Kazakhstan has long been an important military partner for the Russian government and remains the launching pad for Moscow’s space program.
This year, more than 3,000 military personnel representing 19 countries descended on the Central Asian nation to participate in a series of war games dubbed “The International Army Games.” Russia and Kazakhstan (a former Soviet Republic) will each hold events for the games, which runs through August 13th and kicked off with the Tank Biathlon.
This year’s list of competitions includes 23 different events, including those listed below.
Most competitions are for the Army, including 17 of the 23 events. Three are for air forces and two are for naval forces. The naval exercises will be held in Russia since Kazakhstan is landlocked.
The Russian military invited 47 countries to the games, including the U.S. and its NATO allies. Greece, who sent a team to the sniper event, is the only NATO partner that accepted Russia’s invite.
The games themselves date back to the days of the USSR, when Soviet and Warsaw Pact troops would compete to hone their martial skills during peacetime.
“For many soldiers, specialists in particular, peacetime can present what we call unrealized professional syndrome,” Igor Sutyagin, a Russian military expert, told Newsweek. “They train all their life for something and they never test their skills. These competitions between crews give them a chance to feel they are the best at what they do and in particular the focus is important in support and combat support staff, such as cooks.”
The 121 teams include armies that might not be best of friends with the U.S., including the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran also sent its Basij soldiers and some police officers to compete.
“We are ready to emulate various tactical and technical things from our partners from Russia and other countries, and get acquainted with the arms they use,” Iranian Col. Mehdi Ahmadi Afshar told Sputnik News, a Russian government-controlled news agency. “We are looking forward to honest competition and fruitful cooperation with our colleagues here.”
Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the United States Seventh Fleet, has been relieved of his command by Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the Pacific Fleet. The firing comes within days of a collision between the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and a civilian tanker east of the Straits of Malacca that left 10 sailors missing.
According to a brief Navy release, Aucoin was relieved by Swift due to “a loss of confidence in his ability to command.” The release went on to say that Aucoin’s planned successor, Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, will assume command immediately. Sawyer was confirmed to the rank of vice admiral and appointed commander of the Seventh Fleet on June 5 of this year, according to the Congressional Record.
According to an official biography, Vice Adm. Aucoin’s Navy career included service in five aviation squadrons, command of the aircraft carrier USS Kittyhawk (CV 63), and over 150 combat missions. His awards include the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross with Combat Distinguishing Device.
Rear Adm. Sawyer, who will replace Aucoin, is a career submariner whose service included command of USS La Jolla (SSN 701) and Submarine Squadron 15. Prior to taking command of the 7th Fleet, Sawyer served as deputy commander of the Pacific Fleet.
Did the prime minister or the grunge icon say these things?
On the surface, the two have nothing in common. The Washington-born front man for Nirvana led the group to rock stardom. Eventually becoming known as “the flagship band” of Generation X, and Cobain as “the spokesman of a generation.”
On the other hand, Sir Winston Churchill served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and led Britain to victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. Both Cobain and Churchill were student of literature — Cobain a poet and Churchill a writer. Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 for his overall, lifetime body of work.
Besides their different walks of life, the two seem to have a similar outlook. We gathered some of their most famous quotes to make this quiz. Can you guess who said what?
Jay Gatsby is a fictional character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” “The Great Gatsby” is part of curriculums in high schools across America as one of the best novels in American literature. It offers a look into the Roaring Twenties and what it looked like to chase the American Dream during that time period. An often overlooked fact is that Fitzgerald, and the fictional Gatsby, are both World War I veterans, but that is where the similarities between their careers end.
Gatsby is a reimagined reflection of Fitzgerald’s military career – or what could have been. When one reads between the lines through the lens of military history, Fitzgerald reveals how Gatsby got his commission. Whether that is intentional or otherwise, Jay Gatsby is an officer you would have wanted during the war to end all wars.
Gatsby was often meritoriously promoted
Why would Fitzgerald have cared about how Gatsby made captain — and more to the point — why would he have been secretive about this information? Here it helps to know that Fitzgerald was frustrated in his own military ambitions and his Army record was an embarrassment to him. Though he made it into officer training by taking an entrance exam open to college students, he never got sent to Europe, and captain was precisely the rank he desired and had fantasies about but never achieved.
Keith Gandal, The real secret behind Gatsby
In the book, Nick Carraway explains that Gatsby was a Captain before he was sent to the war. Chronologically, He meets Daisy at Camp Taylor as a 1st lieutenant, he is promoted to Captain at the end of training and is meritoriously promoted again to Major. Officer or enlisted, if your leadership is meritoriously promoted to every rank they have ever had, that’s one hard charger. It’s impossible to brown nose all the way up.
He’s honest about his military career
Out of all the stories he tells to impress Nick, I believe the only time he was ever truthful with him is when he was recounting his military exploits. It was his finest hour. He wasn’t born with an inheritance, but he was born with courage. It was something that came from him, his own birthright that was truly him — something money can’t buy.
The Army also needed thousands of officers. Regular Army and National Guard officers were quickly promoted. The creation of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) converted college students with military aptitude into leaders.
The National WWI Museum and Memorial
Gatsby as an officer would likely have been motivated to succeed in battle and hungered for the laurels of victory. Gatsby’s war medals are authentic and he lead his troops to victory. He would likely have been able to identify with the enlisted while commanding instant obedience to orders. He fit in with the “good ol’ boys” because he successfully was able to pass himself off as a gentlemen of means.
Another little-known fact about World War I is that the military was experimenting with meritocracy. Today, a meritocracy is expected out of all branches of the Armed Services. Gatsby is given an opportunity to climb the social ladder using his military service as a springboard. During WWI, one did not necessarily need to come from a family of means or be a college graduate to become an officer. If you could pass an aptitude test you were good to go regardless of your socioeconomic background.
The Army really did promote officers quickly during WWI
Maj. Gen. Peyton March’s overarching goal was to get as many men as possible to Europe and into the AEF to win the war. To achieve this, he wanted to establish effectiveness and efficiency in the General Staff and the War Department. He quickly went about clearing bureaucratic log-jams, streamlining operations, and ousting ineffective officers.
THE U.S. ARMY IN WORLD WAR I, 1917–1918, history.army.mil
The Army deliberately set out to award competence and reduce the BS pretentiousness of decorum. So, the theory of Gatsby earning his promotions through merit rather than favoritism holds water. Before World War I, the American officer corps was more like the British class-based officer corps. The idea of an oligarch-only officer corps in today’s military is impossible to imagine. It wouldn’t work now and it didn’t work then. The U.S. Army adapted while our European counterparts clutched on to the past. That change proved dividends in the war for the United States.
Gatsby was a fearless leader
Officers in combat-related Military Occupational Specialties are trained to lead from the front. Sometimes, that is literal. Up until the war’s end, Gatsby was an honorable man and not the fraud he fabricated later in life. In Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” he shows Gatsby leading a bayonet charge across “no man’s land.” WWI had advances in technology never before seen in combat. When the tools of war evolve towards perfecting the art of death, you want an officer willing to step first on the field of battle and who earned the right to do so legitimately.
Joe Cardona is no stranger to being a leader both in the fleet and on the field. Joe is a two-time Super Bowl Champion who plays for the New England Patriots. He was drafted as a long snapper, which doesn’t happen often and established himself as one of the most consistent snappers in the NFL. He also has set an example as a leader in the Pats’ locker room. How was he able to do that? A lot had to do with his college experience: Joe is a Naval Academy graduate.
Cardona played for the Midshipmen and had a perfect career as a snapper which drew the eyes of plenty of NFL scouts. Playing in the NFL is tough, but Cardona also serves as a Lieutenant in the Navy.
Joe is partnering with USAA, during this Memorial Day to bring awareness to USAA’s digital tribute PoppyInMemory.com where people can pay homage to a lost service member. We got a chance to sit down with Cardona and talk about honoring those who lost their lives, his career and a little football.
Tell me about this partnership with USAA and what it means to you?
It’s an honor to work with USAA to do a lot for service members. I am a member myself and it’s funny how that comes full circle. Poppyinmemory.com is pretty cool because it really highlights this history of remembrance with the red poppy that dates back to WWI. But now, as we enter the digital age, they have an opportunity to dedicate a poppy to a service member who made the ultimate sacrifice.
It’s an opportunity to highlight a loved one, whether it is a family member or friend, who made the sacrifice for our freedom.
The website itself is a great resource to honor members from every conflict back to WWI. Its pretty awesome and I am glad to be a part of it.
Memorial Day means a lot to many of us veterans. Is there something specific about Memorial Day, like a person or part of history that really symbolized what Memorial Day means?
Most of us have someone close to us who has passed. Whether it’s a teammate, mentor or friend we all lost someone. I had a buddy who died in an aviation accident, Lt Caleb King. I just reflect about him and his family and how much he and them sacrificed so much for all of us. And for others who have died in conflicts, even if it’s not in the forefront of our mind all the time.
I hope people will take time before you kick off a celebratory weekend to go to that veteran’s memorial or park. Stop by the memorial you walk by every single day, read the names on the memorial and reflect about them on a day like this.
Let’s talk about you a little bit. You’re a Naval Academy Grad, you were drafted right into the NFL as a long snapper. That doesn’t happen quite often. The USNA prepares you for military service and going into battle. Is there anything the academy did to prepare you for life in the NFL?
They are really good at preparing people to be excellent and every graduate wants to carry that tradition as an officer in the Navy or Marines.
They answer the call to serve but we all do it differently; in different paths both in and out of the service.
For me, having this opportunity that I never thought I would get, playing in the NFL provides that. I know I have to come every day and prove myself. But I also know I have to earn the privilege of leadership.
You have to earn it at the Academy, and you have to earn it with your teammates, and it comes into play in high pressure moments. There are a lot of parallels between football and military service when it comes to that.
You were promoted on the 75th anniversary of D-Day and got your Super Bowl ring the same day. How surreal was that? That has to be one heck of an experience!
Being promoted to LT is something I will never forget. I got to do it in front of my teammates and coaches who invest a lot of time in me and with peers who I served with, were there as well. For me it was awesome because it was both of my worlds coming together. The celebration that followed was pretty great, getting presented a Super Bowl ring and all, so I can’t complain about that. But it was a good moment to bring together my two worlds of football and service.
Last question. We asked this of David Robinson who went to the Naval Academy and Steve Cannon of the Falcons organization who went to West Point, so we have to ask you too. Who wins next year, Army or Navy and what does Navy need to do to get back into this fight?
I think Army-Navy this year, we are going to see a completely different set of circumstances. Navy had a down year, but they are hungry right now. They had a good spring camp. It reminds me of after my freshman year at the Academy and we were excited to go hit people so hopefully it’s the same for them.
This past year, Army got us on their home turf. But it will be a neutral site this year, so I hope we can go kick their ass.
In observance of Memorial Day this year, USAA is leading an effort to encourage Americans to offer a digital tribute to fallen military members by visiting PoppyInMemory.com.
Visitors to the site can:
Learn about lives lost in military conflicts since World War I
See how to dedicate a digital poppy to a fallen military member and learn about the significance of the red poppy flower
Get involved with the conversation on social media using #HonorThroughAction
On Memorial Day, America remembers those who gave their lives in military conflicts to protect the freedoms we enjoy. Since World War I, the red poppy flower has been a symbol of remembrance for the ultimate sacrifice made by more than 645,000 heroic men and women.
For once, Internet rumors have proved true. Swedish video-game developer DICE, a subsidiary of EA, is looking to the past for the setting of the newest installation in its Battlefield series of first-person shooters.
But how realistic are the weapons in Battlefield 1? It turns out — pretty realistic for a game of this sort. But there are a couple of odd anachronisms.
DICE launched the Battlefield series back in 2002 with Battlefield 1942, set during World War II. Most of the Battlefield games are set in the present or future, but one takes place during the Vietnam War. As such, the Battlefieldseries has a history with, ahem, history.
Today in 2016 we’re in the middle of the Great War centennial — and this no doubt inspired DICE’s decision to set Battlefield 1 during World War I. It’s also possible that the developers hoped to recreate the success of the excellent multiplayer game Verdun, which recreates the eponymous 1916 battle.
Having played some of their earlier games — namely Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam — and having been impressed with the level accuracy and detail, I decided to take a close look at some of the weapons that appear in the 60-second teaser trailer DICE recently released for Battlefield 1.
In the first 10 seconds of the trailer, we see what looks to be a German soldier wearing a Gaede helmet and a gas mask and bludgeoning an enemy with a trench club.
At left — EA capture. At right — German soldiers in Gaede helmets, c. 1915. Photo via Reddit
A short while later, the trailer cuts to what appears to be a sabre-wielding Arab horseman charging through a desert. All pretty convincing.
At left — EA capture. At right — Arab cavalry in 1916. Library of Congress photo
Thirteen seconds into the trailer, there’s a spectacular aerial shot of a Western Front battlefield from over the shoulder of an observer manning what appears to be a Mk. II Aerial Lewis Gun.
Another scene again shows a Gaede-wearing German dispatching an apparent American infantryman armed with what could be a Winchester M1897 Trench Gun or, alternatively, a Remington Model 10A Trench Gun, which the U.S. Marine Corps deployed in limited numbers during World War I.
The shotgun’s profile — it doesn’t appear to have an exposed hammer like the Winchester does — and its bayonet lug indicate it’s the latter weapon. However, the weapon lacks the wooden heat shield which fit to the top of the Model 10A’s barrel. The pump handle also appears to be missing!
Maxim LMG 08/15
The trailer features a series of aerial dogfights over a number of different theaters. Twenty seconds in, we see a red German plane — possibly a Fokker Dr.I — chase an Allied biplane through a canyon, ultimately destroying it with its MG 08/15 Maxim machine guns.
At the 25-second mark, the world’s first anti-tank rifle — the German T-Gewehr — is briefly visible. A soldier sprints beside a British Mk. IV Male tank — which, by the way, is moving far too fast to be realistic. It’s quite the feat, considering the T-Gewehr weighed 41 pounds!
At left — EA capture. At right — New Zealand troops with a captured T-Gewehr. Imperial War Museum photo
Halfway through the trailer, there’s a brief glimpse of a 1911 pistol. This scene also hints that the game could involve more than just trench combat.
At left — EA capture. At right — Photo via Zwickelundkrieg
At the trailer’s midpoint, we finally get our first glimpses of gas warfare. A shattered ruin collapses under artillery fire and a Lewis Gun operator blasts a German infantryman before donning a gas mask.
At left — EA capture. At right — A U.S. Marine test-fires an M1917 Lewis Gun in 1917. Library of Congress photo
Carcano M1891 Carbine
The trailer cuts to a group of what seem to be Italian infantry wearing Adrian helmet — and getting brutally cut down by machine-gun fire. The carbines they carry are the trailer’s first mystery. They’re not quite Carcanos, but what else would Italian troops be carrying in 1916?
The weapons lack the Carcano’s curved bolt handle, folding bayonet and magazine — but no other weapon fits the bill. Maybe this represents a rare oversight in DICE’s game design. Or maybe the weapon we see in the trailer is a placeholder for a gun that the designers are still working on rendering.
At left — EA capture. At right — YouTube capture
At 38 seconds, the iconic British Short Magazine Lee-Enfield makes an appearance as the camera pans across a trench full of British troops scrambling to fix bayonets.
At left — EA capture. At right — British soldiers with Lee-Enfield rifles during World War II
Scoped Gewehr 98
For a split-second as a building explodes, we catch a glimpse of a sniper’s scope-equipped Gewehr 98 rifle.
At left — EA capture. At right — A German soldier with a Gewehr 98. Capture from the 1943 film ‘Sahara’
MG 08/15 or Bergmann MG15nA
It’s difficult to see quite what this unrealistically armor-clad soldier is hip-firing, but it’s probably either a MG08/15 or possibly a Bergmann MG15nA — which had a carrying handle — as these were the only light machine guns Germany used during the war.
This brief scene concerns me, as the armor looks more like something from the 15th century than from World War I. Not only that, the MG 08/15 weighed nearly 40 pounds, so it was impossible to fire from the hip for very long.
While it’s true that the Germans experimented with infantry armor during World War I, most of the combatant nations — including Germany — found heavy armor to be impractical and never deployed it outside of static fortifications.
At left—Bergmann MG15nA. World.guns.ru photo. At right — Mg 08 15. Mitrailleuse.fr photo
Mauser C96 Bergmann MP18
Let’s round things out with a look at the weapons in the first promotional images DICE made available following the trailer’s debut. They show a man armed with a trench club in one hand, the iconic Mauser C96 in the other and a Bergmann MP18 submachine gun — complete with a trommel magazine slung at his side!
At left — Mauser C96. Photo via Wikipedia. At right — Bergmann MP18. World.guns.ru photo
No doubt, once Battlefield 1 drops in October 2016, we’ll also see BARs,Chauchats, Lebels, Lugers and a host of Maxim guns. But what about more obscure weapons? Perhaps an Italian Villar Perosa, a French RSC 1917, a British Webley automatic or even a Pedersen Device jutting out of an M1903 Springfield.
The web blew up once again today around something Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on the campaign trail. During a rally in Ashburn, Va. retired Lt.Col. Louis Dorfman gave Trump his Purple Heart medal, saying, according to the candidate, “I have such confidence in you.” While relating the story to the crowd gathered at the rally, Trump went on to say, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart, but this was much easier.”
While those who wear the Purple Heart Medal are highly respected, most troops familiar with the criteria that entitle one to it don’t “want” one, and a quick scan of those criteria illustrates why.
This excerpt below was taken from the U.S. Army’s instruction (AR-600-8-22), but the wording is similar across all branches of service.
The instruction reads as follows:
a. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of an Armed Force or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded
(1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.
(2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged.
(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
(4) As a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.
(5) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.
(6) After 28 March 1973, as a result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of the Army, or jointly by the Secretaries of the separate armed Services concerned if persons from more than one service are wounded in the attack.
(7) After 28 March 1973, as a result of military operations while serving outside the territory of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.
b. While clearly an individual decoration, the Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not “recommended” for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.
(1) A Purple Heart is authorized for the first wound suffered under conditions indicated above, but for each subsequent award an Oak Leaf Cluster will be awarded to be worn on the medal or ribbon. Not more than one award will be made for more than one wound or injury received at the same instant or from the same missile, force, explosion, or agent.
(2) A wound is defined as an injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent sustained under one or more of the conditions listed above. A physical lesion is not required, however, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record.
(3) When contemplating an award of this decoration, the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite, but is not sole justification for award.
(4) Examples of enemy-related injuries which clearly justify award of the Purple Heart are as follows:
(a) Injury caused by enemy bullet, shrapnel, or other projectile created by enemy action.
(b) Injury caused by enemy placed mine or trap.
(c) Injury caused by enemy released chemical, biological or nuclear agent.
(d) Injury caused by vehicle or aircraft accident resulting from enemy fire.
(e) Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions.
(5) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are as follows:
(a) Frostbite or trench foot injuries.
(b) Heat stroke.
(c) Food poisoning not caused by enemy agents.
(d) Chemical, biological, or nuclear agents not released by the enemy.
(e) Battle fatigue.
(f) Disease not directly caused by enemy agents.
(g) Accidents, to include explosive, aircraft, vehicular, and other accidental wounding not related to or caused by enemy action.
(h) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence.
(i) Post traumatic stress disorders.
(j) Jump injuries not caused by enemy action.
(6) It is not intended that such a strict interpretation of the requirement for the wound or injury to be caused by direct result of hostile action be taken that it would preclude the award being made to deserving personnel. Commanders must also take into consideration, the circumstances surrounding an injury, even if it appears to meet the criteria. Note the following examples:
(a) In case such as an individual injured while making a parachute landing from an aircraft that had been brought down enemy fire; or, an individual injured as a result of a vehicle accident caused by enemy fire, the decision will be made in favor of the individual and the award will be made.
(b) Individuals wounded or killed as a result of “friendly fire” in the “heat of battle” will be awarded the Purple Heart as long as the “friendly” projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment.
(c) Individuals injured as a result of their own negligence; for example, driving or walking through an unauthorized area known to have been mined or placed off limits or searching for or picking up unexploded munitions as war souvenirs, will not be awarded the Purple Heart as they clearly were not injured as a result of enemy action, but rather by their own negligence.
c. A Purple Heart will be issued to the next of kin of each person entitled to a posthumous award. Issue will be made automatically by the Commanding General, PERSCOM, upon receiving a report of death indicating entitlement.
This post is reprinted with permission from NationSwell, new digital media company focused on American innovation and renewal.
Phil Ruddock had trouble adjusting when he returned home to rural Louisiana, disabled by a traumatic brain injury he received during an Air Force tour of duty during Desert Storm. He had all the classic symptoms of PTSD: “I drank all the time, I couldn’t get along with anyone, I kept checking every room in the house to make sure it was clear every time I came home, I got up and checked the locks on the doors and windows too many times to count, I was always depressed and pissed at the world, and I never slept. I drove my family so crazy that they wanted to leave,” he says with a country twang. “I still do some of those things,” he adds, “but it’s getting better.”
Sit. Stay. Lie down. They’re the words that helped him through his recovery.
Ruddock’s now assisting other veterans afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan the same way he survived his night terrors and flashbacks — with service dogs. His nonprofit Brothers and Sisters in Arms is a boot camp of sorts based out of central Louisiana, where he’s teaching veterans to train their own service dogs, all adopted from shelters. The repetitive learning of commands works like physical therapy for disabled vets and gives them something to work towards. Once they’ve completed the program, they gain a loyal companion and a sense of accomplishment, “a pride that you can’t imagine,” Ruddock says.
“When a soldier is deployed or on base, they feel secure because they have all the other soldiers there watching their back. But when they are out of the military, when their spouse goes to work, their kids go to school and they’re left alone, they have nobody watching their back,” Ruddock says. “It makes them very anxious, paranoid. A dog turns out to be their battle buddy and watches their back. It never leaves them, it never judges them, it never asks questions that they don’t want to answer. It gives them unconditional love,” Ruddock explains.
A program connecting veterans and rescue dogs may sound cutesy, almost saccharine, but for Ruddock, it’s serious — vital even. He asks the veterans to list Brothers and Sisters in Arms as the primary contact associated with the animal’s microchip, rather than the owner’s home phone. “The suicide rate for veterans is 22 per day,” Ruddock says, about 8,000 every year. “If that dog would show up at a shelter and they ran the microchip, chances are that veteran is not going to answer his phone.”
Ruddock started the nonprofit in November 2012 after his personal experience with an abandoned pit bull. Following a nervous breakdown, he lost his job as lead clerk at the local VA outpatient clinic. His spent his days walled alone up on his remote property, until a friend arrived with a pit bull for him to train. “She was as beat up and as messed up as I was,” he remembers of his white-faced, brown-eared dog, Mia. “She kind of rescued me.” The dog sat in the passenger seat of his truck on rides into a nearby village and eventually gave him confidence to travel farther.
Within the past couple months, Ruddock logged more than 20,000 miles in his sojourns across the Sugar State, from Slidell, a town across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans that butts up against Mississippi, all the way out west to Fort Polk, an Army installation near the Texas border. Last year, he certified 31 service dogs, which are specially licensed after 120 hours in public, and 15 companion dogs.
At the pound, Ruddock seeks out the calmest dogs. “We look for dogs with a good disposition. We don’t want the ones that jump and bark and get with the other dogs,” he says. He generally avoids puppies — too much added stress — and certain breeds like German shepherds that can become overprotective if they’re not socialized regularly, but otherwise he’ll take every breed from a 20-pound Jack Russell terrier to a 200-pound mastiff.
Training sessions run one hour a week for roughly eight weeks, though he’s come to expect a few absences. “A veteran may have problems one day. Some demons may come up and he may not be able to show up. It may take a little longer,” he says.
Besides the essentials — what Ruddock calls good citizenship for canines (think: table manners for children) — the service dogs learn three main commands that are unique for handlers who still carry wounds from the battlefield. The dog learns to “block,” inserting itself into the space between the owner and somebody else so that a person keeps their distance. “Cover” sends the pup to its owner’s back or side, facing away as a kind of lookout that allows a vet to relax at, say, a counter or cash register. The last is “grounded.” If the soldier faints or has a nightmare, the dog lays on top of the owner and licks his face, prompting a welcome (if wet) return to reality.
Brothers and Sisters in Arms is different from many other groups that provide service dogs. For one, Ruddock doesn’t charge for his services or the animal. His operation is funded entirely by donations; the bill from other groups can run as high as $25,000. (“These guys get out of the military, and they’re just above poverty level. They can’t afford that,” he says.) His classes are all one-on-one, making it easier for vets who can be skittish around crowds, nervous about competition and failure. And every instructor is a former soldier, because, as Ruddock says, “There’s no better therapy than a veteran talking to another veteran.”
Ruddock wants to see the program expand across Louisiana. He’s already processing five to 10 applications a week, and he’s starting to get referrals from VA psychiatrists who can’t officially recommend a service dog but still send warriors his way. “It’s not about the fame or fortune. It’s about that feeling you get when you help somebody. The warm fuzzies, the goosebumps, whatever you want to call it,” he says of his motivations. “It’s about doing what’s right.”
It’s for the men and women, his brothers and sisters, that Ruddock keeps trekking across the bayous, working with soldiers, like the young man he met last month. “You can tell he’s had it rough,” Ruddock says. “He couldn’t even stand the sound of a loud car going by. He kept moving around and shaking. He couldn’t look you in the eye. He constantly looked down, and if he did catch your eye, it was a white stare like he could see right through you.” The man expressed no emotion, until Ruddock brought out a puppy. As if he was emerging from a daze, the man started petting the dog. He smiled, and Ruddock knew another soldier was safe.
Russian officials aren’t really known for their sensitivity, at least, not lately. But getting free press for a new children’s bed designed after a missile that investigators say killed almost 300 civilians on their way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur seems downright tacky.
A Russian bed company is throwing some fuel on international outrage over the Buk air defense missile system that Western investigators believe downed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014. All 298 people aboard the aircraft died. Russia has denied its missiles blew up the plane.
The St. Petersburg-based company CARoBUS, the maker of the beds, told the BBC World Service they saw “nothing unusual” about the design.
The company makes other unique beds, such as sports cars, trains, ships, aircraft, and others.
The Russian government has strenuously denied it had any role in shooting down the civilian airliner, but Dutch authorities are adamant Moscow’s missile system was to blame.
In a statement released October 1st, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said “given the convincing nature of the evidence, Russia should respect the results that have been presented, rather than impugning the investigation and sowing doubt.”
Russian people – commenters on the original Fontakastory – thought the design was in poor taste. One commenter called the bed a “Freudian slip.”
Various media websites are reporting that two individuals (one Polish and one German) may have found a ‘long forgotten’ German train from World War II that was filled with gold, gems, and guns. Rumors go the train is 150 m (495 ft.) long and may contain up to 300 tons of gold. It’s said its located in a tunnel under the mountains, that collapsed.
The train is believed to have gone missing in 1945, trying to hide the treasure from the advancing Soviet Red Army is what is now the Polish city of Wroclaw (Breslau).
A law firm in southwest Poland says it has been contacted by two men who have discovered the armoured train. They are demanding a 10% ‘finders fee’ of the value of the train’s contents.
“Lawyers, the army, the police and the fire brigade are dealing with this,” Marika Tokarska, an official at the Walbrzych district council. “The area has never been excavated before and we don’t know what we might find.”
“In the region we actually two gold train stories,” Joanna Lamparska, a local historian, told Radio Wroclaw. “One is supposed to be under a mountain and the other somewhere around Walbrzych. But no one has ever seen documentary evidence confirming the existence of such trains.”
The World War One Centennial Commission was created in January 2013 and is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs to commemorate the centennial of World War I, including a national memorial to the soldiers who fought the war.
Unfortunately, none of the veterans of the Great War are alive today to see their honor, but despite bad weather, the Centennial Commission will formally announce the winning design team for the national World War I Memorial design competition on January 26, 2016.
Below are the five finalists for the memorial competition. Just click on the photo to get a closer look of the full-size proposal. The designs are open to public comment. Contact the World War I Centennial Commission here.
Concept 1: Plaza to the Forgotten War
Situated on a seam between the National Mall and the dense urbanity of downtown DC, the Plaza to the Forgotten War commemorates the service of World War I American Forces by creating a place that devotedly holds onto the memory of the tragic losses endured by the United States. The concept is simple, elegant and open with a strong and integrated form and meaning that reveals itself in layers. The memorial message is clear and there is great potential for the creation of an outstanding park. The field of lights presents a technological challenge that will need to be resolved and the Pershing Statue and walls will need to be integrated into the evolving design.
Concept 2: Grotto of Remembrance
The style of the monument is inspired by the time of the Great War. It is neoclassical in form and concept, the space and elements combine to create a narrative about the current condition and the historic precedent of monuments. The plan develops a strong park concept and includes a number of elements that add interest and focus. The challenge in evolving the design will be creating a sense of openness balanced against the enclosure of the central space, a continued evaluation of the scale of the elements, and relationships of non-traditional elements (like the grotto) with memorable historic forms.
Concept 3: The Weight of Sacrifice
A simple intervention of a platform into the existing landscape of Pershing Park provides a quietly elegant place within the park. Relocation of the walls and statue of the Pershing complex give new meaning to the individual elements. The result is an integral expression of park and memorial. The subtleness and art of the sculpted relief walls will enhance the narrative of the place—utilizing art as architecture. To execute a memorial and park that maintains the inherent elegance of the concept, a strong collaboration between designer and artist will be the key.
Concept 4: An American Family Portrait
The design concept is founded on paying tribute to the American men and women who participated in World War I through a memorial collage of photographs integrated into the park design. By seamlessly blending framed memories into the landscape, it provides an experience that is both park and memorial, open and inviting exploration. The park is organized by a northwest-southeast axis visually connecting it to the Capitol. While this concept has the potential of a truly unique park, the thematic, technical, and curatorial issues of the story boxes will require resolution. The statuary design, scale, and execution will need to be an integral part of the interpretive and memorial experience.
Concept 5: Heroes’ Green
The concept seamlessly blends memorial, park and garden into a new type of public space. There is a strong sense of movement through the space, balancing park-like qualities with memorial episodes and providing opportunities for integration of art as an integral part of the memorial experience. The sculptural landscape in itself is symbolic and will provide a welcome respite to the visitor. The inherent potential of “inventing” a new typology of civic space that works well as a memorial is the challenge.
While watching “Courage Under Fire” it was surprising how much they got right. Everyone was wearing branch insignia except for the general officer, just like it’s supposed to be. Most radio calls were about right, and helicopters and tanks worked about the way they should.
Still, Hollywood never gets it all right. We found 57 errors that we’ve listed below.
1. (3:30) Someone fires an illumination flare over a bunch of tankers as they’re preparing for a night fight. Better hope the enemy that is only a few kilometers away hasn’t crept closer in the darkness. Also, most of the soldiers look up at the light, something they’re trained not to do since it ruins their night vision. The light is bright enough to damage vision for minutes afterwards.
2. (5:20) Lt. Boylar has the call sign of “Cougar 6.” That call sign would typically mean he was the commander of an element. As a lieutenant, Boylar would most likely be the executive officer or a platoon leader. An executive officer wouldn’t use the number 6 and a platoon leader would have another number mixed in, “Cougar 2-6” or “2 Cougar 6.”
3. (5:26) Lt. Col. Serling allows a subordinate element to pull off from the planned route because they have “No joy over here.” He doesn’t ask why the tanks can’t move as planned or which alternate route Cougar element will use. He just tells them to meet up at Phase Line Hammer.
4. (5:31) Cool tank fight, but that guy with the flare at the beginning was doubly stupid if the Iraqi tanks were that close to the Americans. Enemy scouts could have been trying to get a glimpse of the tanks, and the illumination would’ve lit up the whole formation for them. The scouts would have seen the tankers getting ready and known the attack was coming.
5. (6:40) Serling is in an important discussion with the general, but leaves it to shoot at infantry his crew chief could easily kill instead.
6. (7:00) Surrendering Iraqis are allowed to move forward with their weapons.
7. (7:15) Iraqis apparently buried their mines with the entire upper quarter of the ordnance above ground. Aren’t mines supposed to be a secret?
8. (8:54) There’s a possible friendly fire incident, and suddenly every single tank in the battle quits firing. Pretty unrealistic, especially since it is later revealed that quite a few Iraqi tanks were still alive at this point.
9. (10:00) A medevac pilot lands, looks at Lt. Col. Serling significantly, and then leaves. The dialogue suggests that they’re picking up Boylar’s body, but no one is shown going to or from the helicopter.
10. (10:40) The investigating officer of a battalion commander suspected of killing his own tank crew would almost certainly outrank the officer he is investigating. The Army would choose a former battalion commander for this job, not a major.
11. (11:45) Serling isn’t wearing a unit patch. Even if he was removed from command, which would be a messed up decision from the general if an investigation was ongoing, he would still be in a unit.
12. (12:45) This captain is pretty casual with speaking to a superior officer. No one calls a superior officer by their rank.
13. (13:00) They have inquiries from press about a very sensitive incident and no one mentions the public affairs office that exists to deal with the press.
14. (15:10) Serling is assigned to be an investigating officer for an award, and only seconds later is in a room listening to testimony. He didn’t get a file, didn’t get background, and didn’t even get a chance to grab a notepad.
15. (15:15) Almost no one in the briefing is wearing a distinctive unit insignia (DUI) or regimental unit insignia (RUI). Soldiers are assigned DUIs when they graduate job school and can be given RUIs while they serve. They are always required to wear one in the dress uniform.
16. (16:05) The lieutenant is wearing his helmet with the chinstrap undone. The Army calls this John Wayne helmet and loses it when soldiers do it in training, let alone in a combat situation. The other guys at the crash site have their body armor open, even though they know they could take contact at any moment.
17. (16:07) The soldiers testify that they were flying in a Blackhawk, but this is a Huey wreck.
18. (16:35) The medevac bird shouldn’t be flying into enemy held territory on its own. If Walden did pilot into the area without an attack helicopter escort, it would prove she was brave and call later testimony against her into question.
20. (18:30) Everyone says “nothing else sounds like an M-16” But M16s aren’t all that distinct, especially when you’re in a helicopter booking it away from a fight.
21. (19:00) Why is there even such a push to give the Medal of Honor so fast? Medal of Honor investigations and deliberations take years. The White House aide keeps talking about how good the photo opportunity will help the president. Does he have an election coming up? An election that will rely on people being happy about a Medal of Honor?
22. (20:05) Serling imagines Cougar 6 going up in flames. American tank rounds generally kill the crews within milliseconds and Serling would know this.
23. (26:12) Monfriez yells, “We’re taking fire!” There are rounds ricocheting through the helicopter. Everyone knows they’re getting shot at. The information they could use is direction, distance, and description of the enemy, which is why you’re supposed to yell that.
24. (27:25) Even big Molotov cocktails with flares will not kill a tank, especially not in seconds.
25. (27:35) All of the crew should be tied off to the helicopter. They shouldn’t be sliding nearly out of the bird.
26. (33:45) Monfriez is from XVIII Airborne Corps, but the rest are from the 44th Medical Command. Monfries later says he was tasked out from another unit, but as a staff sergeant he wouldn’t have been tasked that way. He would’ve been busy working with his squad or platoon during the invasion, not hanging out near the helicopters looking for a side job as a door gunner.
27. (35:45) Seriously, why was no one wearing a helmet? Even keeping the standard crew helmet on would be preferable to not wearing one.
28. (36:00) Monfriez keeps firing his SAW the wrong way. It should be fired from a tri/bipod if possible, resting on the ground when not possible. He also should be firing controlled bursts, not sweeping the ridge. It makes the shooter more accurate and saves ammunition which will become important if you have to hold out without reinforcements or resupply.
29. (36:55) Ilario says that the night was pitch dark, but desert nights are famous for how bright the stars are.
30. (37:20) America had overwhelming air superiority in this war. But, apparently it left crashed helicopter crews on their own for hours and hours.
31. (38:00) Three members of the crew are hit in the firefight, but the medic doesn’t move to any of them.
32. (39:45) Helmets have specific sizes, and Ilario is wearing the helmet of another guy. It’s unlikely to fit him properly. On the other hand, at least he’s wearing one. He and Monfries are the only ones who think a crash site under fire is a good place to wear a helmet.
33. (41:30) It’s more likely the Army would’ve sent Apaches to try to rescue the survivors of the two helicopter crashes, though it’s not impossible Cobras would arrive instead.
34. (41:52) Capt. Walden, with no clear damage to her legs and her abdomen good enough to keep flipping to different firing positions, says she won’t leave the crash site until someone returns with a stretcher.
35. (41:40) Capt. Walden’s pistol kicks up dirt like it’s a .50-cal.
36. (42:00) Why is Monfriez not wearing armor and has his uniform top unbuttoned? Everyone in this scene should be wearing armor.
37. (42:05) Ilario uses the world’s lightest touch to assess Capt. Walden’s pulse.
38. (42:50) Why does everyone keep pulling their helmets off?
39. (44:20) Unit runs by in background in full winter physical training uniforms, even though it’s warm enough for families to swim in the outdoor base pool.
40. (51:00) Serling tells the general that the investigation isn’t a rubber stamp situation. No Medal of Honor investigation is ever a rubber stamp situation.
41. (51:25) Hershberg doesn’t care that testimony doesn’t line up, even though his ass will be on the line if he’s involved and doesn’t follow up.
42. (54:00) Everyone keeps discussing the death of Boylar, but not the rest of his crew, because screw the enlisted.
43. (55:21) None of the infantry drill sergeants are wearing their blue discs for the campaign hat. One instructor isn’t even wearing his drill sergeant hat.
44. (55:30) Recruit calls a drill sergeant “sir” and isn’t corrected.
45. (55:35) Monfriez sees a recruit run away from an obstacle, leaving a soldier trapped inside. Monfries yells at the soldier that he should never leave another soldier behind, then promptly allows the recruit to run off while the other guy is still trapped in the wire.
46. (57:51) Monfriez says he wouldn’t know what time the M16 ran out of ammo because he was on the SAW. He’s an infantryman and the senior noncommissioned officer and so should know that he needs to track the amount of ammunition for each weapons system.
47. (1:01:45) Monfriez keep complaining about not being able to hear movement with everyone speaking, but he isn’t even bothering to look out for enemies approaching.
48. (1:04:00) The crew leaves the M16 behind when they depart.
49. (1:05:50) This scene supposedly happens at a base with basic training on it, but every unit patch on the walls is from XVIII Airborne which is headquartered at Fort Bragg and has no basic training.
50. (1:11:00) Capt. Walden wears medical insignia, but she would’ve fallen under aviation branch as a pilot.
51. (1:13:00) Hershberg tells Serling that he could give a direct order to Serling to turn in the report. The first time Hershberg told Serling to turn in the report, that was a direct order. It doesn’t matter if he says, “This is a direct order.”
52. (1:21:00) Staff Sgt. Monfriez is wearing a patrol cap even though he’s a drill sergeant at this point.
53. (1:28:25) Monfriez says he doesn’t need Walden’s permission to run from the crash site, but he does. Since Walden is in command, anyone who leaves without her permission is committing desertion in the face of the enemy. Since Monfriez follows up the threat by committing mutiny, seems like he’s not too worried about it.
54. (1:33:50) Walden has Ilario leave her behind to cover their escape, but the Army trains its soldiers on how to drag someone so the injured person can provide cover fire.
55. (1:39:30) Recording of the Al-Bathra incident has interior tank comms as well as information from the battalion net and the signals coming in from the general. In the real world, these would have been on separate channels.
56. (1:46:45) Everyone is sitting at the Medal of Honor presentation. Awards are presented with all military in attendance at the position of attention.
57. (1:47:30) The Air Force conducts a missing man flyover for an Army pilot. First, Walden was in the Army which does a missing man roll call at memorial ceremonies, not a missing man flyover. Second, this isn’t a memorial ceremony so there wouldn’t be a missing man process at all.