The making of 'Range 15' is even crazier than 'Range 15' - We Are The Mighty
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The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

“Nothing’s off limits.”


That’s a quote from one of the actors in Range 15, but it’s also the way the creators of the film live their lives.

And before you start getting all teary-eyed over it, know that it’s also the attitude they bring to their dark, effed up, and glorious comedic projects.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

For people who can relate to military humor, it doesn’t get much better than the veteran-produced zombie flick “Range 15”…until you find out they also made a behind-the-scenes documentary.

For those who haven’t seen “Range 15” (it’s for sale as a digital download at Amazon.com), it’s about some military buddies who have a wild party and find themselves tossed into the drunk tank. They wake up to the realization that the zombie apocalypse is in full swing.

Think of what follows as a threesome between “Team America,” “Zombieland,” and “The Hangover.”

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

According to a report by the Military Times, the documentary made its debut on June 30, 2017. The video, dubbed Not a War Story, details the making of the movie, which was filmed in 13 days — a balls crazy pace. The 80 vets who made the film, some of them amputees, had very little (if any) experience shooting feature films, but they didn’t let that stop them.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

In the trailer, William Shatner, who plays an attorney in the film, strikes a very poignant tone as he recognizes the sacrifices many of these veterans have made. “You’re the fellows who altered your life to do the job,” he says.

Oh, and good news for Range 15 fans: Military Times mentioned that a sequel is reportedly in the works.

In the meantime, check out the trailer for Not a War Story and check out the film on iTunes Nov. 7, 2017.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why Gerard Butler rescued popcorn with a Navy submarine

Scottish actor Gerard Butler stopped by the Pentagon in October 2018 to promote his upcoming movie “Hunter Killer” by speaking to the press about how he worked with the Navy to research his role as an submarine captain.

Among the details he revealed about his time aboard the nuclear-powered attack sub USS Houston at Pearl Harbor was a peculiar aspect of how a crew reacts after someone falls overboard.

“I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but when you are doing a man overboard, rather than putting a man overboard, they throw a bag of popcorn into the water,” Butler told reporters.


“Then you spend the next — you have four minutes, because if you are in cold water, he’s not going to make it, and neither is the popcorn — because, actually, the bag breaks open,” he added. “So you spend the next four minutes maneuvering an 8,000-ton sub to try and get next to the popcorn so somebody can jump in and rescue it.”

There’s more than a kernel of truth to Butler’s anecdote.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Sailors stand watch on the conning tower of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee as it returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Feb. 6, 2013.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class James Kimber)

While it isn’t standard, most US submarines do use popcorn for man-overboard drills, Cmdr. Sarah Self-Kyler, a public-affairs officer for the Navy’s Atlantic submarine forces, told Business Insider on Oct. 16, 2018.

The popcorn and the bag it comes in are biodegradable. The bag, once the popcorn is popped, is also about the size of the human head and equally hard to see when its bobbing in the ocean, Self-Kyler added. It will also float for a short period, usually less than 10 minutes, and disappear, adding time pressure to the exercise.

Sometimes crewmen will tape two bags together, but once the popcorn is away, Self-Kyler said, it “most accurately represents what a man overboard looks like from a submarine.”

Though different subs will handle things differently, such drills are typically only done while entering or exiting port, as that is generally the only time subs are surfaced. Many crew members have to be involved to carry it out.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Sailors point to “Oscar,” a training dummy, during a man-overboard drill aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence, June 22, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Jessica O. Blackwell)

The popcorn, usually pulled from the sub’s general inventory, is popped in a microwave then sent to the top of the conning tower, where it gets thrown overboard.

At that point, Self-Kyler said, sailors on watch will shout that a man has fallen overboard and crew members in the control room will mark its location.

It then becomes the job of navigators and sub drivers on duty to steer the boat back to the location where the popcorn went overboard, “work[ing] together to pinpoint that location.”

Above deck, watch-standers have to keep their eyes on and fingers pointed at the popcorn the whole time, so as to stay focused on the very small object as the submarine manuevers to come back alongside it.

“Every watch-stander is required to be qualified on this kind of operation,” Self-Kyler said. They “have to show the captain they can drive the ship back to that bag of popcorn.”

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

A sailor throws “Oscar,” a man-overboard training dummy, off the port side of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan during a man-overboard drill, Jan. 14, 2017.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford)

In the event of a real man-overboard, the submarine would also send out an alert to all mariners in the area, telling them via a radio call to keep an eye out for a sailor in the water and relaying their last known position. The sub’s crew would also be mustered for a roll call to identify the missing crewman.

Bags of popcorn aren’t the only things submariners use for man-overboard exercises. They can also use cardboard boxes, Self-Kyler said, though whatever they use also has to be biodegradable. There are also specialized floats or mannequins that sailors use for search-and-rescue drills.

Navy ships do not use popcorn in their man-overboard drills, Jim DeAngio, a spokesman for the Navy’s Atlantic surface forces command, said in an email.

“They primarily use what is referred to as a ‘smoke float,’ a canister that, when dropped into salt water, activates itself,” De Angio added. “It floats and smokes and provides an object to target for rescue.”

A sailor going overboard is not a common occurrence, but it does happen.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

A Navy search-and-rescue swimmer rescues “Oscar” and brings him back to the guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale, July 15, 2016.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox)

“In a man overboard situation, obviously, we want to recover the sailor as quickly and efficiently as possible,” DeAngio said.

A decade ago, the Navy introduced a Man Over Board Indicator for the float coats sailors working on deck are required to wear. A transmitter in the coat, a receiver in the ship’s pilot house, and a directional finder on a rigid-hull inflatable boat deployed to pick up the sailor were to be used in conjunction to make the rescue process a matter of minutes.

Aircraft carriers, which have open flight decks and carry more crew members than other Navy ships, have nets along the deck to catch sailors before they hit the water. They don’t always work though.

Peter von Szilassy, an airman on the USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2002, was blown by a jet blast in a bomb-disposal chute, one of the only areas without a safety net. He fell 90 feet into the Persian Gulf and was sucked toward the ship’s 66,000-pound propeller. But he was able to swim free and was picked up with little more than bruises.

Navy search-and-rescue swimmers go through rigorous training to be able to pluck sailors out of the water within minutes — a life-or-death time limit when the sea is freezing.

“When the three whistle blasts are broadcasted you have to be out there. It’s not about you. It’s about the person in the water,” Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Adam Tiscareno said in 2018.

“Whoever is out there, it’s their worst day. They don’t know if they’ll make it back.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army to kill marksmanship shortcut that made soldiers less deadly

The U.S. Army’s new strategy to improve marksmanship will eliminate a shortcut that units use for individual weapon qualification — a long-standing practice that has eroded lethality over the years, infantry officials said.

Army officials at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia are awaiting final approval of the new marksmanship manual that will prepare the Army for a new, and much more challenging, qualification test.

The new course of fire — which forces soldiers to make faster decisions while firing from new positions — will drastically update the current, Cold War-era rifle qualification course. That course required soldiers to engage a series of pop-up targets at ranges out to 300 meters.


The stricter qualification standards will also do away with the practice of using the Alternate Course of Fire, or Alt. C, to satisfy the annual qualification requirement, Sgt. 1st Class John Rowland, marksmanship program director at Benning’s Infantry School, told Military.com.

Alt. C is an Army-approved 25-meter course in which soldiers shoot at targets scaled down in size to represent actual target sizes out to 300 meters. At that short range, however, the trajectory of the 5.56mm bullet is extremely flat and unaffected by wind, making it easier to score hits, experts say.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Pvt. Bobby Daniels of D Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry Regiment, makes an adjustment to his M-4 rifle during combat familiarization training at Fort Benning.

“It is an approved qualification that largely has been abused, based off of lack of training management and proper planning. And it has come at the cost of lethality,” Rowland said. “That is going to be very impactful for units because they are very used to not being very proactive and not being able to fall back on, ‘well we’ll just do Alt. C.’ And that is no longer going to be the case.”

Army training officials at Benning have been spent the last two years validating the training strategy and course of fire for a new marksmanship qualification standard that is designed to better prepare soldiers for the current operational environment, according to Melody Venable, training and doctrine officer for the Infantry School.

“We have visited various units across the Army, and we have tested and validated parts of it as needed,” Venable said.

Soldiers who have shot the new course “are doing very well at it,” Venable said.

“They appreciate the training that the training strategy provides, and they enjoy the course of fire because it’s more realistic,” she said.

The new qualification course is designed to use the current marksmanship ranges across the Army.

“It’s still 40 targets; it’s still 40 bullets,” Rowland said. “It’s the same targets that people have been shooting at for years.”

But the new course adds the standing position to engage targets on two occasions during the course in addition to the kneeling and prone positions. The course requires soldiers to change magazines on their own and seek cover on their own while they engage multiple targets at the same time, Rowland said. The current course consists mainly of one-at-a-time target exposures.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Sgt. Nicholas Irving, of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, takes aim during the “Defensive Shoot” event at Wagner Range on Fort Benning.

The next milestone in the effort will come when Brig. Gen. David Hodne, commandant of the Infantry School at Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence, signs the new manual that will guide the marksmanship effort so it can be published and sent out to the active force, National Guard and Reserve, Venable said.

Once that happens, leaders throughout the Army will have time to provide feedback on any challenges they might face in putting the new qualification strategy into action.

“Units have 12 months from the time of publication to provide the Infantry School and the MCOE with feedback on their issues with implementation of the training strategy or the course of fire,” Venable said, adding the many of the ranges across the Army are likely to require some updating.

“At this time, we are not there with a hardcore implementation date. … We don’t know all the second- and third-order effects that the changes are going to produce.”

But one of the clearest differences of the new qualification standards is that Alt. C is no longer a valid qualification, Rowland.

“That is going to be a huge change for the Army,” he said.

Army units can still use Alt. C to extend their annual qualification rating by six months if a deployment or high operational tempo prevents them from going to a range and qualifying with the new course of fire, Venable said.

“In areas where they don’t have range access — let’s just say they are downrange and they are 250 miles to a primary range — units can use Alt. C because they can’t get a range. However, they have to have a general officer approve the use of Alt. C,” Venable said. “They still have to come back and shoot the [new] course of fire to qualify.”

Using Alt. C extends a soldier’s current rating of marksman, sharpshooter or expert, but it cannot change it, Rowland said.

“If you are marksman and you conduct a validation event [with Alt. C] and you get a perfect score — you are still a marksman; you are not expert,” Rowland said.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Huntsville, Alabama chosen to host US Space Command Headquarters

On January 13, 2021, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and U.S. Senator Richard Shelby announced that Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama was selected as the location for the United States Space Command Headquarters. “I couldn’t be more pleased to learn that Alabama will be the new home to the United States Space Command!” Governor Ivey said.

““This is outstanding news, not only for our state but also for the Air Force,” Shelby said. “This long-awaited decision by the Air Force is a true testament to all that Alabama has to offer. Huntsville is the right pick for a host of reasons – our skilled workforce, proximity to supporting space entities, cost-effectiveness, and quality of life, among other things. I am thrilled that the Air Force has chosen Redstone and look forward to the vast economic impact this will have on Alabama and the benefits this will bring to the Air Force.”

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Redstone Arsenal Gate 9 (U.S. Army)

Space Command was established in 2019 as a unified combatant command under the Department of Defense. The search for its headquarters’ location began in 2020. Potential sites were ranked based on room to grow, opportunity to add infrastructure, community support, cost to the DoD, and ability to support the command’s mission. 24 states initially competed to host the headquarters. In addition to Huntsville, finalist cities included Albuquerque, Bellevue, Cape Canaveral, Colorado Springs, and San Antonio.

The new command is expected to bring at least 1,600 new jobs to the local area, with more expected as its mission grows. Redstone Aresenal is already home to Army Materiel Command, Army Space and Missile Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency/Missile and Space Intelligence Center, and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. The FBI has also taken up residency at Redstone Arsenal as part of a strategic realignment of major assets including its cybersecurity operations. The bureau called Huntsville, “the Silicon Valley of the South.”

Historically, Huntsville has played a major role in America’s space presence since the 1950s. Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team of rocket scientists developed the Saturn V rocket that would take man to the moon in Huntsville. The space shuttle propulsion system was also developed there, and the city still hosts the U.S. Space and Rocket Center with its world-famous Space Camp.

Space Command is currently commanded by Army General James Dickinson and is located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. The command is expected to remain there for at least six years. The decision to move to Huntsville is still pending an environmental impact study. A final decision is expected to be made in spring 2023.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
USSPACECOM’s logo (U.S. Space Command)
MIGHTY CULTURE

How the Vietnam draft actually worked

Winning the lottery has likely never crossed your mind to be anything short of a celebration of newfound riches. Yet, for American men born before 1958, finding your number selected at random on television didn’t generally translate to wealth.

Ever wondered how the Vietnam draft actually worked? We’re combing through the history pages to find out just how birthdates and the Selective Service System mattered throughout the 20th century.


The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Your grandfather, father and I

Coming of age doesn’t come close to holding the same meaning as it did for the nearly 72 million “baby boomers” born into the Vietnam era draft. Requirements for registration varied over the decades, ranging from eligible age ranges beginning at 21 and eventually lowering to age 18.

Uncle Sam had called upon its fighting-age citizens as far back as anyone alive could recall, as both World Wars and the Korean War utilized draftees. The Selective Service Act of 1917 reframed the process, outlawing clauses like purchasing and expanding upon deferments. Military service was something that, voluntary or not, living generations had in common.

Low was high and high was low

When the lottery took effect, men were assigned a number between 1 and 366. (365 days per year plus one to account for leap year birthdays.) In 1969, a September 14birthday was assigned a number 001. Group 001 birthdays would be the first group to be called upon. May 5 birthdays were assigned number 364 or would have been the 364group to be required to report. Even if called upon, screenings for physical limitations, felony convictions or other legal grounds resulted in candidate rejection.

This method was determined to be a “more fair and equitable process” of selecting eligible candidates for service. Local draft boards, who determined eligibility and filled previous quotas for induction, had been criticized for selecting poor or minority classes over-educated or affluent candidates.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Grade “A” American prime candidates

In addition to a selection group, eligible males were also assigned a rating. These classifications were used between 1948 and 1976 and are available to view on the Selective Service System’s website.

1-A- eligible for military service.

1A-O- Conscientious Objector. Several letter assignments are utilized for various circumstances a conscientious objector may fall under.

4-G- Sole surviving son in a family where parent or sibling died as a result of capture or holds POW-MIA status.

3-A- Hardship deferment. Hardship would cause undue hardship upon the family.

Requests for reclassification, deferments, and postponements for educational purposes or hardships required candidates to fill out and submit a form to the Selective Service.

Dodging or just “getting out of dodge”

Options for refusing service during Vietnam varied. Frequently called “draft dodgers” referred to those who not just objected, but literally dodged induction. Not showing up, fleeing to Canada, going AWOL while in service or acts such as burning draft cards were all cards played to avoid Vietnam.

Failing to report held consequences ranging from fines, ineligibility of certain benefits, to imprisonment. In what has widely been viewed as a controversial decision, President Jimmy Carter pardoned hundreds of thousands of “draft dodgers” eliminating the statuses like “deserter” from countless files.

Researching the history of “the draft” in American history dates back to that of the Civil War. While spanning back generations and several wars, the Vietnam era draft is still viewed as the most controversial and widely discussed period in its history.

In case you’re wondering, The Selective Service System’s website still exists, as men are still required to register even today.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s what it’s like to be a military family quarantined in Italy

When the first reports of Coronavirus, COVID-19, made the news in late January for cases outside China, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte assured residents, “The system of prevention put into place by Italy is the most rigorous in Europe.”

But then cases popped up across the country. Ten towns within the regions of Lombardy and Veneto were quarantined, and local lockdowns were put into place, but as a whole, the country was operating as usual.


That all changed on March 9, 2020, when the entirety of Italy was ordered into full quarantine, impacting more than sixty million people across twenty regions.

On March 10, 2020, COVID-19 was responsible for killing 168 people in Italy, the highest death toll in a single day since the outbreak began in the country.

Katie, a travel writer and military spouse currently under mandatory quarantine in Vicenza, agreed to speak candidly to ‘We Are The Mighty’ about what it’s really like to be a military family stationed in Italy right now.

When you first started hearing about Coronavirus were you worried? Did people seem panicked?

I first heard about Coronavirus when it began circulating in the news probably around the same time most of us heard about it. This was when it was mainly affecting areas in China.

To be honest, I wasn’t worried and didn’t pay too much attention to it, because I was ignorant as to how fast and wide it would spread.

I was still traveling during this time, and I didn’t notice anyone seeming panicked or worried, it all seemed like business as usual at airports and tourist sites.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

What has the shift in your life looked like — what was a normal day versus now?

The situation has been developing in a way that has meant the changes to daily life have been incremental, which, in a way, is helpful because everything didn’t change at once.

During the first week, the gyms were closed and that was a big change to my daily life as I had just recently begun a new program to focus on some fitness goals. In the second week, I had a trip to Romania planned, which I had to cancel. The next big change was when the quarantine zones began, and that has had the biggest impact to daily life now that I can only leave the house for necessities.

Normally, I work from home anyway, so I’m fortunate that it’s not dramatically different from a regular day.

How do you think this will impact life over the next 30 days? How will it impact the Italian economy?

Everything has been changing so quickly that I have no idea what will happen in the next 30 days. I certainly hope that some of the restrictions are lifted by then, but it’s hard to know what will be happening tomorrow, let alone next month.

I think it will be tough on the Italian economy and, for that reason, I think it’s very important for us to help mitigate it as much as possible by supporting local businesses here when we can.

One thing I will say is that it has been inspiring to see businesses in the area adapting to the new quarantine restrictions with a resilient and positive attitude. A local winery just began a delivery service since we can no longer drive to them, and tonight I was able to buy dinner and a few bottles of wine which was not only a great treat for me, but a nice way to support them as well.

Are you worried about your military spouse?

Not at all. He is actually away and has been since before the Coronavirus started impacting daily life here in Italy. I’m confident that he is in good hands and busy with his training.

What self-care measures or safety precautions are you taking?

It can be stressful at times keeping up with all the changes, so for self-care, I have been making sure I have something in each day to simply relax, whether that is a face mask, reading, cuddling my dog, or watching a little WWE wrestling (it’s my favorite).

As for safety precautions, my biggest precaution has been to follow the official channels to stay up to date with any changes. Then, I simply follow the guidance given with each update. The precautions are things like washing hands regularly, keeping a distance from other people when in public, and not traveling.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

What else would you like people to know?

The only other thing I’d like people to know is how inspiring it is to see Italian people respond to this in such a community-focused way. Generally speaking, it seems that, although inconvenienced as all of us are, Italian people around me have a focus on doing what’s best for the collective, and it’s heartwarming to see.

MIGHTY TRENDING

What IBM’s Watson is doing in the Army’s motor pool

The Army recently drove tactical trucks with sensors, electronics, and other applications powered by commercially-developed artificial intelligence technology — such as IBM’s Watson — as a way to take new steps in more quickly predicting and identifying mechanical failures of great relevance to combat operations.


Described by participants as a “bake-off,” an Army-industry assessment incorporated attempts to use AI and real-time data analytics for newer, fast-evolving applications of conditioned-based maintenance technology.

Also read: These 6 military vehicles would make awesome Zords

Advanced computer algorithms, enhanced in some instances through machine learning, enable systems, such as Watson, to instantly draw upon vast volumes of historical data as a way to expedite analysis of key mechanical indicators. Real-time analytics, drawing upon documented pools of established data through computer automation, can integrate otherwise disconnected sensors and other onboard vehicle systems.

“We identified some of the challenges in how you harmonize sensor data that is delivered from different solutions. Kevin Aven, partner and co-account lead, Army and Marine Corps, IBM Global Business Services, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
This cargo truck, the M1083A1P2, represents today’s current fleet of medium tactical vehicles. (Photo by U.S. Army)

Watson, for example, can take unstructured information from maintenance manuals, reports, safety materials, vehicle history information, and other vehicle technologies and use AI to analyze data and draw informed conclusions of great significance to military operators, Aven explained.

When created, IBM stated that “more than 100 different techniques are used to analyze natural language, identify sources, find and generate hypotheses, find and score evidence, and merge and rank hypotheses,” according to IBM Systems and Technology.

Related: This is why the Army is replacing the Hummer

Faster diagnostics, of course, enable vehicle operators to anticipate when various failures, such as engine or transmission challenges, may happen in advance of a potentially disruptive battlefield event. Alongside an unmistakable operational benefit, faster conditioned-based maintenance activity also greatly streamlines the logistics train, optimizes repairs, and reduces costs for the Army.

Army wheeled tactical vehicles, which include things like the family of medium tactical vehicles and emerging Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, are moving towards using more automation and AI to gather, organize, and analyze sensor data and key technical indicators from onboard systems.

“We identified Army data challenges, delivered new sensors – and used different approaches – invariably bringing on different ways that data can be delivered to the Army,” Aven added.

Faster computer processing brings substantial advantages to Army vehicles which increasingly rely upon networked electronics, sensors, and C4ISR systems.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Multiple vendors took part in the industry “bake-off” event, which included participation from the Army Research Laboratory (ARL); the ARL is among a number of Army and DoD entities now accelerating development and integration of AI into a wide range of military technologies.

“We know there is going to be unmanned systems for the future, and we want to look at unmanned systems and working with teams of manned systems. This involves AI-enabled machine learning in high priority areas we know are going to be long term as well as near term applications,” Karl Kappra, Chief of the Office of Strategy Mangement for the Army Research Lab, told Warrior Maven in an interview. “We also know we are going to be operating in complex environments, including electromagnetic and cyber areas.”

Technical gains in the area of AI and autonomy are arriving at lightning speed, offering faster, more efficient technical functions across a wide range of platforms. Years ago, the Army began experimenting with “leader-follower” algorithms designed to program an unmanned tactical vehicle to follow a manned vehicle, mirroring its movements.

More: Pentagon will aggressively implement new Electronic Warfare strategy

Autonomous or semi-autonomous navigation, quite naturally, brings a range of combat advantages. A truck able to drive itself can, among other things, free up vehicle operators for other high-priority combat tasks.

AI-enabled CBM can function through a variety of methods; sensor information can be gathered, organized, and then subsequently downloaded or wirelessly transmitted using cloud technology.

IBM’s Watson also drew upon this technology when contributing to an Army Stryker “proof-of-principle” exercise last year wherein the service used cloud computing, AI and real-time analytics to perform Conditioned Based Maintenance functions.

Articles

How the US government tricked itself into buying $1.2M in illegal weapons

To test just how easy it is for cops to get high-tech military equipment, a government agency asked for more than $1.2 million in weapons by pretending to be a fake law enforcement agency — and got it, according to a report published last week.


The Government Accountability Office, the agency tasked with overseeing government abuse, made up a fictitious agency website and address to ask the Department of Defense for more than a million dollars in military equipment.

They received the equipment, which included night-vision goggles, M-16A2 rifles, and pipe bomb equipment, from a military warehouse in less than a week.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
M16 assault rifles. DoD photo by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy

“They never did any verification, like visit our ‘location,’ and most of it was by email,” Zina Merritt, director of the GAO’s defense capabilities and management team, told The Marshall Project. “It was like getting stuff off of eBay.”

After receiving the weapons, the GAO recommended more tightly regulating transfer of military equipment and conducting a risk assessment test in order to prevent real-life fraud.

The DoD agreed to better monitor transfer of equipment by physically visiting the location of the agency and conducting a fraud assessment in 2018, according to the report.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
USAF photo by Samuel King Jr.

But Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, told the Marshall Project that cases of possible fraud should not be used as a knock against the program.

“It suggests only that the US military is one of the world’s largest bureaucracies and as such is going to have some lapses in material control,” he said.

GAO’s investigation into the transfer of military equipment came after public outrage over the equipment carried by Ferguson police during protests over the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, according to TMP.

Articles

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

Story Musgrave has more than 18,000 hours in over 160 aircraft. He is a parachutist with over 800 freefalls. He has graduate degrees in math, computers, chemistry, medicine, physiology, literature and psychology. He has been awarded 20 honorary doctorates. Oh, and he was a part-time trauma surgeon during his 30-year astronaut career.


It all started with his decision to become a United States Marine.

“My horizons started to expand when I went off to Korea in the Marine Corps. As the saying goes, you join the service to see the world. That’s when my horizons began to expand.” – Story Musgrave

Franklin Story Musgrave grew up on a dairy farm in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. From an early age, he showed a remarkable intelligence and physical ability. At age 5, he was building homemade rafts and by age 10, he was driving trucks. By 13, he was fixing trucks. He attended a co-ed prep school which would have prepared him for a comfortable life in the post-World War II era, but instead of finishing high school, he decided to run off and enlist in the Marine Corps.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

“I was an airplane mechanic for the Marines in Korea at the age of 18, and that’s when I got introduced to things that don’t come home. Challenger was not an engineering accident. NASA was told about the problem [of the O-rings in low temperature]. So then the memory turns to solid anger.”Story Musgrave

He eventually did get a GED while serving. Musgrave spent his time in the Corps in Korea as an aviation electrician and instrument technician and later as an aircraft crew chief aboard the USS Wasp. After leaving the Marines, he almost averaged a new degree every year from 1958 until 1964, including his medical doctorate from Columbia University. He would earn another Master’s degree in Chemistry in 1966 and a degree in Literature in 1987 at age 52.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Any hand I’m dealt, I will play to the best of my ability.” – Story Musgrave

Musgrave is also an accomplished pilot, earning FAA ratings for instructor, instrument instructor, glider instructor, and airline transport pilot. He also earned his astronaut wings in 1967.

“Space is a calling of mine, it struck like an epiphany. That occurred when NASA expressed an interest in flying people who were other than military test pilots. And when I was off in the Marine Corps in Korea, I had not graduated from high school, yet and so I could not fly. And so, I was not a military test pilot, but as soon as NASA expressed an interest in flying scientists and people who were not military test pilots, that was an epiphany that just came like a stroke of lightning.” – Story Musgrave

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Musgrave was selected as a scientist-astronaut and then worked on the design and development of the Skylab Program. He was also the backup science-pilot for the first Skylab mission.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

What’s really unique about Musgrave’s astronaut experience is that he flew on all five space shuttles, the dates below are for his first flight in these ships. He flew aboard Challenger twice:

  • Challenger, April 1983
  • Discovery, November 1989
  • Atlantis, November 1991
  • Endeavour, December 1993
  • Columbia, December 1996

Musgrave described the Space Shuttle as “very fragile” in an interview with Time Magazine, calling a “butterfly bolted on a bullet.”

His shuttle missions are extraordinary (among shuttle missions) as well. On board the Challenger‘s maiden voyage, he and Don Peterson conducted the first Space Shuttle Extra-Vehicular Activity (or EVA, a spacewalk, a mission outside the spacecraft) to test new space suits. On his Endeavour flight, he helped repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Still, despite all his accomplishments (this doesn’t even cover most of them), Musgrave’s ribbon rack is one of a true Marine.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

“I’m massively privileged to be part of the space program, and I never forget to say that,” he told Huffington Post in a 2011 interview. He plans to return to space as a tourist.

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‘Vets Versus Hate’ joins anti-Trump protests during the Republican Convention

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Marine vet Alexander McCoy wears a brick wall poncho at a Vets Vs. Hate protest in Public Square in downtown Cleveland. (Photo: Ward Carroll)


CLEVELAND, Ohio — As Republican delegates and party officials wrangle through their strategy to capture the White House inside the Quicken Loans arena here, protesters outside the party’s national convention have plenty to say about presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Among them is a group of military veterans who call themselves “Vets Versus Hate.”

“Vets Versus Hate is a national, non-partisan, grassroots movement of veterans standing up against the rhetoric of bigotry and division that has started to really come to the fore during this election season,” Marine Corps vet Alexander McCoy explained. “We’re not here to oppose any political party; we’re here to say that the kind of language Donald Trump is using is absolutely inconsistent with our values that we swore to uphold when we joined the military.”

McCoy, who served as a guard at the American embassies in Saudi Arabia, Honduras and Germany among other duty stations while in the Marine Corps between 2008 and 2013, explained that the group came to Cleveland to show solidarity “with everyone who lives in America . . . calling upon members of [Trump’s] party that have engaged in similar rhetoric to stop this politics of division.”

But in the same breath McCoy conceded that “they don’t seem to be listening, but we’re going to continue to make our voices heard.”

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Media seemingly outnumber protesters during Vets Versus Hate event in Public Square in downtown Cleveland. (Photo: Ward Carroll)

While McCoy is certainly not the only vet protesting what he sees as the Trump campaign’s divisive style, Republicans here have plenty of support from veterans groups and high-profile former military members who took the stage on the convention’s opening day to underscore the real estate mogul’s support for the military.

“The destructive pattern of putting the interests of other nations ahead of our own will end when Donald Trump is president,” said former military intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn. “From this day forward, we must stand tougher and stronger together, with an unrelenting goal to not draw red lines and then retreat and to never be satisfied with reckless rhetoric from an Obama clone like Hillary Clinton.”

But on the streets among the protesters it’s a different story.

Army vet Chris Abshire, an Ohio native who deployed to Afghanistan during his 4 years as a soldier, joined Vets Versus Hate to make the public aware that other people are affected by war, not just soldiers.

“The Afghan people that I interacted with on a daily basis are forgotten about, and politicians who spew hatred toward them and say, ‘We’re going to bomb ISIS back into the Stone Age and steal their oil’ forget that that’s not even their oil,” Abshire said just before joining a circle of protesters forming a human wall in the center of Public Square here, several blocks away from Quicken Loans Arena where the RNC is being held. “That belongs to the Iraqi people, who have been victimized for years now. And I want to stand up against that.”

“Ultimately what we need to make clear to American voters is that [veterans] will not allow themselves to be used . . . as political props,” McCoy said.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Police from several states line the entrance to the RNC complex in Cleveland. (Photo: Ward Carroll)

Earlier Trump advisor on veteran’s issues New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro reportedly told a radio host he thought Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton should be “put in the firing line and shot for treason.”

The Trump campaign has since distanced itself from the former Marine, who’s been with the GOP nominee on several military-related campaign events, saying it doesn’t “agree with his comments,” the NH1 network reported.

“There’s no place in politics for talk about putting your opponents in front of a firing squad,” said Bill Rausch, executive director of Got Your 6, an organization dedicated to veteran civic empowerment. “It goes against the ethos of every person who raised their right hand and swore to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. We’re calling on the campaign to condemn it immediately.”

Some analysts have said the Trump campaign’s tone during the primary season combined with the national mood in the wake of terror attacks across the globe, as well as the tension between law enforcement and the African-American community here at home, have prompted concerns from RNC officials and Cleveland’s leaders that there might be significant unrest during the 4-day convention.

But nearly three-quarters of the way through the event, there have been no major incidents. Protests have been mostly confined to Public Square, and the potential for them to spread beyond that is severely limited by the force protection measures the city put in place ahead of the event — including a temporary perimeter fence erected around the Quicken Loans complex that now separates the zone from the rest of the city — and a massive influx of law enforcement from other states, including police and state troopers from as far away as Florida and California.

 

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An FBI Agent Explains How Russia Spies On Foreign Targets

The FBI announced on Monday that it has identified three individuals believed to have been spying for Russia in New York.


FBI agent Gregory Monaghan has charged the three alleged spies — Evgeny Buryakov, Igor Sporyshev, and Victor Podobnyy — with “willfully and knowingly” conspiring to commit an offense against the US as a member of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).

Buryakov is in custody.

Monaghan, in a sealed complaint, outlines how the three individuals were primarily involved in gathering “economic and other intelligence information.” Within the sealed complaint, Monaghan also details how the SVR goes about carrying out its operations.

According to Monaghan, the SVR operates abroad through three classes on foreign agents.

The first class of agents the SVR deploys are “sent on ‘deep cover’ assignments, meaning they are directing to assume false identities, work seemingly normal jobs, and attempt to conceal all of their connections to Russia.”

The second class of SVR agents sent abroad do not attempt to conceal their connections to Russia. Instead, these agents “often pose as official representatives of the Russian Federation, including in positions as diplomats or trade officials.”

SVR agents in these positions have an added benefit, as they are “typically entitled to diplomatic immunity from prosecution.”

The third category of SVR agents operate abroad under “non-official cover — sometimes referred to as ‘NOCs.'”

NOCs typically pose as private business employees and “typically are subject to less scrutiny by the host government, and, in many cases, are never identified as intelligence agents by the host government.”

All three types of agent operate fully under the control of the SVR. Despite their differing cover stories, each agent has the same mission of gathering “information for Russia about the foreign country” as well as recruiting “intelligence sources that could assist in influencing the policies of public and private institutions in the foreign country.”

Here’s Monaghan’s description from the complaint:

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Also from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2014. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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The US military took these incredible photos this week

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


NAVY

SURABAYA, Indonesia (Aug. 5, 2015) U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Coastal Riverine Squadron (CRS) 3 and Indonesian Kopaska naval special forces members practice patrol formations during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Indonesia 2015.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Scott/USN

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 4, 2015) Sailors prepare for flight operations on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3).

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hunter S. Harwell/USN

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class I. J. Fleming helps stretch out the emergency crash barricade during drills on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class E. T. Miller/USN

MARINE CORPS

Marines and Navy Corpsmen, assigned to various units in the 1st Marine Division, conduct tactical combat casualty care training during the Combat Trauma Management Course, taught by instructors with the 1st Marine Division Navy Education and Training Office, at the Strategic Operations facility, California.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Staff Sgt. Bobbie A. Curtis/USMC

Fire Away!

An M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank crew with Company A, 4th Tank Battalion, fires its 120 mm main gun during the company’s pre-qualification tank gunnery at Range 500, Aug. 4, 2015. The live-fire exercise tests tank crews on their ability to work together on target acquisition and accuracy.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Lance Cpl. Julio McGraw/USMC

COAST GUARD

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Martin, a maritime enforcement specialist at Coast Guard Port Security Unit 313 in Everett, Wash., along with other security division members, set up security zones on the pier alongside the Coast Guard Cutter Henry Blake, while conducting an exercise at Naval Station Everett.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Petty Officer 1st Class Zac Crawford/USCG

Petty Officer 2nd Class David Burns, a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak aviation survival technician, walks across the flight deck of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley during practice hoist operations while at sea.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Petty Officer 3rd Class Dale Arnould/USCG

AIR FORCE

A security forces Airman plunges into the combat water survival test at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Jason Gutierrez/USAF

Lt. Col. Todd Houchins, the 53rd Test Support Squadron commander, signals before the final takeoff of the last QF-4 Aerial Target on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Tech. Sgt. Javier Cruz/USAF

Members of the 23rd Component Maintenance Squadron Propulsion Flight perform maintenance on a TF-34 engine July 27, 2015, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 23rd CMS supplies the 74th and 75th Fighter Squadrons with TF-34s in support of Moody AFB’s A-10C Thunderbolt IIs.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Airman Greg Nash/USAF

ARMY

paratroopers, assigned to 82nd Airborne Division, rig their rucksacks during a Basic Airborne Refresher course at the United States Army Advanced Airborne School, Fort Bragg, N.C.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Maj. Craig Arnold/US Army

An Army pilot, assigned to the 185th Theater Aviation Brigade, watches a MV-22 Osprey land during a personnel recovery training exercise in Southwest Asia.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Photo by: Sgt. Michael Needham/The National Guard

NOW: More awesome military photos

OR: 4 support aircraft you didn’t know had killer combat variants

MIGHTY MOVIES

Viking raiders gave each other these hilarious nicknames

At some point in our military life, most of us pick up a nickname. Most of the time, that nickname is hilarious…to everyone else. How we came by it is a story for the ages. But that seems to be the way it’s been in any armed force for a long time.


After Vikings raiding villages during the Middle Ages, they would then write their exploits in great sagas that detailed their deeds and combat adventures.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
So hard to relate to.

But the problem with that was they didn’t have name tapes on their raiding gear. And if they did, a LOT of them would read “OLAF.” How do you tell the story of what two (or more) Olafs did on a single Viking raid, when none of them have last names?

Nicknames, of course.

People of all times and periods of history have used nicknames, says Paul Peterson,  a who wrote his University of Minnesota doctoral dissertation on Norse nicknames. Even he wrote that the names Norse men had to choose from was small so nicknames became necessary.

Like military nicknames and callsigns, they came from stories of the person in real life or descriptions of the Viking in question – like “Hálfdan the Generous and the Stingy with Food.”

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
I found my new nickname.

But they are a critical piece to the warrior’s story and even influence the plot. For example, “Ǫlvir the Friend of Children” earned his nickname because he wouldn’t catch children on spears, which was a custom of the time.  That could be a critical piece of literary characterization.

Times have definitely changed since “Þórir Leather Neck” earned his nickname. Today, Marines wear that title with pride, but Þórir was being made fun of for the goofy cowhide armor he tried to make.

And then there are the less family-friendly nicknames.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’

Like you and your buddy who nicknamed someone “Fartbox” and made it stick, the Vikings of yesteryear were no more mature. Nicknames included Kolbeinn Butter Penis, Herjólfr Shriveled Testicle, Skagi the Ruler of Sh*t, and Hlif the Castrator of Horses.

The making of ‘Range 15’ is even crazier than ‘Range 15’
Dammit, Hlif.

And then there were the badass nicknames like Ásgeirr the Terror of the Norwegians, Þorfinnr the Splitter of Skulls, and Tjǫrvi the Ridiculer.

The Medievalists tells us that the best source for Viking nicknames comes from the saga that details the colonization of Iceland in the 9th and 10th Centuries.

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