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This father-son team invaded Africa and Normandy together

It’s Father’s Day, and while many fathers and sons may spend today together, their activities probably won’t involve fighting a war.


Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt. He had served, along with his brothers, with distinction in World War I. When World War II began, he rejoined the Army and was appointed the rank of colonel after taking a refresher course in military strategy. He was later promoted to brigadier general and assigned as the 1st Infantry Division Assistant Commander.

His youngest son, Capt. Quentin Roosevelt II, was also in the 1st Inf. Div., serving as an artillery officer.

North Africa Campaign

Photo: US Army Lt. Longini

The “Big Red One,” as the division was called, landed at Oran, Algeria in early November, 1942. The division fought numerous battles in the back and forth fighting in North Africa. Capt. Roosevelt and Brig. Gen. Roosevelt earned three Silver Stars during the campaign.

The first went to Capt. Roosevelt for his part in the Battle of Kasserine Pass. Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, commanding the Axis Forces, had set his sights on seizing Tunis and reversing his earlier losses. To do so, he attacked through Kasserine Pass, a two-mile gap in the mountains defended by U.S. troops. He was rebuffed on his first attempt, but armored reinforcements helped him force his way through on Feb. 20, 1943.

Photo: US Army

In the defense of the pass, Capt. Roosevelt was an artillery liaison officer attached to an infantry battalion under heavy machine gun and mortar fire. He pushed through the thick of it and established a forward observation post ahead of the battalion. From there, he directed artillery fire on enemy positions until he was shot through the back by Messerschmitt aircraft fire.

Brig. Gen. Roosevelt would earn the next two Silver Stars for the family. His first was earned on March 22 when he, like his son, manned an observation post under enemy fire. German dive bombers, fighter planes, and artillery were all firing on the observation post as part of a German assault when the brigadier general arrived. He rallied the troops and directed friendly artillery assets, stopping the Germans.

The next day, he personally led a reinforced combat team against enemy machine gun positions, moving ahead of each assault wave to show the way and earning another Silver Star, his fourth.

Awards, recovery, and relief of position

Both men received their awards during a dual ceremony in North Africa. Brig. Gen. Roosevelt went on to invade Sicily with the 1st Division while Capt. Roosevelt recovered from his wounds. Unfortunately, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt would soon be relieved of his position by then-Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley due to a perceived lack of discipline in the 1st Infantry Division (page 47-48).

Capt. Roosevelt would recover from his wounds in only a few months and return to service with the Big Red One. Brig. Gen. Roosevelt served as a liaison officer to French forces before being reassigned to the 4th Infantry Division for D-Day.

D-Day

Photo: Wiki Commons

On D-Day, both men were among the 150,000 who hit the beaches and are thought to be the only father-son pair in the invasion. Capt. Roosevelt landed at Omaha Beach while Brig. Gen. Roosevelt landed at Utah Beach.

At Omaha Beach, Capt. Roosevelt was in some of the thickest fighting of the day. Adverse weather, an ineffective naval and aerial bombardment, and tough terrain combined to make Omaha Beach the toughest nut to crack. Allied Forces took approximately 10,000 casualties at the beach.

Meanwhile at Utah Beach, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt’s efforts were considered key to victory. He landed with the first wave of troops despite the fact that his division commander had denied his initial requests twice, only acquiescing after the brigadier general submitted a written request. Maj. Gen. Barton, 4th Infantry Division Commander, would later comment, “When I bade him goodbye in England, I never expected to see him again alive.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Brig. Gen. Roosevelt had not only survived the initial landings, but he was instrumental in their success. The only general officer to land in the first wave on D-Day, he began by leading the initial waves in assaults against the German positions. As each new wave landed, he would link up with them on the beach, lead them over the seawall, and assist in the wave’s assault. By the time Barton arrived on the beach, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt had a firm grasp of the situation and the destruction of the German positions was under way.

When Gen. Bradley was leaving the military, he was asked what the bravest thing he’d ever seen was and responded with, “Theodore Roosevelt Jr. at Utah Beach.

For his actions at Utah Beach, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt was nominated for advancement to major general, the Medal of Honor, and command of the 90th Infantry Division (p. 49). Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack just hours before Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called to give him the news. His Medal of Honor was approved and given to his wife.

Capt. Roosevelt would go on to be promoted to major and would survive the war.

NOW:7 crazy facts you didn’t know about the D-Day invasion

OR: The 36 best World War II photos you’ve never seen

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7 new weapons in the war against drones

Drones are being used by corporate and foreign spies, terrorists, and even separatists groups around the world. Here are 7 technologies that are allowing police to gain an edge against drone use by the bad guys:


1. Eagles

GIF: Youtube/Guard From Above

In what is one of the most awesome drone hunting videos around, a Dutch company revealed that it has trained eagles to hunt down enemy drones. While the tactic seems to be effective, bird watchers are worried about drafting already small populations of eagles into drone warfare, a tactic that can be dangerous for the birds.

2. Anti-drone drones

GIF: Youtube/CNET

Michigan Technological University is working on “drone falconry,” using drones armed with nets to capture other drones in flight and drag them to a secure, remote site.

3. Falcon Shield

GIF: YouTube/Finmeccanica – Electronics, Defence Security Systems

Like the drone falconry above, Falcon Shield aims to remove drones from populated areas or battlefields. Sensors cover the defended airspace and alert operators to an incoming drone. The operator gets a video feed showing the drone and can decide between firing on the drone, taking control of it, or alerting authorities.

4. Radiowave rifles

Screenshot: YouTube/BattelleInnovations

The Batelle DroneDefender works by jamming the GPS and radio signals a drone needs to navigate and to received commands from its operator. The jamming device is mounted on a rifle-like weapon and creates a 30 degree cone of interference at ranges of up to 400 meters.

5. Early alert systems

Photo: US Secret Service

While DroneShield and similar systems do not directly stop a drone, they can detect and track them, allowing people to avoid the drone until law enforcement responds. DroneShield uses microphones to detect a drone’s acoustic signature, meaning it to detect even small drones like the one that got past the White House’s radar and crashed on the President’s lawn.

6. Net guns

GIF: YouTube/DroneShield

Net guns are exactly what they sound like. While they allow police departments and other agencies to engage drones without worrying about signals interference or firing lethal weapons, they’re extremely limited in terms of range and lack the ability to engage any drone flying more than a few dozen feet high.

7. Wireless detection systems

Domestic Drone Countermeasures fields a wireless system that scans for RF signals. During the initial setup, it determines what local WiFi networks and other devices operate in the area, then alerts the user in the future to new signals that could be coming from a drone or other mobile transmitter.

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These wounded Marines hunted the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now they hunt child predators online.


The fist bump was their thing in Afghanistan, where both Marines lost legs in the same attack, and the fist bump is still their thing in the hunt for child predators under a special law enforcement program to train and hire medically retired veterans.

Cpl. Justin Gaertner and Sgt. Gabriel Martinez in their dress blues bumped fists at an event earlier this year in Florida, just as they bumped fists while recovering from their wounds.

Gaertner, 26, of Tampa, Fla., has been partnered for the last two years with retired Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Nathan Cruz, 42, executing the computer forensics to track down sex traffickers in the ICE/HERO program.

Working out of the Tampa, Fla., Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, Gaertner and Cruz use their newly-acquired computer skills to determine probable cause and go on raids to seize evidence hidden in computer hard drives, software programs and cell phones, much of it involving disturbing images of young children.

Martinez has just committed to training for the same job that falls under the Department of Homeland Security’s mandate in a program that began two years ago.

He was expected to start the year-long training in the fall for the program that was initially limited to U.S. Special Operations Command veterans but now is open to medically retired vets from all the services, said Tamara Spicer, an ICE spokeswoman.

Martinez and Gaertner were both wounded while on a route clearance mission outside Marjah in Afghanistan’s southwestern Helmand province on Nov. 26, 2010.

An improvised explosive device went off and “my best friend blew up right in front of me,” Gaertner said. He was wounded when he stepped on a mine while trying to clear a medevac landing zone.

STUNNED AT THE SCOPE

In phone interviews last week, Gaertner, who served five years in the Marines, and Cruz, a 15-year Army veteran, said they were both channeling the discipline and determination they brought from the military into going after child predators and pornographers. Despite their training, both admitted they were stunned at the scope of the problem.

“I don’t think we ever realized fully what we were getting into or the nature of the suspects we were going after,” Gaertner said. “We don’t really understand them. There’s no character to the people who do these crimes.

“We’ve seen schoolteachers to daycare workers to sports photographers to diplomats – there’s really no face to these crimes,” Gaertner said. “It’s been hard and it’s been a long road but luckily Nathan and I are in the same office and we have each other to fall back on.”

Cruz also said “I didn’t know what I was going to get into” at the start. “I wasn’t working, I wasn’t doing anything,” but “I heard from some SOCOM buddies about this so I thought I’d give it a shot.”

Now, as the father of three children, “I think there’s nothing better I should be doing,” Cruz said. “Kids are being victimized over and over. They need someone to get their back. We just want to put the guys that are hurting them behind bars.”

Cruz and Gaertner were part of the first HERO Corps (Human Exploitation Rescue Operations Corps) in 2013 working with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to meet the growing backlog of sex trafficking cases.

2,300 CHILD PREDATORS

Last year, ICE seized more than 5.2 million gigabytes of data related to child exploitation and pornography and arrested more than 2,300 child predators on criminal charges.

“The HERO program, and the resulting hiring of Nathan and Justin, has paid great dividends for HSI Tampa across the board,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “We gained skilled employees with valuable experience and training.”

In October 2013, the first class of 17 HEROs graduated from the initial training as computer forensic analysts and in October 2014 a second class of 13 HEROs graduated. In August, ICE was expected to begin training another 50 candidates for the HERO Corps.

In May, Congress passed a bill to make the ICE/HERO program a permanent part of Homeland Security and its budget. The bill was quickly signed into law by President Obama as the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.

The program had been partly funded by a five-year, $10 million contribution from individuals and foundations through the non-profit National Association to Protect Children.

At a Washington ceremony last month, Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson and ICE Director Sarah Saldana swore 22 new vets into the HERO Corps designed “to allow wounded, ill or injured warriors the chance to continue serving their country on a new battlefield – the fight against child predators.”

“These heroes have all served their country with honor and distinction and, despite the traumas of war they all have endured, they have answered the call yet again,” Johnson said.

“The main thing we’re focusing on is child exploitation,” Cruz said. “I’d say maybe 80 percent of our cases are child pornography.” The average suspect might have about 1,000 images but “we’ve seen cases with more than 40,000 images. They trade them with their buddies so they can get more – that’s how it works. The more I find, the more years you’re going to get.”

RESCUING CHILDREN

Once they have zeroed in on an offender, the hardest, and most rewarding, part of the job begins – finding and rescuing those children in the images, Cruz said.

“We try to save that kid, try to see where he or she is from. That brings more satisfaction, knowing those kids are not going to be harmed anymore.”

Gaertner said that a recent case in which a suspect had 28,000 images led to the rescue of 130 children nationwide.

Cruz and Gaertner also said that part of the job was focusing on themselves and the potential effects of constantly dealing with the worst of society and the images of exploited children. “Luckily, Nathan and I are in the same office and we have each other to fall back on,” Gaertner said.

“We cannot bring work home, we were taught that during our military careers,” Cruz said. “I tell everybody that when I went to SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), the one thing they stress the most is ‘stay in the circle.’ I stay in the circle. Work stays at work, when I go home it’s Nathan the dad.”

While partnering with Gaertner, “we talk about it all the time,” Cruz said of the potential psychological effects. “He knows what I do, I know what he does. Me and Justin, we’re lucky that we’re here together.”

— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com

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This article originally appeared at Military.com Copyright 2015. Follow Military.com on Twitter.

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This POW led over 3,000 guerrillas after escaping the Bataan Death March

Staff Sgt. Ray C. Hunt was a mechanic in the Army Air Corps when the Japanese surprise attack across the Pacific on Dec. 7, 1941, dragged him into World War II.


He was soon captured, escaped the Bataan Death March that killed thousands, and then led guerrilla forces against the Japanese for the rest of the war.

Hunt is one of history’s true reluctant heroes. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1939 partially to avoid duty in the infantry if the war in Europe eventually swept up the United States. He rose to the rank of staff sergeant as a mechanic and was an expert in the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter.

In the first days of the war, Staff Sgt. Ray C. Hunt was a mechanic on Curtiss P-40 Warhawks like this one. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

When the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, Hunt’s base in the Philippines was hit just a few hours later. Because Hunt was west of the International Date Line, his base experienced the attack in the early hours of December 8.

The mechanic and other members of his unit were in the field sleeping in foxholes when the attack began, but still suffered losses as bombs and rounds from aircraft pelted their positions. For troops in the Philippines, that wasn’t the end of the attack. The Imperial Japanese followed up air attacks with amphibious landings and invasion.

America defaulted to its old War Plan Orange in the Philippines which called for a fierce defense of Bataan Peninsula. Hunt and others created a hidden airfield in the jungle and recovered their planes which flew missions against Japan. But the defense was doomed from the start by a lack of true combat troops and the decision not to reinforce the defenders.

Prisoners on the march from Bataan to the prison camp. Very few who took part in the march survived the war. (U.S. National Archives)

The Japanese launched a Death March to move captured Americans to prison camps, and many U.S. service members died in the forced march so brutal that its organizer was executed for war crimes. Luckily, Hunt and a few others were able to escape the march alive.

In the jungle, Hunt recruited a small group of fighters and began operating under Lt. Robert Lapham, another American turned Filipino guerrilla leader. As the war ground on, the resistance in the Philippines spent most of its time gathering intelligence and moving constantly, though they did launch harassing attacks when possible.

Hunt was promoted to captain by the guerrillas and given command of a large group of fighters which eventually grew to 3,400. Their finest hour came in the five days before the American invasion of Luzon when they launched a massive campaign to prepare the island for American landings in what was called “Operations Plan 12.” The guerrillas received their orders on Jan. 4, 1945.

American military leaders who fought with Filipino guerrillas against Japan. Army Maj. Robert Lapham, third from left, was Capt. Ray C. Hunt’s superior during guerrilla operations. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The American relayed the order to begin operations to the other company commanders and then took his men on an assault against a Japanese encampment. While the overzealous guerrillas launched such a slapdash attack that Hunt called it a “Marx Brothers battle,” it managed to cause extensive damage and kill some of the Japanese defenders.

The best part for the guerrillas was that when the Japanese troops found their bullet casings dated 1942 and 1943, they assumed that they had been attacked by paratroopers and so began to focus on the possibility of constant attacks, degrading their morale and readiness.

Hunt and his men spent the following days collecting intelligence and harassing the Japanese as they withdrew to defensive positions. When the invasion came on Jan. 9, they were ordered to stay in their position. This put them in the perfect place to attack Japanese forces falling back east from the main American attackers in the west.

Soldiers with the 25th Infantry Division move through Baleta Pass on Luzon Island in March 1945. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Hunt’s men would later be credited with 3,000 kills in those crucial five days preceding the invasion.

The American leadership accepted Hunt’s promotion to captain and ordered him to rejoin American forces. He went on horseback with 15 of his fighters to the headquarters and briefed other officers on the disposition of guerrilla and Japanese forces, often accidentally speaking in Filipino dialects because he was no longer used to speaking English.

Hunt voluntarily remained in the Philippines for a few more months to support the American invasion and was personally pinned with a Distinguished Service Cross by Gen. Douglas MacArthur who thanked Hunt and others for remaining in the Philippines and serving American interests for three years.

(Author’s note: A lot of the information for this article comes from Capt. Ray C. Hunt’s memoirs, “Behind Japanese Lines: An American Guerrilla in the Philippines,” a well-written and often funny account of his wartime exploits.)

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Navy rescues puppy “lost at sea and presumed dead” for 5 weeks

Warrior Scout


The U.S. Navy has rescued a small and very hungry German Shepard puppy which had been lost at sea for five weeks and presumed dead.

Luna, a friendly dog, disappeared from a fishing vessel on Feb. 10 of this year off the coast of San Diego, Calif.

“On Feb 10, 2016, personnel assigned to Naval Auxiliary Landing Field San Clemente Island received a call for help from a fishing vessel.  Nick Haworth (Luna’s owner) reported that he and the crew were bringing in traps, and one moment Luna was there and the next she was gone. They were about 2 miles off the coast and he thought she may head for shore,” said a Navy statement given to Scout Warrior.

After this incident, ships continued to search the waters nearby San Clemente Island for an entire week without finding Luna, only to determine the little puppy was “lost at sea and presumed dead.”

“We searched the island. The initial radio call was taken by a Navy helicopter in the area,” Sandy DeMunnik, spokeswoman for Naval Base Coronado, Calif., told Scout Warrior. Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78 was the unit that received the call, she added.

“They fly MH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters,” she said.

Then, on March 17, Navy officials found Luna on the coast of the island sitting next to the road.

“They were shocked,” the Navy statement said, because there are no domestic animals on the island because of the very sensitive environmental programs that take place there.

“Luna ran right up to the staff,” Navy officials said.

Luna was examined by our wildlife biologist and found to be undernourished but otherwise uninjured and in good spirits, service officials added.

She will be reunited with a family friend of her owner who is out of town for work and unable to get home in time.  When her owner returns to town, Luna will be reunited with him.

It is not clear how a young German Shepard would be able to survive for five weeks at sea with no food or shore.

“Luna swam somewhere between one and two miles. That is not smooth water out there. It is rough water,” DeMunnik said. “The fact that she survived for five weeks in that water struck a chord with military personnel on the island because they know how treacherous the waters there can be.”

Due to Luna’s resilience and spirit, the Commanding Officer of Naval Base Coronado presented Luna with a military dog tag with four lines inscribed on it saying — “Luna, keep the faith.” “Keep the Faith” is the moto of the Navy’s SERE, Search Evasion rescue escape training.

The spirit of the saying is, among other things, designed to connote that in the event someone is missing, fellow service members will never stop searching, DeMunnik added.

“We’ve all been walking around smiling for three days because she survived,” she said.

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Top Army leaders may kill ‘Death by Powerpoint’

In a move geared to reduce the bureaucratic overhead for soldiers who’re supposed to get straight to the business of fighting wars, Sec. of the Army Eric Fanning and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley announced a plan to cut down on PowerPoints and other mandatory briefings suffered by soldiers throughout the world.


Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley during a press conference at AUSA. (Photo: Ward Carroll)

Federal News Radio originally reported the top Army leaders’ comments during the 2016 Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

“We essentially made a decision that if it’s Army-directed — which, unfortunately, a lot of it is — then we’re going to leave it up to the commanders to figure out how to get their soldiers trained,” Fanning said, “rather than have them walk through the mandatory PowerPoints we create at headquarters and send out to you in the field.”

So local commanders would get the option of skipping certain training classes to focus on preparing for war. This wouldn’t necessarily result in less training for soldiers, but it would result in more targeted training. An infantry squad would be more easily found in the field than a classroom.

And anyone in the Army could testify that units spend too much time in briefing halls, theaters, and chapels doing PowerPoints. Yes, there are so many troops who need so many classes that it is routine for chapels to be used for briefings and PowerPoint presentations.

Milley shared how bad the list of required classes had grown.

“At the end of the day, the last document I saw was 12 pages of single-spaced, nine-point type listing all of the activities a company commander and a first sergeant have to do, mandated by us. It’s nuts. It’s insane,” he said.

Unfortunately for company commanders, Milley and Fanning seem to have been specifically discussing requirements from the Department of the Army and made no mention of requirements from other levels of command.

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Ailing Korean War vet gets a lesson in Semper Fi from his fellow Marines


“Marines will low crawl through a thousand miles of barbed wire and broken glass to help a brother Marine or a member of his family – even when they have never met.” – MSgt Andy Bufalo, USMC

On January 24th, Marine Corps veteran Bobby Donald Diaz suffered a major stroke. Diaz, 79, has been receiving treatment at The Woodlands Hospital in Texas for swelling of the brain. He has lost some function of his left side and some of his vision.

On Saturday, he asked his immediate family to call on his Marine family to visit him.

“He was getting depressed on his back for so long,” Diaz’ wife of 40 years, Marilyn, said. “He wanted to talk to one of his brothers, so my son-in-law put the word out.”

Within hours, Marines – many of whom Diaz had never met — came running. The former sergeant, who served for four years in the Korean War, has received a steady stream of visits and calls from Marines of all ages, from all over.

“I’ve lost count,” Marilyn said. “I’m overwhelmed; it’s unbelievable, and the stories [they share] are unreal.”

Marine vet Adam Blancas shared this about his visit with Diaz on his Facebook page:

I had the extreme honor of being able to show love and support to a Marine brother in need. Bobby Diaz had a bad stroke a few weeks back and had told his son/daughter in law he wanted to see a couple of his brothers (Marines). This was two days ago. When I saw him today the family said over 100 people have been by, not a single one knowing anything about Bobby other than his shared service with us.

About 45 minutes in Congressman Brady stopped by to visit. He couldn’t have been nicer and made sure the focus stayed on Diaz. Bobby’s reaction to being surrounded with brothers was amazing. He started talking and laughing while sharing old corps stories with anyone eager to listen, and we all were.

The oldest Marine on deck visiting was 82, I was the youngest at 26. Seeing that kind of love in action was an experience I’ll never forget.

“It just goes to show you that in the Marine Corps: once a brother, always a brother, no matter what,” Diaz told a KHON reporter. “When you feel bad, you can’t feel bad because all your brothers are here.”

In true joint military fashion, the Marine visitors discovered there was an Air Force veteran two rooms down from Diaz, and many of them visited him as well.

Watch video coverage of Marines visiting Diaz here.

Contribute to the gofundme campaign set up to assist with Diaz’ medical care costs here.

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OMG! This Admiral wrote like a texting teen

Okay, maybe not entirely. But the first written use of the acronym “OMG” — meaning Oh My God, for those not hip with the kids’ lingo — came from an admiral in the Royal Navy.


In 1917, Lord John Fisher, who resigned his commission in 1915 over Churchill’s Gallipoli Campaign during the First World War, wrote to Churchill who was then Minister of Munitions about his concerns regarding the Navy’s ability to conduct a major campaign to keep the Germans from flanking the Russians via the Baltic Sea.

Hat Tip, Time Magazine

Also, a tapis was a kind of tablecloth, and the phrase on the tapis meant the idea was under consideration. As for Shower it on the Admiralty, I think we can all figure out what that means.

When you think about it, it makes sense an acronym would come from the military, because no one produces TLAs like the armed forces.

NOW: 5 Craziest ideas the British had for battling German subs

OR: 13 tips for dating on a U.S. Navy ship

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Trump promises to fix a VA in ‘very sad shape’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the American Legion National Convention, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Cincinnati. | American Legion photo


Donald Trump became the second presidential nominee in two days to quote Ronald Reagan, promising “peace through strength” if he were to win the presidency.

The Republican presidential nominee addressed a crowd of thousands of veterans at the American Legion National Convention here on Thursday, speaking a day after Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Also read: Clinton invokes role advising Bin Laden raid in speech to veterans

He told the crowd he planned to negotiate a system for the Veterans Affairs Department that would allow veterans to receive health care in a VA facility or at a private doctor of their choice.

Trump also reiterated his plan to aggressively promote “Americanism,” saying he would make sure American students recited the pledge of allegiance.

Clinton invoked Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” in her Wednesday address, promising to defend American exceptionalism. Trump continued the theme, saying he would enlist the American Legion’s help in promoting American values.

“We will stop apologizing for America and we will start celebrating America,” he said. “We will be united by our common culture, values and principles, becoming one American nation. One country under one constitution, saluting one American flag.”

Trump’s speech, which at 15 minutes was about half as long as Clinton’s, limited discussion of veterans’ policy to his plan to reform the VA.

While VA Secretary Robert McDonald told the American Legion on Wednesday that the department hoped to turn a corner in organizational reform this year, Trump said it was in “very sad shape,” adding that he had spoken with a number of veterans who had received unsatisfactory care.

Trump said he plans to carry out his VA overhaul by appointing a new secretary and firing anyone who failed to meet standards.

“I’m going to use every lawful authority to remove anyone who fails our veterans and breaches the public trust,” he said.

Trump also said he would make sure female veterans got the best possible access to medical care.

“We’re going to get you fantastic service. It’s going to happen, believe me,” he said. “Never again will we allow any veteran to suffer or die waiting for care.”

The Republican candidate, who on the previous day delivered a speech in Mexico promising to crack down on illegal immigration, drew applause when he reiterated promises to defend American borders.

In what appeared to be a pivot from 2015 comments in which he made disparaging many Mexican immigrants as drug smugglers and criminals, Trump praised Mexican Americans for their service in the U.S. military.

“I just came back from a wonderful meeting with the president of Mexico where I expressed my deep respect for the people of his country and for the tremendous contribution of Mexican Americans in our country,” he said. “Many are in our armed services. You know how good they are. I want to thank him for his gracious hospitality and express my belief that we can work together and accomplish great things for both our countries.”

Trump also received applause when he promised to stop Syrian refugees, many of whom he has characterized as terrorists and extremists, from entering the United States, citing plans to build a safe zone overseas to house them.

“Our country has enough problems,” he said.

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The officer in charge of a major Marine wargame says failure means success

The officer who’s running a massive Marine Corps and Navy war game in April that’ll test around 50 new technologies for storming beaches actually wants things to go wrong.


Navy Capt. Chris Mercer, a top tester for the service’s future concepts and technologies office, went so far as to say during a March 23 meeting with reporters: “If we don’t fail, I haven’t done my job.”

 

A MV-22 Osprey. The tilt-rotor’s game-changing technology took a lot of RD to get right. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brandon Maldonado)

Now, before you start measuring Mercer for a new white coat with a very snug fit, think about this. With the upcoming Ship To Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2017 in April, the Marines are looking to change how they carry out forced-entry operations. Forget what you saw in “The Pacific” – the renowned HBO series actually presents an outdated view on such operations. It’s not going to be sending hundreds of Higgins boats to storm a beach under heavy fire. Instead, the Marines, rather than storming a surveyed beach, will be looking for what Doug King of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory called a “gap in the mangroves.”

Amtracs severely damaged on the shores of Iwo Jima. (Robert M. Warren, United States Navy)

But how will they find that gap? The answer lies in new technology – and this is what ANTX 2017 is intended to evaluate. With over 50 dynamic demonstrations planned for the 11-day exercise and another 50 static displays, ANTX 2017’s purpose is to find out what the state of today’s technology is – and to turn “unknown unknowns” into” known unknowns” or “known knowns” — to borrow from the logic former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made popular.

“In these early stages of prototype demonstrations and experimentation, the intent is to push the envelope and take on higher risk technologies,” Mercer told We Are The Mighty. “We expect to find systems that perform well technically, but score low in the operational assessment and vice versa.”

“If everything is performing well and going exactly as planned, then we were probably not aggressive enough in our efforts to advance.”

So, that’s why Mercer is hoping to see failures during ANTX 2017 — if you don’t fail, you don’t learn.

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This was how the military reacted after terrorists attacked on Sept. 11

On the day that 19 terrorists from the radical Islamic group al-Qaeda attacked the United States using airliners as cruise missiles, the U.S. military jumped to respond.


And it was a response that began even before the Pentagon was hit.

Some stories of 9/11 are well-known, including then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld racing to the scene of devastation at the Pentagon to aid victims of the attack, or the pilots plan to ram Flight 93 foiled hadn’t by passengers on the plane.

But there were other heroic deeds during the attack.

When Flight 93 hit the Pentagon, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ran to the scene to assist victims rather than remain in relative safety. (PentagonMemorial.org)

According to the 9/11 Commission report, when word reached North American Aerospace Command, also known as NORAD, of the first hijacking, two F-15 Eagles from the Massachusetts Air National Guard were scrambled to try to intercept the planes. They took off just as Flight 11 hit the North Tower – WTC 1 – at 8:53 AM on that Tuesday morning.

NORAD had last dealt with a hijacking in 1993. One thing that worked against NORAD during that terrible day was the fact that that there were very few sites from which interceptors could launch.

During the Cold War, the 9/11 Commission Report noted, there had been 26 sites.

NORAD Command Center. (Wikimedia Commons)

Other military jets — F-15s from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton Virginia, and F-16s from the District of Colombia Air National Guard based at Andrews Air Force Base — had also scrambled. Pilots from the latter unit were armed only with dummy rounds for their M61 Vulcan 20mm cannon.

The F-15 pilots, according to the commission report, didn’t even know they were looking for hijacked airliners. The lead pilot would later be quoted in the report as saying, “I reverted to the Russian threat. …I’m thinking cruise missile threat from the sea.”

Maj. Gen. Marc Sasseville, who was the lead F-16 pilot, and prepared to ram a hijacked airliner. (USAF photo)

It as a credit to NORAD, that even though they were unable to keep the airliners from hitting targets, military personnel were able to face an unprecedented threat and challenge with an improvised air-defense system cobbled together in a matter of hours, despite having never trained to face that threat.

On the first day of what one unidentified officer called “a new type of war,” they reacted with skill and professionalism.

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Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas

It’s possible the next big innovation in Marine Corps classroom or tactical training could come from an airman or a soldier.


Marine Corps Training and Education Command is in the final days of soliciting ideas for an innovation challenge focused on how to improve small-unit training, from policy to curriculum and classroom instruction to the use of tools like simulation and gaming. Any federal employee is eligible to submit ideas, including uniformed members of all service branches, including the Marine Corps, to defense department civilians.

“Sometimes it’s hard for this organization to look inside itself for new ideas,” Maj. Gen. James Lukeman, commanding general of TECOM, told Military.com in an interview. “So one of those ways that you get good ideas is, you go outside the organization.”

Related: Marines to test 50 futuristic technologies in massive April wargame

To date, TECOM spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena said, about 150 submissions have been collected; those eligible to submit ideas have until March 31 to send them in via a dedicated site accessed through DoD credentials. Submissions for the innovation challenge will be reviewed in April, and winners will be notified in May, officials said.

Last year, the Marine Corps has conducted a Corps-wide innovation challenge on autonomous systems and robotics, and another challenge specific to the logistics community.

“The specific focus was on how to create better decision makers,” Lukeman said. “The idea is that the ability to make good decisions quickly with limited information is critical for success on the battlefield, so how do we change our training and education that creates better decision makers for the Marine Corps.”

The Marine Corps is not promising a financial reward for winners of the challenge, or even a guarantee that their ideas will be implemented. But the authors of the best ideas will get a free trip to TECOM at Quantico, Virginia, where their proposals will be workshopped with subject matter experts.

“We just had a discussion the other day about the commandant’s reading list, on books that are out there for Marines to read, and they’ve been out there for a while,” said Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, the senior enlisted adviser for TECOM. “Somebody said, ‘well, they have audiobooks that are out there to do that. I could learn by using an audiobook.’ There are different things that are just provoking thought.”

Also read: Pentagon says rules of engagement haven’t changed after Mosul strike

Even as ideas still roll in, changes are taking place at Quantico that affect Marine Corps training. In a January message to the force, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller called for the Marine Corps to develop a new plan for Marine Corps-wide use of simulation and virtual training environments no later than this June. He also ordered that a plan be developed to build a world-class simulation and gaming center at Quantico to enhance realistic training and better prepare Marines to fight.

With retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, who once told fellow officers that “Powerpoint makes us stupid,” now at the helm of the defense department, Lukeman said TECOM was also working to minimize slide-lecture briefings and presentations.

“This is what we’re trying to get away from, is sit in a classroom and get taught,” he said. “The other thing that we’ve shifted to is, where possible, we want for Marines to get taught by other Marines … We’re going with the method of having a unit leader discussion over having a class.”

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The Yanks are sending their tanks back to Europe

The United States Army is shipping M1 Abrams main battle tanks back to Europe, part of an effort to reassure NATO allies in the wake of Russian actions in Crimea and the Ukraine.


According to reports by CBSNews.com and the BBC, the first vehicles arrived in Germany on Jan. 6, and they will be deployed to Poland and other Eastern European countries that formerly were Russian allies. These vehicles will be used by Armored Brigade Combat Teams that will rotate into Europe from the United States.

Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, participate in a live-fire tank shoot firing the first ever rounds fired by a U.S. M1A2 tanks in Bulgaria at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, June 24, 2015. (US Army photo)

The first rotation is slated to begin sometime in 2017.

The Army once had all or parts of six divisions in Europe with NATO alongside two Armored Cavalry Regiments, grouped into the V and VII Corps in 1989, according to a NATO order of battle.

After budget cuts, that force had dropped to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker Brigade Combat Team, according to a 2015 Army Times report. That unit will be equipped with the M1296 Dragoon, a Stryker equipped with a 30mm Bushmaster II chain gun.

The Abrams tanks sent to Germany are the M1A2 version. According to GlobalSecurity.org, these tanks have a 120mm main gun and 40 rounds of ammunition for that, a M2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun, and two 7.62mm medium machine guns. The tanks have a crew of four and a top speed of 42 miles per hour.