The best and the worst Air Force recruiting slogans of all time - We Are The Mighty
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The best and the worst Air Force recruiting slogans of all time

The U.S. Air Force has had many recruiting slogans, used at various times to varying effect. The current Air Force slogan “Aim High, Fly-Fight-Win” is no “We’re Looking For A Few Good Men” or “The Few The Proud, The Marines.” But yet the USAF continues its effort to come up with something as sticky as “Semper Fi.”


Not happening.

Marine Corps slogan recognition will always beat any branch (and even some national brands… there are studies on this), but Air Force advertising has been like the Cleveland Browns trying to find a quarterback – they were on to something early, but after a while, it got confusing.

Here’s WATM’s list of Air Force slogans ranked from the best ideas to the worst:

1. “Aim High”

Easily the best slogan the Air Force ever used. Aim High is so good, the Air Force had to bring it back. It’s fast, snappy, memorable, and says all you need to know: we think we’re the best branch, so why try to join the Army or Navy? I don’t know why they changed it and they probably couldn’t tell you either but whatever they changed it to had to be the Merrill McPeak uniform of Air Force slogan.

That was the most Air Force joke ever made.

2. “Uno Ab Alto (One From on High)”

This sounds less like Airmen and more like Gandalf the Gray. Or a Harry Potter spell. Looking for that badass Latin quote will get you into trouble, Air Force. I can’t fault them too much because this was before Aim High. Uno Ab Alto gets #2 because it’s a classier way of saying “Death From Above” (Mors Ab Alto) which I think is a far better recruiting slogan for the Drone Age. If you want to attract more drone pilots, just say what you mean.

The 7th Bomb Wing is ahead of the game.

3. “Aim High . . . Fly-Fight-Win”

Sloganeering as a result of surveys, meetings, and calls for suggestions: the true Air Force way. This latest iteration of “Aim High” ranks as #3 because it’s riding the coattails of #1.

This will likely not be replaced for a long time considering the amount of research, time, and money effort spent on coming up with it. It shouldn’t be a surprise to Air Force veterans that the Air Force put so much into changing their slogan only to lean on one they used a decade or so ago and adding a college fight song to it.

If they wanted to use things Airmen naturally say to each other as a recruiting slogan, they should have just listened to Airmen in squadron hallways, but this would probably result in the Air Force slogan being “Have a great Air Force day” “Happy Hour?” or “See you tomorrow, Doug.”

4. “The Sky’s No Limit”

Harkening back to the Air Force’s Cold War glory days, The Sky’s No Limit is actually not a bad one to fall back on if we’re just going to start resurrecting old lines. The test pilots of the days of yore were pretty ballsy, and with the Air Force’s expanding missions as an Air and Space Force, this is a good descriptive slogan, even if it’s a little vague.

Airman Snuffy just brings his buddies on the flightline, NBD.

The only real problem with this is a lot of the Air Force doesn’t really fly so for them, the sky’s no limit, but getting there certainly is. Believe it or not, some people who join the Air Force don’t want to fly. The fighting and winning are fun, though.

5. “Do Something Amazing”

While the Air Force has some heroic people working in incredible career fields (that is, people who do those amazing somethings), it also has cooks, plumbers, and lawyers. All are necessary to the Air Force mission (and are true-blue lifesavers when you really want or need one – trust me, you want these people to be your friends), but these aren’t the careers you think of when you’re considering joining the military. You might be disappointed when you’re thinking about all the amazing AFSCs you’ll cross-train into the moment you can. At least they’re not patronizing people by framing additional duties as a great activity.

Marines probably do this.

Actually, you know what’s amazing? Spending an entire enlistment without ever having to see Tops In Blue.

And at air shows.

Also, “amazing” is what a sorority girl calls her summer study abroad program in London.

6. “We Do The Impossible Everyday”

… And we do the hyperbolic so much more. Read some USAF EPRs for the most flowery language you’ve ever seen. The thesaurus was created for Air Force performance reviews. You need one to make it sound like your creepy subordinate deserves a goddamn medal for volunteering to watch people pee.

The sky’s no limit.

This line looks like the Air Force doesn’t know the meaning of the word impossible (Which is a much better slogan. Air Force, call me). The biggest problem with this slogan is that they also do the very, very possible all the time. Not every one gets the “impossible” job.

What’s she holding? Wait, They read from dead trees? MAGIC.

You know what’s possible? Getting booted out for your third alcohol-related incident because Frank’s Franks won’t put hot dogs on Anthony’s Pizza. You know who makes that possible? Air Force JAGs and security forces.

7. “No One Comes Close”

This wouldn’t have been so bad in retrospect, except you know who comes close? The Navy. They also have fighters and stuff. Not exactly the same missions, I know, but… close enough to make this slogan awkward.

8. “Cross Into The Blue”

This nebulous Blue. Context tells you it’s the sky but the ocean is also blue, for the record, and it’s a much more tangible blue to cross into. This would be a better line for trying to get Army people to come to the Air Force, but I doubt that would be the goal (Airmen use the term “Army Proof” for a reason).

9. “It’s Not Science Fiction, It’s What We Do Everyday”

This would be a better slogan for Scientology. I don’t remember Orson Scott Card writing about drone strikes in Pakistan but maybe somewhere a six-year-old is playing video games and ending terrorists. No one confuses drones with alien technology. The Internet had been around for a long time when these ads started. So too with night vision. Until DARPA puts those Iron Man suits in field tests, no one will ever make that connection.

America’s Airmen (for the most part) are not delusional about themselves. They don’t need to be. For all the “Chair Force” smack Airman take from other branches, troops like Ammo are awesome in their own way and don’t need to pretend they’re all combat controllers.

Except Mondays between 1100 and 1400.

10. “We’ve Been Waiting For You”

Slightly ominous, it doesn’t really inspire as much as it implies the Air Force has been watching you while you sleep, staring at you from across crowded rooms, and following you home after school.

11. “Above All”

Unfinished thoughts probably always seem like a great idea for a slogan in meetings. Sure, I get the idea of putting your branch above everyone else’s as a way to foster esprit de corps, but it can be troublesome sometimes.

Every branch has their strengths, so let’s be real. Unlike this Air Force Training Instructor:

Another reason this slogan ranks so low is the lack of originality. Uber alles (above all) is the German national anthem.

12. “A Great Way of Life”

An older slogan which probably seemed appropriate for a time when the Air Force has to pull people from living the American Dream and get them into the Air Force, where they would sleep on the flightline and be prepared to bomb Russians into the Stone Age 24/7.

The Airmen of the Strategic Air Command era were pretty badass in their own right. Nowadays, this would mean highlighting the golf course, gym, the dorms (and the Airmen who live there), the DFAC, and all the stupid shit young Airmen tend to do when they get to their first duty station.

Articles

These 13 photos of US troops with enemy flags show some traditions never die

A military unit losing its colors is pretty humiliating — maybe even as bad as losing a battle. But it probably feels pretty good to be the one who captures those colors. And American troops have captured a lot of enemy flags over the years.


While the Geneva Convention demands all POWs be allowed to keep their personal belongings and protective gear, a “war trophy” like a captured flag doesn’t really apply.

But even if troops decide not keep trophies like an enemy flag, that doesn’t mean they can’t snap a quick photo – just as many have before and will likely do for many wars to come.

1. Civil War

Union soldiers pose with Confederate flags that they captured in battle during the Civil War. Each was awarded a Medal of Honor for grabbing the enemy’s flag.

2. United States Expedition to Korea

U.S. Marines with a captured Korean flag from the Korean conflict with the Joseon Dynasty of 1871.

3. Spanish-American War

U.S. troops capturing Spanish guns at Malate Fort in Manila, Philippines. (U.S. Army photo)

4. Philippine-American War

An American soldier with Filipino weapons and flag in Ocampo, the Philippines ca. 1901.

5. U.S. Intervention in Nicaragua

U.S. Marines holding the Nicaraguan rebel leader Augusto César Sandino’s Flag in Nicaragua, 1932. (Marine Corps photo)

6. World War II

U.S. soldiers with a surrendered Italian flag at Paestum, Italy. (U.S. Army photo)

 

U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima with captured Japanese flags. (U.S. Army photo)

 

American Paratroopers pose with a captured Nazi flag after landing in Normandy. (U.S. Army photo)

7. Korean War

U.S. troops with a captured North Korean flag during the Korean War. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

8. Vietnam War

Sailors from SEAL Team One captured this flag during the Vietnam War, circa 1970. (NARA photo)

9. Invasion of Grenada

1st Platoon, B Co, 1st Ranger Battalion with a flag from Cuban barracks captured during the invasion of Grenada, 1983. (photo by Bryan Staggs, who captured the flag and is standing in the front row, right)

10. Invasion of Panama

U.S. troops during Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama, in December 1989. (photo by Ron Busch)

11. The Iraq War

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rod Coffey holds the flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, in Diyala Province, Iraq, 2008. (photo from Rod Coffey)

There are, of course, many other photos of American troops with captured enemy flags that we can’t post here. There are photos depicting joint U.S.-Afghan forces taking down a Taliban flag. Photographer Scott Nelson also took a photo of U.S. troops with a captured Iraqi flag during the 2003 Invasion.

If you do decide take a battlefield souvenir, be sure to fill out your DD Form 603-1.

Articles

5 animals that became paratroopers

What, you think only humans can become paratroopers? Okay, so humans do lead most airborne operations but the military often brings along animals — everything from bats to bears — they think might be helpful in a target area.


Check out this list of animals who have conducted jump operations:

1. Dogs

(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Vince Vander Maarel)

Being “man’s best friend” is a double-edged sword. While domestication has allowed dogs to spread across the entire planet and cohabitate with humans while other species were pushed out of our sprawling cities, it has also resulted in dogs having to help defend those habitations.

And since nearly the invention of airborne operations, dogs have defended those habitations via paratrooper insertions. The British brought parachuting dogs with them on D-Day and Navy SEALs and other special operators bring dogs with them on missions today.

2. Bears

GIF: US Air Force Archives

Yeah, airborne bears. Bet no one knew that was something they had to worry about. Luckily, bear paratroopers are pretty rare. Engineers working on the ejection capsules for B-58 Hustlers needed something to simulate a living human for tests after a bunch of bleeding hearts protested their use of poor people.

They settled on bears since their weight and dimensions were close enough to humans for the capsules to work similarly. At least six bears and one chimpanzee took the flight.

3. Beta fish

(Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Matthew Tattersall)

The “beta fish” title is singular for a reason. The military never sanctioned a beta fish airborne operation but Army Spc. Matthew Tattersall took “Willie Makeit” with him on a jump anyway, took a selfie in the air with the fish, and then landed. Willie was granted a meritorious name change to “Willie Did Makeit.”

Tattersall got extra duty. Sheesh, you would figure the man who single-handedly stood up the Airborne Beta Fish program would get more respect than that.

4. Bats

(Photo: National Park Service Nick Hristov)

Bats are probably the only animal on this list capable of conducting an entire airborne operation on their own (except for piloting the aircraft). The Army, then Navy, then Marine Corps experimented with dropping bats in specialized bomb casings that carried up to 1,040 bats a piece.

These bomb casings, and the bats inside, would parachute down to 1,000 feet before the bats disperse across the target area and begin actions on the objective. Their “actions on the objective” were to find a nice place to sleep and then go up in flames thanks to the incendiary devices on their legs.

5. Beavers

 

Beaver airborne operations were not military affairs, unlike these other entries. The idea to teach beavers to parachute started with a few researchers at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game which needed to establish new beaver colonies for fur production and watershed conservation in remote areas.

After horse and mule trains proved to be an expensive way to transport the beavers, the department decided to experiment with parachute operations. Seventy-five beavers ended up taking single-flights, but one beaver had to act as his species’ version of the test platoon. “Geronimo” conducted many experimental jumps before making his final, operational jump with three females to establish a colony.

So, yeah, there’s a decent chance that a polygamist beaver in Idaho had more jumps than you do.

Military Life

5 ways troops deal with their bug problems

Insects carry disease, infect food stores, and bring loads of other concerns with them. Keeping an area bug-free is a top priority for maintaining good health and hygiene.

The military has plenty of rules and regulations in place to help troops keep an area free of pests (which usually involves a lot of cleaning), but there are far more ingenious — and fun — ways to ward off these crawlers.


And yet so many people forget bug spray on their packing list…

(Photo by Spc. Matthew Drawdy)

Busting out a can of bug repellant

A regular can of bug repellent works wonders. Normally, you’d spray it on your skin to deter pests for a little while, but you can also use it to protect an entire area.

The more expedient way, however, is to just spray it everywhere. Or, for maximum recklessness, you could just take a knife to the can and let it explode everywhere. Just watch out for open flames, though, because aerosol bug-repellent is highly flammable.

Other branches have a version of this, but they actually respray their uniforms instead of just hoping it’s good enough.

(Photo by Cpl. Jonathan Sosner)

Insect-repelling uniforms

For the soldier with plenty of faith in the system, the U.S. Army fielded factory-tested, insect-repelling ACUs to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan back in 2012. To their credit, the permethrin-treated clothing works kinda well at first.

Under factory conditions, the ACU-Ps were said to work for fifty washes. In the hands of soldiers, however, they last maybe three before the colors started to run.

It’s really a toss up. Most insects don’t really care, but you’re really just trading mosquitoes for wasps.

​(Courtesy Photo)

Smoking tobacco

Among the least-advised methods of repelling bugs (according to most medical officers, anyway) is to smoke nicotine, but many older vets swear by it — or it’s just a convenient excuse.

Let’s set the record straight on this with some university-backed studies and advice from subject matter experts: Yes, some insects, like flies and some mosquitoes, are deterred by tobacco smoke. However, most insects are actually drawn to heat and smoke because it feels like an ideal environment — burnt and damaged trees. Additionally, plenty of the more aggressive insects, like wasps, are actually drawn to the smell of nicotine and discarded cigarette butts.

Whatever works, am I right?

(Photo by Staff Sgt. James Selesnick)

Field-goal kicking camel spiders

Camel spiders are notorious. They’re extremely large spiders that will desperately cling to shade, even if that shade is cast by troops standing in the open desert. They’re not aggressive and non-venomous to anyone larger than a mouse, but no one wants to see a giant f*cking arachnid skitter up close in attempts to stay shaded.

Some troops will openly accept the punishments associated with negligent discharge if it means they can open fire on those suckers. Others opt for a more effective (and satisfying) method: punting ’em into a million pieces when they rush you.

Just remember, the see-through ones are the most dangerous ones. Have fun!

(Courtesy Photo)

Night-vision goggles to spot them

Scorpions give off trace amounts of ultra-violet bio-luminescence that can’t be seen by the naked eye. Coincidentally, most night-vision goggles pick up light from both ends of the electromagnetic spectrum. For better or worse, you can spot scorpions more clearly at night through a pair of NVGs.

Be warned. Sometimes, you’re better off not knowing how many scorpions are really hanging around your fighting position.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Iran just fired new submarine-based cruise missiles

The biggest threat facing the United States in its unending showdown with the Islamic Republic of Iran are the naval forces in the Persian Gulf that could try to shut off access to the Strait of Hormuz. Ensuring worldwide freedom of navigation in the world’s sea lanes is just one of the missions of the U.S. Navy, but never before has America’s sea service encountered such a threat in this part of the world.


HMS Sheffield burns from a direct hit by an Argentinian exocet anti-ship missile.

Anti-ship missiles are a very dangerous game changer in modern naval warfare. They can bring an inferior opposing force into parity with the world’s biggest naval powers. Exocet missiles were used to great effect against the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy in the 1980s Falklands War, sinking the destroyer HMS Sheffield and the Atlantic Conveyor, a critical cargo ship carrying men and materiel. They also nearly sunk the destroyer HMS Glamorgan, killing 14 sailors.

Argentina had just eight Exocet anti-ship missiles for the entire war, and four of them were used efficiently. If the missiles had destroyed just one of Britain’s aircraft carriers, HMS Hermes or HMS Invincible, the entire war might have been lost for Britain and the Falklands would now be known as the Malvinas.

The Iranian missile test, conducted Feb. 24, 2019.

On Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, the Islamic Republic’s navy in the Persian Gulf successfully tested its first submarine-launched, short-range anti-ship cruise missile – near the Strait of Hormuz. If a showdown with the United States ever came to pass, the first move Iran’s navy would make is an attempt to block that strait. Iran says all of its subs, Ghadir, Tareq, and Fateh-class Iranian navy submarines now have the capability to fire these cruise missiles.

While Iran reportedly exaggerates its missile capabilities, there is real concern surrounding this latest development. More than 100 Iranian navy ships were performing military exercises from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean as the new missile was test fired. In 2017, the Office of Naval Intelligence issued a warning about Iran developing this capability, as the new subs allow Iranian ships to get dangerously close to American ships before firing at them.

An Iranian Ghadir-class submarine.

Iran’s best chance at taking down the American naval presence in the Persian Gulf is to swarm the ships with small, fast attack craft, hitting them with every weapon they possibly can as early in the conflict as possible. The idea is to cause maximum damage and kill as many Americans as possible in order to break the will of the American people to fight.

“The doctrine manifests itself as hit-and-run style, surprise attacks, or the amassing of large numbers of unsophisticated weapons to overwhelm the enemies’ defenses,” Naval Analyst Chris Carlson told the U.S. Naval Institute. “The amassing of naval forces is often described as a swarm of small boats.”

Articles

US military is planning its long-term presence in Afghanistan

The Pentagon will send a proposal to the White House in early May laying out America’s long-term presence in Afghanistan, senior defense officials said May 4. The plan will likely include a request for more U.S. troops.


U.S. military officials have said they need greater forces to meet the growing training and advising mission in Afghanistan, where local forces are fighting a Taliban insurgency. And there is a new push for NATO members to step up their commitments of troops and other resources to help the country in its struggle for stability.

Theresa Whelan, who is currently working as the Pentagon’s assistant defense secretary for special operations, told senators the new plan likely will go to the White House next week.

U.S. Soldiers conduct a patrol with Afghan National Army soldiers to check on conditions in a village in the Wardak province of Afghanistan Feb. 17, 2010. (DoD photo by Sgt. Russell Gilchrest, U.S. Army)

“We are actually actively looking at adjustments to the approach in Afghanistan right now,” Whelan told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The interest is to move beyond the stalemate and also to recognize that Afghanistan is a very important partner for the United States in a very tricky region.”

The move comes as the U.S. is in talks with Iraqi leaders over plans to keep an enduring American presence there also. That effort is rooted in the need to continue training Iraqi forces and ensure that Islamic State militants don’t regain a foothold.

Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and other senior military leaders have repeatedly described the fight in Afghanistan as a stalemate. Officials have said they need more trainers and advisers to increase the capabilities of Afghan forces.

Also read: 600 Fort Bliss soldiers prepare to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq

But the United States doesn’t want to carry the burden by itself.

A senior NATO official said the U.S. has sent letters to allies asking them to increase their commitments. The official was not authorized to discuss the letters publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Appearing with Whelan, Gen. Raymond Thomas, head of U.S. Special Operations Command, told the Senate panel he has enough forces for the military’s counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan, which is targeting Islamic State, al-Qaida and Taliban militants.

Thomas said a critical factor in ongoing discussions about a new Afghanistan strategy is the need for an enduring U.S. presence in the country. The new plan would set the parameters for how that could look.

Articles

This former SEAL Team 6 member is climbing Everest for vets

A former member of SEAL Team 6 and founder of Frogman Charities is headed to Mount Everest to try and become the first Navy SEAL to summit the world’s highest peak.


Former Navy SEAL and adventure racer Don Mann. Photo: Will Ramos Photography

Don Mann is an accomplished athlete and climber with the goal of standing on top of the tallest summit on each continent. He’s starting with a climb up Everest, and at the same time he hopes to draw attention to the challenges that the military community faces every day.

“The challenge seems almost insurmountable with the conditioning required, the funding required, and the non-stop worries of altitude mountain sickness, avalanches, crevices, hypothermia, frostbite, etc.,” Mann said in a press release. “But the prize, to have an opportunity to stand on top of the world while raising awareness for the needs of our military personnel and their families, is beyond description.”

Mann has proved that he has the athletic chops for such a climb. Besides being selected as a member of SEAL Team 6, he was once rated as the 38th best triathlete in the world and has been climbing mountains for years.

Still, he acknowledges that weather and the mountain often decide who will and will not survive the climb. In 1996, a record eight people died in a single day on the mountain when a sudden blizzard descended on the mountain. Dozens have died attempting to climb the mountain since 1922.

Adventure racer and former Navy SEAL Team 6 member Don Mann poses on Mount Denali, Alaska, a mountain with a 20,310-foot summit. Photo: Courtesy Don Mann

During his attempt, Frogman Charities, a nonprofit organization that hosts virtual run and walk events to raise money for Navy SEAL charities, will be updating their Facebook page and website every day with stories from veterans and with organizations that support veterans and service members.

After the Everest climb, Mann wants to climb the rest of the continent’s highest peaks and to bring other veterans with him on the climbs. As with his Everest attempt, he hopes to raise public awareness of veterans’ causes.

Don Mann will be carrying a custom flag from a business sponsor during his climb. Photo: Courtesy Don Mann

The team that Mann will be climbing with aims to summit between May 13 and 25 but the buildup to the final summit attempt starts in early April. The climbers will trek to base camp from Apr. 3 to Apr. 12 and then begin the process of acclimating and climbing

Mann’s climb is being financially supported through business sponsorships and a GoFundMe page.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of November 22nd

I didn’t know this needed to be said in an official military statement, but apparently, troops have to be told not to use CBD oil that they found on the internet because it will almost certainly make them pop hot on a piss test for marijuana use.

In case you aren’t aware, CBD oil, or cannabidiol oil, is derived from marijuana plants and put into various products. Even the products that label themselves as having no THC are either flat-out lying (because the lack of FDA approval and zero government oversight won’t get the BBB’s attention) or still contain enough trace amounts to fail a urinalysis.

And look. I’m not trying to discredit the value of CBD oil. Whatever floats your boat. I got my DD-214 and give no f*cks for what you do with your life. I’m just saying: if you’re still in the military and use a product that says it can treat all of the same things as prescription weed, is made from weed, and, depending on the product, gives the effects of being high on weed… Don’t try to play dumb when the commander says they found weed in your pee.


Besides, the military is already under the control of a miracle cure-all drug monopoly. It’s called Motrin. Anyways, here are some memes.

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

(Meme via US Army WTF Moments Memes)

(Meme via On The Minute Memes)

(Meme via Thank You For My Service)

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

(Meme via Disgruntled Decks)

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

(Meme via Not CID)

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

(Meme via United States Veterans Network)

(Meme via Private News Network)

Articles

Green Beret writes about secret Cold War mission

The 1968 World War II film “Where Eagles Dare” thrilled some viewers — and scared the bejesus out of others — with its tale of commandos storming a snow-covered mountain fortress and a scene of Richard Burton wrestling with Nazi thugs on the roof of a swaying cable car.


But for an Omaha teen named James Stejskal, seeing the movie inspired his life’s work as an Army Green Beret.

“I was always interested in that kind of life,” said Stejskal, 63, now retired from careers as a soldier and CIA agent and living in Alexandria, Virginia. “A small unit fighting against the bigger enemy (using) a combination of military and intelligence operations, not just brute force.”

Green Berets standing proud.  (U.S. Army photo)

This spring, Stejskal published a book called “Special Forces Berlin: Clandestine Cold War Operations of the U.S. Army’s Elite, 1956-90,” about the secret unit with which he spent nine of his 23 years in the Army. Its work was so sensitive that the Pentagon didn’t acknowledge its existence until 2014.

“That’s when we finally came in from the cold,” said Tom Merrill, 63, of Martinsburg, West Virginia, who served with Stejskal in Berlin and remains a friend.

Stejskal enlisted in the Army in 1973, a year after graduating from Central High School. Soon he became a Green Beret, serving on small special ops teams. He was a weapons sergeant and a medic, known to his buddies as “Styk.”

“He was the consummate operator — natively smart, well-educated, thought well on his feet,” said Merrill, who lived in Council Bluffs as a boy.

The Berlin unit, created in 1956, was blandly named Detachment “A.” It disbanded in 1990, after the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended.

Berlin Wall, 1989 (Photo by Wikimedia Commons)

The soldiers of Detachment “A” didn’t look much like soldiers. They dressed in modish clothes, wore beards and long hair, made local friends, lived in off-base apartments. All spoke German, many of them fluently.

“Working in civilian clothes, blending in with the locals, doing cool stuff in West Berlin and the middle of (Communist) East Germany,” recalled Stejskal, who served in the unit from 1977 to 1981, and from 1984 to 1989. “It was a very ambiguous kind of duty.”

They were expert at soldierly skills like marksmanship, wilderness navigation, rappelling from helicopters, urban combat. But they also learned the tradecraft of spies, including surveillance and secret messaging.

In the event of a Soviet-led invasion of Western Europe, the detachment’s job was to melt into the population of Berlin and engage in acts of sabotage behind enemy lines. In his book, Stejskal describes it as a “Hail Mary plan to slow the (Soviet) juggernaut they expected when and if a war began.”

Each of the detachment’s six teams was to be responsible for sabotaging bridges and railroads, harassing the enemy in designated slices of East Berlin and East Germany.

Berlin during the Cold War.

The work evolved as new threats emerged in Europe, and encompassed training in guerrilla warfare, direct-action precision strikes, and counterterrorism.

As radical groups spread terror across Europe with kidnappings, mass shootings and hijackings in the 1970s, Detachment “A” practiced rescuing hostages from trains and airplanes. Pan Am let them drill using airliners stored in its hangars at Berlin’s Tegel airport.

The detachment’s highest-profile mission had little to do with the Cold War and didn’t even take place in Europe. In 1980, the detachment was tapped to help rescue 52 U.S. diplomats held hostage in Tehran by radical Iranian students.

Soon after the embassy was captured Nov. 4, 1979, the U.S. military began developing a plan to seize the hostages. Most were held in the main embassy compound, but the job of Detachment “A” was to snatch three who were being held separately at the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

The first rescue attempt, Operation Eagle Claw, ended in disaster when a plane and a helicopter collided in the dark in the Iranian desert.

Operation Eagle Claw ends in failure, 1989. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The military quietly began planning a second rescue attempt, again including members of Detachment “A.” Stejskal and Merrill, who hadn’t been part of Eagle Claw, were involved in the second, Operation Storm Cloud. It involved using Air Force transport planes to fly partly disassembled helicopters into an airfield commandeered in the desert. The helicopters would be quickly reassembled and used to assault the Foreign Ministry.

The team traveled to Florida to conduct live-fire drills and spent weeks rehearsing with helicopter crews. They honed their weapons skills with extra-long hours on the shooting range.

“We were blowing (our weapons) up, we were firing them so much,” Stejskal said.

They ran a dress rehearsal in late November 1980, but soon the word came down: The mission had been scrubbed.

“It was deflating, extremely,” Stejskal said. “It’s like preparing for a big game and then being told you can’t play.”

The hostages were released Jan. 20, 1981, the same day President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.

President Reagan’s inauguration, 1981. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Stejskal soon rotated out but returned to the unit in 1984. The 1980s are remembered now as the death throes of the Soviet empire. But at the time, it wasn’t clear whether popular movements like Poland’s Solidarity might provoke a Soviet crackdown.

“No one was really sure how it would all play out,” he said.

Stejskal left Berlin in the spring of 1989, but he flew back in November when he heard that the Wall had fallen. He wanted to see the end of the Cold War icon that had shaped his life.

“In one way, it was a relief: The mission as I knew it in Berlin was over, or soon would be,” Stejskal said. “On the other hand, there was a bit of nostalgia for the way things were.”

Not that his life on the razor’s edge ended when the Wall fell. In December 1992, Stejskal was badly wounded when his car drove over a land mine in Somalia.

Stejskal suffered a serious head injury and a shattered leg.

“I basically had 3½ inches of bone that was turned to confetti,” he said.

Stejskal returned to duty a year later. But he knew he would never regain his former strength. So he retired in 1996.

Green Berets. (U.S. Army photo)

That was the same year he married Wanda Nesbitt, a State Department foreign service officer he had met five years earlier during an evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, in the country then known as Zaire.

At his first overseas posting with Nesbitt, Stejskal said, someone handed him a sticky note with a telephone number on it and said to call if he wanted a job. That led to a 13-year stint with the CIA.

In recent years, Stejskal has attended Detachment “A” reunions, where the stories flow along with the beer.

“Somebody said, ‘We need to get this down on paper. We’ve got a history. Who’s going to write it down?'” he said.

Stejskal volunteered. Merrill said the book, published in March by Casemate Publishers, has taught him a lot he didn’t know about the unit’s history.

“He gave it the respect it deserved,” Merrill said. “He was able to take his insider knowledge and transfer it to something an outsider can understand.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s what the Army’s powerful light tank could look like

The US Army just moved one step closer to a new light tank intended to boost the firepower of airborne and other light infantry units.

The Army is currently looking for a new tracked armored vehicle able to protect and support infantrymen as they “destroy the enemy in some of the worst places in the world,” Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, the director of the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, said Dec. 17, 2018.


“This capability is much needed in our infantry forces,” he told reporters at a media roundtable.

The infantry has artillery, but “there’s no precision munition to remove bunkers from the battlefield, to shoot into buildings in dense urban terrain,” Coffman explained. That is where Mobile Protected Firepower comes into play.

Two companies, BAE Systems and General Dynamics, have been awarded Section 804 Middle Tier Acquisition Rapid Prototyping contracts for this development project, the Army revealed Dec. 17, 2018. Each contract is worth 6 million, and each company will provide a total of 12 prototypes.

BAE Systems Mobile Protected Firepower.

(BAE Systems photo)

The purpose of Mobile Protected Firepower is to “disrupt, breach, and break through” fortified defenses

The MPF, a 30-ton light tank expected to fill a critical capability gap, is one of five next-generation combat vehicles being developed by Army Futures Command, a new four-star command focused on preparing the force for high-end warfighting against near-peer threats in an age of renewed great power competition.

The Army, shifting its focus from counterinsurgency to high-intensity multi-domain operations with an eye on rivals China and Russia, wants contractors to deliver a vehicle that offers mobility, lethality, and survivability.

The MPF light tanks would provide the firepower to breach heavily-fortified defensive positions, potentially in an area, such as Russian and Chinese anti-access zones, where the US might not be able to achieve absolute air superiority.

The MPF vehicles will help Infantry Combat Brigade Teams (ICBTs) “disrupt, breach, and break through” secure defensive zones, Coffman explained.

The final Mobile Protected Firepower light tank, which will be delivered to troops in 2025, will be a tracked vehicle with either a 105 mm or 120 mm cannon that can withstand an unspecified level of fire. The Army also wants to be able to carry at least two light tanks aboard a C-17 Globemaster III for easy transport.

BAE Systems displayed its Mobile Protected Firepower prototype at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting Exposition in October 2016 in Washington.

(BAE Systems via U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center)

BAE Systems’ MPF solution

BAE Systems presented a Mobile Protected Firepower prototype at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting Exposition in 2016. BAE Systems’ latest proposal is a variant of the original design.

BAE Systems Mobile Protected Firepower.

(BAE Systems photo)

“Our offering integrates innovative technology that reduces the burden on the crew into a compact design deployable in areas that are hard to reach,” Deepak Bazaz, director of combat vehicles programs at BAE Systems, said in a statement.

GDLS displayed its Griffin tech demonstrator, a starting point for MPF discussions, at the AUSA Annual Meeting Exposition.

(General Dynamics via U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center)

General Dynamics’ MPF

General Dynamics Land Systems displayed a technology demonstrator at AUSA 2016 as a starting point for discussions with the Army about its expectations for the MPF platform.

The company is currently playing its cards close to the vest with its latest proposal, offering only the following picture while clarifying that the vehicle pictured is not the company’s exact offering.

A General Dynamics Land Systems Griffin II prototype vehicle. GD was selected to produce similar, medium-weight, large-caliber prototype vehicles for the U.S. Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower program.

(General Dynamics photo)

“We are excited about this opportunity to provide the US Army a large-caliber, highly mobile combat vehicle to support the infantry brigade combat teams,” Don Kotchman, the vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Land Systems US Market, said in a statement.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Weird flex: Turkey doubles down on buying Russian S-400 missile system

The leaders of the US Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees warned Turkey on April 9, 2019, that it risked tough sanctions if it pursued plans to purchase Russian S-400 missile defense systems, and they threatened further legislative action.

“By the end of the year, Turkey will have either F-35 advanced fighter aircraft on its soil or a Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system. It will not have both,” Republican Sens. Jim Risch and Jim Inhofe and Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Jack Reed said in a New York Times opinion column.


Risch is chairman of Foreign Relations and Menendez is ranking Democrat. Inhofe chairs Armed Services, where Reed is ranking Democrat.

President Donald Trump with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the UN General Assembly in New York, Sept. 21, 2017.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

As committee leaders, the senators have powers such as placing “holds” on major foreign weapons sales and major roles in writing legislation, which could include punishing Turkey if it goes ahead with the S-400 deal.

The senators said Turkey would be sanctioned, as required under US law, if it goes ahead with the S-400 purchase.

“Sanctions will hit Turkey’s economy hard — rattling international markets, scaring away foreign direct investment and crippling Turkey’s aerospace and defense industry,” they said.

Turkey is a member of the F-35 development program and produces between 6% and 7% of the jet’s components, including parts of the fuselage and cockpit displays. Turkey had planned to buy 100 of the advanced fighters; it has already received two of them.

The US and fellow NATO member Turkey have been at loggerheads over Ankara’s decision to purchase the S-400s, which are not compatible with NATO systems. Washington also says Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s would compromise the security of F-35 fighter jets, which are built by Lockheed Martin and use stealth technology.

Concerns are centered on the potential for the S-400 system to gather data about how the F-35 and its advanced technology, including its stealth and radar, operate.

A US Air force F-35 on display at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)

At the end of March 2019, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would block the transfer of F-35 technology to Turkey “until [the US] certifies that Turkey will not accept deliver of Russia’s S-400 air-defense system.”

Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen, one of that bill’s cosponsors, questioned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the issue on April 9, 2019.

“The clear and resolute position of the administration is if Turkey gets delivery of the S-400s, it will not get delivery of the F-35s. Is that correct?” Van Hollen asked Pompeo during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

“I have communicated that to them privately, and I will do so again publicly right here,” Pompeo replied.

Van Hollen then asked if the .5 billion purchase of the S-400 would trigger action under the “significant transactions” clause of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.

Pompeo said he would not make a legal conclusion but acknowledged such a purchase would be “a very significant transaction.”

An F-35A on a test flight, March 28, 2013.

(Lockheed Martin photo)

CAATSA was passed 2017 and is meant as a response to Russian action abroad, including the 2014 incursion into Ukraine and interference in the 2016 US presidential election. The US has already sanctioned China for purchasing Russian military hardware, including the S-400.

However the bill includes a waiver that could be applied to some countries. India, which the US has worked more closely with in recent years, has thus far avoided sanctions for its planned purchase of the S-400 system.

Turkish officials have responded to the controversy by doubling down on their plans to buy the S-400.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on April 9, 2019, that Ankara may consider buying more units of the Russian-made air-defense system if it can buy the US’s Patriot missile system, which the US has previously offered to sell Turkey.

Cavusoglu also said that if the F-35s weren’t delivered, then he “would be placed in a position to buy the planes I need elsewhere.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said that Ankara could acquire the S-400s earlier than planned.

“The delivery of the S-400 missile-defense system was to be in July. Maybe it can be brought forward,” Turkish media quoted him as saying on April 10, 2019, after a trip to Russia.

Reporting for Reuters by Patricia Zengerle; editing by David Gregorio

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Top 10 things you’ve been putting off that you should do during quarantine

Welp, let’s get real. We’re stuck at home. We can sneak into eerily quiet grocery stores in hopes of acquiring even a single role of elusive toilet paper, go for a walk and pick up an emotional support latte at the Starbucks drive-thru, but aside from that, we’re required to stay the heck away from each other.

As disarming as it may feel, when we’re stuck at home, we’re not really stuck at all. Just think of all the things you’ve told yourself you’ll get around to “some time.” Instead of feeling stuck, consider quarantine life as a chance to slow down, look within and get around to some overdue self-care. Here are 10 ideas to get you started!


Cook more

Sure, it might be hard to find eggs and rice, but there are still plenty of recipes you can make. Cooking is time-consuming, which means most of us let the grocery stores do a lot of the food prep for us. While there is an increasing number of healthy, pre-made meals on the market, they can’t compare to making meals from scratch. Learning to cook can be meditative and it gives your family a chance to spend time together and appreciate the food you share.

Exercise

Exercise is not a new concept, but juggling work and family makes it a challenge to fit in consistent exercise. When you’re not in the habit of it, it’s natural to forget or put it off…what’s one more day? But in quarantineville, there’s plenty of time! You can learn to do the splits, work on your mile time or beat your squat record. Or just go for a walk. It doesn’t matter where you start. Just pick something enjoyable that you can maintain once regular life has resumed.

Break a bad habit

It takes 21 days to break a habit. Do you bite your nails? Drink Diet Coke on the reg? Have an adult beverage a little more frequently than the doc recommends? Take note of what triggers the behavior, like boredom or stress. Whatever your bad habit is, try replacing it with a different, healthier habit to make the change a little easier.

Learn a new skill

Another great health booster is using your brain in a new way. Learn a language, pull out the guitar that’s been gathering dust, try a drawing tutorial or learn how to fix that hole in the wall. Whatever you’re interested in, give it a shot!

Plan out financial goals

Look over your spending habits. Your career goals. Your retirement plans. Are you on track for where you’d like to be in five years? If you haven’t checked up on your finances, now’s a great time to buckle down and get serious about it.

Spring cleaning

Marie Kondo the whole house. That itchy sweater you never wear? Old textbooks you’ll never look at again? Your mother-in-law? Boy bye. (Okay, maybe the mother-in-law can stay. But the rest…get ’em outta here!)

Call old friends and relatives

We all have those two (or 10) people we always intend to call and never do. You’d be amazed how much light it brings someone when you simply pick up the phone and reach out. It’s a tiny action that shows you care. Especially when people are cut off from their normal social circles, a phone call can change someone’s entire day!

Surprise the ones you love

Not with presents…with your time! Make your partner a special meal or give them a massage. Get down on the floor and build a fort with your kids or bake cookies together as a family. Leave notes for each member to remind them what you love about them.

Read

We love these military-themed novels, but don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons, either! If you’re used to non-fiction, try reading a fantasy novel. Maybe a little poetry or romance. Reading opens worlds, and you finally have time to jump into one!

Get a good night’s sleep

Last summer, I went on a 10-day camping trip. No work. No internet. No electricity. When it got dark, we would gather around the fire and tell stories. By 9:00, we were out cold. For the first time since I was a kid, I woke up feeling refreshed and energized — no coffee needed. While 9:00 pm is a little extreme, use this time to settle into a routine that helps you feel your best.

The quarantine won’t last forever, so make of it what you can! Rest, reset and get ready to jump back into life with a clean house and a full battery.

Articles

5 movies to avoid before deployment (especially if you’re infantry)

Hollywood loves to make old fashion bloody war movies that have plenty of entertaining explosions and dramatic death scenes. While entertaining, these can hit pretty close to home for someone who’s been in the fight.


Related: 5 crazy Hollywood hazing scenes that probably happened

The graphic ones can be particularly realistic, but no matter what, they all represent the sucktitude of war.

Here are five you may want to stay away from before deploying to a combat zone.

1. Saving Private Ryan

Known as one of the most authentic and gruesome openings to a film ever, this Steven Spielberg-directed classic put audiences inside the minds of war-hardened characters as they storm the beaches of Normandy.

I think that guy had eggs for breakfast. (Image by Giphy)

2. Casualties of War

Marty McFly, I mean Michael J. Fox, plays an Army soldier who is coerced by Sgt. Tony Meserve (Sean Penn) to take advantage of a Vietnamese hostage-turned-sex-slave. When he refuses, the whole squad turns against him.

We guess they missed those team building exercises stateside. (Image via Giphy)

3. Hamburger Hill

John Irvin’s 1987 war epic depicts one of the most disastrous friendly fire accidents in the military in the Vietnam war.

Could you imagine that sh*t. (Image via Giphy)

4. The Deer Hunter

Because no one wants to think about the dangers of being a prisoner of war and playing Russian roulette at the same time.

Ballsy. (Image via Giphy)

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

5. Platoon

No one wants to get left behind and eventually gunned down by the bad guys.

WHY ME?! (Image via Giphy)

Bonus: Pearl Harbor

This is a good one if you join the service with a buddy. In Micheal Bay’s “Pearl Harbor,” two childhood friends join the military as pilots. As one is off fighting in an aerial dogfight, the other stays back keeping his girlfriend company — eventually knocking her up.

Spoiler alert — he takes about a half dozen bullets for his buddy to buy himself some redemption. That is all.

It’s actually a good way to make things even. (Image via Giphy)