Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills' new book 'As Tough As They Come' - We Are The Mighty
Articles

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’


The following is a WATM exclusive excerpt from Staff Sergeant Travis Mills’ forthcoming book, As Tough as They Come, which will hit shelves on October 27:

We hiked only about 400 yards to the village. In addition to my weapons’ team, there were other squads along on the patrol, a total of twenty-eight soldiers. My lieutenant, Zachary Lewis, went to the left with the first and second squads, heading to meet with the village elders, while the rest of our men went with me around the village on the outside to offer support in case of an attack. Along with my gun team, I had my platoon sergeant and a medic, Sergeant Daniel Bateson. All looked calm. It seemed like just another day in Afghanistan. Another normal patrol.

We approached an abandoned ANA security post (two portable buildings), and stopped near the buildings to establish a security perimeter. I called for Fessey to bring the minesweeper. It’s a wand that goes up and around his arm, and it looks like a metal detector a guy would use at the beach. If the minesweeper makes a noise, that means something’s in the soil. Typically, we’re always listening to hear a beep. If we hear one, then we mark the spot, go around it, and have the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) guys dig out and dispose of whatever’s under there. Whenever we found an IED, we’d never mess with it ourselves. Mines can be unpredictable, and you want the experts to handle them. Some IEDs aren’t even made of metal, just plastic and glass, which can sometimes fool a minesweeper. But even then, the minesweeper is designed to have ground-penetrating capability. It can usually detect if something’s in the ground and it’s not soil.

“Check this area,” was the only order I gave.

Fessey walked up a path used by villagers and scanned all around the area. He went up and back, and all was clear. No beeps. There was no reason to question anything. Fessey finished his minesweeping duties and went to set up on the far flank.

I called Riot up to me and asked him where he thought we should put up the gun. I knew where it should go, but I wanted to let him decide, making sure he knew his stuff. He motioned to exactly where I thought we should put it, a good spot, and I said, “All right. Go get Neff and bring him up here.” That was it. Riot left to go get Neff, and as he did, I set my backpack down. The backpack touching the dirt was all it took.

Such a simple act of war. My world erupted.

I saw a flash of flame and heard a huge ka-boom. Hot jagged pieces of explosives ripped through me. I cartwheeled backward end over end, hit the ground, and slammed my face hard against the compacted earth. Instantly I felt my left eye starting to swell shut. I smelled burning flesh—my own. I tasted dirt, and I was wet with sweat and moisture like I’d just walked out of a hot shower.

Dirt fell everywhere through the air. It rained down and clung to my eyes, nose, and mouth. I don’t remember rolling over but I must have because I glanced to the side and saw that my right arm was completely gone. I caught a glimpse of my left arm, covered in blood and tattered. The arm trembled as if it had a will of its own. I looked down and saw that my right leg was also gone. The stump looked like a piece of raw meat. The bottom of my left leg was still attached but held on by only a few strands of skin. I saw all this in a flash, an instant.

I felt confusion but no panic. My first thought was of my guys. I flopped my remaining arm toward the microphone clipped to my plate carrier and somehow managed to push the button. “I hit a bomb,” I said. “I need help.”

Excerpted from TOUGH AS THEY COME by SSG Travis Mills with Marcus Brotherton; foreword by Gary Sinise. Copyright © 2015 by Travis Mills. Excerpted by permission of Convergent Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Editor’s note: Travis Mills will be speaking at the Veterans Institute Heroes Work Here Conference in Chicago on November 3.

Articles

The 19 greatest empires in history

History has seen empires that stretch across a fifth of the world; others that ruled hundreds of millions of people; and some that lasted more than a millennium.


Also Read: The 4 US Presidents With The Craziest War Stories

Each empire seemed unstoppable for an age, but they all crumbled in the end.

Indeed, the age of empires may have ended with World War II, as world powers have moved on from colonization and conquest in favor of geopolitical and commercial influence.

We’ve ranked the 19 greatest empires of all time by the number of square miles each had conquered at their peak.

The Turkic Khaganate spanned 2.32 million square miles at its height in 557 until a civil war contributed to its collapse in 581.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Han imperial dynasty spanned 2.51 million square miles at its peak in 100 B.C. It collapsed by A.D. 220 after a series of coups and revolutions.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Ming Dynasty spanned 2.51 million square miles at its height in 1450, but economic breakdown and natural disasters contributed to its collapse in the early 17th century.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Sasanian Empire spanned 2.55 million square miles at its peak in 621 and was the last Iranian empire before the rise of Islam. It fell around 651 following economic decline and conquest by the Islamic caliphate.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Empire of Japan was one of the largest maritime empires in history, spanning 2.86 million square miles at its peak in 1942 before surrendering to the Allies on September 2, 1945.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Achaemenid Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire, spanned 3.08 million square miles at its peak in 480 B.C. before falling to Alexander the Great in 330 B.C.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The First French Colonial Empire spanned 3.12 million square miles at its height in 1754, before a series of wars with Great Britain resulted in both countries losing most of their New World colonies.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

After declaring independence from Portugal, the empire of Brazil spanned 3.28 million square miles at its height in 1822, but it would soon lose the territories that make up modern Uruguay, and the empire would fall in an 1889 coup.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Rashidun Caliphate spanned 3.6 million square miles at its peak in 654, before being followed by another Islamic Caliphate. It was the largest empire by land area ever at that point in history.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Portuguese Empire reached 4 million square miles at its height in 1815, before losing Brazil and most of the rest in the next 150 years.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Abbasid Caliphate covered 4.29 million square miles at its height in 850 before losing ground to the Ottomans, who captured the capital city, Cairo, in 1517.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The French bounced back with second colonial empire that covered 5 million square miles at its peak in 1938, before shedding territories in the post-World War II decolonization movement.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Yuan Dynasty, the first dynasty to rule all of China, extended 5.4 million square miles at its peak in 1310, before being overthrown by the Ming Dynasty in 1368.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Qing Dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China, controlled 5.68 million square miles in 1790 at its greatest point. It fell in 1912 following defeat by foreign powers in the Boxer Rebellion and many local uprisings.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Umayyad Caliphate spanned 5.79 million square miles at its height in the 7th century, before it was defeated by the Abbasids in 750.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Spanish Empire governed 13% of the world’s land — 7.5 million square miles — at its height in the 18th century before losing much territory in the 19th century Spanish-American wars of independence.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikispace

The Russian Empire spanned 8.8 million square miles at its peak in 1866. It was overthrown by the February Revolution in 1917 and was replaced by the Soviet Union.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The Mongol Empire spanned 12.7 million square miles at its peak in 1279, spanning from the Sea of Japan to Eastern Europe, but it disintegrated into competing entities at about 1368.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

The British Empire stretched over 13 million square miles across several continents — 23% of the world’s land — at its height in 1922, until decolonization began after World War II.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Wikimedia

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Articles

These 9 TV shows and films are ‘6 Certified’ because they get it right for vets

Got Your 6 has unveiled the latest round of “6 Certified” projects, recognizing film and television programs that work to normalize the depiction of veterans.


Programs to receive the honor of being “6 Certified” include the feature film “Max,” episodes of “Fargo,” “Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce,” “Marvel’s Daredevil,” “Saturday Night Live,” USA Network’s forthcoming “Shooter,” and “West Texas Investors Club,” among others.

This third round of projects to receive “6 Certified” status was discussed onstage Sunday at an ATX Television Festival panel for NBC’s “The Night Shift.” This panel examined the power of television to shift public perception, with panelists including the cast and creators of “The Night Shift” and Got Your 6’s executive director Bill Rausch. “The Night Shift” was a part of Got Your 6’s inaugural round of projects to be “6 Certified.”

“With ‘6 Certified,’ we are celebrating the content creators who are accurately and responsibly portraying our nation’s veterans,” said Bill Rausch, executive director of Got Your 6. “Transitioning out of the military can be difficult; however, every veteran returning home is a civic asset, ready to lead a resurgence of community, and these latest projects to be ‘6 Certified’ truly embody this narrative.”

Got Your 6 announced the following projects to be awarded with “6 Certified” status:

1. “Day One”

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

This Oscar-nominated short film was created by soldier-turned filmmaker Henry Hughes who wrote the film based on his own experiences working alongside a female Afghan translator. The piece was written and directed by a veteran, and accurately portrays the complexities of military service. Henry Hughes, Marie Cantin, Mitchell Sandler, Michael Steiner

2. “Fargo” (Season 2, Episode 2)

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

This episode of the American crime series presents two multidimensional, multigenerational veteran characters through the two officers working to investigate a series of murders and related crimes. MGM Television, FX Productions, 26 Keys Productions

3. “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” (Season 2, Episode 2)

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

The veterans of Got Your 6 were used as a resource and were invited into the writers’ room of this romantic comedy series, which led to the integration of veteran content in this episode to add additional depth to various characters on the show. Universal Cable Productions, Bravo Media

4. “Live to Tell” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

Created by Peter Berg (“Lone Survivor”) and his non-scripted shingle Film 45, this military docuseries gives viewers a personal, intimate and revealing look into recent U.S. Special Operations Forces missions, as told by those who experienced the front lines of the ongoing War on Terror. Film 45, HISTORY

5. “Marvel’s Daredevil” (Season 2, Episode 7)

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

This episode of the Netflix original series responsibly and accurately portrays veterans via the character of Frank Castle, The Punisher, who insists that his legal representation not perpetuate veteran stereotypes of PTSD in order to defend his actions. ABC Studios, Marvel Entertainment, Netflix

6. “Max”

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

This feature film is focused on themes of service and was co-written by a military veteran, who develops a realistic and meaningful depiction of veterans through the lead veteran character. MGM, Sunswept Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures

7. “Saturday Night Live: Adam Driver” (Season 41, Episode 10)

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

This episode of the iconic comedy show begins with host Adam Driver, who touches on his military service before becoming an actor. This brief and comedic celebration of the veteran experience is a realistic depiction of the wider veteran narrative. NBC, Broadway Video, SNL Studios 

8. “Shooter” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

This upcoming American drama series is based on the best-selling novel “Point of Impact” by Stephen Hunter and the 2007 Paramount film starring Mark Wahlberg. The series, starring Ryan Phillippe, follows the courageous journey of Bob Lee Swagger, a highly-decorated ex-marine sniper who is coaxed back into action after a period of self-imposed exile when he receives intelligence of an attempt to assassinate the President. Premiering Tuesday, July 19 at 10/9c on USA Network, “Shooter” centers around a veteran utilizing his military training to wage good. Universal Cable Productions, Paramount Studios, USA Network

9. “West Texas Investors Club” (Season 1, Episode 7)

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

In this episode of the reality business series, investors and businessmen Rooster McConaughey and Butch Gilliam help a budding entrepreneur realize that hiring skilled veterans and integrating them into their model will help grow his business, bucking negative stereotypes and celebrating a narrative that views veterans as leaders and civic assets. The Company, CNBC

“Industry leaders and content creators have the unique ability to shift perceptions and create conversations in popular culture,” said Got Your 6 review committee member Bruce Cohen, producer of “American Beauty” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” “By moving away from inaccurate, stereotypical depictions of veterans, creators can help foster better understanding between the veteran and civilian communities.”

“It’s been humbling to watch the trajectory of ‘6 Certified’ as it grows into the dynamic program we all knew it could be,” said Charlie Ebersol, chairman and founder of The Company. “Being able to recognize content and creators from all different networks and studios is one of many things we in entertainment can do to help shift public perception of today’s veterans. It’s really exciting to see the diversity of programming in this slate of projects while still being connected and sharing a common goal.”

Launched in January 2015 with support from the First Lady Michelle Obama, the “6 Certified” program was created to encourage the entertainment industry and content creators to choose asset-focused narratives when telling veteran stories, and to challenge the stereotypical depictions of veterans as broken heroes.

To become “6 Certified,” a project must contain a representative and balanced depiction of veterans and fulfill at least one of the following pledges:

  • Do your homework – Research or consult with real veterans, family members, or subject matter experts in an effort to create accurate representations
  • Cast a veteran – Hire a veteran actor to play a substantial role
  • Hire a veteran writer – Employ a veteran writer to contribute to the narrative
  • Portray a veteran character – Develop a multi-dimensional veteran character
  • Tell a veteran story – Develop a narrative with meaningful and accurate veteran themes
  • Use veterans as resources on set or in writers’ rooms – Have veterans present for consultation throughout the filmmaking process

After the project has met the requirements for certification, it may be submitted by a studio or production company once the project enters post-production. After the submission is complete, the project will be evaluated by the “6 Certified” Review Committee; a group of subject matter experts who review all submissions and grant “6 Certified” status. The current members of the “6 Certified” Review Committee are Rajiv Chandrasekaran, journalist and author; Bruce Cohen, producer of “American Beauty” and “Silver Linings Playbook”; Greg Silverman, president, creative development and worldwide production, Warner Bros. Pictures; Charlie Ebersol, chairman and founder of The Company; Bill Rausch, executive director of Got Your 6; Laura Law-Millet, Army veteran and Chief Operations Officer at the GI Film Group; and Major General (Ret) Sharon K.G. Dunbar, vice president, human resources, General Dynamics Mission Systems. Additional information on certification is available at http://www.gotyour6.org/6-certified/.

Articles

10 things that will change the way you look at grunt officers




Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | Spotify

Grunt officers get a bad wrap when they arrive to their first unit. Like any newbie, “Butter Bars” — military slang for 2nd Lieutenants — have to earn the respect of their men despite their rank.

Related: These legendary military officers were brilliant (and certainly crazy)

But it doesn’t stop there, there’s added pressure from the other officers higher in the chain. When Chase Millsap a veteran officer of both the Army and Marine Corps infantry got to his first unit, he received a warning call from the other Os.

 

“There wasn’t even like a welcome to the unit,” said Millsap. “It was like, ‘you are a liability, you are going to screw this up for the rest of us. If you think you have a question, don’t ask it.’ ”

 

It was a well timed warning and every new officer needs that grounding advice. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure coming out of the infantry officers course and these guys are ready to fight — “they are gung-ho,” according to Millsap.

 

In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast Tim and I ask Millsap everything we ever wanted to know about Grunt officers.
Here are 10 questions we asked:
  1. How do you get into the Naval Academy? How do you get your congressman to vouch for you?
  2. What are some popular tattoos with grunt officers? Do you guys also get moto tattoos?
  3. What kinds of nicknames do officers give each other?
  4. Do experienced officers mess with new officers? Do you haze each other? Spill the dirt.
  5. How did you know when you’ve earned the respect from the men you lead?
  6. Do officers make stupid purchases after deployment?
  7. What is it with officers and safety briefs?
  8. Do officers get extra attention from the enlisted troops at the base gate?
  9. Do officers rely on the intelligence of the Lance Corporal Underground — the E4 Mafia?
  10. What’s the Lieutenant Protection Association (LPA)? Is that like the officer version of the E4 Mafia?

Hosted by:

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

  • Twitter: @tkirk35

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

  • Twitter/Instagram: @orvelinvalle

Guest:

Chase Millsap: Army and Marine Corps infantry veteran turned Director of Impact Strategy at We Are The Mighty

  • Twitter/Instagram: @cmillsap05

Music licensing by Jingle Punks:

  • Goal Line
  • Heavy Drivers
Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Another week down, another (long) weekend to get through without a major safety incident or an article 15. Good luck.


1. Terrorists have learned to fear American training (via Team Non-Rec).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

2. When corporals know they’re no longer worth the paperwork (via Marine Corps Memes).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Easier to let him EAS than to bother ninja punching him.

SEE ALSO: 12 signs you may be ‘motarded’

3. When you want those stripes but you’re just a hero, not a college grad (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

4. The Navy boot camp honor grads are now labeled with a special ribbon (via Sh-T My LPO Says).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
You better stand at parade rest for him, fleet.

5. How the Coast Guard earns their deployment stripes (via Military Memes).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
One stripe for every 12 hours on the open sea.

6. “Fully retired? I can finally get around to that education the Army promised me.”(via Team Non-Rec).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
College. It’s like 4 years of briefings.

7. Gotta love that Air Force life (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Airman are the most hardened warriors at the juice and snack bar.

8. Dressing your baby in an adorable sailor outfit has consequences (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy material right there.

9. “Let me tell you ’bout my best friend …”

(via Team Non-Rec).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Later, those Marines will take a beach trip as well.

10. “Ha ha, lieutenants get people lost.”

(Via Devil Dog Nation.)

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
How is this not the driver’s fault?

11. Why military travel works so well (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Pretty sure Lucifer designed more than one thing in the military.

 12. When you have to switch out your camping tents for DRASH tents (via Terminal Lance).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
The commander really does just like to see you cry.

13. When your article 15 rebuttal doesn’t go as planned (via Air Force Memes and Humor).

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

NOW: 5 cocktails with military origins

OR: The top 10 deadliest snipers of all time

Articles

US destroyer fires flares at Iranian attack boat

A U.S. Navy destroyer had a close encounter with an Iranian vessel Monday, just two days before a crucial Iranian presidential election.


An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessel came within 1,000 meters of the USS Mahan, forcing it to fire flares toward the IRGC vessel after attempting to turn away from it, according to the Associated Press. The encounter is the latest of the Navy’s close encounters with Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf, coming two days before Iran’s radical conservative faction attempts to retake the presidency.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

“[The] Mahan made several attempts to contact the Iranian vessel by bridge-to-bridge radio, issuing warning messages and twice sounding the internationally recognized danger signal of five short blasts with the ship’s whistle, as well as deploying a flare to determine the Iranian vessel’s intentions,” Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a 5th Fleet spokesman, told the AP in a statement Wednesday.

Iran’s leading conservative candidate, Ebrahim Raisi, is the supposed favorite of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has ultimate authority over the IRGC. It is unclear if the two events are related, but the timing of the event is telling. The IRGC’s provocation could be an attempt to exhibit the hardline faction’s strength against the U.S.

The Mahan had a previous encounter with Iranian vessels in January, at which time it was forced to fire warning shots at two patrol boats.

The IRGC has drastically increased its encounters with U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf. Many of the encounters occur near the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel through which 33 percent of the world’s oil passes. The U.S. Navy recorded 35 “unsafe and/or unprofessional” encounters with the IRGC in 2016, up from 23 in 2015. Seven such instances have been recorded in 2017, including Monday’s incident.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Articles

Kayla Williams (Still) Loves Her Rifle More Than You

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of profiles of incredible female veterans that WATM will be presenting in concert with Women’s History Month.


Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Kayla Williams (right) with unidentified female soldier next to an up-armored Humvee during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The title of Kayla Williams’ 2005 book, Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the US Army uses an old marching cadence to seemingly thumb its nose at what some might consider the more antiquated ways of US Army culture, especially when it comes to women. Fifteen percent of the Army is female, but Williams would come to learn during the Iraq War, the only women in the Army the public knew well were Lynndie England and Jessica Lynch… and those were not the people Williams wanted representing women in the Army.

“When I came home from Iraq, I realized people can be ignorant about the role of women in combat,” Williams told me. “Some people asked if I was allowed to carry a gun, some asked if I was in the infantry, even though women still can’t be. I was acutely aware women’s roles were largely unknown to the general public and I wanted to give a nuanced perspective of what women experience in the current conflicts.”

Williams was an Army signals intelligence linguist, specializing in intercept and direction finding. She enlisted in 2000 because she wanted to learn another language. The language the Army chose would dramatically affect the way she looked at her career.

“I got Arabic as opposed to Korean or Chinese,” Williams says. “I was at the Defense Language Institute on 9/11 and it was clear to us then the world had changed.” In 2003, Williams was part of the initial invasion of Iraq with the 101st Airborne Air Assault. Though her primary function was signals intelligence, she found there was a huge need for Arabic translation on the ground. Beyond any of her expectations she found herself doing foot patrols with the Army infantry.

“This was the very early days of the war,” she recalls. “The Iraqi people were still hopeful they would see a better future in the aftermath of the down fall of the regime. I was making a difference in the lives of those Iraqis and in the lives of my fellow soldiers.”

Williams’ work took her all over the American area of responsibility in Iraq.  She worked her way North to Mosul, Sinjar, and Tal Afar, and spent a great deal of time on the Syrian border.

“In my experience,” she says, “everyone has to prove themselves in a new unit, male or female. Everyone is going to test you. It’s inevitable. In the combat arms units I was attached to, how they treated me depended on how well I did my job. When they saw me translating for them, they could see I could help them. And when commanders treated me with respect, the troops would too.”

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Williams getting promoted in Iraq.

Though far from a support structure, Kayla Williams remembers those first days in the Northern areas of Iraq as relatively peaceful.  By the time her deployment was over, however, the situation had completely changed. They had electricity and running water in their camp, but now the insurgency had taken root.

“When we drove back to Kuwait at the end of my tour we had to do it at night in a blackout drive.”

Despite personal feelings about the war, Williams approached every mission to the best of her ability. She knew her skill as a translator could be the most necessary help to the war, and thus the troops. She thought at the time though we went to war for the wrong reasons, maybe we still did a good thing. Now, with a Master’s degree in International Affairs with a focus on the Middle East from American University, her observations are more grounded in fact than feeling.

“Maybe in a generation or two the Middle East will be better off,” she says. “But who knows? Who predicted the rise of ISIS? I’m not sure that anyone can predict the long term. It’s the polite way of saying I hope we didn’t fuck it up too bad.”

Williams sees the roles of women in the Armed Forces as a necessary one, especially given cultural sensitivities in predominantly Muslim countries. To her, being able to assign women to combat units will give field commanders better command and control capability without sacrificing readiness or discipline.

“The decision to lift the exclusion policy for women in combat was a validation and vindication of the more than 280,000 women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Williams says. “The former Secretary of Defense made the decision with the unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Now commanders will be able to train like they fight and function better as a military by putting the right people in the right jobs.”

Williams’ second book, Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War is the story of her return home, her husband’s struggle with traumatic brain injury (TBI) from an IED attack during his own time in Iraq, and how they struggled to overcome; it was published in 2014.

Now: Female Vet Says ‘They’ll Have To Pry My Uniform Out Of My Hands’

And: This Female Vet Is One Of History’s Most Decorated Combat Photographers

Articles

Former US Navy vessel attacked by Yemeni rebels in Indian Ocean

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’


HSV-2 Swift came under attack off the coast of Yemen this past weekend and suffered serious damage from what appears to be multiple hits from RPG rockets. Photos released by Emirates News Agency show at least two hits from rockets that penetrated HSV-2 Swift’s bow, in addition to substantial fire damage.

According to media reports, HSV-2 Swift is being assisted by the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Nitze (DDG 94) as well as USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15). The vessel is currently being towed away from Yemen.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

HSV-2 Swift was acquired by the Navy from Incat, a shipbuilder in Tasmania, in 2003, where it served for a number of years in Pacific Command, European Command, and Southern Command until 2013, when the first Joint High-Speed Vessel, USS Spearhead (JSHV 1) replaced it. During its deployments, HSV-2 Swift primarily carried out humanitarian missions, including for relief efforts in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War. The vessel also took part in a number of deployments, like Southern Partnership Station while in U.S. service.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
HSV-2 Swift in happier times. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

In 2013, the vessel was returned to Incom, where it was refitted and then acquired by the National Marine Dredging Company in the United Arab Emirates, where the ship was used to deliver humanitarian aid. HSV-2 Swift was on such a mission to not only deliver medical supplies but to extract wounded civilians when it was attacked this past weekend. Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, claimed to have sunk the vessel.

HSV-2 Swift displaces 955 tons of water, has a top speed of 45 knots, and has a crew of 35. The vessel can carry over 600 tons of cargo on  nearly 29,000 square foot deck.

Articles

Afghan Army-piloted A-29s will soon attack the Taliban

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo by Embraer


Afghan pilots will soon be attacking Taliban forces with machine guns and 20mm cannons firing from airplanes in Afghanistan — flying U.S.-provided A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, Air Force officials said.

Loaded with weapons to attack Taliban forces and engineered for “close air support,” the A-29s are turboprop planes armed with one 20mm cannon below the fuselage able to shoot 650 rounds per minute, one 12.7mm machine gun (FN Herstal) under each wing and up to four 7.62mm Dillion Aero M134 Miniguns able to shoot up to 3,000 rounds per minute.

Super Tucanos are also equipped with 70mm rockets, air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9L Sidewinder, air-to-ground weapons such as the AGM-65 Maverick and precision-guided bombs. It can also use a laser rangefinder and laser-guided weapons.

Four A-29s have been delivered so far as part of an effort to equip the Afghan Army with up to 20 aircraft, Heidi Grant, Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

“Afghan pilots have been training here and learning English in the U.S. A class of eight pilots recently graduated a class at Moody AFB. They are back in Afghanistan. My hope is that in the next month or so you are going to see them doing some close air support for their Army,” Grant added.

Close air support will enable the Afghan Army to better target and destroy groups of Taliban fighters in close-proximity to their forces, giving them a decisive lethal advantage from the air.

The Super Tucano is a highly maneuverable light attack aircraft able to operate in high temperatures and rugged terrain. It is 11.38 meters long and has a wingspan of 11.14 meters; its maximum take-off weight is 5,400 kilograms. The aircraft has a combat radius of 300 nautical miles, can reach speeds up to 367 mph and hits ranges up to 720 nautical miles.

The U.S. is buying them for the Afghans through a special Afghan Security Forces fund that Congress has appropriated, she explained. They are being built by Sierra Nevada out of Jacksonville, Fla. – an effort which brings jobs to the U.S., she added.

“They are right now doing top off tactics training. They trained here in the U.S. but they needed to get into country to do the top-off tactics training,” Grant said.

The presence of armed “close air support” aircraft for the Afghan Army could have a substantial combat impact upon ongoing war with the Taliban – who have no aircraft.

Also, the arrival of the air support comes at a time when some observers, military leaders and lawmakers are concerned about combat progress in Afghanistan, openly questioning President Obama’s plan to reduce U.S. forces from 9,800 to 5,500 by 2017.  Outgoing CentCom Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin III and Sen. John McCain have been among those expressing concern.

At the same time, the presence of combat-changing air-attack ability for Afghan forces could engender a circumstance wherein the U.S. could reduce its presence without compromising ongoing progress in the war against the Taliban.

Articles

The US Navy learned a lot of lessons the hard way at the Battle of Santa Cruz

If you wanted to visit the carrier the Doolittle Raiders flew from, the USS Hornet (CV 8), you need to go to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Specifically, the place to look is near the Santa Cruz Islands, where a major naval battle was fought 74 years ago. It is notable for being the last time the United States lost a fleet carrier.


So, what made Santa Cruz such a big deal? Partly it was because the Japanese were desperately trying to take Henderson Field, and felt they had a chance to do so. They had pushed the United States Navy to the limit after the battles of Savo Island and the Eastern Solomons. A submarine had also put USS Wasp (CV 7) on the bottom with a devastating salvo of torpedoes that also sank a destroyer and damaged USS North Carolina (BB 55).

Admiral Chester Nimitz had sent Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, who had just recovered from dermatitis that caused him to miss the Battle of Midway. Halsey decided to hit the Japanese Fleet first. The orders: “Attack – Repeat Attack!”

American planes damaged the carriers Shokaku and Zuiho, as well as the heavy cruiser Chikuma. The destroyer USS Porter (DD 356) took a hit from a torpedo fired by the Japanese submarine I-21 (although some sources claim the damage was from a freak incident involving a torpedo from a crashed TBF Avenger). USS Enterprise took two bomb hits, but was still in the fight, and would later retire from the scene after surviving two more attacks.

USS Hornet was hit by three bombs, two suicide planes, and two torpedoes in the first attack. Despite that damage, she was mostly repaired by eleven in the morning. However, that afternoon, a second strike put another torpedo into the 20,000-ton carrier. Halsey ordered the Hornet scuttled.

USS Mustin (DD 413) and USS Anderson (DD 411) put three torpedoes and over 400 five-inch shells into the Hornet before they had to retreat in the face of a substantial Japanese surface force. USS Hornet would not go down until the Japanese destroyers Akigumo and Makigumo put four Long Lance torpedoes into her hull.

All in all, Hornet took ten torpedoes, two suicide planes, and three bombs before she went down. Her sister ship, USS Yorktown (CV 5) had taken three bombs and four torpedoes before she went down at Midway, having also survived two bomb hits at the Battle of the Coral Sea that had not been completely repaired.

The lessons of the losses of USS Yorktown and USS Hornet would pay their own dividends. The United States would only lose one light carrier, USS Princeton (CVL 23), and six escort carriers for the rest of the war. Carriers like USS Franklin (CV 13) and USS Bunker Hill (CV 17) would survive severe damage in 1945, while USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and USS Forrestal (CV 59) would survive frightful fires during the Vietnam War.

Articles

See what happens when this airsofter with a minigun takes on a full squad

So let’s get this out of the way, right away: Airsofters can take things a little too far. There are few things more ridiculous than a 17-year-old in full kit, complete with Ranger tabs, talking about “being in the shit.”


But to venture a guess, most airsoft players are probably just in it for the fun game that it is.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Not everyone meets the military standard. Or wants to.

If you don’t take the airsoft life too seriously, the game is a fun exercise that gets you out of the house and away from a computer screen. Take it from a military writer who spends a lot of time chained to a desk. That pic above might as well be me on my way to work every day.

Life is full of force-on-force exercises. So why not mix it up by playing a game?

And maybe take it a step further and go head on against an airsofter with a rotary cannon.

The rules of the game “Juggernaut” are simple. One volunteer gets a large ammo capacity gun, preferably some good protection from incoming fire, and about 10-15 other players to fight. The juggernaut starts at one end of the “battlefield” while everyone else starts at the other.

There are many variations on how to “kill” the juggernaut. Some games use a milk jug attached to the back of the juggernaut. Once you shoot away the jug, the game is over. In the video below, they tie a series of balloons the other players must pop to “kill” the juggernaut.

Watch the Juggernaut take on a squad of his friends in some admittedly awesome Star Wars-inspired custom armor.

Articles

Channing Tatum moans about the pre-gender-integrated Navy in this song from ‘Hail, Caesar!’

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
(Photo: Universal Studios)


“Hail, Caesar!,” the latest movie from the Coen Brothers, hits theaters on Friday, February 5. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the military parts of the film (cause that’s how we roll at WATM), a song where Navy man Channing Tatum complains that there ain’t gonna be no dames on his upcoming deployment.  The song also contains veiled sexual references using sealife (octopus and clams), which is in line with what audiences have come to expect from the Coen Brothers in terms of hilarity.

So the next time you complain about gender integration, think about this poor sailor with clams in his rack.

Articles

The F-35 may have big problems fighting at long range

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/USMC


The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) was supposed to fill multiple roles for the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and US foreign partners.

The jet — the most expensive US weapons project of all time — was designed to have aerial combat, close-air support, and long-range-strike capabilities.

But that’s not how the plane’s turned out so far. A string of damning reports have seriously called the $1.5 trillion plane into question, specifically it’s “dogfighting” ability when matched against less sophisticated aircraft. And now, one expert has made a convincing case that the fighter’s long-range capabilities don’t measure up to expectations either.

In a report for War Is Boring, military analyst Joseph Trevithick writes that in a long-distance engagement, the F-35 would have to rely on stealth to avoid enemy-radar detection while maneuvering close enough to engage enemy air and ground targets.

In an ideal situation, the F-35 would eliminate its targets before detection and leave. But as Trevithick notes, Russian and Chinese fifth-generation fighters have been outfitted with infrared sensors that can pinpoint a plane’s heat signature over fairly vast distances. The F-35 has a single, large rounded engine nozzle that leaves a larger heat signature than the flat nozzles of other stealth aircraft, such as the F-22 or the B-2.

This infrared signature could tip off enemy fighters to the F-35’s location, negating any benefit it may have from its stealth design.

Stealth may offer diminishing returns anyway. The technology isn’t foolproof, and radar technology is improving around the world.

“You can only go so fast, and you know that stealth may be overrated,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert said during a speech in February. “Let’s face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules and puts out heat — I don’t care how cool the engine can be, it’s going to be detectable. You get my point.”

The F-35 may be more detectable at distance than the plane’s advocates claim, meaning the plane might have questionable utility during long-range aerial combat and attack runs. On top of that, the F-35 could find itself outgunned in a potential missile engagement with rival Russian or Chinese fighters.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’
Photo: Lockheed Martin

The F-35 is supposed to be outfitted with AIM-120 Slammer missiles, which have a comparable range to Russian and Chinese air-to-air missiles.

However, as Trevithick notes, the F-35 may actually turn out to be slower than its Russian and Chinese rivals. It’s lagging speed means that it cannot launch the missiles with as much force as enemy jets. Moving at supercruising speed, a sustained speed exceeding the sound barrier, an enemy aircraft could “potentially fling its missiles farther than a missile’s advertised range.”

The difference in missile range might not actually be that important. If the F-35’s stealth capabilities are as good as advertised, or if enemy aircraft don’t have the weight load or sophistication to carry longer-range missiles, the plane will be able to maintain its expected supremacy over other fifth-generation models. Additionally, in a war gameconducted by the Royal Aeronautical Society, the F-35 beat the advanced Russian Su-35s in a long-range aerial engagement.

Exclusive excerpt from quadruple amputee Travis Mills’ new book ‘As Tough As They Come’

But in that simulation, the F-35 wasn’t armed with the AIM-120 but with the Meteor Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM). No concrete figures have been released on the BVRAAM’s range, but it is thought to be greater than that of the AIM-120 and any current air-to-air missile in either the Chinese or Russian arsenal.

Unfortunately, as a different War is Boring article notes, any integration of the BVRAAM with the F-35 is years off. The F-35 will not be able to use the BVRAAM until Lockheed releases its next software update for the F-35, which is still in early development. Until that time, the F-35 may find itself in a challenging position relative to Russia and China’s own upcoming fifth-generation fighters.

The F-35 has questionable abilities at shorter range, too. A leaked report from an F-35 test pilot obtained by War is Boring noted that the aircraft was incapable of outmaneuvering and besting an F-16 in a simulated dogfight. The F-16 first entered service in 1978 and is one of the planes that the F-35 is being built to replace.

In response, Lockheed Martin wrote in a July 1 press release that “the F-35’s technology is designed to engage, shoot and kill its enemy from long distances.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.