Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long - We Are The Mighty
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Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

For years and years, Special Operations Forces (SOF) has been the military equivalent of the easy button. And why not? Why commit a large force such as a Brigade in the 82nd with 5,000 soldiers, when you can commit SOF with a much smaller force? And this has been happening for years.

If history is any indicator, Special Operations Forces will be downsized and, more than likely, more troops will be brought home by the Biden Administration. Biden is less likely to pull the trigger on a bomb than Trump was, and will most probably have a more diplomatic approach when it comes to foreign policy.

Well, what about Iran and China? Yes, we always will have countries to worry about, but I don’t see giant troop movements to invade another country and I don’t believe we will anytime soon. I’m not sold on the right’s belief that we are on the cusp of WWIII.

In March 2008, Obama declared of Iraq, “When I am commander in chief, I will set a new goal on day one: I will end this war.”

In many ways, Obama kept his word. He ended Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom — the combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively, that Bush had passed down to him — and drastically reduced U.S. troop levels from their peaks in both countries. In the midst of the Arab Spring, the president led a limited military campaign against Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi with the support of the United Nations and a multinational coalition.

The Special Operations Budget

In 2000, our defense budget was a mere $300 billion. Today it’s more than doubled to over $700 billion. I foresee the Biden Administration cutting this by at least 10 percent by the end of his first term.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. Let’s think about supply and demand. We aren’t graduating as many Green Berets as we used to. Between 2012 and 2014, Special Forces was graduating between six and eight classes per year. That was a healthy number with 600 to 800 Green Berets heading to the Groups. Teams easily had 10 or more operators on them during this time. Nowadays, with only four starts per fiscal year, Special Forces is looking at half of those graduating numbers.

This includes training budgets as well. “Do more with less” has become a popular mantra. Let’s be honest, do special operators have to go to some exotic location to train when they can do it at home? Teams will argue that off-site training is the best (and I agree), but Special Forces soldiers can shoot, move, and communicate at their home base.

Putting a team in the middle of Africa, alone, with little to no support does help build relationships between the team. You get to know each other on a much deeper level. In Africa, my team lived in two tents. I mean, we knew who had sleep apnea for goodness sake. Being that far from anyone also instills a deep connection but you fully rely on each other to do the job, because you are all that you have. But there is a difference between need-to-have and nice-to-have.

Let’s get back to the basics, boys.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno presented 81 green berets at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 30, 2015. 81 U.S. Soldiers and four foreign national soldiers graduated from class 290 of the Special Forces Qualification Course and earn the right to be called a Green Beret. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle/Released)

Changes to the Special Forces Companies

Special Forces Companies have six teams. That 6th team in the company might go away. If recruiting numbers continue to drop, Groups will be forced to either reduce the size or the number of teams. Some readers may remember when the 6th team was a ghost team, meaning nobody actually worked there.

The Geographic Combatant Command (GCC). There are currently 11 unified combatant commands that ultimately cover the entire globe. Each is established as the highest echelon of military commands to provide effective command and control of all U.S. military forces, regardless of branch of service, during peace or wartime.

The geographic commands have essentially two tasks: war planning and fighting, and military engagement programs. Both tasks are and will always be the Department of Defense and the military’s fundamental responsibilities.

These guys meet every two years and basically hash out the requirements and who can fill them.

The demands of deployments from GCC have not slowed down. However, do we really need SF teams in Africa? What are the current permissions and authorities for Africa? Are teams targeting and fighting against extremist groups?Read Next: Op-Ed: We need to rethink deploying US Special Operations Forces almost everywhere

Special Operations in Africa

If you were to ask the AFRICOM Commander General Stephen J. Townsend, he might say that we are not at war, the Africans are, and that the American population doesn’t have a taste for losing its soldiers in Africa. So the Army created the Security Forces Assistance Brigade (SFAB).

The SFAB concept is intended to relieve the Brigade Combat Teams of the combat advisory mission and enable them to focus on their primary combat mission.

There is definitely a fight in Africa, but we are generally there to advise and assist. Not the answer the Special Forces guy wants to hear. The young, eager captain will basically be trying to figure out how to get on target and get his gun on. Sorry, sir, probably not going to happen.

This would also include Special Forces missions.

SF is a tired force. However, this is currently improving with the mandated dwell times: one day gone away from home, two days at home. I do think that this needs some tweaking; however, generally speaking, after over a year of this being implemented, Group is figuring it out.

For this piece, I won’t go into how the State Department and the geopolitical landscape affects the military, but it’s worth mentioning. Most Ambassadors are State Department careerists. They don’t need some new Captain coming in every six months thinking he’s going to change the world and go kill a bunch of people, making his job tougher.

So Special Forces has fewer people going to selection and fewer people graduating. Our requirements overseas should be slowing down or are being forced to slow down by the mandatory dwell. Teams are either undermanned or borrowing from other teams to fill requirements.

Therefore, for now, a smaller SF force is a good thing. Everything comes in rotations, and I certainly believe within 10 more years, we will be in another conflict, and our numbers will go back up to meet the demand.

But for now, Special Operations cannot be the easy button it once was.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

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Head of US Marine Corps aviation: The F-35B is ready to go to war right now

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation, discusses the future of Marine aviation at AEI in Washington, DC, on July 29. | AEI.org


When asked on Friday if the F-35B could fly combat missions to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the US Marine Corps’ head of aviation said, “We’re ready to do that.”

Noting that the decision to deploy the fifth-generation jet into combat would come from higher command, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for aviation said that the F-35B is “ready to go right now.”

“We got a jewel in our hands and we’ve just started to exploit that capability, and we’re very excited about it,” Davis said during a discussion at the American Enterprise Institute on the readiness and future trajectory of Marine aviation.

Davis, who has flown copilot in every type of model series of tilt-rotor, rotary-winged, and tanker aircraft in the Marine inventory, said that the F-35 is an airplane he’s excited about.

“The bottom line is everybody who flies a pointy-nose airplane in the Marine Corps wants to fly this jet,” Davis said.

Last summer, then Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford declared initial operational capability (IOC) for 10 F-35B jets, the first of the sister-service branches.

“There were a lot of people out here in the press that said, ‘Hey, the Marines are just going to declare IOC because it would be politically untenable not to do that,'” Davis said.

“IOC in the Marine Corps means we will deploy that airplane in combat. That’s not a decision I was gonna take lightly, nor Gen. Dunford,” he said.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
An F-35B flies near its base at MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina. | Lockheed Martin

Ahead of IOC, Davis said that the Marine Corps “stacked the deck with the F-35 early on” by assigning Top Gun school graduates and weapons-tactics instructors to test the plane.

“The guys that flew that airplane and maintained that airplane were very, very, hard graders,” he said.

Davis added that the jet proved to be “phenomenally successful” during testing: “It does best when it’s out front, doing the killing.”

The Marine Corps’ first F-35B squadron is scheduled to go to sea in spring 2018.

Meanwhile, the US Air Force could declare its first F-35 squadron combat-ready as early as next week.

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The time Japanese submarines attacked California and Oregon during WWII

Aside from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, many Americans aren’t familiar with other attacks on the states during WWII. Some may know of the Japanese invasion of Alaska or their planned remote attacks with fire balloons and biological weapons. However, very few people know about the direct Japanese attacks on the American West Coast.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Japanese submarine I-26, sister ship of I-25 (Public Domain)

About a week after Pearl Harbor, submarines of the Japanese 6th Fleet arrived off America’s Pacific coast. Nine submarines were tasked with performing reconnaissance and disrupting sea lanes. Four of the Japanese vessels carried out successful attacks on coastal shipping. As a result, two American tankers were sunk and one freighter was damaged. However, two Japanese submarines managed to carry out direct attacks on the mainland.

On February 19, 1942, submarine I-17 covertly landed on Point Loma, California, to determine her position before sailing up the California coast. Four days later, she surfaced off the Ellwood Oil Field near Santa Barbara, California. Just after 7pm, I-17 fired 17 rounds from her 14 cm/40 deck gun. Targeting the Richfield (ARCO) aviation fuel storage tanks behind the beach, the bombardment lasted 20 minutes. The closest shell landed in a field 30 yards from the nearest tank. One shell was so far off that it impacted over a mile inland. The shelling was largely ineffective, causing only minor damage to a pier and pump house. However, it did trigger fears of an impeding Japanese invasion along the West Coast. The attack made I-17 the first Axis ship to shell the United States mainland.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Battery 245 at Fort Stevens during WWII (National Archives and Records Administration)

On the night of June 21, 1942, submarine I-25 surfaced at the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. With her deck gun, I-25 fired 17 shells at the coastal artillery installation of Fort Stevens. Although the bombardment caused no damage to the base itself, it did destroy the backstop of the base’s baseball field. The attack by I-25 made Fort Stevens the first CONUS military installation to come under enemy fire during WWII. In fact, it was the first attack on a CONUS military installation since the War of 1812.

On August 15, 1942, I-25 left Yokosuka to make what would be the final Japanese attack on the American coast. The attack was reprisal for the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in April of that year. On September 9, I-25 launched its E14Y “Glen” seaplane. Piloted by Warrant Flying Officer Nobuo Fujita, the plane dropped two 76-kilogram incendiary bombs on a forest near Brookings, Oregon. Though the mission was meant to trigger wildfires, light winds and typically wet Pacific Northwest weather kept the fire from spreading. The attack remains the only time an enemy aircraft has bombed the mainland United States.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Nobuo Fujita standing by his E14Y “Glen” seaplane (Public Domain)

Both submarines were lost in August 1943. Despite the psychological impact of their attacks, the value of submarines was heavily discounted in the Japanese Navy. Lacking doctrine, the Japanese submarine campaign was far less effective than either the German or American submarine campaigns of WWII.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Soldiers inspect an impact crater from the bombardment of Fort Stevens (National Archives and Records Administration)

Featured image: Junichi_Mikuriya_-_Japanese_submarine_attacks_coast_of_California.jpg (Wikimedia Commons)

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This is how Eddie Rickenbacker earned 7 service crosses and the Medal of Honor

Once America entered World War I some of the first forces it sent to France were those of the newly-formed Air Service. Among those troops was a relatively famous racecar driver and mechanic who would become America’s ‘Ace of Aces’ during the war: Eddie Rickenbacker.


When Rickenbacker enlisted in the Army, he had dreams of flying but was shipped to France as a driver for the General Staff due to his experience as a racecar driver. His advanced age (27 at the time) and lack of a college degree also disqualified him for flight training – but he was undeterred.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Old school cool.
(National Archives)

Assigned as the driver for Col. William ‘Billy’ Mitchell, Rickenbacker took the opportunity to bother him until the Colonel finally allowed him to attend pilot training. Rickenbacker still had to claim he was only 25 though.

Related video:

Eddie completed pilot training in just 17 days and received his commission. However, Rickenbacker’s superior mechanical abilities from his days as a racecar driver sidetracked his flying career and got him assigned as the engineering officer at the Air Service Pursuit Training facility.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

After finding a replacement, Rickenbacker was finally assigned to a combat flying unit – the 94th Aero Squadron – in March 1918. The squadron began flying combat missions in early April, and Rickenbacker wasted no time getting in on the action. On April 29th, Rickenbacker scored his first aerial victory and also his first Distinguished Service Cross for a vigorous fight and pursuit of a plane into enemy territory to shoot it down.

During May 1918 Lt. Rickenbacker downed five more German airplanes while earning an additional four Distinguished Service Crosses, each time attacking and dispersing larger formations of enemy planes.

Rickenbacker, through a lucky streak that seemed to last his entire life, also gained a reputation for surviving close calls and crash landings. In July 1918 in a particularly harrowing incident, “he barely made it back from one battle with a fuselage full of bullet holes, half a propeller, and a scorched streak on his helmet where an enemy bullet had nearly found its mark.”

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

A few days later he was grounded by an abscess in his ear but was back flying by the end of July. However, with his last kill at the end of May he would go many months without another victory.

Then on September 14, Rickenbacker started a remarkable streak, claiming his seventh kill and sixth Distinguished Service Cross. He downed another plane the next day. On September 25, he was promoted to Captain and made commander of the 94th Aero Squadron.

He promptly volunteered for a solo patrol, during which he encountered a flight of seven German planes below him. Rather than be thankful that no one saw him, he dived on the formation and attacked the shooting Germans, downed two enemy aircraft, and forced the rest to retreat. For this action, he was awarded his seventh Distinguished Service Cross.

Twelve years later, in 1930, this award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

At the beginning of October, Capt. Rickenbacker had 12 aerial victories. He was the leading living American pilot and was dubbed the ‘Ace of Aces’ by the press. He disliked this title because all three previous holders died in combat.

Despite his discontent with the new title, Rickenbacker led the 94th through severe fighting until the end of the war. During that time, Rickenbacker shot down ten enemy aircraft and three balloons, making him an official “balloon buster.” He also earned his eighth Distinguished Service Cross of the war – a record that hasn’t been broken.

Capt. Rickenbacker ended World War I with a total of 26 aerial victories to his credit, the American ‘Ace of Aces’ for World War I and the rank of Major. The Army promoted Rickenbacker as he left active duty but he never claimed the promotion. He felt his “rank of Captain was earned and deserved.” The public referred to him to as “Captain Eddie” for the rest of his life.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

After the war, Rickenbacker went into many ventures in the automobile and aviation industries and survived many more brushes with death. He survived a near-fatal crash in early 1941 that had him out of action for almost a year. During World War II, while on a personal mission to deliver a message to Gen. MacArthur from President Roosevelt and to inspect American aviation facilities in the Pacific, the plane he was flying in lost its way and was forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean.

Rickenbacker and the surviving crew members endured over three weeks of life rafts before rescue. Consistent with his dogged determination Rickenbacker completed his assignment before returning to the states, despite losing 60 pounds and suffering from severe sunburn.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

Rickenbacker, without formal education past age twelve, would eventually rise to control his own airline, Eastern Air Lines, and make it the only self-sufficient, free-enterprise – he accepted no government subsidies – airline in America for many years. He was also the majority owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway for many years during which time he significantly improved the track.

Captain Eddie retired in 1963. In 1972 he suffered a stroke, his last near-death experience. He recovered from the stroke but while visiting Switzerland he contracted pneumonia, and his luck finally ran out. He passed away July 23, 1973, at the age of 82 – a renowned fighter pilot and successful businessman.

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Shia LaBeouf allegedly got hammered and told cops he was in the National Guard

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long


Actor Shia LaBeouf drunkenly told an Austin, Texas police officer that he was in the Army National Guard in an attempt at being let off the hook for public intoxication last Friday, according to police documents. He was not successful.

While allegedly jaywalking with two women on Sixth Street, LaBeouf was stopped after he crossed in front of the officer’s patrol car and raised his hand up as if was trying to stop traffic, according to the police affidavit.

From The Statesman:

The officer approached the star of the “Transformers” movie franchise and could smell a strong odor of alcohol, and noticed that “LaBeouf’s speech was slurred and thick-tongued and his eyes were glassy and dilated,” the affidavit says.

According to the document, LaBeouf told the officer that he “typically walks away because police had killed a friend of his.” But then he “became increasingly confrontational, aggravated, profane and verbally aggressive” with the officer during the encounter and called him a “silly man” three times, the affidavit says.

The officer reported LaBeouf as becoming aggressive and threatening throughout the encounter, until the 29-year-old actor pulled out his ace-in-the-hole: “Labeouf began stating he was a member of the National Guard and that Sgt. Jelesijevic needed to ‘do whatever the f–k you gotta do!” the affidavit reads.

At that point, Sgt. Jelesijevic did whatever the f–k he had to do: Arrested him for public intoxication.

There’s video. Of course there’s video (language warning):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWpmalSntYU

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Inside the Department of Defense’s Fire School

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./Airman Online


Staring at the fire blazing in front of him, the airman basic began to sweat — a reaction that could only partly be blamed on nerves and adrenaline. It was an oven inside of the aircraft, and Daniel Brum knew the temperature was only going to rise when the fire hose turned on.  His studies had taught him that water expands to 1,700 times its original volume when it turns to steam, and sure enough, as he shot water at the base of the fire, the air around him turned into an instant sauna.

For a brief moment, Brum freed one hand to wipe at his face shield. It had fogged up with mist. Once he could see again, he redoubled his efforts to calm the intense flames lighting up the cargo hold.

Though the aircraft interior fire was staged – a scenario intended to aid with training – Brum treated it like it was the real thing.  The training was indicative of a possible situation the apprentice firefighter might come across in the future and he needed the experience.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./Airman Online

“There’s a big painting on the wall out there that says, ‘Train as if someone’s life depends on it, because it does,” Brum said.  “So when it’s training, it’s all serious.  You have to learn what you’re doing, so that way … when you’re in a fire situation and someone’s life depends on you, you will be able to help that person out.”

The phrase Brum recited is prominently displayed above one of the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy building’s main entryways.  The words state a responsibility accepted by the men and women who walk those halls.  Within the academy at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, are firefighters from every branch of the military, as well as those training in hopes of one day joining their ranks.

The academy provides entry-level fire protection instruction for all DOD firefighters, and it’s also a location for advanced training courses within the career field.  Each year, the school accepts nearly 2,500 students, 1,400 of which are initial entry, or apprentice, firefighters, said Lt. Col. Mathew Welling, the 312th Training Squadron commander. The training accomplished here is predicated on standards set by the National Fire Protection Association but is also tailored to fit the military mission.

“We have unique aircraft, munitions, and other special requirements that really (make it necessary for) us to provide a different level of training than your civilian firefighter would be used to,” Welling said, indicating an additional emphasis on airport firefighting applications and a joint effort between all DOD firefighters.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./Airman Online

Students may come from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps, but in class they are all integrated together. During deployments, military firefighters work as joint service teams, and therefore the academy reinforces that concept throughout their instruction with a lack of service specific courses and a strong emphasis on teamwork.

Tech. Sgt. Jeff Trueman, an emergency medical response course instructor, is able to impart to his students the importance of the joint training via his own experiences. During his first deployment he worked hand in hand with the Navy to provide crash fire rescue for aircraft assigned to a drug interdiction mission.  Trueman has been embedded with the Army as well.

“It’s interesting to be able to combine both of those worlds, and to see the differences and nuances between the services,” he said. “It’s definitely career broadening.  Until you actually have that opportunity to work with other services, I don’t think you fully develop within your profession.

“That’s why I like being here,” Trueman said of the technical school. “We have instructors from so many different services and they bring a lot of different information.”

With a “train as you do” philosophy, the academy students are given an education that sets them up for success in most situations they might face while serving at their home stations and abroad. To ensure apprentice firefighters are prepared to do their jobs upon graduation, the entry-level course is split into three blocks, with each gradually addressing a more advanced set of skills.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./Airman Online

According to Welling, block one introduces the students to firefighting basics, such as ropes, knots and ladders, how to put on personal protective equipment, and how to create ventilation. Block two continues with more in-depth firefighting principles like water supplies, fire hoses, vehicle extraction, fire department communications, interior fires, wildfires, etc. By block three, the students begin EMR certification.

The trainees learn to race into situations others would run from when everything in their bodies is telling them to go in the other direction.

“I think it takes a lot of courage, especially for 18-19 year olds coming out of high school,” said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. George Preen, a hazmat instructor and supervisor within block three of the training course. “We’re teaching them to do something that’s basically the opposite of their normal instinct, which is (to flee from danger). We’re essentially trying to reprogram them to go in and do the right thing.”

The firefighting instruction begins in-classroom and through hands-on exercises at the academy’s outdoor training pad.  The area resembles a flightline, but instead of expanses of hangars and rows of aircraft lining the concrete strip, there are towers with zip lines and ladders, buildings made to fill up with smoke, and charred aircraft frames simulating possible crash and recovery scenarios.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./Airman Online

The profession is well known for combatting blazes; however, firefighters constantly delve into another area of expertise.

“It’s a big misconception,” Trueman said. “Out there, people think firefighters just put the wet stuff on the hot stuff, when in fact, about 70 percent of our calls as firefighters in the Department of Defense are actually medical.”

Though unusual, Trueman first fell in love with the EMR aspect of the fireman’s job before that of fighting fires. As a child he’d won a coloring contest hosted by his local fire station, and, as a reward, he was given a tour of the fire house.  When a call came in requesting a response to a medical situation, the assistant fire chief let him jump in the car and ride along to the incident.  From that moment on, he was inspired, and now he instructs on the subject that first captured his attention.

Being a firefighter is anything but easy, and after serving 12 years in the career field, Trueman knows that while on call his students will be exposed to many traumatic situations that will test their ability to bounce back.

“The most difficult response that I went on involved an individual who’d attempted suicide,” he said. “It was a young lady, and being a father myself, I put myself in her parent’s shoes, and you know it’s just something that I hadn’t experienced.  I’d trained for it, I had the skills to handle it, but emotionally … it’s one of those things where I had to talk to my mentors to kind of get me over that hump, because it definitely affects you the next day.”

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./Airman Online

Dealing with the emotions and trauma firefighters experience individually can be overwhelming, so that’s why they learn to look to each other for support.

In just about any type of training or military situation teamwork is critical, but Brum believes that his fellow classmates have gone beyond simply helping one another, they’ve become like family.

“All I hear is that when you’re at a base, at a fire station, it’s like a second family to you,” Brum said.

Even though he wasn’t actively working at a fire station yet, the young Airman had already found support through a team of fellow apprentice firefighters. At the academy and faced with stressors ranging from academics to physical fitness requirements, the students learned to lean on each other.

Though it is a strenuous course, the most difficult part for Brums was being away from family for nearly six months during the combination of basic training and technical school. Though he could Skype them or call, the separation sometimes tested his resolve. His teammates, however, were able to make the separation more bearable.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./Airman Online

“If you’re serious all the time you’re just going to go crazy, so we like to have fun with each other, lighten the mood,” Brum said.  “Having my friends in class, (when) I’m having a bad day … they know how to cheer me up to keep me going.

Even with his classmates’ support, Brum says life without his family can be stressful. But with a bit of technology and a dose of imagination and patience, he says he will be able to see it through.

“My wife and daughter, they are the reason I’m here,” he added. “After a hard day of training … my first thought is, ‘Oh, I have to wake up at 3:30 tomorrow morning and start it all over again. But then going to the dorm and being able to sit at a computer to Skype with my family – just seeing them and knowing how proud I’m making them, it gives me the motivation to get up that next morning and give my all.”

Trueman believes that despite the long hours, stress of learning new things and separation from family and friends, his students end up with a set of skills and values they will carry with them throughout their careers. He added that the aspect of his job he values the most is the difference he can make through each new student he teaches.

“Now I’m influencing the future of our career field and I really get to shape it by sending out quality (DOD firefighters),” he added. “The folks we send out there aren’t going to falter the first time they see a real world incident. They’ll be able to fall back on their training, and use that framework to push them over that hump.”

But Trueman made clear that this technical training is really only the beginning. He said a combination of advance courses, on-the-job training and experience in the field will be key to their successful future as firefighters.

“We produce a lot of graduates every year for the entire DOD,” Welling said. “One of the things we try to impress upon them as they graduate is ‘your training’s not done.’ You may be able to wear the firefighter badge, but you need to continue to train and prepare, because you never know what … situation you’re going to be responding to.  When the bell goes off and you’re asked to go do your job, you need to be ready, because someone’s life does depend on it.

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Interview with Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha

With small arms gunfire, mortar rounds and Rocket Propelled Grenades from hundreds of Taliban firing into a small U.S. Army outpost in Northeastern Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha asked his fellow soldiers if there were any volunteers to help him lead a counterattack to take back the front gate.


He was surprised by the response — a powerful moment of truth which he would later call the proudest moment of his Army career.

Their outpost had been overrun, Army soldiers had been killed, remaining fighters had been unable to get to ammunition supplies and Taliban fighters had breached the front gate, Romesha explained.

“I said I need a group of volunteers. Five guys who did not even know what the plan was and did not know what I was about to ask stood up with pure grit and determination and said they would follow me anywhere. I told them the counterattack plan,” Romesha told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

Romesha helped lay down suppressive fire so that fallen soldiers could be recovered during the attack, destroyed numerous Taliban fighters coming through the gate, directed air support from Apache helicopters once they arrived and led an impactful counterattack which turned the tide of the deadly battle on that morning of October 3, 2009.

Romesha and his fellow soldiers, who spent months on a small, 52 soldier-strong fighting position in the Nuristan Province of Afghanistan called Combat Outpost Keating, were used to daily attacks from Taliban fighters.

“All of a sudden we were overwhelmed with machine guns, mortars and RPGs. We’d been there three months and had gotten attacked pretty much on a daily basis, so it would not have been unusual to wake up to something like that. When these rounds came in, we knew it was something totally different,” He explained.

Romesha explained that every defensive position went into a cyclic rate of fire to try to defend as fast as they could shoot back — but the enemies overwhelming fire was too much for them.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

“Soldiers started running out of ammunition at the battle positions and we could not get resupplies to them because the outpost sat at the bottom of a valley. Anytime you step outside into the open, you were a target. No matter where we stood, bullets were just raining down on us,” he explained.

Romesha’s counterattack plan was both risky and ambitious because he wanted to lead a small team of soldiers to take back ammunition points, close off the front gate to Taliban fighters pouring in, get to a mortar position, and perform a crucially important casualty recovery of the fallen soldiers.

“The Lieutenant gave me a go ahead on the plan. The Taliban fighters that had breached the wire had started torching all the hard structures in the buildings and burning them. The whole outpost was on fire,” Romesha recalled.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

Due to resilience and combat determination from Romesha and other soldiers, they were able to fight their way back toward ammunition supply points on the outpost and take back the front gate.  This counterattack push resulted in close-quarter battle wherein Taliban fighters were often less than 20-meters away, Romesha explained.

“We started pushing ammo back and started reinforcing positions which allowed us a little more freedom of maneuver,” he said.

As this was happening, air support from Apache attack helicopters arrived along with some eventual reinforcements from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.

While he may not choose to explain things this way, it seems clear from the events that day that the whole outpost would not likely have survived – and casualties would have been far greater – had Romesha not shown such courage, spirit and leadership in battle. His counterattack saved the Outpost from complete destruction.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

While confronting a deadly blaze of gunfire and repeatedly risking his life to save, defend and recover his fellow soldiers, Romesha was not thinking of recognition on the day of the battle. In fact, upon learning years later that he would receive the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the battle, Romesha was surprised.

“It was definitely a team effort that day. If it was not for those 52 guys I would not be here. I’d rather die today than take one shred of credit for doing nothing more than doing my job like everyone else was doing,” he said.

Romesha went on to emphasize that, in his mind, the real heroes are the eight soldiers who died in battle that day.

“They are only gone unless we do not remember them. In my humble opinion, true heroes are those that don’t come home. Those are the only ones that deserve that title of hero. They gave up everything and more than could ever be asked of them,” he explained.

While he is still reluctant to acknowledge his own heroism on that day in 2009, called the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan, Romesha received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama in February, 2013.

On the day of the battle, Romesha was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavarly Regment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. He fought alongside fellow soldiers and insists on remembering his fellow American soldiers who died that day.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

In order to recognize and pay tribute to Romesha’s emphasis – the names of the eight soldiers who died during the attack are: Vernon Martin, Justin Gallegos, Joshua Kirk, Josh Hardt, Michael Scusa, Stephen Mace, Christopher Griffin and Kevin Thompson.

The intensity of devotion to his fellow soldiers, motivated by loyalty, love and protective instinct, provided the inspiration for Romesha’s actions in combat

“It wasn’t a day of hatred toward the enemy. It did not matter about the politics. It mattered about those brothers to your left and your right – we did not fight because we hated the guys who were attacking us, we did it more because we loved the guys that were on our left and right. Love will win out over hate and anger any day of the week,” Romesha said.

Romesha is the son of a Vietnam veteran and a grandson of a World War II veteran. He lives in North Dakota.

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This is how NATO could go to war against itself

If you think that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – the mutual-defense alliance founded in 1949 – is one big, happy family, you’d be wrong.


There have been deep tensions between NATO countries in the past. For a while, France was not even part of the military structure.

Then, there’s Greece and Turkey. To say they have provided a bit of intra-alliance drama is one of the biggest understatements in the existence of NATO.

Greece and Turkey have had a fair amount of historical animosity. In 1897, the two countries went to war, after which Greece secured the autonomy of Crete. From 1919-1922, the two countries went to war again. Turkey won that second round, pushing Greece out of Asia Minor for the most part.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
A Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000EG. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

In the 1950s, the Cyprus issue renewed tensions despite both countries’ memberships in NATO, as did maritime territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea, leading to a near war in 1987, according to the New York Times.

A March 1996 report by the Congressional Research Service described the Imia/Kardak Crisis of 1995, another near-war.

War loomed again in the Cyprus Missile Crisis of 1997-1998, with the Independent reporting Turkey threatened strikes against Russian S-300 missiles sold to the Greek Cypriots. That crisis wasn’t defused until Greece bought the missiles and based them in Crete.

In the past year, the maritime territorial dispute in the Aegean Sea has heated up again, thanks to Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, according to recent news reports.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Land-based S-300 surface-to-air missile launchers | Creative Commons photo

So, what would happen if Greece and Turkey went to war? History can be a guide.

Past crises have usually seen NATO apply a lot of diplomatic pressure to avert war. The North Atlantic Treaty, in fact, gives NATO a very big vice to apply that pressure.

According to quora.com, Article V would still be potentially relevant for the country that was attacked. The text of the treaty makes no exceptions if the aggressor is a member of NATO.

There have been incidents between the two countries in the past where troops have exchanged fire planes have been shot down. So, while wars have been averted so far, the possibility remains that an incident could prompt a full-scale war between these two NATO allies.

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Watch the F-22 take on 5 F-15s — and dominate

The F-22 Raptor is an expensive plane. While some critics pegged its cost at over $300 million a plane, the actual fly-away cost could go down to $116 million per Raptor, according to a 2006 Air Force release.


Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
An F-22 deploys flares. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The F-22 was slated to replace the F-15A/B/C/D Eagles as the premier air-superiority fighter. But the Raptor’s production was halted at 187 airframes. Let’s go through a tale of the tape on these planes, before we see what happens when five Eagles jump a Raptor.

According to Joe Baugher, the F-15 has a top speed of Mach 2.5, a cruising speed of 570 knots, can carry eight air-to-air missiles (usually four AIM-120/AIM-7 and four AIM-9), and has a 20mm M61 cannon with 940 rounds. It has a range of 3,450 miles.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

Baugher notes that the F-22 has a top speed of Mach 2.2 slightly slower than the F-15. But the F-22 cruises at Mach 1.6. It carries four AIM-120 and four AIM-9 missiles. It also has a 20mm M61 cannon. It has a combat radius of up to 800 nautical miles.

Here’s the video showing how the five Eagles fared against the Raptor. Warning: This was not a fair fight.

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Russia claims its newest fighter will fight in space

While much of the world’s attention is focused on Russia’s push for a fifth-generation fighter, the PAK-FA or Sukhoi Su-57, much less attention is being paid to another design bureau – Mikoyan-Gurevich, better known as MiG (as in the plane whose parts get distributed forcefully by the Air Force or Navy). What have they been up to, besides developing the MiG-29K?


Well, according to The National Interest, to meet Russia’s PAK-DA requirement, MiG is trying to develop a for-real version of the X-wing fighter from Star Wars or the Colonial Viper from either iteration of Battlestar Galactica. The plane is called the MiG-41, and it is a successor to the MiG-31 Foxhound, which succeeded the MiG-25 Foxbat.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo: Wikimedia

The MiG-25 and MiG-31 were both known for their speed. According to MilitaryFactory.com, the MiG-25 was capable of hitting Mach 3.2, almost as fast as the SR-71 Blackbird. Its primary armament was the AA-6 Acrid, which came in radar-guided and heat-seeking versions. The Foxbat was exported to a number of counties, including Libya, Iraq, and Syria. Some claim that it scored an air-to-air kill against a Navy F/A-18 Hornet in Desert Storm.

The MiG-31 was an upgraded version. According to MilitaryFactory.com, it was about 300 miles per hour slower than the MiG-25, but it featured a much more powerful radar and the AA-9 Amos missile. The Foxhound is still in service, and Russia relies on it to counter the threat of America’s bombers.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
The Foxbat is a scream machine, speed-wise, and has been clocked hauling at over Mach 3.

The MiG-41, though, will be a huge leap upwards and forwards. Russian media claims that this new interceptor will be “hypersonic” (with a top speed of 4,500 kilometers per hour), and will carry hypersonic missiles.

You can see a video discussing this new plane below. Do you think this plane will live up to the hype, or will it prove to be very beatable, as past Soviet/Russian systems have?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JCswDTmMhg
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Watch the Brits teach these U.S. Marines how to ‘fight in the freezer’

U.S. Marines received training from their British counterparts in how to operate in the extreme cold of the Arctic.


The training took place in Norway near the border with Russia, a region that’s relevant based on current events in places like the Ukraine and the state of NATO. Bottom line: Marines need to be ready to fight in this environment.

British Royal Marines hosted the training and included the obligatory inter-coalition harassment like dumping the Yanks into the cold water . . .

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo: YouTube/BBC Newsbeat

… and giving them a shot at building a snow shelter …

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Photo: YouTube/BBC Newsbeat

Check out the video below:

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Memes, memes, memes! Here are the 13 funniest ones from around the military:


1. When the crew is tired of MREs, but first sergeant doesn’t understand:

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Maybe drive through some mud on the way back.

2. The platoon isn’t scared of getting a little wet, are they?

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
What’s a 50-foot drop, then 50-foot climb among buddies?

SEE ALSO: These 8 TV characters would never survive in the real military

3. Elsa created an actual, functioning snowman (via Team Non-Rec).

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
You really thought she would never build an army?

4. Don’t be jealous, he had to turn the wrench a lot of times for those (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Sure, it was mostly because he turned it the wrong way the first dozen times, but still.

5. Remember to always keep your weapon pointed downrange and away from the cat (via Devil Dog Nation).

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
And don’t aim at your mom.

6. Next time a paratrooper calls someone a leg …

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
… remind them that the rest of the Army can’t get drug around by silk.

7. “Oh yeah? You ready to show me your life jackets now!?”

(via Coast Guard Memes)

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

8. Marines do more with less, rah?

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
If you wanted armor, you should’ve joined the Army.

9. Reflective belts are always coming through in the clutch (via Air Force Nation).

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
They keep away bears, bullets, and now thieves, apparently.

10. The Air Force demands excellence of every recruit (via Air Force Memes Humor).

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
She can also do a better pull up than you, but maybe that’s why she joined the Marines.

11. Whenever the next Engineer Ball is held, I’d like tickets.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Not to the actual event, just the closing fireworks.

12. It’s chief’s least favorite dish (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long
Try it today with a side of sadness.

13. “You still have another foot before you hit the tree.”

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

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Watch an elderly Vietnam Vet fight off a woman who tried to take his wallet

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long


An attack by a woman on an elderly veteran was caught on tape outside a Fresno, California, auto parts store.

Police are asking for the public’s help in trying to find 73-year-old Victor Bejarano’s attacker.

The Vietnam vet said the woman got out of an SUV and asked him for his wallet in the parking lot. When he refused, she tried to take it from him, leading to a prolonged struggle.

When he made his way inside the store in order to get help, she followed him and the struggle continued right at the counter.

Special Operations has been the easy button for far too long

 

None of the customers in the store stepped in to help, police said. The woman got back in her SUV and drove off before police arrived.

After all that, Bejarano said if the woman had just asked him politely for money and explained her situation, he would have helped her out.

“If she would’ve told me from the beginning: ‘Sir, please help, I have a child. He’s crying because he’s hungry.’ I would have given her the money. But she didn’t ask for the money, she asked for my wallet. I said, I can’t give you my wallet,” said Bejarano, who was at the Auto Zone to fix a friend’s van.

Watch the “Fox and Friends” report here.

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