That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad - We Are The Mighty
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That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad

In April 2003, Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz and his men were part of the “Thunder Run” — and armored push through the the city of Baghdad and a test of the new Iraqi resistance.


During the movement through the city, an enemy RPG pierced the fuel cell on the back of the tank and left it immobile and burning in the city streets.

The chaotic battle began as the tanks rushed into the city on its highway system. A gunner in the lead tank spotted troops drinking tea with weapons nearby and asked permission to fire. The tank commander gave it, and the fight was on.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
(Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II)

While the gunner easily dispatched those first soldiers in the open, hundreds of fighters, many in civilian clothes or firing from bunkers, remained. And they put up a fierce resistance with small arms, mortars, and RPGs.

An early RPG hit disabled a Bradley, and the next major RPG hit disabled the Abrams. For almost 20 minutes, the Americans attempted to put out the flames and save the machine. But more fighters kept coming and Schwartz made the decision to sacrifice the tank wreckage to save the armored column.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
A scuttled M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank rests in front of a Fedayeen camp just outside of Jaman Al Juburi, Iraq, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Photo: Department of Defense)

The crew was moved to another vehicle and the crucial sensitive items were removed from the tank. Then the tankers filled the vehicle with thermite grenades and took off through the city. The Air Force later dropped bombs on what remained.

In the video below, Schwartz and other tankers involved in the battle discuss the unprecedented decision to abandon an Abrams tank.

The Iraqi government loyal to Saddam Hussein later claimed that the tank was killed, which would have given them credit for the first combat kill of an Abrams tank. The U.S. argued that it was merely disabled, and that it was the U.S. Army’s thermite grenades and later U.S. Air Force bombs that actually destroyed it.
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5 basic things you should know about the thrift savings plan

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad


Retirement planning can be stressful, but figuring out how to finance it takes a great deal of the stress away. Enter the government’s Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP. The first step in understanding TSPs is answering five basic questions: who, what, where, when, and why.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad

Who: The thrift savings plan is available to federal employees and members of the uniformed services. It is managed by BlackRock, a financial planning and investment firm headquartered in New York City.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad

What: TSP is a retirement savings plan similar to a private sector 401(k). Federal employees and military personnel can contribute up to a certain percentage of their base pay to their TSP. BlackRock assigns a broker to manage TSP accounts. Brokers are not held to the same standards as fiduciaries in that a broker has no vested interest in your funds; rather a broker’s only job is to invest money in suitable securities.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad

When: If you are a federal employee who joined your agency after 2010, you’re automatically enrolled in TSP with 3 percent of your base pay sent to your TSP; your agency matches this contribution automatically. If you joined your agency before 2010, an automatic 1 percent of your base pay is sent to TSP; your agency matches your additional contributions above the 1 percent. Military members must set up their own contributions and there is no matching contribution from the military.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad

Where: Military members can set up contributions to TSP through MyPay. Which type of funds you decide to invest in will determine when you can access the funds from that investment. There are L Funds, which are “lifestyle funds” that you can withdraw from at a predetermined time. Then there are G, F, S, C, and I funds, which rely on you to make your own investment decisions with a broker, according to the government’s TSP summary.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad

Why: A thrift savings plan gives you the ability to participate in a long-term retirement savings and investment plan. Additionally, you can choose between a regular TSP and a Roth TSP. Traditional TSP is tax free as you contribute, but you’ll pay taxes when you withdraw the funds. A Roth TSP allows you to pay taxes upon investment, and withdraw at a later date tax free. The upside to utilizing the government’s TSP is that you won’t pay fees to invest, and you’ll have a broker to manage the funds.

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The 13 Funniest Military Memes Of The Week

Christmas is over and the world is coming down from its collective eggnog hangover. To help you out, here are 13 memes that made us laugh over the holiday.


This is how you get rid of visiting relatives quickly.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad

Keep your officer safe this holiday season.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
The Marine version of “A Christmas Story” ended a bit differently.

Don’t like the stuffing? Try this instead.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Feels just as good coming out as it does going in.

It’s a bit of a fixer-upper.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
There’s nothing wrong with living well.

Besides, the Marines would kill for a place like that.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
It’s called a Devil Dog pile, Ooh-Rah?

When Airmen are on the tip of the spear.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
In their defense, it probably cuts down on negligent discharges.

Sergeant Major bait.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
That hanging thread is almost as bad as the hand positioning

When sailors dress up.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Go Navy! Play Army!

It’s not cheating, it’s intelligence gathering.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
He’s probably just checking her answers

This kid is way ahead.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
And the Coast Guard is a club

Your plane is affected by the wind?

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
My landing strip is affected by the oceans

Squadrons buy cold weather gear?

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Bundle up!

Of course, it’s the Air Force’s own fault they didn’t get gear for Christmas.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
How’d they find him if he wasn’t wearing a PT belt?
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Drones of tomorrow will be smarter, stealthier, and deadlier

The drones of tomorrow will be stealthier, faster, more computerized, equipped for electronic warfare, more lethal, more autonomous and, in some cases, able to deploy as swarming groups of mini-drones, according to the Air Force’s Chief Scientist.


“The ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) side will get a lot smarter. With the next generation, you will see UAVs that are faster, more maneuverable and maybe stealthy. You will see them accompanying fighters with extra weapons, EW (electronic warfare), countermeasures and even lasers on board,” Air Force Chief Scientist Greg Zacharias told Scout Warrior in an interview.

Some of these anticipated developments were forecasted in a 2014 Air Force report called RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) Vector designed to anticipate and prepare for future drone developments over the coming 25 years. However, the rapid pace of technological change has sped up and, to some extent, changed the timeline and mission scope for drones outlined in the report.

Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy

The processing speeds of computers and algorithms aimed at increasing autonomous activities have continued to evolve at an alarming rate, creating a fast-moving circumstance wherein drones will increasingly take on more and more functions by themselves, Zacharias explained.

Computer algorithms will enable drones to conduct a much wider range of functions without needing human intervention, such as sensing, targeting, weapons adjustments and sensor payload movements, ranges and capabilities, he added.

Developments with “artificial intelligence,” (AI) will better enable unmanned platforms to organize, interpret and integrate functions independently such as ISR filtering, sensor manipulation, maneuvering, navigation and targeting adjustments.  In essence, emerging computer technology will better enable drones to make more decisions and perform more functions by themselves.

The beginning of this phenomenon is evidenced in the computers and sensor technologies of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; the aircraft uses a technique known as “sensor fusion” wherein information from multiple sensors is organized, interpreted and presented to pilots on a single screen.

Digital mapping, ISR information from the F-35’s Distributed Aperture System and targeting data from its Electro-Optical Targeting System are not dispersed across multiple screens which pilots try to view simultaneously. Fast evolving sensor technology, which allows for an ability to more closely view targets and tactically relevant information from increasingly farther distances, will continue to enable and improve this trending phenomenon.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
YouTube

One of the largest consequences of AI will likely lead to a scenario wherein multiple humans will no longer need to control a single drone – rather multiple drones will be controlled by a single human performing command and control functions.

“People will function as air-traffic controllers rather than pilots, using smart, independent platforms. A person does command and control and drones execute functions. The resource allocation will be done by humans as higher level systems managers,” Zacharias explained.

As a result, drones will increasingly be capable of working more closely with nearby manned aircraft, almost functioning like a co-pilot in the cockpit and massively expanding the mission scope of a fighter jet or other aircraft able to control targeting, sensors and weapons functions from the air nearby.

“Decision aides will be in the cockpit (of a nearby fighter jet or aircraft) and platform oriented autonomous systems will function like a wing man, for instance, that might be carrying extra weapons, helping to defend or performing ISR tasks,” Zacharias said. “We will get beyond simple guidance and control and will get into tactics and execution.”

Drones could lead the way into higher-risk areas in order to reduce risks for manned aircraft, test and challenged next-generation enemy air defenses and greatly increase the ISR and weapons ability of any given mission.

In addition, drones will become more capable of air-to-air maneuvers and attacks and no longer be primarily engineered for air-to-ground attacks. In fact, early conceptual renderings of 6th generation fighter jets and the Air Force’s in-development Long Range Strike-Bomber are being engineered for unmanned flight as well as piloted flight.

Nevertheless, although drones and unmanned fighters will rapidly become faster and more manueverable, algorithms may not sooon progress to the point where unmanned systems can respond or react to unanticipated developments in a dynamic, fast-changing environment the way a human brain could. At the same time, advances in long-range sensor technology will continue to enable aircraft to see enemies at much longer distances, massively decreasing the need for drones or unmanned systems to be able to dogfight in mid-air.

During the last decade and a half of ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where U.S. forces experienced uncontested air superiority, drones were used almost exclusively for air-to-ground attacks against insurgent fighters on the run, compounds, weapons caches, bunkers and other strategically vital targets. As the Air Force looks to the future, it aims to be capable of using drones as a key part of successfully engaging near-peer competitors and potential adversaries with technological ability able to rival the U.S. edge.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
U.S. Air Force

Russia and China, for example, both operate 5th generation stealth fighters (the latest and greatest technology) – and Russia is known to operate some of the most sophisticated enemy air defenses in the world.  Russian-built air defenses are now better networked to one another, have faster processing speeds and are able to detect fighter aircraft on a wider range of frequencies, making it much more difficult for even stealthy fighters and bombers to operate.

These potential scenarios, now being studied by Pentagon analysts, involve developing an ability to operate in what is called a “contested environment,” where enemies operate advanced air defenses, 5th generation fighter jets and long-range precision-guided weapons.

“You need to increasingly be able to react more to your environment in the air, addressing unanticipated failures and threats coming after you,” Zacharias added.

Zacharias explained that many of these developments will come to fruition more fully through ongoing training, simulations and live virtual constructions designed to assess various expected scenarios.

Faster computer processing power will also better enable an ability to organize and streamline the massive amount of collected ISR data. If a drone loiters over strategically important areas for hours upon hours, computer algorithms will increasingly allow the platform to identify important tactical information by itself.

“Right now we are using lots of bandwidth to send our real-time video. One of the things that we have is smarter on-board processors. An RPA (drone) can orbit around a given target and have it look, for instance, for a relevant white pick-up truck, instead of having human operators do that,” he said. “This requires image processing, pattern recognition. Then you could just send a signal instead of using up all this bandwidth saying ‘hey I just saw something 30 seconds ago you might want to take a look at the video feed which I am sending right now.'”

The ability for a single human to control multiple drones could bring a number of implications, such as an ability to effectively use a swarm of small drones. Air Force scientists have explained that emerging algorithms are increasingly able to allow large numbers of small, mini-drones to operate in unison without hitting one another. For instance, they could collectively work to jam or overwhelm an enemy radar system, act themselves as weapons or munitions, or cover an expansive area with ISR video feeds.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Wikipedia

More Lethal Drones

A wider arsenal of weapons will also be integrated onto drone platforms, including high-tech guided weapons able to discern and destroy enemy targets by themselves to a much greater degree. This will likely include laser weapons as well, Zacharias added.

These weapons will naturally include laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles which are the primary weapon used by today’s platforms such as the Predator, Reaper and Army Gray Eagle.  At the same time, drones or unmanned platforms are expected to fire a wider range of guided air-dropped munitions and air-to-air weapons such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM.

Also, the Air Force is now developing an air-dropped guided weapon called the Small Diameter Bomb II. This weapon uses an emerging technology called a tri-mode seeker, which draws upon infrared, laser and millimeter wave radar technology to detect, track and destroy targets in any kind of weather environment.

At the same time, Pentagon doctrine stipulates that a human needs to be in-the-loop when it comes to the possible use of lethal force, except potentially in some rare circumstance where immediate defensive weapons are needing in milliseconds due to an incoming attack, Zacharias explained.  As a result, nearly all weapons will help distinguish, track and destroy targets under the guidance and supervision of human command and control.

Given the pace of technological change, future Air Force drones will also need to be modular, meaning they will be engineered such that they can readily exchange sensor payloads when mission requirements change or new technology emerges, Air Force officials said.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad Wikimedia Commons

Future drones will also be much faster than the 200 to 300 miles per hour most current drones are able to travel at. Hypersonic speeds greater than Mach 5.5 may be in the very distant future; the Air Force Research Laboratory and Boeing have worked together on an emerging hypersonic test platform called the X-51A Waverider. The test vehicle has had both failed and successful test trying to launch from an aircraft and travel at hypersonic speeds. While this super-high speed technology may hold promise for possible drone applications in the distant future, it is currently regarded as a long way off and in need of much further development.

Nevertheless, there have been some successfull flights of hypersonic technology, including on in May of 2013 wherein the X-51A Waverider flew over the Pacific Ocean reaching speeds of Mach 5.1.

This May 1 test flight wound up being the longest air-breathing hypersonic flight ever, wrapping up a $300 million technology demonstration program beginning in 2004, according to an Air Force statement.

“The X-51A took off from the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif., under the wing of B-52H Stratofortress. It was released at approximately 50,000 feet and accelerated to Mach 4.8 in about 26 seconds powered by a solid rocket booster. After separating from the booster, the cruiser’s supersonic combustion ramjet, or scramjet, engine then lit and accelerated the aircraft to Mach 5.1 at 60,000 feet,” a previous Air Force Statement explaining the test stated.

Naturally, massively increased speed could give drones an ability to urgently reach and potentially deliver weapons and sensors to crucial time-sensitive combat situations exponentially faster.

 

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad Northrop Grumman

Stealthy Drones

Future drones will also be quite stealthy, as a technique for having more success against high-tech air defenses. There are already a number of stealthy drones in various stages of development.

One such example is Lockheed Martin’s RQ-170 Sentinel stealth UAV which, according to a 2011 report in The Atlantic, helped track Bin Laden’s compound prior to his death.

Boeing has unveiled its Phantom Ray, a fighter-sized unmanned combat air vehicle which first flew in 2011. The aircraft has a 50-foot wingspan, can climb to 40,000 feet and reach speeds of Mach .85.

Also, the Navy is still contemplating and analyzing future plans for a first-of-its kind stealthy, carrier launched drone, called the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne and Strike system (UCLASS). UCLASS is slated to arrive in the mid-2020s to give a Carrier Air Wing an ability to launch stealthy drone attacks over enemy territory without needing to launch from a nearby land-base and, in some cases, secure permission from a nearby country to take-off-and-land from the ground.

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Here’s what makes Marine One unlike any other helicopter in the world

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Wikimedia


Among the special modes of transportation reserved for the president is Marine One.

A specialty built helicopter, Marine One accompanies the president around the country and even overseas. Built to rescue the president during an emergency, the helicopter is customized with a suite of amazing features.

“The helicopter was very smooth, very impressive,” Obama told reporters after his first ride in the helicopter in 2009. “You go right over the Washington Monument and then you know — kind of curve in by the Capitol. It was spectacular.”

We have compiled some of Marine One’s most amazing features below.

Each year, only four pilots from HMX-1 squadron, aka “The Nighthawks,” have the honor of flying Marine One.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
White House

The helicopter can cruise at over 150 mph …

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Wikimedia

… and can continue flying even if one of its three engines fails.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Flickr

Marine One has ballistic armor, missile warning systems, and antimissile defenses.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Wikimedia

The helicopter is also equipped with secure communication lines for the president to remain in contact with the White House and the Pentagon.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
White House

No matter where in the world the helicopter lands, the president is always greeted by a Marine.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Flickr

Similar to the identical decoy that flies alongside Air Force One, a decoy helicopter flies with Marine One.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
White House

Unlike most helicopters, Marine One is so quiet that the president can speak in a normal tone of voice.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
White House

There is 200 square feet of interior space …

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
White House

… enough space for 14 passengers.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
White House

Marine One is deployed to serve the president domestically and abroad.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Wikimedia

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5 times the US military ripped victory from the jaws of defeat

The U.S. military has a history of finding effective ways around serious tactical and strategic problems. Here are five times they found themselves outgunned, outnumbered, or outmaneuvered but managed to pull off a victory anyway.


1. Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller and the troops at Chosin Reservoir

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Photo: US Marine Corps

When Marine legend Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller found himself hopelessly surrounded and outnumbered at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, he had few options and worst prospects. But instead of surrendering to the 7 Chinese divisions surrounding him, he ordered his men to advance south.

From Dec. 6, 1950, to Dec. 11, Puller and his Marines fought viciously to reach the relative safety of Hungnam. They not only made it to the port, but they brought out their wounded and dead, all of their important equipment, and a large number of refugees while also inflicting heavy casualties on the Chinese forces.

While Puller’s withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir was an unlikely success, the overall U.N. campaign was a failure and North Korea fell to Communist forces.

2. Samar Island at the Battle of Leyte Gulf

At Samar Island in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, a 13-ship Navy task force of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts found themselves facing a Japanese force of 23 ships including the largest battleship ever built, the Yamato. The largest guns of the American fleet were 5-inch cannons that were unlikely to pierce the hulls of the Japanese attackers.

Though the only weapon they had capable of killing the heavy Japanese ships was their limited torpedo supply, the destroyers and destroyer escorts of the Navy task force charged at the Japanese force in an attempt to let the U.S. carrier escorts escape.

Over the next two hours, the limited American ships and Naval aircraft attacked the Japanese force so viciously that Japanese Adm. Takeo Kurita believed he’d run into the entire U.S. Third Fleet. Kurita retreated. Three of his cruisers were sunk and a fourth crippled while the U.S. lost four ships but protected the troops landing on Leyte Island.

3. The Battle of the Bulge

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Photo: US Army Sgt. Bill Augustine

The Allied advance across eastern Europe was nearly stopped at the Battle of the Bulge when three German armies managed to launch a surprise attack against four American divisions strung across a 124-mile front.

One of the key positions in the battle was Bastogne, Belgium where 22,000 Americans — mostly paratroopers with the 101st Airborne Division — were holding off a massive force of 54,000 Germans backed by heavy artillery. The Germans suggested an American surrender after two days of fighting.

The American general responded simply, “NUTS!” and the American force held out for another five days, giving time for armored units from the Third Army to reach them. Rather than withdraw to rest, the paratroopers then began retaking Allied positions lost in the previous weeks.

4. John Paul Jones and his sinking flagship capture his enemy’s ship

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Painting: US Naval History and Heritage Command/Thomas Mitchell

The father of the American Navy was watching his flagship, the Bonhomme Richard, sink beneath him after attacking the HMS Serapis on Sep. 23, 1779 at the Battle of Flamborough Head.

When the British commander offered John Paul Jones’s the chance to surrender, Jones uttered his famous response, “I have not yet begun to fight!” He then crashed his ship into the Serapis, had his sharpshooters clear the enemy deck, and captured the Serapis while the Bonhomme Richard sank.

5. Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold commands an ad hoc navy to save his army

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Photo: Wikipedia/National Archives of Canada

In Jun. 1776, elements of the Continental Army retreated to Fort Tinconderoga and Fort Crown Pont in New York. Knowing that a larger and more capable British army and navy was trying to finish the war before Winter fell, Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold had to find a way to stall.

So, he created an ad hoc navy over the summer. Despite having almost no naval experience, Arnold led his fledgling fleet north against a British fleet in Oct. 1776. The 25-ship British fleet sank 11 of the 15 American vessels.

As he lost ship after ship to damage, Arnold would grab all of the sailors he could from foundering vessels and then leave the ships burning or grounded. Then he retreated across land and burned his remaining ships and Fort Crown Point to the ground.

Despite losing nearly all of his ships and Fort Crown Point, Arnold successfully evacuated his men to Ticonderoga and delayed the British long enough that they couldn’t attack the fort before winter settled in. The British were ordered into winter quarters and the Continental Army prepared for 1777 — the year they would gain the advantage in the war at the Battle of Saratoga.

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How a soldier earned a rare battlefield promotion during an ISIS fight

When Jeremy Penderman joined the Army, he wasn’t quite sure what his job would entail.


“I’m not even sure the recruiter knew what the job was,” he said.

But Penderman, a multichannel transmission systems operator/maintainer, said the job hasn’t disappointed.

Now serving in Iraq with Fort Bragg’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Penderman has an undeniable impact on his unit and the ongoing fight to retake the key northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State terrorist group, officials said.

So undeniable that Penderman, who has spent nearly seven years in the Army, was the recipient of a rare battlefield promotion in April of 2017.

In an impromptu ceremony near Al Tarab, Iraq, Sgt. Penderman became Staff Sgt. Penderman when Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin pinned the new rank to his chest.

Penderman, who was at the base repairing communications equipment, said the visit — and the promotion — were unexpected.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
U.S. Army Col. Pat Work, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve and commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, provides an operations update for Paratroopers at a patrol base near Al Tarab, Iraq, March 30, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull)

Martin, the commander of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command — Operation Inherent Resolve and the 1st Infantry Division, was able to promote Penderman after determining that the soldier “demonstrated an extraordinary performance of duties” while filling a job that’s typically held by someone of a higher rank.

It was a special recognition for Penderman, who had spent nearly two years awaiting a promotion but still lacked the requirements for a typical bump in rank.

“It was a complete surprise,” Penderman told The Fayetteville Observer from Iraq last week. “I didn’t know anything about it.”

Penderman, 25, is a Durham-native who oversees communications for the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute infantry Regiment, which has about 700 soldiers in Iraq and deployed late last year.

In that role, he leads a small team of soldiers who work to ensure troops can communicate across the battlefield, keeping a network in place to spur a constant flow of information from advise-and-assist teams embedded with Iraqi forces and between unmanned aerial vehicles and soldiers on the ground.

The job often sees him working with complex communications equipment, tapping into satellites and generally maintaining a tactical communications network in an austere and ever-changing environment.

Not bad for someone who knew little to nothing about his career when he joined the Army.

“I didn’t even know what an IP (address) was,” Penderman said. “I didn’t know anything about computers.”

Instead, Penderman had high hopes that baseball would be his future.

“I played everywhere,” he said of his time at the Durham School of the Arts. “But I went to college as an outfielder.”

That college was Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, where Penderman received a scholarship to play baseball.

But after being redshirted his freshman year, he began to reconsider another dream.

Penderman always wanted to join the military. He wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps as a Marine, although his parents urged him to try college instead.

He made a promise that he would give college a year, and, if that didn’t work, he’d be free to enlist.

Today, Penderman might have been a Marine if it wasn’t for one more discovery.

“I found out about the airborne,” he said.

Over spring break his freshman year — March 2010 — Penderman walked into a recruiting center and enlisted in the Army.

At first, he wanted to be an airborne infantryman, but a recruiter instead guided him through a list of available jobs.

He described Penderman’s current military occupational specialty, known as a 25Q, as “half infantry, half radios” and promised he could still become a paratrooper. Also, the job came with an enlistment bonus.

Since enlisting, Penderman spent more than four years in Germany with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team before joining the 82nd Airborne Division about two years ago.

He has seven years in the Army and plans to apply to become a warrant officer in the Signal Corps. While he wants to stay in the Army as long as possible, he said the skills he’s learned have opened the door to a bright future no matter if he wears the uniform or not.

“It’s really set me up for success, whether I stay in or get out,” he said.

Penderman is noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of his battalion’s S6, or communications, shop.

Typically, that organization would have upward of a dozen soldiers, including an NCOIC and an officer. But Penderman’s shop has three soldiers and no officer.

That shows the faith and trust that leadership has in the soldier, officials said.

In training while preparing for the deployment, the battalion trained with the smaller force. But Penderman said little could have prepared him for another aspect of the deployment — a constant leapfrogging of the battlefield.

When Penderman’s battalion arrived in country, they set up more than 20 miles from Mosul to partner with the 9th Iraqi Armored Division, one of the local forces looking to take back the city.

“And we moved six times,” Penderman said. “As they gain ground and they move forward, we move forward with them.”

Today, he’s based out of a tactical assembly area near the village of Bakhira. From there, he’s near the border of the city and close to the fighting.

“We can hear them shooting off mortars,” Penderman said.

He’s also seen forces treating wounded. And he said that knowing he has played a role in the march into the city has been humbling.

“It’s fulfilling work,” Penderman said. “I get to impact the battalion on a daily basis… It definitely feels like I’m making a difference in my battalion and helping to make a difference in the fight in Mosul.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

We Are The Mighty screens ‘Kilo Two Bravo’ for enthusiastic crowd

“[Kilo Two Bravo is] less about the flag for which these men may die but the weary bravery they must summon to survive.”

Miami Herald, 4/5 stars


 

We Are The Mighty hosted a screening of the war film “Kilo Two Bravo” at the Lido theater in Newport, CA on November 10. Described as “the most honest and unflinching look at the reality and brutality of war”, the film was well received by the 200-some people in attendance.

“Kilo Two Bravo” tells the true story of a platoon on a mission to neutralize a Taliban roadblock in the Kajaki region of Afghanistan. While closing in on the insurgents, the unit find themselves marooned in the middle of a minefield, setting in motion a desperate rescue mission. This taut thriller tells the story of heroism, courage and survival and captures what war is like for those fighting it in the 21st Century.

“Kilo Two Bravo” is now in theaters and available on iTunes.

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Here is the science that goes into MRE recipes

There is an ebb and flow with a troop’s love, hate, and pure apathy toward eating Meals, Ready to Eat.


Either you score the new Chicken Burrito Bowl or you get stuck with a veggie option so foul no amount of salt can help cover the taste. It usually goes from the “Oh cool! MREs!” feeling, to then despising the concept of eating from the same 24 brown bags for months, and finally gets beaten into a state of pure Stockholm Syndrome where you get used to and enjoy them again because it’s technically food.

Whatever your personal experience will be, the minds at Ameriqual, Sopakco, and Wornick have all crafted a very specific meal under very specific guidelines.

Whichever meal you are tossed usually contains an entree, side, cracker or bread, spread, dessert, a beverage, Flameless Ration Heater, and accessories. Every MRE also needs to have a constant 1,250-calorie count, have 13 percent protein, 36 percent fat, and 51 percent carbohydrates, and make up one third of the Military Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals.

Finally, each box of MREs must have a shelf life of at least 18 months in above 80°F conditions, three years below. This has been the constant ever since it’s inception in 1975 and standard issue in 1986.

That time America abandoned an Abrams tank in Baghdad
Dr. Rahman receiving the Meritorious Civilian Service Award for developing the MRE. And yes. His last name does sound like the instant noodles. There. That is now a thing you will remember.

One of the more impressive creations in the MRE is the Flameless Ration Heater. Water activated, the pouch quickly reaches heats that can warm up an eight ounce ration within minutes. Simply put the food pouch inside the bag, lean it against a rock or something, and you’re ready to eat.

Heating or cooking your food raises the caloric value of the food you’re eating, giving you more energy.

Whatever you do, do not take two of the heaters, empty a tiny Tabasco sauce into a bottle of water, add the heaters and water to about the half way point, seal it, shake it, then toss it somewhere.

It’s a dick move and your squad will call you out for your douchebaggery. This is because the heat and fumes decompress within the bottle to the point of exploding.

There is also the First Strike Ration, a compact, eat-on-the-move ration that is designed to be half the size and a third of the weight while giving troops the nutritional intake of an entire days worth of food.

The Combat Feeding Directorate developed this after they noticed troops would “field strip” their MREs of unwanted and burdensome extra items, like boxes, accessory packs, heaters, and bags. The total calorie count of an FSR comes to 2,900 calories.

The actual menu changes year to year. 2017 changes are no different.

Thankfully, they’re removing “Rib shaped BBQ Pork Patty,” that fried rice thing, chicken pesto pasta, ‘Hooah!’ bars, and the wheat snack bread (which only the power of the Jalapeno Cheese Spread could make edible). The replacements actually sound delicious (like the previously mentioned Chicken Burrito Bowl) and are even more thought out.

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(Comic by Maximilian at Terminal Lance)

I can see the successor of the most coveted MRE item: caffeinated teriyaki beef sticks. Julie Smith, senior food technologist at Combat Feeding Directorate of the Natick Soldier, Research, Development and Engineering Center said of the alternative to beef jerky “Typically, when we do evaluations, we get feedback from the war fighter that they want to have more beef jerky varieties. It’s such a high sodium item, however, that we have to be careful in how to include it in the menu.”

There is also the new version of the pound cake. It’s now fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids which research shows is great for muscle recovery and resiliency — all without affecting the taste of one of the better desserts in the MRE.

Far off into the future, Jeremy Whitsitt, the Deputy Director at Combat Feeding, says that one day there will be the ability to monitor an individual’s nutritional needs and -essentially- “print out a bar or a paste specifically designed for that soldier to return them to nutritional status.” He continues: “We’re laying the groundwork now through research and development to get us to that point.”

In the meantime, we can still hold out for the Pizza MRE. No timeline on its release, but it’ll be after they can work out the bread going brown after six months in 100°F.

Combat Feeding Directorate – ARMY M.R.E Research from Votary Media on Vimeo.

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That time Napoleon was almost defeated by a rabbit army

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Wikimedia Commons | Flickr


Napoleon Bonaparte was well-known as one of the foremost military minds of his age, but there was one group he couldn’t outsmart: rabbits! One epic conflict pitted the emperor against the lusty lagomorphs, and to the Corsican-born ruler’s great surprise, the bunnies came out on top.

During his down time, Napoleon, like many wealthy men of the time, enjoyed hunting; in particular, he liked tracking down rabbits. The animals being hunted weren’t as fond of the humans’ pastime, however. According to the memoirs of a Napoleonic general, Paul Thiébault, a courtier named Alexandre Berthier devised such an amusement for his master in July 1807. “He had the idea of giving the Emperor some rabbit-shooting in a park which he possessed just outside of Paris, and had the joy of having his offer accepted,” Thiébault wrote.

But the not-so-bright Berthier had one problem: his property had no rabbits on it! So Berthier ordered one thousand rabbits “to be turned down in the park on the morning of the day” of the hunt. On the very day, Napoleon arrived to a lovely picnic and everything was going smoothly, but the bunnies had another idea. Instead of scattering across the park and making themselves targets for eager shooters, the rabbits “suddenly collected first in knots, then a body.” Then the buns “all faced about, and in an instant the whole phalanx flung itself upon Napoleon.”

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Wikimedia Commons

Berthier was humiliated and furious, so he turned his coachmen on the rabbit army. But although their whips initially dissuaded the hippity-hoppers, the critters soon wheeled about as a group and “turned the Emperor’s flank” and “attacked him frantically in the rear, refused to quit their hold, piled themselves up between his legs till they made him stagger, and forced the conqueror of conquerors, fairly exhausted, to retreat and leave them in possession of the field…” It was lucky for Napoleon,Thiébault quipped, that the bunnies left Napoleon intact and didn’t themselves proceed in triumph to Paris!

How did one thousand rabbits wind up defeating Napoleon? According to Thiébault, Brethier, ignorant of the differences between domestic and wild rabbits, bought the wrong kind of bunny: he purchased one thousand hutch-raised hoppers, rather than the wild buns that were afraid of humans. As a result, the rabbits “had taken the sportsmen, including the Emperor, as purveyors of their daily cabbage,” and since the bunnies hadn’t yet been fed, eagerly sprang on the humans in the hopes of food.

As funny as this incident was, Napoleon was not amused. Apparently, the upstart emperor didn’t have the greatest sense of humor. But everyone else had a pretty good laugh at his expense.

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This Medal of Honor recipient led an attack with grenades, bayonets, and an E-tool

Then-Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Wilson was a veteran of World War II and a former officer when he led Company I of the 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, in an attack on a numerically superior group of enemy soldiers on June 5, 1951, during the Korean War.


When his men struggled to take the terrain, he rescued the lead element under hostile fire with grenades, led a bayonet charge that killed 27, and then protected his men from the enemy counterattack using his rifle and an entrenching tool.

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(Photo: Public Domain)

Yeah, he fought off a counterattack by killing four enemy soldiers with a foldable shovel.

Company I’s attack on June 5 first faltered when dug-in enemy forces pinned down the advancing Americans using submachine guns and other weapons, according to Wilson’s Medal of Honor citation. That was the first time Wilson leapt into action to save his men.

He charged forward, firing his rifle and throwing grenades. His bold attack wiped out four enemy soldiers firing submachine guns, allowing Company I to continue the advance. The assault platoon moved up and established a base of fire.

So Wilson got a group of men together to press the attack with a bayonet assault. Wilson and the rest of the group killed 27 enemy soldiers and Company I began consolidating the gains it had so far. That was when the Koreans launched a counterattack.

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Bet the unit wished they had a recoilless rifle handy at that point. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Americans were under severe pressure by the Korean assault, so Wilson again leaped into action. He initiated a one-man assault that killed seven and wounded two, shutting down the enemy’s drive.

When the Americans attempted another assault, it was decisively stopped by enemy fire. Wilson gave the order for the lead platoon to withdraw. But the withdrawal quickly went sideways with the commanding officer, platoon leader, and even Wilson suffering serious wounds.

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Korea sucked, is what we’re saying. (Portrait: Public Domain)

That was when Wilson made his rifle/E-tool attack. He managed to kill three enemies with his rifle before it was wrested from his hands. That’s when he grabbed the E-tool and killed four more of the enemies.

His actions delayed the final Korean counterattack and allowed Wilson to evacuate the unit, but he suffered a second wound during that action.

Over three years later, on Sept. 23, 1954, then-1st Lt.Wilson received the Medal of Honor.

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Military working dog awarded Purple Heart alongside handler

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Facebook | 89th Military Police Brigade


A military K-9 injured in a bomb explosion in Afghanistan along with his military police officer partner now has a lot of support after a photo of the dog wearing a Purple Heart Medal in a hospital in Germany has gone viral, the Killeen Daily Herald reports.

Spc. Andrew Brown, 22, and his military dog, Rocky, were searching a structure for explosive materials in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province Dec. 3 when the bomb exploded, the Texas newspaper reported Friday.

“They were working with Special Operations Forces in an effort to identify explosive materials,” Army spokesman Sgt. Michal Garrett told the paper.

Brown and Rocky survived the blast and were taken to a military hospital in Germany. There, a photo was taken of Rocky wearing the Purple Heart and posted on the Facebook page of Fort Hood’s 89th Military Police Brigade. Brown is assigned to the brigade.

The photo had more than 89,000 likes, 118,000 shares and more than 9,500 comments as of Sunday morning.

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Facebook | 89th Military Police Brigade

“The Army typically does not process awards for our working dogs the same way we do for our other soldiers,” Garrett told the Daily Herald. “The Purple Heart in the photo was placed on Rocky as a sign of respect and solidarity between him and Brown during their recovery.”

Two days ago the brigade posted another photo of Brown and Rocky in a hospital room on Facebook that said, “They are both very thankful for your thoughts and prayers and are in the process of heading back home.

The post said Brown had arrived earlier Friday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Hospital in Washington where he was met by his waiting family.

The Daily Herald reported that Brown, of Eliot, Maine, suffered non-life threatening injuries and will undergo a series of tests for traumatic brain injury. The tests are routine for soldiers injured by roadside bombs.

Rocky is expected to return to Fort Hood in the coming weeks. The canine suffered shrapnel wounds and a broken leg.

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3 times the War Powers Act got the President cross-threaded with Congress

The Framers of the Constitution intended for there to be a, let’s call it, “healthy tension” between the branches of government, especially around matters pertaining to the power to commit the nation to war. The Constitution stipulates that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military, but that Congress has the power of the purse over military funding as well as the authority to declare war. And like what tends to happen around pieces of legislation that endure because they’re blissfully ill-defined, the rest is subject to interpretation.


And differences in interpretation around who has the power to do what when it comes to waging war led Congress to pass the War Powers Act in 1973 after it came to light that President Nixon had expanded the already unpopular Vietnam War into neighboring Cambodia. The resolution was passed in both the House and Senate before being vetoed by Nixon. That veto was overridden and the War Powers Act became law on November 7 of that year.

The War Powers Act requires that the President notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30-day withdrawal period, without a Congressional authorization for that use of military force or a declaration of war by the United States.

But those quantitative guidelines haven’t kept the Executive and Legislative branches from tangling over the definition of “war.” Here are 3 times the President and Congress disagreed over the use of the War Powers Act:

1. Reagan sends Multinational Force to Lebanon

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Marines search the rubble following a terrorist attack on the barracks that killed 241 troops on Oct. 23, 1983. (Photo: CNN)

In 1981 President Reagan took the lead in introducing western troops — including four U.S. Marine Amphibious Units — to Lebanon as a peacekeeping force that would, among other things, allow the Palestinians to safely leave the country. But what started as a fairly benign op erupted into chaos as the months went on. The most horrific and tragic among the violent events was the bombing of the Marine Corps Barracks on October 23, 1983 that killed 241 U.S. servicemembers and 58 French paratroopers.

That bombing caused Congress to realize the American mission as one in which American forces could not succeed because their mission was poorly defined from a military point of view. (Then as now, just being present is not a viable use of military force.) Lawmakers withdrew support for the Multinational Force presence and threatened the Reagan administration with the War Powers Act to expedite getting the troops out as fast as possible, which was ironic because they had also used the War Powers Act two years earlier to allow Reagan to insert the troops for an indefinite length of time.

2. Clinton takes military action against Kosovo

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Belgrade burning after NATO air strike. (Photo: kosovo.net)

As reported by Charlie Savage in The New York Times back in 2011, “In 1999, President Clinton kept the bombing campaign in Kosovo going for more than two weeks after the 60-day deadline had passed. Even then, however, the Clinton legal team opined that its actions were consistent with the War Powers Resolution because Congress had approved a bill funding the operation, which they argued constituted implicit authorization. That theory was controversial because the War Powers Resolution specifically says that such funding does not constitute authorization.”

In 2013, The Wall Steet Journal reported that Clinton’s actions in Kosovo were challenged by a member of Congress as a violation of the War Powers Resolution in the D.C. Circuit case Campbell v. Clinton, but the court found the issue was a “non-justiciable political question.” It was also accepted that because Clinton had withdrawn from the region 12 days prior the 90-day required deadline, he had managed to comply with the act.

3. Obama conducts a campaign against Libya

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Libya MiG-23 goes down in flames after being hit by rebel fire. (Photo: aljazeera.com)

In 2011, the Obama administration was waging a proxy war against the Khaddafi regime in Libya, primarily using air power to assist the rebels. (There were rumors that American special operators were acting as forward air controllers on the ground, but they were never substantiated.) We the clock ran out on the War Powers timeframe, President Obama (along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) sidestepped asking Congress for permission to keep the campaign going, claiming that no authorization was needed because the leadership of the campaign had been transferred to NATO. The administration also said that U.S. involvement was “limited,” even though American aircraft were flying 75 percent of the campaign’s sorties.

Eventually, the rebels found and killed Khaddafi, which put an end to the air campaign but led to the Benghazi debacle where four Americans were killed, including the ambassador — a cautionary tale in itself, perhaps, about bypassing the War Powers Act.

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