The French Foreign Legion is one of France’s elite fighting forces, filled with men who are ready and willing to do extreme violence on France’s behalf. When 1930s Germany started looking at its neighbors with greedy eyes, it knew that it had to do something about the Legion.
Germany saw its opportunity in the large number of Legion noncommissioned officers who were German by birth. The Nazis hatched a plan to send droves of men to the Legion. These men would then convince German noncommissioned officers to betray the Legion. The spies would also collect lists of Jewish legionnaires and other groups targeted by the Third Reich for extermination.
Still, many Nazi agents got in before the heightened scrutiny began. Legion leaders, knowing they were compromised, began sending suspect Legionnaires to low-risk postings like road construction. At the same time, Legionnaires who might be targeted by the Nazis were sent to far-flung outposts in North Africa.
The level of German sympathies in the Legion was bad enough that France debated whether or not to deploy Legion units from their headquarters in Algeria to France ahead of the possible German invasion. They settled on recruiting new Legionnaires from anti-Nazi populations, such as political refugees from Germany and French reservists, and brought loyal Legionnaires from North Africa to train them.
Nine new regiments were raised but most lacked the standards and experience of the true French Foreign Legion. Most of these units were sent to the front before the Germans invaded and they fought bitterly to resist the blitzkrieg when it was launched. When war broke out, the Legion also took the preventative measure of arresting German Legionnaires suspected of being Nazi spies.
The Legion has a long and proud history of fighting well past when other units would have surrendered, and the Legion units fighting in France upheld that tradition. Most continued fighting even after taking losses of 75 percent or more, only ceasing when ordered by their commanders after the Armistice was signed.
The 11th Foreign Infantry Regiment, knowing it would likely be wiped out, even burned its colors to prevent their capture before launching a series of delaying actions to buy other units time to retreat.
After the Armistice was signed, Germany demanded that their spies be allowed to leave the Legion. The true Legionnaires were happy to see them go.
Unfortunately, about 2,000 men were found out by the Nazis. Most were sent to a new German unit, the 361st Motorised Infantry Regiment, and forced to fight for Germany.
At the same time, Legion units split into three groups. Some of the newer units, filled with recruits who had joined “for the duration of the war,” were disbanded. Others joined the Free French Forces under Gen. Charles de Gaulle and continued to resist the Germans. A few units, mostly those in areas already controlled by the Germans, joined the Vichy French forces and fought against the allies.
In one battle in Syria, this actually resulted in men from the Free French Foreign Legion fighting those from the Vichy French Legion. Following the Legion’s mantra, “The Legion is our Fatherland,” the treated prisoners and wounded from the opposing Legion with special care.
Ultimately, the Free French Foreign Legion won and continued supporting the Allies well into the invasion of Germany.
If North Vietnamese bombers were coming to strike a remote CIA radar station and helicopter landing zone filled with Air Force volunteers, there are certain weapon platforms that would be expected to respond. Maybe some fighters or some air defenders on the ground.
But probably no one would expect a couple of CIA operatives in a helicopter to chase down the bombers and shoot one down using an AK-47.
So, guess what happened on Jan. 12, 1968?
The North Vietnamese sent four AN-2 Colt biplanes to bomb Site 85, a radar station in the mountains of Laos used partially as a staging base for rescue and special operations helicopters. The station’s primary role was to guide bombers headed into missions against Hanoi, Vietnam.
On Jan. 12, Ted Moore was flying a UH-1D Huey helicopter owned by “Air America,” a CIA front company, to Site 85. When he and his crewman arrived at the site, he saw two of the biplanes circling the station as the other two conducted bombing runs.
Moore began chasing one of the bombers that was actively taking part in the attack. His crewman, Glenn Woods, grabbed an AK-47 and began firing it at the cockpit of the fleeing bomber.
All four of the bombers bugged out, and Moore and Woods kept chasing and firing on the bombers.
After about 20 minutes of chase, the first bomber crashed just inside of the North Vietnam border and a second one crashed into a ridge just a few minutes later. The other two bombers escaped without incident. A CIA ground team later searched the wrecks and found bullet holes in both.
The two Americans were credited with the only plane kill by a helicopter in the war. An artist named Keith Woodcock later painted the scene in “Lima Site 85.”
The remote radar station operated for another two months before a ground assault by North Vietnamese commandos was able to force its way to the summit. The site was overrun in the greatest single ground loss of U.S. airmen in the war.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
A U.S. Air Force F-16 “Thunderbird” sits on the flight line during sunrise at the 177th Fighter Wing, Air National Guard Base in Atlantic City, N.J., Aug. 23, 2017. The Thunderbirds, an Aerial Demonstration Squadron, performed at the Atlantic City Air Show, Thunder over the Boardwalk, in Atlantic City, N.J., Aug. 22-23, 2017.
The propellers of a WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft spin in the center of Hurricane Harvey during a flight into the storm Aug. 24, 2017 out of Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.
U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, and Italian Army Paratroopers Folgore Brigade, descend onto Juliet Drop Zone in Pordenone, Italy, August 23, 2017. The combined exercise demonstrates the multinational capacity building of the airborne community and the airborne allied nations collectively. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, capable of projecting ready forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa or Central Commands’ areas of responsibility within 18 hours.
Soldiers selected by 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, as Soldiers of the month while deployed with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa in Djibouti, were offered the opportunity to participate in a limited AT4 live-fire exercise at a range along the southern coast of the Gulf of Tadjoura, Aug. 22, 2017. The AT4 is a shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon which is disposable after just one use, making it a special opportunity to fire one.
USS Constitution fires off a 40 mm 200 gram round from one of her saluting batteries. Constitution fires one round from her saluting battery twice a day to signify morning and evening colors.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technicians, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Five (EODMU 5), dive in Apra Harbor, Guam, Aug. 20, 2017. EODMU-5 conducts mine countermeasures, improvised explosive device operations, renders safe explosive hazards, and disarms underwater explosives such as mines.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Matthew Flanagan, a cannoneer, attached with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, Kilo Battery, Gun 3, fires the M777A2 Howitzer at Yausubetsu Training Area, Japan, August 23, 2017. The purpose of the Northern Viper training exercise is to maintain interoperability and combat readiness within the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by MCIPAC Combat Camera Lance Cpl. André T. Peterson
Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) rappel from a Bell UH-1 Iroquois on Camp Pendleton, Calif., August 24, 2017. 1st ANGLICO is conducting training to prepare Marines for future deployments.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew medevac a man experiencing symptoms of heart failure approximately 60 miles south of Grand Isle, Louisiana, August 24, 2017. The helicopter crew arrived on scene at approximately 11:30 a.m., hoisted the man and transported him to West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero in stable condition.
Three people were rescued by a boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook near Highlands, New Jersey, on August 19, 2017. Their nine-foot John boat capsized sending them into the water.
After a routine training run in Alpena County, Michigan in late July, US Air National Guard Capt. Brett DeVries survived the perfect storm of malfunctions to safely land his A-10 Thunderbolt II on its belly without the benefit of landing gear.
During a training exercise where A-10 pilots practice dropping inert bombs and ripping the planes’ massive gun, DeVries’ gun malfunctioned. Moments later, his canopy blew off his plane as he flew along at 375 miles an hour, according to a US Air National Guard write up of the event.
The incredible winds smacked DeVries head against his seat, nearly incapacitating him. “It was like someone sucker punched me,” he said. “I was just dazed for a moment.”
DeVries wingman, Major Shannon Vickers, then flew under his plane to assess the damage, finding bad news. The panels under his plane had been damaged, and it was unclear if he would be able to lower his landing gear.
Meanwhile, DeVries struggled against the wind and having everything loose in his cockpit. He could no longer benefit from checklists, which had become a liability that could now potentially fly out and get stuck in his engine.
DeVries, having the flight from hell, had two of his radios go down and had to communicate with Vickers and flight control on his third backup system. They worked together to find him a nearby spot to land and Vickers observed that DeVries would not in fact be able to use his landing gear.
“I just thought, ‘There is no way this is happening right now.’ It all was sort of surreal, but at the same time, we were 100 percent focused on the task ahead of us,” Vickers said.
Miraculously, thanks to the meticulous training A-10 pilots undergo and the incredibly rugged design of the plane, DeVries walked away unscathed, and maintainers will be able to fix the plane.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which is slated to replace the High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Humvee), entered low-rate initial production this year. But while it faces the challenge of replacing an iconic vehicle (much as the HMMWV replaced the jeep), it is getting a little help from another icon, the AH-64 Apache.
Not that the HMMWV couldn’t carry some decent firepower. It has operated the M2 heavy machine gun, the Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher, and the BGM-71 Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-guided missile (TOW). That said, here’s its problem: The M2 and Mk 19 are more suited to take out infantry and trucks than to take on armored vehicles. Granted, even a HMMWV could carry a lot of ammo for those weapons. Using those weapons against a BMP would be like shooting an elephant with a .22.
So, the JLTV, to paraphrase an Army NCO from the 1998 version of “Godzilla,” needed a bigger gun. But what sort of gun? The JLTV couldn’t quite manage the M242 Bushmaster used on the M2/M3 Bradley or the LAV-25 and still have enough ammo and still be able to carry up to six troops. Then, the Army looked to the Apache.
At 160 pounds, the M230 cannon on the Apache is lighter than the M242 (262 pounds), but the 30mm round it fires can easily take out most light vehicles, particularly the BRDM-2, a likely opponent. The M230 can also take out a number of armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, like the BTR-80 or BMP.
The M2 made a similar journey. While initially intended as an anti-tank weapon, Ma Deuce gained its biggest notoriety as the main armament of American fighters like the P-51, F4U, and P-38 during World War II. Even in the Korean War, it served as the primary armament for the F-86, before being displaced by 20mm cannon.
Using the M230 is also a benefit for lighter units like the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Air Assault Division. Since the AH-64s with those units use the M230 already, there is no need to add a new gun and all the spare parts and ammo into the supply chain for those divisions. That makes life a little easier for the valuable logistics personnel while the front-line grunts get a bit more firepower.
The Senate has confirmed Heather Wilson as Air Force secretary, making her President Donald Trump’s first service secretary nominee to be approved by the GOP-led chamber after fits and starts for several others.
Senators voted 76-22 Monday to approve Wilson, who represented New Mexico in the House before becoming a defense industry consultant. Her post-congressional work drew scrutiny for several Democrats, who had questioned an arrangement with government laboratories that paid her $20,000 a month. Wilson denied any impropriety.
Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said he voted against Wilson’s nomination because of his lingering concerns with the payments. Reed also cited as troubling a call Wilson made a decade ago while still a member of Congress to a federal prosecutor handling a politically charged corruption probe.
Trump’s attempts to fill the other two service secretary jobs have failed so far. His picks for secretaries of the Army and Navy were forced to withdraw from consideration.
Mark Green, Trump’s second choice for Army secretary, stepped aside late last week amid growing criticism over his remarks about Muslims, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.
The president’s first pick to be the Army’s top civilian, Vincent Viola, dropped out in early February because of financial entanglements, and about three weeks later Philip B. Bilden, the Navy secretary nominee, withdrew for similar reasons.
The Trump administration has been slow to fill many other senior civilian posts at the Pentagon, leaving Defense Secretary Jim Mattis short of the support he needs to manage the nation’s vast military enterprise. The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding confirmation hearings Tuesday for three important financial positions at the Defense Department: comptroller, deputy comptroller and director of cost assessment and program evaluation.
After serving five terms in Congress from New Mexico, Wilson collected nearly half a million dollars in questionable payments from federally funded nuclear labs, the Energy Department’s inspector general said in a 2013 report. Wilson failed to provide documentation for the consulting work she did to earn $20,000 a month from the Los Alamos and Sandia national labs in New Mexico from January 2009 to March 2011, the report said.
Wilson deflected questions about the payments, saying during her Senate confirmation hearing that she’d performed the work and that the inspector general had found no fault with her.
The telephone call referenced by Reed, the senator from Rhode Island, was made by Wilson in October 2006 to David Iglesias, a U.S. attorney in New Mexico. Iglesias was one of seven federal prosecutors fired a few months later by the Bush administration. At the time, Iglesias was handling a number of public corruption cases. Reed said the call raised the possibility Iglesias may have felt pressured by Congress in an ongoing investigation. Wilson said she did nothing improper.
Wilson served as an Air Force officer in Europe during the 1980s and was on the National Security Council staff under President George H.W. Bush during the fall of the Berlin Wall. She graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1982 and later earned master’s and doctoral degrees as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England. Wilson is the first graduate of the academy to hold to hold the service’s top civilian post.
Wilson said that once confirmed she would resign as president of the South Dakota School of Mines Technology. She’d also assured the Defense Department’s general counsel that she would divest of stocks she holds in companies that do work for the U.S. military, including Intel, IBM, Honeywell and Raytheon.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, called Wilson a “proven leader” and said she would lead the service to a stronger future.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade conduct an airborne operation from a U.S. Air Force 86th Air Wing C-130 Hercules aircraft at Juliet Drop Zone in Pordenone, Italy, June 8, 2017. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, capable of projective forces anywhere in the U.S. European, Africa or Central Command areas of responsibility within 18 hours.
Oregon Air National Guard Capt. Jamie Hastings, (Left), and Lt. Col. Nick Rutgers (right), assigned to the 123rd Fighter Squadron, 142nd Fighter Wing, prepare for an afternoon sortie in their F-15 Eagles at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to support the Weapons Inspector Course, June 6, 2017.
A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System crew from A Battery, 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade fires a rocket off of the Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif. dirt landing strip, June 7, 2017. 62nd Airlift Wing flew a HIMARS from Joint base Lewis-McChord to Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif. to off load and fire a six round mission.
Maj. Gen. John Gronski, the deputy commanding general for the Army National Guard for U.S. Army Europe, participates in a ceremony honoring World War II veterans held at the Omaha Beach memorial in St. Laurent-Sur-Mer,, France, June 6, 2017. The ceremony commemorates the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, the largest multi-national amphibious landing and operational military airdrop in history, and highlights the U.S.’ steadfast commitment to European allies and partners. Overall, approximately 400 U.S. service members from units in Europe and the U.S. are participating in ceremonial D-Day events from May 31 to June 7, 2017.
U.S. Navy explosive ordnance disposal technicians assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, and a member of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, dive off the wreck of the Tokai Maru, a sunken WWII Japanese freighter in the Apra Harbor, off the coast of Guam June 9, 2017, as part of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium Diving Exercise (WPNS-DIVEX) 2017. WPNS-DIVEX 2017 is a biennial diving exercise conducted by WPNS nations to enhance cooperation, interoperability, and tactical proficiency in diving operations in support of disaster response.
PHILIPPINE SEA (June 6, 2017) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Jesus Garcia stands safety observer as an F/A-18E Super Hornet, from the “Royal Maces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 launches from the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
VENTSPILS, Latvia – Marines with 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, transfer Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division and 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve, to the shores of Ventspils, Latvia, for a beach-assault training operation during Exercise Saber Strike 17, June 6, 2017. The beach landings took place concurrently between exercise Saber Strike and Baltic Operations. Exercise Saber Strike 17 is an annual combined-joint exercise conducted at various locations throughout the Baltic region and Poland. The combined training prepares NATO Allies and partners to effectively respond to regional crises and to meet their own security needs by strengthening their borders and countering threats.
ADAZI, Latvia – Marines with Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, fire from a M1 Abrams tank during Exercise Saber Strike 17 in the Adazi Training Area, Latvia, June 4, 2017. Exercise Saber Strike 17 is an annual combined-joint exercise conducted at various locations throughout the Baltic region and Poland. The combined training exercise keeps Reserve Marines ready to respond in times of crisis by providing them with unique training opportunities outside of the continental United States.
Seaman Mia Mauro, stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser, prepares to shoot the .50 cal machine gun during a joint gunnery exercise between allied and partner nations in the Caribbean Sea, June 8, 2017 during Tradewinds. Tradewinds 2017 is a joint combined exercise conducted in conjunction with partner nations to enhance the collective abilities of defense forces and constabularies to counter transnational organized crime and to conduct humanitarian/disaster relief operations.
Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Cimbak, an aviation maintenance technician at Coast Guard Sector San Diego, hoists a simulated survivor from the Secretaría de Marina vessel Centenario de la Revolucion to an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter during a joint search and rescue exercise with the Mexican navy off the coast of Ensenada, Mexico on June 7, 2017. The exercise simulated a vessel fire that required a coordinated international search and rescue effort.
The U.S. Navy’s Nimitz Class aircraft carriers are some of the most powerful weapons systems known to man, floating cities that can take strike warfare capability to the far reaches of the planet, places unreachable by other military assets. With an embarked air wing these carriers are manned by 5,500 sailors (and a few Marines) and home base for more than 80 airplanes.
Here are the places that make these 97,000 ton ships work:
Pri-fly (short for ‘primary flight control’) is also known as “the tower.” Pri-fly is where the Air Boss sits and controls all of the goings-on on the flight deck as well as the airspace within a 10-mile radius of the carrier.
The bridge is a few levels below Pri-fly in the carrier’s superstructure. The bridge is where the Captain sits along with the navigator and all of the officers of the deck and the rest of the watch team charged with steering the ship and staying away from hazards. During flight ops it’s the bridge team’s responsibility to keep a favorable flying wind across the flight deck.
3. Flight deck
The Navy likes to refer to the flight deck as “4.5 acres of sovereign and mobile American territory.” The flight deck is where aircraft launch courtesy of steam catapults and land — one every minute — with the assistance of steel arresting cables. The movement around the flight deck is choreographed by the “handler” in Flight Deck Control who manages the limited real estate and makes sure aircraft get where they need to be either to fly or get worked on.
4. Ready rooms
Flight briefs are conducted in ready rooms, but these spaces are also where squadron aviators congregate to discuss other business or to relax and watch a movie.
The paraloft is where the aviators’ flight gear like helmets and survival vests is stored. This is the final stop for crews before they walk one level up to the flight deck.
6. Crew berthing
Sleeping quarters cram as many as 96 sailors together, but still provide a bit of privacy and a place to get away from the stress of the workday.
The carrier’s intelligence center is where classified mission planning takes place. Intelligence officers give aviators the latest details about the enemy’s whereabouts and weapons systems status using state-of-the-art hardware and software.
The Carrier Air Traffic Control Center is where controllers sit at radar displays and guide airplanes safely back to the ship just like controllers do for airliners at civilian airports.
9. Hangar bay
The hangar bay is where airplanes are parked for major maintenance and where gear is staged, including ordnance. Things get from the hangar bay to the flight deck on one of the three huge elevators along the edge of the carrier.
10. Mess decks
Sailors have to eat, and a good carrier’s supply department takes pride in serving chow that’s nutritious and delicious. Mess decks have a variety of offerings to suit the tastes of entire crew, everything from corndogs to surf and turf.
Carriers have impressive medical resources, including surgical and dental facilities. (Need a vasectomy? The ship’s surgeon has got you covered.)
12. Reactor spaces
The Nimitz Class carrier’s two reactors are what puts the nuke in nuclear power. This amazing energy source allows the carrier to sail for up to 25 years before refueling.
Green Beret Lt. Col. Brian Decker led a unit in Iraq. Then he was assigned to run the Special Forces Assessment and Selection program in North Carolina. He decided to improve the Army’s selection process and reduce the washout rate for men who made it through the initial screening.
Decker wanted to develop tools that would allow the Army to identify soldiers who could make good decisions in chaotic situations and have the necessary devotion to teamwork. He overhauled a process that had been static since its launch in 1988 and introduced new standards that collected over 1,200 data points on each candidate, including physical and mental processes. After three years, Decker’s program had reduced the washout rate by 30%.
He met former Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski when the coach came to a Special Forces camp looking for training tips. That turned into an reciprocal invite to Browns camp. Team president Joe Banner was fascinated by Decker’s philosophy and convinced him to retire from the Army and join the team as a special advisor, in hopes that Decker’s analysis could help correct the NFL’s notorious 50% failure rate for first round draft picks.
He kept the job even after the Browns fired that management team. Their successors kept him on and he spent a couple of years advising the team on its draft. How did that turn out?
ESPN.com’s Seth Wickersham tells Decker’s story in a 3600-word profile that details Decker’s career and investigates how his football project has been going. It’s definitely worth a read.
Action movies featuring Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta were supposed to be safe bets, but most viewers were disappointed by ‘Basic.’ Military viewers yelled themselves hoarse when they first saw Jackson’s cape in the movie. The flick follows the investigation into the deaths of multiple Rangers during training in the jungles of Panama.
While many soldiers may hate on “The Hurt Locker,” we’re just going to go ahead and call “Basic” the worst Army movie ever. Yes, ever.
Admin note: Parts of the movie are witnesses giving false testimony, but we still counted the technical errors we saw. Even in fantasyland you should get the details right.
1. (2:15) The movie takes place as Fort Clayton is being transferred over to the Panamanian government which happened in 1999. The Jungle School was at Fort Sherman, not Fort Clayton where the movie is set.
2. (2:20) West is wearing a patch on the front of his sweater where it is visible under his cape. Soldier uniforms don’t include chest patches, that sweater, or a cape.
3. (2:30) Master Sgt. West is giving a speech about Ranger standards to a bunch of Rangers about to go into combat exercises in the jungle. Despite this being tactical training and West being obsessed with standards, one of the Rangers is wearing a shiny watch, one is wearing a t-shirt with nothing over it, and people are wearing six different pieces of headgear, because screw uniform standards. Also, the red and black berets aren’t worn by the Army without flashes and crests.
4. (2:55) It’s revealed to be a live-fire exercise at night in the jungles of Panama during a hurricane and the entirety of the safety brief is, “Keep your weapon on safe so as not to shoot off your nonexistent d-cks.” Live-fire exercises are rarely done in hurricanes and the the method of signaling would not have been white phosphorus grenades since those would be nearly impossible for West to see from the jungle floor. Also, there would have been a real safety brief.
5. (4:00) A different helicopter comes to pick up the Rangers. For some reason, the Rangers are getting picked up by U.S. pilots in a Eurocopter Ec-120 (typically operated by Spanish and Chinese militaries, never by the U.S.). In theory, the helicopter is there to pick up all seven Rangers. The Ec-120 only sits four people in addition to the pilot and co-pilot.
6. (4:16) Col. Styles, later revealed to be the base commander, is on the helicopter looking for the Rangers. He would typically be, you know, commanding the search while allowing a specially trained crew to look for the Rangers. Also, the actual base commander at Fort Clayton from 1986 to its closing in 1999 was the U.S. Army South Commander, a two-star general.
7. (5:10) Col. Styles, shocked, asks the pilot whether the Rangers are shooting live rounds. Live rounds shouldn’t be shocking since the Rangers were on a live-fire exercise.
8. (5:15) “Dunbar” is firing, on full-auto, an M16 into the jungle when he has an M203 slung underneath the weapon and his vision is obscured by rain. The idea that he hit anything is laughable.
9. (6:25) Osborne is wearing no ribbons on her dress uniform.
10. (6:30) Somehow, the Ranger colonel never became jumpmaster qualified. No wonder they won’t make him a general. Also, his highest award is the Army Commendation Medal. How did he ever make colonel?
11. (6:35) Styles says that, if they don’t get to the bottom of this, they’ll have people from Washington crawling all over them like ants. Considering the fact that four Rangers are missing, one is dead, and one is injured, it’s pretty likely that Washington will be all over you anyway.
12. (7:15) Questioning is being done personally by the base commander and the provost marshall. Where is everyone else? Maybe the Criminal Investigation Division and the military police investigators are all at sergeant’s-time-training.
13. (8:40) It’s later revealed that Hardy is in the top-secret Section 8, not in the D.E.A., or at least not in normal D.E.A. And, all his actions in Panama are authorized by the few people who know he’s doing it. So, who is calling him and busting his chops about the bribe he was never actually accused of taking? Why check up on him if his suspension isn’t real?
14. (9:35) It’s revealed that Hardy was an amazing military police investigator and Army Ranger. It’s not exactly impossible, but it’s so rare for MPs to graduate Ranger school that Army public affairs writes press releases when it happens. Even if Hardy graduated Ranger school though, why was an MP assigned to an infantry unit under Styles? Styles would have been leading infantry companies and working in infantry battalions. He’d only meet MPs when he had too much to drink.
15. (9:45) Osborne tells Styles that, if Hardy isn’t Army, then the investigation won’t be official and Styles agrees. An unofficial investigation will make Washington more suspicious, not less. Plus, there’s no way that evidence turned up by a suspended D.E.A. agent not assigned to the base would be admitted into court later. Styles just guaranteed C.I.D. would send legions of agents to Panama.
16. (10:37) Osborne is surprised and grossed out by Hardy dipping. In the Army though, every meeting is adorned by five or six spit bottles on the table.
17. (10:52) Hardy says West was his “black hat.” “Black hat” is refers to airborne school instructors, not Jungle School instructors.
18. (13:00) “Dunbar” was misidentified by his dog tags, a major plot point of the movie. There was no one else who could identify him? No one from the Jungle School could come and tell them they have the wrong name? He wasn’t carrying an I.D. card? Everyone just trusted that the probable murderer was wearing the correct dog tags?
19. (13:35) It’s revealed that the injured Ranger, 2nd Lt. Kendall, is the son of a joint chief. Good luck avoiding a horde of men from Washington.
20. (13:45) Hardy explains to Osborne, the base provost marshall, how interrogation works. And, he’s an investigator known for being good in the room but has a deep-seated aversion to interrogation rooms.
21. (14:15) Osborne points out that Hardy can’t testify at trial and she’ll have to testify instead. Military trials are still trials and the defense will jump on the fact that a shady D.E.A. agent was in the interrogation but disappeared before trial.
22. (15:00) In the 1:15 since Hardy told Osborne to move Dunbar, neither of them have spoken to anyone else or moved Dunbar, yet Dunbar is already in the cafeteria when they arrive. I guess the other MPs heard about Hardy’s hatred of interrogation rooms and just went ahead and moved a dangerous prisoner on their own.
23. (15:11) Armed guard leaves the room without a word once Osborne and Hardy arrive. Good thing Ranger-qualified murderers aren’t dangerous or anything.
BONUS (16:00) Hardy shows off his crotch to Dunbar while talking about baseball. Odd interrogation tactic if not technically an error.
Photo: Youtube.com Note: These are the actual subtitles.
24. (17:31) Hardy says he was stationed in Panama with the 75th Ranger Regiment. Little problem, there never was a Ranger Battalion stationed in Panama. Rangers went there for Jungle School and they were part of the invasion in 1989, but they didn’t stay there. And, again, there are no military police units in the Ranger Regiment.
25. (19:15) Osborne jumps to parade rest for Styles. First, she’s been talking back and being sarcastic to this guy so far. Why do the customs and courtesies now? Second, the proper position would be attention.
26. (20:06) Let’s just get all of Master Sgt. West’s uniform violations in this scene out at once. 1: Nope, those glasses would not be authorized. 2: That collar rank is for Army specialists, four ranks below master sergeant. 3: That damn chest patch is back. 4: West is apparently special forces in addition to Ranger qualified; it’s a shame the Army has used him as an instructor for the past dozen or so years. 5: The patch, while right for Panama, is too far below the Ranger and SF tabs. This guy is starting to look like a stolen valor case.
28. (20:36) Why are none of the students wearing patches? Either they’re in Ranger Regiment and should be wearing scrolls, or they’re coming from other units to the Jungle School and should be wearing their home unit patches, or they’re in 192nd Infantry with West and should be wearing the same patch as him.
29. (20:48) West admonishes “Pike” for surrendering his sidearm. Um, why? Soldiers do give their weapons to their superiors when ordered.
30. (21:15) Just about everyone in this formation is an E-1 who has not been assigned to a unit. So, they’re doing Jungle School ahead of basic training? But apparently after Ranger school? Also, why are none of these “Rangers” wearing Ranger tabs or scrolls?
31. (21:49) Green Hell is a training event in Jungle School, but it’s just an obstacle course. It certainly doesn’t take place in Darien, a completely different province of Panama that’s miles outside of the U.S. controlled canal zone. If Green Hell were that bad though, 20 days of 40 kilometers per day, it would have to be somewhere besides the Canal Zone since the zone is less than 80 kilometers long.
32. (21:54) “Dunbar” says they’re all in the Jungle Leader Course. JLC was six days long and only five of them were training days.
33. (23:00) West accepts the answer of “1,100 meters per second,” for the muzzle velocity of the M16. The M16’s muzzle velocity is actually 948 meters per second.
34. (23:26) We get a good look at Nunez who is regularly referred to as a Ranger. Women are going through Ranger School for the first time now and none have graduated, ever.
35. (25:00) The entire unit has horrible muzzle awareness. Considering the fact that West gives them live ammunition for nearly every exercise, that seems pretty dangerous.
36. (25:30) Prior to 2004, only deployed soldiers wore the U.S. flag and they wore a reversed flag replica (blue field of stars to the front of the soldier’s sleeve). Also, why the cape!?
37. (26:05) “Pike” is getting hemmed up by West, but doesn’t go to parade rest. Every Army private knows the solution to a pissed off sergeant is to go to parade rest and say, “Yes, sergeant,” and, “No sergeant,” as appropriate.
38. (27:25) Apparently, the Rangers now have a code instead of a creed. Also, the code is much shorter.
39. (31:55) Apparently, 2nd Lt. Kendall’s dad, a joint chief of staff, wanted to keep his son’s homosexuality secret. So West, who had never met Kendall before, would have no way of knowing it.
40. (32:55) Kendall tells the investigators that no one could hear anything on the chopper. He doesn’t explain how he heard the entire mission brief on the helicopter.
41. (33:40) The Rangers rappel from the helicopter with their weapons simply slung on their shoulders where they could easily fall off and get lost in the jungle.
42. (34:58) The live-fire training is apparently in the middle of a thick jungle, is done without a safety officer able to oversee the training, and none of the students wear anything to mark themselves to prevent friendly fire. It’s frankly a miracle that the base only had three training accidents per year.
43. (35:00) All of the students apparently have full-auto M16s — even though only two models — neither popular in the Army in the ’90s, had fully automatic settings. Castro, a top student, fires from the hip constantly.
44. (37:40) Rangers find their dead instructor and don’t leave a guard, mark the map, or recover the body.
45. (38:25) In the middle of super tactical training, one of the Rangers decides not to use a red filter on his flashlight.
46. (39:30) Enlisted soldiers tell the officer with a joint chief for a father to shut up.
47. (41:30) “Pike” is wearing a camouflage t-shirt, not an approved uniform item.
48. (41:40) “Pike” is, in this version of the story, an admitted killer. Other Rangers are letting him sit within arm’s reach of a fully automatic weapon. He also only has one guard.
49. (42:46) Ranger gets shot and immediately grabs his weapon. Instead of picking his target, he sprays the inside of the shack with about 60 rounds from a 30-round magazine without bothering to check what he’s shooting.
50. (45:40) “Dunbar” admits to using drugs and Hardy says drugs come with a 20-year sentence in the Army. Actually, they come with military separation unless your chain of command recommends otherwise. There is no minimum sentence for drug use and few offenders serve jail time.
51. (51:45) Finally, someone mentions the radios. “Pike’s” is busted, but what about the rest of them? Why isn’t someone trying to raise West or Fort Clayton on the radio?
52. (52:30) Nunez walks around the tent with her weapon cocked and pointed up. No one protests the weapon safety problem. Also, there’s no need to cock an M9.
53. (53:00) During a high tension moment in the shack, Nunez takes the chance to kiss another Ranger. No wonder Rangers are scared of women being allowed in the school.
54. (53:25) “Dunbar” partially searches one pocket of someone’s pack, can’t find the grenade in that pocket and decides the grenade isn’t in there. Hope he’s never in charge of searching enemy prisoners of war.
55. (54:40) “Pike” exposes the scars from his needle injections. His scars would’ve been visible every time he had to take a shower with the other students.
56. (1:00:25) “Dunbar” was in custody for hours. The military police would have searched him and removed the hypodermic needle that could be used as a weapon.
57. (1:02:05) Osborne smacks a suspect/her former lover across the face with a telephone book. Military trials have different rules than civilian ones, but this would still get the case thrown out.
58. (1:02:15) Drug dealing doctor can’t remember Kendall’s name. He targeted and recruited Kendall, the homosexual son of a joint chief, worked with him for months, rigged his regular drug tests, and now can’t remember his name. This drug dealer pays no attention to his illegal enterprise.
59. (1:12:15) Osborne says that C.I.D. has arrived to take the doctor to Washington. First, why move him to D.C.? His trial would be easier to organize at larger bases like Fort Bragg or Fort Hood and he should be transported by the unit’s chaser detail, not C.I.D. Also, if C.I.D. is on the base, they should take over the investigation. They are the criminal investigation division.
60. (1:12:30) Osborne and Hardy learn that they have Pike and Dunbar backwards. See, that’s why you can’t use dog tags as a sole form of identification.
61. (1:13:30) Osborne says Army files don’t show weight, but they do. Also, dog tags are not enough to identify a criminal. Check ID cards.
62. (1:14:00) C.I.D. would almost certainly be wearing suits, not uniforms.
63. (1:13:35) Hardy and Osborne wouldn’t race to the plane. They’d call the flight line. Phones and radios are awesome inventions.
64. (1:14:17) Hardy steals an agent’s weapon and fires it in the air. Only two guys draw their weapons in response and no one stops Hardy from pulling Pike off the stairs and shoving him towards the prop. The agent at the top of the stairs actually stays at parade rest the whole time.
65. (1:15:00) So, West decided to confront the druggies in his unit and he decided he’d pick that fight in a remote area while he was severely outnumbered. Great tactics, super Ranger!
66. (1:17:00) The female Ranger runs out of the hut on her own without looking around or bringing her weapon to the ready, something no combat trained soldier would do. West kills her with dual pistols. Soldiers are trained to properly use one pistol because it’s more effective than using two.
67. (1:25:15) Hardy tells Osborne to contact him if she needs him to testify about the shooting. The investigators would actually take his sworn statement right then since he was the only witness to the shooting of a base commander by one of his subordinates.
68. (1:26:00) Osborne is driving a military vehicle to her personal residence and turns off to follow Hardy. She shouldn’t be able to take the vehicle home at night and she really shouldn’t be able to drive it around the isthmus without someone asking what’s going on.
69. (1:31:00) The movie ends on a happy note because the whole squad was in Section 8 and the mission was sanctioned! But, Kendall, the joint chief’s kid, is still dead. That’s going to come up later.
With tensions between Qatar and a Saudi-lead group of Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt) increasing over allegations that Qatar funds terrorist groups, and a blockade being imposed, there is the question as to what would happen if this broke out into war.
Could Qatar hold on? Would Saudi Arabia have some new real estate?
Let’s start with a look at the Qatari military. The blockade is one likely flashpoint, and the balance of naval forces is decidedly not in Qatar’s favor. According to the “16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World,” the Qatari navy consists of seven patrol combatants equipped with MM.40 Exocet anti-ship missiles. This force is outclassed by the Saudi navy, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, which combine for nine frigates, plus 10 corvettes and up to 30 guided-missile patrol combatants.
In essence, Qatar isn’t about to break this blockade any time soon. Any naval battle will be very short – and will end with the Qatari navy on the bottom. The only question will be how much of an honor guard they will take with them.
It’s important to note that eight of the Saudi-led coalition frigates are equipped with surface-to-air missiles, while the corvettes at least have point-defense systems like the Mk 15 Phalanx or launchers for the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile.
So, what happens if the Saudi-lead coalition decides to roll into Qatar? Again, this will likely be a short fight. The Egyptian army and the combination of the Saudi army and Saudi National Guard would be operating under friendly skies very quickly.
According to FlightGlobal.com’s World Air Forces 2017, Qatar has a single squadron of 13 Mirage 2000-5 fighters (nine Mirage 2000-5EDA, four Mirage 2000-5DDAs) on hand. Yes, they ordered 72 F-15QA Eagles, 18 Rafale Cs and six Rafale Bs, but those haven’t been delivered.
As things stand right now, Bahrain’s air force of 17 F-16Cs and 8 F-5Es could arguably take the Qatari air force on their own. That doesn’t count what the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia could throw in.
Qatar does have Patriot and THAAD batteries. These systems make for a formidable air-defense system. That said, the sheer numbers of planes from the Saudi-lead coalition (“World Air Forces 2017” notes that Saudi Arabia has 48 Eurofighters, 129 F-15C/S/SA, and 81 Tornado IDS while the UAE has 55 F-16E, 23 F-16F, and 49 Mirage 2000-5 fighters on hand) would likely overwhelm those defenses.
The ground battle would also be short. The Qatari army performed well during the Battle of Khafji in Desert Storm. But with one tank battalion, four mechanized infantry battalions, and an anti-tank battalion (according to GlobalSecurity.org), they are badly outnumbered by the eight brigades (two armored, five mechanized infantry, and one airborne) assigned to the Royal Saudi Land Forces. The Saudi Arabian National Guard brings 11 additional brigades.
Qatar has two trump cards to keep this crisis from going hot. One is the American presence at Al Udeid Air Base – in essence, the Saudi-lead coalition is not going to want to accidentally hit American personnel. The other is the fact that Turkey, under Recip Teyap Erdogan, is condemning the blockade, and Turkey has a formidable military of its own. But Turkey is a long way off, and may not be able to do much to stop a Saudi-lead invasion.
Submitting vouchers through the Defense Travel System is one of those tasks that probably originated in military purgatory. Sure, an automated, online form for documenting travel expenses and getting paid sounds like a miracle, but it’s actually like having to do your taxes a few extra times per year.
Here are common reasons that DTS vouchers get kicked back, each with a quick example of what you will hear from the DTS manager for the mistake.
1. You checked a box the way your old unit wanted it.
“This isn’t your old unit. Re-do your request. No, you can’t just edit your last voucher. I deleted it so that you would learn how to do it right.”
2. You put airfare and airfare taxes in the same box.
“Do you think the DoD doesn’t want to save some tax money? Figure out what your airfare is without taxes, figure out what the taxes are, and separate those numbers into different line items.”
“The system might try to make you assign different legs of your trip to each dollar amount. If your flight only had one leg, that won’t work. You should’ve booked a trip with a layover.”
3. You changed an entry to how your unit-level reviewer wants it, but the next higher reviewer wants it the opposite way because screw you.
“I know how Mr. X says he likes the voucher filled out. Do I look like Mr. X? Exactly. Now re-do your voucher from scratch. And staff it through Mr. X before it gets to me.”
4. You forgot to collect passport photos from the people in front of and behind you in line while traveling.
“How do we know you went on the trip if you can’t even be bothered to steal the passport photos of people near you in line? Did you really go on the trip? No, your jump manifests, training certificates, and hotel receipts don’t count. We want those passport photos.”
5. You haven’t bribed anyone yet.
“Seriously, what is wrong with you? You think we handle your DTS vouchers because we’re charitable? Or because we like collecting our salaries? No. It’s for the bribes.”
6. You failed to sacrifice at least three virgin sheep to the dark undergods of the Defense Travel Service.
“How am I going to go back to my bosses and tell them that I reviewed your packet without a single dead, unblemished sheep to gift to them?”
7. You have a firstborn son, but have not relinquished him to your reviewer.
“We probably won’t actually take your child, but you have to offer. It’s an ‘Abraham and God’ sort of thing.”
8. You didn’t attach the right receipts.
“Seriously, this is easy stuff. Just do the paperwork and you’ll get your money.”
Between 2006 and 2010, some 30,000 single mothers had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during the Global War on Terror. Meanwhile, the number of homeless female veterans doubled in the same time period.
There are now an estimated 55,000 homeless women veterans in America, and they’re the fastest growing homeless population in America.
When Lysa Heslov first heard about how easily female veterans can fall into poverty and homelessness she had no idea just how widespread the problem was. She was at lunch with a friend who told her about the Ms. Veteran America Pageant, which provides housing for female veterans and their children – and why it’s so important.
“I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed as an American, I was embarrassed as a woman,” Heslov told We Are The Mighty. “I couldn’t believe that this was happening. I couldn’t believe that women were coming back and being treated this way. I’ve gone up to many service men in my life, and said, ‘Thank you for your service.’ I hadn’t gone up to one woman my entire life.”
There are many factors that go into a veteran falling into homelessness; a lack of affordable housing, sudden or insufficient income, PTSD, substance abuse, lack of familial and social support networks — the list goes on and on. Suffice to say, it could happen to anyone.
Heslov is a director, producer, philanthropist who founded a non-profit for disadvantaged youth with her husband. She helped a New Orleans family recover from Hurricane Katrina. She decided she would put her skills to work to raise awareness for female veterans at risk of homelessness. In 2015, she filmed the new documentary film “Served Like a Girl.”
“Served Like a Girl” follows five female veterans from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines from around the U.S. as they prepare to compete in the Ms. Veteran America competition.
The women face more than a transition from military to civilian life. As they ready themselves to earn the crown, they describe how they deal with divorce, PTSD, serious illnesses, and sexual trauma they experienced while in the military.
Heslov immediate set out to learn everything she could about the issue. She watched CNN’s “Heroes” documentary on Jas Boothe, the founder of Final Salute, Inc. — the main beneficiary of Ms. Veteran America. Booth is a 16-year Army veteran of both OIF and OEF, a cancer survivor, and author who was once fell into homelessness herself after a series of tragic events.
Her brush with the void inspired her to ensure every female veteran would never be left without somewhere to turn.
“We offer wrap-around services,” Boothe told CNN. “Anything they could possibly need to help get themselves back in a state of independence. We give all the tools that you need, but your success in this program is up to you.”
Final Salute, Inc. also offers interest-free loans, child care, job placement, and more.
“There’s nothing wrong with serving like a girl,” Boothe said, introducing the film at the 2016 Fort Meyer VETRACON event. “Men killed Bin Laden. A woman found him.”
“Directing this was terrifying and exciting and became so much more than I ever thought it could be,” Heslov says. “The women featured in it became more than just subjects in my documentary, they have become my family. I can say I’ve never cried so many tears and I’ve never laughed as hard. My life will never be the same and my hope is, through sharing this film, theirs won’t have to be either.”
“Served Like a Girl” is a descriptive, informative film that thoroughly covers the possible pitfalls and unique challenges for women vets who transition from the military. The women featured in the film are real women veterans, facing real struggles that could undo not only their hopes of winning the competition, but affect the rest of their lives.
The film also features a new song “Dancing Through the Wreckage,” composed by Linda Perry, Grammy-nominated lead of the band 4 Non Blondes, and sung by the legendary Pat Benatar.
“Served Like a Girl” is in theaters in Los Angeles and New York. It will open in other areas soon.
To learn more about the Ms. Veteran America Competition or donate to fight female veteran homelessness, visit their website.