22 brutal dictators you've never heard of - We Are The Mighty
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22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of


Representative government has been a luxury that relatively few people have enjoyed throughout human history.

And while the vast majority of dictators fall short of Hitler- or Stalin-like levels of cruelty, history is rife with oppressors, war criminals, sadists, sociopaths, and morally complacent individuals who ended up as unelected heads of government — to the tragic detriment of the people and societies they ruled.

Here’s a look at 22 brutal dictators who you may not have heard of:

1. Francisco Solano Lopez (Paraguay, 1862-1870)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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After that war concluded, Brazil, Argentina, and the winning faction in Uruguay secretly agreed to a plan in which they would annex half of Paraguay’s territory.

Lopez rejected the peace terms offered by the “triple alliance,” incurring a full-on invasion.

What followed was a devastating conflict in which an overmatched Lopez conscripted child soldiers, executed hundreds of his deputies (including his own brother), incurred steep territorial losses, and triggered an eight-year Argentine military occupation.

By the time of Lopez’s death in battle in 1870 and the war’s subsequent end, Paraguay’s population had plunged from an estimated 525,000 to 221,000, and only 29,000 males over the age of 15 were left alive.

 

2. Jozef Tiso (Slovakia, 1939-1945)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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A Catholic priest who led Slovakia’s fascist moment, Tiso was in charge of one of Nazi Germany’s numerous satellite regimes for almost the entirety of World War II.

Although arguably a less energetic fascist than the leaders of comparable Nazi puppet regimes, Tiso led a brutal crackdown after a 1944 anti-fascist rebellion.

He also either facilitated or had first-hand knowledge of the deportation of the vast majority of the country’s Jews to Nazi concentration camps.

At the time, Slovakia had a Jewish population of over 88,000. However, by the conflict’s conclusion, nearly 5,000 were left in the country.

 

3. Döme Sztójay (Hungary, 1944)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Hungarian leader Miklós Horthy had been an ally of Nazi Germany, collaborating with Adolf Hitler’s regime in exchange for assistance in restoring Hungarian control over lands the country had lost as a result of World War I.

Horthy began attempting to chart an independent path from the Nazis as the German war effort flagged in 1944 and largely refused to deport the country’s Jews — triggering a Nazi invasion and Döme Sztójay’s installation as the country’s puppet leader even while Horthy officially remained in power.

During Sztójay’s six months as Hungary’s prime minister, more than 440,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to concentration camps in one of the last major forced population transfers of the Holocaust.

Sztójay, who had been Hungary’s ambassador to Nazi Germany for the decade leading up to World War II, was captured by American troops after the war and executed in Hungary in 1946.

 

4. Ante Pavelić (Yugoslavia 1941-1945)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Ante Pavelić started out as a politician who was opposed to the centralization of what later became officially known as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

After Yugoslavia’s king declared himself dictator in 1929, Pavelić fled the country in order to organize an ultra-nationalist movement called Ustaše.

The Ustaše was dedicated to creating an independent Croatia, and sometimes resorted to terrorism. Ultimately, the group assassinated King Alexander in 1934.

After Axis forces took over Yugoslavia in the 1941, Pavelić took control as the head of the Independent State of Croatia (or NDH).

The country was nominally ruled by the Ustaše, but was essentially a puppet state of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Under Pavelić’s leadership, the regime persecuted Orthodox Serbs, Jews, and Romani living in the NDH.

After Germany was defeated in 1945, Pavelić went into hiding, and eventually escaped to Argentina. He died in Spain in 1959.

 

5. Mátyás Rákosi (Hungary 1945-1956)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
Hungarian Government

Mátyás Rákosi became the communist leader of Hungary after consolidating political power in 1945.

He was called “Stalin’s best Hungarian disciple,” orchestrating purges and installing a repressive Soviet-allied regime.

After Stalin died in 1953, the USSR decided his regime was too brutal and told Rákosi that he could stay on as the Hungarian communist party’s secretary-general — on the condition that he give up his prime ministership to the “reform-minded” Imre Nagy.

Rákosi managed to stick around for a bit, until the USSR officially decided he was a liability.

Moscow removed him from power in 1956 in order to appease the Yugoslav leader, Mashal Tito.

 

6. Khorloogiin Choibalsan (Mongolia, 1930s-1952)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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After several meetings with Stalin, Choibalsan adopted the Soviet leader’s policies and methods and applied them to Mongolia.

He created a dictatorial system, suppressing the opposition and killing tens of thousands of people.

Later in the 1930s, he “began to arrest and kill leading workers in the party, government, and various social organizations in addition to army officers, intellectuals, and other faithful workers,” according to a report published in 1968 cited in the Historical Dictionary of Mongolia.

In late 1951, Choibalsan went to Moscow in order to receive treatment for kidney cancer. He died the following year.

7. Enver Hoxha (Albania, 1944-1985)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Albania’s communist dictator feuded with both the Soviet Union and China before promoting a ruinous policy of national self-reliance that turned his country into a Balkan version of modern-day North Korea.

During his four-decade rule, Hoxha banned religion, ordered the construction of thousands of concrete pillboxes throughout Albania, undertook eccentric public building projects, purged his inner circle multiple times, and severed nearly all of Albania’s meaningful international relations.

Hoxha enforced a Stalin-like cult of personality and created a completely isolated society with virtually no tolerance of political dissent.

An estimated 200,000 people were imprisoned for alleged political crimes during Hoxha’s rule, in a country with a current population of around 3 million.

 

8. Lê Duẩn (Vietnam, 1960-1986)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Although he was never Vietnam’s official head of state, Lê Duẩn was the dominant decision-maker within the country’s communist regime for more than 20 years.

After the Vietnam War and the North’s successful invasion of South Vietnam, Duẩn oversaw purges of South Vietnamese anticommunists, imprisoning of as many as 2 million people and forcing more than 800,000 Vietnamese to flee the country by boat.

Under Duẩn, Vietnam also embarked on a failed economic-centralization effort that later generations of Vietnamese leaders would reverse.

 

9. Ian Smith (Rhodesia, 1964-1979)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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One of the most controversial figures in post-colonial African history, Ian Smith, a decorated fighter pilot during World War II, led the secession of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) from the British empire in 1965.

His aim was to preserve white rule in an overwhelmingly black colony.

As prime minister of an independent Rhodesia, Smith oversaw an apartheid system similar to the one in neighboring South Africa, seeking to ensure white rule through a system of racial separation and control.

Although whites were less than 4% of Rhodesia’s population, Smith’s government survived nearly 15 years of international isolation and civil war.

He agreed to a power-sharing accord that elevated Robert Mugabe to prime minister in 1980.

Although sometimes lauded for his willingness to surrender power — something that meant Rhodesia was liberated from minority rule some 15 years before neighboring South Africa — he still led a racially discriminatory regime for well over a decade.

 

10. Ramfis Trujillo (Dominican Republic, May 1961-October 1961)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Ramfis’s father, the more infamous Rafael Trujillo, ruled the Dominican Republic for over 30 years.

His oldest son, who was made a colonel at the age of 4, only spent a few months as the Caribbean nation’s dictator — but he used them to mount a brutal reprisal campaign against those he suspected of assassinating his father on May 30, 1960.

An “accomplished torturer” and inveterate playboy, when Ramfis left the Dominican Republic by yacht to go into exile in Spain in late 1961, he reportedly took his father’s coffin with him.

What’s more, the coffin was filled with nearly $4 million in money and jewels.

 

11. Michel Micombero (Burundi, 1966-1976)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Michel Micombero, an army captain and then minister of defense, was just 26 years old when he led the 1966 counter-coup that landed him the prime minister’s chair.

That was a dangerous job in Burundi, considering that two of his predecessors had been assassinated since the country won its independence from Belgium in 1962.

Micombero, an ethnic Tutsi, swiftly abolished the country’s monarchy and exiled its 19-year-old king.

Micombero cultivated a Tutsi elite within the army and government, raising tensions with the country’s Hutu community.

In 1972, Micombero’s government crushed a Hutu insurrection by organizing mass killings in which an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people were killed.

Although Micombero was overthrown in a 1976 coup, the Hutu-Tutsi divide persisted in Burundi, and helped spark a civil war in the country that lasted between 1993 and 2005.

 

12. Yahya Khan (Pakistan, 1969-1971)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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The Pakistani general and World War II British Army veteran dissolved the government and imposed martial law in 1969.

By the time he lost power two years later, Eastern Pakistan had broken off to become the independent nation of Bangladesh and Pakistan lost another war to its rival, India.

Meanwhile, Khan oversaw the mass slaughter of as many as half a million Bengalis and other minorities in India.

In March 1971, Khan ordered his army to crack down on a burgeoning separatist movement in Eastern Pakistan.

“Operation Searchlight” targeted Bengali nationalists and intellectuals and produced a wave of 10 million refugees that convinced India to intervene in Pakistan’s civil war, setting the stage for Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan the following year.

During a high-level meeting in February 1971, Khan was recorded saying to “kill three million of them,” in reference to the separatists and their supporters.

By the end of the year, hundreds of thousands of people were dead — and Khan had been deposed as president and sent into internal exile. He died in Pakistan in 1980.

 

13. Carlos Manuel Arana Osorio (Guatemala, 1970-1974)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
Guatemalan Government

Carlos Arana Osorio was one of the several military rulers who were president in Guatemala during the volatile years following a 1954 coup.

During his presidency, he amped up government efforts to subdue armed rebels and persecuted “student radicals,” workers groups, and political opponents.

An estimated 20,000 people “died or ‘disappeared’” under the Arana Osorio administration.

Guatemala went had military presidents through 1986, but the country’s civil war continued until December 1996.

 

14. Jorge Rafael Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Military officer Jorge Rafaél Videla took over Argentina during a coup d’état in 1976.

At the time, the country was straddled with a corrupt government and a battered economy, and was “besieged by attacks from guerrillas and death squads,” with many Argentines “welcoming Videla’s move, hoping the three-man military junta would put an end to the violence,”according to Biography.com.

Videla tried to bring back economic growth via free-market reforms, and was “moderately successful.” However, he closed the courts and gave legislative powers to a nine-man military commission.

His government conducted a notorious “‘dirty war,’ during which thousands of people considered to be subversive threats were abducted, detained and murdered,” among them intellectuals, journalists, and educators.

The official estimate of people killed during his presidency is 9,000, but some sources believe the number is between 15,000 and 30,000.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 1985, but pardoned in 1990. He was once again put on trial in 2010, and received another life sentence. He died in prison in 2013.

 

15. Francisco Macías Nguema (Equatorial Guinea, 1968-1979)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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The first president of Equatorial Guinea was a paranoid kleptocrat who declared himself leader for life, kept much of the national treasury in suitcases under his bed, and killed or exiled an estimated one-third of the former Spanish colony’s population of 300,000.

Nguema’s hatred of his country’s educated classes led to comparisons with Cambodia’s Pol Pot.

Extensive forced-labor programs brought to mind other historical cruelties as well: One visitor to the country during Nguema’s rule described it as “the concentration camp of Africa — a cottage-industry Dachau.”

Nguema was executed after his nephew, Teodoro Obiang, overthrew him in a 1979 coup.

 

16. Teodoro Obiang (Equatorial Guinea, 1979-present)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Teodoro Obiang overthrew his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema, the first president of Equatorial Guinea, in 1979.

In 1995, oil was discovered in Equatorial Guinea, which provided Obiang with an almost limitless means of self-enrichment.

While the country of 700,000 languishes in the bottom quartile of the Human Development Index, its resource wealth has funded one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.

Obiang’s government is accused of torturing dissidents and banning most forms of political expression.

At the same time, Obiang has attempted to turn the capital of Malabo into a tourism and conference destination, and has tried to portray Equatorial Guinea as one of Africa’s rising political and economic powers.

 

17. Siad Barre (Somalia, 1969-1991)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Somalia’s socialist military dictator committed a disastrous strategic error when he invaded Ethiopia’s Somali-majority Ogaden region in 1977.

The invasion convinced the Soviet Union to withdraw its support from Barre’s government.

And instead the Soviet Union backed Ethiopia’s emerging communist regime.

After the failed war against Ethiopia, Barre continued to rule Somalia for 13 years.

He maintained control through a combination of blunt force and canny manipulation of Somalia’s clan system.

His most disastrous legacy is Somalia’s descent into civil war in 1991, which marked the beginning of over two decades of anarchy in the country.

 

18. Radovan Karadžić (Republika Srpska, 1992-1996)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Radovan Karadzic was president of Republika Srpska, the self-proclaimed ethnic Serb “republik” that seceded from Bosnia after Bosnia’s secession from Yugoslavia in 1992.

As president, Karadžić oversaw an ethnic-cleansing campaign against Bosnian Muslims that included some of the most severe human-rights abuses committed on European soil since World War II.

Karadžić is believed to have ordered the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which Serbian militants killed over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the span of three days.

Karadžić went into hiding, and after Bosnia’s civil war, he became a homeopathic health expert under an assumed name and began writing articles about healing.

In 2008, he was arrested in Serbia and sent to the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity.

 

19. Theodore Sindikubwabo (Rwanda, April 1994-July 1994)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Theodore Sindikubwabo bears little personal responsibility for the organization of the Rwandan genocide, which was largely the project of hardline army officers and government officials like Theoneste Bagasora.

But when Rwandan president Juvenal Habyrimana’s plane was shot down on April 6, 1994, Sindikubwabo was the man that the genocide’s architects selected as Rwanda’s head of state.

The former pediatrician was the official head of a government that perpetrated the slaughter of an estimated 800,000 people.

Far from attempting to stop the bloodbath, Sindikubwabo appeared in Cayahinda, Rwanda, on April 20, 1994, to “to thank and encourage” militants carrying out the genocide, and to “promise he would send soldiers to help local people finish killing the Tutsi who were barricaded” in a local church, according to Human Rights Watch.

Sindikubwabo fled into neighboring Zaire after the forces of current Rwandan president Paul Kagame invaded the country during the closing days of the genocide.

He died in exile in 1998.

 

20. Than Shwe (Myanmar, 1992-2011)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Than Shwe was the leader of the ruling military junta in Myanmar (Burma) and had been criticized and sanctioned by Western countries for human-rights abuses.

Up to 1 million people were reportedly sent to “satellite zones” and “labor camps” under his rule.

There was virtually no free speech in the country, and “owning a computer modern or fax [was] illegal, and anyone talking to a foreign journalist [was] at risk of torture or jail,” the Guardian reported in 2007.

Although Shwe stepped down in 2011, The Wall Street Journal reports that he “still exerts considerable leverage behind the scenes.”

Most recently, he pledged support to his former foe, Aung San Suu Kyi, as the Myanmar’s “future leader” — even though during his rule, the country’s Nobel Prize-winning opposition leader was kept under house arrest.

 

21. Isaias Afwerki (Eritrea, 1991-present)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia in 1991 partly because of President Isaias Afwerki’s leadership in the armed struggle against Ethiopia’s brutal communist regime, which he helped overthrow.

Over the next 25 years, Afwerki built one of the world’s most terrorizing dictatorships.

Afwerki’s government maintains a network of brutal secret prison camps, and forcibly conscripts the country’s citizens into indefinite military service.

Eritrea’s internal oppression has led to over 380,000 people fleeing out of a population of less than 7 million — despite the lack of active armed conflict in the country.

Afwerki’s foreign policy has been equally problematic.

A 1998 dispute with Ethiopia over the demarcation of the countries’ border quickly escalatedinto the last full-scale interstate war of the 20th century, with Afwerki bearing at least partial blame for failing to defuse a conflict in which an estimated 100,000 people were killed.

Eritrea is also under UN sanctions for its alleged support of Al Shabaab militants fighting the Ethiopian military in Somalia.

22. Yahya Jammeh (Gambia, 1996-present)

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
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Gambia’s president since 1996 has built one of the most oppressive states on earth.

Jammeh has used arbitrary arrests and torture as his preferred means of control, and hasthreatened to personally slit the throats of the country’s gay men.

Gambians are fleeing the country in droves.

Despite its population of only 1.8 million, Gambia is among the 10 most common origin pointsfor migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe.

Articles

These are the Voyages of the US Navy’s Enterprise

For some people, Enterprise is the ship that comes to mind when they think about the U.S. Navy.


However, for fans of the TV show Star Trek – Trekkies, Enterprise is synonymous with the fictional starship by the same name and “its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

On this day, 50 years after the show’s premiere, we’re looking back at our Enterprise by the numbers.

1775

The name Enterprise is as old as the U.S. Navy. The first Enterprise ship was captured from the British by Benedict Arnold in May 1775. CVN-65 was the eighth ship with the name Enterprise in the history of the U.S. Navy.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
The first Enterprise originally belonged to the British and cruised on Lake Champlain to supply their posts in Canada. After the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by the Americans on May 10, 1775, it became the object of desire in the mind of Benedict Arnold who realized he would not have control of Lake Champlain until its capture.

1,123

The length of the Enterprise in feet, making it the longest ship in history. Over 800 companies provided building supplies, which included 60,923 tons of steel, 1507 tons of aluminum, 230 miles of pipe and tubing and 1700 tons of one-quarter-inch welding rods.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 23, 2012) An E-2C Hawkeye assigned to the Screwtops of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123 flies past the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) during an air power demonstration. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman/Released)

8

The number of nuclear reactors aboard Enterprise, which was the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The reactors generated more than 200,000 horsepower.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
At sea aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Nov. 5, 2001– Sailors aboard USS Enterprise spell out “E = MC2x40” on the carrier’s flight deck to mark forty years of U.S. Naval nuclear power as ship and crew return home from a Mediterranean Sea Arand abian Gulf deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Enterprise currently in dry dock at the Naval Shipyards in Norfolk, Va. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Douglass M. Pearlman. (RELEASED)

100,000

The number of Sailors and Marines who served aboard Enterprise, which had 23 different commanding officers.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
NORFOLK (Nov. 30, 2012) Master Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Eric Young reenlists on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nick C. Scott/Released)

1962

Within one year of its commissioning, President John Kennedy dispatched Enterprise to blockade Cuba and prevent the Soviet delivery of missiles to the island.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
WASHINGTON (April 16, 2013) The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits the Arabian Gulf. Enterprise was one of several ships that participated in Operation Praying Mantis, which was launched after the guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) struck an Iranian mine on April 14, 1988. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Todd Cichonowicz/Released)

2001

Enterprise was returning from a long deployment when terrorists attacked the U.S. on September 11. Without waiting for orders, Enterprise returned to the Arabian Gulf and later launched one of the first strikes against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. The ship expended more than 800,000 pounds of ordnance during Operation Enduring Freedom.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
At sea aboard USS Enterprise (Oct. 18, 2001) — U.S. Navy sailors inspect AGM-65 “Maverick” air-to-surface tactical missiles on the flight deck of USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Apprentice Lance H. Mayhew Jr. (RELEASED)

25

The number of deployments made by Enterprise, which traveled to the Mediterranean Sea, Pacific Ocean and the Middle East, and served in nearly every major conflict that occurred during her history.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
NORFOLK (Nov. 4, 2012) The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) arrives at Naval Station Norfolk. Enterprise’s return to Norfolk will be the 25th and final homecoming of her 51 years of distinguished service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rafael Martie/Released)

400,000

The number of arrested landings recorded aboard Enterprise as of May 2011, the fourth aircraft carrier to perform such a feat.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
ARABIAN SEA (May 24, 2011) An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Red Rippers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 makes the 400,000th arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex R. Forster/Released)

51

Enterprise’s years of active service, which ended December 1, 2012. Enterprise was one of the longest active-duty ships in the history of the Navy.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
NORFOLK (Dec. 1, 2012) Guests observe the inactivation ceremony of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). Enterprise was commissioned Nov. 25, 1961 as the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ceremony marks the end of her 51 years of service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joshua E. Walters/Released)

80

During CVN-65’s inactivation ceremony on Dec. 1, 2012, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced in a video message that the name Enterprise will live on as the officially passed the name to CVN-80, the third Ford class carrier and the ninth ship in the U.S. Navy to bear the name.

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of
Graphic of ships named Enterprise (U.s. Navy graphic by MC1 Arif Patani/Released)

Articles

This Marine better watch his footing in the new thriller ‘Mine’

After an assassination gone wrong, a Marine sniper, played by Armie Hammer, is stranded in a dry oasis after stepping on one of at least 33 million mines that occupy the desert region.


In this psychological thriller, Mike will have to battle himself, his enemies, and all the dangerous elements of his environment without lifting a foot until help arrives — 52 hours away.

Mine blasts its way into theaters and On Demand April 2017.

Articles

Watch actual footage from the first Apache strikes of Desert Storm

On January 17, 1991, seven months after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded and tried to annex neighboring Kuwait, the world decided it had enough. Operation Desert Storm was launched that day, and Saddam was smacked down by a coalition of 39 countries.


Conducting this epic assault required bringing in Western airpower to destroy Hussein’s formidable armored corps of over 4,000 tanks. To open the way for other planes and choppers, eight Apaches and two Pave Low helicopters flew to Iraqi air defense sites and unleashed dozens of Hellfire missiles.

The sites and their operators were destroyed by the onslaught. See actual footage from the raid in this video from the Smithsonian Channel.

Articles

13 new shows and movies vets should watch

Hollywood and other multimedia producers get it wrong a lot of the time when they’re trying to appeal to the military community.


But there are those out there who try their best to nail it.

Here are 13 upcoming shows and movies that get it right, according to Got Your 6.

1. “American Veteran”

The feature length documentary tells the story of U.S. Army Sergeant Nick Mendes, who was paralyzed from the neck down by a 500 pound improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2011. The documentary follows Nick for five years following the explosion as he rebuilds his life and falls in love with Wendy, an extraordinary medical caregiver he meets in a VA hospital. The film chronicles his long recovery, struggles, and pain, but never perpetuates the stereotype of the “wounded veteran.” BetterThanFiction Productions

2. “Criminal Minds”

The long-running American police crime drama, set primarily at the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) based in Quantico, Virginia, follows a group of FBI profilers who catch various criminals through behavioral profiling. The plot focuses on the team’s cases and their personal lives, depicting the hardened life and statutory requirements of a profiler. Actor Joe Mantegna plays Supervisory Special Agent David Rossi, a senior level profiler who happens to be a Vietnam veteran as well as a moral core of the show. His service is primarily mentioned in passing, depicting his veteran status as one of many characteristics as opposed to defining his identity. The Mark Gordon Company, ABC Studios, CBS Television Studios

3. “Fences”

Directed by Denzel Washington with a screenplay by August Wilson based upon his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Fences” follows Troy Maxson in 1950s Pittsburgh as he fights to provide for those he loves. Troy once dreamed of a baseball career, but was deemed too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. He tries to be a good husband and father, but his lost dream of glory eats at him, and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart. Troy’s brother Gabriel, a disabled veteran, acts as a shining beacon of hope, despite his traumatic backstory. Gabriel is a fresh take on the sorts of wounds soldiers endure and showcases the strength of the human spirit. Paramount Pictures, in association with Bron Creative and Macro Media

4. “Five Came Back”

Netflix’s “Five Came Back” is a three-part adaptation of Mark Harris’ bestseller, directed by Laurent Bouzereau. Meryl Streep narrates Harris’ story of how five esteemed Hollywood directors – Frank Capra (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”), George Stevens (“Swing Time”), William Wyler (“The Letter,” “Jezebel”), John Ford (“Stagecoach,” “The Grapes of Wrath”), and John Huston (“The Maltese Falcon”) – volunteered to make propaganda films for the United States and its fighting corps. For the adaptation, it was Bouzereau’s vision to ask five current filmmakers – Guillermo del Toro, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Lawrence Kasdan and Paul Greengrass – to consider the Hollywood quintet who went to war and returned forever altered by what they saw and did. Amblin Television, IACF Productions, Netflix, Passion Pictures, Rock Paper Scissors Entertainment

5. “Megan Leavey”

This film is based on the true life story of a young U.S. Marine corporal (played by Kate Mara) whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (“Blackfish”) and written by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, and Tim Lovestedt, the film documents their journey of more than 100 missions until an IED explosion injures them. Bleecker Street/LD Entertainment

6. “Sand Castle”

Set in Iraq in 2003, “Sand Castle” follows a platoon of U.S. Army soldiers in the early days of Iraq War. Inexperienced Private Matt Ocre (played by Nicolas Hoult) and his unit are ordered to the outskirts of the village Baqubah to repair a water pumping station damaged by U.S. bombs. Ocre struggles with the true cost of war and learns that trying to win the hearts and minds of the locals is a task fraught with danger. The film was written by U.S. Army veteran and Tillman Scholar, Chris Roessner. Treehouse Pictures, Voltage Pictures, 42/Automatik, Netflix

7. “Seeing Blind”

A digital short produced by Crown Royal as part of its “Living Generously” campaign, “Seeing Blind” tells the story of U.S. Army Major Scotty Smiley, a combat veteran who was blinded in Iraq and continued to serve in active duty for another decade as the Army’s first blind commander. To thank Major Smiley for his service, Crown Royal paired him with internationally renowned poet Matthew Dickman to help him visualize his hometown of Pasco, Wash., in a poetic new way. Good Company

8. “Seven Dates With Death”

This moving documentary short is about Moreese Bickham, a man jailed for an act of self-defense who survives half his life in prison by holding onto his faith, resilience, and hope. Viewers don’t learn he is a veteran until the end credits when an American flag is draped on his coffin at his funeral; however, this symbolic end showcases the depth of Moreese’s life and sacrifice. The short documentary is currently playing in film festivals across the U.S. and London and is expected to be publicly released by the end of 2017. Executive Producers Joan M. Cheever, Mike Holland

9. “Taken”

A television series based on the “Taken” film trilogy, this series acts as a modern day origin story for former Green Beret Bryan Mills (played by Clive Standen), who overcomes a personal tragedy while starting his career as a special intelligence operative. As a former CIA agent and post-9/11 veteran, Mills has spontaneous flashbacks to his military service. While the show touches on his service, it allows the audience to be empathetic with his experience and the skills learned while in uniform. “Taken” consulted with Got Your 6 team members on specific issues regarding active duty service and veteran reintegration. FLW Films, Universal Television, Europacorp Television, NBC

10. “The Vietnam War”

This 10-part documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick will air on PBS in September 2017. In an immersive 360-degree narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War through the testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many American veterans who served in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides. Florentine Films, PBS

11. “This is Us”

This hit American television series stars Milo Ventimiglia (Jack) and Mandy Moore (Rebecca), parents of triplets – two natural-born and one adopted after their third child is stillborn. The series follows siblings Kate, Kevin and Randall as their lives intertwine. After 18 episodes, it is revealed that Jack – who must balance being the best father he can be with the struggles of supporting for his family of five – is a Vietnam War veteran. This dramedy challenges everyday presumptions about how well we think we know the people around us. Rhode Island Ave. Productions, Zaftig Films, 20th Century Fox Television, NBC

12. “VOW” (digital shorts)

“VOW” (Veterans Operation Wellness) is a Spike campaign created to inspire veterans to make the same commitment to their health and wellness that they made to their country. Two of the campaign’s digital shorts, “Operation Surf Helps Returning Soldiers” and “NYC Veterans Day Parade 2016,” were awarded 6 Certified status. In addition to featuring inspiring veterans, the shorts serve to motivate civilians to connect with veterans through community-building events and activities. Witness Films, Viacom

13. “When We Rise”

This four-part mini-series event which chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs, and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBTQ men and women who helped pioneer the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Ken Jones (played by Michael K. Williams and Jonathan Majors), an African-American Vietnam veteran, joined the gay-liberation movement in San Francisco, only to discover and confront racism within the gay men’s community. For years he organized services for homeless youth, worked to diversify the gay movement, and led efforts to confront the devastation of the AIDS epidemic. ABC Studios

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The US is about to revolutionize naval combat

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Members of the visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team operate a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) alongside guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Pasquale Sena


After more than a decade of research and development, the US Navy stands on the edge of a paradigm shift.

A recent report from the Congressional Research Service puts these technologies in perspective:

“Any one of these new weapon technologies, if successfully developed and deployed, might be regarded as a “game changer’ for defending Navy surface ships against enemy missiles. If two or three of them are successfully developed and deployed, the result might be considered not just a game changer, but a revolution.”

In the slides below, see where the US Navy is at in fielding these revolutionary technologies, and how they will change the future of naval warfare.

The US Navy’s defense dilemma

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Already, the onboard defenses on US Navy ships are some of the best in the world, but with growing threats from ever-advancing anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles from China and Russia, the US Navy is left with some bleak options.

1. Avoid operating in waters within range of advanced anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles (the South China, the Black, and Baltic Seas to name a few).

2. Change the entire fleet structure to rely on smaller surface ships and submarines, and less so on large platforms like aircraft carriers.

3. Improve onboard missile defenses to effectively counter even the most advanced anti-ship missiles.

With the US’s global network of allies and interests, the first option is unthinkable. The second option would vastly change the Navy’s shipbuilding plans, dull the power-projection capabilities provided by US aircraft carriers and amphibious assault vessels, and cost a fortune.

Source: Congressional Research Service

The problem with traditional guns and defenses

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Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Levi Horn observes as Operations Specialist 3rd Class Monica Ruiz fires a 50-caliber machine gun during a live-fire qualification aboard amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian Caracci

“Powder guns have been matured to the point where you are going to get the most out of them. Railguns are just beginning,” Tom Boucher, the railgun program manager for Office of Naval Research, said to AFP.

There are two problems with the Navy’s current onboard missile defenses.

Firstly, traditional naval missile defenses rely on ammunition. So no matter how effective surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) or close-in-weapons systems (CIWS) are, they have a finite amount of rounds that can be depleted.

Secondly, “Navy SAMs range from about $900,000 per missile to several million dollars per missile, depending on the type.”

Since SAMs protect the lives of US Navy sailors, these costs are acceptable, but still unsustainable throughout a prolonged conflict. Simply put, the missiles and rounds used to defend navy ships hugely tax an already strained defense budget.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Solid State Lasers

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The Afloat Forward Staging Base USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. | US Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released

Solid State Lasers, (SSLs) spectacularly overcome the limitations of traditional defenses, while introducing a few limitations of their own.

Right now, naval planners are developing SSLs to provide defense against small boats and UAVs within the range of one to a few miles, “and potentially in the future for countering ASCMs and ASBMs as well.”

The laser system offers brilliant advantages over traditional rounds both in depth of magazine and cost per shot.

An SSL can fire continuously until the ship supporting it runs out of fuel to generate electricity, which would take a long, long time. Additionally, the cost of firing an SSL is comparable to running a heavy duty appliance. The Navy cites the cost per shot of an SSL at around $1 per.

But SSLs rely on line of sight, and are therefore not all-weather weapons. Clouds, rain squalls, even particles in the atmosphere can sap effectiveness from the laser system. Additionally, it poses a threat to human targets, as it could blind them, and blinding weapons are prohibited by the Geneva convention.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Electromagnetic Railgun (EMRG)

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One of two electromagnetic railgun prototypes on display aboard joint high speed vessel USS Millinocket (JHSV 3) in port at Naval Base San Diego on July 8, 2014. | US Navy photo

The EMRG uses magnetic fields created by extremely high electrical currents to “accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at [speeds of] 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph,” 30 or roughly Mach 5.9 to Mach 7.4.”

The projectile, traveling at a mind-boggling 1.5 miles per second, rips through the atmosphere with such speed that the atmosphere around it, as well as the tungsten of the projectile itself, erupt into an awesome fireball despite the fact that no explosives are used.

With a range of up to 100 miles (in just a few seconds) the EMRG can take out distant targets as well as incoming threats.

Unlike the SSL, the EMRG fires physical rounds, and therefore has a much more limited magazine depth. However, the cost per shot of the inert rounds is a very small fraction of what today’s guided missiles cost.

Source: Congressional Research Service

Hyper Velocity Projectiles (HVPs)

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Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, shows off a Hypervelocity Projectile (HVP) to CBS News reporter David Martin during an interview held at the Naval Research Laboratory’s materials testing facility. | US Navy photo by John F. Williams

In developing the revolutionary EMRG, the Navy realized they needed an equally revolutionary projectile— enter the HVP, a streamlined, percision guided round.

Though it was designed for railguns, the aerodynamic design of the HVP lends itself to other, existing applications. For instance, when fired out of the Navy’s 5 inch or 155 mm guns, the HVP reaches speeds of around Mach 3— about twice as fast as a normal round, but about half as fast as the EMRG fires it.

The HVP has GPS coordinates entered into it, and once fired, the fins on the rear of the round guide the projectile towards it’s target in any weather conditions.

HVPs are much more expensive than the normal rounds a Navy gun fires, but their speed means they can intercept missiles, which makes them a much cheaper alternative to guided missiles. Plus, as they are backwards-compatible with existing Navy platforms, HVPs could be deployed tomorrow if need be.

Source: Congressional Research Service

An affordable revolution in defense

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Slide 5 from Navy briefing entitled “Electromagnetic Railgun,” NDIA Joint Armaments Forum, Exhibition Technology Demonstration, May 14, 2014, LCDR Jason Fox, USN, Assistant PM [Program Manager], Railgun Ship Integration, Distribution. | NAVSEA GraphicThis graphic shows how the US Navy can leverage HVPs and EMRGs to maintain their asymmetrical advantage over rising powers for years to come, without relying on million-dollar missiles.

Source: Congressional Research Service

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The dark origins of Bikini Bottom

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Wikimedia Commons


Have you ever sat around wondering how Spongebob learned to tie a Windsor knot, how Squidward acquired his affinity for the arts, or how Plankton became perceptive enough to develop a Napoleon complex? Well, here’s a theory that should simultaneously quell your curiosity while fulfilling the core function of the internet: robbing you of your childhood innocence.

Basically, this unique aquatic society was the result of U.S. nuclear testing in the South Pacific Ocean, and that all of your childhood pals, from Mr. Krabs to Mrs. Puff, are radioactively mutated fish.

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Our thoughts exactly

History seems to support this claim. The nuclear testing site that the theory refers to is Bikini Atoll, a group of islands in Micronesia. After World War II, the U.S. military detonated 23 nuclear devices on the islands as it geared up for an arms race with the Soviet Union. Remember that island that appears at the beginning of every SpongeBob episode? Well, that’s what remains of Bikini Atoll. The creators of the show left other clues to this radioactive origin story, such as Squidward’s Easter Island head residence (a hint of the town’s South Pacific locale), the popular Bikini Bottom magazine Toxic Waste Monthly, and the mushroom cloud that seems to rise from every explosion in the show.

So, it seems likely that the bombing of Bikini Atoll created Bikini Bottom, a nightmarish seascape where a sponge is economically extorted by a crab, who somehow fathered a sperm whale. But maybe it was all for the best. Bikini Bottom seems like a pleasant enough city, and the residents certainly have less mundane lives than your average fish or sponge. All’s well that ends well, right?

Maybe not. Because before U.S. nukes created one of America’s most beloved children’s shows, there were real, non-animated people living on Bikini Atoll: 167 to be exact. Bikini Atoll is part of the Marshall Islands, which has its own distinctive language, culture, and society. Leading a subsistence based lifestyle, Bikinians were a subset of this society.

In 1946 the people of Bikini Atoll were compelled to “temporarily relocate” by the United States, who wanted to begin nuclear testing on the islands. They were told they had to leave “for the good of mankind” and were subsequently sent to Rongerik Atoll, an uninhabited group of islands one-sixth the size of Bikini that lacked adequate sources of food and water. The U.S. navy dropped them on the shore with several weeks of food supplies and left. Soon, the Bikinians had a serious malnutrition problem, with most living on the brink of starvation. Within two months of relocation, they were begging the U.S. to allow them to return to Bikini, not knowing about the nuclear devastation being brought down upon their home. Their calls were ignored, and they were left on the island for two years. “We were dying, but they didn’t listen to us,” commented one of the inhabitants of Rongerik.

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Eventually, the government began the process of moving the Bikinians to Ujelang Atoll. A handful Bikinians were sent to Ujelang to begin construction of their new society. But two months later, the plans fell through. The U.S. had chosen a second location for nuclear testing, Enewetak Atoll, and decided that the Enewetak people, instead of the Bikinians, would be relocated to Ujelang.

In 1948, The Bikini natives were finally liberated from Rongerik and sent to Kwajalein Atoll, where they lived in tents next to a concrete military airstrip. Six months later they were relocated once again to Kili Island, a .36-square-mile island where most Bikinians still live today. The island greatly differed from the Atolls they were accustomed to, making their traditional methods of fishing and food cultivation far less effective. Starvation once again became a daily concern and the Bikinians had to rely on USDA rice and canned goods to survive. The island was also prone to flooding, making them vulnerable to hurricanes and typhoons. They soon began referring to Kili as “Prison Island.”

Meanwhile, nuclear tests continued on Bikini Atoll, culminating in the 1954 “Castle Bravo” test, which detonated a nuclear weapon 1,000-times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The blast was larger than the U.S. government expected and the resulting radioactive fallout spread throughout the Marshall Islands, blanketing inhabited islands and contaminating their residents. The subsequent health effects still plague Marshall Islanders today.

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Mushroom cloud at Castle Bravo

Decades passed, and in 1969, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that the now 540 Bikinians would be able to resettle their home islands. The Atomic Energy Commission issued a statement saying “There’s virtually no radiation left and we can find no discernible effect on either plant or animal life.” Feeling confident in these assurances, Bikinians began to resettle in 1972. But in 1978, tests by U.S. physicians revealed that the radiation levels in the 139 people on Bikini Atoll were well above the permissible level. They were evacuated.

Today, the native inhabitants of Bikini Atoll continue to seek compensation from the U.S. government for the devastation of their home. Many demand that the U.S. clean up the mess they made in Bikini so they might return home. Some have more modest claims, like Simon Jamore, who wants access to better healthcare for four of his family members who have developed cancer. The islands remain almost entirely uninhabited, excluding the marine citizens of Bikini Bottom. For now, the only thing fit to live in Bikini Atoll is a radioactive fry-cook sponge.

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27 FBI photos you must see of the Pentagon on 9/11

Five al-Qaeda militants hijacked American Airlines flight 77 on Sept. 11, 2001. The plane was on its way from Dulles Airport outside of Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. The plane made it as far as eastern Kentucky before the terrorists took over the plane and slammed it into the Pentagon.


The FBI added 27 images the agency took on the ground that day to their photo vault, as first responders raced to rescue the wounded and remove the dead from the shell of the nation’s symbol of military power.

Debris from the plane and the building are highlighted in the Mar. 23 release of photos. The attack killed 125 people in the Pentagon, as well as all aboard the flight

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The Boeing 757 took off from Dulles ten minutes early.

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Some of the passengers were teachers and students on a National Geographic Society field trip.

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Authorities estimate the flight was taken over between 8:51 and 8:54 in the morning, as the last communication with the real pilots was at 8:51.

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The terrorists were led by a trained pilot, as the other four herded the passengers to the back of the plane to prevent them from re-taking the aircraft.

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The hijacker pilot did not respond to any radio calls.

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With no transponder signal, the flight could only be found when it passed the path of ground-based radar.

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At 9:33 am, the tower at Reagan Airport contacted the Pentagon, saying “an aircraft is coming at you and not talking with us.”

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At 9:37:46 am, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.

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Listen actual radio traffic about the flight at NPR.

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USA Today detailed the victims of Flight 77.

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22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

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22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

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22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

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This is why the US-led coalition called Amnesty report on Mosul ‘irresponsible’

The US-led coalition said July 12 that an Amnesty International report accusing its forces of violating international law during the fight against the Islamic State group in Mosul is “irresponsible.”


The report released July 11 said Iraqi civilians were subjected to “relentless and unlawful attacks” by the coalition and Iraqi forces during the grueling nine-month battle to drive IS from Iraq’s second largest city. It said IS militants had carried out mass killings and forcibly displaced civilians to use them as human shields.

War is not pleasant, and pretending that it should be is foolish and places the lives of civilians and soldiers alike at risk,” Col. Joe Scrocca, a coalition spokesman, told The Associated Press.

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Women and children wait at a processing station for internally displaced people prior to boarding buses to refugee camps near Mosul, Iraq, Mar. 03, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne)

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared “total victory” in Mosul on July 10, but clashes along the edge of the Old City continued into the following evening.

In all, 5,805 civilians may have been killed in the fight for western Mosul by coalition attacks, Amnesty said, citing data from Airwars, an organization monitoring civilian deaths caused by the anti-IS coalition in Iraq and Syria.

Amnesty said the fighting generated a “civilian catastrophe.”

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U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Rachel Diehm.

IS swept into Mosul in the summer of 2014 when it conquered much of northern and western Iraq. The extremists declared a caliphate and governed according to a harsh and violent interpretation of Islamic law. The militants rounded up their opponents and killed them en masse, often documenting the massacres with video and photos.

US-backed Iraqi forces have gradually retaken much of that territory, but at a staggering cost, with hundreds of thousands of people displaced and entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble.

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Coast Guard commandos guarding Trump, deployed to Med

A little-known group of specially-trained Coast Guardsmen are playing a key role in securing a presidential retreat in Florida and guarding against the smuggling of doomsday weapons out of war-torn Syria.


Few know about the Coast Guard’s cadre of special operations units but that doesn’t mean they’re sitting idle, says the service’s top commander.

“This is a team that’s not sand lot ball. These are the pros that have very unique weapons skills and training and not everyone makes this team,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft during a breakfast meeting with reporters April 12. “These teams are if anything probably over employed right now in terms of their optempo — both on the anti-terrorism front and on the counter-terrorism front as well.”

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The official patch of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Established in the years after 9/11 to provide another layer of special operations capability both in the United States and worldwide, the Coast Guard previously housed these various specialized teams under one command, dubbed the “Deployable Operations Group.” Comprised of highly-trained boat teams, crisis response forces and counter proliferation experts, the DOG was disbanded in 2012 and its units dispersed to separate commands.

Despite its troubled past, the Coast Guard’s special operators are front and center in some of America’s most high profile missions. Zukunft said his teams are providing maritime security for President Donald Trump when he visits his golf resort at Mar a Lago in Florida, working closely with the U.S. Secret Service to protect world leaders from potential attack.

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Security Zones in vicinity of Mar A Lago, Florida are established during VIP visits to the Miami area. (U.S. Coast Guard photo illustration by Seventh Coast Guard District)

“I had three teams providing force protection for presidents of the two largest nations in the world — China and the United States — at Mar a Lago. That’s what these teams do, Zukunft said. “We’re seeing more and more of these nationally significant security events in the maritime domain.”

The service’s capability also includes Coast Guardsmen trained to locate and secure chemical and nuclear weapons — operators that are part of the Maritime Security Response Teams. Similar to SEALs, the MSRT Coast Guardsmen can take down ships, oil platforms and other vehicles used to smuggle WMD material over water.

It’s members of these MSRT units that are currently deployed to help the U.S. military guard against doomsday weapons leaking out of Syria and other regional hotspots.

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The Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) from Virginia participates in a training evolution in Hyannis, Mass., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015. The highly trained and specialized team, using a real-world underway ferry, practiced tactical boardings-at-sea, active shooter scenarios, and detection of radiological material. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell)

“We have a full-up [counter terrorism team] deployed right now in the Mediterranean in support of CENTCOM. It’s an advanced interdiction team in case there is any movement of a weapon of mass destruction,” Zukunft said. “This is a team that if necessary, forces itself onboard a ship … and they have all of the weapons skills of special forces, but they have law enforcement authority.”

Despite the rocky road in the unit’s formation, Zukunft is confident the Coast Guard’s special operations units are here to stay.

“To turn the lights out and then decide ‘whoa we have this threat’ — it’s going to take [a while] to reconstitute that, and in doing so the assumption would be that we will never have a terrorist attack directed agains the United States ever again,” he said. “I am not willing to make that assumption. I am all in.”

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Soldier faces up to 15 years for alleged air drop sabotage

A soldier has been charged in the 2016 destruction of three humvees that was shown in a viral video from Saber Junction 2016, meaning he faces up to 10 years in prison as well as dishonorable discharge for the willful destruction of government property as well as up to five additional years for making a false official statement.


Army Sgt. John Skipper serves in the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team’s 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment. He was charged in May for his alleged role in the destruction of the vehicles, according to the Stars and Stripes.

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173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team soldiers conduct exercises in partnership with NATO forces during Saber Junction 16, an operation that was marred by the destruction of three HMMWVs, which the Army now alleges was the fault of Sgt. John Skipper. (Photo: U.S. Army Pfc. Randy Wren)

The high-mobility multi-wheeled vehicles, commonly called humvees, separated from their pallets during an air drop. The mission was part of Operation Saber Junction 16, a massive exercise designed to test the 173rd’s readiness, improve NATO interoperability, and show America’s resolve in Europe.

A video of the incident released on social media showed the stunning destruction as a group of men cheered when each humvee fell. (Warning: Contains colorful language.)

Skipper will proceed to an Article 32 probable cause hearing, which plays out like a mini trial. Military lawyers for the prosecuting authority and the defense will be able to make arguments and present evidence in front of a preliminary hearing officer.

At the end of the hearing, the lawyers will make final recommendations on how they think the case should proceed, generally the prosecuting lawyers will push for general court martial and the defense will request less severe means such as administrative punishment or special court martial, which has less severe maximum penalties.

If the evidence against Skipper is determined to be great and the case is sent to general court martial, he could face up to 15 years for the combined charges. This is still better than he would face in the civilian courts where an additional $250,000 maximum fine could be added to the punishment.

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A cut-rate Gaston taught U.S. infantry how to kill tanks

The U.S. Army made a lot of training videos for World War II. Think of them as the PowerPoints of yesteryear. And when it was time to teach infantry to fight tanks, the Army hired an actor that looks suspiciously like the character Gaston and then filmed him drinking beer in a hunting lodge.


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(GIF: YouTube/PeriscopeFilm)

Seriously, even the lights hanging from the ceiling are similar. He’s one dentally-challenged sidekick away from being this guy…

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(Screenshot: YouTube/Theano Sakalidou)

Considering the fact that the new Beauty and the Beast revealed that Gaston was a veteran, it’s starting to look like Disney based their character on an old War Department training film.

But while Gaston is known for being an idiot, the staff sergeant in the training film knows his stuff. He’s a tanker who takes a little time out to teach infantryman how best to destroy armor.

He starts with how small arms can be used to force tankers to “button up,” diving into their hatches. Once the tanks are buttoned, they can be completely blinded by rounds hitting the view slits and periscopes:

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(GIF: YouTube/PeriscopeFilm)

Then, it’s time for grenadiers to try and shoot the crew through the armor with anti-tank rifle grenades:

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(GIF: YouTube/PeriscopeFilm)

But if the tanks make it past the grenadiers, the rest of the riflemen can throw Molotov Cocktails at the fleeing armor:

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(GIF: YouTube/PeriscopeFilm)

All of these were real weapons and tactics in the fight against German armor, and Gaston helped make it happen.

You can see the whole clip — and learn how to destroy Axis tanks — below:

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This is why the Green Berets wear a green beret

It’s well known that in the American military, the green beret is the exclusive headdress of soldiers qualified as Army Special Forces. The only way to don one of these distinctive berets is to complete the arduous “Q Course” and be awarded a Special Forces tab.


In fact, Army Special Forces soldiers are often called “Green Berets” based on that specific Army green “Shade 297” cap.

But how America’s premier unconventional warfare force got that iconic headwear is as much a testament to the force’s tenacity as it is a tribute to the founding soldiers who challenged at Big Army’s authority.

The beret is said to be somewhat derived from America’s ties to the British Commandos of World War II, who wore a green beret as their standard-issue headdress beginning in 1941.

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Vietnam-era 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldiers participate in 5th SFG(A)’s flash changeover ceremony at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, March 23, 2016. During the ceremony, 5th SFG(A) reinstated the Vietnam-era beret flash, adding a diagonal yellow stripe with three red stripes to the existing black and white background. The stripes pay homage to the Group’s history in the Vietnam War and its crucible under fire.

So it’s not surprising that according to the official history of the Army Special Forces Association, America’s green beret was first designed by SF major and OSS veteran Herbert Brucker about two years after the unit was formed, likely due to the close work between the OSS — the predecessor to the Special Forces — and Royal British Commandos during the war.

The beret was later adopted by 1st Lt. Roger Pezelle and worn by his Operational Detachment Alpha team with the 10th Special Forces Group based in Germany.

The SF troopers were reportedly not authorized to wear the berets, but being unconventional warriors, they basically gave Big Army the middle finger and wore them anyway.

“The berets were only worn in the field during exercises,” according to retired SF Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Lupyak. “The Army would not allow the wearing of berets in garrison.”

But that all changed in the early 1960s, when then-President John F. Kennedy adopted the Special Forces as America’s answer to the guerrilla wars that marked the first decades of the Cold War. Before a visit to Fort Bragg in 1961, Kennedy reportedly ordered then Special Warfare School commander Brig. Gen. William P. Yarborough to outfit his soldiers with the distinctive caps, arguing these unconventional warriors deserved headgear that set them apart from the rest of the Army.

In a twist of irony, just weeks before Kennedy’s visit, the Army officially adopted the green beret for Special Forces soldiers.

Kennedy was said to have asked Yarborough whether he liked the new berets, with the SF general telling him, “They’re fine, sir. We’ve wanted them for a long time.”

Later, Kennedy sent Yarborough a message thanking him for the visit to Bragg and remarking, “The challenge of this old but new form of operations is a real one, and I know that you and the members of your command will carry on for us and the free world in a manner which is both worthy and inspiring. I am sure that the Green Beret will be a mark of distinction in the trying times ahead.”

The bond between the late president and the Special Forces community are so strong that on Nov. 25, 1963, as Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, a Special Forces sergeant major placed his green beret on the grave of the fallen president. Silently, steadily 42 other Special Forces Soldiers laid their berets alongside, the Army says.

Since then, the SF lays a wreath at Kennedy’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery on the anniversary of his death.

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