How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day - We Are The Mighty
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How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day

As part of Operation Tonga, the British airborne component of Operation Neptune (the official name of the D-Day), the 9th Parachute Battalion was tasked with capturing the Merville Gun Battery, whose guns were trained on Sword Beach and the British troops who would be assaulting it on the morning of the invasion.


How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Airborne troops admire the graffiti chalked on the side of their glider as they prepare to fly out as part of the second drop on Normandy on the night of 6th June 1944. Airborne troops of 6th Airlanding Brigade admire the graffiti chalked on the side of their Horsa glider at an RAF airfield as they prepare to fly out to Normandy as part of 6th Airborne Division’s second lift on the evening of 6 June 1944. Image by War Office official photographer, Malindine E G (Capt).

The gun battery’s defenses were formidable. It had four reinforced concrete casemates housing four guns with a garrison of over 150 men and numerous machine gun emplacements. The battery also had an anti-tank ditch on two sides and two sets of barbed wire fences, with a minefield in between, surrounding the perimeter.

The paratroopers drilled relentlessly for their mission over the preceding months. The plan called for the 9th to land on drop zone ‘V’ along with gliders bringing in heavier equipment for the mission. Once the battalion was formed, they would assault the battery from the rear while three Horsa gliders would land directly on top of the battery bringing in paras and sappers armed with flamethrowers and explosives to clear the casemates and destroy the guns. Should the assault fail, the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Arethusa was scheduled to fire on the battery in hopes of destroying it at 5:50 am, ten minutes before the start of the landings.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Overhead aerial of the gun battery at Merville (3km east of Ouistreham) consisting of four medium casemates, after air bombardment, May 1944. Bombing failed to penetrate the casemates. Photo by the Imperial War Museums.

Unfortunately, as was the case with most airborne units on D-Day, nearly nothing went as planned. Intense anti-aircraft fire, broken Eureka beacons, dust, darkness, and confusion all consorted to scatter the drop of the 9th Parachute Battalion across the French countryside. The Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Terence Otway, landed nearly on top of a German headquarters. He was able to escape only when he threw a brick through the window and the confused Germans hit the ground thinking it was a grenade.

Lt. Col. Otway made his way to the assembly point to find he was nearly alone. The news only got worse from there. The five gliders carrying jeeps, anti-tank guns, and other heavy equipment never arrived. Of the men who did arrive, the heaviest weapon they had was a single Vickers machine gun. Explosives consisted of twenty Bangalore torpedoes and some Gammon bombs. There were no mortars, no anti-tank guns, no sappers, and only the orderlies from the medical team. By this time, the battalion assembled about 150 men. As one para would later put it: “Company C was about three men, which struck me as a rather limited force.” As the time to launch the attack approached, Otway decided he would have to proceed anyway, the men hitting the beach were counting on them.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
The 9th Parachute Battalion on the march. Photo by the Imperial War Museums.

When Otway and his men reached the objective, they got their first bit of good news, the advanced party scouted the objective and took it upon themselves to begin clearing and marking paths through the barbed wire and minefields, leaving only the inner wire to breach. With such a depleted force, Otway needed a new plan for the assault. With no heavy weapons, his new plan relied on the element of surprise and violence of action.

The British waited for the three gliders that were supposed to land inside the perimeter to make their attack. To their dismay, only one glider came overhead and it missed its mark. The men of the glider disembarked, intent to join their comrades for the attack on the battery but quickly ran into a German patrol and were unable to break contact. With his last hope for reinforcements dashed, Otway ordered the attack.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Photo by the Imperial War Museums.

The Bangalores exploded and several men rushed forward to body breach the remaining wire. The rest of the men, led by Otway, charged through the breach firing from the hip and throwing grenades as they went.

Almost immediately, a murderous crossfire began from the German machine gun emplacements and cut down numerous paratroopers. The British responded with their sole machine gun. Fortunately, it was manned by one Sgt. McKeever, known for his prowess on the MG. He quickly took out three enemy guns while another three were silenced by a diversionary party assaulting the front gate. The rest of the men split into four groups and attacked the casemates.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Even after they penetrated the defenses, the casemates themselves were no joke. Photo by Richard Matthews, Flikr.

One hardcore para, a Pvt. Tony Mead who suffered a puncture wound to the stomach when he landed in a tree, was holding his guts in with one hand while dispatching Germans with his Sten Gun in the other. Other paras threw grenades through the openings and began clearing the casemates and tunnels of the battery.

After an intense twenty-minute hand-to-hand battle, the battery was secured. The British paras took over twenty Germans prisoner, killed more than twenty more and drove off the rest. They paid dearly for their victory, however. By the time the battery was seized, only 75 of the original 150 men were still in fighting shape. Fifty men died capturing the battery while almost thirty more were wounded.

Having no sappers or proper explosives, the paratroopers improvised what they could to disable the guns. The signals officer then sent a carrier pigeon back to England with a message that the battery had been captured. He followed that up with a flare to signal the HMS Arethusa to avoid bombarding the now-friendly position.

With the battery secure, Otway rallied his remaining men and moved on to other objectives, picking up stragglers along the way. The 9th Parachute Battalion would continue fighting in Normandy and then into Northern France before being withdrawn back to England in September 1944.

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The Marines are ditching their desert cammies for everyday wear

The Marine Corps will now require most of its troops to wear a single camouflage uniform during both summer and winter months, changing a post-9/11-era rule that allowed Marines the option to don either a desert pattern uniform or a woodland one.


How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller addresses Marines wearing the woodland MARPAT cammie uniform. (Photo from U.S. Marine Corps)

In a Corpswide administrative message issued Dec. 8, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller ordered most Marines at bases and stations in the U.S. and overseas to wear the green, brown and black woodland pattern camouflage uniform in all seasons.

Neller said in All Marine Corps Message 038/16 that Marines must wear their uniforms with the sleeves rolled down in the winter — marked by the end of daylight savings time — and rolled up in the warmer months when the clocks change again.

“This ALMAR prescribes the seasonal uniform change and applies to all Marines and Navy personnel serving with Marine Corps units,” Neller said. “The seasonal uniform transitions will occur semi-annually on the weekend in the Fall and Spring concurrent with change to and from Daylight Saving Time.”

The order does allow for commands to adapt to weather and missions that would make the desert cammies more appropriate for Marines to wear, including for Leathernecks in boot camp, in officer training or readying for deployment.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Recruits of Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, salute the nation’s colors during an emblem ceremony Oct. 25, 2014, on Parris Island, S.C. (Photo by Cpl. Caitlin Brink)

“MARFOR Commanders, due to the breadth of their area of responsibility, are authorized to set policy/guidance that may vary throughout their region, to include the adjustment of dates of transition and the respective [Marine combat uniform] for wear,” Neller said.

The new policy reverses a trend that began after Operation Iraqi Freedom and was officially adopted in 2008 to switch between the tan desert MARPAT uniform in the summer and the woodland green MARPAT in the winter months. Many Marines saw wearing the desert uniform on bases on installations in the U.S. and overseas as a tribute to their deployed brethren in Iraq and Afghanistan.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day

The order also says Marines will wear the Service “B” uniform with long-sleeve shirt in the cooler months, with Service “C” short-sleeve uniform in the warmer months.

The order was to take effect for all Marine commands Dec. 8.

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Navy bans e-cigarettes on all ships and subs

The US Navy is banning vaping aboard ships, submarines, aircraft, boats, craft and heavy equipment.


The Navy announced April 14 that it is suspending the use, possession, storage and charging of so-called “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems” aboard navy craft following continued reports of explosions of ENDS due to the overheating of lithium-ion batteries.

The prohibition applies to sailors, Marines, Military Sealift Command civilians and any personnel working on or visiting those units.

The Navy said it implemented this policy to protect the safety and welfare of sailors and to protect the ships, submarines, aircraft and equipment. Multiple sailors have suffered serious injuries from these devices, to include first- and second-degree burns and facial disfigurement. In these cases, injuries resulted from battery explosions during ENDS use, charging, replacement or inadvertent contact with a metal object while transporting.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
(Photo via Department of Defense)

The prohibition will be effective 30 days from the release of the policy May 14, and will remain in effect until a final determination can be made following a thorough analysis.

Deployed units may request extensions on device removal until their next port visit. Supervisors should ensure that removable lithium-ion batteries are removed from the units and stored according to the ENDS manufacturer instructions, in plastic wrap, in a plastic bag or any other non-conductive storage container.

Sailors on shore will still be allowed to use ENDS on base, but must do so in designated smoking areas ashore while on military installations.

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This is what happens when a SEAL helps you with your lady problems

After a full season of plunging into the high-octane, post-service worlds of veterans like Russell Davies, Mike Glover and Jacqueline Carrizosa, Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis was feeling understandably uneasy about the state of his own manhood.


After all, over the span of 9 episodes, he’d been out-driven, out-paddled, out-shot, out-jumped, and, well, knocked out — not to mention the emotional pasting he took in Navy SEAL-turned actor David Meadow’s acting class.

Each of these vets has taken some slim notion of a civilian future, paired it with the skills and discipline he or she learned in the military, and then proceeded to kick ass with nary a backward glance.

Curtis, however, found himself in need of some help.

Luckily for him, he had a team of “Oscar Mike” vets ready and willing to support their brother, starting with Meadows. Of course, it didn’t go smoothly.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Self-reliance is important but sometimes you gotta squad up. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

In the season one finale, Curtis learns the most important lesson of all: Lean on your mates. Be there for them to lean on you. Do that, and we’ll all be “oscar mike” together.

Watch him limp toward enlightenment in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

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This is what happens when a Navy SEAL becomes an actor

This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

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This is how the Marines are hiding their command posts from drones

You can run, but you can’t hide – especially the age of satellites, hand-held GPS devices, Google Earth and inexpensive, camera-bearing drones.


So with easy surveillance tools in the hands of a technologically unsophisticated enemy, how does a unit hide its command post?

During the recent Large Scale Exercise 2016, I Marine Expeditionary Force experimented with a new tent setup for its command post, or CP, that included big swaths of tan-and-drab camouflage netting draped over hard structures and tents.

The idea, of course, was to disguise – if not hide – the presence and footprint of the command post that I MEF Headquarters Group set up for the exercise, a de facto MEF-level command wargaming drill that ran Aug. 14 to 22. During a similar exercise in February 2015, its top commander acknowledged the large footprint occupied by his field command post, then set up in a field at Camp Pendleton, California, but without any camo netting.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Multiple tents connect to create a Combat Operations Center during a 2nd Marine Division Command Post Exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 29, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kirstin Merrimarahajara/Released)

It was, frankly, large and obvious that the tents and structures were something important to the battle effort. And that makes it a big target, whether seen on the ground from line of sight or from the air from drones, aircraft or satellite imagery, officials say.

This year, intent on better concealment, headquarters group Marines looked at ways to hide the lines and structures of the CP. They came up with a new camo netting design and refined it with some bird’s-eye scrutiny.

The Leathernecks went “back to basics,” one officer said.

“We flew a drone over it. Now, it’s a little bit more ambiguous,” Col. Matthew Jones, the I MEF chief of staff, said last week as the command worked through the exercise’s final day from its CP set up in a dusty field. “It’s just camouflaged, it’s a lot better concealed.”

MEF officials declined to reveal the secret sauce of the new CPX camo set they used. “This is the state of the art right now,” said Jones.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
U.S. Marines with Combat Logistics Detachment 391, 3d Transportation Support Battalion, set up a command operation center on Camp Mujuk, South Korea, in support of exercise Ssang Yong, Feb. 29, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Sgt. Joseph Sanchez/Released)

Still, he acknowledged camouflage netting has some limitations, saying, “I won’t say it won’t look like a hard military installation.”

“The fact is, it’s clearly visible from space,” he added. “You can’t mistake it. Even if it’s camouflaged. … It’s big enough to be worth shooting at.”

In fact, camouflage and concealment are as basic to warfighting – whether on the offensive or defense – as weaponry.

It’s all about deception – hiding your capabilities and your location, which taken together might help spell out your intentions, unintentional as that may be. Deception like camouflage can mask your true force strength, combat power and, more so these days, technological capabilities. But a collection of tents and structures, and the presence of radio antennas, satellite dishes, power generators and containers, can spell out the obvious presence of an important headquarters.

“If you can be seen, you will be attacked,” Gen. Robert Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, told a Center for Strategic and International Studies audience on Aug. 6.

Neller relayed I MEF’s experience with camouflaging the field CP, which despite netting efforts still had the vulnerability of detection from light shining off concertina wire that encircled the facilities. He wants Marines to get back to the basics of fieldcraft, like “digging a hole, preparing a defensive position, and camouflaging that, living in the field, and not going back to a [forward operating base] overnight to check your email.”

That will be more relevant, top leaders have noted, as more Marines deploy and operate in the dispersed, distributed battlefield of the near future.

And it’s not just the physical look that I MEF and the Marine Corps wants to change. Trendy gadgets and new technologies make it easier to detect and interfere with electronic signals. Such electronic surveillance poses real threats to military command networks and command and control.

“We are working really hard on our electronic signatures … that would make it easier for the enemy to detect you,” Jones said. It’s especially critical if U.S. forces get into a fight against a peer or near-peer adversary with similar surveillance capabilities, so “maybe we need to be thinking of other ways.”

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Pentagon report clears coalition of wrongdoing in strike that killed Syrian soldiers

No misconduct was involved in the decision by personnel in the American-lead Combined Air Operations Center to carry out an air strike that killed a number of Syrian-government aligned forces on Sept. 17.


That is the central finding of an investigation by Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Coe.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve April 5, 2016. The President has authorized U.S. Central Command to work with partner nations to conduct targeted airstrikes of Iraq and Syria as part of the comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Corey Hook/Released)

“In my opinion, these were a number of people all doing their best to do a good job,” Coe said of the personnel on duty when the incident happened, according to an official report released Nov. 29.

The strike took place near Dayr Az Zawr. A release from Combined Joint Task Force Inherent Resolve for that day noted the incident, stating that one strike “believed to have engaged an ISIL fighting position, may have mistakenly struck a Syrian military unit and destroyed Syrian military vehicles.”

While “friendly fire” is nothing new — in the War on Terror, coalition forces had over three dozen such incidents — the question is always the same: How did such a mistake happen?

Well, that’s been asked over the years after other incidents, like when Stonewall Jackson was shot by Confederate soldiers on a picket line, or when Allied ships off Sicily opened fire on C-47 transports carrying elements of the 82nd Airborne Division in 1943, downing 23 transports.

The report reveals a few of the causes. First, the Syrian forces were not exactly in uniform when they were first detected by an unmanned aerial vehicle. Yet they were packing a lot of firepower, and were near tunnels and other fighting positions.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Aircrews perform a preflight check on an MQ-9 Reaper before it takes of for a mission. (Photo from DoD)

This lead planners to believe they’d spotted an ISIS unit out in the open. It was a classic case of mistaken identity, compounded by a misunderstanding (the United States personnel used the wrong reference point when informing the Syrian allied Russians of the strike).

And it was made worse by some good old-fashioned Russian paranoia.

According to the report, when the Russians called on a de-confliction hotline, they waited 27 minutes for their normal point of contact to arrive before passing on the news that Syrian forces were being hit. During that time, 15 of the 37 attack sorties were carried out.

Coe’s report not only recommended that in the future both sides not only pass critical information immediately, but also that the entire Flight Safety Memorandum of Understanding that helps keep Syrian and Russian targets from being struck by coalition air power be reviewed and updated.

Top CENTCOM commander Lt. Gen. Jeff Harrigian has ordered Coe’s recommendations be implemented, saying, “In this instance, we did not rise to the high standard we hold ourselves to, and we must do better than this each and every time.”

While the changes recommended will hopefully lessen the chance of friendly fire incidents in the future, friendly fire will still always be a risk on a complex battlefield.

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Nazi war criminals are still being prosecuted

Early in June 2016, a German court found former SS sergeant Reinhold Hanning guilty of 170,000 counts of accessory to murder. He was sentenced to five years in prison for his time as a guard at Auschwitz, the notorious death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.


“It is my dream to be in Germany, in a German court, with German judges acknowledging the Holocaust,” Hedy Bohm, an 88-year-old Auschwitz survivor, told the Associated Press. “I am grateful and pleased by this justice after 70 years.”

Bohm wasn’t the only death camp survivor present. There were three others and a total of twelve testified throughout Hanning’s trial. One 95-year-old survivor demanded Hanning tell more young people about what happened at Auschwitz, which Hanning did not do.

Hanning joined the Hitler Youth in 1935 and then volunteered for the Waffen SS at age 18. After suffering a grenade injury fighting the Red Army in Kiev, he was sent to Auschwitz.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Hanning during WWII

Former SS sergeant Oskar Groening was convicted of 300,000 counts of accessory to murder while serving at Auschwitz. His job was particularly notorious: he was in charge of confiscating the personal property or arriving prisoners and quantifying it. Like Hanning, he may not have killed anyone, but he saw the mass killings and did nothing. Unlike Hanning, Groening has taken great pains to dispel any implications that the Holocaust did not happen, making public statements. It was his activism against Holocaust denial that led to his arrest and prosecution. Groening was 93 at the time of his 2015 trial.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day

In 2009, 88-year-old former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk was extradited to Germany to stand trial for 27,900 counts of the same crime, for being a prison guard at the Sobibor Death Camp. Sentenced to five years, Demjanjuk died before his appeal could be heard. That wasn’t the extent of it. Demjanjuk is thought to be “Ivan the Terrible,” a former Red Army soldier and POW who worked at the Treblinka extermination camp. He was sentenced to death in Jerusalem in 1988 but that was overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court for a lack of positive identification.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
John Demjanjuk learning about his death sentence in Jerusalem.

In 1995, Canada pushed for the deportation of Helmut Oberlander, a 92-year-old former translator for a Nazi death squad. In 2014, 89-year-old Johann Breyer was arrested in Philadelphia, charged with being a member of the SS’ “Death’s Head” Battalion, who were tasked with gassing prisoners at Auschwitz. 94-year-old Michael Karkoc was arrested in Minneapolis for his time as an officer in the SS Galician Division, which allegedly massacred Poles and Ukrainians in 1944.

Germany has a special prosecutor’s office for Nazi war crimes. There are still many more cases the office wants to go to trial. The LA-based Wiesenthal Center, founded by Mauthausen Concentration Camp survivor and famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, is dedicated to the arrest and conviction of the following fugitive Nazi war criminals, where they are thought to be and where they committed their crimes (in parentheses):

1. Helma Kissner – Germany (Poland) – served as a radio operator in the Auschwitz death camp from April to July 1944 – charged with accessory to murder in 260,000 cases.

2. Reinhold Hanning – Germany (Poland) – served in the Auschwitz death camp from January 1943 until June 1944 – charged with accessory to murder in 170,000 cases.

3. Helmut Oberlander – Canada (Ukraine) – served in Einsatzkommando 10A (part of Einstazgruppe D, which murdered an estimated 23,000 mostly Jewish civilians.

4. Hubert Zafke – Germany (Poland) – served as a medic in the Auschwitz death camp during the years 1943 and 1944 – charged with accessory to murder in 3,681 cases.

5. Alfred Stark – Germany (Greece) – participated in the September 1943 mass murder of 120 Italian officers on the Greek island of Kefalonia.

6. Helmut Rasbol – Denmark (Belarus) – during the years 1942-1943 served as a guard in the Judenlager established by the Nazis in Bobruisk, Belarus, during which almost all the Jewish inmates of the camp were executed or died of the horrible physical conditions.

7. Aksel Andersen – Sweden (Belarus) – during the years 1942-1943 served as a guard in the Judenlager established by the Nazis in Bobruisk, Belarus, during which almost all the Jewish inmates of the camp were executed or died of the horrible physical conditions.

8. Johann Robert Riss – Germany (Italy) – participated in the murder of 184 civilians in Padule di Fucecchio, Italy on August 23, 1944.

9. Algimantas Dailide – Germany (Lithuania) – served in the Saugumas (Lithuanian Security Police) in Vilnius – arrested Jews and Poles who were subsequently executed by the Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators.

10. Jakob Palij – USA (Poland) – served as a guard in the Trawniki concentration camp.

The Wiesenthal Center publishes a list of its most wanted Nazis every year, proof that obeying illegal orders will come back to haunt even junior NCOs.

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 28 edition)

Here are the things you need to know about right now to be the “smart one” in your unit:


Now: Here’s what would happen if every US state declared war on each other

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China may be training to overtake Japan-administered islands

Concern is rising in Japan that the Chinese military may be training for a future mission in the disputed Senkaku Islands, where Beijing has been dispatching coast guard ships at increasing frequency in recent years.

Quoting the Pentagon’s 2017 survey of the Chinese military, Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun reported June 8 the People’s Liberation Army could be training for a raid of outlying areas, including the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, also claimed by China and Taiwan.


In a section on China’s amphibious capabilities, the report from the U.S. Department of Defense states the “PLA Army focuses its amphibious efforts on a Taiwan invasion while the PLA Navy Marine Corps focuses on small island seizures in the South China Sea, with a potential emerging mission in the Senkakus.”

The Japanese military also may be concerned that, according to the report, China’s PLA Navy Marine Corps brigades conducted “battalion-level amphibious training at their respective training areas in Guangdong,” or the Southern Theater.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG 178), foreground, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) transit the Philippine Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers)

“The training focused on swimming amphibious armored vehicles from sea to shore, small boat assault and deployment of special forces by helicopter,” the report states.

In May, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported China’s Navy Marine Corps is in the process of building a 100,000-strong military unit.

The Pentagon report states China has used “coercive tactics, such as the use of law enforcement vessels and its maritime militia, to enforce maritime claims.”

Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty applies to the Senkakus, and the United States is obligated to defend the islands if they come under attack.

In May, four Chinese coast guard ships entered Japanese territorial waters near Okinawa and the Senkaku Islands and in 2016, more than 100 Chinese ships trespassed into Japan’s territorial waters, the second-largest annual number of Chinese ships entering disputed areas since Japan announced the nationalization of the Senkakus in September 2012.

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The Navy is paying big bucks for SEAL commanders to stay

The United States Navy is about to offer experience SEAL officers up to $25,000 a year on top of their pay and allowances to stay in the Navy for up to five years.


According to an All Navy administrative message released last month, the service is offering this Naval Special Warfare Officer Retention Bonus to any active duty officer with at least 15 years of active-duty commissioned service, and who has screened positive for an XO tour will get as much as $25,000 a year if they sign an agreement to stay in the Navy for five years.

For signing a three-year agreement, officers will get up to $15,000 per year. Active-duty officers who successfully screen for a CO tour will get $25,000 a year for three years. Reserve officers who screen successfully for an XO tour will get $20,000 a year for signing a five-year contract and $10,000 a year for a three-year deal.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
A Navy special warfare specialist (SEAL) assigned to Seal Team 17, a unit comprised of both active and reserve component members based in Coronado, Calif., climbs into the turret gunner position during a mobility training exercise through a simulated city. Seal Team 17 is conducting a pre-deployment work-up cycle. Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. Special Operations Forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air, and land. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eddie Harrison)

The reason for this was outlined by Lt. Cdr. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the Chief of Naval Personnel, who told WATM, “Top talent is tough to draw in and even tougher to keep.  We are seeing some fraying around the edges in terms of SEAL Officer retention, as our control grade officers (O4/O5) in the Navy SEAL community are currently undermanned.”

“This program seeks to retain more Naval Special Warfare Officers with vital military skills that cannot be easily or quickly replaced,” Christensen added. “These officers are highly trained leaders and their unique skill sets are in high demand within military and civilian sectors. We believe this helps reduces this potential loss of that talent and experience.”

Ward Carroll, the President of Military One Click and a former Naval Flight Officer who served as a radar intercept officer on F-14 Tomcats, noted that this is not an unusual approach, saying, “Bonuses like this have been around for years.” Carroll added that similar bonuses were paid out to Naval Aviators and NFOs back in the late 1980s.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day

Echoing this when asked for comment was Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who now serves as a Senior Fellow for National Defense at the Family Research Council, who noted, “Our special operations people are great patriots and the best of our fighters but they are also human.”

“Those I know suffer from deployment fatigue and especially the baggage like broken families,” Maginnis said. “This comes to a head at the 10 to 12-year point.”

“I’d argue a Special Operations CD-R or XO is perhaps one of the most valuable personnel in the entire armed forces,” he added. “They are skilled, experienced and have the respect of likeminded warriors.”

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Seen through the greenish glow of night vision goggles, Navy SEALs prepare to breach a locked door in Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Columbia Pictures’ hyper-realistic new action thriller from director Kathryn Bigelow, ZERO DARK THIRTY.

Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness blamed the White House for the shortage, saying that Navy Sec. Ray Mabus focused too much on social change within the service rather than helping sailors who are fighting worldwide every day.

“I would add, however, that the Navy has not improved the situation by relentlessly pursuing social agendas that will make SEAL life more difficult and dangerous,” she said, adding the Navy ignored surveys expressing opposition to women serving in special operations assignments and empirical data that she felt warranted a request for an exemption.

“$25,000 retention bonuses may help to retain SEAL warriors, but breakdowns in vertical cohesion, meaning trust between commanders and the troops they lead, may be even more costly,” Donnelly concluded.

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Army begins testing on new light tactical vehicles

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — The first seven joint light tactical vehicles were turned over to the Army and Marine Corps in September by Oshkosh Defense for testing at different sites around the force.A total of about 100 of the JLTV “production vehicles” will be provided to the Army and Marine Corps for testing over the next year, at a rate of about 10 per month, officials said. The vehicles will undergo maneuverability and automotive testing at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.


A total of about 100 of the JLTV “production vehicles” will be provided to the Army and Marine Corps for testing over the next year, at a rate of about 10 per month, officials said. The vehicles will undergo maneuverability and automotive testing at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.The JLTV is a tactical wheeled vehicle with a chassis that offers protection from underbelly blasts and an “intelligent” suspension system that can be raised and lowered for off-road conditions. It also touts greater fuel efficiency than current tactical vehicles.

Also read: US special forces might be getting this flying all-terrain vehicle

The JLTV is a tactical wheeled vehicle with a chassis that offers protection from underbelly blasts and an “intelligent” suspension system that can be raised and lowered for off-road conditions. It also touts greater fuel efficiency than current tactical vehicles.In addition to testing at Yuma, the vehicles will undergo testing for cyber integration of command, control, communications and intelligence at the Electronics Proving Ground on Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The vehicles will also be tested for automotive performance at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and the Cold Regions Test Center on Fort Greely, Alaska.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
An Oshkosh Defense prototype of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle negotiates an off-road demonstration course at Quantico, Va., in June 2013. The Oshkosh version beat out JLTV prototypes there from AM General and Lockheed Martin. | Photo courtesy Oshkosh Defense

In addition to testing at Yuma, the vehicles will undergo testing for cyber integration of command, control, communications and intelligence at the Electronics Proving Ground on Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The vehicles will also be tested for automotive performance at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland and the Cold Regions Test Center on Fort Greely, Alaska.”It’s on schedule,” said Scott Davis, program executive officer for combat support and combat service support, about the JLTV program. “It’s doing everything we ever expected it to. It’s just incredible.”

“It’s on schedule,” said Scott Davis, program executive officer for combat support and combat service support, about the JLTV program. “It’s doing everything we ever expected it to. It’s just incredible.”The JLTV has four different variants: a general-purpose truck, a close-combat weapons carrier, a heavy guns carrier, and a two-door utility pickup version. The group of trucks delivered last week included all but one of the variant types, the close-combat weapons carrier. That variant should be included in the next delivery in a few weeks, according to an Oshkosh spokesman.

The JLTV has four different variants: a general-purpose truck, a close-combat weapons carrier, a heavy guns carrier, and a two-door utility pickup version. The group of trucks delivered last week included all but one of the variant types, the close-combat weapons carrier. That variant should be included in the next delivery in a few weeks, according to an Oshkosh spokesman.Col. Shane Fullmer, project manager for the JLTV program, said the decision on the caliber of the weapons to be fielded on the variants will be made over the next few months.

Col. Shane Fullmer, project manager for the JLTV program, said the decision on the caliber of the weapons to be fielded on the variants will be made over the next few months.Once full production begins on the JLTV program in 2019, Army acquisition officials expect to shave five years off the original fielding schedule. The schedule reduction is expected to save $6 billion from previous estimates, Davis said.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle production model on display at the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exhibition in the Washington Convention Center Oct. 4, 2016. | US Army photo by Gary Sheftick

Once full production begins on the JLTV program in 2019, Army acquisition officials expect to shave five years off the original fielding schedule. The schedule reduction is expected to save $6 billion from previous estimates, Davis said.

“Based on our original budget-planning figures for the vehicle, if it now comes in at a lower price, we’ll be able to buy more each year, which shrinks the total length of the contract,” Davis said. “Of course, as you shorten things up, you accrue cost avoidances.”

Originally, plans for the program called for fielding all 54,599 vehicles for the Army and Marine Corps by the early 2040s. However, as a result of the unit cost savings, the Army should be able to buy more trucks faster. The Army may acquire the full complement by as early as the mid-2030s, officials said.

Katrina McFarland, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, called the JLTV is “a marvelous construct” designed by brilliant engineers.

The JLTV program has already been recognized as a model in acquisition, winning the Department of Defense’s prestigious David Packard Award for Acquisition Excellence twice — in 2013 and 2015.

Just this week, at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exhibition, Army leaders honored the program with the 2015 Secretary of the Army’s Award for Environmental Excellence in Weapon System Acquisition.

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Here’s how Gurkhas became some of the world’s most feared warriors

Gurkhas are known as some of the fiercest warriors ever to take up arms. These soldiers from Nepal regularly receive high valor awards from both Britain and India because of their bravery, and they are skilled, in one case defeating Taliban ambushes while outnumbered over 30 to 1. They fought in British forces in almost every major conflict of the 20th and 21st centuries including both World Wars and in Iraq and Afghanistan.


How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
A Gurkha Rifles unit in 1890. Photo: UK Ministry of Defence/Public Domain

The story of how they became some of Britain’s most capable warriors starts in a war that saw both the Gurkhas, a Hindu people named after the 8th-century Hindu warrior Guru Gorakhnath, and the British fighting for control of the same valley.

The Kathmandu Valley is surrounded by the Himalayan mountains. In 1767, the three valley kings had been fighting each other for years and suddenly realized that the Gurkha Army was invading. The Gurkha conquered parts of the valley and began a siege of one of the kingdoms’ capitals.

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In order to prevent conquest by the Gurkha, the Kathmandu kingdoms asked British officers serving nearby in the East India Company armies for assistance.

Capt. Captain George Kinloch led 2,500 soldiers with then-modern weapons into the valley to prevent the Gurkha expansion but failed to properly plan. Battlefield defeats against the Gurkha were made worse by disease and inadequate medical supplies.

A wave of desertions and a two-pronged assault launched by the Gurkha cinched the deal and Kinloch was forced to retreat from the valley. By 1768, the Gurkha armies were able to declare the valley and many of the surrounding mountains to be their own new nation, Nepal.

Over the next 46 years, both the Gurkha and the British expanded their areas of influence and control, creating a number of friction points both between themselves and other nations.

These friction points triggered the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1814. The Gurkha possessed much better knowledge of the terrain and plenty of veteran fighters. The British had numerical and technological advantages with tens of thousands of Indian soldiers equipped by the East India Company.

Despite numerous British advantages, the campaign went badly for the first year. One of the generals was killed in a small skirmish the day before war was officially declared. Other generals were known for cowardice on the battlefield, failing to attack when ordered. One even walked out of his camp.

Check the WATM podcast to hear the author and other veterans discuss how the Gurkhas became feared warriors.

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Still, some of the British forces fought valiantly. Col. David Ochterlony led a siege at the primary Gurkha fortress in 1815 while another colonel and 2,000 men captured a secondary fort. The Gurkha eventually surrendered the main fort to Ochterlony and peace documents were drafted.

During the campaign, a number of soldiers deserted their units and offered their services to the British East India forces. Many of these men were not Gurkha but were from Himalayan peoples previously conquered by the Gurkha.

The Gurkha leaders failed to accept the peace treaty and the British launched a second campaign to settle the matter, this time with Himalayan soldiers marching into the valley beside the British and Indian troops. This second campaign in 1816 made it nearly to the capital of Kathmandu before the Gurkha finally accepted the peace treaty.

The British added a clause into the treaty that allowed them to officially recruit Himalayan men, including Gurkha warriors, from the mountains for service in India and throughout the empire.

They served with distinction in wars against the Sihk, but they were truly lauded for actions in the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Gurkha soldiers served as the final guard of Brtish military and government leaders as rebelling Indian troops attempted to kill them.

While the British were successful in re-establishing rule in India, atrocities committed by the East India Company and their soldiers during the conflict led to the British crown abolishing company control of India.

When the crown established direct control of India, the Gurkha regiments were incorporated into the British Army.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day

Gurkhas’ service to Britain became a tradition that continued throughout the 1900s as they fought in both World Wars, Borneo, the Falkland Islands, Iraq, and Afghanistan, among other conflicts.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day

Since the breakup of the British empire, Gurkha soldiers have been able to choose to fight in the British or Indian armies which still contain “Gurkha” and “Gorkha” units respectively. They are known for their khukuri knives which feature a curved, 18-inch blade.

In the British military, Gurkha men were limited to serving as enlisted soldiers in Gurkha units until recently. Now, they can try out for both slots in officer training and coveted positions in special operations.

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Iraqi woman becomes Marine on eve of Mosul invasion

As 600 more U.S. troops are headed to help retake Mosul, Iraq, from the Islamic State group, a young woman who escaped that city’s violence is celebrating her new title as a United States Marine.


Amanda Issa escaped with her family from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, because of the rising threat of the Islamic State group. The Issas stayed in a refugee camp in Turkey for almost a year before moving to Michigan in 2011 — a move made for the promise of better education and more opportunities for the three Issa children.

How 150 British Paratroopers seized a fortified artillery battery on D-Day
Pfc. Amanda H. Issa prepares for a graduation ceremony Sept. 30, 2016, on Parris Island, S.C. Issa, 21, from Madison Heights, Mich., grew up in Mosul, Iraq, and moved to the U.S. in May 2011. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Carlin Warren)

Amanda, a teenager when she moved to the U.S., remembered the Marines she saw in Mosul during Operation Iraqi Freedom as heroes. Now, a Marine private first class herself, she wears the same Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and has the potential to be a hero for another little girl in her original homeland. She graduated in the top 10 in her high school and went on to earn an associates degree in global studies from Oakland Community College before enlisting in the Marine Corps.

But her journey to become a Marine wasn’t easy. In January she stepped on Parris Island’s iconic yellow footprints only to be injured a month later on a conditioning hike. The injury was bad enough that doctors told her she could be medically separated. Undaunted, she fought back and returned to training and eventually graduated with Platoon 4034, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, on Sept. 30.

“Now, to be called a Marine is unbelievable,” she said shortly after making the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony. “Yeah, being a U.S. citizen is great, but I came here to be a Marine.”

It is unclear when Marines and other U.S. troops will join Iraqi forces in the invasion of Mosul, one of the last major cities held by ISIS. Defense officials say its up to Iraqi leaders to launch the operation, with several top generals saying Baghdad’s troops will likely be ready by October.