Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas - We Are The Mighty
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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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6 myths civilians believe about Marines

Since Nov. 10th, 1775, the Marine Corps’ rich history of kicking ass and taking names has charmed Americans and earned their respect all across the United States. Because of that, civilians see Marines in a different perspective than the Navy, Air Force, or even Army.


Since every branch of the military has a particular image that the general population associates them with, we asked several civilians, “What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about the Marines?”

Related: 5 military myths that Hollywood has taught us to believe are true

Here’s what they said:

1. They have to be super patriotic to join

Most of them are, but others just couldn’t see themselves serving in another branch.

Now I’m joining the Corps! (Images via Giphy)

2. All Marines have to go war and fight

Not true. The Marines Corps is made of several different elements other than the infantry, like aircraft maintenance, logistics, and duties that cause your Marine to sit in an office and analyze intel all day — so breathe easy, momma bear.

Dammit, Carl! (Images via Giphy)

3. They’re all excellent shots with a rifle

Most are, but a low number of recruits score just high enough to earn the “rifle marksman” medal, a.k.a. the “pizza box.” All Marines must rifle qual before they can graduate from basic training, but it takes extra training and skill to earn higher levels of marksmanship.

Ask a Marine to explain this joke. (Images via Giphy)

4. They’re buff and strong

Most are pretty jacked, but many are just normal size — they make it up by having tons of heart.

Oh, Master Sergeant! (Images via Giphy)

5. They are mean and scary as hell

Marines can get pretty intense, but that just shows their passion. While a Marine can get super scary (especially when they gain rank or come in contact with people they just don’t like), some get by with just a quiet intensity.

But most of the time they’re fun loving. (Images via Giphy)

6. They’re brainwashed in boot camp

Negative, Ghost Rider.

They are just influenced to love their country and branch of service at an exceptionally high level through various mental and physical activities.

They have to be, to carry out the missions they’re are asked to do.

Sometimes this involves screaming while brushing their teeth — which may happen. (Images via Giphy)Can you think of any others? Comment below.

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Filing for effect: some troops’ tax refunds may not come quickly

Many taxpayers plan their holiday shopping and other purchases around getting their tax refunds from the Internal Revenue Service at the earliest possible date.


Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas

In 2017, that may no longer be the case.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act, signed into law in December 2015, requires the IRS to hold tax refunds for people claiming Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit until at least Feb. 15, 2017.

Also, new identity theft and refund fraud safeguards by both the IRS and individual states may mean some tax returns and refunds face additional review.

Beginning in 2017, the IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC. The IRS said the change helps ensure taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the agency more time to help detect and prevent fraud.

“This is an important change, as some of these taxpayers are used to getting an early refund,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “We want people to be aware of the change for their planning purposes during the holidays. We don’t want anyone caught by surprise if they get their refund a few weeks later than in previous years.”

As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns once the filing season begins. All taxpayers should file as usual, and tax return preparers should submit returns as they normally do.

Although the IRS cannot issue refunds for some early filers until at least Feb. 15, it reminds taxpayers that most refunds will be issued within the normal timeframe: less than 21 days after being accepted for processing by the IRS.

The Where’s My Refund? tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go phone app remain the best way to check the status of a refund.

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The Albanians are selling MiGs at bargain-basement prices

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
A former AAF Shenyang J/F-6, rusting away at Kucove Air Base. Photograph by Rob Schleiffert, 2007


If you’re in the market for a used fighter jet that can still fly, the Albanian Air Force would like to talk with you in the near future before they run out of stock!

Forty Cold War-era fighter jets have been put up for auction by the Albanian government with the goal of eventually selling all of its retired fixed-wing fleet to whoever has the highest bid. Of that forty, eleven fighters parked at the old Rinasi air base near Tirana are currently open for immediate sale, with opening bids beginning at 1.1 million to 1.9 million leks. Yes, million, and no, that’s not actually a lot of money when you do the currency conversion. Overall, it comes to the grand range of $8,600 to $14,800 USD, according to the Associated Press.

That pretty much means anybody with a job could probably afford to buy one of these fighters… not including transportation, maintenance, and insurance costs. Not to mention operational costs if you decide to actually fly these aircraft.

It’s somewhat unclear whether or not these fighters up for sale are actually MiGs or the Chinese clone copies, though a closer inspection of each aircraft will undoubtedly reveal their source. The Albanian Air Force originally fielded Soviet-built MiG-15s, -17s, and -19s, though it began to procure Chinese-made clones after Albanian relations with the USSR ended in 1961. Albania eventually bought large numbers of Shenyang J-5s and J-6s (MiG-17s and MiG-19s respectively) and a smaller fleet of Chengdu J-7s (MiG-21s).

Before you tell your wife you’re about to take out a second mortgage on your house, or your college roommates that you just found something really sweet to pool your money on, you should probably be aware of the fact that the Albanian Air Force had an astoundingly high accident rate with its fighters. When the USSR ended diplomatic ties with Albania, it became incredibly difficult to find parts and the appropriate jet fuel for their MiG fighters, so Albania spurred on its industry to attempt to produce a similar fuel composition to keep their fighters flying. The fuel wasn’t similar enough, and apparently wreaked havoc on the engines it was burned in, shortening their lifespans, and in some cases, outright blowing up aircraft while in-flight.

If the test sale of the 11 MiGs (or Shenyangs?) is successful, the remaining fighter fleet will be opened up for sale. Prospective bidders include museums around the United States and Europe, as well as private bidders who just want the aircraft to add to their collections. I can’t say with certainty that the TACAIRNET team won’t try to bid on one, either… So you’d better hurry if you’re looking to have a MiG-17 parked in your driveway by the end of this year!

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US Navy Blue Angels will fly over Disney World

You don’t see too many planes flying over Walt Disney World, but that will change on April 6 when the U.S. Navy Blue Angels make two flybys over the Magic Kingdom.


This isn’t the first time the performance squadron has graced the skies above Mickey’s place. The Blues did a flyby back in 2015, when six F/A-18 Hornets flew right over Main Street and performed a Delta Break in which they split into six different directions. The two planned flybys on April 6 will happen between 9:30 a.m.-10 a.m., according to the Disney Parks blog.

The Blue Angels are set to perform at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida. They practice at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on April 6 and April 7 and have performances on April 8 and April 9.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
Smoke on! (Photo: U.S. Navy)

While they are based in Pensacola, the Blue Angels are making their first Florida appearance of the year. Their Air Force counterparts, the Thunderbirds, have already made two of their three planned air show appearances for 2017 ,having just performed at the Melbourne Air Space Show the weekend of April 1.

A highlight of that was the transportation of 87-year-old Buzz Aldrin, who can now say he’s walked on the moon and flown in a Thunderbird. They earlier performed at the TICO Warbird Airshow in Titusville, Florida, and had their own flyby of an American icon, when they took to the skies over Daytona International Speedway ahead of the Daytona 500.

The Thunderbirds finish their Florida schedule for 2017 with a stop up in the Panhandle for the Gulf Coast Salute at Tyndall Air Force Base on April 22-23.

The Blue Angels will make three more stops in the state stretching into November: the mid-summer Pensacola Beach Air Show on July 8, a two-day performance at Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Nov. 4-5 and the Homecoming Air Show at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Nov. 11-12. Air shows held at military bases are free.

The Sun ‘n Fun will also feature the French Air Force’s Patrouille de France Jet Demonstration Team, which this year is making its first U.S. appearances in 30 years.

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Military and first responders can get great discounts at this online site

Anyone who chooses a life of service to this country or their local community deserves some perks. Those who work (or have worked) in the U.S. Armed Forces, law enforcement, or in a first-response capacity all sacrifice for the greater good — and the greater good should give them something in return.

In 2011, the founders of GovX imagined a way for these Americans of service to access the perks they’ve earned by providing exclusive pricing on brand-name merchandise, tickets, and travel services — all in one online store.


The ambitious GovX team created an e-commerce platform to support this mission of serving those who serve, and they made it completely free to join. The site uses a proprietary verification system to limit membership to those with eligible service-related backgrounds, so that these members have exclusive access to the deals, and brands have the protection of a “closed” site to offer them. (Want to know if you qualify? Click here.)

For more than six years, GovX has developed partnerships with more than 300 brands and hundreds more sport organizations, events, attractions, and travel service providers, making it possible for those who serve our country to treat themselves and their families without breaking the bank.

“To some, ‘Thank you for your service’ may sound a little overplayed, but we mean every word of it.” – Alan Cole, GovX CEO

The online retail site has exploded over the last several years, thanks in large part to the word-of-mouth advocacy of its loyal member base. With more than 2.5 million members, GovX is the leading online shopping destination exclusively for verified military personnel as well as federal, state, and local government workers.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas

The GovX retail catalog has expanded with premium brands like Oakley, Under Armour, Vortex Optics, The North Face, and more, but the perks of membership don’t stop at gear and apparel. The number of member discounts for professional and collegiate sports has also dramatically increased (GovX is an official sponsor of Major League Baseball, among other things), new partners like Tough Mudder have joined the mission, and members are saving more than ever on travel and activities for their families.

The success of the GovX business model is about reflexively giving back to the military, law enforcement, and first responder communities.

The mission of GovX was always intended to be more than just shopping discounts. The core of the company was built around supporting America’s service members any way possible. In 2015, the company launched “Mission Giveback”, a monthly donation program where a portion of every order on GovX.com goes to support a nonprofit serving the military and first-responder communities. Since the program’s inception, GovX has donated over 0,000 to these nonprofits, supporting organizations like Semper Fi Fund, Our Military Kids, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the Green Beret Foundation, and many others.

But the company doesn’t limit its community support to this program. Through a coordinated partnership with San Diego State University, GovX recently gave a ,000 check to the San Diego Police Foundation — providing a direct impact on the daily lives of law officers in the company’s hometown. Year round, GovX participates in fundraising events and regularly contributes to causes that impact those within the GovX community.

“Our members are the ones doing incredible, tough, brave, honorable things every day and we try to shine a light on those people and actions, because they deserve it.” – Aaron Pelander, VP Marketing, GovX

As GovX moves in to its seventh year and beyond, it will continue to evolve and grow as a company. But one thing that will never be lost during its progress is the mission — serving those who serve. GovX will keep its members and the wider military and first-responder communities at the center of its decision making, and it will continue to negotiate deals and benefits on their behalf for one simple reason: these Americans of service deserve it.

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Pentagon investigating friendly fire in Army Ranger deaths

Two Army Rangers who were killed in Afghanistan earlier this week may have been struck by friendly fire, the Pentagon said.


Sergeant Joshua Rodgers, 22, and Sgt. Cameron Thomas, 23, both deployed from Fort Benning, Georgia, died during a Wednesday night raid targeting the emir of the Islamic State, a group also known as ISIS and ISIL. A third soldier was injured during the operation but is expected to recover.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
Army Rangers conduct a raid in Nangarhar, Afghanistan.(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elliott N. Banks)

Pentagon spokesman, Capt. Jeff Davis, said officials are investigating whether the soldiers were killed by American forces or Afghan commandos involved in the raid. He said it was “possible” the Rangers were struck by friendly fire but there are “no indications it was intentional,” he said.

“War is a very difficult thing, in the heat of battle, in the fog of war the possibility always exists for friendly fire, and that may have been what happened here and that is what we are looking into with this investigation,” he said.

Officials said 50 Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos were dropped by helicopter into the Nagarhar Province, located about a mile fro the site where the United States dropped the MOAB on April 13.

Several IS leaders and operatives were killed in the raid.

“We did know going in that this was going to be a very tough fight,” Davis said. “We were going after the leader of ISIS in Afghanistan and doing it in a way that required us to put a large number of people on the ground as part of this mission, and it was a mission that appears to have accomplished its objective but it did so at a cost”

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This video shows why carpet bombing is absolutely devastating

There was a lot of talk about carpet bombing during the 2016 election.


That potential world leaders are talking about a military tactic like this means it might be a good idea take a look at just what carpet bombing means.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
A U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52F Stratofortress drops bombs over Vietnam. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Related: B-52s are blasting ISIS targets

Carpet bombing, once known as “saturation bombing,” is a large-scale aerial bombing operation over a small area, intent on the complete destruction of a target or targets. Such an operation in a civilian area is considered a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, though the United States is not a signatory to that protocol.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas

German and British bombers used the tactic throughout World War II, to great effect. The United States’ Army Air Forces took it to the next level in Germany and then Japan under the leadership of Gen. Curtis LeMay. The U.S. would return to the tactic during the Vietnam War, especially for Operations Rolling Thunder and Linebacker II.

It is a devastating tactic that causes a lot of destruction. Since it is heavily dependent on unguided, “dumb” bombs, the potential for collateral and unnecessary death and destruction is very high and the U.S. Air Force hasn’t used it since Vietnam. They still train for the capability, however.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas

The video below is an amalgamation of U.S. Air Force footage over the previous decades. It shows real-world and training operations where carpet bombing is used as a tactic. B-52 Stratofortresses, B-1 Lancers, and B-2 Spirits are seen dropping tons  and tons of ordnance on targets.

It shows the pure power potential of the Air Force’s conventional bombing force. Real air power doesn’t require nukes – overwhelming force can be just as devastating.

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How SEALs were caught in ‘ferocious’ firefight during Yemen counter-terrorism raid

New details have emerged about the Jan. 28 raid on a compound used by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and the loss of an MV-22 Osprey.


According to a report by the Washington Post, the raid had been intended to nab Yemeni tribal leaders and get intelligence on their ties with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The snatch operation turned into a firefight when terrorists launched a counter-attack.

Among the militants firing at the SEALs were women, an several were believed to have been among the 14 terrorists killed in the raid. The SEALs were forced to call in air support from AH-1Z Cobras and AV-8B+ Harriers based on the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) as the firefight went on, the Post report says.

Additionally, officials with Central Command said Feb. 1 that investigators are looking into allegations that among the dead were civilians in the compound targeted by the SEALs. Officials said in a release that civilians were “likely” killed and “may include children.”

“The ongoing credibility assessment seeks to determine whether any still-undetected civilian casualties took place in the ferocious firefight,” CENTCOM said. “The known possible civilian casualties appear to have been potentially caught up in aerial gunfire that was called in to assist U.S. forces in contact against a determined enemy that included armed women firing from prepared fighting positions and U.S. special operations members receiving fire from all sides, including from houses and other buildings.”

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
An AH-1Z Cobra helicopter assigned to Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Squadron (HX) 21, based in Patuxent River, Md., Approaches the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rebekah Adler)

To get the SEALs out, elements of what the report called “an elite Special Operations air regiment,” likely referring to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also called the Nightstalkers. After retrieving the SEALs, the Nightstalkers intended to meet up with a Marine quick reaction force on MV-22 Ospreys to transfer the SEALs to the Makin Island, where the wounded could receive medical treatment.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
A group of U.S. Navy SEALs clear a room during a no-light live-fire drill near San Diego. Naval Special Warfare reservists from a Combat Service Support unit attached to a West Coast-based Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Team conducted a field training exercise based on principles from the expeditionary warfare community. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Stevenson/Released)

That meet-up went wrong. One of the V-22s made a “hard landing” – more akin to a crash – which ended up leaving three Marines injured.

In an interview with reporters Feb. 1, Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. John Davis said officials are still investigating what went wrong with the Osprey, adding his suspicion was that brown-out conditions might have played a role.

“They were going into a firefight at night.  … But what’s the good news? A lot of people don’t walk away from hard landings, and everybody walked away from this one,” Davis said. “There’s a Marine who kind of bumped his head, but everyone walked away.”

After evacuating the wounded, the inoperable tilt-rotor was destroyed by an AV-8B using a Joint Direct Attack Munition, according to officials who spoke with the Post. During that time, Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens died from his wounds.

A Department of Defense release noted that the operation was “one in a series of aggressive moves against terrorist planners in Yemen and worldwide. Similar operations have produced intelligence on al-Qa’ida logistics, recruiting and financing efforts.”

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
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.

According to a report by FoxNews.com, President Trump attended the return of the remains of Chief Owens and had a private meeting with the fallen SEAL’s family during a two-hour visit.

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Here’s what it took to pull off the Commander-in-Chief Forum

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
(Photo: Ward Carroll)


Just over two weeks after the Commander-in-Chief Forum aired during prime time on NBC, IAVA chief Paul Rieckhoff is still recovering from the event, riding the high of having had a big hand in pulling it off but also weathering a substantial wave of social media criticism — much of it from fellow veterans — about how it fell short.

 

 

“What the critics don’t understand is events like this are a four-way negotiation,” Rieckhoff says over the phone while riding an Uber between Newark Airport and Manhattan after attending a “VetTogether” — a gathering of IAVA members — at comedienne Kathy Griffin’s home in Los Angeles. “It’s us, the network, and each of the candidates. Anybody can walk away at any time. Concessions are made on all sides to pull it off.”

Rieckhoff and his team started planning the forum about two years ago using Pastor Rick Warren’s “Conversation on Faith” as a model.

“He brought the candidates to his church one after another for a one-on-one conversation,” he says. “It was widely watched and really drove the issues front and center.”

The IAVA wishlist had a few key elements: It should take place around 9-11. It should take place in New York City “because of the media traction,” Rieckhoff says. And it should take place aboard the USS Intrepid, the retired aircraft carrier docked on the Hudson River at midtown.

They also knew it needed to happen before the final three debates.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
(Photo: Ward Carroll)

“We’re politically savvy enough to know that’s it’s all about the art of the possible,” Rieckhoff says. “The idea that you’re going to get the candidates for three hours and get everything you want is not grounded in the reality of the landscape.

“The idea was straightforward,” he continues. “Bring together the candidates where vets could ask the questions on as big a stage as possible. Respect to the American Legion and VFW, but nobody watches their conventions but them.”

Two cable networks expressed interest in airing the event, but Rieckhoff held out for something bigger.

“It needed to be as big as possible in order to attract the candidates,” he says.

In early May NBC offered an hour in primetime. Another major network indicated interest but “dawdled,” as Rieckhoff puts it, so IAVA accepted NBC’s offer. Right before Memorial Day both candidates agreed to participate. But at that point, the work was only starting.

“It was a constant negotiation with the campaigns right up to the event itself,” Rieckhoff says. “They were always threatening to pull out if they didn’t get what they wanted.”

And among the negotiations was agreeing to who the host would be. IAVA made a few suggestions, NBC personalities with some experience in the defense and foreign policy realms. The network and campaigns came up with their own option.

“The campaigns preferred not to have hard-hitting questions, and NBC wanted somebody who’d resonate during primetime,” Rieckhoff says. “Suffice it to say Matt Lauer was not IAVA’s choice.”

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
(Photo: Ward Carroll)

But Matt Lauer got the nod, and for the first hour of the Commander-in-Chief Forum, he fumbled his way through the format, dedicating a disproportionate amount of time to issues other than those of critical importance to the military community. His poor performance in the eyes of viewers even spawned a hashtag: #LaueringTheBar.

 

 

“We would’ve like the opportunity to separate foreign policy from veteran’s policy,” Rieckhoff says. “Matt Lauer found that out the hard way.”

But beyond that Rieckhoff is pleased with the outcome of the forum.

“Plenty of folks may be criticizing the event or the host,” he says. “But the bottom line is every critic or whatever got an opportunity to talk about their perspective on the issues because this thing happened.”

The broadcast was viewed by 15 million people, and Rieckhoff believes that the overall impact needs to be framed in terms much bigger than that.

“The reach has to be considered beyond the ratings of the show itself,” he says. “It was the entire day prior, the day of, and at least one day afterward where every morning show, every newspaper, and every columnist was writing about vet issues.”

That sense is shared by IAVA board member Wayne Smith, an Army vet who served as a combat medic during the Vietnam War and went on to be one of the founders of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He was seated in the crowd during the forum.

“I come from a generation of war vets who had no voice for decades, who were rejected by vets from previous wars not to mention the nation at large,” Smith says. “I was blown away by the brilliance of this forum, this first time we had the undivided attention of both candidates. I hope this is the first of many.”

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‘The Ghost’ is the most decorated infantry officer you’ve never heard of

Guinness World Records stopped tracking the world’s most decorated soldiers because the importance and distinction of certain medals outweighs the objective number of medals a service member can be awarded —a distinction veterans certainly understand.


What brought this to their attention was the medal count between Audie Murphy – long regarded as the most decorated U.S. soldier ever – and a little-known WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient named Matt Urban, whose medal count matched Murphy’s.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
Audie Murphy just after WWII. (U.S. Army photo)

But no one knew that Urban had matched the well-known Murphy until 36 years after the end of WWII because Urban’s recommendation and supporting paperwork were lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.

He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Merit but never knew until his military records were reviewed to award his Medal of Honor.

And there were a lot of actions to review.

President Carter called then retired Lt. Col. Matt Urban “The Greatest Soldier in American History” as he presented the Medal of Honor to Urban in 1980. The soldier’s Medal of Honor citation alone lists “a series of actions” – at least 10 – that go above and beyond the call of duty.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
Urban receiving the Medal of Honor from President Carter in 1980. (White House photo)

The Nazis called Urban “The Ghost” because he just seemed to keep coming back to life when they killed him. The soldier’s seven Purple Hearts can attest to that.

Urban joined the Army ROTC at Cornell in 1941. It was just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and unfortunately for the Nazis, Urban graduated in time to land in North Africa in 1942.

He was ordered to stay aboard a landing craft off the Tunisian coast, but when he heard his unit encountered stiff resistance on the beaches, he hopped in a raft and rowed to the fight. There he replaced a wounded platoon leader.

Later, at the Battle of the Kasserine Pass, Urban destroyed a German observation post, then led his company in a frontal assault on a fortified enemy position. During one German counterattack, Urban killed an enemy soldier with his trench knife, then took the man’s machine pistol and wiped out the rest of the oncoming Germans. He was wounded in his hands and arm.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
German Medium Tank Mk-IV knocked out by American artillery fire, Kasserine Pass. (U.S. Army photo)

In North Africa, his actions earned him two Silver Stars, a Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.

It was in France where Urban would distinguish himself and earn his nickname. His division landed at Normandy on D-Day, and later at the French town of Renouf he spearheaded another gallant series of events.

On June 14, 1944, two tanks and small arms began raking Urban’s men in the hedgerows, causing heavy casualties. He picked up a bazooka and led an ammo carrier closer to the tanks.

Urban then exposed himself to the heavy enemy fire as he took out both tanks. His leadership inspired his men who easily bested the rest of the German infantry.

Later that same day, Urban took a direct shot in the leg from a 37mm tank gun. He continued to direct his men to defense positions. The next day, still wounded, Urban led his troops on another attack. He was wounded again and flown back to England.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
The notorious hedgerows in the French countryside, 1944. (U.S. Army photo)

In July 1944, he learned how much the fighting in the French hedgerows devastated his unit. Urban, still in the hospital in England, ditched his bed and hitchhiked back to France. He met up with his men near St. Lo on the eve of Operation Cobra, a breakout effort to hit the German flanks and advance into Brittany.

He found his unit held down by a German strong point with two of his tanks destroyed and a third missing its commander and gunner. Urban hatched a plan to remount the tank and break through but his lieutenant and sergeant were killed in their attempts – so he mounted the tank himself.

“The Ghost” manned the machine gun as bullets whizzed by and devastated the enemy.

He was wounded twice more in August, refusing to be evacuated even after taking artillery shell fragments to the chest. He was promoted to battalion commander.

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
Matt Urban in 1944. (Polish-American Congress photo)

In September 1944, Urban’s path of destruction across Europe was almost at an end. His men were pinned down by enemy artillery while trying to cross the Meuse River in Belgium. Urban left the command post and went to the front, where he reorganized the men and personally led an assault on a Nazi strongpoint. Urban was shot in the neck by a machine gun during the charge across open ground. He stayed on site until the Nazis were completely routed and the Allies could cross the Meuse.

And that’s just his Medal of Honor citation.

In a 1974 interview with his hometown newspaper, the Buffalo News, he credits his survival to accepting the idea of dying in combat.

“If I had to get it,” Urban said, “it was going to be while I was doing something. I didn’t want to die in my sleep.”

Marine Corps asks other services for training ideas
Urban after receiving the MoH in 1980. (U.S. Army photo)

The reason he never received a recommendation for the Medal of Honor was because the recommendation was just lost in the paperwork shuffle. His commander, Maj. Max Wolf filed the recommendation, but it was lost when Wolf was killed in action.

“When I came home, I never thought about war,” he said in a 1988 press report. “That’s why the medal was 35 years late. … I just never pursued it.”

It was the enlisted men who fought with Urban who started asking about “The Ghost’s” Medal of Honor.

“The sight of him limping up the road, all smiles, raring to lead the attack once more, brought the morale of the battleweary men to its highest peak – Staff Sgt. Earl G. Evans in a 1945 letter to the War Department that was also lost.

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Matt Urban died in 1995 at age 75 and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

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This retired general thinks all young Americans should serve for a year

It’s a question that has lasted as long as the Selective Service debate: Should every American serve for a year or two before entering the work force or pursuing higher education?


Arguments have been made for both sides of the case since the last draft in 1973, though the pro-service cause may have just found their strongest and most vocal ally yet — former Joint Special Operations Command chief Stanley McChrystal. Though McChrystal has largely stayed out of the spotlight since his retirement in 2010, he has still been very vocal about this concept, recently penning an op-ed for Time Magazine on the value of national service.

In his article, McChrystal says that the time is ripe for the country to come together to institute a mandatory year of paid national service for young Americans aged 18-28 years. A yearlong commitment would not only instill the values of accountability and responsibility towards citizenship, but will also develop character and leadership traits, he argues.

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The retired general does stress, however, that national service should not be directed entirely towards the military. He feels that an open choice between different service organizations needs to exist, allowing for hundreds of thousands of young Americans to have a positive impact beginning in their communities, and resulting in progress on a national level.

This is a view seemingly very common among military veterans, a number of whom have gone on record to discuss the merits of a year of service. It also isn’t the first time McChyrstal has promoted a year of compulsory national service. In 2016, he urged candidates participating in the 2016 presidential race to consider making this idea a reality, and in 2012, the former special operations chief gave a speech to Harvard University on the same topic.

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AmeriCorps volunteers working in Mississippi, circa 2006.

McChyrstal himself is no stranger to service, having joined the Army in 1976 after graduating from West Point. Born into a military family, he rose through the ranks, serving with regular infantry units, on a Special Forces “A-Team”, and eventually the 75th Ranger Regiment, prior to taking command of JSOC in 2003.

Described by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat [he] had ever met,” McChrystal is easily a soldier’s soldier, known for his willingness to be on the frontlines instead of an air conditioned office stateside. His career in the Army ended in 2010 with a truncated stint as the command of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

A national service commitment isn’t exactly anything new, especially with many European and Asian nations. Israel and Switzerland are two of the most notable examples, with both countries mandating by law that youth of a certain age are required to register with the military or with a civil service body for a predetermined term. In both countries, the commitment ranges from a year to two years, though some decide to stay around and build a career out of their service terms.

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Switzerland, in particular, has utilized conscription to staff its military for decades by having conscripts report for a 260-day service period upon reaching the age of majority. Recruits can choose to serve their entire commitment in 300 continuous days, or train in periods throughout the year, somewhat similar to the National Guard and various branch reserves in the United Sates.

However, should a recruit decide that military service isn’t for them, they can elect to join the country’s civil service as a paid employee for a 390-day period.

Currently, the national year of service topic has yet to be brought up by the White House or Congress, though it still remains a talking point for many, including McChrystal and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, a retired Navy attack pilot.

Until meaningful discourse on the subject arises, the retired general and the sitting Senator have worked together to sponsor efforts to afford military veterans and civilian volunteers more opportunities to voluntarily serve their countries in various civil organizations.

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These are the 6 worst carriers (or classes) to ever set sail

Some aircraft carriers are legends – either from long service like that of USS Enterprise (CVN 65) or with an unmatched war record like that of another USS Enterprise (CV 6).


They have either heroic sacrifices, the way USS Yorktown (CV 5) did at Midway, or they simply take a ton of abuse as USS Franklin (CV 13) did.

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The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits the Arabian Sea during her last deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jared King)

But some carriers just stink. You wouldn’t wish them on your worst enemy… or maybe you would, simply to make the war easier. There’s arguments on both sides of that. Here are the carriers that would prompt such an internal debate.

6. USS Ranger (CV 4)

When America was down to one carrier in the South Pacific in 1942, re-deploying America’s first purpose-built carrier, the USS Ranger (CV 4) was not considered as an option.

That tells you something about the ship. Her combat career was relatively brief, and she eventually was relegated to training duties. Still, she had a decent air group (mostly fighters and dive-bombers), so she is the best of this bad lot.

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USS Ranger (CV 4) at sea. (US Navy photo)

5. Admiral Kuznetsov Class (Kuznetsov, Liaoning, and unnamed Type 001A)

If you’ve read a lot of WATM, then you know about the Kuznetsov Follies. The crappy engines (the Russians send tugs along with her in case of breakdown), the splash landings, and the fact the Russians ended up using her as a glorified ferry all speak to real problems. In her favor, though, is the presence of 12 long-range anti-ship missiles on the lead ship, and she can fly MiG-29K and Su-33 Flankers off her deck. China’s versions carry J-15 fighters, but not the missiles.

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‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ in her natural habitat, a dry dock, in July 2015. | Christopher Michel/Flickr photo

4. Kiev class (Kiev, Minsk, Novorossiysk)

The Russian Kiev and her sisters are on here for a crap air wing.

The Yak-38 Forger was one of the worst planes to ever operate from a carrier. The Kiev gets a higher ranking largely because she had a lot of firepower, including eight SS-N-12 Sandbox missiles as well as a lot of SA-N-3 Goblets and point-defense systems, which were arguably more of a threat to the enemy than the planes she carried.

Yeah… that kinda has the whole purpose backwards. Now, a modern version with F-35Bs or even AV-8B+ Harriers and the Aegis system could be interesting.

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The Soviet aircraft carrier Kiev, showing off elements of the crap air wing, including the Yak-38 Forger. (US Navy photo)

3. HTMS Chakri Naruebet

The Chakri Naruebet from the Thai navy is on the list not so much for inherent problems, but because of substantial air wing neglect during the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej (aka Rana IX). Worse, the Thais officially call her an “offshore patrol helicopter carrier.”

They did buy some second-hand AV-8S Matadors from Spain. But most flunked the maintenance, and soon Thailand had one flyable jet. At least the Kievs had heavy firepower to make up for their crap air wing!

That said, his successor, King Vajiralongkorn, was a former fighter pilot, and hopefully will be able to turn things around.

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Photo: PH3 Alex C. Witte/US Navy

2. Ise Class battleship/carrier hybrid conversions

Okay, in some ways, this is understandable. After the Battle of Midway, Japan needed carriers in the worst possible way. Ise and Hyuga are perfect examples of getting those “carriers” — in the worst possible way.

Initially built as battleships with a top speed of 23 knots, they got turned not into full carriers, which might have been useful. But a half-battleship/half-carrier holding 22 seaplanes (okay about 50 percent more than Hosho) that they could launch and recover wasn’t totally awful.

Remember that’s seaplanes, not Zeroes for fighter cover or strike planes. Granted Japan had the A6M-2 Rufe, a seaplane Zero, but this was a rush job, and it showed. At least they each had eight 14-inch guns.

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The HIJMS Ise was a failed battleship/carrier hybrid. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

 

1. HIJMS Hosho

This was the world’s first purpose-built aircraft carrier. But let’s be honest, the Japanese boat was a dog. It had a top speed of 25 knots, and it carried all of 15 planes. During the Battle of Midway, it had eight biplanes.

By comparison, USS Langley (CV 1), America’s first aircraft carrier, could carry 36 planes. Even with a top speed of 15 knots, she would have been useful escorting convoys in the Atlantic – if America hadn’t turned her into a seaplane tender to satisfy an arms-control treaty Japan violated anyhow.

Are there any bad carriers we missed? Let us know in the comments!

 

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