'The last great tank battle' was a slugfest of epic proportions - We Are The Mighty
Articles

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

The men of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment spearheaded one of the American columns that invaded Iraq on Feb. 23, 1991. After three days of light fighting they stumbled into one of the largest Iraqi armored formations and annihilated it with cannons, TOW missiles and mortars in the Battle of 73 Easting, often called “the last great tank battle of the 20th century.”


‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: US Navy D. W. Holmes II

Then-Capt. (now Lt. Gen.) H.R. McMaster, commander of Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 2nd ACR, literally wrote the book on the battle and commanded one of the lead elements in the fight.

Helicopters buzzed over Eagle Troop as the ground invasion of Iraq began on Feb. 23. The mission of the 2nd ACR was simple in theory but would be challenging to achieve. They were to cut off Iraqi retreat routes out of Kuwait and destroy the large armored formations thought to be hiding in the flat, featureless desert.

The empty desert could be challenging to navigate since there were no features to use for direction. Heavy rains and windstorms limited visibility as the tanks and other vehicles felt their way through the desert.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: US Army

Fox troop made contact first, destroying a few enemy tanks. Over the next couple of days, 2nd Squadron tanks and vehicles would encounter enemy observation and scout vehicles and destroy them with missiles and cannons, but they couldn’t find the Iraqi Republican Guard divisions they knew were dug somewhere into the desert.

In the afternoon of Feb. 26, 1991, McMaster was pushing his troop through a sandstorm when he crested a rise and there, directly in front of him, was an entire division of Iraqi tanks with elite crews. Finding himself already in range of the enemy, he immediately gave the order to fire.

The enemy had parked themselves away from the slight rise so that they would be hidden and so incoming American tanks would be forced to drive down the hill towards them. This exposed the relatively weak top armor of the tank to the Iraqi guns.

But the Iraqis had lost most of their scout vehicles and so were just as surprised as the U.S. commanders when the two armored forces clashed, leaving them unable to capitalize on their position.

McMaster’s opening salvo set the tone for the battle. His first shot was a HEAT round that destroyed a tank cowering behind a berm. His second shot, a depleted uranium sabot shell, shot through an Iraqi tank that was swiveling to fire on him. As his crew targeted a third enemy, the driver realized they were driving through a minefield and began taking evasive action.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Public Domain via Wikipedia

Enemy rounds began falling around the lead tank as the two tank platoons in Eagle Troop got on line to join the fight. Nine American tanks were now bearing down on the Iraqi positions, destroying enemy T-72s and armored vehicles. As McMaster described it in his first summary of the battle:

The few seconds of surprise was all we had needed. Enemy tanks and BMP’s (Soviet-made armored personnel carriers) erupted in innumerable fire balls. The Troop was cutting a five kilometer wide swath of destruction through the enemy’s defense.

The Bradley fighting vehicles joined the tanks, firing TOW missiles at the enemy armor and using their guns to cut down Iraqi infantry. Mortar and artillery support opened up, raining fire onto the remaining Iraqi positions.

The American forces cut down 30 tanks, 14 armored vehicles, and hundreds of infantrymen before reaching their limit of advance, the line they were originally told to halt at. But McMaster ordered the troop to continue attacking, fearful that the Iraqis would be able to regroup and wage a strong counterattack.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Sgt. Devin Nichols

At 23 minutes since first contact, McMaster declared it safe to halt his troop’s advance. The single armored troop had crippled the Iraqi flank with zero casualties. One American tank from the 2nd Squadron headquarters had received light damage from a mine.

Near the Eagle Troop position, Ghost, Killer, and Iron troops were mixing it up other Iraqi units and trying to catch up to Eagle. The enemy made a few half-hearted attempts at counter-attacking the U.S. tanks, but they were quickly rebuffed.

That night, the U.S. called on the Iraqi’s to surrender and it was answered by droves of troops. About 250 survivors surrendered to Eagle Troop.

Up and down the U.S. lines, the story was similar to that of Eagle Troop. The Iraqis suffered nearly 1,000 casualties, 85 tanks destroyed, 40 armored vehicles destroyed, 30 wheeled-vehicles lost, and two artillery batteries annihilated. The U.S. suffered 12 men killed, 57 men wounded, and 32 vehicles destroyed or damaged.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is how the shovel became a deadlier weapon than a bayonet

As far as modern conventional warfare is concerned, the bullet or small explosive device are the standard, go-to weapon. And even today, many units around the world still adapt a bayonet into the unit crest.


But no weapon turns more heads while cracking the most skulls quite like the shovel.

To the uninformed, the shovel seems casual enough. It’s even played up for comic effect in cartoons, usually with a wacky sound effect. There’s even a video game called Shovel Knight that treats the titular character’s weapon as a joke.

Young privates don’t believe the shovel’s history as a weapon because they don’t know military history and only heard it used as a weapon from an salty old Sergeant First Class who has a story about his buddy “getting an e-tool kill.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

This isn’t like those stories about a guy killing three men in a bar with a pencil. The spade had many uses back in the day, especially during the trench warfare of WWI and WWII. It wasn’t the most effective melee combat weapon, but damn was it handy.

But the bayonet has practically lost its importance. It is usually the fashion now to charge with bombs and spades only. The sharpened spade is a more handy and many-sided weapon; not only can it be used for jabbing a man under the chin, but it is much better for striking with because of its greater weight; and if one hits between the neck and shoulder it easily cleaves as far down as the chest. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Much of the fighting was done between opposing trenches and occasionally the unfortunate bastards who found themselves in no-man’s land. But to even take an inch from the enemy, you had to over take their trench.

Raiding parties generally cleared portions of the trenches with hand grenades and shotguns. When it came time to fight the stragglers, the longer rifle and bayonet combo just wasn’t effective in narrow and often swamped trenches. Even the beauty of the trench knife – which included a knife for stabbing, brass knuckles for punching, and a spiked pummel for puncturing the enemy’s head– just didn’t have the range or power needed.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Even though the only thing deadlier than a Marine is a pissed-off Marine with a knife. (Image via LIFE Magazine)

Troops being raided quickly adapted the tool they used to dig those trenches into a deadly weapon to defend those trenches. The sharp edge, originally purposed to cut through roots, found it’s way into the necks of their enemy. The additional weight behind it meant it could also break bones where the bayonet just pierced.

If the bayonet became the successor to a spear with a firearm, the spade was a mix of a battle ax with a club. Of course, troops would carry both into battle. But if one were to get lodged too deep in the enemy, which would make more sense to leave on the battlefield?

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
These Brits with capes and shovels are far more of a bad ass than any butterbar who learns they’re authorized to wear a cape to events.

Stories about troops using a shovel as a weapon continue well through the Vietnam War. Even the modern E-Tool is designed as a call back to the glory days of it being an unexpectedly deadly weapon.

For more information on and the inspiration for this article, watch the video below.

(YouTube, InRangeTV)

Lists

5 leadership skills all service members should learn

From a troop’s first day in the military to their last, they’ll pick up various leadership traits that will (hopefully) propel them into a positive, productive future. Although most of us won’t ever know what it’s like to lead a whole platoon or battalion, we’re often thrown into temporary leadership roles as we take boots under our wings, showing them how sh*t gets done while fostering a level of respect.

Leadership can be taught during training, but it’s not truly understood until you’re in the field. The following skills are the cornerstones of leadership.


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Refrain from micro-managing

We’ve all experienced first-hand how infuriating it is when someone constantly feels the need to put in their two cents — just because they can. Many young leaders, eager to meaningfully contribute, will feel compelled to change something to their liking, even if it won’t help better complete the mission at hand.

It’s an important to know when you should back away.

Show one, do one, teach one

It’s up to the military’s leaders to impart their knowledge onto junior troops. As essential part of the military is training troops to win battles. When a troop doesn’t know how to pass a certain test, it’s up to their leader to teach them.

The winning strategy here is, “show one, do one, teach one.” The leader will first show a troop how to do something, that troop will then do it for themselves, and then, finally, that troop will go teach another how to complete the task.

They say that teaching is the best way to learn — this method benefits both a leader and his troops.

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Lead from the front

All too often, we see orders get passed down by people who wouldn’t dare complete the task themselves. These so-called leaders tell you, “good luck,” and then show up in the end to take all the credit.

Don’t do this. Instead, lead from the front. Help with the dangerous missions you helped plan.

Know your team’s strength and weakness

When you walk onto the battlefield, either literally or metaphorically, it’s important to know what each individual in the team is best at in the event something pops off. We’ve encountered leaders who don’t know elbows from as*holes when it comes to their squad.

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Individual success is a team accomplishment

We’d all like to be appreciated for our hard work, but victories are rarely due to a single act. Recognize that the military is a team environment. Each member plays an important role in achieving victory. Taking all the credit for a group’s hard work only makes you look dumb.

MIGHTY CULTURE

13 hilarious memes for the next time you need to mock an airman

Look, airmen are technically people. That’s why we can’t slap a fence around the Air Force, call it a zoo, and call the day done. Especially since we need a few of them to fly close-air support and whatever else it is that they do. So, the boys in blue tiger stripes are going to keep wandering around, quoting Nietzsche (even if they are finally getting rid of those stripes).


If you are forced to interact with one of them, here are some pics you can drop on the ground and escape while they argue the semantics or parse the meaning of it:
‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(funnyjunk.com)

Remember: They’re more trained for large airbases than small unit tactics.

Keep them inside and they won’t rub their coffee grounds into their helmet like that.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(memeguy.com)

All that fancy radar and signals intercept equipment, and this is what we get.

This does, however, really make me want to get into meteorology.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(tumblr.com)

In her defense, she’s probably well schooled in PowerPoint.

You’re probably gonna have to just carry her out of combat, Sgt. Joe.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(tumblr.com)

Must suck to be forced to use that internet for so much targeting and so little streaming.

Do it for Khaleesi, airmen.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(imgflip.com)

There is a rumor that the Air Force has a shortage of elbow grease.

That poor Marine probably doesn’t even know that the task is never getting done by that junior airman.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(memesboy.com)

Airmen are so prissy about teeth extractions and medical care.

They probably use anesthetic and hand sanitizer, too.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(citationslist.com)

Most airmen don’t embody the “whole airman concept.”

Though, in their defense, they don’t all look like they ate a whole airman.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(Aviation Memes)

Shouldn’t the plane get its bombs at home and drop them while they’re out?

Oh crap, now I’m parsing the memes like some sort of over-educated airman.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(Air Force AMN/NCO/SNCO)

President calls for Space Force. Air Force subsumes Space Force concept. Airmen check Stargate IDs.

Would be the coolest gate guard duty in the universe, though. Might even see some three-breasted women or something.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(Reddit)

To be fair, airmen aren’t the only folks who will fall to their own forms.

All Department of Defense forms are ridiculously horrible.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(quoteswell.com)

 I could use a snack. And a nap.

Crap. Does the Air Force really have snack time? This is backfiring. I want to be an airman now. AIR POWER!

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(RallyPoint)

Seriously, why can Gru never get his slides right?

There’s no way an Air Force version of Gru would struggle with slides, though.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(Valhalla Wear)

The Air Force version of Uber Eats is abysmal.

Worldwide delivery, but the deliveries might not be on time, complete, or structurally sound.

Articles

Every surface ship in the Chinese navy, in one chart

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Image: YouTube


China wants to become east Asia’s dominant power. And in order to do that, the country needs a navy that can balance out American and US-allied assets in the region.

China wants a force that is capable of operating for extended periods in the open ocean, away from the coasts or support bases. A “blue-water navy” would allow China to protect vital trade routes while also enabling Beijing to project force in areas far from China’s coastline.

Beijing’s naval development could be one of the biggest strategic challenges the US faces in coming decades. And the Chinese navy is already pretty formidable. The following graphic from the US Office of Naval Intelligence shows every surface ship in the Chinese Navy as of February 2015 (you can view a much larger version of the graphic here):

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

The largest ship in China’s navy is currently the Liaoning aircraft carrier, a refurbished Soviet-built craft that’s had an array of problems. The vessel is several decades old and of questionable quality — it suffered an unexpected power outage during sea trials in October of 2014.

But the Liaoning may just be a practice carrier for the Chinese Navy. China is using the low-cost vessel to master the operation of carrier battle groups before purchasing and developing more expensive and capable vessels.

There are reports that China is planning on developing three carrier battle groups, in a massive ramping-up of naval force projection.

The Luyang II 052C class guided missile destroyer is also noteworthy. These ships are designed to operate in open ocean away from China’s coasts, allowing Beijing to press its territorial ambitions throughout the Pacific and the South China Sea.

Additionally, a ship model called the Jinan will feature a number of new-generation weapons, and is specially designed to protect any future Chinese aircraft carriers.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Troops gather on the deck of the Liaoning, China’s single aircraft carrier.

“The guided missile destroyer Ji’nan (hull number 152), is equipped with multiple sets of home-made new-type weapons,” China Military Online reports.

“It is able to attack surface warships and submarines independently or in coordination with other strength of the PLAN. The ship also possesses strong capabilities of conducting long-distance early-warning and detecting as well as regional air-defense operation.”

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Articles

New Navy amphib craft will deliver Abrams tanks to shore

The Navy is nearing completion of its first two new, high-tech ship-to-shore connectors for amphibious operations designed to transport large numbers of Marines, equipment and weapons to shore from beyond-the-horizon, senior Navy officials said.


The service plans to build 73 Ship-to-Shore Connectors, or SSCs, to replace the existing fleet of 72 Landing Craft Air Cushions, or LCACs, Maj. Gen. Christopher Owens, Navy Director of Expeditionary Warfare, told Scout Warrior.

With some of the existing fleet of LCACs approaching 30-years of service, the Navy needs to begin replacing them with new ones, service officials said.

“We have two (SSCs) under construction to deliver in 2017 and two more that will begin construction in March of 2016. This is an upgrade to the current LCAC,” Owens said in an interview last year.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
A landing craft air cushion embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan departs the Haitian coast after delivering supplies. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julio Rivera

While the SSC design will be very similar to an LCAC, the new craft will incorporate a number of innovations and upgrades which will give in more speed, greater range, more payload capacity, improved digital controls and a new engine, Owens added.

“The new craft will have a greater load capacity so we can return to carrying M1A1 battle tanks aboard them,” he explained.

In addition, the SSCs will have a new Rolls Royce engine – the same one currently used in an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, Owens said.

The new SSCs also increase the strength of the deck and improve the propellers when compared with existing LCACs, he said. The new SSCs can carry up to 74-tons across the ocean, enough to move an M1A1 Abrams tank with a mine plow, officials said.

The Navy’s 72 LCACs, in service for decades since the 80s, can transport up to 60-tons, reach speeds of 36-knots and travel ranges up to 200 nautical miles from amphibious vehicles, Navy officials explained.

LCACs can access over 70-percent of the shoreline across the world, something the new SSCs will be able to do as well, service officials said.

The Navy contracted with Textron Systems to build an in-house Navy design for the SSCs through an initial construction deal to deliver up to eight new craft by 2020. The contract has a potential value of $570 million.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
A U.S. LCAC carries U.S. Marine Corps equipment from the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry to White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan. | US Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua J. Wahl

Designed with over-the-horizon high-speed and maneuverability, LCACs are able to travel long distances and land on rocky terrain – even driving right up onto the shore.

In order to bridge the gap from existing LCACs to the new SSCs, the Navy implemented a special service life extension program for the LCACs – many of which are now approaching three decades of service.

The LCACs were re-engined with new engines, given new rotating machinery, new command and control systems, new skirts and fixes to corrosion issues. The effort is designed to put another 10 years of life back into the LCAC, Navy officials described.

The idea with the service life extension is to bridge the time-lapse or gap until the new SSCs are ready to enter the force in larger numbers, Owens explained.

Some of the enhancements being engineered into the SSCs are designed to address the changing threat landscape in a modern environment, a scenario that is expected to change how amphibious operations will be conducted in the future.

Since potential adversaries now have longer-range weapons, better sensors and targeting technologies and computers with faster processing speeds, amphibious forces approaching the shore may need to disperse in order to make it harder for enemy forces to target them.

This phenomenon, wherein potential adversaries have advanced weaponry designed to make it harder for U.S. forces to operate in certain areas such as closer to the shore, is described by Pentagon analysts as “anti-access/area-denial.”

“One way of dealing with an anti-access type threat is to have a distributed threat deployed it is able to quickly aggregate and then rapidly move from ship to shore,” Owens said.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Army’s new Infantry Squad Vehicle is based on the Chevy Colorado

On June 29, 2020, the U.S. Army selected GM’s submission for the new Infantry Squad Vehicle. Beating out submissions from a joint Oshkosh Defense-Flyer Defense team and an SAIC-Polaris partnership, GM has been awarded a $214M contract to build 649 of the new ISVs over the next five years. Additionally, the Army has already been approved to acquire 2,065 of the new trucks over the next decade.

In 2003, GM sold its defense division to General Dynamics for $1.1B. In 2017, GM saw renewed opportunity in adapting its civilian vehicles for the defense market and created the subsidiary GM Defense. In 2019, GM Defense became a finalist in the Army’s Infantry Squad Vehicle procurement competition along with the two aforementioned teams. The three teams were given $1M to build two prototypes of their proposed vehicle which were tested and evaluated at Aberdeen Test Center, Maryland and Fort Bragg, North Carolina.


‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

(Left to right) SAIC-Polaris DAGOR, Oshkosh-Flyer Defense GMV, and GM Defense ISV concepts (Photo from NationalDefenseMagazine.org)

Contract specifications called for the ISV to weigh no more than 5,000, carry nine soldiers and their gear at highway speeds in extreme conditions both on and off-road, capable of being slung under a UH-60 Blackhawk, and fit inside of a CH-47 Chinook. To meet these requirements, GM Defense based its design on the popular Chevrolet Colorado and its ZR2 and ZR2 Bison variants.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Chevy’s popular midsize truck, the Colorado ZR2 (Photo by Chevrolet)

The ISV is powered by a 2.8L 4-cylinder Duramax diesel engine that produces “significantly more power than the Colorado ZR2 known for delivering 186 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque,” mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission according to the GM Defense ISV product sheet.

Overall, the ISV retains much of the DNA of the Colorado variants it is based on, featuring 70% off-the-shelf components. “The chassis — which is the frame, the suspension, driveline, engine, transmission, transfer case, axles, brakes — all of that hardware comes from the Colorado ZR2,” said GM Defense Chief Engineer Mark Dickens. “Somebody could walk into a Chevy dealership and purchase those parts.”

Per the Army’s specifications, the ISV seats nine soldiers: two in the front, three in the second row, two rear-facing seats in a third row, and two outward-facing seats in a fourth row. Gear is stowed between the third and fourth rows, strapped to webbing that acts as the roof over the roll cage cabin, or slung from the roll cage itself.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

The ISV on display at the 2019 SEMA Show (Photo from GMAuthority.com)

In addition to the Army contract, GM Defense President David Albritton told Detroit Free Press that, “[The ISV] platform can be used for international sales to other militaries, other government agencies like Border Patrol, the Marine Corps, Air Force and Special Forces,” since future variants, “would be a totally different design.”

The ISV follows a trend that the military is setting of purchasing readily-available commercial technology for tactical use. On June 5, 2020, Polaris was awarded a 9M contract to supply USSOCOM with its MRZR Alpha Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle. The LT-ATV is a redesigned Polaris RZR that has been in use with the Army’s light infantry units like the 82nd Airborne Division and 10th Mountain Division.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

10th Mountain LT-ATVs (left) alongside a Humvee and an LMTV flanked by 2 M-ATVs

(Photo by author)

Articles

That time a Navy F-14 accidentally-on-purpose shot down an Air Force F-4 during an exercise

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Hint: U.S. Navy pilots aren’t supposed to do this to U.S. Air Force pilots. (Photo: Public Domain)


There are a couple things that everyone going into a military exercise absolutely has to get right. First, get good training and look for ways to improve both personal and unit performance. Second, and perhaps more importantly, don’t really shoot anyone.

Guess which thing Navy Lt. (j.g.) Timothy Dorsey, an F-14 pilot, messed up while shadowing an Air Force RF-4C Phantom over the Mediterranean on Sep. 22, 1987?

Dorsey and his radar intercept officer, Lt. Cmdr. Edmund Holland, were taking part in an exercise testing the defenses of the Navy carrier USS Saratoga against enemy attacks. The Air Force had provided a jet and aircrew, Capt. Michael Ross and 1st Lt. Randy Sprouse, to act as the opposing force.

Ross took off from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and began searching for the carrier. The unarmed jet would need to get within visual distance of the Saratoga and read off its hull number to count a “kill” against it in the exercise.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
The RF-4C Phantom was a reconnaissance plane and typically carried only cameras. (Photo: US Air Force)

The exercise orders called for Dorsey and another F-14 to be unarmed as well, but both Navy jets were actually carrying live missiles. The Navy pilots would have to simulate an attack on the opposing force jet to win.

The Air Force crew faced trouble early on when its equipment for hunting the Navy carrier and its fleet electronically malfunctioned. Ross and Sprouse began conducting a visual search instead. The Navy jets got lucky early when the combat controllers sent them after a radio contact that turned out to be the RF-4C refueling from an Illinois Air National Guard KC-135 tanker.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
A Navy F-14 prepares to link up with a tanker for fuel. (Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael D. Gaddis)

Dorsey’s flight joined up on the tanker and picked up fuel. Ross and Sprouse flew away first and returned to searching for the carrier. Dorsey and Holland, obviously believing that they had spotted their quarry, pursued the Phantom.

The Air Force jet found the carrier, but also knew that a Navy jet was on its tail. Sprouse, the backseater on the Phantom, alerted Ross to the Navy presence.

“There`s a Navy F-14 sitting on our left wing at about 8 o’clock,” Sprouse said.

“Okay, he’s a good guy,” Ross said.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
The USS Saratoga’s hull number was 60. There, now no one has to be shot down to get it. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Meanwhile, Dorsey was tracking the Air Force jet’s progress toward the carrier. When the RF-4C got to about 15 miles from the Saratoga, Ross initiated a diving turn at the carrier, simulating the start of an attack run. Dorsey called out the threat to Holland and they alerted the Saratoga.

So far, everything is good. The Air Force is simulating an attack on the carrier, the Navy is simulating the protocol for attacking a threat to the carrier.

The Saratoga responded, “Red and free on your contact.” And that was where everything got messy. Dorsey, relatively new to the Saratoga and with only a couple hundred hours of flight time under his belt, was under the impression that “red and free” was a command to fire that was only used in real-world, “Shoot that guy right now!” situations.

Still, he hesitated and asked for guidance.

“Jesus, do they want me to shoot this guy?” he asked.

The phrase, “red and free,” was commonly used around the Saratoga in exercises. Holland, thinking that Dorsey still understood that everything was taking place within the limits of the exercise, not an actual fight, responded with, “Yes. Shoot!”

Dorsey armed one sidewinder and attempted to fire, but the missile failed. So, he fired another and this one slammed into the back of the recently-fueled Air Force jet.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Again: These aren’t meant for friendly jets. (Photo: Public Domain)

Holland later said of that moment, “I heard a ‘whish’ sound from the right side of the aircraft, and I looked out and I said, ‘What was that?’ I saw the front end of an F-4 and the back end was in flames. I said, ‘You shot him down!’ and I was absolutely amazed.”

It was Holland’s shock and sudden questions that alerted Dorsey to the fact that he had done something very wrong.

Ross and Sprouse, meanwhile, we’re going through their own sudden crisis. They mistakenly believed that they had collided with the F-14 that was tailing them. The RF-4C was shaking violently and parts of it were on fire.

Ross gave the order to eject.

“I’m gone,” Sprouse said as he pulled the ejection handle. Both airmen got clear of the dying jet and Holland radioed for an at-sea rescue.

“Mayday! Mayday! Got a kill on a Fox 4!”

For obvious reasons, Navy commanders immediately started asking what had happened. Ross and Sprouse were fished out of the water and questioned by Navy lawyers. They both gave full statements before the commander of the Saratoga, Navy Capt. David Frost, told them what really happened and apologized. (Probably something like, “oh, by the way, we shot you down. Sorry. Okay, who’s up for some great Navy chow?”)

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Probably some awkward dinner conversation on the Saratoga that night. Photo: US Navy

Sprouse and Ross received medical attention, Navy uniforms, and a swag bag. They were given the best dinner on the ship and good spots to sleep until they could be sent back to the Air Force.

Dorsey was grounded but allowed to stay in the Navy. He made it to the rank of captain in the reserves as an intelligence officer and then an inspector general. In 2012, he was recommended for promotion to admiral. When Congress heard about his 1987 incident, they declined to vote on his promotion, effectively rejecting it.

Many suspect that Dorsey wouldn’t have been allowed to stay in the Navy if it weren’t for the fact that his father was James Dorsey, a prominent figure in the Naval aviation community. In 1987, Dorsey was the captain of the USS America, a supercarrier.

Ross’s injuries from the shootdown appeared slight when he was rescued from the ocean, but grew steadily worse as he aged. He received 32 surgeries and became fully disabled.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Meet US Army team that helped withdraw from Syria

The 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC), the Syrian Logistics Cell (SLC), located in Erbil, Iraq, is composed of a small team of soldiers who pack a big punch when it comes to supporting the warfighters in Syria.

The 103rd ESC SLC team was directly involved in the recent withdrawal from Syria.

“The SLC was heavily involved in the materiel retrograde from Syria,” Sgt. Maj. Jason Palsma, SLC noncommissioned officer in charge, 103rd ESC, said. “Our team assisted in the deliberate withdrawal of US forces from several bases in Syria while simultaneously continuing the defeat of ISIS.”


‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Spc. Desmond Smith guides a forklift in loading a pallet of water at the Syrian Logistics Cell operations center, Erbil, Iraq, December 3, 2019.

(US Army Reserve/Spc. Dakota Vanidestine)

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Spc. Desmond Smith guides a forklift with water pallets to storage at the Syrian Logistics Cell operations center, Erbil, Iraq, November 30, 2019.

(US Army Reserve photo by Spc. Dakota Vanidestine)

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Staff Sgt. Victor Cardona loads a 120 mm motor grader onto a trailer at the Syrian Logistics Cell operations center, Erbil, Iraq, December 3, 2019.

(US Army Reserve photo by Spc. Dakota Vanidestine)

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

A forklift is used to offload a pallet of water from the delivery truck at the Syrian Logistics Cell operations center, Erbil, Iraq, November 30, 2019.

(US Army Reserve photo by Spc. Dakota Vanidestine)

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Spc. Desmond Smith guides a forklift with water pallets to storage at the Syrian Logistics Cell operations center, Erbil, Iraq, November 30, 2019.

(US Army Reserve photo by Spc. Dakota Vanidestine)

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Trucks move supplies to Syria at the Syrian Logistics Cell operations center, Erbil, Iraq, November 29, 2019.

(US Army Reserve photo by Spc. Dakota Vanidestine)

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Soldiers from the Syrian Logistics Cell, 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, in Erbil, Iraq, December 1, 2019.

(US Army Reserve photo by Spc. Dakota Vanidestine)

The Syrian Logistics Cell may be small in numbers but their support will continue making a huge difference in the fight against ISIS.

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

Articles

11 Photos That Show That The ‘Little Bird’ Has A Big Mission

Although the H-6 was initially fielded by the U.S. Army in the early ’60s, it wasn’t until the failed “Eagle Claw” mission in 1980 that the service started getting serious about supporting special operations with helicopters.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
An MH-6 on short final with Rangers on the skids ready for action. (Photo: U.S. Army)


Since that time “Little Birds” have been used in crucial special operations missions across the globe from Panama to Somolia to Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
(Photo: U.S. Army)

Little Birds are operated by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), the “Night Stalkers”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Rangers prepare to dismount from a Little Bird during a training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Night Stalkers operate a variety of helicopter models including the Chinook and Blackhawk, all modified for special operations missions.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
MH-6 lands near a parked MH-47 Chinook. (Note Chinook’s refueling probe for long-range missions.) (Photo: U.S. Army)

Little Birds come in two basic variants — troop transport and attack. The attack version — the AH-6 — is armed with two M134 miniguns, two M260 7-shot Hydra 70 rocket pods. Alternately, the AH-6 can be armed with Hellfire anti-tank missiles, air-to-air Stingers, Mk-19 40 mm automatic grenade launchers, or .50 caliber machine guns.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Little Bird static display showing rocket pods and other weapons hard points. (Photo: U.S. Army)

In September 1987, Night Stalkers participated in Operation Prime Chance, engaging and neutralizing an Iranian ship that was being used for mine laying. Little Birds attacked the threat while using aviator night vision goggles and forward-looking infrared devices over water, the first successful night combat engagement under these conditions.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Pilot using NVGs. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The Little Bird can carry up to six troops, three on each side, but usually they limit the number to two per side.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Little Bird flares during an insertion demo conducted at a NASCAR event in Kansas. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Little Bird pilots get specialized training in close quarters flying and night ops and those skills are heavily leveraged once they get to the Night Stalkers.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Trainer version of the Little Bird. (Photo: U.S. Army)

When not at war Little Bird pilots train as intensely as the special operators they carry.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
House takedown exercise with a section of Little Birds. (Photo: U.S. Army)

After all, they set themselves to a very high standard: According to it’s mission statement the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) is constantly ready to arrive time-on-target plus or minus 30 seconds.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

And here’s the last thing an insurgent might see . . .

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Little Bird on final approach with Rangers at the ready. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Articles

New legislation could provide mental health care to combat veterans

Recent investigations show that the Department of Defense has issued thousands of other-than-honorable discharges to veterans with mental health and behavioral health diagnoses.


U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and seven other senators introduced legislation to change that.

On April 3, Murphy, veterans, and advocates for veterans held a press conference in Connecticut and called upon Congress to take action.

“I can’t stand the idea of a veteran risking her or his life for this country, suffering the wounds of battle, and then being kicked to the curb as a result of those wounds,” Murphy said. “But that is exactly what has happened to tens of thousands of men and women who have fought and bled for our country.”

“This is common sense,” Murphy added. “We are breaking our promise to those who served.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
In 2014, 6 of the 20 veterans per day committing suicide were users of VA services.

Murphy said there is also a stigma that comes with an other-than-honorable discharge that is a heavy burden for veterans to live with. “A lot of these so-called offenses are very minor,” Murphy said.

The legislation Murphy helped introduce would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mental health and behavioral health services to diagnosed former combat veterans who have been other-than-honorably discharged. The bill would also ensure that veterans receive a decision in a timely manner and requires the VA to justify to Congress any denial of benefits that they issue to a veteran.

Up until recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Murphy said, denied it had the legal authority to provide any care to former combat veterans who received OTH or Bad Paper discharges.

The VA has reversed course on the matter, Murphy said, adding that now it’s time for Congress to act to ensure mental health and behavioral health services are provided to these veterans.

Since January 2009, the Army has “separated” at least 22,000 soldiers for misconduct after they came back from Iraq and Afghanistan, said Murphy.

“These soldiers who fought for our country suffered serious mental health problems or traumatic brain injury as a cost of their service. And we turned our back on them,” Murphy said, adding that they also return home from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

But instead of being directed to the care and treatment they need, they’re being given other-than-honorable discharges or so-called “bad paper discharges,” disqualifying them from VA care, especially the mental and behavioral health services many of them desperately need, said the senator.

Murphy’s strong support for the bill was echoed by Blumenthal, who is a sponsor but was not at Monday’s press conference.

“This bill will make crystal clear that all combat veterans should have access to the full array of mental and behavioral health care they need and deserve,” Blumenthal said. “We cannot wait for a crisis to provide essential mental health to veterans suffering from the terrible invisible wounds of war.”

He said 20 veterans per day are lost to suicide.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Chiefs and chief selects do pushups for the 22Kill Challenge aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). 22Kill is a veterans’ advocacy group that brings awareness to the daily veterans’ suicide rate. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tristan Lotz/Released)

One of those in attendance at the press conference Monday was Conley Monk, a Vietnam veteran from New Haven who developed PTSD as a result of his military service.

In 2014, Monk and four other plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit because they were issued OTH discharges. They won the suit, which was brought on their behalf by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School and the Pentagon agreed to upgrade their discharges to honorable.

Another veteran to speak Monday was was Tom Burke, president of the Yale Student Veterans Council and a U.S. Marine corps veteran.

In 2009, Burke was a Marine infantryman in Afghanistan.

It was when he was in the Helmand Province that he witnessed deaths of many young children who were killed by an unexploded rocket-propelled grenade. One of Burke’s responsibilities was to cart away the dismembered bodies.

“I began smoking hash,” Burke said, adding that in a matter of weeks he was charged for misconduct for his drug use and was told he would be kicked out of the Marines.

Burke said he “tried to commit suicide a few times.”

He said he was later locked in a psychiatric hospital and subsequently given an OTH discharge later in 2009.

In 2014, Burke said he applied for an honorable discharge, but was denied.

Burke tells his story often, these days, not to elicit empathy for his own case, but to try and draw attention to the bigger issue of the thousands like him who are being denied benefits.

“Veterans are dying,” Burke said. “These aren’t men and women who are trying to take advantage of the system.”

Margaret Middleton, executive director of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center, said veterans need relief.

Under the current system, a veteran trying to get an honorable discharge often “requires the expertise and cost of an attorney and lengthy research,” something that veterans returning from combat shouldn’t be forced to endure, she said.

Murphy concluded: “Our veterans made a commitment to our country when they signed up. I introduced this legislation to make sure that the VA keeps its commitment to help veterans with mental and behavioral health issues. I won’t stop fighting until they get the care and benefits they deserve.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

The man who set himself on fire to stop Russian tanks

In 1969, during the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, a student protester set himself on fire and triggered mass protests across the country, slowing Russian consolidation and setting off a slow burn that would eventually consume the occupying forces.


‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Soviet tanks roll into Czechoslovakia in 1968.

(U.S. National Archives)

Czechoslovakia was firmly democratic for decades before World War II, but German forces partially occupied it during World War II and, in 1948, it was conquered by the Soviets. The Communists had supporters in the working class and a stranglehold of government leadership, but students and academics kept fomenting the seeds of unrest.

Even when most of the Soviet-aligned countries went through soul searching in 1953 after the death of Stalin, Czechoslovakia basically just marched on. But in the 1960s, leadership changes and an economic slowdown led to a series of reforms that softened the worst repressions of the communist regime.

The leader, Antonin Novotny, was eventually ousted in 1968 and replaced by Alexander Dubcek who then ended censorship, encouraging reform and the debate of government policies. By April, 1968, the government released an official plan for further reforms. The Soviet government was not into this, obviously.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Czechoslovaks carry a national flag past a burning soviet tank in Prague.

(CIA.gov)

The biggest problem for the Soviets was the lack of censorship. They were worried that ideas debated in Czechoslovakia would trigger revolutions across the Soviet Bloc. So, in August, 1968, they announced a series of war games and then used the assembled forces to invade Czechoslovakia instead. The tanks crossed the line on August 20, and the capital was captured by the following day.

Initially, the citizens of Prague and the rest of Czechoslovakia were angry and energized, but they eventually lost their drive. But one 20-year-old student, Jan Palach, wanted to revitalize the resistance. And so he penned a note calling for an end to censorship, the cessation of a Soviet propaganda newspaper, and new debates. If the demands weren’t met, he said, a series of students would burn themselves to death. He signed the note “Torch Number One.”

The Soviet leadership, of course, ignored it, but on Jan. 19, 1969, he marched up the stairs at the National Museum in central Prague, poured gasoline over his body, and lit his match.

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

Jan Palach

Bystanders quickly put him out, but he had already suffered burns over 85 percent of his body. He died within days. He was not the first man to burn himself in protest of the Soviet invasion, but his death was widely reported while earlier protests had been successfully suppressed by the Soviets.

Other students began a hunger strike at the location of Palach’s death, and student leaders were able to force the Soviets to hold a large funeral for Palach. Over 40,000 mourners marched past his coffin.

While the Soviets were able to claw back power through deportations and police actions, the whispers of Palach’s sacrifice continued for a generation.

On the 20th anniversary of his protest, mass demonstrations broke out once again in Czechoslovakia, and the weakened Soviet Union could not contain them. By February, 1990, the Soviets were marching out of the country, a process which was completed amicably in June, 1991.

Palach’s protest had taken decades to finally work, but in the end, Czechoslovakia was freed of the tanks Palach and others resented so much.

Articles

13 lessons every new sailor learns the hard way

Being a “NUB” or “boot” in the Navy usually involves a fair amount of pride swallowing and large doses of embarrassment. Old salts get their jollies by giving their fresh-caught shipmates impossible or fallacious tasks. Here are 13 fool’s errands unsuspecting sailors receive on their way toward becoming fleet players:


1. “Go ask Boats for a boatswain’s punch.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio/USN

‘Boats’ is short for boatswain’s mate. If you ask him for a punch, Boats will gladly oblige.

2. “Go to HAZMAT and get me some bulkhead remover.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions

A bulkhead is a ship’s wall, and it would take a lot of elbow grease to remove it.

3. “Go down to the ship’s store and get me some batteries for the sound-powered phone.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Sound-powered phones are  . . . wait for it . . . power by sound. No batteries required.

4. “Go get me the keys to the airplane.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rosa A. Arzola/USN

Silly newbie, Navy planes don’t have keys. Starting a plane involves flicking switches and moving throttles.

5. “Go bring me a bucket of prop wash.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James R. Evans/USN

There’s practically a chemical or special product for every job, so this doesn’t seem like an odd request until you realize that prop wash is the water turbulence created by the ship’s propeller.

6. “Go get 20 feet of chow line.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Anthony N. Hilkowski/US Navy

This one also sounds reasonable. After all, every piece of rope in the Navy has a name — mooring line, heaving line, tie line, etc. Chow line seems logical until you figure out it’s the line coming out of the galley.

7. “Go get me 10 feet of shoreline.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A variation of the task above. You want shoreline? Wait for liberty call.

8. “Go ask the yeoman for an ‘ID-10-T’ chit.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Justin R. Pacheco/USN

Write it down and see what you get. Yeomen describe newbies asking for this chit like Christmas at sea — a gift filled with laughter (and pointing).

9. “Go get me some portable pad eyes.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: U.S. Navy

Pad eyes are permanent fixtures on the flight deck that aircraft tie downs attach to. They’re anything but portable.

10. “Go turn on the cooling water for the hand rails.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Will Tyndall/USN

Searching for this imaginary valve can take all day. The bulkheads and overhead have miles of pipes and wiring. An unsuspecting sailor can go from one end of the ship to the other without success. Hilarity ensues.

11. “Go ask the supply chief for a can of A1R or A.I.R.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: YouTube

Smart newbies will offer up an empty can, but history shows there aren’t that many smart newbies.

12. “Go get some hangers and tin foil, we need to calibrate the radar.”

Dress the newbie in tin foil with a matching hat and gloves and ask him or her to move slowly to get a good signal. Make sure you bring a camera; the tin man makes for great pictures.

13. “Go practice some touch and goes in the ship’s flight simulator.”

‘The last great tank battle’ was a slugfest of epic proportions
Photo: Department of Defense

This one is usually reserved for new aviators. (There are no flight simulators on the ship.)

OR: See what life is like on a U.S. Navy Carrier: