Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC - We Are The Mighty
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Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

Retired Marine Colonel Peter Barnett spent 30 years in the Corps as a Naval Aviator, Intelligence Officer and a recruiter, before taking his leadership skills to Hollywood to become a successful executive. Barnett joined the Corps in 1983 and became a Naval Aviator and Huey helicopter pilot. He deployed to Desert Shield, which was the buildup for Desert Storm as an IO for the air wing and then shifted to the reserves in 1994. He started in Hollywood in the early 80s working on independent films and such productions as Con Air and The Rock. His producing work includes The Sopranos, East Bound and Down, Arli$$, and Barnett supervised the productions of Narcos and Hannibal. He credits the Corps with changing his life and providing him with great opportunities.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Photo courtesy of Peter Barnett.

This is our ongoing series that features former and retired Marines that have transitioned out of the Corps into new roles within civilian society. Barnett comes to Hollywood with a unique and pragmatic Marine Corps perspective that has served him well.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Barnett flew both the UH-1 Huey and AH-1 Cobra helicopters. Photo courtesy of ebay.com.

Barnett was the oldest child. He raised his two younger siblings after his parents divorced when he was 10. He was a member of the Boy Scouts and then attended Cal State Northridge for Film and TV production. He shared about the key values stressed in his home life: “Work ethic. Being on time. Education. Both of my parents were highly educated people.” Barnett sought out the Corps during the writer’s strike in Hollywood in the early 1980s. He said, “I wanted to be a pilot and fly…my attraction to the Corps was leadership, brotherhood and traditions. The other services didn’t do it for me.” The Corps was challenging for him as he shared, “If I was going to go in the service, I was going to go all the way. If you fail, you fail and if you succeed you succeed. The bravado of the Marines impressed me as well, especially the Gunny at my OSO.”

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
The cast of The Sopranos.

Barnett’s class started out with 128 aviation candidates on June 6th, 1983, and graduated 70 aviation candidates from TBS. Only 38 of the 128 were qualified candidates, later winged as Naval Aviators. He stated, “I joined the Corps to fly, do my eight years and get out. After 10 years I had flown every helicopter there was in the Corps and ended.”

Barnett returned to Hollywood following his active-duty service and then transitioned to the reserves. From his earlier contacts made while working in the 80s in Hollywood, he was able to restart his career quickly through a friend and producer Mark Bakshi. He started at Disney working in accounting on big-budget films. He credits the experiences and training of the Corps with his successful return to the movie business with, “Leadership roles, team building, planning and keeping a cool head under fire. Be the calming force in the room and let everyone know it will be the day.” 

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
The cast of Con Air. Photo courtesy of whiterabbitcabaret.com.

He has spent time on lots of film and TV show sets and he stated:

“Every show is different; the characters are different. Every show has its own paintbrush, everything does not apply from one show to the next where what you learned on the last show may not apply to the next. It is personality, chain of command, logistics and operations driven. You have to figure it out. Marines love solving problems and can figure it out. We have many different plans where we can get to the objective. You make the best possible show you can with the money you have.”

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
The blockbuster hit The Rock. Photo courtesy of IMDB.com.

Barnett likes to hire fellow veterans on projects when able. He does have some insights into how Marines view the entertainment industry. He explained, “Everybody gets out of the Marine Corps and thinks they can be a technical adviser. There are about four technical advisers consistently working in the industry. You have to be current. Once you leave active service your knowledge level becomes outdated.” He elaborated, “You cannot hire an Afghanistan veteran to be an adviser on an Iraq war movie.” He does have positive words for a fellow Marine veteran and Hollywood professional, “The skills Marines bring with them with their integrity and work ethic. I have worked several times with fellow Marine Kevin Collins. We can get things done with a wink and head nod. Kevin is a great professional.” Retired Marine Major Kevin Collins is a First Assistant Director with the Director’s Guild of America. Barnett added, “I would absolutely hire a veteran if it fits what I need.”

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
The cast of Arli$$. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

He has been in on lots of pitches and been a consultant on shows to get them made. He shared key insights into getting more Marine stories into Hollywood, “Selling anything in Hollywood is like winning the lotto. It is so hard to sell any story or script in Hollywood.” He offered a good point with, “The best stories Marines can write are personal stories from their life that may not always be a military story. Military stories are a niche thing at times.”  One of his best insights is, “In Hollywood, you are walking into a room where you are pitching to people that have been making shows for 30 or 40 years. If they don’t love your story, then they don’t really care. They won’t do it just because you love it.” Barnett continued, “Many times, writers write for themselves which doesn’t sell. If you want to sell your project, it better be appealing to a general audience. It’s not ‘show friends’, it is ‘show business.’ Think big and what can sell. Who is your audience?” He knows that we as Marines love to tell stories, but they must be for a mass audience to sell.

When asked about what he wants to do next, Barnett answered, “I would like to sell some of my projects and my stories. Most are based on historical fact that people don’t know about. I want to work with great people and people that I like and enjoy. We continually learn on every project that we do. We want to solve problems and get to that objective. You want to have fun though too.”

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
The cast of East Bound and Down. Photo courtesy of screenrant.com.

Barnett does offer mentorship to Marines entering the industry with, “It’s great to meet new Marines and help them out and mentor them. If I can help others avoid the pitfalls I had then that is a success. You also have to be careful how you flash the Eagle, Globe & Anchor — sometimes we are not welcome in the industry as Marines.” He understands where and when to drop the Marine Corps card and what impact it has on the potential audience in the room. He believes that we learn continuously on every project that we do. Barnett knows Marines want to solve problems and get to the objective but want to have fun, too. That is his goal for his next projects: to make what he wants and have fun in the process.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Pedro Pascal and Boyd Holbrook in Narcos. Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

When asked about his many accomplishments, Barnett said, “I am most proud of my children and then the Marine Corps. My accomplishments and my friendships are important, especially the relationships I still have from the Marines. We are family til today, and I have been a Marine since 1983. I am the organizer of a bi-annual reunion of fellow Marines. My TV and Entertainment career is my third proudest achievement. It is fun, exciting, different and you work with great people, but there is nothing like being a Marine.”

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The 13 funniest military memes this week – battle buddy edition

This week’s meme roundup is dedicated to the friends you go to war with: Your battle buddies. These friends would do anything for you, even take a bullet, or in the case of Medal of Honor recipient Kyle Carpenter, jump on a grenade. The bond between battle buddies is second to none, and most people will never experience friendship on this level. Although it’s difficult to capture the bromance in 13 memes, here’s our attempt:


1. Battle buddies depend on each other.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

When the leadership fails, your buddy won’t.

2. Battle buddies aren’t always human.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

Man’s best friend is just as dedicated.

3. War is intense, so jokes and pranks are also elevated to the same level.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

This is their version of “kick me.”

4. You get in trouble together.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

No worries, it’s a just a mouth lashing.

5. You find creative ways to entertain each other.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

This would make a great, “shut the fu– up Carl” meme.

6. Their idea of going to the movies is a little different.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

Their camaraderie makes up for the lack of screen size.

7. They fight together, they watch movies together, and they also drink together …

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

… because sometimes you need someone to stagger home with.

8. Buddies look after each other, they don’t report each other.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

Seriously, how do those dixie cup hats stay on?!

9. They settle things differently.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

The quickest way to getting over a disagreement. (from Military Memes Facebook fan page)

10. Your pain is the butt of their jokes.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

They brandish bumps and scars like badges of honor, but more importantly, to show you how much tougher they are.

11. Despite all the shenanigans, buddies will always have your back.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

They’ll follow each other to the gates of hell. (from Military Memes Facebook fan page)

12. They’ll look after each other like their life depends on it.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
There’s no worse feeling than the feeling of letting your buddy down.

13. Battle buddies forever.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

Battle buddies keep their promises. If they said they’ll be there, they’ll be there.

NOW: 10 tips for dating on a forward operating base

AND: 9 Military terms that will make you sound crazy around civilians

OR WATCH: 13 Signs you’re in the infantry:

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Russia plans to build 100 of its most advanced Armata tanks

The Russian deputy defense minister said Aug. 24 at a military technical forum that Moscow plans to build 100 T-14 Armata battle tanks.


“The designed models are currently undergoing operational testing,” Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said, according to TASS, a Russian state-owned media outlet. “We have a contract for 100 units that will be supplied before 2020.”

TASS also acknowledged that Moscow previously said it would make 2,300 T-14s by 2020, which The National Interest and other analysts dismissed as “ridiculous,” given the high cost of the tank.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Wikimedia Commons photo by Vitaly Kuzmin.

Since it was unveiled in 2015, the T-14 has received a lot of hype and has worried many westerners — some of which is deserved.

The T-14 is part of the Armata Universal Combat Platform, which is is based on a single chassis that that can be used for a variety of Armata armored vehicles — not just the T-14 tank.

This interchangeable platform, according to Globalsecurity.org, includes “standard engine-transmission installation, chassis controls, driver interface, unified set of onboard electronics, [and] life-support systems.”

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Wikimedia Commons photo by Vitaly Kuzmin.

The T-14 comes with a high velocity 125mm cannon that also fires laser-guided missiles up to 7.4 miles away, while the US’ M1A2 SEP V3 Abrams’ main gun only has a range of about 2.4 miles.

It’s equipped with a revolutionary unmanned turret and armored hull for the crew, The National Interest said, and it’s even one step away from becoming a completely unmanned tank, able to be operated by crews at a distance, Sim Tack, a Stratfor analyst, previously told Business Insider.

The T-14 also sports the new Afghanit active protection system, which has a radar and electronic system that disrupts incoming guided missiles, The National Interest said.

The APS can also jam laser guided systems and even has interceptors that can take out RPGs, missiles, and possibly kinetic rounds — although the latter has been questioned by many analysts, The National Interest said.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
A Russian T-72B3. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Vitaly Kuzmin.

While the T-14 has strong layers of defense and reactive armor, “no tank is invincible, it is only more survivable,” Michael Kofman, a CNA analyst, told Newsweek. “It’s somewhat unclear how effective these defensive systems are against top-down attack missiles like the FGM-148 Javelin, which is expensive but effective.”

“It’s important to remember that the Armata platform is still a prototype undergoing field trials and not a completed system …  There is still a debate in Russia on what its capabilities should be and the initial serial production run of 80-100 tanks is doubtfully going to be the final variant, so we should reserve judgment,” Kofman told Newsweek.

While the T-14 is impressive in many respects, Russia’s main tank for years to come, given the high cost of the T-14 and even the T-90A, will probably still be the T-72B3, Kofman told The National Interest.

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Chinese Navy may outnumber US Navy by 2020

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
China’s carrier Liaoning | PLAN photo


Ongoing U.S.-China tensions in the South China Sea regarding Chinese artificial island-building are leading many at the Pentagon to sharpen their focus upon the rapid pace of Chinese Naval modernization and expansion.

While Chinese naval technology may still be substantially behind current U.S. platforms, the equation could change dramatically over the next several decades because the Chinese are reportedly working on a handful of high-tech next-generation ships, weapons and naval systems.

China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships by 2020 as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets, according to a recent Congressional report.

The 2014 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended to Congress that the U.S. Navy respond by building more ships and increase its presence in the Pacific region – a strategy the U.S. military has already started.

Opponents of this strategy point out that the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers, the Chinese have one and China’s one carrier still lacks an aircraft wing capable of operating off of a carrier deck. However, several recent reports have cited satellite photos showing that China is now building its own indigenous aircraft carriers. Ultimately, the Chinese plan to acquire four aircraft carriers, the reports say.

The commission cites platforms and weapons systems the Chinese are developing, which change the strategic calculus regarding how U.S. carriers and surface ships might need to operate in the region.

These include the LUYANG III, a new class of Chinese destroyer slated to enter the fleet this year. These ships are being engineered with vertically-launched, long-range anti-ship cruise missiles, the commission said. The new destroyer will carry an extended-range variant of the HHQ-9 surface-to-air missile, among other weapons, the report says.

Furthermore, the Chinese may already be beginning construction on several of their own indigenous aircraft carriers. China currently has one carrier, the Ukranian-built Liaoning. It is not expected to have an operational carrier air wing until sometime this year, according to the report.

The Chinese are currently testing and developing a new, carrier-based fighter aircraft called the J-15.

Regarding amphibious assault ships, the Chinese are planning to add several more YUZHAO LPDs, amphibs which can carry 800 troops, four helicopters and up to 20 armored vehicles, the report said.

The Chinese are also working on development of a new Type 055 cruiser equipped with land-attack missiles, lasers and rail-gun weapons, according to the review.

China’s surface fleet is also bolstered by production of at least 60 smaller, fast-moving HOBEI-glass guided missile patrol boats and ongoing deliveries of JIANGDAO light frigates armed with naval guns, torpedoes and anti-ship cruise missiles.

The commission also says Chinese modernization plans call for a sharp increase in attack submarines and nuclear-armed submarines or SSBNs. Chinese SSBNs are now able to patrol with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to strike targets more than 4,500 nautical miles.

The Chinese are currently working on a new, modernized SSBN platform as well as a long-range missile, the JL-3, the commission says.

While the commission says the exact amount of Chinese military spending is difficult to identify, China’s projected defense spending for 2014 is cited at $131 billion, approximately 12.2 percent greater than 2013. This figure is about one sixth of what the U.S. spends annually.

The Chinese defense budget has increased by double digits since 1989, the commission states, resulting in annual defense spending doubling since 2008, according to the report.

Some members of Congress, including the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., are advocating for both a larger U.S. Navy and a stronger U.S. posture toward China’s behavior in the region.

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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 interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

“[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.

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8 of the Air Force’s greatest fighters throughout history

From the formation of the Air Force in 1947 to today, the flying branch’s sexiest assets have always been its fighters. These soaring agents of death intentionally fly into fights in one of the planet’s most unforgiving environments.


Here are 8 of the machines that defined Air Force fighter history:

1. P-51 Mustang

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Ben Bloker)

The P-51, renamed in 1948 to the F-51 when the Air Force changed its plane designation system, was one of the fighters that the U.S. Air Force inherited when it morphed from the Army Air Force. The beloved Mustang variant served with distinction in the Korean War, but mostly as a close-air support asset, not as a fighter.

3. P-80

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
(Photo: U.S. Air Force B. Butcher)

The P-80 flew during World War II but wasn’t deployed to combat until Korea where it became one of America’s early champions against the rampant MiG threat from China.

4. F-86 Sabre

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Chris Massey)

America’s other great champion in MiG Alley fights over North Korea and Manchuria was the F-86 Sabre, a swept-wing jet fighter capable of breaking the sound barrier and going toe-to-toe with the best MiGs of the day.

5. F-4 Phantom

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
(Photo: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force)

The Phantom got a bad reputation in the Vietnam War where early variants lacked a cannon and used unreliable air-to-air missiles. But the powerful A-4 got improvements over time that made it more than capable of going up against anything the Soviets could throw at it. The A-4 is still in service in the Middle East where two Israeli F-4s interrupted an Egyptian attack of 28 planes, shooting down seven MiGs with no F-4s lost.

6. F-15 Eagle

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman John Hughel)

One of the main reasons that later F-4 variants couldn’t redeem themselves in American service is that the F-15 Eagle overshadowed the F-4 from day one. The Eagles boast powerful engines that gave it nearly unprecedented speed as well as “look down, shoot down” radar, powerful missiles, and a 20mm Gatling gun. The F-15 is still in service with the U.S. and feared by adversaries around the world.

7. F-16 Fighting Falcon

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby)

With a long combat radius, all-weather, and day and night capabilities, the F-16 is prepared to fly, fight, and win everywhere. While the F-16 is a capable strike aircraft, its greatest value may reside in its capabilities as one of the world’s premier dogfighters.

8. F-22 Raptor

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
(Photo: U.S. Air National Guard Senior Airman Ashley Williams)

The reason that the F-16 isn’t the world’s premier dogfighter is that the F-22 exists. The Raptor can sneak up on its prey and watch it for minutes without the enemy ever knowing it was there. Or, it can shoot down opposing fighters from outside of its adversaries detection and engagement ranges.

Currently, the plane is serving as a sensor platform in Iraq and Syria where it detects enemy air defenses and guides friendlies around them, but it could eradicate other fighters in the sky on a moment’s notice.

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This Army general’s death is a sad reminder of the military’s mental health crisis

The mysterious death of Maj. Gen. (Promotable) John G. Rossi on July 31, shortly before he was to be promoted to lieutenant general and take command of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, has now been ruled a suicide.


According to a report by the Associated Press, Rossi is the highest-ranking officer and first Army general officer to kill himself while on active duty since statistics were kept in 2000. In an obituary posted online, Rossi left behind a wife, three children (one an Army officer), his father and a sister.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Then-Brig. Gen. John Rossi shakes hands with Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Thomson, Nov. 12, after arriving on Camp Taji, Iraq, for a visit to the troops there. On Rossi’s left walks Col. Frank Muth, the commander of the Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. (Photo U.S. Army)

During his career, Rossi had received the Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Legion of Merit with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Bronze Star with an Oak Leaf Cluster, among other decorations. He had served a tour during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Rossi became part of an increasingly tragic statistic. According to a study by the Department of Veterans Affairs released in July, 20 veterans take their own lives every day. That was down from 22 per day according to the previous study that used data from 2012.

While Rossi’s suicide is the Army’s first active duty general officer who took his own life since the Department of Defense started to keep statistics in 2000, high-ranking officials committing suicide is not an unknown phenomenon.

One of the most notable incidents involved Adm. Jeremy Boorda who was the Chief of Naval Operations when he shot himself in May, 1996. Another incident involved James Forrestal, who had recently resigned as Secretary of Defense when he was hospitalized for treatment of “overwork” (he was actually suffering from serious depression). In May of 1949, he jumped out of a window at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Even legendary military leaders contemplated suicide. William Tecumseh Sherman, the Civil War general who was most famous for capturing Atlanta and his March to the Sea, had a mental breakdown in late 1861 during which he considered taking his own life.

In a statement released after the announcement of Rossi’s cause of death his family said, “For our family, this has been an incredibly painful time, and we ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. To all the other families out there, to the man or woman who may be facing challenging times, please seek assistance immediately.”

For veterans in crisis, or their friends and family, help is available. Call (800)273-8255, send a text message to 838255, or chat online at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ChatTermsOfService.aspx.

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The Navy just developed invisible armor that is easy to fix

When most people think armor, they think of thick steel, ceramic or Kevlar. It stops (or mitigates) the harm that incoming rounds can do, but there’s one big problem: You can’t see a friggin’ thing if you’re behind it.


This is no a small problem. Put it this way, in “Clausewitzian Friction and Future War,” Erich Hartmann, who scored 352 kills in World War II, was reported to have believed that 80 percent of his victims never knew he was there. Project Red Baron, also known as the Ault Report, backed that assessment up based on engagements in the Vietnam War.

Bulletproof glass exists, but it can be heavy. When it is hit, though, the impact looks a lot like your windshield after it catches a rock kicked up by an 18-wheeler on the interstate.

That also applies in firefights on the ground – and according to a FoxNews.com report, the Navy has made it a little easier to maintain situational awareness while still being able to stop a bullet. The report notes that the Navy’s new armor, based on thermoplastic elastomers, still maintains its transparency despite being hit by bullets.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Current bullet-resistant glass after ballistic tests during the IDET 2007 fair in Brno. The good news is the bullets were stopped. The bad news: You can’t see through the window. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In a Department of Defense release, Dr. Mike Roland said, “Because of the dissipative properties of the elastomer, the damage due to a projectile strike is limited to the impact locus. This means that the affect on visibility is almost inconsequential, and multi-hit protection is achieved.”

That is not the only benefit of this new armor. This new material can also be repaired in the field very quickly using nothing more than a hot plate like that used to cook Ramen noodles in a dorm room – or in the barracks.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Photo: YouTube/CrashZone

“Heating the material above the softening point, around 100 degrees Celsius, melts the small crystallites, enabling the fracture surfaces to meld together and reform via diffusion,” Dr. Roland explained.

Not only will this capability save money by avoid the need to have replacement armor available, this also helps reduce the logistical burden on the supply chain, particularly in remote operating locations that were very common in Afghanistan during the Global War on Terror.

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27 unsung WWII heroes most people have never heard of

Sadly, the heroes of World War 2 are leaving us every day. With the vast majority of war veterans past the age of 90, it won’t be long before only a few WW2 heroes and veterans are left to tell their stories of courage and triumph in the face of murderous odds. While some soldiers and important figures of the time are well known to the culture in general, most aren’t. Some didn’t survive, and many others simply never spoke about what they did. This list of World War 2 heroes will show the courage, bravery, and selflessness of many men you may not have heard of, but who made important contributions to the war nonetheless.


World War Two made heroes out of countless soldiers, scientists, officials, and even cooks and the World War 2 timeline is dotted with remarkable and heroic individuals. Whether fighting the Nazis on the European front or making a difference against the Japanese in the Pacific, these real life heroes helped the Allies win the war and helped make the world what it is today. Their sacrifices for their fellow fighters and even strangers they’d never feet were truly heroic.

This list features many World War 2 soldiers, pilots, and fighters who you should know something about. Some were officers and aces, others peasants and ordinary foot soldiers. They hailed from around the world, and some never even wore a uniform. But all of them took actions that saved lives, inflicted damage on the enemy, and collectively won World War II, the worst war in human history.

27 Unsung WWII Heroes You May Not Know About

 

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This is why the MRE is more than just a meal

The military’s standard individual field ration, the MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat), is the well-known and much-discussed bag of food eaten by service members of the U.S. military when deployed in combat, to remote locations, or when training in the field. The purpose of the MRE is simple; it serves as nourishment for troops.


The MRE can be divisive. Some like them, some hate them but most handle them when we have to. There are ways to deal with a diet of this prepackaged manna. Troops figured this out a long time ago. Creative recipes were conjured to make them taste better and there are literally hundreds of videos about them online. Ask any veteran about them– each will have their own methods.

At face value, the MRE is just a brown plastic bag filled with food, spread packets, and a flameless heater. The individual self-contained meal, however, has emblematic qualities that many may not realize. It is able to withstand cold and hot temperatures. It’s durable for long periods of time in the harshest conditions… The MRE is very much a representation of the military veteran.

The MRE is also an unlikely tool used for diplomacy and international relations, where military members from two different nations can establish a friendship by simply exchanging MREs after a long day of combined training.

The MRE is also a symbol of hope. It gives optimism for people of a foreign nation such as Haiti after a devastating earthquake or residents of New Orleans’s Lower 9th Ward following Hurricane Katrina. The MRE brings a smile to the face of a child that sometimes can be overlooked, but it represents a beacon of hope when all hope was lost.

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Two Haitian children run back to their families after receiving packages of MREs, while Marines and Sri Lankan United Nations forces hand out food to Haitians Jan. 24, 2010 as part of recovery efforts following a 7.0 earthquake. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michele Watson)

The MRE brings a sense of family where brothers and sisters in arms can enjoy a meal together even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

MREs also bring a mix of emotions. Feelings like satisfaction, envy, and sadness.

The satisfaction of eating after a long day of training or following a combat patrol. The feeling of envy because your battle buddy’s MRE came with a packet of M&Ms or Skittles and you got the gooey energy bar. Sadness stems from the fact that you are eating an MRE on a summer day in a faraway land instead of being home for a poolside BBQ with your family and loved ones.

The MRE serves as a component of business and negotiation skills. Servicemembers learn the aspects of supply and demand via trading MRE contents with a fellow trooper. The MRE is much more than a meal packaged in strong, flexible plastic, it is a simile of military service.

Forrest Gump would always say “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” The classic comparison to life instilled to him by his mama.

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For veterans and their military service, “Life is like an MRE. Some days it’s good, some days it’s bad, you will certainly not miss them but you will miss the people you shared them with.”

Follow Alex Licea on Twitter @alexlicea82

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39 horrible technical errors in ‘GI Jane’

Ridley Scott’s “G.I. Jane” gave audiences an inside look into Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, with Demi Moore starring as a female trainee.


Except it’s not called BUD/S — the movie calls it CRT for some reason — and the technical errors don’t stop there. We sat through two hours of sometimes horrific technical errors so you don’t have to. Here’s the 39 that we found.

1:53 Senator DeHaven references an F-14 crash at Coronado. Although it is possible that an F-14 could crash in the area, it’s worth pointing out that Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, has no F-14s assigned to it.

3:00 The senator says that nearly 1/4 of all jobs in the U.S. military are off-limits to women. It’s actually much closer to 1/5th.

4:31 The admiral makes the first mention of “C.R.T — Combined Reconnaissance Team,” which he refers to as SEALs. There’s no such thing as CRT. The training program that Navy SEALs go through is called BUD/S, or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL.

4:37 The admiral says SEAL training has a 60 percent drop-out rate. According to the Navy’s own figures, the drop-out rate is closer to 75-80 percent.

11:50 O’Neill says she has survived Jump School and Dive School. As an intel officer, it’s highly unlikely that she would ever attend these schools.

13:13 Royce mentions to Lt. O’Neill that BUD/S training is three months. It’s actually six.

14:01 Now we’re introduced to Catalano Naval Base in Florida. It doesn’t exist. BUD/S actually takes place at the Naval Special Warfare Training Center in Coronado, Calif.

14:21 Lt. O’Neill pulls up to the base in a Humvee. If she were going to a training school, she would’ve just driven a civilian vehicle or taken a taxi from the airport like everyone else. She wouldn’t be picked up by a driver in a tactical military vehicle (although that possibility could have happened but it would’ve been a government van).

14:23 The gate guard says “Carry on.” He’s enlisted, and she’s an officer. If anyone is going to say that, it’s going to be the officer, not the enlisted guy.

14:46 Yes, Lt. O’Neill is wearing a beret right now. And no, people in the Navy don’t ever wear one.

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20:00 Capt. Salem welcomes the new class and says they are all “proven operators in the Spec-Ops community.” He mentions that some of the trainees for CRT are SEALs. Why would SEALs be going through initial SEAL training? (This is just another screw-up coming from calling BUD/S the fictional “CRT.”)

20:07 Salem mentions that some of the trainees are from Marine Corps Force Recon. You can’t become a Navy SEAL unless you’re in the Navy.

26:20 A Huey helicopter is about 10 feet away from the trainees who are exercising in the water, but Command Master Chief Urgayle can give a rousing speech about pain that everyone can hear just fine.

26:50 After his speech about pain, Urgayle hops on the Huey and heads out. I wish I could have a Huey as a personal taxi to take me around.

36:27 Using an M-60 machine gun to fire over trainees’ heads is believable. The Master Chief using a sniper rifle to fire live rounds at trainees during training? That is not.

36:31 Are you frigging serious with this reticle pattern right now?

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36:52 This course looks less like training and more like Beirut in the 80s. What the hell is with all the flames everywhere?

37:19 Now there is a jet engine shooting afterburner exhaust in trainees’ faces. Wtf?

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39:00 Apparently the Master Chief has moved his sniper position from away in a bunker to the perspective of Lt. O’Neill, looking up at Cortez on top of the wall.

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48:56 The instructors throw two live smoke grenades and fire rounds from an MP-5 submachine gun to wake up the trainees. The sound doesn’t really match, unless they are shooting live rounds at people. In which case, it’s probably not a good idea to shoot live bullets at a cement floor.

53:01 I know Capt. Salem really likes his cigars, but smoking one during PT?

54:19 Lt. O’Neill gets waterboarded as Urgayle explains how effective the technique is at interrogation. This is not something taught at BUD/S.

57:07 The base gate says Naval Special Warfare Group Two. The base in the movie is located in Jacksonville, Fla., but the actual Group Two is based in Little Creek, Va.

1:05:44 Now the trainees head to SERE school, which the movie says is in Captiva Island, Fla. The Navy (or any other branch) does not hold SERE training at this location. Also, BUD/S trainees don’t attend SERE school. They would attend SERE after they earned the Navy SEAL Trident.

1:06:00 Instructor Pyro is giving a speech about SERE in the back of a noisy helicopter. The trainees wouldn’t be able to hear him.

1:09:36 Lt. O’Neill says over the radio: “Cortez, target ahead. Belay my last. New rally point my location.” She didn’t give Cortez an order, so saying “belay my last” — aka disregard that order — doesn’t make sense.

1:10:00 Slavonic wants to get a helmet at SERE school for a souvenir? Sure he’s a total idiot, but no one is that dumb.

1:12:32 Now that everyone is captured at SERE training, it’s worth pointing out that SERE is actually a three-week course, one week of which is dedicated to survival. Apparently GI Jane skipped straight to resistance.

1:30:00 Why the hell is there a baseball bat just sitting there next to ring-out bell? Oh, the director wanted to make Lt. O’Neill look like a badass. Ok.

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1:40:15 Lt. O’Neill is back in training, and now the trainees are on an Operational Readiness Exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, on a submarine. The Navy isn’t going to put trainees on a sub stationed overseas before they are SEALs while they are still undergoing BUD/S training.

1:42:28 The captain asks the Master Chief if the trainees are ready to conduct a real-world mission into Libya. He says yes, and the military viewing audience is — if they haven’t already — throwing things at their TVs.

1:49:19 There’s a firefight happening and bad guys coming towards them but these almost SEALs are literally smoking and joking.

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1:54:29 An M-16 firing doesn’t sound like a .50 caliber machine gun. But it does in this movie.

1:54:53 O’Neill fires her M203. The sound it makes is basically a “thoonk” sound. The movie sound effect is like a bottle rocket.

1:55:26 Ok, so basically every sound effect in this firefight sequence makes me want to shoot the TV.

1:56:36 This Cobra attack helicopter can easily shoot the bad guys from a distance. But let’s just go to 10 feet off the ground so the enemy has a chance to shoot the pilot in the face.

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1:57:03 The helicopter crew chief just shot a bad guy with his 9mm from 100 yards or so. That’s a pistol, not a sniper rifle.

1:59:00 Master Chief hands O’Neill her SEAL Trident and says “welcome aboard.” Except it’s not a trident. It’s some weird, made-up badge that says SEAL CRT. This is purely fictional, and made all the more ridiculous by the instructors themselves not wearing that badge but wearing the SEAL Trident instead.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

1:59:23 In the very next scene after the class graduates, O’Neill is seen wearing the SEAL Trident. Except she was just handed that fake SEAL CRT Badge.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC

NOW CHECK OUT: 9 military movie scenes where Hollywood got it totally wrong

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5 differences between Army and Marine Corps infantry

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


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

1. Platoon Organization

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Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Artur Shvartsberg

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

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

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

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

2. Weapons

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

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

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

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

3. Fires support

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Photo: US Marine Corps

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

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

4. Different specialties

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Photo: US Navy Phan Shannon Garcia

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

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

5. Elite

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Army Rangers conduct a mission in Afghanistan. (Photo: US Army)

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

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

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A Navy SEAL is now governor of Missouri

Eric Greitens — a Navy SEAL; Rhodes scholar; White House Fellow; founder of the veterans organization The Mission Continues;  author; and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People —  was elected governor of Missouri Nov. 8.


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(Facebook photo)

It was an uphill battle, according to Kaj Larsen, a fellow SEAL and friend of WATM who helped campaign for Greitens. The outgoing governor, Jay Nixon, was ineligible to run for re-election due to the state’s term limits, but Greitens nevertheless faced a tough challenger in current Missouri Attorney Gen. Chris Koster.

“We started with nothing against our opponent’s $11 million,” Larsen wrote on Facebook as Greitens claimed victory in the state. “But when your buddy is in a gunfight, you show up with ammunition to help. For three months straight we outworked our opponent.”

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Kaj Larsen introduces Eric Greitens for his victory speech at a hotel in the Chesterfield suburb of  St. Louis. (Facebook photo)

Greitens is a Republican who ran against what he saw as corrupt establishment politics; called for banning gifts from lobbyists; advocated instituting term limits for every elected office in Missouri; wants to cut government spending; supports the Second Amendment, and called for more backing of local firefighters and law enforcement officers in the state.

Also read: 10 tips on raising resilient kids from an Al Qaeda-fighting Rhodes Scholar

At 42, Greitens is the youngest governor in the United States. This is his first attempt at public office. Republicans have only won the Missouri Governor’s seat once since 1992.

According to his book, “The Heart and the Fist,” Greitens went to Naval Officer Candidate School in January 2001, then went to BUD/S — the basic training course for Navy SEAL candidates — in February 2002.

He deployed four times in support of the Global War on Terror, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa. He then joined the Naval Reserve in 2005. His service was attacked during the campaign, but his staff released 225 pages of his military records before the election, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.

His awards include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, among many Achievement and Commendation Medals.

Exclusive interview: Marine colonel turned Hollywood Producer Peter Barnett on The Sopranos, East Bound & Down, Narcos and the USMC
Eric Greitens as a SEAL in Iraq.

“We’re going to take on the special interests and clean up Jefferson City,” Greitens said in his victory speech as recorded by the Kansas City Star. “Our mission in this campaign was to build a stronger and better Missouri we can take in a new direction.”

Not everyone is thrilled with Greitens’ victory. The most controversial issue surrounding his campaign is his support of making Missouri a “Right-to-Work” state, sapping power from local labor unions.

“It was one of the high honors of my life to introduce my friend and swim buddy last night as he took the stage to give his victory speech,” Larsen wrote on Facebook.
Winning the governorship is a big deal, but as the BUD/S motto goes: The only easy day was yesterday.
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