft are quick to point out, a conversation about people can’t happen without talking about maintainers.

“We simply borrow the jets for a little while, the maintainers own them,” said Krestyn. “They fix them and care for them and then they let us use them.” This sentiment is echoed by Hoyle.

“As pilots, we have the easy part,” he said. “We fly the plane, but it’s the maintainers and support personnel who make everything happen. It doesn’t matter how advanced a jet is, if no one fixes it or makes sure it’s able to take off and accomplish the mission, then it’s a useless piece of equipment.”

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

Sharpening the Sword

Once these advanced fighters do get in the air, testing them and their pilots is still important. This is where the adversary squadrons come in.

Made up of T-38s from Langley and F-15E Strike Eagles from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, these “adversaries” acted as enemy combatants during the exercise to test friendly force’s air-to-air abilities.

Flying outdated, past-their-prime trainer jets against the most technologically superior fighters in the world may seem futile, but the adversary pilots have a different outlook.

“I think of it as our sword is very sharp, we just help make it sharper,” Stilwell said. “We make pilots adapt their tactics, we make them think and we try to test them as much as possible.”

At the end of the day, though, exercises like Atlantic Trident do more than give pilots time behind the stick. These exercises are providing relevant, realistic training so that when pilots do experience stressful combat situations for the first time, they are prepared.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
USAF photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

“Air superiority is not an American birthright,” said Gen. David Goldfien, Air Force Chief of Staff. “It’s actually something you have to fight for and maintain.”

Air superiority doesn’t just mean having the most technologically sophisticated aircraft in the world. It also means having highly trained and experienced pilots to fly them.

Working together also helps each of the players learn to speak the same language – that of winning.

“Really, the goal of exercises like this is to train and learn together so that on day one of a future conflict, we dominate,” Fesler said.

Articles

The 13 Funniest Military Memes Of The Week

After another arduous week of combing the internetz for good lulz, here are our picks for great military memes.


It wouldn’t sting so much if it weren’t true.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
If you poop on the carpet, you’ll change ranks quickly too.

Ah, the beautiful colors of fall.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
‘Playing’ means different things to different people.

If enlisting didn’t teach you not to volunteer, this cleaning detail will.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
When you see what first sergeant has everyone else doing, you’ll wish you volunteered.

The sun was in his eyes …

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
… right before that fist was in his eye.

I’d love to see this guy at the promotion board.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Seeing a panel of sergeants major assess him for proper uniform fit would be amazing.

One way to fix a fat neck? Destroy it.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Throat punch is also a good solution for uppity privates or hovering officers.

Falling asleep at staff duty is a pretty quick ticket to this.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

Pilots have so many switches and buttons to worry about.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

Just because you’re at war, that’s no reason to be uncivilized.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

Marines don’t always understand how airborne works.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Airborne wings are just a uniform thing. You can’t actually fly, Marine.

Hurry up and clean!

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Ok, now wait. Keep waiting. Keep waiting …

A-10s have a one-track mind.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
And on that track, they rain destruction on a Biblical scale.

Yeah, that’ll show those lazy airmen.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
You should take them outside and teach them how to PT.

NOW: 7 Interesting Facts About The Javelin Missile System

And: Soldiers Record Catchy Beatles Cover From A Snowbank 

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7 sailors killed in Navy ship collision off Japan coast

Seven   sailors who went missing following a collision between their destroyer and a Philippine-flagged cargo ship were found dead on Sunday, the  7th Fleet said in a statement.


The bodies of the missing sailors “were located in the flooded berthing compartments” after rescue workers were able to gain access to areas of the Fitzgerald that were damaged in the collision with the ACX Crystal.

The sailors’ bodies are being transferred to the  Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan, where the  7th Fleet is headquartered, to proceed with the identification process, the statement added.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart/Released)

The Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal collided on Saturday at 2.30 am local time in Japanese waters.

Two people injured during the incident, including the destroyer’s commander Bryce Benson, were evacuated.

Read More: 5 times severely-damaged ships returned to the fleet

Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen KK, which charters the Philippine cargo ship, said none of the 20 crew members on board were hurt.

Both ships were severely damaged and had to be towed by the Japanese Coast Guard.

The  destroyer suffered damage on the starboard side, above and below the waterline, which led to the flooding of the berthing compartments, a machinery room and the radio room.

The ship, with around 330 crew members, is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, among the largest and most advanced destroyers built by the .

It was deployed at the Yokosuka base, from where it was supporting peace and security missions in the Asia-Pacific.

Articles

This music festival is hitting military bases and we’re amped

A new festival experience is coming to military bases this year and we’re pretty pumped up about it. Base*FEST Powered by USAA will launch at Camp Lejeune this 4th of July weekend and continue the party through Labor Day.


7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
Did we mention it’s free?

To celebrate, we’ve put together some playlists to get you amped (may I recommend “The Double Tap Ensemble”?) and we’re teaming up with some bad ass vets who will be sharing their own musical inspiration for things like, you know, fighting terrorism and defending the free world.

Also read: 8 epic deployment music videos you need to watch

We’re also powering up with USAA and To The Fallen Entertainment to bring you a music competition that will let veterans and their families bring down the house, so stick around.

Comment below and tell us which song we absolutely cannot leave out of our ultimate Battle Mix.

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7 military regs service members violate every day

Let’s face it, the military has a lot of rules and regulations that they expect everyone to follow to the letter. For the most part, service members abide by the guidelines their commands set for them, though there are some that push the boundaries any chance they get.


Even the most squared away troop has violated a military statute at one time or another because many of them are bull sh*t less important to the mission than others.

Check out our list of regulations that service members violate every day.

1. Hands in pockets

As crazy as it sounds, having your hands stuffed inside your warm pockets on a cold day isn’t allowed; it’s the military way — but we still do it.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

 

2. Fraternization

A consensual adult relationship between officers and enlisted members totally violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but it’s a lot of fun to brag about after you get out.

3. Adultery

Sleeping with someone who isn’t your spouse is just a d*ck move. But just because it’s not cool doesn’t mean it never happens.

 

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

 

4. Wearing white socks

Although they’re more comfortable than wearing black socks with combat boots, don’t let the higher-ups see you sporting the out-of-reg look.

 

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
(Image by Ollebolle123 from Pixabay)

5. Hazing

Most service members prefer the term “hardcore training” — but for those enduring the tough discipline, it’s seen it as a negative thing.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
(Warner Bros.)

 

6. Contract marriages

Getting married strictly for monetary gain or medical benefits happens frequently, especially right before a deployment — it can turn south real quick.

 

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

7. Walking & talking on a cell phone

For millennials, this is the biggest hurdle to jump over when they first enter military service.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Hughes/Released

Bonus: Showing up to work drunk

Because service members like to drink.

7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

Can you think of any more? Leave a comment!

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