Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls - We Are The Mighty
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Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

The U.S. Air Force demonstration squadron, the Thunderbirds, flew at the “Thunder of Niagara” air show this July.


Senior Airman Jason Couillard captured these incredible images of the F-16 Fighting Falcons as they performed above the falls.

Check out Couillard’s photos below:

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
 
Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

 

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

(h/t Business Insider)

READ MORE: Never-before-seen photos show Bush administration officials right after 9/11

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Hundreds of enlisted airmen line up to fly drones

The Air Force has narrowed down hundreds of airmen in the running to become enlisted drone pilots to enter the next phase of the program.


The Air Force Personnel Center on Wednesday said 305 active-duty enlisted airmen were identified for an upcoming selection board tasked with picking the next enlisted group to attend remotely piloted aircraft training.

Also read: 5th generation fighters prove that tech is king

Officials didn’t disclose how many of those airmen will then be selected for formal training, set to begin in 2017. But they’re seeing a surge of interest.

The center received more than 800 applicants during this cycle. For comparison, the program normally gets around 200 applicants. Because of the boost, the center is processing potential candidates in groups.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
RQ-4 Global Hawk | Northrop Grumman photo via AF.mil

The Air Force last year announced it would begin training enlisted airmen to operate the unarmedRQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft. Officials in September touted that the Enlisted Pilot Initial Class, or EPIC, would begin on Oct. 12 with four of 12 total students training alongside 20 recently commissioned officers.

The formal training process spans an entire year.

“We have an incredibly talented pool of enlisted Airmen, and we’re confident that this rigorous selection process will yield excellent enlisted aircrew who will continue to provide combatant commanders with the ISR they need to win today’s fight,” Senior Master Sgt. Rebecca Guthrie, career enlisted aviator assignments manager at AFPC said in a release.

Candidates selected in Phase 2 “will need to get the required medical screening and commander’s recommendation and submit completed application packages to AFPC no later than Dec. 16,” the release said. If warranted, medical waivers will be due by Jan. 27, 2017.

The enlisted RPA pilot selection board will meet Feb. 6 – 9, with results expected by the end of that month, officials said.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Just 13 military memes to get you from the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiere to Christmas:


1. Why move it in the up position?

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Seriously, that’s a tank recovery vehicle. It could’ve torn down the whole sky.

2. If he were a real chief, that mug would have his rank insignia (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Do you think the water is cold? I hope the water is cold.

SEE ALSO: Here’s what it would be like if Gunny Hartman ran Santa’s Workshop

3. The stormtroopers have it rough (via OutOfRegs and Terminal Lance).

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
They’re the villains of the movie, but they’re just trying to earn some college money and get work experience.

4. The dude has piloted fighters and A-10s, pretty sure he can handle a “fitty.”

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

5. Jesus just knows this guy needs situational awareness more than he needs comforting.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Squad Leader #1!

6. But—, But—, God loves the infantry!!

(via Military Nations)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

7. Absolute ninja …

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
… absoute as-holes.

8. “Did your recruiter lie to you?”

(via Team Non-Rec)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
“Then here are some disch— Just kidding, get back in the d-mn storm.”

9. When your chief thinks of the Hindenburg as newfangled:

(via Air Force Nation)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Don’t let him see an F-35. The shock alone might kill him.

10. We’ve all been there (via Team Non-Rec).

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Don’t worry, the company will send a replacement within 12 hours, unless it’s the weekend.

11. Can we get a little muzzle awareness, Doc?

(via Afghanistan Combat Footage – Funker530)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Notice how the captain isn’t surprised? This LT has done this before.

12. With a little salt, bread can be anything (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Let it sit long enough, and it becomes a flotation device.

13. Sergeant Major of the Rings (via Team Non-Rec).

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Luckily, Mordor has no grass.

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This country plans on using fighter jets to hunt down poachers

Ever see those signs on the highway that read “speed limit enforced by aircraft”?


Well, if you’re in South Africa, you might just start seeing similar signage declaring anti-poaching laws are being enforced by the country’s Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that illegal hunting could be dealt with using a JDAM strike, or even a gun run with the Gripen’s 27 mm Mauser cannon. However, it definitely does herald a new mission for the South African Air Force, and brings to the forefront the struggles the country has had over the years with curbing rampant poaching across its outback.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Swedish JAS 39 Gripens at Nellis AFB during the multi-national Red Flag exercise (Photo US Air Force)

The SAAF aims to use the Litening III pod to track poachers at night near the South Africa-Zimbabwe border. Built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel, the Litening is widely used as to designate targets for guided munitions, enhancing their effectiveness in combat situations.

Instead of designating poachers for an airstrike, the SAAF will use Litening’s reconnaissance capabilities, allowing them to see activity on the ground clearly, even while flying at night. The pod can be slung underneath the aircraft on its wings, or beneath its fuselage on a “belly pylon.”

Litening has already more than proven its worth in night operations in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 15 years.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
A Litening pod attached to an A-10 Thunderbolt II (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

Using a datalink developed in South Africa known as “Link ZA,” information on the location of poachers as well images of them in action can be shared with other aircraft in the area, or even controllers on the ground. This would presumably be used to vector rangers on the ground to the general location of the poachers.

Poaching has been a widespread and seemingly unstoppable issue in South Africa for decades, causing an alarming decrease in the country’s rhino population. Combat veterans, hired by private security companies and smaller organizations such as Vetpaw have been deployed to the area to combat poaching  in recent years.

The Gripen is a multirole fighter with air-to-ground and air-to-air capabilities, serving with a number of countries across the world. Designed and manufactured in Sweden, it was built as a versatile competitor to the likes of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and other similar fighters of the current era.

The single-engine fighter currently flies in Thailand, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Sweden, in addition to South Africa, and will soon enter service with the Brazilian Air Force. Saab is still aggressively courting a next-generation version of the Gripen, called the Gripen NG – slightly more on par with Boeing’s Advanced Super Hornet.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
One of nine two-seater ‘D’ model Gripens operated by the SAAF (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

South Africa began taking delivery of its Gripens in 2008, purchasing a total of 26 planes — a mix of single and two-seaters. In 2013, less than half of these aircraft were operational at any given time. Slashes made to the country’s defense budget forced the SAAF to limit flight operations while placing a group of its brand new fighters in storage as they could not be flown.

It was reported last year that the SAAF began rotating its Gripens in and out of storage, activating some of the mothballed fighters to return to service, while storing others to be reactivated later on. Since South Africa does not face any military threats, none of these Gripens have ever been involved in combat situations.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Rhinos grazing in a nature preserve near Gauteng, South Africa (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

It’s possible that using fighters in such a role might prove to be too expensive for the South African government, though, necessitating the SAAF to explore utilizing a different aircraft for its anti-poaching operations. However, this in itself could be problematic as the Litening pod can only be equipped to fighter and attack jets.

Using Gripens, orbiting high above poaching target zones, will likely turn out to be a decent interim solution while the South African government comes up with a cheaper and more cost-effective solution. Until then, poachers beware, you’re being watched by state-of-the-art fighter jets in night skies above.

 

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You had to bet your life to graduate from the Vietnam-era Recondo school

When Maj. Gen. William Westmoreland took command of the 101st Airborne in 1958, he noticed a severe lack of proficiency in small-unit tactics and patrolling.


So he immediately created a school to fix the problem.

When he took command of all American forces in the Vietnam War, he once again created a school to teach long-range patrolling and small unit tactics with a Ranger-qualified cadre of instructors from the 5th Special Forces Group. To graduate from this school, you had to bet your life on it.

Dubbed “Recondo” school, Westmoreland claimed it was an amalgamation of Reconnaissance, Commando, and Doughboy. Recondo training emphasized both reconnaissance and standard infantry skills at the small unit level.

In 1960, Army Magazine described the Recondo tactics as “dedicated to the domination of certain areas of the battlefield by small aggressive roving patrols of opportunity which have not been assigned a definite reconnaissance or combat mission.” From these graduates, the 101st developed the Recondo Patrol.

This patrol type was meant to allow a Recondo to create as much havoc as possible in their area of operations. The patrol could be used against a disorganized enemy, as a screen for retrograde operations, to develop a situation or conduct a feint ahead of an advancing force, or to eliminate guerrilla activity.

It was the last ability that Recondos would put to great use in Vietnam.

The Recondo school was set up at Nha Trang and was inspired but the highly successful Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol training conducted by detachment B-52 from 5th Special Forces. This program, known as Project Delta, was originally intended to train Special Forces and their Vietnamese counterparts in guerrilla-like ambushes.

The course became so popular that within two years over half of the students were from regular Army units. Westmoreland expanded the school to teach Recondo tactics to as many LRRPs as possible.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Two 1st Cav LRRP teams in July 1968. All team leaders were Recondo grads.

In order to qualify for the MACV Recondo school, participants had to be in-country at least one month and have at least six months remaining on their tour upon completion. Students also had to have a combat arms MOS and an actual or pending assignment to an LRRP unit. Finally, they had to be in excellent physical shape and be proficient in general military knowledge.

The school was open to soldiers and marines of the Free World Military Assistance Forces, including the South Vietnamese, Koreans, Australians, and Filipinos. Many U.S. Marines also attended the training.

The curriculum of the school included improving students’ skills in the areas of map reading, intelligence gathering, weapons training, and communications. Weapons training included a variety of American weapons as well as weapons used by the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese army. Particular attention was also given to mines and booby-traps. Communications covered the use of several different radios, field expedient antennas, and proper message writing techniques.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Recondo School trainees in the harsh rigors of long-range patrolling.

The school also gave advanced training in medical treatment, including the use of Ringer’s lactate solution and intravenous and intramuscular injections. Schooling also focused on air operations – especially the use of the UH-1 Huey helicopter for insertions and extractions. Forward Air Controller techniques were taught with students calling in live ordnance on a target.

Most importantly, the school taught patrolling.

Students learned different patrolling techniques, preparation, and organization. Proper patrol security was taught along with intelligence-gathering techniques. The students trained heavily in immediate action drills to react to or initiate enemy contact.

After over 300 hours of training, averaging over 12 hours per day, it was time for the students to take the final exam: an actual combat patrol.

In the early days of the program, the area the prospective graduates patrolled was relatively secure and quiet. As the war progressed, however, contact with the enemy became a given. This led to students saying “you bet your life” to graduate from Recondo School.

At least two students died in Recondo training with many others wounded. An unknown number of Viet Cong were also killed in the skirmishes during the “you bet your life” patrol. This led to the school itself receiving a nickname of its own: “the deadliest school on earth”.

In just over four years of operation, over 5,600 students attended Recondo school. Just 3,515 men graduated, not quite two-thirds of all who tried. Each student who graduated was awarded a Recondo patch, worn on the right breast pocket, and an individual Recondo number that was recorded in their 201 personnel file. The Honor Graduate from each class was also given a specially engraved Recondo knife.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
A Recondo graduate is presented with medals ca 1968.

Despite the school and its graduates’ success, Westmoreland’s successor, Gen. Creighton Abrams, officially closed the school on December 19, 1970. The Recondo name and training lived on, as some divisions continued to host their own Recondo schools until they were eventually closed too.

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13 more awesome military morale patches from around the service

Every time we make a post about the best of military morale patches, our readers prove us wrong with hilarious or otherwise awesome patches that we missed.


Morale patches are patches troops wear on their uniforms designed to be a funny inside joke, applicable only to their unit or military career field. They are usually worn during deployments, but the wear of morale patches is at the discretion of the unit’s commander.

We Are The Mighty’s readers have done it again and we’re happy to share.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
A morale patch fresh for 2017.

The UARRSI — or universal aerial refueling receptacle slipway installation — is what allows an aircraft to be refueled by a boom while in mid-flight.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

This one was actually taken from a screen shot on BBC. The patch was immediately identifiable to any fan of the show “Archer.” The best part is that it was actually on a Naval Aviator’s shoulder. Top Gun forever.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

The older guys always get some love here because the older patches can go much, much further than commanders will allow these days. The patch above is from a Marine Corps aviator in Korea.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

For those who don’t speak Latin, this awesome PsyOps patch translates (loosely) to: “All Your Base Are Belong to Us.” The phrase comes from a poorly-translated 1989 video game called “Zero Wing,” but entered internet and pop culture vernacular around the year 2000.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas is where USAF pilots start earning their wings. Training classes start on the T-6 Texan II aircraft. We’re told every training class gets to design its own patch.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

Operation Deep Freeze is the U.S. mission to support research operations in Antarctica. As one might expect, they have a unique mission with specific risks. It’s reflected in their service patches.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

The Army isn’t about to be left out of the morale patch fun. Their combat aviation brigades also have a great sense of humor.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

Fort Rucker is the primary training center for U.S. Army aviators. It looks like Army aviation training classes get to design their own patches as well.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

This patch comes from a Naval Aviator who served in Vietnam. Technically, it comes from the back of his flight jacket, but it’s still worth a mention.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

Our brothers and sisters up north also seem to have an axe to grind with outdated vehicles and equipment. Thanks for reading, Canadian warriors!

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

This patch clearly came out before the Fat Leonard scandal rocked the Navy. Otherwise either the pig or squirrel would be rocking General MacArthur’s hat and/or sunglasses.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

This is one of my personal favorites. While the motto may not inspire the utmost confidence to the civilian viewer, you have to remember, military members have a dark sense of humor.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

Air Development Squadron Six was a Navy squadron based at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. First formed in 1955, they formed the critical link between McMurdo and support elements in New Zealand. Ski-equipped aircraft from AIRDEVRON Six were the first planes to land on the continent.

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Officials end search for missing helicopter crew in Hawaii

A massive ocean search for five soldiers who disappeared after a nighttime helicopter crash last week ended August 21 after no signs of life were spotted among the debris.


Crews from the Army, Coast Guard, Navy, and local agencies in Hawaii searched around the clock as strong currents moved the wreckage into a deep-water search area that spanned 72,000 nautical miles (115,873 kilometers).

“Our five soldiers who represent the best and the brightest of America have not been found,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of the 25th Infantry Division.

The Army identified the missing soldiers as 1st Lt. Kathryn M. Bailey, 26, of Hope Mills, North Carolina; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian M. Woeber, 41, of Decatur, Alabama; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen T. Cantrell, 32, of Wichita Falls, Texas; Staff Sgt.Abigail R. Milam, 33, of Jenkins, Kentucky; and Sgt. Michael L. Nelson, 30, of Antioch, Tennessee.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
An aircrewman aboard a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Barbers Point scans the waters off Oahu Aug. 18, 2017, for any sign of five missing aviators from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. USCG photo by Air Station Barbers Point.

Army and Coast Guard officials on August 21 notified the families of the missing soldiers that they were ending the search and rescue operation, Cavoli said.

“It is a very, very difficult decision, and it weighs heavily, particularly on the hearts of the Coast Guard,” said Rear Adm. Vincent B. Atkins, commander of the US Coast Guard’s 14th District.

“We used all of our training and professionalism in this very dynamic environment to mount the best response possible,” Atkins added.

There has been no determination yet of the crash’s cause, Cavoli said after the search was suspended.

Two Black Hawk helicopter crews were conducting training off the western tip of Oahu the night of August 15 when one aircrew lost contact with the crew whose helicopter went missing.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Honolulu are shown conducting a search for five crewmembers aboard a downed Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter approximately two miles west of Ka’ena Point, Oahu. Photo from USCG.

When the pilot on the lead helicopter realized the other aircraft was missing, he immediately turned his helicopter around and began to search, Cavoli said. But he later determined he didn’t have the equipment he needed to launch a professional search so he alerted the Coast Guard, Cavoli said.

A multi-agency team searched more than 72,000 nautical miles (115,873 kilometers) over the last week but saw no signs of life or of the crew that went missing. They found what appeared to be pieces of helicopter fuselage and a helmet in a debris field that expanded with strong currents to remote, deep areas of the ocean.

The Navy brought in remotely operated underwater vehicles and sonar to help in the search and get a better picture of the ocean floor, which drops quickly off the coast of Oahu and is over 1,000 feet (305 meters) deep in parts of the search area.

During the search, the Army and Coast Guard held joint briefings with family members every six hours to keep them informed, Cavoli said.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
An aircrewman aboard a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Barbers Point scans the waters off Oahu Aug. 18, 2017, for any sign of five missing aviators from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. USCG photo by Air Station Barbers Point.

The fact that parts of the fuselage were found indicated the helicopter’s impact with the ocean was substantial, said Mario Vittone, a retired Coast Guardsman and expert on sea survival.

“There’s not a big record of people surviving impacts with the water when the impact is so significant that the fuselage is torn apart,” he said.

People can last about three days without water as long as they are not working very hard, but in the ocean it is difficult to get rest while trying to survive, Vittone said.

All five crew members on board had life vests, air bottles for underwater breathing, and radios with built-in GPS systems, the Army has said.

“All these things lead you to believe they didn’t leave the aircraft, because if they could get out of the aircraft and inflate their floatation devices, then why would they not then turn on their beacons?” Vittone said.

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Army fielding new magazine optimized for M4/M4A1 Carbine and M855A1

The Army is issuing Soldiers a new small arms 5.56 ammunition magazine designed expressly for the M4/M4A1 carbine and M16 family of weapons.


The 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, was the first unit to receive the new “Enhanced Performance Magazine (EPM), as free issue In July,” said Anthony Cautero, Assistant Product Manager for the M4/M4A1 Carbine.

Also read: Army Links M4 Thermal Sights to Night Vision

Other units are acquiring smaller quantities through the standard supply system.

Cautero said the regiment received 6,800 magazines in July.

More than 49,000 of the new magazines will be issued to other units at JBLM before the end of the year, he said.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
The Army’s new magazine, dubbed the Enhanced Performance Magazine , is currently being issued to units through the supply system. It is optimized for use with the Army’s steel tipped 5.56mm small arms cartridge, the M855A1, in the M4/M4A1 and M16. The EPM recognizable by its blue-grey follower. | U.S. Army Photo by Rob Hovsepian

Army engineers and scientists optimized the EPM to work with the M4/M4A1, M16 rifle, and standard military 5.56mm small arms round, the M855A1.

The M855A1, known also as the Enhanced Performance Round (EPR), has been in use since 2010.

Following the EPR’s release, engineering tests of M4/M16 rifles firing the M855A1 showed that the weapons were sensitive to the EPR’s steel tip.

A Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. engineering team subsequently made a design change to the magazine that corrected this issue.

The EPM eliminates weapon wear caused by the steel-tipped M855A1 at the upper receiver/barrel extension interface, a condition discovered during laboratory testing.

Soldiers insert the EPM into the magazine well of a carbine’s lower receiver that positions rounds for feeding.

The forward moving bolt and bolt carrier assembly strips the rounds from the magazine and feeds them smoothly into the chamber for firing.

Soldiers also can use the new magazine with the previous standard military 5.56mm round, the M855.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Army 1st Lt. Michael White from South Kingstown R.I., platoon leader of 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1-182 Infantry Regiment of the Rhode Island National Guard, fires his M-4 rifle during a training mission. | U.S. Army photo

The EPM is tan-colored and has a blue-gray follower. The latter is the spring-loaded plastic component that positions each round up into the lower receiver of the weapon. Each magazine holds a maximum of 30 rounds.

Tests show that the EPM increases system reliability and durability.

It also ensures optimal performance in M4/M4A1 and M16 weapons when used with the EPM and EPR, Cautero said.

The Army expects to field more than 1.8 million of the new magazines over the next 12 months.

Center Industries of Wichita, Kansas, is the manufacturer.

Cautero said the Army has received more than 700,000 of the new magazines from the company to date.

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Watch Marines drift their tanks on ice

U.S. Marines training in Norway took their tanks and armored vehicles on a drifting course over solid ice.


Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
GIF: US Marine Forces Europe and Africa Facebook Video

The Marines are taking part in Exercise Cold Response 16 which is a 12-nation NATO exercise. American airmen, sailors, and Marines are learning how to fight in the extreme cold, a muscle the U.S. didn’t flex much while focused on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Exercise Cold Response was scheduled before Russia began its aggressive actions in Ukraine but the skills learned in Norway will be useful if relations don’t improve. The United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Canada, Belgium, and Latvia are also participating.

Learning to safely drift tanks may seem like a crazy stunt, but it will help U.S. Marine Corps tank crewmen maneuver during a fight in the extreme cold.

U.S. Marines in the exercise have also trained on surviving a fall through ice and constructing snow shelters.

(h/t Washington Post)

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The US military took these incredible photos this week

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


AIR FORCE:

An F-35A Lightning II team parks the aircraft for the first time at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 8, 2016. The aircraft arrived at the base to conduct operational testing in order to determine its combat capabilities.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth

An A-10 Thunderbolt II takes off from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Jan. 28, 2016. The A-10 has excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and is a highly accurate and survivable weapons delivery platform.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski

Senior Airman Daniel San Miguel, an aerospace propulsion journeyman with the 35th Maintenance Squadron, oversees an F110-GE-129 engine being tested during its afterburner phase at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 4, 2016. Each engine is tested multiple times for consistency and safety to ensure each engine has the capability to reach peak performance.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Deana Heitzman

ARMY:

A U.S. Army paratrooper, assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, conducts airborne operations at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 9, 2016.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Javier Orona

Army readiness is paramount to accomplishing a full range of military operations and winning the nation’s wars. The 82nd Airborne Division is a critical component of this requirement by being prepared to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours or less.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Javier Orona

NAVY:

Members of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, perform a drag plane during a training demonstration at Skydive Arizona. The Leap Frogs are in Arizona preparing for the 2016 show season.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Navy photo by Bruce Griffith

Sailors assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) render honors to a column of Indian naval vessels to mark the conclusion of India’s International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016. IFR 2016 is an international military exercise hosted by the Indian Navy to help enhance mutual trust and confidence with navies from around the world. Antietam, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David Flewellyn

MARINE CORPS:

Capt. Robert Mortenson, a company commander with Black Sea Rotational Force, spends time with a Norwegian search-and-rescue dog during cold-weather training aboard Skoganvarre, Norway, Feb. 5, 2016.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Immanuel Johnson

U.S. Marines provide security for a Japan Ground Self Defense Force CH-47 Chinook during Forest Light 16-2 in Yausubetsu Training Area, Hokkaido, Japan, Feb. 1, 2016. The exercise strengthens military partnership, solidifies regional security agreements and improves individual and unit-level skills.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Tyler S. Giguere

COAST GUARD:

“I will maintain a guardian’s eye on my crew at all times, and keep a cool, yet deliberate, hand on the throttle.” – Coast Guard Surfman’s creed

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Coast Guard photo

U.S. Coast Guard crews work hard and train hard to be ready – regardless of weather conditions!

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
U.S. Coast Guard photo

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How Jane Fonda Became The Most-Hated Woman Among Vietnam Veterans

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Jane Fonda sitting on an anti-aircraft gun during her visit to Hanoi in April 1972. (File photo)


By her own account, Jane Fonda’s first impression of America’s involvement in Vietnam was that it was a just cause. After all, she’d been raised by actor Henry Fonda who’d served in the Navy in World War II and forged his name in Hollywood by playing the good guys in movies.  She was brought up to believe that America was good, as she said, “I grew up with a deep belief that wherever our troops fought, they were on the side of the angels.”  So when she first heard about President Kennedy sending advisors to Vietnam she figured it was a necessary action.

For the first eight years of the Vietnam War Fonda was living in Paris with her first husband Roger Vadim, a film director.  The two of them were surrounded by the French cultural intelligencia.  (“Communists with a little ‘c,'” as she labeled them.)

Fonda described the period on her blog:

The French had been defeated in their own war against Vietnam a decade before our country went to war there, so when I heard, over and over, French people criticizing our country for our Vietnam War I hated it. I viewed it as sour grapes. I refused to believe we could be doing anything wrong there.

It wasn’t until I began to meet American servicemen who had been in Vietnam and had come to Paris as resisters that I realized I needed to learn more. I took every chance I could to meet with U.S. soldiers. I talked with them and read the books they gave me about the war. I decided I needed to return to my country and join with them—active duty soldiers and Vietnam Veterans in particular—to try and end the war.

Fonda received some notoriety for her activism once she returned to the States, and in the late ’60s she threw her celebrity heft behind causes and groups as far reaching as the Black Panthers, Native Americans, and feminists.

But the anti-Vietnam movement is where she really found her voice.  She started an “anti USO” troupe with Donald Sutherland and others called “FTA,” for “Free the Army” – a play on the expression “Fuck the Army,” which had come into favor at the time.  FTA toured military towns on the west coast doing skits and singing protest songs and getting veterans to tell their stories of an unjust war.

About the same time she began to support Vietnam Veterans Against the War, speaking at rallies and raising money.  In recognition of her efforts VVAW made Fonda their Honorary National Coordinator.

In her own blunt-force, actress-as-center-of-attention way, Fonda tried to segment the war from the warrior, something the nation at large failed to do during the Vietnam era (and for years afterwards).

It was all heady stuff for a well-bred celebrity who wanted to be known for something more than her looks.  It could be said that Fonda was educated to a fault – poised and articulate – and the actions of the Nixon Administration and their South Vietnamese cronies gave her just enough talking points and associated faux logic to be dangerous on an international foreign policy stage.

And Fonda got the perfect chance to be dangerous in May of 1972 when the North Vietnamese delegation at the Paris Peace Talks invited her for a two-week visit to Hanoi.

She accepted the invitation with the intention of treating the trip like a fact-finding “humanitarian” mission.  She wanted to take photos that would expose that the Nixon Administration was bombing the dikes to flood civilian areas.  Ultimately the trip had a different effect.

On the last day in Hanoi Fonda allowed herself to be part of a photo op.  She explains on her blog:

I was exhausted and an emotional wreck after the 2-week visit. It was not unusual for Americans who visited North Vietnam to be taken to see Vietnamese military installations and when they did, they were always required to wear a helmet like the kind I was told to wear during the numerous air raids I had experienced. When we arrived at the site of the anti-aircraft installation (somewhere on the outskirts of Hanoi), there was a group of about a dozen young soldiers in uniform who greeted me. There were also many photographers (and perhaps journalists) gathered about, many more than I had seen all in one place in Hanoi. This should have been a red flag.

The translator told me that the soldiers wanted to sing me a song. He translated as they sung. It was a song about the day ‘Uncle Ho’ declared their country’s independence in Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square. I heard these words: “All men are created equal; they are given certain rights; among these are life, Liberty and Happiness.” These are the words Ho pronounced at the historic ceremony. I began to cry and clap. These young men should not be our enemy. They celebrate the same words Americans do.

The soldiers asked me to sing for them in return. As it turned out I was prepared for just such a moment: before leaving the United States, I memorized a song called Day Ma Di, written by anti-war South Vietnamese students. I knew I was slaughtering it, but everyone seemed delighted that I was making the attempt. I finished. Everyone was laughing and clapping, including me, overcome on this, my last day, with all that I had experienced during my 2 week visit. What happened next was something I have turned over and over in my mind countless times. Here is my best, honest recollection of what happened: someone (I don’t remember who) led me towards the gun, and I sat down, still laughing, still applauding. It all had nothing to do with where I was sitting. I hardly even thought about where I was sitting. The cameras flashed. I got up, and as I started to walk back to the car with the translator, the implication of what had just happened hit me. “Oh my God. It’s going to look like I was trying to shoot down U.S. planes.” I pleaded with him, “You have to be sure those photographs are not published. Please, you can’t let them be published.” I was assured it would be taken care of. I didn’t know what else to do. (I didn’t know yet that among the photographers there were some Japanese.)

But the photos were published, and they suggest that she was, in fact, aware that she was sitting on an anti-aircraft gun.  (One shot shows her peering through the gun’s sight and smiling.)

And other facts about Fonda’s trip emerged:  Like an updated version of Tokyo Rose, she’d gone on Hanoi radio and petitioned American fighting men stationed to the south to lay down their arms because they were fighting an unjust war against the peace-loving North Vietnamese.  She also met with a select group of American POWs – “cooperative” prisoners who’d never shown their captors any resistance – and while those seven have unequivocally stated that they were not coerced to meet with her and tell her all about their fair and humane treatment, other hard-case POWs have said they were tortured before and after her visit.

And, of course, in spite of the self-justifying logic and parsing of details in her blog entry above, there’s an easy way to avoid the disdain and outright hatred of your fellow citizens:  Regardless of how you feel about the war don’t visit another country as a guest of the leaders your country is at war with.

But were her actions treasonous?  The Nixon Administration came after her in a big way but failed to get any charges to stick.  It seems the war was just too unpopular for lawmakers or the general public to see the effort through.

But it wasn’t unpopular enough to keep Fonda from being shackled with the label “Hanoi Jane, Traitor B–ch” in veteran circles and among conservatives in general.

The arguments about Jane Fonda’s legacy rage to this day.  And in an era where celebrities go out of their way to “support the troops” it seems improbable that one of them would show up in a video chumming around with the ISIS boys or high fiving a Taliban leader after he launches a Stinger missile at a coalition helicopter.  But these are different times.  Now we don’t have Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, or the draft – elements that tended to give the average American strong opinions about the war in progress.

But whatever animosities linger, ultimately America has to accept that America created Jane Fonda.  And Jane Fonda’s story – before, during, and after the Vietnam War – is uniquely American.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

(Most of our memes this week came straight from Facebook, so thanks to everyone who shares on social media.)


1. E4 mafia? They can disappear faster than a Predator.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
E4 mafia runs the Army – except when there is a detail. Then they run from the Army.

2. You know there’s at least one sergeant warning everyone about sunburn. (via Military Memes)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

SEE ALSO: The top 7 videos of ISIS getting blown away

3. Inspections are done every 6 months, typically unannounced. (via Military Memes)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
I like to think Goose is in the back, taking pictures of everyone they fly close to.

 4. I’m a sniper, but I’m cross-trained in other sorts of bad*ssery. (via Military Memes)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

5. The Air Force is shocked to see that many planes in such a small place. (via Military Memes)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
The soldiers are jealous because they could only pack two duffel bags and the sailors got to bring their floating fortress.

6. Pilots are jocks. They don’t have much time for that book learnin’. (via Military Memes)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Surprisingly, the mechanics are the nerds.

7. This airman is here to get sh*t done.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Mostly folding towels, but GETS. IT. DONE.

8. Study hard, be prepared, then Christmas tree it. (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

9. There are a lot of ways to assess your branch of service. (via Military Memes)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Air Force rarely uses how tough their basic is.

10. Gunner’s mate chief is about to fire his button. (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
At that tension, release velocity is about 450 meters per second.

11. Best way to compare civilian and military experiences.

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
Of course, when the DI walks in, your heart doesn’t drop so much as stop. Which is good, because he can find you when it’s beating.

 12. “I just want it to frame my face.” (via Military Memes)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

13. “Here, a school of sharks sight easy prey.” (via Military Memes)

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

NOW: 11 things your recruiter told you (and what they really mean)

OR: Watch the top 10 military comedy shows.

Articles

This World War II hero was shot multiple times and still managed to destroy three machine gun nests

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls
United States Army First Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War II.


Senator Daniel Inouye served in WWII and was seriously injured while attacking a German position along a ridge in Tuscany.  He stood to throw a grenade into a machine gun nest, when one of the gunners shot him in the stomach.  Inouye ignored the wound and killed the machine gunners with his Thompson SMG.

Instead of getting out of combat, Inouye continued the attack and destroyed a second machine gun nest before collapsing from blood loss.  After collapsing, Inouye crawled toward a third machine gun nest to continue the assault.  As he prepared to throw another grenade, a German RPG severed his right arm.  He used his left hand to remove the live grenade from his dead right arm and tossed it into the machine gun nest.

After destroying three German positions, being shot in the stomach, having an arm severed by an RPG, and nearly being blown up with his own grenade, Inouye got up and ran around the ridge, shooting at the remaining Germans with his left hand.  He continued to do so until he was shot in the leg, fell off the cliff, and was knocked unconscious at the bottom.

When he awoke in a hospital, his friends told him what he had done.  He replied, “No.  That’s impossible.  Only a crazy person would do that.”

Read more from Josh Stein here.

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