This small military office influences some of Hollywood's biggest films - We Are The Mighty
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This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films

 


This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films

A small office in Los Angeles is responsible for determining whether the Department of Defense will support some of Hollywood’s biggest military blockbusters.

Overseen by former Navy videographer Phil Strub at the Pentagon, the Wilshire Blvd. office houses personnel from the Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines. In Hollywood, it’s the first place filmmakers look if they need support from the military.

“Our criteria [for which films we support] are very broad and rather subjective,” Strub told the Army Times in 2013. “We’re looking for an opportunity to inform the American public … At the same time, we look at whether we can support it logistic­ally. We’ve been pretty busy.”

From Business Insider:

Hollywood is usually willing to play ball with Strub because his blessing means a huge break for a film’s production budget.

[Last year’s] Oscar-nominated “Captain Phillips,” for example, used a U.S. military guided missile destroyer, an amphibious assault ship, several helicopters, and members of SEAL Team Six, who play themselves but are not on active duty — all courtesy of the U.S. Navy, who were able to work the shoot into their training.

Hollywood has enjoyed support from the U.S. military for almost as long as films have been made. Indeed, the first film to receive an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1927 was the silent film “Wings,” which had support from the Army Air Force to accurately portray training and combat during World War I, according to DoD Live.

In addition to films, the office also helps with television shows, music videos, and video games. Recent projects that were supported include “Iron Man 2,” “Army Wives,” and “Terminator Salvation.” But it has also offered support to other massive Hollywood blockbusters, such as “Top Gun,” “Act of Valor,” and “Black Hawk Down” — which received military technical advisors, weapons, vehicles, helicopters, and even a real-life Ranger regiment to ensure accuracy, according to About.com.

Not all military movies get the Pentagon green-light however. “Apocalypse Now,” “Platoon,” and “The Deer Hunter” received no military support, according to About.com. The same goes for recent films like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Argo,” according to Business Insider.

“Films are denied Pentagon support by Strub if they show the military in a negative light, such as scenes that include drug use, murder, or torture without subsequent punishment,” writes Aly Weisman at BI.

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How the V-22 Osprey helped take down a Taliban warlord

In 2009, during some of the heaviest fighting of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Marine Corps was involved in a number of operations in western Iraq. However, things got tougher as Taliban lookouts were typically posted to provide a warning of the Leathernecks’ approach.


The Taliban also figured out to time the helicopters when they left, allowing them to get a rough idea of when the Marines would arrive.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Afghan and coalition force members provide security during an operation in search of a Taliban leader in Kandahar city, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, April 21, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Hulett)

So, when a Taliban warlord was using poppy proceeds to buy more weapons, the Marines wanted to take him down, but they were worried that it could turn into a major firefight, since this warlord had taken over a village about 100 miles from Camp Bastion, a major Marine base.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
(DOD photo)

Even at top speed, it would take a helicopter like the CH-53E Super Stallion about a half hour to get to that warlord’s base – and to do that, it would have to fly in a straight line. That sort of approach doesn’t help you catch the Taliban warlord by surprise.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Clare J. Shaffer

But by 2009, MV-22 Ospreys were also available in theater. The tiltrotors weren’t just faster (a top speed of 316 miles per hour), they also had much longer range (just over 1,000 miles). In essence, it was hoped that the Ospreys could not only evade the Taliban lookouts, but they’d also get to the location before the enemy could react.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Photo by Lance Cpl. Clarence Leake/USMC

On the day of the raid, Marines boarded four MV-22s. The tiltrotors took off, evaded the Taliban, and the Marines were delivered into the center of the village – catching the Taliban by surprise.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films

In roughly five minutes, the warlord was in cuffs and on one of the Ospreys. The Marines then made their getaway, having pulled off a major operational success.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Soldiers from the 101st Infantry Battalion and Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a sustainment training utilizing MV-22 Ospreys and F-16 Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

Check out the Smithsonian Channel video below to see a recreation of that raid.

Smithsonian Channel, YouTube

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Service branches and elite units are testing a 60-round drum

LAS VEGAS — A compact polymer drum magazine from Magpul that can hold 60 rounds is being tested for potential use by several U.S. military service branches, as well as elite units, the company’s director of government and international affairs said.


Tray Ardese would not specify which branches and commands are testing the PMAG D-60 drum, but said range testing by the services so far appears to be going well.

Related: The Marine Corps has ordered Leathernecks to use PMAGs for their rifles

“We’re under kind of a handshake [non-disclosure agreement] right now to let them get their tests in so we don’t put a lot of pressure on them,” Ardese told Military.com at SHOT Shot on Tuesday. “But each branch of the service has at least a few of them. It is a solution right now that could save lives.”

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Image via Magpul

Magpul appears at the show after a major coup: The Marine Corps’ decision in December to approve the company’s high-performing Generation M3 PMAG as the only magazine authorized for use in combat, replacing the legacy metal magazine.

Ardese said Magpul hopes the ruggedness, balance and reliability of the drum will also win over military users.

“I was one of the biggest drum haters in the world until I saw this one,” said Ardese, a retired Marine colonel. “Because … they’d work great when you treated them with care, but the second you got them dirty or beat them around, they would stop on you. This one hasn’t stopped on me yet and I’ve shot a lot of rounds through it, and I’ve seen thousands and thousands and thousands of rounds shot through it. It runs flawlessly.”

The drum, at 7.4 inches in length, is designed to be no longer than a traditional 30-round magazine, so shooters in the prone position don’t have to adjust their positioning to fire. And it’s compatible with all the weapons that can accept the PMAG, although Ardese said the drum is particularly well suited to the Marines’ M27 infantry automatic rifle.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Magpul’s 60-round drum is currently undergoing range tests by the U.S. military. | Image via Magpul

The Corps is currently undergoing experimentation to determine whether more infantrymen should be issued the IAR in place of the M4 as their standard service rifle. The weapon has a slightly longer effective range than the M4 carbine and has features including a free-floating barrel that make it more accurate. And unlike the standard M4, it includes a fully automatic mode. Currently, each Marine infantry fire team is equipped with one IAR, carried by the team’s automatic rifleman.

“M27 is the perfect platform for this magazine. This magazine gives the IAR gunner, the automatic rifleman an advantage in volume of fire right off the bat if they were ambushed or they were hit,” Ardese said. “They immediately have two magazines’ worth of ammunition in a flawlessly feeding drum that is very well balanced. It is a must for the IAR gunner.”

The drum, he said, lends itself to any situation where a warfighter needs to have a lot of ammunition at the ready.

“It would be great for vehicle interdiction, any place you would need a large volume of firepower right now,” he said.

It’s not clear when the services currently testing the drum will make a decision on whether to field it, and for what weapons, Ardese said.

He has received only positive feedback from those in charge of range testing, he said.

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ISIS attacked US forces in Syria in a complex and coordinated attack

U.S. forces in southern Syria came under attack by Islamic State militants around midnight local time on April 8, joining with local partner forces to repel the assault in an hours-long fight that required multiple airstrikes and left three U.S.-backed Syrian fighters dead.


U.S. special-operations advisers were on the ground near the al-Tanf border crossing when a force of 20 to 30 fighters with the Islamic State, the terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL, attacked in what a U.S. Central Command spokesman called a “complex and coordinated” attempt to take the base from the coalition.

Also read: Here’s how the U.S. hit that Syrian airbase

“U.S. and coalition forces were on the ground in the area as they normally are, and participated in repulsing the attack,” said Air Force Col. John J. Thomas, a spokesman for Central Command, according to the Associated Press.

“There was close-air support that was provided, there was ground support that was provided, and there was med-evac that was supported by the coalition,” Thomas added. No Americans were killed or wounded.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Marines train for attacks like this. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph A. Prado)

“Clearly it was planned,” Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon. “The coalition and our partner forces had the resources to repulse that attack. A lot of them wound up being killed and the garrison remains controlled by the people in control before being attacked.”

“Ultimately the attackers were killed, defeated, or chased off,” Thomas said.

U.S. forces at al-Tanf, on Syria’s southern border with Jordan and Iraq, had initially withdrawn to avoid potential retaliatory action after the U.S. strike on an Assad regime airfield in western Syria.

The attack came from ISIS fighters disguised as U.S.-backed rebels, carrying M-16 rifles and using vehicles captured from U.S.-supported rebel groups. They struck first with a car bomb at the base entrance, which allowed some of the attackers to infiltrate the base. Many of the ISIS fighters were wearing suicide vests.

“Around 20 ISIS fighters attacked the base, and suicide bombers blew up the main gate, and clashes took place inside the base,” Tlass al-Salama, the commander of the Osoud al Sharqiya Army, part of the U.S.-backed moderate rebel alliance, told The Wall Street Journal.

Salama’s force sent reinforcements to the base, but they came under attack from other ISIS fighters.

Related: Mattis warns Syria against using chemical weapons again

U.S. special-operations forces and their Syrian partners who had moved out of the base quickly returned, and they initially repelled the attack on the ground in a firefight that lasted about three hours.

Coalition pilots also carried out multiple airstrikes amid the fighting, destroying ISIS vehicles and killing many of the terrorist group’s fighters.

“It was a serious fight,” a U.S. military official said April 10. “Whether or not it was a one-off, we will have to see.”

U.S. special-operations forces had been training vetted Syrian opposition troops at al-Tanf for more than a year. The Syrian opposition fighters in question were operating against ISIS in southern Syria and working with Jordan to maintain border security.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
A fighter with the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces sits atop a vehicle before a battle. (Photo from SDF via Facebook)

The pullback from al-Tanf to safeguard against reprisals was just one step the coalition took in the aftermath of the U.S. strike on Shayrat airfield, which was believed to be the launching point for a chemical weapons attack on a Syrian village April 4.

The coalition also reduced the number of air missions it flew, out of concern Syrian or Russian forces would attempt to shoot down U.S. aircraft. The U.S. presence in Syria has increased in recent months, as Marines and other units arrive to aid U.S.-backed fighters.

ISIS may become more active in southern Syria as U.S.-backed forces close in on Raqqa, the terrorist group’s self-proclaimed capital located in northeast Syria. Top ISIS leaders have reportedly fled the city in recent months.

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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.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
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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The Marine Rapper will make you shake your Citizen Rump

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

A formation of F-15C Eagles, assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron, and an F-15E Strike Eagle, assigned to the 492nd Fighter Squadron, fly over Gloucestershire, England, to attend the Royal International Air Tattoo air show at Royal Air Force Fairford July 7, 2016. The RAF Lakenheath aircraft were on public display, along with many other military aircraft from around the U.K., to provide an opportunity for the U.S. military and its allies to showcase their capabilities.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Erin Trower

Airmen complete the Grog Bowl ritual during a combat dining out at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, July 9, 2016. The combat dining out is a modern informal twist on the ancient tradition of the military dining in. 

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. William Buchanan

ARMY:

Soldiers assigned to 1st Armored Division, Task Force Al Taqaddum, fire an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during a fire mission at Al Taqaddum Air Base, Iraq, June 27, 2016. The strikes were conducted in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and aimed at eliminating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Donald Holbert

A soldier assigned to the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, crosses a river using a single line rope bridge at Camp Rudder, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 7, 2016. The Florida Phase of Ranger School is the third and final phase that Ranger students must complete to earn the coveted Ranger Tab.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Berner

NAVY:

NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain (July 10, 2016) President Barack Obama departs USS Ross (DDG 71) after a tour aboard the ship. During the president’s visit to Naval Station Rota, he met with base leadership, toured USS Ross (DDG 71) and spoke to service members and their families during an all hands call. Naval Station Rota enables and supports operations of U.S. and allied forces and provides quality services in support of the fleet, fighter, and family for Commander, Navy Installations Command in Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian Dietrick

AMSTERDAM (June 21, 2016) Amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) makes its way through the locks of the North Sea Canal enroute to Amsterdam for its second port visit after the ship’s participation in exercise BALTOPS 2016. BALTOPS is an annually recurring multinational exercise designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate the capability and resolve of allied and partner forces to defend the Baltic region.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Julio Martinez Martinez

MARINE CORPS:

Lance Cpl. Mackinnly Lewis, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa, guides an MV-22B Osprey during a helicopter support team exercise aboard Naval Station Rota, Spain, July 6, 2016. This training prepares Marines to deliver and recover supplies and equipment quickly and efficiently in potential future missions around Europe and Africa.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Tia Nagle

Marines with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force Darwin, fix a humvee during Exercise Hamel at Cultana Training Area, South Australia, Australia, July 8, 2016. Exercise Hamel is a trilateral training exercise with Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. forces to enhance cooperation, trust, and friendship.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mandaline Hatch

COAST GUARD:

Twenty-six nations, 49 ships, six submarines, about 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel are participating in the Rim of the Pacific exercise, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle

The Maritime Security Response Team is a highly specialized team with advanced counterterrorism skills and tactics.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake

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US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS

Lebanon’s US-backed military is gearing up for a long-awaited assault to dislodge hundreds of Islamic State militants from a remote corner near Syrian border, seeking to end a years-long threat posed to neighboring towns and villages by the extremists.


The campaign will involve cooperation with the militant group Hezbollah and the Syrian army on the other side of the border — although Lebanese authorities insist they are not coordinating with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

But the assault could prove costly for the under-equipped military and risk activating IS sleeper cells in the country.

The tiny Mediterranean nation has been spared the wars and chaos that engulfed several countries in the region since the so-called Arab Spring uprisings erupted in 2011. But it has not been able to evade threats to its security, including sectarian infighting and random car bombings, particularly in 2014, when militants linked to al-Qaeda and IS overran the border region, kidnapping Lebanese soldiers.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
An ‘informal tented settlement’ in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley. Lebanon is housing an estimated 1.2 million Syrian refugees. Photo from Department for International Development.

The years-long presence of extremists in the border area has brought suffering to neighboring towns and villages, from shelling, to kidnappings of villagers for ransom. Car bombs made in the area and sent to other parts of the country, including the Lebanese capital, Beirut, have killed scores of citizens.

Aided directly by the United States and Britain, the army has accumulated steady successes against the militants in the past year, slowly clawing back territory, including strategic hills retaken in the past week. Authorities say it’s time for an all-out assault.

The planned operation follows a six-day military offensive by the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah that forced al-Qaeda-linked fighters to flee the area on the outskirts of the town of Arsal, along with thousands of civilians.

In a clear distribution of roles, the army is now expected to launch the attack on IS. In the past few days, the army’s artillery shells and multiple rocket launchers have been pounding the mountainous areas on the Lebanon-Syria border where IS held positions, in preparation for the offensive. Drones could be heard around the clock and residents of the eastern Bekaa Valley reported seeing army reinforcements arriving daily in the northeastern district of Hermel to join the battle.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Members of the Lebanese Armed Forces operate a Talon explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robot with Sailors assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.1 during Resolute Response 16 in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Scott

The offensive from the Lebanese side of the border will be carried out by the Lebanese army, while Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters will be working to clear the Syrian side of IS militants. Hezbollah has been fighting alongside Assad’s forces since 2013.

On August 8, the army’s top brass conferred with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and interior and defense ministers at the Presidential Palace to plan operations in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

The committee took the “necessary counsel and decisions to succeed in the military operations to eliminate the terrorists,” Maj. Gen. Saadallah Hamad said after the meeting.

Experts say more than 3,000 troops, including elite special forces, are in the northeastern corner of Lebanon to take part in the offensive. The army will likely use weapons it received from the United States, including Cessna aircraft that discharge Hellfire missiles.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Two AGM-114 Hellfire Missiles. Photo by 玄史生 via Wikimedia Commons.

Keen to support the army rather than the better equipped Iranian-backed Hezbollah, the US and Britain have supplied the military with helicopters, anti-tank missiles, artillery, and radars, as well as training. The American Embassy says the US has provided Lebanon with over $1.4 billion in security assistance since 2005.

But the fight is not expected to be quick or easy.

According to Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, there are about 400 IS fighters in the Lebanese area, and hundreds more on the Syrian side of the border.

“It is not going to be a picnic,” said Hisham Jaber, a retired army general who heads the Middle East Center for Studies and Political Research in Beirut. “The Lebanese army will try to carry out the mission with the least possible losses.”

Jaber said the battle may last several weeks. “It is a rugged area and the organization (IS) is well armed and experienced.”

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Marines with Charlie Company and Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Soldiers of the Lebanese Army conduct a live-fire, combined arms range, May 12, 2012. Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Chad Kiehl

There are also concerns the offensive may subject Lebanon to retaliatory attacks by militants, just as the country has started to enjoy a rebound in tourism.

A Lebanese security official said authorities are taking strict security measures to prevent any attack deep inside Lebanon by sleeper cells. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said authorities have detained several IS militants over the past weeks.

Lebanese politicians say IS controls an area of about 296 square kilometers (114 square miles) between the two countries, of which 141 square kilometers (54.5 square miles) are in Lebanon.

The area stretches from the badlands of the Lebanese town of Arsal and Christian villages of Ras Baalbek and Qaa, to the outskirts of Syria’s Qalamoun region and parts of the western Syrian town of Qusair that Hezbollah captured in 2013.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

In a televised speech last August 4, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said that once the Lebanese army launches its offensive from the Lebanese side, Hezbollah and the Syrian army will begin their attack from the Syrian side. He added that there has to be coordination between the Syrian and Lebanese armies in the battle.

“Opening two fronts at the same time will speed up victory and reduce losses,” Nasrallah said, adding that his fighters on the Lebanese side of the border are at the disposal of Lebanese troops if needed.

“I tell Daesh that the Lebanese and Syrians will attack you from all sides and you will not be able to resist and will be defeated,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the extremist group.

“If you decide to fight, you will end up either a prisoner or dead,” Nasrallah added.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Syrian brothers who are now refugees living in an informal tented settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Photo from DFID Flickr.

Some Lebanese politicians have been opposed to security coordination with the Syrian army. The Lebanese are sharply divided over Syria’s civil war that has spilled to the tiny country of 4.5 million people. Lebanon is hosting some 1.2 million Syrian refugees.

Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister, is opposed to Assad while his national unity Cabinet includes Hezbollah as well as other groups allied with the Syrian president.

Last week, Hariri told reporters that Lebanese authorities are ready to negotiate to discover the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers who were captured during the raid on Arsal by IS and al-Qaeda fighters in August 2014. Unlike their rivals in al-Qaeda, the Islamic State group is not known to negotiate prisoner exchanges.

“The presence of Daesh will end in Lebanon,” Hariri said, using the same Arabic acronym to refer to IS.

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This is the debunking of the military horse statue myth

Myth: The way a soldier’s horse is portrayed in an equestrian statue indicates how the soldier died.


This myth, perpetuated by many a tourist guide the world over, simply isn’t true.

(Not unlike how tourist guides around the equator will often tell you that what hemisphere you’re in effects the way the water swirls down the toilet or drain. They’ll even sometimes take you a few hundred meters on one side of the equator and show you water swirling one way, then a few hundred meters from that on the other side of the equator and show it swirling the other. Magic! In fact, of course, what hemisphere you’re in has almost nothing to do with the way water swirls down toilets and drains.)

Also read: The 10 most famous ghosts in the White House closets

An example of a tourist guidebook that perpetuates the equestrian myth is the 1987 Hands on Chicago:

At Sheridan Road and Belmont Avenue, the statue of [General] Sheridan beckons troops to battle. The horse General Sheridan rides is named Winchester…Winchester’s raised leg symbolizes his rider was wounded in battle (the legs of [General] Grant’s horse are on the ground, meaning he was not wounded).

This gives a pretty good account of the myth as it is generally stated, but leaving out the third commonly said option of the horse having both front legs in the air, implying the soldier died in battle. Another caveat is that if the rider died of complications from wounds received in battle, but at a later date from the battle, most versions of this myth have it that just one leg should be up as with the people who were wounded but didn’t die of complications from the wound.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Boyer

According to the US Army Center of Military History, no such tradition has ever existed. This is not surprising considering that examples of multiple equestrian statues of the same person tend to be inconsistent in terms of the horse’s legs positioning. But let’s not take the US Army historian’s word for it, let’s look at some examples.

First, take a walk around Washington DC, which has the largest collection of equestrian statues of any city in the world. From this, you’ll quickly be disabused of the notion that the depiction of the horse’ legs has anything to do with the way the person died, with only about 30% of this city’s statues conforming to the above “rules”. (Given that there are 3 options here, that 30%-ish seems rather fitting.)

One of the oldest known equestrian statues in the United States is the 1853 statue of General Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park, Washington D.C., which was made in celebration of Jackson’s victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans.

In this statue, the horse has both forelegs in the air. Of course, Jackson did not die in battle, but of tuberculosis. The person who cast that sculpture, Clark Mills, was the first sculptor in the United States to cast a horse with a rider where the horse has some of its legs in the air (in this case both) — at this point it was more of a mark of the skill of the artist to have the horse with legs in the air rather than any sort of tradition relating to battle and death.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Andrew Jackson, 1853, Sculptor: Clark Mills, Location: Lafayette Park. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In cases where the same sculptor made multiple equestrian statues that could potentially apply to this “rule,” such as the case of world renowned Irish sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, we see that he, at-times, violated the supposed tradition and other times seemed to adhere to it.

One such statue he made of General William Techumsa Sherman has one of the front legs of the horse raised.

Indeed, General Sherman was wounded twice in battle, and even had 3 horses shot out from under him. He did not die in battle, but lived to the ripe old age of 71, and is thought to have died from pneumonia. So from that respect, this one fits. It should be noted, though, that this statue also has one of the horse’s rear legs lifted. The equestrian statue horse legs myth doesn’t seem to cover what that potentially would mean…maybe…just maybe…it means the horse is supposed to look like it’s running and has nothing to do with the rider’s death/wounds…

More reading: This is how piracy became totally legal during wartime

There is also a major equestrian statue of General Sherman at the General Sherman Memorial in Washington DC. This statue has the horse with all four legs on the ground. (This is a common theme where multiple equestrian statues exist. One would guess the differences have something to do with sculptors wanting theirs to look markedly different than the already existing statue(s).)

The only place where this equestrian statue “tradition” seems to hold with any sort of consistency is with a few statues of soldiers who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. (This is thought to be how the myth got started in the first place.) Of the nearly 500 monuments at Gettysburg, there are 6 equestrian statues. Five of the six conform to the myth and the sixth loosely does, but the problem is the statue of General John Sedgwick, who died at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House- his equestrian statue has all four hooves are on the ground.

This small military office influences some of Hollywood’s biggest films
Statue of General John Sedgwick. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

(Aside: General Sedgwick’s last words were: “What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” He then took a bullet through his head fired from about 900-ish meters (1000 yards) away.)

Of course, it could be argued that this “tradition” was meant only to refer to what happened at the battle of Gettysburg, in which Sedgwick was not wounded nor did he die in. If that’s the case, then his is correct. However, if that’s the case then the statue of James Longstreet in that collection is not. He wasn’t wounded in Gettysburg, but his statue has the horse with one foot raised.

(He was wounded in the Battle of Glendale, so that would fit there, but not if we’re limiting the statue’s positioning based on the battle of Gettysburg to make the statue of General Sedgwick fit.)

Even then, it seems odd such a code would be created just for 6 statues of prominent people who fought in the battle of Gettysburg, and even more odd that if the code did exist that they would have broken it in one of the statues. Given there is no record of the sculptors having done this intentionally, and the discrepancy, it’s really not clear that this is what they were going for. It’s possible given the small sample size and that this is the only place we find this somewhat consistent correlation, it just randomly happened to work out that way with the way the sculptors decided to make the statues.

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The America’s Response Monument, aka Horse Soldier statue, sits in its final resting place at Liberty Park, NYC. (DoD Photo by Capt. Eric Hudson)

So this covers pretty thoroughly the statues in America. What about the equestrian statues across the pond? The Ancient Romans had numerous examples of equestrian statues, but unfortunately nearly all were destroyed or melted down for use in other things. One of the very few surviving equestrian statues from Rome was of Emperor Marcus Aurelius who died in 180 of an illness.

His horse in that statue has one foreleg up in the air. There is no record of Marcus Aurelius ever being wounded in battle and as a prominent Roman and eventual Emperor, it’s unlikely he saw much direct, close-up battle time (though was a part of many battles).

(Aside: funny enough, probably the only reason the statue of Marcus Aurelius survived when most all the others did not is that for a long time it was misidentified as a statue of Emperor Constantine the Great, who was a Christian Emperor. Why is this important to its preservation? Because many of the Roman statues were melted down to make things like church bells, coins, and sculptures for churches. Melting down a statue of Constantine would have been borderline blasphemy.)

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Marcus Aurelius. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

There is a surviving equestrian statue of Emperor Constantine with the horse having both front legs up. Constantine did not die in battle, rather of natural causes.

Fast-forward to more recent times, in Medieval Europe and there really aren’t many equestrian statues, as they were (and are) very expensive to make and require a skilled sculptor. The few examples that exist don’t seem to correlate at all with any sort of horse leg tradition. For one brief, slightly more recent example, we have King Louis XIV who had an equestrian statue at Versailles with both forelegs on the horse in the air.

Louis XIV died of gangrene at the age of 77, not in battle.

Given that many a sculptor has worked on equestrian statues throughout history, if there is supposed to be some sort of code, even if not generally followed, there would be documentation of it somewhere — after all, they have to pass that code on. Not surprisingly, there is not.

It’s almost as if the sculptor just chooses the horse’s attitude to suit personal artistic preference…

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These Marines go in right after chemical and biological attacks

Some of the most dangerous threats that could be employed against the U.S. military or homeland are the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons of mass destruction.


While attempted dirty bombs or anthrax attacks have usually been stopped by the intelligence and police services before the attacks took place, there’s a group of Marines and sailors who train and constantly prepare to react to a successful attack.

Dubbed the Chemical, Biological Incident Response Force, or CBIRF, these Marines are ready to go into nightmare attacks after they happen.

“CBIRF is the only unit in the Marine Corps trained to respond to the worst scenarios imaginable here and abroad,” Erick Swartz, senior scientist with CBIRF and designer of the CBIRF battle drills, told a Marine Corps journalist. “At any moment CBIRF can and might be called on to save lives.”

Here’s a look at America’s 911 call for a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack:

1. The CBIRF is capable of deploying on short or no notice. Once they arrive, they have to confirm what the chemical and biological weapons in play are.

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Marines with Identification and Detection Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), show Army Maj. Gen. Richard Gallant, commander of Joint Task Force Civil Support, how they collect samples of chemical agents during an official visit at Naval Annex Stump Neck, Md., Sept. 29, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Sgt. Jonathan Herrera)

2. While operating in a chemical, biological, or nuclear-contaminated area, the Marines wear special gear to protect themselves.

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Sailors with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, examine a contaminated chamber using a Multi-Rae monitor while donning their Class A personal protective equipment which includes self-contained breathing apparatus during Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 23, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

3. When they arrive in a disaster area, platoons deploy throughout the area to start rescuing trapped people.

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Marines with search and extraction and technical rescue platoons, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIIRF utilize high-pressure lifting air bags to remove rubble to free a simulated victim of a notional nuclear explosion during 48-hour operations as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

4. In a city that has suffered an attack, the Marines would face many technical challenges, so they train on the most difficult possible rescues.

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U.S. Marines with Technical Rescue Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) rescues simulated casualties using vehicle extrication and high angle rescue techniques as part of a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

5. The Marines’ mission requires a lot of specialized equipment, like these Paratech struts for lifting light structures and vehicles.

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Marines with technical rescue platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, use Paratech struts to stabilize a truck and extricate a simulated victim during training with soldiers from 911th Technical Rescue Engineer Company stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va., as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 23, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

6. The unit has to be prepared to rescue people from factories, warehouses, and other challenging structures as well. Here, they practice a medevac from a simulated steam plant explosion.

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U.S. Marines with Technical Rescue Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) rescue simulated casualties using vehicle extrication and high angle rescue techniques as part of a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

7. The CBIRF has to search from the top to bottom of each structure while shoring up damaged areas to make sure the building doesn’t collapse.

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U.S. Marines with Search and Extraction Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) extracted numerous simulated casualties as part of a final training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

8. The unit even trains to recover people from the wilds. Here, a Marine trains on rescuing a parachutist trapped in a tree.

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Cpl. Mitchell Reck a rifleman with search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, climbs a tree using proper harness and rope techniques to save a simulated parachutist that got caught on a tree during Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 24, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

9. The Marines could face a continuing threat, so they train to find and defuse or destroy dangerous devices.

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U.S. Marines with Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBRIF) participate in a final training exercise with Fire Department of New York (FDNY) responding to and deactivating a notional explosive threat found at a steam plant on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

10. The recovered survivors need lots of medical care, so the Marines evacuate them to field decontamination areas and hospitals as quickly as possible.

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U.S. Marines with Search and Extraction Platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) extracted numerous casualties as part of a final training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

11. As areas are secured and cleared, the teams write notes at the entrances to let other Marines know the status of the building and the local rescue efforts.

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A Marine with search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, marks an X to indicate the area covered and casualties found during 48-hour operations as part of Exercise Scarlet Response 2016 at Guardian Centers, Perry, Ga., Aug. 25, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

12. At decontamination areas, the Marines clean each victim before they’re taken to the medical platoon for treatment. This gets most contaminating agents off the of the victims and protects them, the Marines and sailors, and other patients.

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13. Thankfully, the Marines haven’t had many real-world incidents to respond to, but they do have real missions. For instance, they protected both the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2016.

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Marines from the search and extraction platoon, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, CBIRF, line up for accountability after a deployment drill during Democratic National Convention, DNC, in Philadelphia, July 25, 2016. CBIRF’s Marines and sailors worked alongside federal and local agencies to provide chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives, CBRNE, response capability for the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

14. The CBIRF Marines and sailors constantly work to make sure that the rest of us can be rescued if the nightmare scenario ever comes to pass.

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U.S. Marines with Identification and Detection Platoon (IDP) part of the primary assessment team, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) locate and assess casualties found at a steam plant during a training exercise with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on Randall’s Island, N.Y., Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Maverick S. Mejia)

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This guy built a flying Spitfire from scratch

Bob DeFord really wanted to fly one of the iconic Spitfire airplanes that saved England from Nazi invasion during the Battle of Britain, but the things can sell for millions of dollars at auction, even in rough condition.


So instead he worked with a small group of friends for eight years and created a full-scale Spitfire Mk. IX, the plane that gave British pilots a better chance against the feared Focke-Wulf 190.

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(Image: YouTube/EAA)

DeFord’s creation isn’t a perfect replica. The wings and some other parts are wood where the true Mk. IXs are metal, and the engine is an Allison V-1710 instead of the Merlin 60.

But for what amounts to a flying model, DeFord’s piece is amazingly accurate. The distinct Spitfire wings are properly shaped and a rear-view mirror, improvised from a soup ladle and a car mirror, sits over the cockpit in a nearly picture-perfect imitation of the real thing.

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(Image: YouTube/EAA)

The rear-view mirror cost DeFord an estimated $12 — not bad when original mirrors from World War II sell for $300.

There are even stand-ins for the four 20mm cannons that gave the Spitfire its deadly punch.

DeFord tells his story in the video below. Cut to 3:09 to see the bird in flight:

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Attack helicopter lands and asks for directions

Well, that’s something you don’t see everyday. A group of truckers in Kazakhstan were surprised when an Mi-8 helicopter with attached rocket pods landed on the road, halting traffic.


The drivers waited as one of the pilots climbed out and asked a quick question before waving, running back to the bird, and taking off again.

According to RT, the drivers are getting a good laugh on the radios after they realize what has happened:
“They were lost,” says a voice on the convoy radio, failing to suppress his laughter. “He came to ask which way to Aktobe.”

“How can you get lost in the steppe? How the hell can you get lost in the steppe?” says another incredulous voice.

According to the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defense, the pilots were on a planned visual-orienteering mission to test their navigation skills, including human survey. Since the pilots made it back after asking for directions, their mission was a success.

Even if it made them a bit of a joke between the truck drivers.

(H/T The Aviationist)

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Here’s why almost 60K soldiers could lose their housing allowance

About 60,000 US soldiers will have their monthly Basic Allowance for Housing payments revoked if they don’t update their personnel files with documents proving they qualify for the benefit.


The mandate to update the documents, first reported Aug. 30 by the site US Army WTF Moments, will be released in an official message “soon,” Army officials said.

That message will direct soldiers to update their documentation in the interactive Personnel Electronic Records Management System, service officials told Military.com on Aug. 31.

“An ALARACT addressing the required documentation that should be loaded into iPERMS for BAH and the timeline for required actions is being drafted,” Army Lt. Col. Randy Taylor, an Army manpower and reserve affairs spokesman, said in an email to Military.com.

“Currently, we have around 60,000 soldiers who are missing documentation in iPERMS,” he added.

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Photo from USMC.

Whether a service member qualifies for BAH is based on paygrade and if he or she has dependents.

For those who qualify to live outside the barracks, the allowance amount is based on paygrade, dependents, and duty station zip code.

Dual military couples are both given a BAH payment at the “without dependents rate,” unless they have children. In that case, one of the members receives the “with dependents rate,” while the other does not.

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Newly promoted Staff Sgt. Heather E. Estes, a motor transport operator from 68th Transportation Company, pins the rank of staff sergeant on her husband, Staff Sgt. Trysen J. Estes, a motor transport operator from 68th TC, during a promotion ceremony for the dual military couple. Photo by Spc. Fabian Ortega.

Documents that show eligibility and should be in iPERMS can include birth, adoption, and marriage certificates.

Soldiers will be given 60 days from the release of the ALARACT message to upload their missing documentation, Taylor said.

After the 60 days, their with-dependents rate BAH payments will be reduced or, in the case of soldiers who do not otherwise qualify for BAH, eliminated.

They will be notified of the need to update by both email and by their unit, he said.

If soldiers still have not updated their documents within 90 days of the initial deadline, they will be referred to the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) under suspicion of BAH fraud, USAWTFM reported.

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Lt. Col. William Walker 49th Material Maintenance Group and his family prepare to cut the ribbon on their new home at the Soaring Heights Communities ribbon cutting ceremony at Holloman Air Force Base.

Taylor, whose initial response didn’t mention such a referral, said the iPERMS document requirement has been in place since 2013.

“Since 2013, there has been a Secretary of the Army directive mandating that key supporting documents are to be stored in the interactive Personnel Electronic Records Management System (iPERMS),” he said in the email.

“Loading KSD in iPERMS allows the Army to improve on its business processes and ensure all Soldiers are receiving the correct payments for their entitlements to include BAH,” he wrote.

The Pentagon is preparing for its first-ever full financial audit, which is to begin this fall. White House officials hope to have the audit completed by mid-2019.

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Under Secretary of the Army Joseph Westphal, center, discusses business transformation and best practices with representatives. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bernardo Fuller.

Meanwhile, BAH payments and rates remain a point of contention on Capitol Hill as some lawmakers look to find cost savings by changing who can qualify for the higher with-dependents rates.

Lawmakers ultimately scrapped a 2016 proposal that would have severely limited the amount of housing allowance available to dual-military married couples and service members sharing off-base housing with other troops.

proposal in the 2018 authorization bill, which is still under negotiation between the House and Senate, would focus reductions only on dual-military couples, bumping both members down to a “without dependent” housing rate regardless of whether the couple has children.