6 reasons why Camp Pendleton is the best base in the Marine Corps - We Are The Mighty
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6 reasons why Camp Pendleton is the best base in the Marine Corps


Camp Pendleton is the best place in the world for Marines to be stationed.

Sorry Hawaii Marines, but I’m calling it for Pendleton. That giant wonderful base found between San Diego and Orange County on the Pacific coast is simply the best.

I’ve been stationed or visited Marine bases in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Okinawa, 29 Palms, Camp Lejeune, and others. But no place is better than Camp Pendleton, in my opinion. Here are six reasons why:

1. Camp Pendleton is home to the oldest and largest active-duty Marine division.

Marines at Camp Pendleton who fall under the “Blue Diamond” can be especially proud of their heritage. With roughly 25,000 Marines and sailors in its ranks, 1st Marine Division is “the oldest, largest and most decorated division in the United States Marine Corps,” according to its official website.

It has also had some notable commanders, like the legendary Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who led the division during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then there are others who made 1st Mar Div their home at some point before they rose to the top as Commandant of the Marine Corps: Gens. Vandegrift, Shoup, Gray, and Dunford (who will soon take over as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs).

You also can’t beat the motto: “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.”

2. Pendleton is located right between two amazing cities.

Camp Pendleton is situated right between Los Angeles and San Diego. Running about 20 miles of I-5 from San Clemente to Oceanside, the sprawling installation offers countless opportunities for fun off-base. Many junior Marines visit Oceanside while in training at the School of Infantry, but others know to head further away to San Diego for awesome bars, culture, and parks, or they head further north and brave L.A. traffic.

And for those stationed on the north end of the base, Orange County offers amazing beaches, clubs and bars, and perhaps most importantly …

3. Burritos, burritos, and burritos. Oh, and tacos too.

Pedro’s Tacos in San Clemente claims the title of “world’s best tacos since 1986” and I believe them. While its awesome fish tacos are about 10 minutes outside of Pendleton’s northernmost gate, there are plenty of great Mexican food options to choose from in southern California.

Marines also rave about Colima’s Mexican Restaurant in Oceanside, which offers monster carne asada burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and everything else you’d expect. They are also known for the “California burrito,” which has french fries in it. Trust me, it’s good.

4. The weather is perfect.

Marines stationed in the desert of Twentynine Palms, California are sweating their butts off year-round, while Camp Lejeune’s weather can be hot, pleasant, or freezing, depending on the time of year. Then there’s Okinawa, which is so humid, I’m overheating just thinking about it.

Some might argue in favor of Hawaii for this point, but let’s not forget the mysterious rain that comes out of nowhere when there are no clouds in sky.

Southern California offers the best weather overall. The average annual temperature is around 62 degrees, but that’s only due to the winter months bringing temps down slightly below 70. Most of the year, the region enjoys sunshine, little rain, and temperatures in the upper 70s and 80s.

Which leads me to the next point:

5. You can literally go surfing and snowboarding in the same day.

If you are into surfing, Marines in Hawaii have the obvious edge over everyone else. But you can’t beat southern California in this boast: You can go surfing on Saturday morning and be snowboarding on a decent mountain in the same afternoon.

This amazing feat can be worked out by hitting up one of the best surf breaks in the world at Trestles (located at San Onofre beach on base) before driving up to Mount High or Big Bear — a little over two hours away — to hit the slopes.

6. When you leave the base, you are actually leaving the base.

At my first base in K-Bay, Hawaii, most Marines left base for the local area of Kailua or took the drive out to Waikiki for the weekends. But since it was a tiny island, you could never really escape the base: High-and-tight haircuts and Marines were everywhere (among other military service members).

Hawaii may be an island, but most Marine Corps bases are similar. The towns outside it are filled with Marines (and higher-ups). It’s kind of a bummer if you are filling up your gas tank in Jacksonville, N.C. (outside of Camp Lejeune) and told your civilian clothing choices are incorrect and you need to go fix yourself.

Camp Pendleton doesn’t really have this problem, especially if Marines are heading out to the larger cities of L.A. and San Diego (Oceanside is another story).

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments. 

ALSO CHECK OUT: 23 Terms only US Marines will understand

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Military personnel share amazing one-liners from drill instructors

Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC


Members of the military bonded over their service and took time to reminisce about harsh words from their drill instructors in an entertaining Reddit Military thread.

The thread started with the simple question, “What are some of the most memorable things your drill instructors have said?”

We’ve collected some of the most interesting responses below. If you served in the military, feel free to add your own drill instructor line in the comments below.

One Marine was compared to a sugar cookie for being sweaty and covered in sand.

Another instructor accused a Marine of being part of a plot to destroy the Corps.

Reddit user nickcorvus remembers how a drill instructor yelled:

“You’re a communist plot to f— up my Marine Corps.”

At times, drill instructors could barely contain their rage …

… or their disdain.

Some lines might not have had the intended effect.

In this case, a drill instructor had a more serious impact, when he handed this Marine an Eagle Globe and Anchor (EGA) that signifies the end of new-recruit training.

Ultimately, drill instructors always left their mark.

Even decades later. 

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Islamic State terrorists launched a chemical attack in Mosul

U.S. Army Major General Joseph Martin spoke via video conference from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on April 19, 2017, confirming that Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists launched a chemical attack against Iraqi forces in Mosul four days earlier.


The U.S. military has confirmed that the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group launched a chemical offensive against advancing Iraqi forces in the flashpoint city of Mosul over the weekend.

Iraqi security sources reported on April 15 that Daesh terrorists had fired missiles loaded with chlorine at the then-freshly-liberated neighborhood of al-Abar in west Mosul, causing respiratory problems for at least seven troops.

Soldiers conduct detailed aircraft decontamination training. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Josephine Carlson)

Major General Martin, the commanding general of the so-called Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command–Operation Inherent Resolve, said via videoconference from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad that the chemical attack had been launched but had caused no fatalities.

“The Iraqi security forces…were in vicinity of one of the strikes,” Martin told reporters, adding, “They were taken back for the appropriate level of medical care… Nobody’s been [fatally] impacted. Nobody’s died.”

Martin, however, said that the agent used in the attack had not been identified “at this time.”

“We have sent it back for testing but we’re still waiting for the outcomes,” he said.

According to Iraq’s Federal Police, Daesh also hit two other districts of western Mosul, namely Urouba and Bab al-Jadid, with chemical attacks on April 15.

The foreign-backed terrorist group, which seized Mosul in June 2014, has so far carried out numerous chemical attacks against both Iraqi forces and civilians.

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North Korea tests missiles after South suspends anti-missile system

North Korea test fired another missile, just one day after South Korea suspended the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system.


The early morning launch occurred June 8th from the coastal city of Wonsan.

“Multiple projectiles that appear to be short-range, land-to-ship cruise missiles” were fired and flew about 200 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan, or East Sea as it is called in Korea, according to South Korea’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month ordered his military to develop the missile capability to precisely target enemy vessels at sea, according to North Korean state media.

During the first week of June, two US aircraft carrier strike groups, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, conducted military exercises in international waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The South Korean JCS said the test on June 8th was a direct response to the recent US naval exercises.

“It was to show off the capability of various types of missiles and is an armed protest to show off its precise strike capability against enemy warships regarding the (recent) joint naval training of the U.S. carriers, or to secure an advantage in US and North Korea or inter-Korean relations,” said JCS Chief of Public Affairs Roh Jae-Cheon.

The JCS also noted that North Korea’s test of low-altitude cruise missiles is not a violation of United Nations Security Council sanctions, which specifically prohibit high-altitude ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development.

USS Carl Vinson. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also said this cruise missile test did not warrant a response by the United Nations.

“The government has dealt with actions of North Korea based on responses of the international community, however, we don’t think this ( North Korea’s missile launch this time) is something we need to protest against,” he said.

He also confirmed that the North Korean missiles did not reach his country’s exclusive economic zone that extends 370 kilometers from the coast.

The June 8th launch is the fourth missile test by North Korea since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office May 10, pledging to reduce tensions with Pyongyang through dialogue and engagement. His conservative predecessor, former President Park Geun-hye, was impeached for her alleged ties to a multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

President Moon convened his first meeting of the National Security Council, where he ordered heightened military readiness to respond to any North Korean provocation.

President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

” President Moon condemned [North Korea’s provocation by saying that] what North Korea will gain from this provocation is international isolation and economic difficulties and it will lose the opportunity for development,” said Park Soo-hyun, the spokesman of the presidential office after the NSC meeting.

On June 7th, the Moon administration suspended the further development of THAAD until an environmental survey, required by law, has been completed. A presidential aide was reported to have said that the survey could take up to two years.

THAAD uses six mobile launchers and 48 interceptor missiles to target long-range ballistic missiles using high-resolution radar and infrared seeking technology. Two of the launchers were installed in March.

Photo courtesy of DoD.

During the campaign, Moon called for a full review of the THAAD agreement before authorizing deployment.

US President Donald Trump also raised concerns about the agreement when he demanded $1 billion for the American weapons system in April. Officials in both Washington and Seoul subsequently clarified the US would bear the cost of THAAD system’s deployment and South Korea would provide the land and supporting facilities.

Washington considers the advanced anti-missile battery critical for defense against North Korea’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.

However China adamantly opposes the THAAD regional deployment that could potentially give the US the means to counter its missile capabilities as well.

And many residents living near the deployment site have raised concerns over the possible negative health effects of the system’s powerful radar, and over the increased danger of North Korea targeting their region if hostiles break out.

South Korean Minister of Defense, Han Min-goo. DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.

Last week, the South Korean Defense Ministry approved the delivery of four remaining launchers without informing the presidential office. The president suspended a deputy defense minster for his role in bypassing the executive oversight function. Kang Kyung-hwa, Moon’s Foreign Minister designate, also called for the National Assembly to debate this national security matter.

On Thursday, the Defense Ministry declined to comment on the status of THAAD because of an internal investigation under way.

In the National Assembly Thursday, conservative Rep. Lee Cheol-woo with the opposition Liberty Korea Party said delaying THAAD is “neglecting the country’s duty,” while fellow party member Rep. Chung Woo-taik accused the Moon government of undermining the US alliance, “while taking no measures whatsoever against North Korea’s missile launches.”

The South Korean presidential spokesman also said that Moon will reaffirm South Korea’s strong commitment to the US alliance when he meets with Trump in Washington later this month.

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6 falsehoods troops stopped believing a long time ago

Leaders often have the dubious task of delivering bad news to a formation and setting expectations for a unit. Sometimes, to keep troops motivated or to scare people straight, they’ll stretch the truth a little. Occasionally, they stretch it past the breaking point and just go with an outright lie.


It’s understandable that leaders, stuck between the story they’re given from headquarters and the need to keep troops on task, will take the shortcut of lying every once in awhile. What isn’t understandable is why they would think that troops will keep falling for the same lies over and over.

Here are 6 falsehoods that junior enlisted folks stopped believing a long time ago:

1. “As soon as we clean weapons, we’re all going home.”

Photo: US Air National Guard photo by Kim E. Ramirez

No. Once weapons have been accepted by the armorer, someone has to tell first sergeant. First sergeant will tell the commander who will finish this one email real quick. Just one more line. He swears. He’s walking out right now.

Oh, but his high school girlfriend just Facebook messaged him and he has to check it real fast … Have the men sweep out the unit areas until he gets back.

2. “We’re all in this together.”

Misleading to say the least. Yes, the entire unit will receive a final assessment for an exercise together and a unit completely overrun in combat will fall regardless of what MOS each soldier is, but that’s the end of how this is true.

After all, the whole unit may be in the war together, but the headquarters element is often all in the air conditioning together while the line platoons are all in the firefight together. The drone pilots may be part of the battle too, but they’re mostly in Nevada together.

3. “This will affect your whole career.”

Photo: US Navy Lt. Ayana Pitterson

Look, if Custer could get his commission withheld for months in 1861 and still pin major general in 1863 (that’s cadet to major general in two years), then the Army can probably figure out how to make room for a busted down private on his way to specialist.

4. “Everyone is getting released at 1500.”

Photo: US Marine Corps Land Cpl. Katelyn Hunter

No. And anyone who even starts to believe this one deserves the inevitable disappointment. The timeline always creeps to the right.

5. “This will build esprit de corps.”

Anyone suddenly feeling like we’re a team? Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Diamond N. Peden

Two things build esprit de corps: screwing up together and succeeding together. Running five miles together is not enough of an accomplishment to build esprit de corps. And anyone who falls out of these exercises to build unit cohesion on an obstacle course will be alienated by their failure, not brought into the fold.

6. “‘Mandatory fun’ will be.”

Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian Morales

“Mandatory fun” never is. It will be miserable for the participants, embarrassing for the organizers, and scary for the family members who are forcefully “encouraged” to bring their kids to an event with hundreds of cussing, dipping, and drinking troops.

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5 differences between Army and Marine Corps infantry

The U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps infantrymen pride themselves on being some of the biggest badasses on every block they roll into. They have more similarities than differences, but they’re unique forces. Here are 5 ways you can tell Marine and Army infantry apart:


Note: For this comparison we are predominantly pulling from the Army’s Infantry and Rifle Platoon and Squad field manual and the Marine Corps’ Introduction to Rifle Platoon Operations and Marine Rifle Squad. Not every unit in each branch works as described in doctrine. Every infantry unit will have its own idiosyncrasies and units commonly change small details to deal with battlefield realities.

1. Platoon Organization

Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Artur Shvartsberg

Army and Marine Corps rifle platoons share many elements. They are both organized into larger companies, both contain subordinate squads organized into fire teams, and both employ the rifleman as their primary asset. The Army platoon has a radiotelephone operator and a medic. The Marine platoon has a radio transmitter operator and a corpsman who fulfill the same functions.

The Marine Corps rifle platoon contains three rifle squads. Each squad is led by a sergeant who has three fire teams working for him, each led by a corporal. The fire team leader typically carries the M203 grenade launcher slung under his M16. Operating under him are the automatic rifleman, assistant automatic rifleman, and rifleman.

The Army platoons contain smaller squads. An Army rifle squad leader is typically a sergeant or staff sergeant who leads two four-man fire teams. Each Army fire team consists of a team leader, an automatic rifleman, a grenadier, and a rifleman. Note that the Army squad is using a dedicated grenadier in place of an assistant automatic rifleman. Typically, one rifleman in each squad will be a squad designated marksman, a specially trained shooter who engages targets at long range. Also, the Army has an additional squad in each platoon, the infantry weapons squad. This squad has teams dedicated to the M240B machine gun and the Javelin missile system.

Both Marine Corps and Army infantry platoons operate under company and battalion commanders who may add capabilities such as rockets or mortars when needed.

2. Weapons

Photo: US Navy Mass Communications Petty Officer 2nd Class Kim Smith

The Army typically gets new weapons before the Marine Corps. It moved to the M4 before the Marine Corps did, and soldiers are more likely than Marines to have the newest weapons add-ons like optical sights, lasers, and hand grips. Marines will get all the fancy add-ons. They just typically get them a few years later.

When the Army needs a rocket or missile launched, they can use SMAWs, AT-4s, or Javelins. For the Marine Corps, SMAW is the more common weapons system (they can call heavier weapons like the Javelin and TOW from the Weapons Company in the battalion).

The Army is quickly adopting the M320 as its primary grenade launcher while the Marine Corps is using the M203. The M320 can be fired as a stand-alone weapon. Either the M320 or M203 can be mounted under an M16 or M4.

3. Fires support

Photo: US Marine Corps

Obviously, infantry units aren’t on their own on the battlefield. Marine and Army rifle units call for assistance from other assets when they get bogged down in a fight. Both the Marine Corps and the Army companies can get mortar, heavy machine gun, and missile/rocket support from their battalion when it isn’t available in the company. For stronger assets such as artillery and close air support, the services differ.

Marines in an Marine Expeditionary Unit, an air-ground task force of about 2,200 Marines, will typically have artillery, air, and naval assets within the MEU. Soldiers in a brigade combat team would typically have artillery support ready to go but would need to call outside the BCT for air or naval support. Air support would come from an Army combat aviation brigade or the Navy or Air Force. Receiving naval fire support is rare for the Army.

4. Different specialties

Photo: US Navy Phan Shannon Garcia

While all Marines train for amphibious warfare, few soldiers do. Instead, most soldiers pick or are assigned a terrain or warfare specialty such as airborne, Ranger, mountain, or mechanized infantry. Ranger is by far the hardest of these specialties to earn, and many rangers will go on to serve in Ranger Regiment.

The Marine Corps categorizes its infantry by weapons systems and tactics rather than the specialties above. Marine infantry can enter the service as a rifleman (0311), machine gunner (0331), mortarman (0341), assaultman (0351), or antitank missileman (0352). Soldiers can only enter the Army as a standard infantryman (11-B) or an indirect fire infantryman (mortarman, 11-C).

5. Elite

Army Rangers conduct a mission in Afghanistan. (Photo: US Army)

Marines who want to push themselves beyond the standard infantry units can compete to become scout snipers, reconnaissance, or Force Recon Marines. Scout snipers provide accurate long-range fire to back up other infantrymen on the ground. Reconnaissance Marines and Force Recon Marines seek out enemy forces and report their locations, numbers, and activities to commanders. Force Recon operates deeper in enemy territory than standard reconnaissance and also specializes in certain direct combat missions like seizing oil platforms or anti-piracy.

Soldiers who want to go on to a harder challenge have their own options. The easiest of the elite ranks to join is the airborne which requires you to complete a three-week course in parachuting. Much harder is Ranger regiment which requires its members either graduate Ranger School or get selected from Ranger Assessment and Selection Program. Finally, infantry soldiers can compete for Special Forces selection. If selected, they will leave infantry behind and choose a special forces job such as weapons sergeant or medical sergeant. Infantrymen can also become a sniper by being selected for and graduating sniper school.

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The US military took these incredible photos in just a 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:

Airmen push down on the wing of a U-2 after its landing at Royal Air Force Fairford, England, June 9, 2015. If the aircraft lands slightly off balance, it has the potential to tilt to one side or another.

Photo: Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton/USAF

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Talon Leinbaugh, 66th Rescue Squadron aerial gunner, conducts aerial surveillance in an HH-60G Pave Hawk over the Pacific Ocean during Angel Thunder 2015, June 11, 2015. Angel Thunder is hosted by the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., but many flying operations will extend throughout Arizona, New Mexico and California.

Photo: Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier/USAF

NAVY:

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) cast a line from a combat rubber raiding craft to Sailors in the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) during combined training with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU).

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek A. Harkins/USN

The U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, perform the Diamond 360 maneuver at the Ocean City Air Show. The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform 68 demonstrations at 35 locations across the U.S. in 2015.

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrea Perez/USN

ARMY:

Paratroopers, assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, rehearse amphibious landings aboard British Navy landing craft as part of Exercise BALTOPS 2015 in Ravlunda, Sweden.

Photo: 1st Lt. Steven Siberski/US Army

Soldiers, assigned to 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, conduct training during a Decisive Action Rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California.

Photo: Spc. Ashley Marble/US Army

MARINE CORPS:

Falling in style. Gunnery Sgt. Eddie Myers, parachute safety officer assigned to Detachment 4th Force Reconnaissance Company, parachutes from a UH-1Y Venom helicopter during airborne insertion training at the flight line aboard Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay.

Photo: Lance Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson/USMC

Mud bath. Marines and Sailors competed in the 2015 Commanding General’s Cup Mud Run at Camp Pendleton, California.

Photo: Lance Cpl. Asia J. Sorenson/USMC

COAST GUARD:

Just a few months ago, the Coast Guard officially stood up its 22nd rating, the dive rating for enlisted members and dive specialty for chief warrant officers.

Photo: USCG

Honoring paying respect to Old Glory.

Photo: USCG

NOW: See more military photos

OR: Watch the top 10 militaries in the world:

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An Austrian company is taking aim at the new US special ops sniper rifle

An Austrian firm has just debuted a new big-bore, bolt action rifle that could become a player in a new program to outfit U.S. special operations troops with an updated long-range sniper rifle.


A new company in the market, Ritter  Stark is making precision modular rifles from the ground up, using an innovative rifling technology and a barrel attachment system that virtually guarantees zero with optics matched to the caliber. Its SX-1 MTR chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum answers Special Operations Command’s original call to provide commandos with a new “Advanced Sniper Rifle” that could be quickly reconfigured to several calibers and be deadly accurate each time.

The Ritter  Stark SX-1 MTR is built from the ground up for precision. It's modular barrel system includes chamberings in .338 Lapua Magnum, .300 WinMag and .308. (Photo from Ritter  Stark) The Ritter Stark SX-1 MTR is built from the ground up for precision. It’s modular barrel system includes chamberings in .338 Lapua Magnum, .300 WinMag and .308. (Photo from Ritter Stark)

What sets Ritter Stark apart from the competition is the novel way in which its SX-1 changes caliber. Most manufacturers have an interchangeable barrel that slides into the receiver and is attached to the action with a barrel nut or similar method. Ritter Stark built theirs with the barrel attached to the Picatinny-railed upper receiver and it’s secured to the lower through simple hex bolts on the handguard.

“The caliber change takes a maximum of three minutes and you don’t have to take it to a gunsmith to do it, you can just use a hex wrench,” said Ritter Stark Deputy Managing Director Ekaterina Trakham during the 2016 Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington, D.C.

The SX-1 can be switched to a .300 WinMag chambering, a .308 chambering and the .338 Lapua Magnum option. Reports indicate, however, that SOCOM has modified its ASR requirement for a .300 Norma Magnum chambering.

Like other high-end military sniper rifles, the SX-1’s bolt locks inside the barrel for increased accuracy. And the company uses a proprietary “electrochemical” process to rifle its barrels, with company officials saying a .338 barrel is good for 5,000 rounds and a .308 can take 10,000 rounds before needing a replacement.

The SX-1 also has a three-position safety that’s optimized for military and police applications, with two standard “fire” and “safe” positions, and a third one that not only blocks the firing pin but locks the bold handle down.

“We have a lot of experience working with security detail snipers who patrol the perimeter, and they’re usually asked to engage the safety when they’re on target,” said Ritter Stark sales director Alexandr Chikin.

The SX-1 trigger also has a flip safety located under the trigger guard to limit movement that could give away a sniper’s position and also blocks it when the rifle needs to be safed.

Company officials say the rifle should be commercially available within the next few months and cost around $6,000 for the .338 variant and $5,000 for the .308 one.

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Here’s when the F-35 will use stealth mode vs. ‘beast mode’

Lockheed Martin built the F-35 with integrated stealth to safely navigate the most heavily contested airspaces on earth, but if the situation calls for it, the F-35 can blow its cover and go “beast mode.”


Jeff Babione, general manager of the F-35 program, told reporters at Lockheed Martin’s DC area office that at different stages in a conflict, the F-35’s different potential weapons load outs suit it for different missions.

Related: This is who would win a dogfight between Russia and Israel

Down to the ten thousandth of an inch, the exterior of the F-35 has been precisely machined to baffle radars. This means holding 5,000 pounds of bombs internally, and only opening up the bomb bays at the exact moment of a strike to stay hidden.

The stealth makes it ideal for penetrating defended airspaces and knocking out defenses, but after the careful work of surface-to-air missile hunting is done, expect the F-35 to go beast.

“When we don’t necessarily need to be stealthy, we can carry up to 18,000 pounds of bombs,” said Babione. “Whether it’s the first day of the war when we need the stealth, or the second or third … whenever the F-35 is called, it can do the mission.”

Lockheed Martin’s F-35A aircraft displays its weapons load-out at Edwards Air Force Base in California. | Lockheed Martin photo

The fifth-generation joint strike fighter, first announced in 2001, intends to bring the military a family of aircraft that can take on multiple roles, including air-to-air combat, air-to-ground attacks, and providing unparalleled intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

Though the F-35’s production has been plagued by cost and schedule overruns, the US Air Force and Marine Corps’ variants hit initial operational capability in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Currently the US Navy is battling a nose gear issue with its variant of the F-35 that could delay operational capability until 2019.

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Here’s the biggest sign ISIS will be weakened in 2016

Flickr


ISIS might have proven its ability to wage complex attacks around the world in 2015.

But in the heart of its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, the group suffered at least one important setback: losing a substantial portion of its oil-exports income,according to the Iraq Oil Report.

Without the major source of revenue and foreign currency, the group might have a reduced ability to maintain the appearance of state-like services and functions inside the caliphate, potentially harming its ability to hold on to territory as global efforts against the group intensify.

The Iraq Oil Report’s December 28 story is one of the most detailed accounts of the jihadist group’s oil infrastructure that’s publicly available. It’s based on interviews with over a dozen people living in ISIS-controlled areas, including anonymous oil-sector workers. The story also includes descriptions of documents from the nearly 7 terabytes of data seized from the compound of Abu Sayyaf, the ISIS oil chief for Syria killed in a US Special Forces raid in May.

The story provides a mixed picture of ISIS’s oil resources 16 months after the start of a US-led bombing campaign against the group.

The US was slow to understand the strategic value of targeting ISIS’s oil infrastructure, viewing oil platforms, refineries, and vehicles “as a financial target with less battlefield urgency, rather than military targets,” according to Iraq Oil Report.

Dept. of Defense | We Are The Mighty

Even with the loss of nearly all of its oil fields in Iraq, ISIS still controls a single conventional refinery in the country, in Qayyarah, near Mosul.

Less efficient open-pit refining techniques and continued control of oil fields in Syria mean that fuel prices within the Islamic State have stabilized somewhat in parts of the caliphate after fluctuating wildly over the past year and a half.

The report contains one piece of evidence that the Middle East may be well past the heyday of the ISIS oil economy. ISIS’s once formidable oil-export economy, which used to produce $40 million in revenue a month for the group, has all but evaporated.

As the story recounts, ISIS oil exports were once a highly centralized operation, with middlemen like tanker-truck drivers paying about $10 to $20 per barrel at the point of sale.

ISIS would then recuperate the apparent discount on the barrel of oil through a series of tightly imposed transit taxes. The oil would hit the Turkish market through truckers or ISIS officials bribing officials in either Turkey or Iraqi Kurdistan.

The caliphate’s oil industry was staffed using 1,600 workers, most of whom were recruited from around the world. Because of global disruptions to the oil industry, even an illicit non-state group like ISIS didn’t have trouble running an international recruiting drive for skilled labor, as workers were “enticed with ‘globally competitive’ salaries at a time when the oil industry was undergoing waves of layoffs.”

Twitter | @Karybdamoid

Those days are apparently over.

US airstrikes have destroyed hundreds of ISIS-linked tanker trucks and cut into ISIS’s refining capacity. Low global oil prices have made smuggling a losing business proposition as well, especially in light of fuel shortages within the caliphate itself.

“The group can no longer generate enough fuel to comfortably meet demand within its own territory, as evidenced by high and volatile prices: there is virtually nothing left to export,” the article states. “Global crude prices are now so low that, even if smugglers were able to cross international borders, the expense of the trip – measured in fuel, time, and bribes – would likely erase any profits.”

Overall, the export business is “defunct,” the Iraq Oil Report states, and the article pushes back against “press reports” suggesting that ISIS is “financed through smuggling routes that have been largely dormant for more than a year.”

It’s unclear what kind of impact the sustained absence of oil-export revenue will have on ISIS in the coming year. The group lost approximately 14% of its territory in Syria in 2015 and wasreportedly dislodged from the center of Ramadi, about 75 miles away from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, earlier this week.

At the same time, ISIS has proven remarkably resilient, keeping control over a large swath of Iraq and Syria despite a handful of battlefield defeats and the loss of its oil exports. And as the Iraq Oil Report article says, ISIS’s control over territory stems from the weakness of the Iraqi state and the alienation of Iraq’s Sunni minority from the government in Baghdad. The loss of ISIS’s oil revenue doesn’t solve the deeper, underlying problems that enable the group’s control over so much of the country.

Still, reduced exports cut off ISIS’s access to foreign currency and reduces its ability to provide social services to people living under the group’s control — something that undermines its claim to ruling over a state-like political entity. It’s highly unlikely that ISIS will ever reconstitute the $1 million-a-day-type revenue streams it was able to establish by mid-2014.

The reported end of large-scale ISIS oil exports also shows that the US-led campaign against ISIS has at least fulfilled one strategic objective, even as the group continues to hold substantial territory and carry out attacks around the world.

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Here are 6 ongoing conflicts the next POTUS will inherit

Whomever America chooses in 2016, among his or her first orders of business will be to spend a lot of time getting briefed on where the U.S. military is deployed.


Service members around the world are currently conducting airstrikes, raids, bilateral training missions, and other operations to help America and our allies. These six ongoing conflicts will certainly still be on the plate when the next president gets up to bat:

1. Iraq and Syria

U.S. Marines fire artillery to break up ISIS fighters attacking Kurdish and Peshmerga forces. (Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Andre Dakis)

Few people need a primer on what is going on in Iraq and Syria. ISIS holds territory and is murdering thousands of people. America’s involvement against ISIS has been slowly growing.

We’ve lost three service members there. Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler was killed while rescuing potential victims of an imminent massacre, Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin was killed in a rocket attack while providing fire support for coalition fighters, and Navy SEAL Charles Keating was killed while rescuing other American advisors caught by an ISIS surprise attack.

While the Obama administration has tried to keep America’s footprint on the ground relatively small, 300 troops in Syria and approximately 4,000 in Iraq, the Navy and Air Force have been busy conducting air strikes to support both American and coalition ground forces.

2. Libya

U.S. Marines prepare to evacuate military personnel from Libya at the request of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya on Jul. 26, 2014. (Photo: US Marine Corps 1st Lt. Maida Kalic)

Of course, ISIS operations aren’t limited to Iraq and Syria. Portions of Libya’s coastal areas are controlled by the terror organization. A few dozen U.S. troops, most likely Special Forces soldiers or other operators, are deployed there to help the competing national governments fight further ISIS attacks.

America has launched airstrikes there in the past to topple ISIS leaders, but that was put on hold. According to Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the current nominee to take over Africa Command, no more troops are currently needed in Libya but more airstrikes would be beneficial.

3. Afghanistan

Cavalry soldiers provide security in Afghanistan during a security meeting Aug. 19, 2010. (Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Nathanael Callon)

While the U.S. officially ended combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, approximately 9,800 troops are still deployed there. It’s an “advise and train” mission, but reports have surfaced of operators engaging in direct combat.

The Taliban is still the greatest threat in Afghanistan and most coalition missions are aimed at them. ISIS has captured ground in the east of the country, though. America flies drone missions to kill local ISIS leaders while militias provide some muscle on the ground.

4. Horn of Africa

Soldiers assigned to the East Africa Response Force train for contingency operations on May 30, 2015. (Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook

In addition to working against ISIS in Libya, American troops supporting African forces have been engaged by Al-Shabab terrorists in Somalia and Boko Haram in Cameroon. U.S. troops have previously helped hunt Boko Haram fighters and hostages in Nigeria.

These missions are expected to continue for at least the next few years as both terror organizations have proven resilient.

5. Eastern Ukraine

US Army soldiers parachute into Ukraine during a 2011 training mission. (Photo: US Army Europe)

American troops aren’t deployed to eastern Ukraine where government troops fight Russian-backed separatists. But, the U.S. has provided training and equipment for government forces while Russia has provided materiel and troops to the separatists.

A fragile cease-fire from late 2015 has reduced, but not eliminated, fighting in the Donbass region and both sides are violating the cease-fire. Ukraine has failed to remove heavy guns and other equipment and Russia has deployed more fighters and equipment to the area. There’s no sign that this conflict will be done when the next president takes office and most signs point to it actually being worse.

6. South China Sea

U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles head back to their landing ship during a bilateral training mission in the South China Sea. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katerine Noll)

The conflict in the South China Sea is currently bloodless but has the potential to become the biggest fight on this list. Multiple nations claim territorial rights in the South China Sea, an area that controls a huge amount of sea traffic and is estimated to have large oil and natural gas reserves.

China has built islands that it may or may not hold sovereignty over and is conducting military drills in the area. Meanwhile, American Navy ships and planes are conducting freedom of navigation exercises there, sailing through contested water and flying over contested islands as a way of disputing Chinese claims.

China has conducted dangerous intercepts of these flights and is becoming more aggressive as a United Nations ruling on certain areas of the South China Sea looms. If the conflict gets more aggressive, the world’s two largest navies could end up in combat against one another.

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6 reasons Communists were the ultimate movie villain

The 1980s were a great time for movies. Hollywood could make any movie about anyone anywhere and it could feature this one built-in, believable villain: Communists.


No matter what the story was about, Commies could be counted on to try and stop American heroes from saving the day. They were the greatest gift to villainy since the handlebar mustache.

Which lets you know who the most evil men are.

Not only did we get an all-purpose, worldwide villain, we got a bad guy every red-blooded American could cheer on to take down. A Communist movie villain was the perfect foil for any hero.

Unless that hero spent most of the series fighting Nazis.

Sure, they weren’t all bad. Most Communist citizens probably just wanted to get on with their lives. But when their governments were bad, they were spectacular. There are many reasons for this.

1. Any wacky plan the Reds came up with was believable.

Whether they were doing something practical like creating a super quiet submarine or something stupid like trying to embarrass the United States by making Rocky Balboa fight Ivan Drago, we believed they would. Because they’re evil, right? Whatever it takes.

In a way, we legitimately believed they would make that plan, because why not? We’re the center of the Universe and they’re trying to be number one, so they had to constantly one-up America in every way. The Russians are the people who built an actual doomsday device, after all.

2. There was nothing you could do about them.

Because what are you really going to do about it, start a nuclear war? Shut up.

We can’t have an all-out war, that would end civilization as we know it. So America just had to foil all of their insane little plots one by one, or hatch some harebrained scheme of our own, and you knew it would never go too far.

The CIA and KGB would just pretend it never happened.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYh9_QmNwRA

If you’re not familiar with the movie “Firefox,” it was about a jet built by the Russians that could fly six times the speed of sound and had weapons that could be controlled WITH YOUR MIND. Spoiler Alert: Clint Eastwood straight up STOLE IT from a Russian air base, shot down the second prototype, killing the pilot and the Russians didn’t do sh*t.

Only in the Cold War.

3. It made for interesting alliances.

Everyone’s least favorite Bond, working with the Muj.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend right? The U.S. intelligence community didn’t realize what they were building or how far Osama bin Laden would go with his new network. The entertainment community had no idea either, so we got to see Britain’s most popular spy working with the Afghan Mujahideen.

The end of Rambo III then (left) and now (right)

Also, Rambo: America’s greatest movie fighting force dedicated the third act of his saga to the Mujahideen. Ouch. Talk about regretting the morning after…

4. It was cathartic.

After spending more than a decade with the struggle and subsequent stigma of the Vietnam War — coupled with the Détante-era perception that the U.S. was somehow losing the arms race, along with every other problem that plagued America – something had to give.

A win against some commie scum was a welcome respite from the drudgery of real-world geopolitics, especially if you could do it with your high school classmates — which was apparently the mid-80s Gen-X American Dream.

5. The stakes were really high.

The contest is so much more satisfying to win when there’s something on the line. We’re only talking about world domination here.

6. No one could accuse you of being racist.

Being PC is difficult. Let’s face it, we all want to be respectful. There’s just a lot to keep straight.

Being part of a worldwide ideology, bent on taking over the Free World, Communists weren’t limited to Russia. They could be Chinese, Cuban, Vietnamese, Korean, African, or Latin American.

Anyone could be a Commie, it didn’t matter what color their skin was, every Communist was red.

This also worked for Nazis, Fascists, and pretty much anyone James Bond ever faced — who were all thoroughly evil. Hollywood needs a bad guy, and the Communists were the perfect fit. In America’s current politically correct culture, you can’t use an entire race or religion as the villain, even if Aaron Sorkin says it’s their turn.

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This vet won an award for his awesome screenplay about a young Army officer in Vietnam

Brian Martin, MVP Foundation Founder and President, on the far left, stands with the writers of the three top screenplays entered in the Staff. Sgt. John Martin Writing Competition. Brian Delate, in the tan jacket, won the competition. Photo: Greg Vegas, courtesy of the MVP Foundation


Vietnam veteran Brian Delate won a screenplay competition by the MVP Foundation for his script “Dante’s Obsession” on Friday, at We Are The Mighty Headquarters in Los Angeles.

The Staff Sgt. John Martin Veteran Writing Competition was open to active military personnel and veterans.

“Dante’s Obsession” follows the story of a young lieutenant fighting in the tunnels around Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War and the beautiful Viet Cong spy he falls in love with who attempts to steal information from him. It was previously a finalist at the 2015 G.I. Film Festival.

Delate works as a writer, actor, and director for film, theater, and TV. He recently performed a play, “Memorial Day,” that was also about his experiences in Vietnam. In 2014, he performed the play in Hanoi on the National Stage in front of Vietnamese and American veterans of the Vietnam War, including his former enemies.

The second place prize in the competition went to Navy Veteran Joshua Katz for his script, “The Ivory Coast.” The screenplay is about a Kenyan Wildlife Services official investigating the slaughter of a family of elephants in a national reserve.

Third prize went to Michael Brown, an Iraq War veteran and former Marine Corps platoon commander. Brown’s script, “Broken, in the Land of Dragons,” tells of a Navy SEAL who meets a local school teacher in Pakistan and works with friendly fighters to defend her school from a concerted attack by religious extremists.

The contest and award ceremony were put on by the MVP Foundation, a charitable corporation that supports veterans in the arts. It was founded in 2014 by Iraq War veteran and Army officer Brian J. Martin. WATM Co-Founder and CEO David Gale was one of the judges.

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