This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes - We Are The Mighty
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This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

U.S. Army doctor Col. William Gorgas paved the way for the construction of the Panama Canal by destroying the mosquitoes that spread disease and doomed an earlier French effort.


When the Panama Canal Commission began construction in 1904, they began with the remains of a failed French canal. The French effort ended in bankruptcy in part because too many workers were hospitalized or died due to infections of malaria and yellow fever. Some estimates put it as high as one-third of all workers.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
The excavation of the Panama Canal was back-breaking work. Photo: H.C. White and Co.

In Colón, an important city near the future Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, about 1 out of every 6 people was infected with malaria at any given time.

When the U.S. bought out the French company and began work, Gorgas was named the chief medical officer of the project. He immediately set his sights on controlling malaria. Gorgas had previously controlled yellow fever and malaria in Havana, Cuba by applying the research of U.S. Army Maj. Walter Reed and British Army Dr. Ronald Ross.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
US Army Maj. Walter Reed. Photo: National Library of Medicine

Ross and Reed had previously proven, during experiments with other doctors, that mosquitoes were the primary way that many diseases spread.

Gorgas drew up a $1 million plan with engineers and other doctors to reduce or eliminate the mosquitoes along the route of construction. Unfortunately, many other decision makers, including President Theodore Roosevelt, supported the “bad air” theory that said the diseases came from the soil and vapors in the air.

Roosevelt was eventually persuaded by his personal physician to back Gorgas’ plan.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
US Army Maj. Gen. William C. Gorgas during his tenure as US Army Surgeon General. Photo: US Army

Once he had the funding and support of the president, Gorgas launched one of the largest sanitation campaigns ever. More than 4,000 people were enlisted into mosquito brigades that deployed across the isthmus.

Workers cut all grass to less than 12 inches high, drained open water where possible or sprayed a film of oil on it where it wasn’t. Custom poisons were spread across areas where larvae grew. Workers cleaned homes regularly and placed screens over windows and doors.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: The Field Museum Library via Wikipedia

Progress was slow, but success did come. The campaign launched in the summer of 1905. In Aug. 1906, new yellow fever cases were at less than half of their historical norm. After Nov. 1906, no more canal workers would die of yellow fever. Malaria never went away completely, but in Jan. 1910 the death rate fell to 1 percent of the historical norm.

Gorgas went on to fight disease in South African gold mines before becoming the Army’s 22nd Surgeon General.

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Watch: Chicago police survive 6-second, point-blank shootout

It all happens in 6 seconds.

Two police officers jump from their car as a man is walking — slowly, almost casually — toward them in an alley. The cops yells at him to stop.

In a flash almost too quick to see, a gun appears. Everything is point-blank. A spray of shots ring out.

Both officers — Julio Garcia, 28, and Mark Nakayama, 25 — are hit. As one cop falls, he returns fire and hits the shooter.

This officer body camera video includes graphic images of two shootings including the shooting of a police officer and bullet wound injuries.

The Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) released gripping body-worn camera footage Wednesday showing an early morning shooting in an alleyway on May 16, 2021. The footage shows just how quickly police have to make split-second decisions in lethal situations. 

Two calls to 911 had reported a man firing shots, and a police-run listening system had located the sound of gunfire in Chicago’s West Douglas Boulevard, about 5 miles west of downtown. Within minutes, officers found a man matching caller descriptions in a nearby alleyway. As two officers followed the man, identified as 45-year-old Bruce Lua, on foot, Garcia and Nakayama pull into the alley ahead of him, cutting him off and leaving him surrounded.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
A screengrab from Chicago Police officer Julio Garcia’s body-worn camera shows the moment Bruce Lua fired, and captures the brass casing of Garcia’s bullet as it ejects from his pistol on May 16, 2021. Lua’s shot hit Garcia in the right hand within a split-second of this image. Screengrab from COPA Vimeo video.

Garcia and Lua are a few feet apart as they fire at each other, almost simultaneously. One frame from Garcia’s camera appears to capture the exact moment that he both fires his weapon and is hit by Lua’s shot. In the frame, a brass casing is ejecting from Garcia’s weapon as he fires, but his hand appears to be deflected by Lua’s bullet.

Following the shooting, Garcia can be seen with blood dripping down his right arm and hand. He then almost immediately switches his weapon from his right hand to his left, covering Lua.

This officer body camera video includes graphic images of three shootings including the shooting of two police officers.

Nakayama — who on his body camera footage can be heard telling other officers he is shot in the leg — falls but appears to fire at least one shot that strikes Lua, causing him to fall as well.

Garcia covers Lua until other officers arrive who disarm and cuff Lua and begin to treat Nakayama.

At one point, a fellow officer can be heard yelling, “Where the f*ck is that ambulance?”

Both officers and Lua were transported to the hospital and released. The CPD Case Incident Report lists the officers’ injuries as “serious,” with Garcia shot once and Nakayama shot twice. Lua is being held on $10 million bail and charged with two counts of attempted murder.


This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Feature image: Screen grab from COPA Vimeo video

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13 Photos Of Santa Hanging With The Troops

Sure, Santa is known for riding a sleigh and giving out presents. But when it’s time for Santa to “git some” he calls on the troops.


Sometimes, Santa needs a few inches of armor …

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Jocelyn A. Ford

…and other times he wants the treads and big guns.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Army Sgt. Quentin Johnson

When he’s flying, he may do the WSO thing.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cheryl Nolan

But he can also go single seat, if required.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Air Force 1st Lt. Stacie Shafran

Santa’s always up for saying howdy to the troops he meets along the way.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Air Force Civilian Beau Wade

 And he’s not beyond helping out.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Navy Petty Officer 1st Class David Mercil

In a pinch, he uses air drops — so much faster than landing at each house.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Ferguson

Helos have all of the space of the sleigh without the inconvenience of feeding the reindeer.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amanda Huntoon

When the chimney is too small for Santa, the Air Force helps him by lowering the presents on a hoist.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch

Claus sometimes heads to the rope course for a confidence builder before the big night.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Menzie

Jolly Old Saint Nick is also pretty good on a ruck march.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: Marine Corps Civilian Kristen Wong

He’s been showing the military love for a long time.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Navy

And the troops are always happy to see him.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Aubree Rundle

Merry Christmas from WATM!

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This Army mother and son duo deployed together

One of the most challenging parts of deployment for many soldiers is being away from friends and family. Soldiers and family members alike often lean on others who share a similar experience during long periods apart.


But one family in the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team is sharing an experience here to make deployment just a little bit easier.

Army Capt. Andrea Wolfe and her son, Army Spc. Kameron Wideman, both assigned to Brigade Support Medical Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, deployed to Kuwait recently from Fort Hood, Texas, for nine months in support of U.S. Army Central.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Army Capt. Andrea Wolfe, senior brigade physician assistant, and her son, Army Spc. Kameron Wideman, a behavioral health technician, both assigned to the Brigade Support Medical Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, are deployed for nine months to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Leah R. Kilpatrick)

Wolfe, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, began her Army career as an enlisted lab technician 24 years ago.

“I had two sisters who were in the Army,” she said. “I followed them in. In a family of nine, we couldn’t afford college, so I had to do something to be able to get some kind of college education, and that was the way.”

As far back as she can remember, she said, she wanted to be a nurse. “It’s just something I wanted to get into to help people,” she added.

Educational Opportunities

That aspiration propelled her through her career, taking advantage of educational opportunities in an effort to make her dream a reality. “I tried to get into the nursing program,” she said. “When I was a lab tech instructor in San Antonio, I put in my packet three times for the nursing program.”

After 17 years of enlisted service and multiple attempts, the frustrated sergeant first class decided to try something different.

Related: 10 brothers who received the Medal of Honor

“So I put in a packet to the [physician assistant] program, got picked up the first time, so I figured that was my calling, and I’ve been doing that since 2009,” she said.

Meanwhile, Wolfe was raising a family. Her son, Kameron Wideman, was born in 1996 at her first duty station in Fort Lewis, Washington. Brought up in a devoted military household, it was no surprise when he enlisted in the Army, Wolfe said.

“I was good in school, but I didn’t take it seriously enough, but the Army was always my fallback plan,” said Wideman, a behavioral health technician. “I initially wanted to join just so I could help people. That’s why I got into the medical field.”

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Army medics unload a mock casualty from a UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopter during a training exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center. | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

What started out as just a potential option won his heart, Wideman said, and now he plans on taking classes and completing the prerequisites to submit a packet for the Army Medical Department Enlisted Commissioning Program, as his mother did.

Meanwhile, Wolfe and Wideman are tending to the physical and mental well-being of the soldiers deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Wolfe said that while her focus is on her job and taking care of the soldiers, the mom in her can’t help but feel some of the same concerns stateside parents feel about having a child deployed.

Important Mission

“As a mother, you still have that deep-down concern of ‘What if something happens to my baby? What am I going to do?'” she said. “But I can’t let him see that, because I need him to focus on his job and what I need him to do, and that’s to provide mental health, which is something that is very much needed in this day and age.”

Wideman said he enjoys having his mother right down the road. “I’m blessed,” he said. “I’m blessed to have her with me.”

Although Wideman has served only two years in the Army, he is no stranger to the deployment experience from a family member’s perspective. His mother, father, and stepfather all serve on active duty.

Also read: Watch Jimmy Fallon and The Rock beautifully reunite a military family

“All three of my parents have deployed at some point,” he said. “It was tough as a little kid saying goodbye to your parents. When you’re little, you tend to have a big imagination. You’re thinking, ‘Oh no! I’m probably never going to see my parents again,’ because you’re little, and you’re in your own head about it.”

But the experience of being the kid who was left behind didn’t prepare him to actually be deployed himself, he said.

“I still didn’t really know what deployment was,” he said. “It was like this random place that my parents were going to for like a year and then coming back. I didn’t really know how to picture where they were.”

Thankfully, he said, he had a source close to home to answer his questions.

“I had the normal questions like, ‘How are we going to be living?” and me being a millennial, ‘Is there going to be Internet?’ and things like that,” he said.

Wolfe and her husband, Army 1st Sgt. Andrew Wolfe, a company first sergeant at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas, help mentor Wideman through his Army career with advice and guidance.

Drive, Motivation, Discipline

Echoes of the same drive, motivation, dedication and discipline that exemplify Wolfe’s career path are evident in Wideman’s.

“We cross paths every now and then,” she said. “I don’t see him all the time. I let Kameron be Kameron. We are passionate about the military. This is our Army. My husband is a first sergeant, and I used to be an E-7 before I switched over, so that leadership is instilled in both of us, and that comes out in the way we raise our kids — the leadership, the discipline, the morale, the ethics, everything. This is the way you’re supposed to live.”

Wolfe said she often finds herself giving the same advice to her soldiers that she gives to her son.

“Get all you can out of the military, because it’s going to get all it can out of you, and that was my insight coming up,” Wolfe said.

“I don’t know how many colleges I went to, because I needed classes. I went to school all the time, and I was just taking advantage of the opportunities that were out there. That’s what I tell all my soldiers coming up in the military. You have to take advantage of it. No one’s going to give it to you. You have to go and get it.”

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The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Jul. 15

It’s the weekly memes call! Hit us up on Facebook if you want to send in your funny military memes.


1. Just wait until pilots start uploading screen captures of them capturing Pokemon at altitude (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
The best Charizards are at 20,000 feet.

2. “How do you keep a private busy for hours? Read below.”

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

SEE ALSO: Afghanistan commanders says new rules allow U.S. troops to go on the offensive

3. It’s a little hard to roll armor sleeves, but we’ll figure it out (via Military Memes).

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Just don’t let the material bunch up around your elbows. It might throw off your famous marksmanship.

4. Yeah, that’s about right (via Ranger Up Military and MMA Apparel)

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Cluster munitions: For when you have a lot of f-cks to give.

5. “Ummm… I submitted that travel voucher.”

(via Maintainer Humor)

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

6. I can no longer see these rhyming pairs without hearing Taylor Swift singing them (via Military Memes).

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

7. The Army is easy as long as you’re always prepared (via Pop Smoke).

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
I mean, setting an alarm would’ve been even easier, but whatever.

8. “I was the valedictorian.”

(via Devil Dog Nation)

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

9. Not sure the guys in the first photo actually look any cooler than the ones in the second (via Air Force Nation).

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
But at least they’re healthier. Those bottom airmen have jaundice or something.

10. One foot in each camp:

(via Sh-t my LPO says)

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Maybe only the sailor’s left side has been promoted.

11. “We’re going to keep rehearsing this all day? Super-awesome-sweet.”

(via Pop Smoke)

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

12. Just wait till he crushes the cans on his head (via Grunt Nation).

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Meanwhile, sergeant major just wants to know where the Marine’s cover is.

13. Pretty sure most recruiters will let you hunt Pokemon in the station if you take the practice ASVAB first (via Do you even Marine, bro?).

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
They’re catching you while you catch Mewtwo.

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These are the 6 things that happened when the commander started Pokemon Go

First, the augmented reality game swept the barracks, and that was all right. But then it started filtering into the command suites and company headquarters.


When Pokemon Go got its claws/talons/hands/vines/paws/etc. into the commander, these 6 things happened:

1. Rare Pokemon delayed formations

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
(Photo illustration: WATM Logan Nye)

Sure, he told all of you to be formed up behind the company headquarters at 1730 for release formation, but that was before he found out a Charizard was hiding in one of the training areas.

Once that happened, he and his driver were jetting through the backwoods trying to get to it before its timer ran out. Meanwhile, the platoon leaders were left trying to find enough rocks for everyone to paint until he got back.

2. There were a lot more ruck marches and company runs

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Only another 3 miles until the next egg hatches. (Photo illustration: WATM Logan Nye)

It starts to seem like your commander has more eggs than the dining facility. And each of those eggs needs a nice, short run before it will hatch. Unfortunately, the runs aren’t so short when he has nine eggs stored up because his dog will no longer run with him.

Then there are the rucks. If some eggs still need love after the run, you can bet everyone is heading out for land nav or a long march.

3. Range operations gained a strange, new dynamic

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
New company policy: If a Tauros appears on a nearby hill, everyone is done firing. (Photo illustration: WATM Logan Nye)

Everyone is used to stopping range ops when wildlife appears, but it’s a whole other thing to have to cease fire because the commander spotted an Eevee and wants to try catching it and naming it “Rainer” to get a Vaporeon.

If you don’t understand that last sentence, it just means you haven’t played Pokemon Go much. If you did understand it and have an Eevee, then try renaming it before it evolves. It usually works.

4. The unit kept getting volunteered for missions to obscure places

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Kangaskhan is not impressed by your cobra blood rituals. (Photo illustration: Logan Nye)

You can get any Pokemon in an egg, but amid all the rumors that trainers can only catch Mr. Mime in Europe and Kangaskhan only wanders the plains of Australia, the commander started volunteering us for every overseas trip he could find.

Sure, he said that we were “voluntold,” but the company orderly room folks overheard first sergeant’s shouting match with him after the battalion planning meeting.

5. The ‘E4 Mafia’ taught him to cheat

Luckily, the local cell of the E4 mafia stepped in to salvage the situation. They hosted a secret meeting in the motor pool and invited the commander. Rumors circulated about the negotiations, but the final result was that the commander stopped his rampant volunteering, and the Joes in S6 borrowed the commander’s phone for a while.

When he got it back, the old Android had been rooted and hacked, and the commander could travel around the world with just his imagination and a GPS spoofing program.

6. Once the E4 Mafia owned the commander, everything got … topsy turvy

Of course, the E4 Mafia got plenty out of the deal. A few connexes fell off the property books and are now home to a shamming lounge and skating rink. The commander moved out of his office and the supply sergeant, a long supporter of the Mafia, is enjoying his new digs with the view.

But it worked out for the rest of us.

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Ken Burns’ epic ‘Vietnam’ documentary tackles war that ‘drove a stake into the heart of America’

When filmmaker Ken Burns and his collaborators previously tackled sprawling documentaries about the Civil War and World War II, their first obligation, he said, was to strip away the “barnacles of sentimentality” attached to both events.


That was never a problem with his latest military epic, “The Vietnam War.”

“No such sentimentality attaches itself to Vietnam,” Burns says. “So there’s a through line to the tragedy and the the essential horror and cruelty of war that is manifested everywhere.”

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
A Viet Cong prisoner is interrogated at the A-109 Special Forces Detachment in Thuong Duc, 25 km west of Da Nang, 1967. Photo under Public Domain,

Covering 18 hours over 10 installments, the film recalls one of the most tragic chapters in American history — a conflict so divisive that, in the words of a soldier quoted in the film, it “drove a stake right into the heart of America.”

Ten years in the making, “The Vietnam War” (Sept. 17, 8pm, PBS) might be Burns’ greatest achievement yet in a career that dates back to 1981. It’s certainly his most complicated and challenging. To get to the heart of it all, he and co-director Lynn Novick relied on a wealth of archival materials, including stunningly revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations.

Most notably, they solicited accounts from more than 80 witnesses from all sides of the war’s vast social divide: soldiers who fought in the war and Americans who opposed it, as well as North and South Vietnamese combatants and civilians. It was what the filmmakers call a “bottom up” approach with a preference toward mostly ordinary people with incredible stories to tell, rather than the usual talking heads. John McCain, John Kerry, and Jane Fonda, for example, are not interviewed.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Members of the military police keep back protesters during their sit-in at the Mall Entrance to the Pentagon. Image from US Army.

Along the way, the filmmakers didn’t encounter as much reticence from their subjects as some might expect. Credit the passage of time.

“We generally found that there was enormous interest in having their story told,” Novick says. “They saw it as a chance to share experiences with the wider world that were very important to them and seminal, informative, and sometimes very, very painful.”

The result is a panoramic, immersive, intensely intimate and often heart-wrenching film experience that captures the human stories embedded within a war that claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans, and more than 3 million Vietnamese military personnel and civilians.

Burns, of course, realizes that many viewers will bring their “personal baggage” and hardened perspectives to the film. But he and Novick insist that they were intent on being as even-handed as possible.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Filmmaker Ken Burns. Wikimedia Commons photo from user David Hume Kennerly.

“There isn’t a single truth in the war,” Burns says. “In fact, there’s many truths that can coexist, and that might help to sort of take the fuel rods out of the division and polarization that was born in Vietnam that continues to this moment.”

The Vietnam conflict had long been on Burns’ cinematic to-do list. But early in his career he felt the wounds were too fresh. And when he finally did approach the subject, he went in thinking he knew a lot about it, only to immediately learn he didn’t.

“It was a daily humiliation,” he recalls. “And the humbleness that you have to assume in order to get through the next 10 years is just that — humbling. So we just kept our heads down and worked to get it right.”

According to Novick, one of the key discoveries they encountered along the way was the continual privately expressed skepticism from government officials that the US could prevail in the conflict, which was carried out under five presidents.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
President Lyndon B. Johnson greets American troops in Vietnam, 1966. Image fro US State Department.

“There never was a time when the people in our government who were pushing the war forward had total confidence that it was winnable,” she says. “You hear this drumbeat of doubt and lack of sureness that it can come out well, that we can accomplish our goals, that it’s sustainable. And that goes back to the earliest days of American involvement in Vietnam. … That was rather revelatory and devastating.”

It’s Burns’ hope that the film can open a national dialogue about Vietnam and get people to talk about it in a “calm way.” After all, so much of what occurred during the war resonates with the present: Images of mass protests across a deeply divided nation; a White House paranoid about leaks and at odds with the media; disagreements over American military strategy in far-off territories; acrimony over what defines patriotism…

“History doesn’t repeat itself. We’re not condemned to repeat what we don’t remember,” he says. “It’s that human nature never changes.”

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Here’s how the Army is assisting Iraqi forces in the fight for Mosul

Although the U.S. mission in Iraq is often referred to as one of advising and assisting, only about 25 percent of the 101st Airborne Division‘s 2nd Brigade Combat Team was doing that during its deployment to Iraq, which concluded in January, the brigade’s commander said at the Pentagon May 3 during a media roundtable discussion of the deployment.


Army Col. Brett Sylvia, the brigade’s commander, told reporters that the other 75 percent of his Task Force Strike soldiers were engaged in route clearance, expedited communications, air and ground coordination, and logistics, which enabled Iraq to build up its forces up and get to their tactical assembly area for the push into eastern Mosul, which began Oct. 17 as part of the effort to liberate Iraq’s second-largest city from the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

When Task Force Strike arrived in Iraq in April 2016, the Air Force was delivering all the precision strike capability to the Iraqis fighting ISIS, Sylvia said. Over the course of the deployment, Task Force Strike soldiers augmented much of that strike capability with their own artillery and unmanned aerial vehicle assets. About 6,000 artillery rounds were fired, he added.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Army Col. Brett Sylvia, commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, conducts a key leader engagement with Iraqi forces on advancements into Mosul at Tactical Assembly Area Filfayl, Iraq, Nov. 26, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)

Sylvia said he was pleased with the authorities the U.S. commanders on the ground were given to call for fire to enable the Iraqi ground forces to move forward. In March 2016, the month before the task force arrived in Iraq, the authority was granted not only to the general in charge of the operation, but also for colonels, lieutenant colonels, and in at least one case, a captain near the front of the fighting, he explained.

Also read: Islamic State terrorists launched a chemical attack in Mosul

Although the Iraqis did the fighting, some limited situations arose when U.S. soldiers accompanied them to provide “niche capability,” Sylvia said. For example, he said, soldiers accompanied an Iraqi battalion on a bridge-building mission on the Tigris River, where the enemy had blown up the bridge. The soldiers advised them on establishing area security as the U.S.-made bridge was erected, he told reporters.

Militia fighters not attached to the Iraqi army who also were fighting ISIS were pretty much segregated from Iraqi forces, Sylvia said. U.S. forces were aware of their location and movements, he added, but did not interact with them in any way.

Threat From Above

It’s been some time since the U.S. faced a threat from the sky, Sylvia said. During the battle for Mosul, UAVs began appearing in the air in and around the city, and it was quickly determined that they did not belong to friendly forces.

In one day alone, 12 appeared, he noted — mostly quadcopters operated by Wi-Fi with about 45 minutes of flight time.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
A private drone with imaging capabilities, similar to those acquired by enemy combatants. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

At first, he said, the enemy used them for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and to obtain video for use as propaganda on social media sites.

Over time, Sylvia said, the enemy managed to mount 40 mm grenades on the UAVs and drop them. It was primitive, such as when World War I pilots tossed bombs out of their airplanes by hand, he said. It’s not precision bombing, but it’s more effective than their indiscriminate bombing, the colonel told reporters.

Over time, U.S. forces employed countermeasures that stopped or slowed their flight, enabling Iraqi ground forces to shoot them out of the sky, he said, noting that the new threat from the air led to dusting off old manuals on how to respond to threats from the air with countermeasures such as camouflage.

Best Day in Iraq

Sylvia said he clearly recalls his best day in Iraq. It was Christmas Day, and Iraqi forces, who are Muslim, invited him and his soldiers to a Christian church just outside Mosul to attend services. ISIS had gutted the church, but the Iraqis had rebuilt it with their own money.

“It was a powerful symbol, and was amazing,” he said of the visit to the church, adding that he hopes the relationship forged with the Iraqis will be enduring.

Task Force Strike returned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in January, replaced in Iraq by the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

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Did Trump threaten to send US troops to fight Mexico’s drug war?

On Wednesday, journalist Dolia Estevez reported that during a brief, blunt phone call the previous Friday, US President Donald Trump threatened and cajoled Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.


According to Estevez, who cited “confidential information” obtained from sources on both sides of the call, Trump disparaged Mexico and Mexicans, threatened to levy taxes on Mexican imports, and went so far as to hint at sending US troops to confront drug traffickers who, Trump said, Mexico’s military had been incapable of stopping.

The incendiary comments attracted instant attention, both for their vitriol and for their verisimilitude, as Trump frequently inveighed against Mexico throughout his campaign and has kept up his harsh rhetoric during the first days of his administration.

Estevez’s report also characterized Peña Nieto’s response as “stammering.” Much of the Mexican public has been frustrated with Peña Nieto’s response to Trump’s attacks, and the Mexican president has seen his approval rating fall to 12% in recent weeks.

Estevez described Trump as threatening Mexico with a 35% tax “on those exports that hurt Mexico the most” and referred to White House spokesman Sean Spicer restating the 35% tax idea after the call.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto | via flickr

However, while Trump has mentioned a 35% tariff on exports from US companies in Mexico, the most commonly floated number is a 20% tax on Mexican goods entering the US. The White House lists no press briefing by Spicer on January 27, the day of the call.

Hours after Estevez’s report surfaced, a report from The Associated Press corroborated some of the content of the conversation, but downplayed the tone.

“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told Peña Nieto, according to an excerpt seen by the AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

But, the AP said, the excerpt did not make clear who Trump was referring to as “bad hombres,” nor did it make evident the tone or context of Trump’s remark. Moreover, the excerpt did not include Peña Nieto’s response.

The Mexican government also issued a statement around the same time totally rejecting Estevez’s report.

“[It’s] necessary to clarify that the publication is based in absolute falsities and with evident ill intention,” Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Twitter.

“During the call, President Peña Nieto was clear and emphatic in signaling the differences of position in respect to some statements made by President Trump in public and which he repeated during their dialogue,” the ministry said, adding:

“You assert that you obtained information from confidential sources from ‘both sides of the border.'”
“Only [Peña Nieto] and the foreign minister participated in that call and neither of them remember knowing you or having spoken with you ever. Whoever has been your confidential source on this side of the border, lied to you.”

Eduardo Sanchez, Mexico’s presidential office spokesman, said the conversation was respectful, not hostile or humiliating, as described by Estevez.

“It is absolutely false that President Trump has threatened to send troops to the border,” he said during a Wednesday-night interview with Mexican journalist Carlos Loret de Mola.

Later on Wednesday, the Mexican government issued a statement disputing the AP’s initial report, saying the details of it “did not correspond to reality.”

“The negative expressions to which [the AP report] makes reference, did not happen during said telephone call,” the statement, posted on Twitter, said. “On the contrary, the tone was constructive …”

The White House also disputed the account of a contentious call between Trump and Peña Nieto.

“The White House tells me POTUS did not threaten to invade Mexico,” Andrew Beatty, the AFP’s White House correspondent, tweeted a little before 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Jim Acosta, CNN’s senior White House correspondent, also tweeted a comment he attributed to a White House official: “Reports that the President threatened to invade Mexico are false. Even the Mexican government is disputing these reports.”

A more in-depth report from CNN published Wednesday night cited a transcript of the call that differed from the text published by the AP:

“You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with. We are willing to help with that big-league, but they have be knocked out and you have not done a good job knocking them out.”

A source told CNN that the AP’s report was based on a readout of the conversation between Trump and Peña Nieto written by aides, not on a transcript.

In a further qualification, the White House characterized Trump’s “bad hombres” remark as “lighthearted” to the AP in a story published on Thursday morning.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
President Donald Trump at the inauguration ceremony. | Defense Department photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos

The White House said the comments were “part of a discussion about how the United States and Mexico could work collaboratively to combat drug cartels and other criminal elements, and make the border more secure.”

A White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the AP the conversation was “pleasant and constructive.”

While both sides has downplayed the content of the conversation and dismissed the reportedly hostile tone, the exact nature of the phone call is still unclear, and may remain so until a full transcript or audio (which the Mexican government traditionally does not record) is revealed.

In any case, Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders during his first two weeks as president have been concerning for observers, both at home and abroad.

“(Trump’s) interactions are naive in that he keeps suggesting we will have the best relationship ever with a broad departure of countries, but there is no substance to back it up,” a government official with knowledge of Trump’s interactions with foreign leaders told CNN.

“Source familiar with Trump foreign leader calls says the POTUS convos are turning faces ‘white’ inside the” White House, Acosta tweeted late on Wednesday.

“When he encounters a policy challenge, like with Turnbull, he responds with a tantrum,” the official told CNN, referring to a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

During that call, Trump bragged about his election victory and said Australia was going to send the US “the next Boston bombers” as part of an Obama-approved deal to taken in refugees held by Australia, which he criticized.

Descriptions of Trump’s calls are at odds with “sanitized” White House accounts, The Washington Post, which first reported the nature of the Turnbull call, said of Trump’s discussions with foreign leaders, adding:

“The characterizations provide insight into Trump’s temperament and approach to the diplomatic requirements of his job as the nation’s chief executive, a role in which he continues to employ both the uncompromising negotiating tactics he honed as a real estate developer and the bombastic style he exhibited as a reality television personality.”

The contentious nature of the Trump’s call with the Australian leader was especially troubling, in light of the longstanding and close-knit ties Washington and Canberra have developed over decades.

While the call with Mexico’s president appears to be less sensational that initially reported, that correction will likely do little to sooth the nerves of Mexicans and people of Mexican descent in Mexico and in the US.

Trump has made not indication of backing off his pledge to construct a border wall — Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has said the wall could be completed in two years, and Kelly is already traveling to the border area to study plans for the wall’s construction.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Mexican Marines during an operation | Creative Commons photo

Moreover, Mexicans appear to have been caught up in the “extreme vetting” Trump has targeted at citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.

“We have reports of Mexicans who have been held for more than 12 hours … We have a case of a family who were held for more than 10 hours and we’re looking into that,” Marcelino Miranda, consul for legal affairs at Mexico’s consulate in Chicago, said on Tuesday.

Miranda said he believed stringent questioning faced by those Mexicans had nothing to do with the newly intensified vetting process, though others from the country likely see it as part of a broader hostility to the US’s southern neighbor.

Trump “wants to make an example of Mexico to show how he will deal with countries around the world,” Maria Eugenia Valdes, a political scientist at the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico, told journalist Ioan Grillo.

“This man is capable of anything,” she added.

“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it, just don’t worry about it,” Trump said during a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning.

“We’re going to straighten it out,” Trump added. “That’s what I do. I fix things.”

 

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This could be the new replacement for the US Army’s Blackhawk helicopter

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Bell’s V-280 Valor | Bell Helicopter Textron Inc.


After several decades of service, the US Army might finally replace their lineup of UH-60 Blackhawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters.

Unveiled at the Farnborough Air Show in England, Bell Helicopter — in conjunction withLockheed Martin — debuted their latest creation, the V-280 Valor.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Bell Helicopters

Similar to the V-22 Osprey currently in service by the US Marine Corps and Air Force, the V-280 applies a tiltrotor mechanism to fly similar to normal helicopters and aircraft. However, the similarities seem to end there, as significant upgrades look to eclipse its predecessor’s capabilities.

Bell claims that the new V-280 will now be capable of flying at twice the speed and range of current helicopter platforms. Features of the helicopter include a 500-800 nautical miles range, aerial refueling, a crew of 4 and 14 troops, carrying capacity of 25% more cargo than a Blackhawk, and its signature 280 knots true airspeed (KTAS).

According to Aviation Week, the Valor will also have a forward-firing capability and a technologically advanced glass cockpit — like Lockheed Martin’s F-35.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Bell Helicopters

In addition to its performance, the V-280 will be more affordable than the V-22: due to the nature of its straight wing design, the V-280 would not only take half the time to construct compared to the V-22’s swept wing, but also half as cheaper — costing about $20 million, similar to the UH-60.

Other nations, such as Australia, UK, and Canada, have also followed suit in expressing interest in the helicopter. So far, the construction of the helicopter is about 60% completed and is slated to take its inaugural flight on September 2017.

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This Green Beret is starring in the first-ever story mode for ‘Madden 18’

For the first time ever, EA Sports’ “Madden” franchise will feature a story mode in “Madden NFL 18.” Called “Longshot,” the story is about overcoming all odds, not just winning football games or scoring the big contract.


“Longshot” is the story of Devin Wade, a quarterback who played at the University of Texas but joined the Army in the middle of his college career. While in, one of Wade’s commanding officers encourages him not to give up on his dream of starting in the NFL.

The captain in “Longshot” is played by a real Green Beret, whose story is very similar to that of Devin Wade. Army veteran Nate Boyer was a Special Forces soldier who played at Texas after leaving the Army.
“It was  a big coincidence that the storylines were so similar, especially with him going to University of Texas,” Boyer told We Are The Mighty. “Some things are switched around. Devin Wade went to college first and then joined the army and now is going back to try and play football in the NFL. But still, it was kind of weird.”

Boyer is joined in the cast by “Moonlight” and “Luke Cage” actor Mahershala Ali, who plays Devin’s dad, Cutter, as well as real pro players J.R. Lemon and Dan Marino.

Even the title “Longshot” resonates in Nate Boyer’s life. ESPN featured Boyer and his story in a piece called “The Longshot.”

ESPN’s feature documented then-34-year-old Boyer trying to get on the Seattle Seahawks as a long snapper after leaving the University of Texas.

“When I came out of the army I was 29 and I never played football in my entire life,” Boyer recalls. “I just wanted to try and make the University of Texas roster. That was like my first goal: Just make the team.”

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Boyer as a Green Beret in Iraq and later as a long snapper with the Seattle Seahawks.

Then Boyer wanted to get on the field. He did. Then he wanted to start. For three years, Boyer was the starting long snapper for the Longhorns. He even made Academic All Big-12 during his tenure.

Now Boyer will play Capt. McCarthy, U.S. Army. He’s part-mentor to Devin, part-life coach. Like Boyer, McCarthy pushes his troops to live without regrets – that they could do anything if they want it badly enough.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

“Captain McCarthy was kind of like the voice in my own head,” says Boyer. “The good voice. The angel, not the devil on the other shoulder, sort of pushing myself and encouraging myself and wanting me to believe in myself.”

The story mode in “Madden 18” is a simplified version of the game, according to Kotaku. The plays are called by the computer and there are no time outs. You can only control Devin and whichever receiver gets the ball. But you do get to play a pick-up game in a deployed location.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
(EA Sports)

To any aspiring “Devin Wades” out there who might be wearing the uniform of the United States right now, but who hope to wear an NFL uniform (or any uniform) in the future, Boyer recommends fearlessness and hard work.

“No matter what it is you’re interested in, if it’s something positive and it challenges you, just go for it,” he says. “Even if you’re a little afraid to pursue it, just put everything you have into it. Take the things you overcome and accomplish, the sacrifices you make, and apply that moving forward. The military is a stepping stone, not the pinnacle of your life. Find that next challenge.”
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The Army Air Corps once bombed Oklahoma

In 1943, although B-17s had been used regularly in daylight bombing raids over Europe, nighttime bombing was still a relatively new concept to the U.S. Army Air Corps. Tactics were being developed in a hurry to satisfy the increasing demands of the war, and pilots were being trained at a rapid clip.


It was against that intense backdrop that four B-17s took off one night from Dalhart Army Airfield in Texas. The target was in Conlen, Texas, a mere 20 miles from Dalhart Airfield. It was supposed to be marked with four lights at each corner, creating an “X-marks-the-spot” for the student aircrews to hit. Instead, a young navigator led the bomber formation 40 miles in the other direction, to Boise City, Oklahoma.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

At zero-dark-thirty, the bombers approached their target, not realizing it had taken them twice as long as it should have to get there. The townspeople were asleep by this time, and the town’s lights were out — except for the four lights around the Cimmaron County Courthouse.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
You can probably imagine what happened next.

The crew in the lead bomber, thinking they reached their target, let fly a couple of sand-filled training bombs over the population of 1,200. They hit the town butcher’s garage, taking out its roof. The next plane’s drop fell just short of a Baptist Church. The third and fourth bombers’ bombs narrowly missed hitting some of the town’s fuel stores.

The sheriff immediately called the base at Dalhart. Dalhart radioed the wayward planes to ask them to ensure they were on target. The crews ensured Dalhart that they were over the training target and were not bombing civilians, which led to an argument between the bomber crews and Dalhart’s tower. That’s when an electric company engineer shut down the town’s electricity, hiding it from the bombers. In all the bombers dropped six training bombs on Boise City.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
As if a town of 1,200 didn’t already know they were bombed by the Air Force.

The crews returned to Dalhart immediately. The navigator was (understandably) fired, while the rest of the crew were faced with a choice: go right into combat as soon as possible or face a court martial. It was a big decision: The Eighth Air Force casualty rate for all of World War II in Europe was a whopping 41 percent, with 26,000 killed in action. These crews would later fly in formations over Berlin.

Fifty years after the bombing, the citizens of Boise City erected a memorial to the event, complete with concrete crater and WWII-era training bomb.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

 

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Here is how aerial gunners were trained to fight their way past the Luftwaffe

The United States Army Air Force’s daylight bombing campaign in Europe involved thousands of bombers, and tens of thousands of crewmen. While there were pilots, crew chiefs, radiomen, bombardiers, and navigators on planes like the B-17, about 40 percent of the crew were aerial gunners.


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A U.S. Army Air Forces Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress flying through flak over a target. A hit by flak lead to the capture of Brigadier General Arthur Vanaman, placing ULTRA at risk. (USAF photo)

What did it take to get these specialists ready? In some ways, it didn’t take long – maybe a few weeks. But these gunners had to learn a lot. Maintenance of their machine guns was vitally important. But they also had to learn to hit a moving target – because the Nazi fighters trying to shoot the bombers down were not going to make things easy for them.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
Messerschmidt Bf 109. (Photo: Kogo CC BY-SA 2.0)

So, what did it take to teach gunners how to hit a moving target? Well, for starters, there were lessons on maintenance for both a .30-caliber machine gun (mostly used early in the war) and the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, and how fix them when they jammed. Then, they had to learn how bullets traveled downrange, and how to adjust for the drop of the bullets from the guns.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
A look at the ball turret of a B-17 Flying Fortress, carrying a pair of M2 .50-caliber machine guns. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

When that was done, the trainees were started on full-auto BB guns at an indoor range. Once that was mastered, they then did a lot of skeet shooting with 12-gauge shotguns.

Yep, a popular shooting sport was used to train the folks whose job involved keeping Nazi fighters from shooting down a bomber with ten airmen on board.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes

The training went on to include live-fire of the machine guns, as well as how the turrets used on planes like the B-17 and B-24 worked. Aircraft recognition — including knowing an enemy fighter’s wingspan — was also very important.

Following that, they took to the air, and learned how to fire the guns while wearing the gear they’d need on board a bomber – including a life vest, parachute, and the helmet.

This Army doctor made the Panama Canal possible by killing mosquitoes
B-17 gunners wearing bulky sheep-shearling flying clothing to protect against the deadly cold at the altitudes typically flown in Europe.— At 25,000 feet, the temperature could drop below -60 degrees Fahrenheit. (U.S. Air Force photo)

As you can imagine, this included a lot of learning and skills to master. You can see an introductory video for aerial gunners made during World War II below.

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