A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident - We Are The Mighty
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A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident

In the 1982 film “First Blood,” a disaffected Special Forces veteran who served in Vietnam is harassed and detained by local authorities. After giving him flashbacks to his captivity by the Viet Cong, he fights his way out of the sheriff’s office and flees into the woods. 

The cops give chase, and it doesn’t go well for them. John Rambo systematically takes them down, one by one. Now, there may be a real-world Rambo hiding in a European park in Belgium at this very moment.

This time, the enemy isn’t the treatment of Vietnam veterans, it’s COVID-19 and the restrictions placed on people to control the virus. 

Jurgen Conings is a 46-year old Belgian air force special operations commando who served in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He went missing in a national park near Belgium’s border with the Netherlands on May 18, 2021. He is alleged to have stolen a cache of weapons that he is presumed to still be carrying. 

Before he went missing, Conings penned a letter that threatened a number of government officials, especially those associated with the state’s coronavirus response.The Belgian was already on a government watch list for his far-right political views. 

Authorities were alerted to the disappearance and weapons theft after Conings girlfriend hounda letter that stated he “ could no longer live in a society where politicians and virologists have taken everything away from us.”

No matter what his political views or threats, there appears to be a large vocal voice of support for Conings on the internet, a voice that Belgian officials call “disturbing.” 

Conings was still serving the Belgian military as a weapons instructor when he went missing in the national park. So far the only trace authorities have managed to find of the soldier is an abandoned campsite and his abandoned car, which carried four rocket launchers inside it – and was booby-trapped with a grenade. 

Before becoming the target of the manhunt, Conings is believed to have reconnoitered the town and home of one of Belgium’s top virologists, a man Conings seems to hold responsible for the country’s continued coronavirus restrictions.  

Special police search units from four countries have joined the hunt for Conings, using everything from helicopters to armored cars. The search team includes 400 soldiers along with German and Dutch Special Forces units with thermal cameras. 

He is known to be armed with at least a FN P90 machine gun and a sidearm. Shots were heard ringing throughout the wooded park, but no one could confirm its source or what type of weapon was fired. It’s not known what other weapons he may have. 

Conings also stated that he “would join the resistance and would not surrender.” He has two children from a previous relationship and his girlfriend has a daughter of her own. She said that she just wanted Conings to return, calling him a “loving father.” She also said she had no indication of his anti-lockdown beliefs or that he would take the beliefs this far. 

If Conings is using John Rambo in “First Blood” as a model, it would do everyone involved some good to remember that Rambo didn’t directly kill anyone in the film and the only death came after an overzealous police officer fell from a helicopter. 

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8 of the coolest military technology advances from 2016

While 2016 took a lot from us (Carrie Fisher being one of the most recent losses), it also provided us with glimpses into the future.


So, without further ado, here’s a look at some of the new tech of 2016.

1. Carbon Nanomaterials

This article from April outlines the potential of aircraft made in one structure as opposed to many components that have to be assembled. Lockheed Martin made its mark in aviation with its famous Skunk Works in the 20th Century. The nanomaterials could lead to new developments in a wide range of products, from medical applications to building ships.

2. Russia Gets Its LCS Right

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Concept photo of Russian Projekt 20386 littoral combat ship. (Photo from Thai Military and Region blog)

Russia began work on the Derzky-class littoral combat ship this year, as WATM reported in November. While the American versions have been in the news with engineering problems, Russia seems to have taken the time to think about what its navy wanted.

Derzky will not be in service until 2021, according to reports. Perhaps, by then, the American LCS will have the kinks worked out of it.

3. New Round for Snipers?

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
A sniper from the U.S. team makes adjustments to his rifle during the unknown distance event during the Fuerzas Comando competition July 26. (Department of Defense photo by U.S. Army Master Sgt. Alex Licea, Special Operations Command South Public Affairs)

In November, WATM also noted that snipers were taking an interest in the .300 Norma Magnum round. This round offers an improved ballistic coefficient over the .338 Lapua Magnum round currently used by snipers. The round will be used in the Advanced Sniper Rifle that SOCOM is trying to procure.

4. No More “Feeling the Burn”

The Enhanced Fire Resistant Combat Ensemble is slated to help keep Marines and sailors assigned to the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command from “feeling the burn.”

This past November, WATM reported that these uniforms brought some financial bonuses, too, as they are twice as durable as the ones currently in use.

5. The Speeder Bike becomes a reality

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
(Photo from Malloy Aerospace)

When the Army began testing the Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle, comparisons to the speeder bikes used in Return of the Jedi were quick in coming.

This October, WATM noted it was also being eyed for use in combat re-supply missions. While the Marines have used an unmanned K-Max, this is much smaller and could help resupply a platoon in a firefight.

6. A Bird of Prey that hunts subs

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident

This April, WATM reported on the ACTUV, which could make life very difficult for enemy subs. ACTUV, which stands for Antisubmarine warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, displaces about 140 tons and is 132 feet long.

Equipped with sensors and a datalink, this is a robotic scout that can track submarines or other targets, and it has a sustained speed of 27 knots.

7. Russia’s Killer Robot

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Screen capture from video of a FSB raid on the leader of ISIS’s Russian affiliate.

On Dec. 3, Russian FSB troops carried out a raid that took out the top dog of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s Dagestan chapter.

Earlier this month, WATM took a closer look at the gear displayed in a video that was released. The star attraction was a little robot packing what appeared to be a PKM machine gun and two RPG-22s. Now, isn’t this robot cooler than BB-8?

8. Bigger guns on Stryker and JLTV

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle outfitted with a 30mm cannon was delivered Thursday to the Army. (Photo Credit: courtesy of Program Executive OfficeGround Combat Systems)

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident

Since relations between the Russians and Americans seem to be heading south, two vehicles are getting bigger guns. In October, the Stryker got a 30mm turret, and became the XM1296 Dragoon. But this September, WATM reported that the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle got a bigger gun in the form of a modified M230. Now, these vehicles can take out BMPs.

So, those are some of the big tech stories out there for 2016. Which military tech story from 2016 is your favorite?

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Here are the best military photos for the week of Jan. 21

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

A B-2 Spirit from the 590th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., prepares to take off in support of operations near Sirte, Libya. In conjunction with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the U.S. military conducted precision airstrikes Jan. 18, 2017, destroying two Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant camps, 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Joel Pfiester

A 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew repairs an E-3 Sentry (AWACS) engine at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Jan. 12, 2017.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Tyler Woodward

Army:

U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), conducts ceremonial training in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Jan. 17, 2017, to prepare for their role in the 58th Presidential Inauguration. The Presidential Salute Battery, founded in 1953, fires cannon salutes in honor of the President of the United States, visiting foreign dignitaries, and official guests of the United States and is the only unit of its kind in the Army, conducting more than 300 ceremonies every year.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Gabriel Silva

Soldiers provide cover fire during an assault on a building during training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst, N.J., Jan. 9, 2017, part of a series of training events that will culminate this summer at an eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise at Fort Pickett, Va.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht

Navy:

PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 17, 2017) Electrician’s Mate Fireman Sacy Bynoe, assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), climbs a ladder. Theodore Roosevelt is conducting basic training off the coast of Southern Calif.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Seaman Rachael Treon

PACIFIC OCEAN (Jan. 16, 2017) Aviation Boatswains Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Dylan Mills directs the crew of a C-2A Greyhound from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The ship is on a deployment with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet into the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano

Marine Corps:

An MV-22 Osprey prepares to lower its ramp to debark Marines during a noncombatant evacuation training operation in Djibouti, Africa, Jan. 5, 2017. The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit provides the U.S. with a sea-based crisis response force, which is capable of planning and commencing execution of selected tactical operations within six hours of receipt of a mission. The Osprey and crew are with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced).

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado

Rct. Maria Daume, Platoon 4001, drags a simulated casualty on a combat training course during the Crucible Jan. 5, 2017, on Parris Island, South Carolina. Daume was born in a Russian prison and brought to Long Island, New York, at the age of 4 when she and her twin brother were adopted.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Thomas)

Coast Guard:

The helo makes a landing approach. Landing on the flight deck of a 210 is an all hands evolution, requiring two firefighting teams, a first aid team, a fueling team, tie-down crew, landing signals officers, helicopter control officers, and a master helmsman in addition to filling all regular duty positions to ensure a safe evolution.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Members from CGC DAUNTLESS gather to greet students from Stephen F. Austin High School.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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Defeating ISIS is hard; preventing ISIS 3.0 could be harder

They’re surrounded, targeted by constant bombardments and slowly strangled of supplies and reinforcements for months so fighters for Daesh (aka ISIS) might reasonably have abandoned Mosul and tried to slink off into the night.


That’s what happened June 2016 in the battle to recapture Fallujah, when Daesh fighters were relatively quickly routed, and hundreds were killed by U.S. aircraft when their fleeing convoy was spotted in the dark with infrared targeting systems.

Everyone in the anti-Daesh coalition hoped for a similar retreat by demoralized terrorists that would separate them from the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians still cowering in Mosul’s byzantine old city, on the west bank of the Tigris River.

But Daesh’s fighters are not abandoning Mosul, which, with the Syrian town of Raqqa, forms the twin-capitals of the self-proclaimed Islamist “caliphate.”

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Artillery units in Iraq serve two roles: to provide force protection for Coalition and Iraqi security forces and to support ISF ground maneuver, enabling them to defeat Daesh. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel I Johnson)

They are falling back on defensive positions prepared for two years in the densely congested side streets and alleyways of the old city, gathering Iraqi civilians close as they can as “human shields” and apparently preparing for a last, desperate stand.

The result?

“The toughest and most brutal phase of this war, and probably the toughest and most brutal close quarters combat that I have experienced or even read about in my 34-year career,” Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve says.

A veteran of six combat tours, Townsend calls the fighting in Mosul “the most significant urban combat since World War II.”

The tragic byproduct has been an alarming spike in civilian casualties, including a U.S. strike against a reported ISIS truck bomb on March 17 that may have collapsed a nearby building and killed as many as 200 civilians gathered there by Daesh.

The U.S. military is still investigating the incident, which drew criticism from the United Nations and Amnesty International.

On a recent trip near the frontlines of the Battle of Mosul, Townsend found a possible explanation for Daesh’s determination to stage an apocalyptic fight to the death in the old city.

“Every movement has a well-spring or some home turf where it finds support, and in recently talking to Iraqi and coalition commanders and listening to their intelligence assessments, I heard about neighborhoods supporting ISIS that I remembered from being a brigade commander in Mosul 10 years ago, when those same neighborhoods were sources of support for Al Qaeda in Iraq,” said Townsend, speaking recently to defense reporters by phone from Baghdad.

If the Shiite-led Iraqi government fails to reach out to those and other neighborhoods and towns of disenfranchised Sunnis after the fighting stops, he noted, then Daesh’s expulsion from Mosul will likely prove a fleeting victory.

“What’s important after ISIS is defeated is that the government of Iraq has to reach out to these groups of people and make sure they feel like they have a future in the Iraqi state,” said Townsend.

A Pivotal Moment

With roughly three-quarters of Mosul recaptured and Daesh finally on the verge of losing its grip on Iraqi territory, the campaign against them is poised at an important inflection point.

Counter-insurgency experts have long understood that the actions of the Iraqi government and the various factions involved in the fighting the day after Mosul is recaptured will largely determine whether the group is defeated, or, once again, rises from the ashes of sectarian conflict.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
ISIS trucks driving around Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: ISIS sources on the web)

The complex nature of the battlespace, combined with the anti-Daesh coalition’s sprawling nature, promises to complicate the transition from urban combat to whatever comes after.

The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is weak and has struggled to cope with the demands of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the fighting in Mosul.

The territorial demands of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to the north, and possible acts of retribution against Sunni civilians by thousands of Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen to the west of city, cast a dark shadow over the aftermath.

A continued spike in civilian deaths by U.S. and coalition air forces could further alienate the overwhelmingly Sunni population of Mosul and surrounding Nineveh Province.

And hanging over the entire anti-Daesh campaign is the question of a continued U.S. presence in Iraq after the group is expelled, and whether that engagement can be leveraged to help achieve the long-sought national reconciliation among Iraq’s feuding Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni factions.

Perhaps no U.S. military officer of his generation better understands this difficult terrain, and the momentous challenges ahead, than retired Gen. David Petraeus, the former top U.S. commander in both Iraq and Afghanistan and at U.S. Central Command.

He is widely credited with crafting and executing the counterinsurgency doctrine that pulled Iraq back from the abyss of sectarian civil war in 2007-2008 and decimated Al Qaeda in Iraq.

“The military defeat of ISIS is only the first step. The much more challenging task is to use all elements of American and coalition power to help achieve political solutions that will avoid once again creating fertile ground for extremists, and thereby avoid the rise of ISIS 3.0,” Petraeus told [Breaking Defense] in a recent email. “Our success in that mission will determine whether the U.S. military has to do this all over again in five years.”

Sectarian Civil War

After U.S. and Iraqi military forces and the Sunni tribes of Anbar Province routed Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) beginning in 2006-7, the remnants of the terrorist insurgency eventually went underground, only to rise Phoenix-like from the fires of Syria’s civil war.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
The Kurdish Peshmerga platoon of the Joint Iraqi Security Company marches to class, Mosul, Iraq. (Dept. of Defense photo)

That brutal conflict pitted a minority regime of Alawites, which is an offshoot of Shiite Islam, against a majority Sunni population.

Meanwhile, after the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, the Sunni tribes in western Iraq, which had turned against AQI in the “Anbar Awakening,” grew restive under the iron-fisted and openly sectarian rule of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who headed the Shiite-majority government in Baghdad.

A former AQI lieutenant named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who had spent time in a U.S. detention facility in Iraq, realized that between weak Shiite-led governments in Damascus and Baghdad lay a swath of territory inhabited by millions of rebellious Sunnis.

From that strategic insight, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was born, and in one of the most improbable military offenses in history, its terrorist army captured territory in Syria and Iraq and proclaimed a “caliphate” in land stretching between its twin capitals.

When the Obama administration reluctantly deployed aircraft and troops back to Iraq to defend a Baghdad government on the verge of collapse, it wisely used that leverage to help nudge out the sectarian Maliki and encourage the more moderate Abadi.

Since then Abadi has promised to lead “national reconciliation” by reaching out to Sunnis liberated from Daesh rule, and draw them back inside the government tent. He has often struggled, however, to control a fractious coalition government with many hardline Shiite politicians with close ties to Shiite Iran.

Kenneth Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy and former senior Middle Eastern analyst for the CIA, worries about Abadi’s ability to bring the country together.

“I think Abadi is a very good man who wants what’s best for Iraq, to include a pluralist government, corruption reforms, and democracy. The problem is Abadi is not particularly good at building coalitions, and the Iraqi government is fragmented and paralyzed by this ongoing sectarian civil war,” he says. “Frankly, Nelson Mandela would have a hard time stabilizing Iraq at this point. So the United States needs to leverage the influence it has gained by helping fight ISIS to empower Abadi in his reconciliation efforts. And they must include limiting the activities of the Shiite militias.”

Reining in Militias

The key to Iraq’s future may lie with the Shiite-dominated militias called Popular Mobilization forces.

A number of these militias have direct links to Iran and they have been difficult for the Iraqi government to control. According to Human Rights Watch, Shiite militias involved in the battle of Fallujah last summer committed atrocities against Sunni civilians, including torture and summary executions.

In the operation to recapture Tikrit they reportedly burned hundreds of homes of Sunni civilians they accused of colluding with Daesh. If something similar happens after Daesh is expelled from the much bigger and more populous city of Mosul, the swamp of Sunni grievance is likely to rise once again.

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
An Iraqi federal police takes a break before another day’s offensive to liberate and secure West Mosul, Iraq, March 2, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull)

Sheikh Jamal Al-Dhari is a Sunni tribal leader who has lost more than 70 family members in Iraq’s sectarian wars.

“The ‘Anbar Awakening’ showed that the way to defeat Al Qaeda is to work with the Sunni tribes, but our efforts to take part in the anti-ISIS fight have been repeatedly rebuffed by the Baghdad government,” he said in an interview.

Now Shiite-dominated Iraqi Security Forces and possibly U.S. airpower have inadvertently killed hundreds if not thousands of Sunni civilians in Mosul, he noted, and thousands of Shiite militiamen have captured Sunni majority villages to the west of the city.

“We fear that the use of excessive force will cost the lives of thousands of more civilians, creating hardships and hard feelings that will only set the stage for the next ISIS, or worse.”

To avoid Kurdish or Shiite forces fighting each other and mistreating liberated Sunni civilians, U.S. battle planners created separate corridors into the city.

“The U.S. military worked very hard to insure that neither the Peshmerga nor the Popular Mobilization forces would be involved in the close-in fight in Mosul, and that has been mostly successful,” said Michael Knights, an Iraq expert and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies.

But the Iraqi Security Forces leading the fight have suffered a lot of casualties and are very tired, he noted, possibly causing them to rely on more firepower to limit their losses.

“But the main reason we’ve seen civilian casualties increase is that ISIS is being much more aggressive in using civilians as human shields. Their backs are now against the wall in Mosul’s old city, and they seem to be preparing for a last stand.”

When the dust of battle finally settles over Mosul, the most important decision confronting the Trump administration will be whether or not to keep a residual U.S. force inside Iraq to continue advising and assisting Iraqi Security Forces, and helping coordinate counterterrorism operations.

If the U.S. military packs up lock-stock-and-barrel and leaves once again, many experts believe it will only set the stage for “son of ISIS” to fill the vacuum.

“Only if U.S. forces remain in Iraq to secure the peace will we achieve a major military victory over ISIS,” said James Jeffrey, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

The U.S. can leverage that presence not only to empower Abadi’s national reconciliation agenda, he said, but also to eventually find a political resolution to the Syrian civil war.

In “On War” [ Carl von] “Clausewitz said that the art of war was using tactical victories to achieve strategic ends,” said Jeffrey.

“We need to use the victories in Mosul and Raqqa to achieve the strategic end of a stable Middle East that is not dominated either by ISIS or Iran.”

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These animals fought like animals on the battlefield

Until the introduction of modern machinery, animals have played an often-decisive role in warfare.


For instance, the Mongol’s masterful use of horses allowed Genghis Khan and his generals to carve out the largest land empire ever known.

In the book Beasts of War: The Militarization of Animals, author Jared Eglan curated amazing insights into how militaries have used a stunning menagerie of animals in combat.

From a 440-pound bear to pigeon-guided missiles, here are nine notable examples of wartime animals.

War elephants

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Photo: US Army Archives

Elephants, with their massive stature and fearsome tusks have been employed in warfare since ancient times. Elephantry units were first incorporated in militaries in India, but throughout time, famous generals including Pyrrhus of Epirus, Hannibal, and Alexander the Great all used elephants to literally crush their opponents.

War elephants were usually deployed in the center of the line, where the imposing beasts would charge at up to 20 mph towards the enemy. They were also used to carry heavy materials across difficult terrain before tanks and helicopters were an option.

Unlike horse-mounted cavalry, elephants didn’t fear infantry lines bearing spears, their muscular and articulate trunks could navigate a wall of spears much better than a charging horse.

The mere sight of elephants charging was enough to break lines and cause many armies to flee in terror. Only cannon fire made the war elephants impractical. The giant animals were resilient against musket fire, but provided a huge target for cannons.

Off the battlefield, militaries still found ways to make use of elephants. As recently as 1987 Iraqi troops allegedly used elephants to transport heavy weaponry for use in Kirkuk.

Source: Beasts of War: The Militarization of Animals

Mine-hunting dolphins

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Photo: US Navy

In 1960, the US Navy first began its studies on dolphins. At first, the studies were limited to testing how dolphins were so hydrodynamic, with efforts on applying the findings towards improving torpedo performance.

However, by 1967 the US Navy Marine Mammal Program evolved into a major project. The program, which is still ongoing, began training dolphins for mine hunting and force protection missions. In the case of mine hunting, dolphins were trained to locate underwater mines and release buoys over their location, allowing the Navy to safely clear the weapons.

During the Iraq War in 2003, such dolphin-led operations led to the clearance of over 100 mines in the port of Umm Qasr. Additionally, dolphins have been trained to guard harbors against enemy divers. When a diver approached, the dolphin was trained to bump a buoy device onto the person’s back which drags them to the surface.

“These animals are released almost daily untethered into the open ocean, and since the program began, only a few animals have not returned,” according to the Navy.

Source: Beasts of War: The Militarization of AnimalsUS Navy

Anti-tank dogs

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Photo: Military archives

The Nazi betrayal of the Soviets during World War II caught the Russians completely off guard. In a desperate attempt at staving off the Nazi advance into their territory, the Soviets originally attempted to train dogs to place bombs in front of tanks before running back to safety.

When this proved too difficult a feat for training, the Soviets instead began strapping bombs to dogs that were activated by a small lever rising from an attached pouch on the dog’s side. When the dog would dive under a tank, the lever would strike the tank’s chassis and detonate.

Soviet propaganda claims that around 300 German tanks were destroyed in this manner. However, the majority of the program proved to be a failure. The dogs were trained on Soviet diesel tanks, instead of German gasoline tanks, so during deployment the dogs had a habit of running towards Soviet vehicles based on scent.

The anti-tank dog program continued until 1996.

Source: Beasts of War: The Militarization of Animals

War pigs

Pigs have been recorded in multiple ancient texts as one of the most effective counter-weapons to war elephants. War elephants were reportedly terrified of the squealing and charging of pigs, so both the Romans and Alexander the Great made use of them in campaigns against enemies that fielded elephants.

In one particularly brutal scenario, the use of incendiary pigs was also recorded.

Eglan notes in Beasts of War that “Antigonus II Gonata’s siege of Megara in 266 BC was broken when the Megarians doused some pigs with combustible pitch, crude oil or resin, set them alight, and drove them towards the enemy’s massed war elephants.

The elephants bolted in terror from the flaming, squealing pigs, often killing great numbers of their own soldiers by trampling them to death.”

Source: Beasts of War: The Militarization of Animals

Bat bombs

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Developed by the US for use against Japan during World War II, the bat bomb was literally that. Each bomb would contain 26 trays that each held 40 hibernating bats. Each bat was meant to be outfitted with an individual incendiary device that was set to detonate after a specified amount of time.

The bombs could deploy their own parachutes, giving the bats time to fly out and look for places to roost. The US was planning on dropping hundreds of the bombs over Japan’s industrial cities in Osaka Bay.

As Japanese cities at the times were largely constructed of wood and paper at the time, the bombs would have caused thousands of fires and burned large sections of Japanese cities to the ground. The project was ultimately superseded by the atomic bomb.

Source: Beasts of War: The Militarization of Animals

Defensive sea lions

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Photo: US Navy

The US Navy Marine Mammal Program, in addition to studying and deploying dolphins, also employed California Sea Lions.

Trained in the same facilities, and even sometimes working on the same missions together, the sea lions helped to protect US harbor installations and ships against enemy divers as well as retrieving text equipment that is fired from ships or dropped from planes.

The sea lions are naturally excellent divers, out performing even experienced human divers at a fraction of the price.

The Navy first used sea lions to recover a test anti-submarine rocket from a depth of 180 feet in November 1970.

Source: Beasts of War: The Militarization of Animals, US Navy

Pigeon-guided missiles

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Photo: US Army

Pigeon-guided missiles were developed by noted behaviorist B.F. Skinner during Project Pigeon. Although the project was ultimately canceled because of the impracticality of the weapons, the idea of pigeon-guided missiles showed promise.

The missile had an array of lenses at the front that projected an image of the target to an interior screen. The pigeons were conditioned to peck at the target on the screen. The pigeon’s pecks corrected the missile’s flight path.

Although the project was canceled in 1944, it was revived in 1948 by the US Navy. However, after missile guidance systems were proven effective in 1953, the idea of pigeon-guided missiles was finally laid to rest.

Source: Beasts of War: The Militarization of Animals

A soldier-bear

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Photo: imgur coveredinksauce

Wojtek was born in in 1942, but by the end of World War II he was a corporal in the Polish Army.

After being released from a Siberian labor camp during the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1942, the 22nd Polish Supply Brigade began a long trek south toward Persia. It was then that they encountered Wojtek.

The bear became a mascot for the troops in its youth. The bear would frequently drink alcohol and smoke, even eat, cigarettes with the men.

After a long journey, Wojtek’s company finally reached Egypt where they prepared to reenter the war zone through Italy. The army had strict rules denying pets passage to war zones, so the company did the only thing they could — they made Wojtek an official soldier.

Wojtek, at a massively strong 440 pounds, carried weapons and munitions much faster than the men in his company. Eventually, Wojtek became so symbolic of the company that they immortalized them on their emblem.

Source: Beasts of War: The Militarization of Animals

Cat spies

A Belgian soldier has gone rogue in a real-life ‘Rambo’ incident
Photo: NSA Archives

The acoustic kitty was a CIA project in the 1960s that set out to use cats to spy on the Kremlin and other Soviet embassies.

Cats used in the project had microphones implanted in their ear canals, and radio transmitters in the base of their skulls. In theory, the cats would become mobile, albeit unpredictable little spies reporting immediately back to the CIA.

In the first deployment of an Acoustic Kitty, the cat was unleashed around a Soviet compound in Washington, D.C. The cat was released nearby, but a taxi struck and killed the cat almost immediately.

Predictably, the CIA abandoned the project due to the difficulty of getting a cat to do pretty much anything on command. The project reportedly cost $20 million.

Source: Beasts of War: The Militarization of AnimalsNSA Archives

 

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Oldest Tuskegee Airman dies at 101

Willie Rogers, the oldest living Tuskegee Airman, passed away Nov. 18. He was 101.


According to reports from FoxNews.com and the Huffington Post, Rogers died from complications after a recent stroke.

Rogers served in the 100th Fighter Squadron, assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group. He wasn’t one of the pilots, though. Instead, Rogers specialized in administration and logistics, according to the Huffington Post. He was wounded during a January 1943 mission.

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Fliers of a P-51 Mustang Group of the 15th Air Force in Italy “shoot the breeze” in the shadow of one of the Mustangs they fly. Left to right: Lt. Dempsey W. Morgan Jr., Lt. Carroll S. Woods, Lt. Robert H. Nelson Jr., Capt. Andrew D. Turner and Lt. Clarence P. Lester. Ca. August 1944. (Courtesy National Archives)

According to the National Museum of the US Air Force, almost 1,000 Tuskegee pilots were trained to fight in World War II, and over 350 were deployed to the front lines. Over 16,000 other personnel were trained to serve in ground roles, as Rogers did during the war.

Rogers was one of about 300 Tuskegee Airmen who lived to receive the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, with his being awarded in November 2013.

Of the Tuskegee Airmen, 32 were captured by the Nazis, and 84 were either killed in action or from other causes, including accidents or on non-combat missions. The group flew 179 bomber escort missions, of which 172 ended without any losses to the bombers. Members of that group received 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses, at least one Silver Star, and almost 750 Air Medals.

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Advanced instruction turned student pilots into fighter pilots at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Ala. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The 332nd Fighter Group first flew Bell P-39 Airacobras, then transitioned to the P-40 Warhawk, then the P-47 Thunderbolt, and finally to the P-51 Mustang.

The group shot down 112 enemy aircraft, destroyed 150 more on the ground, was credited with crippling an Italian destroyer, destroyed 950 ground vehicles, and sank or destroyed 40 boats and barges.

A bomber group of Tuskegee Airmen — the 477th — was slated to have four squadrons (the 616th, 617th, 618th, and 619th Bombardment Squadrons) of B-25 Mitchells, but it never saw combat.

All four Tuskegee Airmen fighter squadrons are still active. The 99th Flying Training Squadron flies T-1A Jayhawk trainers, the 100th Fighter Squadron is an F-16 unit with the Alabama Air National Guard, and the 301st and 302nd Fighter Squadrons are Air Force Reserve F-22 units.

The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing has assumed the lineage of the 332nd Fighter Group.

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America’s oldest living general turned 107 in 2021

When retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry Goldsworthy joined the United States military, there was no independent Air Force. He was joining to get a commission in the Army infantry. Little did he know he would serve during the Air Force’s most important moments, under one of its legends: Curtis LeMay. 

Goldsworthy reflected on his life and career on his 107th birthday, April 6, 2021. To celebrate, he rode in a parade driven by the Southern California Patriot Guard Riders.

“I get asked all the time, ‘What did you do to live so long?’ I tell them I think it’s just God’s will. Sometimes I wonder whether he’s rewarding me or punishing me,” he jokingly told WCAX News.

The centenarian also says his secret to a long life is to drink a shot of vodka every night before bed. That’s just how the old timers roll – and no one is more “old timer” than Harry Goldsworthy. He and a friend joined the military in 1936 near their hometown in Washington state. Within three years, he found himself at Texas’ Kelly Field, learning to fly single-engine aircraft.

After the outbreak of World War II, Goldsworthy cut his teeth hunting German U-boats in the Caribbean Sea, using B-18 Bolo bombers, specially fitted to hunt submarines. It was his job to keep them from being able to surface. 

In 1945, he was relocated to the South Pacific theater, where he was flying combat missions in support of Allied operations in the Philippines, Balikpapan and Borneo. He was forced to bail out on his last combat mission. Over the island of Luzon, his B-25 Mitchell bomber took heavy fire from the ground.

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A USMC B-25 in flight in 1944 (DoD photo)

Goldsworthy landed safely in the jungles, and even kept part of the parachute that saved his life. The war eventually ended and Goldsworthy opted to stay in the newly-created U.S. Air Force. His work as a unit commander at every level was worthy of recognition – he was eventually awarded the Legion of Merit for his staff officer work. 

He would soon find himself in the Pentagon, where he would help shape the new service, ushering in the era of jet-powered flight. Far from the skies above Japan, Korea or Vietnam, Goldsworthy tackled the Air Force’s biggest logistical problems, including transportation, supplies and foreign sales.

He was also instrumental in building the silos for yet-to-be-constructed nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) during the Cold War. It was Goldsworthy who made haste, with which Atlas, Minuteman, and Titan ICBMs capable of launch, countered the Soviet Union’s first-strike capability. 

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In a ceremony at Malmstrom AFB, Colonel Harry E. Goldsworthy, SATAF commander, accepts a symbol of the first completed Minuteman operational silo from Army Area Engineer Colonel Arthur H. Lahlum, Nov. 13, 1961. (U.S. Air Force)

In his 33-year career, the retired general also flew more than 30 different Air Force aircraft, many of them instrumental to the Air Force’s air power achievements overseas, including the B-52 Stratofortress and F-105 Thunderchief. He even drew up specs for the F-15 Fighter. 

Goldsworthy first retired from the military as a Lt. Gen, in 1973 before going to work for Boeing. At 107, he is believed to be the oldest living general. He told Military.com that the fighter aircraft they have today, such as the F-35 Thunderbolt II, are so advanced and technical, he’s not sure he’d be able to fly one of them. 

There is a Goldsworthy at the stick of the latest generation of fighters, however. One of his great-nephews is an F-35 pilot. 


Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo

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Olav the Penguin and 5 other adorable animals outrank you, boot

The Internet is currently losing its collective cool over the King penguin promoted to brigadier general. While this is cute, it can sting for enlisted troops to learn that an animal has been promoted above them.


Well, it gets worse, guys and girls, because Brigadier Sir Olav isn’t the only adorable animal who outranks you. Olav has five American counterparts from history who held a military rank of sergeant or above:

1. Brigadier Sir Nils Olav

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Nils Olav the Penguin inspects the Kings Guard of Norway after being bestowed with a knighthood at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland. (Photo: British Ministry of Defence Mark Owens)

Brigadier Sir Nils Olav is one of the only animal members of a military officer corps or royal nobility.The penguin resides at the zoo in Edinburgh, Scotland and serves as the mascot of the Royal Norwegian Guard. The first penguin mascot of the guard was adopted in 1972. The name “Nils Olav” and mascot duties are passed on after the death of a mascot.

The Royal Norwegian Guard comes to the zoo every year for a military ceremony, and the penguin inspects them. Before each inspection, the penguin is promoted a single rank. The current penguin is the third to hold the name and has climbed from lance corporal to brigadier general. He is expected to live another 10 years and so could become the senior-most member of the Norway military.

2. Chief Petty Officer Sinbad

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Chief Petty Officer Sinbad hunts Nazi submarines with his crew in 1944. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Sinbad served during World War II on a cutter that fought submarines and enemy aircraft in both the European and Pacific theaters of war.

Sinbad served 11 years of sea duty on the USCGC Campbell before retiring to Barnegat Light Station. During the war, he was known for causing a series of minor international incidents for which the Coast Guard was forced to write him up.

3. Staff Sgt. Reckless

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Reckless the horse served with distinction in the Korean War and was meritoriously promoted to sergeant for her actions in the Battle of Outpost Vega. (Photo: US Marine Corps)

Staff Sgt. Reckless the horse was known for her legitimate heroics in Korea at the Battle of Outpost Vegas where she carried over five tons of ammunition and other supplies to Marine Corps artillery positions despite fierce enemy fire that wounded her twice.

She was promoted to sergeant for her heroics there and was later promoted twice to staff sergeant, once by her colonel and once by the then-Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Randolph Pate.

4. Boatswain’s Mate Chief Maximilian Talisman

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Boatswain’s Mate Chief Maximilian Talisman meets his replacement after seven years of service on the USCGC Klamath. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

Boatswain’s Mate Chief Maximilian Talisman was a mascot aboard the USCGC Klamath who was officially assessed numerous times and always received a 3.4 out of 4.0 or better on his service reviews. He crossed the International Date Line twice and served in the Arctic Circle and Korea, according to a Coast Guard history.

5. Sgt. Stubby

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Sgt. Stubby rocks his great coat and rifle during World War I. (Photo: Public Domain)

Stubby was a dog who joined U.S. soldiers drilling on a field in Massachusetts in 1917. He learned the unit’s drill commands and bugle calls and was adopted by the men who later smuggled him to the frontlines in France. An officer spotted Stubby overseas and was berating his handler when the dog rendered his version of a salute, placing his right paw over his right eye.

The officer relented and Stubby served in the trenches, often warning the men of incoming gas attacks and searching for wounded personnel. He was promoted to sergeant for having spotted and attacked a German spy mapping the trench systems.

He was officially recognized with a medal after World War I for his actions, including participation in 17 battles, by the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, Gen. John Pershing.

6. Chief Boatswain’s Mate Turk

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Chief Boatswain’s Mate Turk keeps watch at U.S. Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

In an undated update from the Coast Guard, Turk held the rank of chief boatswain’s mate and was still on active service. But, he joined the Coast Guard in 1996 and so has likely retired and moved on by now. Hopefully, he was rewarded well for his service at Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where he promoted life preserver use and stood watch with his fellow Coast Guardsmen.

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New poll shows military most trusted US institution

A new national poll shows a huge majority of Americans have confidence in the U.S. military, with that institution topping the list of several government agencies and businesses that have made headlines recently.


The new Fox News poll conducted in mid-February showed 96 percent of those surveyed had “a great deal” or “some” confidence in the U.S. military, with the Supreme Court following close behind at 83 percent and the FBI earning an 80 percent confidence rating.

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West Point U.S. Military Academy cadets march in the 58th Presidential Inauguration Parade in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20. A new national Fox News poll finds 96 percent of Americans have confidence in the U.S. military. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

Surprisingly, a majority of Americans have confidence in the IRS, with 41 percent saying they have some confidence in the taxman and 14 percent having great confidence. Potentially unsurprisingly, the news media came in last, with 44 percent saying that had any confidence in the Fourth Estate.

The Fox poll was conducted Feb. 11-13 among 1,013 registered voters — 42 percent Democrat, 39 percent Republican and 19 percent Independent.

More than 15 years of war and deployments hasn’t contributed to much of a shift in America’s trust of the military, with confidence ratings hovering around 95 percent since about 2002, the Fox poll shows. But according to the poll more Americans feel the military is less strong than it once was, with 41 percent saying the services have gotten weaker during the eight years of the Obama administration.

A similar question in 2014 found 32 percent of Americans believed the military was “less effective” than it had been in 2008.

While the military has largely pulled out of Iraq and has a fraction of the troops it once had in Afghanistan, most Americans feel the services are stretched too thin, with 58 percent saying they’re overcommitted. And 45 percent of those surveyed agree that the military needs a budget boost, buttressing President Donald Trump’s reported call for a $54 billion defense spending increase.

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One Of America’s Most Elite Universities Is Helping Veterans In A Unique Way

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The first class of Stanford Ignite had guest speakers like former Secretaries of State Condoleeza Rice, George Shultz, and retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.


Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business is trying to maximize the entrepreneurial potential of America’s veterans, and after a successful pilot program in 2014, the school is again opening its doors to another 25 current and former military for their Post-9/11 Ignite Program.

Also, Watch: Actor Joe Mantegna Is Pushing Hard For Veterans’ Issues On ‘Criminal Minds’ 

“No veteran wants a handout and just say ‘hey come to this program [and] learn some things because you’re a veteran.’ No,” said Alex Martin, a Marine veteran, in a video about the program. “What they do want is: ‘hey, do you want to work hard for something? Do you want to learn the language of this business or this industry? If you do, and if you’re qualified, and if you’re the right person for the job and if you’re a man or woman of character, then you have shot to get interviewed.”

The four-week program is meant for veterans and transitioning service-members who have a demonstrated record of excellence in and out of uniform, and who are passionate about starting or scaling up a business. The Ignite Program accelerates their development from idea to profitable venture.

Those who are selected after the application period closes on March 3rd will live on campus with the other participants, learning about business fundamentals from some of the world’s best professors. Topics include innovation, leadership, operations, marketing, strategy, negotiations, and finance accounting.

The program also includes practical application along with classroom instruction. The participants split themselves into small groups, who then develop and finally pitch their business to a panel of experienced entrepreneurs and investors from Silicon Valley.

Alongside The Commit Foundation, a veteran service organization focused on helping transitioning service members, Stanford is subsidizing this immersive environment for anyone interested in building a successful business. Beyond the rigorous training, the veterans form new connections across branches of service.

To learn more about the Stanford Graduate School of Business Post-9/11 Ignite program, click here. To register for the February 11th informational webinar, click here.

William Treseder served in the Marines between 2001 and 2011. He now writes regularly on military topics, and has been featured in TIME, Foreign Policy, and Boston Review.

NOW: 4 Reasons Why Going To War Gives Veterans An Edge Over Their Civilian Peers

OR: 5 Times When Jon Stewart Made A Difference For America’s Veterans 

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13 funniest military memes for the week of Oct. 21

Alright, everyone. Remember to pace and budget yourselves. Next weekend is Halloween weekend, so don’t blow your entire savings account and get an Article 15.


You do that next weekend. In the meantime, check out these 13 funny military memes:

1. When your commander goes into the fine detail of each policy letter on day one:

(via Team Non-Rec)

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Don’t even fight it. Just make it worth it.

2. This is why they do sustained airborne training before every jump (via Air Force Nation)

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Because this would be a horrible time not to remember what to do next.

SEE ALSO: This Coast Guard reservist saved an Army-Navy convoy in world War II

3. Hey, at least he actually managed to get a signal out (via Military Memes)

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He’s using none of the proper radio protocol, but still. Got a signal.

4. Just apply the fundamentals the same way, and these site adjustments will put you dead center (via Team Non-Rec).

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Except you know that the trigger puller is going to change their site picture.

5. Only gets an 8 out of 10 because he has no ammo (via Military Memes)

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That shirtless look becomes much less cool when the armor starts to chafe.

6. If it’s on the list, you better have it (via Devil Dog Nation)

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I like the idea of ancient knights with PT mats.

7. Really didn’t think the Coast Guard would have the bootiest boots who ever booted, but there you go (via Coast Guard Memes)

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8. And that’s when things got serious (via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

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How often do security forces use their radar guns to check passing planes? Better be constantly.

9. How the Air Force feels whenever one of the surface branches wants to make fun of them:

(via The Salty Soldier)

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They get much quieter when you challenge them to anything physical.

10. “So, want to walk close enough that one grenade could kill everyone?” (via Military Memes)

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11. Seriously, admin. Why can you not keep track of this for more than 10 minutes?

(via The Salty Soldier)

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There’s no way it’s that hard to not lose sheets of paper.

13. Sweepers, sweepers, time to do our sweepers.

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12. The time to prep for a tornado is not during the tornado (via The Salty Soldier).

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That poor CQ NCO is going to have some uncomfortable talks with the sergeant major.

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How a Navy pilot-turned-Superbowl winner made it on Wall Street

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Phil McConkey is not your average Wall Streeter.


His father worked three jobs to put him through private school. He served in the US Navy as a nuclear weapons transshipment pilot, before winning a National Football League Superbowl title with the New York Giants.

He is now president at Academy Securities, a broker-dealer founded in 2009 that employs veterans and service-disabled veterans in areas like investment banking and trading.

McConkey sat down with Skiddy von Stade, CEO of finance career services company OneWire, to talk about his background, and Academy Securities.

During that conversation, he laid out why experience with the military is valuable for those who want to break into the cutthroat financial services industry.

Military culture is honesty, integrity, loyalty, teamwork and by the way, service. We’re in a service industry. Who knows more about those qualities than military veterans? When those qualities and experiences come into helping our clients, it really resonates.

He added:

We’re a small company, growing. We’d like to be a bulge-bracket investment bank broker-dealer at some point. We don’t have the resources that the big banks have, but we’re nimble, we’re quick, and we have differentiated types of value that we add. We got nine senior-level retired generals and admirals, people who have fingers on the pulse of geopolitical macro world we live in. And that’s a value to customers if they’re in capital markets. If they’re managing money.

Watch the full interview with Phil McConkey here.

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This colorized German war footage shows why Stalingrad was hell on Earth

It was the pivotal battle that most historians believe turned the tide against the Nazis for good in World War II, resulting in a cascade of defeats as the Wehrmacht beat its retreat to Germany from the Soviet Eastern Front.


But it wasn’t always that way, and in the opening months of Operation Barbarossa the German army seemed poised for a stunning victory against the Red Army.

As part of its push to secure the southern Caucasian oil fields, the German 6th Army was ordered to take the city of Stalingrad in September 1942, a move some historians believe was strategically irrelevant, as the Nazis were already well on their way to Baku.

 

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The German army quickly made it to the center of the city in Stalingrad, but was eventually cut off from resupply and forced to surrender in early 1943. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

 

But many believe Adolf Hitler wanted to capture the city as a thumb in the eye to Soviet leader Josef Stalin, for whom the city was renamed.

Initially, the German army was able to push well into the city, taking the Univermag department store at its center. But the Red Army dug into the city’s industrial areas along the banks of the Volga river and the battle ground down into a brutal street-by-street slugfest.

One of the Red Army’s most accomplished generals, Marshall Georgi Zhukov, hatched a plan to surround the 6th Army and cut off its supply lines. And by mid-November, the Soviets began to squeeze the Nazis inside the city.

As winter descended, the Germans were running out of food, ammunition and other supplies, and when a rescue mission launched by Field Marshall Erich Von Manstein failed to break through, the Nazis’ fate was sealed. The German forces under the command of Gen. Friedrich Paulus eventually surrendered in early February 1943.

 

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While the Soviets lost nearly 500,000 men in the battle, the Wehrmacht surrendered 91,000 soldiers and lost nearly 150,000. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

 

It was a horrific battle waged on a titanic scale in a battlefield unlike any seen in modern times. In all, the Germans lost about 147,000 men in the battle while surrendering 91,000. The Soviets took even more catastrophic losses, with 480,000 dead and 650,000 wounded. An estimated 40,000 civilians were killed in the fighting.

Watch some of the extraordinary footage sent back by German photographers of the battle for Stalingrad culled from historical archives and colorized for a more vivid portrayal from FootageArchive.

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