CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS - We Are The Mighty
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CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

Don’t call it a comeback. Last year, CENTCOM deployed two Vietnam-era aircraft in a three-month trial run against ISIS. Based on that success, the U.S. military is considering reviving the dual-propeller OV-10 Bronco’s combat role.


CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

The aged airframe flew 132 sorties in 2015, 120 of those were combat missions, with a 99 percent completion rate. Its counterinsurgency role would be a bridge between fighters and helicopters. Its slower speed makes it more maneuverable than fast-moving jets while its short takeoff and landing needs allowed it to operate from remote or unprepared airstrips. It can carry troops, wounded, and up to 3,200 pounds of supplies.

Check out WATM’s podcast to hear the author and other veterans discuss what the OV-10 Bronco means in the fight against ISIS. 

It’s a battle-tested, inexpensive, and reliable platform for moving small teams and for reconnaissance. It also provides a cheap close air support option with a 20mm cannon or its four internal 7.62mm machine guns to give Iraqis the same support U.S. troops have in ground combat. The Bronco has seven hardpoints that could be updated and adapted for GPS and laser-guided munitions and Griffon or Hellfire missiles.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
And it takes off from carriers too.

The planes deployed “to a location in Southwest Asia,” according to Capt. Bryant Davis, a CENTCOM spokesman. CENTCOM was trying to determine if the Broncos “increased effectiveness of airpower in a counterinsurgency… while reducing cost and preserving high-end special aviation resources performing similar missions.”

The OV-10 first served in Vietnam, deploying in 1968 with U.S. Marines. It provided forward air control (FAC), helicopter escort, ground attack, observation,light logistics duties, and waterway patrols in the Mekong Delta. The last OV-10 was retired by the Marine Corps in 1995, after serving in Operation Desert Storm.

Catch the Bronco in action:

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13 Hilarious Meme Replies To Our Article About Dating On Navy Ships

A few days ago WATM published an article with tips for dating on a US Navy ship and the responses we got were, um, passionate and direct.


Also Watch: 37 Awesome Photos Of Life On A US Navy Carrier

At first people couldn’t believe what they were reading.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

Seriously.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

Finally, it sank in …

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

Their knee-jerk reaction to dating on a US Navy ship was …

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

Simply.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

Of course, most sailors know better. But, there are things you say in public and things you only say to your closest friends.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Photo: Facebook

Some blame the females, but we know better …

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

But really, we got this advice from real sailors, with real experience.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

You may think this is blasphemy, but the chief, well …

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

Master chief has seen it all.

His reply …

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

Veterans are like …

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

Junior sailors, they were like …

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

But they’ll learn soon enough. Just wait till your first deployment.

At the end of the day, we hope you got a few laughs (and maybe a flashback).

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

(Editor’s note: We used the best meme replies from S–t My LPO Says‘ Facebook page to write this article.)

MORE: 27 Incredible Photos Of Life On A US Navy Submarine

AND: 19 Terms Only Sailors Will Understand

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That time a mild-mannered janitor was actually a WWII hero

It’s not every day that the mild-mannered janitor at your school turns out to be a bad ass Medal of Honor recipient. But that was exactly the case for thousands of cadets at the United States Air Force Academy.


The story starts in Italy in 1943. Pvt. William Crawford was serving as a scout in I Company, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, as it fought its way up the Italian peninsula.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
The U.S. Navy tank landing ship LST-1, landing U.S. Army troops on an Italian beach, circa September 1943. (National Archives photo)

After landing at Salerno, Crawford’s unit was advancing against stiff German resistance. Just four days after the landings, I Company launched an attack against Hill 424. Once his platoon gained the crest, they became pinned down by intense German machine gun fire.

Ignoring the hail of bullets, Crawford advanced on the German position and silenced it with a hand grenade.

When his platoon was once again pinned down, Crawford didn’t hesitate to charge forward, this time to destroy two machine gun emplacements.

He first attacked the machine gun to the left and destroyed it and the crew with a hand grenade. He then worked his way to the next machine gun under intense fire. When he was in range he again tossed a hand grenade that sent the crew running.

Also read: World War II veteran gets Bronze Star after 73 years

He then manned their own machine gun and mowed down the retreating Germans, allowing his unit to continue the advance.

Crawford was recommended for the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

Later during the intense fighting in Italy, the Germans captured Crawford. His status was listed as missing, presumed dead.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

When his Medal of Honor was approved in 1944, it was presented to his father, posthumously.

However, Crawford had in fact survived and in 1945 was liberated from a German POW camp by advancing Allied forces.

Crawford was discharged after the war and returned home before marrying in 1946. He decided to reenlist in 1947 and served another 20 years before retiring with the rank of Master Sergeant in 1967.

His next career move would prove fateful. He took a position as a janitor at the Air Force Academy in his home state of Colorado.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Air Force Academy Chapel in the winter (U.S. Air Force photo by Mike Kaplan)

Despite his courage in combat, Crawford had always been rather mild-mannered and didn’t care much to talk about himself. As such, the cadets at the Academy paid him no mind, assuming he was just any other janitor.

Crawford carried on his duties until 1976 when one cadet, James Moschgat, noticed a picture in a history book about World War II.

Moschgat couldn’t believe what he was seeing and showed the picture to his roommate saying, “I think Bill our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.”

The next day Moschgat and his roommate confronted Crawford to ask if it was truly him that was talked about in the book. According to Moschgat’s account Crawford simply looked at the picture and replied, “Yep, that’s me.”

More heroism: 3 heroes who became POWs twice

Astonished by what they had just learned, they quickly asked why he had never mentioned it before. Crawford’s reply once again showed his humility. He simply said, “That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.”

Word quickly spread around campus that there was a Medal of Honor recipient in their midst.

The story could have easily ended here with a known recipient of the Medal of Honor working as a janitor at the Air Force Academy. Most people would have never heard the story.

However, the cadets weren’t done.

They eventually found out that because of the circumstances, mainly that Crawford was a POW at the time, he had never had a formal ceremony to present him with his medal.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Air Force Academy graduation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Liz Copan)

So, when the Class of 1984 reached graduation they invited Crawford as their special guest. And they had a special surprise in store for him. President Ronald Reagan was giving the commencement speech at the Academy that year.

After his commencement speech President Reagan gave Crawford a long overdue honor and presented him with the Medal of Honor.

The encounter with Crawford had so touched Moschgat that he would later reflect on the event by writing an article titled “Leadership and the Janitor” for the USO magazine On Patrol.

In the article he details ten important lessons about leadership that he learned from his meeting of Bill Crawford.

Moschgat retired from the Air Force as a Colonel. Crawford lived out his days in Colorado where he was also famous for being one of four Medal of Honor recipients from the small town of Pueblo, CO.

He passed away in 2000 at the age of 81.

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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:

Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, an F-35 Lightning II program integration officer, lowers the canopy on an F-16 Fighting Falcon before taxiing to take off Dec. 7, 2015, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. More than 30 maintenance Airmen worked an early shift to help launch several jets to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for Checkered Flag 16-1, a large-force exercise that simulates a large number of aircraft in a deployed environment to cross-check weapons systems.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is in the process of a midair fuel transfer from a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A tanker Dec. 3, 2015. This was the first flight as part of a coalition tanker aerial refueling certification effort to qualify Australian, United Arab Emirates and Italian tankers to refuel U.S. Air Force F-16s, F-15 Eagles, B-1B Lancers, and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs using their respective booms. The test team will check for qualities such as fuel pressure surges, stability of the aircraft being refueled and the handling qualities of the boom for certification.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Air Force photo/Christian Turner

A B-1B Lancer launches from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Dec. 2, 2015. The B-1B is one of many aircraft participating in the first large force exercise in the newly expanded Powder River Training Complex.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class James L. Miller

ARMY:

Army paratroopers, assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade, establish security during Exercise Rock Nemesis at Rivolto Air Base, Italy, Dec. 4, 2015.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Army Photos by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo

An Army paratrooper, assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade, fires an M249 light machine gun during a range exercise at Force Reno training area Ravenna, Italy, Nov. 30, 2015.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Army photo by Elena Baladelli

NAVY:

First lady Michelle Obama helps sort toys for the Marine Corps Foundation’s Toys for Tots drive for the sixth straight year at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling on Dec. 9, 2015.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Navy photo

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 7, 2015) – An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Wildcats of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 prepares to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Dwight D. Eisenhower and embarked Carrier Air Wing 3 are underway preparing for their upcoming deployment.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Anderson W. Branch

PACIFIC OCEAN (Dec. 07, 2015) Dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) prepares for night time flight operations. The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is underway off the coast of Southern California completing a certification exercise (CERTEX). CERTEX is the final evaluation of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU) and Boxer ARG prior to deployment and is intended to certify their readiness to conduct integrated missions across the full spectrum of military operations.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released

PACIFIC OCEAN (Dec. 6, 2015) Sailors from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 1, provide security during a visit, board, search and seizure drill with Sailors and Marines from amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU). New Orleans is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), which is off the coast of Southern California completing a certification exercise (CERTEX).

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chelsea D. Daily

MARINE CORPS:

BFG: U.S. Marines conduct artillery live-fire rehearsals during Platinum Lynx 16-2 at Smardan Training Area, Romania, Dec. 8, 2015. Exercise Platinum Lynx 16-2 is a NATO-led multinational exercise designed to strengthen combat readiness, increase collective capabilities, and maintain proven relationships with allied and partner nations.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Melanye E. Martinez

A Marine with Alpha Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, awaits the order to lock down the hatches as the unit prepares to conduct company-level beach operations on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Dec. 5, 2015. During this exercise the unit conducted maneuvers as a mechanized infantry company in preparation for upcoming operations.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brianna Gaudi

Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, conduct counter-improvised explosive ordnance training exercises at the Barry M. Goldwater Range in Yuma, Ariz., Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
United State Marine Corps photo by Pvt. George Melendez

COAST GUARD:

Coast Guard Station Golden Gate is trained and ready! During a typical year the station prosecutes approximately 450 search and rescue cases and over 300 law enforcement boardings, with the busiest part of the year occurring from June through September, making Station Golden Gate one of the busiest search and rescue stations in the Coast Guard!

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart

This is how our crews at U.S. Coast Guard Station Morro Bay check the weather! The 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew was evaluating the conditions at the bar.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Articles

This was Benedict Arnold’s best raid as a British general

Players do their best work when they’re in a system that works for how they play. Sometimes, they fare better with the team that drafted them. Others break out when they get traded.


Sorry for this analogy. Football is back and I’m super stoked about it.

For example, Jim Brown was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1957 and played there his entire career. He might be one of the greatest backs of all time. Then there’s Marshawn Lynch, who did his best work after being traded to Seattle and will definitely be a Hall-of-Famer.

Benedict Arnold was definitely more of a Jim Brown.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Please don’t let Jim Brown read that out of context.

As an American general, Arnold saw massive successes early on in the war. He captured Fort Ticonderoga with Ethan Allen, captured Lake Champlain for the nascent nation, led an invasion into Canada, and was instrumental at the Battle of Saratoga.

But that was in the past. Arnold was wearing a new uniform by 1781.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
To this day, you still can’t name your kid Benedict.

In January 1781, the revolution was still anyone’s game. The morale of the Americans was at its lowest and it would be another nine months before Generals Washington and Nathaneal Greene would force British General Cornwallis into Virginia’s Yorktown Peninsula and into a general surrender.

Some 63 miles north of Yorktown, the newly-minted British Brigadier was leading a force of American Loyalists against the capital of Virginia at Richmond. The city was virtually undefended and Thomas Jefferson – Patriot governor of the colony– fled. Arnold easily captured the city, barely firing a shot.

The traitor then wrote to Jefferson that he would spare the city if all of Richmond’s stored goods – especially tobacco – were transferred to British ships. Jefferson, unsurprisingly, refused to deliver “thirty to forty ships worth” to the enemy.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
This is not the face of someone who’s looking to quit smoking.

Arnold ordered the city be looted and burned the next day. They then went to the surrounding areas to wreak havok. Mills and foundries were destroyed, their arms and goods were captured by the British loyalist force. Arnold then took to destroying plantations and family homes, seizing crops and slaves.

The raid lasted a full 18 days.

When Jefferson and Samson Matthews gathered the Virginia militia and caught up to Arnold’s force with about 200 men. and caused the British force so much harm, Arnold had to retreat to Portsmouth and wait for reinforcements.

Governor Jefferson put a reward of 5,000 guineas on Arnold’s head while Virginia militiamen started target practice using a model of the traitor’s head, so they’d know how to identify him in combat.

Benedict Arnold didn’t have much success as a British general. His “American Legion” of loyalists never amounted to much. The Richmond raid and his subsequent burning of New London, Connecticut, ensured he could never be redeemed in the minds of patriots.

When the war ended later that year, Arnold found himself retired on half pay, refusing to believe the war could be over and that he’d chosen the wrong side.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Burn.

Word finally got to George Washington that the traitor was spilling patriot blood in his home state. Washington sent French Marquis de Lafayette to kick Arnold out of Virginia and capture him if possible. Lafayette arrived in time to prevent another attack on Richmond from the newly-reinforced British under General Cornwallis, but he was too late to capture Arnold, who was already sailing for New York.

In the end, Richmond wasn’t prize enough for Cornwallis. He instead moved south, toward Yorktown. And you know how that ended up.

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This Confederate soldier coughed up a bullet 58 years after it took out his right eye

We previously brought you the amazing story of Jacob Miller, a Union soldier who walked around with a bullet in his face for 31 years. We thought Miller held the record for the longest amount of time spent alive with a Civil War bullet inside of your head. We were dead wrong. According to this article in the Mail Tribune, Willis Meadows had him beat by a full 27 years.


Battle of Vicksburg Wikimedia Commons Battle of Vicksburg | Wikimedia Commons

The Confederate soldier lost his right eye to a bullet at the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863. Fired by Union soldier Peter Knapp, the one-ounce slug lodged near Meadows’ brain and didn’t come out again for 58 years. How’d he survive?

“He was put on board a POW ship and transported to a Union hospital. Later, he was paroled to a Confederate hospital, where he spent the rest of the war as a patient and sometime nurse’s aide. After the war, he returned to his farm in Lanett, Ala., just east of the Georgia state line. He married, but had no children and probably would have died in obscurity had he not coughed up the bullet.”

Chew on that for a minute. He coughed up the bullet that took out his eye. Here’s how it went down. Meadows lived on his farm in Alabama in total obscurity for 58 years. When he was 78-years-old, he coughed up the bullet in his kitchen. Super intense, right? Everyone in 1921 thought so too:

“‘Coughs Up Bullet’ was a national newspaper story in 1921. Eleven years later, in a ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ cartoon, it was published around the world in 42 countries and 17 different languages.”

Peter Knapp Peter Knapp

Things only got crazier from there. How’s that even possible? Because the Union soldier who fired the bullet ended up seeing the story and he and Meadows became best friends:

“Turns out that after Knapp saw the story, he realized he was the one who fired the bullet that lodged near Meadows’ brain. Within a few months, he contacted Meadows and when they compared notes, they realized it was true. As young mortal enemies they had tried to kill each other, but now, as aging veterans, they would spend their last few years as friends, exchanging photographs and wishing each other good health.”

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7 tools that helped America win WWII

There is supposedly a famous quote from Dwight Eisenhower about his “Four Tools for Victory” in World War II, but that quote has been hard to pin down exactly. Several variations exist that include six of the seven tools listed below. The M1 Garand also made the list because, as Gen. George Patton said, “the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.”


1. The Jeep

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
An SAS jeep manned by Sergeant Schofield and Trooper Jeavons of 1st SAS near Geilenkirchen, Germany, on November 18, 1944. (Photo: British Army Sgt. Hewitt)

While the origins of the name “Jeep” may be up for debate, the rugged-dependable-go-anywhere nature of the Jeep is not.

The Jeep – quite literally – became the workhorse of the American military as it replaced horses in everything from cavalry units to supply trains. Field-expedient improvements made the Jeep capable of just about any mission the GI’s could dream up for it.

Jeeps were so ubiquitous in the European theatre that the Germans thought each American was issued their own. Famed sports car designer Enzo Ferrari described the Jeep as “America’s only real sports car.”

Without the Jeep’s rugged dependability and offensive capabilities, winning the war would have been much more difficult for the Allies.

2. The C-47

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Paratroopers ride in C-47 Skytrains en route to Le Muy for Operation Dragoon on Aug. 15, 1944. Photo: US Air Force

While American bombers surely wrought havoc on the Axis powers, it is the C-47, the beloved “Gooney Bird,” that is always cited as a Tool for Victory.

This probably has to do with the fact that the C-47’s flew everywhere and did everything.

C-47’s kept the Allies supplied by flying “the Hump” over the Himalayas, they evacuated wounded soldiers from near the front lines, and they flew over occupied territory to drop Allied paratroopers behind enemy lines.

3. The Bazooka

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Two soldiers in the 82nd Airborne load and aim a bazooka at a German vehicle on road in France, 1944. U.S. Army photo

The Bazooka, or official Rocket Launcher, M1, was a man-portable, recoilless, anti-tank weapon.

Not only did the Bazooka pack more punch than any other man-portable weapon, it was also versatile. With the development of different warheads, the Bazooka could be an anti-tank weapon, a bunker buster, or an anti-personnel weapon. One inspired pilot even attached them to his scout plane to fight Nazi tanks.

The weapon’s versatility and combat prowess caught the eye of Gen. Eisenhower and it is generally listed as one of his four Tools for Victory.

4. The Higgins Boat

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (Photo: Public Domain)

The Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP), or simply the Higgins Boat, is easily one of the most important tools on this list.

“Higgins is the man who won the war for us,” Eisenhower said. If it hadn’t been for his boats, “the whole strategy of the war would have been different.” The boat’s shallow draft and full-size ramp allowed it to carry 36 fully loaded infantrymen, a Jeep, and a squad, or up to 8,000 pounds of cargo directly onto the beaches under assault.

It could then quickly turn around and repeat the procedure as necessary. The LCVP was at every single American amphibious assault throughout the war.

5. The Sherman Tank

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Sherman tanks in the European theater of operations WWII (Photo: Public Domain)

The M4 Sherman tank was far from the best tank fielded in World War II. In fact, it was often outmatched by the much stronger German tanks. But the Sherman had a few things that made it such a formidable weapon.

The simplicity of production of the Sherman, and the lack of destruction of American factories, combined with a strong repair and refit program, meant there were always plenty of Shermans. This translated on the battlefield into numerical superiority, which allowed the Allies to simply overwhelm German armored units that had little means of replenishment.

Continuous improvements throughout its service life also continued to make the Sherman a formidable foe for enemy tanks.

6. The M1 Garand

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
The .30 firearm was so successful, it found a home with U.S. troops and their allies into the Vietnam war. (Photo: Public Domain)

It is well known how Patton felt about the M1 Garand, but what else was it about the rifle that made it a Tool for Victory?

For one, while most of the world’s armies were still using bolt-action rifles, the M1 could deliver eight rounds of .30-06 as fast as a man could pull the trigger. This gave the American rifleman a serious advantage over his foes.

The weapon was also extremely accurate, rugged, and dependable. The M1 was so effective, in fact, that it significantly changed infantry tactics. The M1 rifle saw heavy combat on all fronts and was a vital tool for the American infantry in winning the war.

7. The Atomic Bomb

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Atomic Cloud over Nagasaki. (Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

The incredible destructive power of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was undeniable.

With just two missions over Japan, the Allies were able to secure the unconditional surrender of the Japanese. This ended World War II.

But there was more to it than just victory. The atomic bombs ending the war meant countless American lives saved from not having to invade Japan. The United States anticipated some 500,000 casualties from the invasion that never came and created Purple Heart medals accordingly.

Thanks to the atomic bombs, those medals have supplied U.S. forces ever since.

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US military veterans find peace in protecting rhinos from poaching

The sun has set over the scrubby Savannah. The moon is full. It is time for Ryan Tate and his men to go to work. In camouflage fatigues, they check their weapons and head to the vehicles.


Somewhere beyond the ring of light cast by the campfire, out in the vast dark expanse of thornbushes, baobab trees, rocks and grass, are the rhinos. Somewhere, too, may be the poachers who will kill them to get their precious horns.

The job of Tate, a 32-year-old former US Marine, and the group of US military veterans he has assembled in a remote private reserve in the far north of South Africa is simple: keep the rhinos and the rest of the game in the bush around their remote base alive.

The men are not mercenaries, or park rangers –they work for Tate’s Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife (Vetpaw), a US-based nonprofit organization funded by private donations. All have seen combat, often with elite military units, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
DoD Photo by Staff Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti

Though equipped with vehicles, trail bikes, assault rifles, sniper suits, and radios, the most important weapons in the war against poaching, Tate believes, are the skills and experiences his team gained on successive deployments in conflict zones over the last decade and a half.

“We are here for free. We are not going anywhere. Whether it is cold or hot, day or night… we want to work with anyone who needs help,” Tate says.

The initiative is not without controversy. Some experts fear “green militarization” and an arms race between poachers and gamekeepers. Others believe deploying American former soldiers to fight criminals in South Africa undermines the troubled country’s already fragile state.

But the scale of the challenge of protecting South Africa’s rhinos is clear to everyone, with a rise in poaching in recent years threatening to reverse conservation gains made over decades.

Though rhino horns are made of keratin, the same substance as fingernails, a kilo is worth up to $65,000. The demand comes from East Asia, where rhino horn is seen as a potent natural medicine and status symbol, and is met by international networks linking dirt-poor villages in southern Africa with traffickers and eventually buyers. Patchy law enforcement, corruption and poverty combine to exacerbate the problem.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

In South Africa, home to 80% of the world’s wild rhinos, only 13 were poached in 2007. In 2015, the total was nearly 1,200, though losses have declined slightly since.

“These criminal gangs are armed to the teeth, well-funded and part of transnational syndicates who will stop at nothing,” a South African government spokesman said in February.

Tate founded Vetpaw after seeing a documentary about poaching and the deaths of park rangers in Africa. His team now works on a dozen private game reserves covering a total of around 200,000 hectares in Limpopo, the country’s northernmost province. One advantage for local landowners is the protection heavily armed combat veterans provide against the violent break-ins feared by so many South Africans, particularly on isolated rural farmsteads. The team has also run training courses for local guides and security staff.

But if one aim of Vetpaw is to counter poaching, another is to help combat veterans in the US, where former servicemen suffer high levels of unemployment and mental illness.

“Everyone gets PTSD when they come back from war … you are never going to get the brotherhood, the intensity again … [There are] all these veterans with billions of dollars of training and the government doesn’t use them. I saw a need in two places and just put them together,” says Tate.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Vetpaw operates primarily in Limpopo, the northern-most province of South Africa (in red). Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Vetpaw base in the bush in Limpopo, though considerably less spartan than most “forward operating bases”, is familiar to anyone who has spent time with US forces. There is a rack of helmets and body armor, a detailed map pinned to the wall, and banners with the insignia of US Special Forces hung above a dining table. There is the banter, and the jargon. The team talks of tactical missions, intel, and “bad guys”.

Despite lines on a whiteboard reading, “In the absence of a plan move towards the sound of gunfire and kill everything,” Tate says he has selected combat veterans because they will resist the temptation to use lethal force. Poachers are told to put down their arms, and then handed over to the police.

“This is textbook counterinsurgency here. It’s unconventional warfare,” says Kevin, a British-born veteran who quit US Elite Special Forces last year after a decade and a half largely on active duty, frequently in close quarter combat. “Shooting and killing is easy. The hardest thing is not shooting but figuring stuff out… if you kill someone do you turn a family, a village against you?” Like other members of Vetpaw, Kevin did not want to be identified by his full name.

The thinking is rooted in the “hearts and minds” approach developed by the US military a decade ago when senior officers realized their massive firepower was winning battles, but not campaigns.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Tate says poachers coerce local communities into providing safe houses or other support – much as US army officers once explained assistance given to insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Francois Meyer, who grew up in northern Limpopo and runs a local conservation NGO that works with Vetpaw, says villages vary. “In some, the poachers are seen as heroes. They give out money. There is a kind of Robin Hood syndrome. Taking from the rich white man to give to the poor. But in others, the poachers get the living shit kicked out of them,” Meyer said.

There is little consensus on what response to the problem of poaching might work best, and fierce debate rages among conservationists, farmers, and officials.

A moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn in South Africa implemented in 2009 was controversially overturned by a court in April. Though there has been an increase in arrest of poachers, there are few convictions and “a lack of political will” means many of the “kingpins” remain untouched.

The complexities of the issue seem distant to the veterans out on patrol in remote northern Limpopo, high on a rocky crag, listening to the grunt of a leopard or the cough of the baboons in the gathering night.

“After what I’ve done, I couldn’t just go and do a nine to five. I’ve never had nightmares or flashbacks or anything … [but] after years of doing what I’ve done, this is good for the soul,” says Kevin, the former Green Beret. “It’s in a good cause and you get to watch the African sunset.”

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6 Fort Campbell soldiers allegedly sold $1 million in stolen military equipment on eBay

It’s probably a tale as old as the military itself, but even the anonymity of the online marketplace couldn’t keep these alleged military conspirators from getting nabbed by the feds for pinching combat gear for resale on the outside.


CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
(Photo from DOD)

The United States Attorney’s Office for Middle Tennessee indicted six Fort Campbell soldiers Oct. 6 for allegedly selling more than $1 million worth of military equipment they’d stolen from the base to buyers on eBay. The feds say the soldiers stole sensitive items, including body armor, sniper optics and flight helmets and sold them to anonymous bidders — some they say were in foreign countries.

Four sergeants and two specialists were named in the indictment, along with two civilians who the Justice Department says helped the soldiers resell the gear to foreign buyers, including flight helmets to Russian buyers and night vision helmet mounts to buyers in China and Mexico.

“Homeland Security considers the national security interests of our nation among our top priorities,” said Homeland Security Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer, who helped with the investigation. “It’s especially disturbing when we identify corrupted members of our military who undermine the welfare of this this country, so we, along with our law enforcement partners, shall continue to aggressively investigate this type of criminal activity.”

The indictment charges each defendant with conspiring to steal or receive U.S. Army property and to sell or convey U.S. Army property without authority. The civilian defendants were charged with additional counts of wire fraud, money laundering and violating the Arms Export Control Act. One was also charged with three counts of selling or conveying U.S. Army property without authority.

“Those who compromise the safety of the American public and our military personnel in the interest of greed will be held accountable for their actions,” IRS investigator Tracey D. Montaño said.

The Justice Department says each defendant faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the conspiracy charge. The civilians face up to 20 years for each for wire fraud and violating the Arms Export Control Act and an additional 20 years on the money laundering charges. The defendants also face forfeiture of the proceeds of their crimes.

 

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That time Nixon wanted commies to think he was crazy enough to nuke them

Eighteen B-52 bombers took off from Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington on October 10, 1969, each loaded with nuclear weapons. Although the bombers were headed toward Moscow, the goal was to influence outcomes around Hanoi. The bombers’ mission was to proceed directly to the Soviet Union in order to convince the Soviets that America at the hands of President Nixon was willing to resort to nuclear war to win in Vietnam.


A critical component of Nixon’s foreign policy was to make the leaders of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc think he was insane — like really insane — and he wanted the Communist leaders of the world to believe that he was ready to start World War III to prevent communist expansion.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

“I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war,” Nixon told his Chief of Staff. “We’ll just slip the word to them that, ‘for God’s sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can’t restrain him when he’s angry — and he has his hand on the nuclear button’ and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.”

Tough talk against a guy who went on the record willing to lose 10 Vietnamese for every invader.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

In 1968, Nixon campaigned on ending the war in Vietnam, but well into his first year in office, the North Vietnamese vowed to sit at the bargaining table in Paris “until the chairs rot.” Nixon wanted the Soviet leadership, widely seen as the puppeteers of North Vietnam’s leaders, to force the Vietnamese regime to conclude a peace agreement. The true intent of the plan was so secret, not even Gen. Bruce K. Holloway, commander of the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command knew the mission’s true purpose. The facts about the operation, called Giant Lance, were not made public until a 2000 Freedom of Information Act request revealed it.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

The bombers flew along Soviet airspace for three days as other nuclear forces around the world — destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Gulf of Aden, and Sea of Japan — all executed secret maneuvers that were designed to be detectable by the Kremlin. In response Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin met with Nixon to discuss the raised state of alert of U.S. forces.

The Madman Theory worked in that respect. Dobrynin warned the Soviet leadership that “Nixon is unable to control himself even in a conversation with a foreign ambassador,” about Nixon’s “growing emotionalism” and his “lack of balance.” Nixon would order an end to Giant Lance suddenly on October 30.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
A B-52 takes off in support of Giant Lance. Presumably, everyone on board is slightly nervous. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The plan didn’t end the war in Vietnam, however. It was the president’s belief his Madman Theory did lead to agreeable terms for the SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) and his anti-ballistic missile treaties with the Soviet Union in 1972. That same year Nixon would drive the North Vietnamese back to the bargaining table each time they tried to leave through a series of bombing campaigns on North Vietnamese targets with operations Linebacker and Linebacker II.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS

NOW SEE: 17 Wild Facts About the Vietnam War

OR:  This Marine was the ‘American Sniper’ of the Vietnam War

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Hitler had a secret plan to take over Britain — and his generals thought it was idiotic

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There are plenty of terrible things to say about Adolf Hitler, and here’s one more: His top-down leadership style really didn’t help his generals.

Germany had rolled over a number of European countries in late 1939 and by June 1940, its soldiers were standing in the streets of Paris. But that wasn’t enough for Hitler, who had his eye on London. In Führer Directive 16 of July 16, 1940, Hitler ordered his generals to work on a “surprise crossing” on the English Channel which he wanted to call Sea Lion.

“The aim of this operation will be to eliminate the English homeland as a base for the prosecution of the war against Germany and, if necessary, to occupy it completely,” he wrote.

But there was a big problem: His generals thought it was ridiculous. According to a study by a German operations officer in 1939, in order for it to be successful, the Germans needed to completely eliminate the Royal Air Force, all its Navy units on the coast, kill most of its submarines, and seal off the landing and approach areas from British troops.

Not exactly the easiest of tasks.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
How Hitler expected an invasion of England to go.

Then there were his top military leaders. In response to a soliciation for input from the German Army, the head of Germany’s Air Force Herman Göring responded with just a single page outright rejecting such an idea: “It could only be the final act of an already victorious war against Britain as otherwise the preconditions for success of a combined operation would not be met.”

The Navy responded similarly at the time. But it was in even worse shape after an invasion of Norway in 1940, and Admiral Eric Raeder knew he didn’t have nearly enough ships to take on Britain. But — surprise, surprise — Hitler didn’t care.

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In a review of the book “Operation Sea Lion” by Leo McKinstry, NPR writes:

But Hitler’s hubris and poor strategic thinking ensured this never happened. McKinstry contends that three major mistakes cost Hitler dearly: his underestimation of Britain’s naval power; his lack of understanding of the British political system; and his failure to recognize that a team of intelligence operators at Bletchley Park were decoding key information about the Luftwaffe’s plans for aerial bombings.

Though a plan to invade the British mainland was finalized by August 1940, it never came to pass. German infantry began practicing beach landings while the first step of the plan — beat the Air Force — was tried. It was the three month “Battle of Britain” and it failed miserably for Germany.

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
Don’t mess with Essex.

Instead of Germany achieving air superiority in preparation for invasion, the Brits instead had a decisive victory that became a turning point in the war.

“The German Navy had lost a lot of destroyers by 1940 and the reality is that, if the invaders had made the crossing, they would have been annihilated by the Royal Navy,” Ian Kikuchi, a historian in London, told the Independent. “They were planning to make the journey in river barges.”

After the failure of the Battle of Britain, Hitler decided in September to postpone the operation. Then the plans were completely scrapped after Germany invaded Russia in 1941.

NOW: 6 of the wildest top secret spy missions of World War II

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Army still testing Ripsaw ‘Luxury Super Tank’

The U.S. Army continues to test a lightweight tracked vehicle known as Ripsaw that’s now being pitched to the consumer market as a “luxury super tank.”


A handful of the Ripsaw Extreme Vehicle 2, or EV2, products made by Howe and Howe Technologies Inc., based in Waterboro, Maine, are undergoing evaluations at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey to assess how they could be used in future combat operations. Indeed, on Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, head of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, rode in one of the vehicles with a driver as part of a demonstration.

Related: SOCOM plans to test Iron Man suit by 2018

The company describes the 750-horsepower, optionally manned vehicle — which is capable of reaching speeds of almost 100 miles per hour and costs roughly $250,000 — as a “handcrafted, limited-run, high-end, luxury super tank developed for the public and extreme off road recreation.”

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
A handful of the Ripsaw Extreme Vehicle 2, or EV2, products made by Howe and Howe Technologies Inc., based in Waterboro, Maine, are undergoing evaluations at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. (Photo courtesy Howe and Howe)

For one, it’s too light. At 9,000 pounds, the EV2 is closer in size to the Humvee than a tank. For example, the Army’s M1A2 Abrams main battle tank tips the scales at more than 70 tons. Indeed, the Ripsaw isn’t even in the same weight class as an M1126 Stryker Combat Vehicle or M2/M3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

Also, it doesn’t carry the same firepower. The EV2 is designed to accommodate the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, which can mount any number of weapons — including the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, Mk19 40mm automatic grenade machine gun, M240B 7.62 mm machine gun and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. By comparison, the M1A2 tank’s main armament is the 120mm L/44 M256A1 smoothbore tank gun.

Finally, it doesn’t have any armor to speak of, just an aluminum frame with gull-wing doors. So it’s really more of a tracked DeLorean than a tank (see picture below).

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS
A handful of the Ripsaw Extreme Vehicle 2, or EV2, products made by Howe and Howe Technologies Inc., based in Waterboro, Maine, are undergoing evaluations at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. (Photo courtesy Howe and Howe)

Even so, the manufacturer says the Ripsaw is the “fastest dual tracked vehicle ever developed.”

And that may be why, several years after the vehicle was featured in “Popular Science” magazine in 2009, the Army remains interested in seeing how it might incorporate the EV2 into its combat formations. The service has tested the technology for at least a year — a soldier in 2016 operated a Ripsaw from a M113 Armored Personnel Carrier trailing a kilometer away, according to a press release at the time.

Here at Military.com, we’re fascinated by the technology and reaching out to the Army to learn more about how officials are evaluating this slick ride, which is almost guaranteed to get more popular in the months and years ahead.

See the Ripsaw in action below:

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This movie about an Iraq War troop based on an acclaimed book is a surefire Oscar contender

CENTCOM dusts off Vietnam-era aircraft to fight ISIS


It’s never too early to start up Oscar talk, and after watching the trailer for “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” you’ll know what I mean.

Director Ang Lee’s (“Life of Pi,” “Brokeback Mountain”) latest movie looks at the victory tour of 19-year-old soldier Billy Lynn after an intense tour in Iraq. The film shows what really happened over there through flashbacks and contrasts that with the perception of Billy and his squad back home.

It’s based on the universally praised 2012 novel of the same name by Ben Fountain, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. For that and Ang Lee’s name alone, it’s sure to get a lot of attention.

Shot in 3D, the movie is certain to be visually stunning. But it also looks like it has the emotional weight to carry it to award season.

The film stars Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, and newcomer Joe Alwyn as Billy Lynn.

Watch the trailer below. The movie opens in November.

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