This is how JTACs stay sharp - We Are The Mighty
Articles

This is how JTACs stay sharp

We all know troops on the ground love their air support — especially from planes like the A-10 Thunderbolt II.


But those planes need to know what to hit. How does that happen?

Well, the Air Force’s Joint Terminal Attack Controllers are who make that happen. JTACs are members of what are known as Tactical Air Control Parties, and their task is to coordinate air support for ground units. Becoming a JTAC isn’t easy. Business Insider has a look at the process of how someone goes from civilian on the street to becoming one of these elite personnel.

In 2015, the Army and Air Force formalized the embedding of Air Force JTACs in Army units down to the company level. These personnel aren’t just good at bringing down firepower, they can even advise ground commanders on how to handle cyberspace operations.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
U.S. Air Force Combat Control JTACs from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron call for close air support from a A-10 Thunderbolt II while attending the Air Force’s JTAC Advanced Instructor Course (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

But it’s not just train, deploy, and be done. There’s always a need to refresh skills, and there are always new perspectives. So, recently, some JTACs with the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing were joined by JTACs from the Royal Air Force. The cross-training helps, primarily by breaking down communications barriers.

“Since we’re going to be working together, we need to practice together before we go do that in the real world,” RAF Flight Sergeant Simon Ballard said. The RAF controllers are familiar with the U.S. Air Force, particularly the A-10s, which they praise effusively.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
A Joint Terminal Attack Controller with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command communicates with a Navy MH-60S helicopter during takeoff as part of Carrier Airwing training conducted by the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., April 7, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Kyle McNally, released)

“While I was a JTAC in Afghanistan, the vast majority of our aircraft were U.S. aircraft,” British Squadron Leader Neil Beeston said.

The ultimate benefit to this cross-training, though, is that the stakes are lower. Master Sgt. Francisco Corona told the Air Force News Service, “I’d rather integrate in (training) where we can make mistakes and learn from them instead of making mistakes in a deployed location.”

Articles

The top 6 reasons civilians back out of military service

Anyone who’s ever served in uniform has probably heard someone say the immortal line: “I would have joined the military, but…”


Lots of civilians make a trip to the recruiter with an eye toward military service, full of patriotic zeal and martial courage. But many pull out at the last minute and give their friends and family some song and dance about why they couldn’t commit.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
…But the MRE bread is too good? A U.S. Marine recruit with Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, takes part in a Meal, Ready-to-Eat during the Crucible at Parris Island, South Carolina, Dec. 3, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter)

No matter what excuse they give you for not signing on the dotted line, here are six real reasons recruiters tell us people decide not to join.

6. They’re physically disqualified

This is how JTACs stay sharp
The Marine Corps Bulletin 1020, released June 2, 2016, explains the new Marine Corps tattoo policy.

A recruit who wants to join but is physically disqualified is disappointing for both the recruit and the recruiter. Applicants can be physically disqualified because of asthma, bad eyesight, scoliosis, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other causes. Sometimes people disqualify themselves with tattoos, ear gauges or other kinds of body art.

5. Friends and family talk them out of it

This is how JTACs stay sharp

Some occupations in the military are the most dangerous jobs in the world, but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily lead to death. The type of job and location of a recruit’s duty station will determine the risk that military personnel encounter. Approximately 80 percent of career fields in the military are non-combat related.

Still, some potential recruits are convinced their service will kill them.

4. They don’t want to leave a significant other

Being in a relationship while going through the process of enlisting is challenging. Getting married or having a child as a single parent may affect the process of enlistment and eligibility to serve. Some refuse to leave their partner behind and instead give up on a potential military career for love.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
They’ve apparently never heard of Army Wives. (Promotional photo/Lifetime)

3. They enlist and sign a contract but don’t get their dream job

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Everyone wants to be gangster, until there’s gangster poop to be burned. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kowshon Ye)

Open positions are based on the needs and manning of the particular service. In the Navy, (my expertise) most jobs do not have to be permanent. Changing jobs can be easy if there’s a new job open and you can meet the qualifications. The Army has a program where a service member can re-enlist and change his MOS. But for some people, not having the ideal job is non-negotiable, so they never enlist.

2. The recruiting experience went south

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Micky M. Bazaldua

Recruiters have a duty and job to fill the needs of the military, but they are also responsible for building a connection with applicants. The relationship between a recruiter and a candidate is often seen as a reflection of what the service will be like, but that shouldn’t not be the only thing to consider. Still, a negative recruiting experience can discourage people from joining.

1. Some people just back out

This is how JTACs stay sharp
That look tho. (photo by U.S. Army Recruiting)

The service is not for everyone and though the idea of joining seems attractive because of the honor, the uniform and the respect — it is a sacrifice. Some people may at some point feel they can make it but don’t. After weighing the pros and cons, people just change their mind.

Articles

4 incredible women in military history you need to know about

International Women’s Day has been celebrated across the world since 1909, and is used as a day to laud the important contributions women make.


Women have long-since served in the U.S. military, even before they were officially allowed to enlist. From covert spy operations to battles on the front lines, women have been there for all of it.

Nancy Morgan Hart

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Public domain image

During the American Revolution, Hart was supposed to stay and take care of her children at their Georgia home while her husband fought in the war, like many military spouses today do. However, Nancy couldn’t sit idly by while a war raged around her.

Related: The only 7 women to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross

Pretending to be a crazy man, Hart was able to gain access to British camps in Augusta, where she successfully gathered intelligence and reported it back to the Continental Army. Hart also wasn’t afraid to defend her home against the enemy, as evidenced when six Loyalist soldiers entered her home and demand she feed them. While they were occupied with food, she hid their weapons and held them hostage with one, killing two when they tried to overpower her, until her husband and a neighbor came home.

Dr. Mary E. Walker

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Library of congress photo

Walker volunteered her expertise as a surgeon with the Union Army at the beginning of the Civil War, despite women not being allowed to serve as doctors. She was captured and became a prisoner-of-war after she was caught crossing enemy lines to treat wounded soldiers. She was considered a spy by the Confederates and was held until eventually released in a prisoner exchange.

For her bravery and willingness to confront the enemy to save Union soldiers, President Andrew Johnson awarded her the Medal of Honor, after a recommendation by Gen. William Sherman, becoming the first and only women ever to be awarded the highest military honor.

Col. Eileen Collins

This is how JTACs stay sharp
NASA photo

Collins became the first female to pilot a shuttle in space in 1995, and was also the first female commander of a U.S. spacecraft in 1999.

During her time in the Air Force, Collins served as an instructor for the T-38 Talon at Vance Air Force Base, and eventually transitioned to an assistant professor role at the U.S. Air Force Academy, teaching mathematics and instructing T-41 pilots.

Sarah Emma Edmonds

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Public domain image

Edmonds fled to Michigan from Canada, escaping an abusive marriage. While traveling, she found that dressing like a man made life considerably easier, and eventually joined the military as a male nurse out of a sense of obligation. Edmonds used the alias “Franklin Thompson,” and served as a spy for Union soldiers until she was confronted with a bout of Malaria. Knowing she would be punished if Army doctors discovered she was a woman, Edmonds abandoned her male disguise and continued to serve as a female nurse in Washington D.C.

After she wrote a memoir about her time as a spy, Edmonds contributions to the war were accepted, and she received an honorable discharge, as well as a government pension for her service.

Articles

Freeze-dried plasma is now battlefield ready

Since hemorrhage is the leading cause of preventable death in combat casualties, Air Force Special Operations Command is improving access to blood products on the battlefield.


Freeze-dried plasma is one of them.

Plasma contains coagulation factors, which are critical to the clotting process in the body. These need to be replaced during severe bleeding, said Lt. Col. Rebecca Carter, the AFSOC chief of medical modernization.

Normal blood is comprised of roughly 45 percent red blood cells, 50 percent plasma, and 5 percent white blood cells and platelets.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

“The freeze-dried product is pathogen reduced and all white blood cells have been removed,” Carter said. “This greatly reduces the chance of a transfusion or allergic reaction.”

Carter said the typical plasma used in the U.S. doesn’t work well in a deployed environment.

“This liquid product requires freezing. Once thawed, it has a dramatically shortened shelf life,” she said. “The requirement to freeze and maintain this temperature makes the product impractical for battlefield use.”

Carter said preparing freeze-dried plasma is easy and straight forward.

“The kit comes with the freeze-dried product and, separately, sterile water for injection,” she said. “The medic takes the enclosed dual spike, inserts it into the sterile water and places the other end of the spike into the freeze-dried bottle while gently swirling. Then, the product will be available to infuse within three to five minutes.”

Before use, plasma is screened for infectious diseases, to include hepatitis and HIV, among others, Carter said.

“Each medical provider will be fully trained to administer it,” she said. “Personnel will decide if they wish to receive the product or not, if the circumstances happen to arise.”

Freeze-dried plasma isn’t brand new or experimental.

U.S. Army Special Operations Command was the first to deploy with freeze-dried plasma. Marine Special Operations Command and Navy Special Warfare Units are following suit, along with AFSOC.

The medical modernization team was crucial to this effort, said Col. Lee Harvis, the AFSOC command surgeon.

“They rapidly transform user needs from concept to development, equipping our medical personnel so they can provide the highest quality care under very austere conditions,” he said. “The instant a gap is identified, they investigate ways to field solutions.”

They strive for maximum utility with the smallest footprint, Harvis said.

Articles

Here are the five finalists competing to design the World War I Memorial

The World War One Centennial Commission was created in January 2013 and is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs to commemorate the centennial of World War I, including a national memorial to the soldiers who fought the war.


Unfortunately, none of the veterans of the Great War are alive today to see their honor, but despite bad weather, the Centennial Commission will formally announce the winning design team for the national World War I Memorial design competition on January 26, 2016.

Below are the five finalists for the memorial competition. Just click on the photo to get a closer look of the full-size proposal. The designs are open to public comment. Contact the World War I Centennial Commission here.

Concept 1: Plaza to the Forgotten War

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Submitted by the design team of Brian Johnsen, AIA; Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, LEEP AP; and Andrew Cesarz, at Johnsen Schmaling Architects, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Situated on a seam between the National Mall and the dense urbanity of downtown DC, the Plaza to the Forgotten War commemorates the service of World War I American Forces by creating a place that devotedly holds onto the memory of the tragic losses endured by the United States. The concept is simple, elegant and open with a strong and integrated form and meaning that reveals itself in layers. The memorial message is clear and there is great potential for the creation of an outstanding park. The field of lights presents a technological challenge that will need to be resolved and the Pershing Statue and walls will need to be integrated into the evolving design.

Concept 2: Grotto of Remembrance

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Submitted by Devin Kimmel, Principal at Kimmel Studio, LLC in Annapolis, Maryland

The style of the monument is inspired by the time of the Great War. It is neoclassical in form and concept, the space and elements combine to create a narrative about the current condition and the historic precedent of monuments. The plan develops a strong park concept and includes a number of elements that add interest and focus. The challenge in evolving the design will be creating a sense of openness balanced against the enclosure of the central space, a continued evaluation of the scale of the elements, and relationships of non-traditional elements (like the grotto) with memorable historic forms.

Concept 3: The Weight of Sacrifice

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Submitted Joseph Weishaar of Chicago, Illinois

A simple intervention of a platform into the existing landscape of Pershing Park provides a quietly elegant place within the park. Relocation of the walls and statue of the Pershing complex give new meaning to the individual elements. The result is an integral expression of park and memorial. The subtleness and art of the sculpted relief walls will enhance the narrative of the place—utilizing art as architecture. To execute a memorial and park that maintains the inherent elegance of the concept, a strong collaboration between designer and artist will be the key.

Concept 4: An American Family Portrait

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Submitted by STL Architects in Chicago, Illinois

The design concept is founded on paying tribute to the American men and women who participated in World War I through a memorial collage of photographs integrated into the park design. By seamlessly blending framed memories into the landscape, it provides an experience that is both park and memorial, open and inviting exploration. The park is organized by a northwest-southeast axis visually connecting it to the Capitol. While this concept has the potential of a truly unique park, the thematic, technical, and curatorial issues of the story boxes will require resolution. The statuary design, scale, and execution will need to be an integral part of the interpretive and memorial experience.

Concept 5: Heroes’ Green

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Submitted by Maria Counts of Counts Studio in Brooklyn, New York

The concept seamlessly blends memorial, park and garden into a new type of public space. There is a strong sense of movement through the space, balancing park-like qualities with memorial episodes and providing opportunities for integration of art as an integral part of the memorial experience. The sculptural landscape in itself is symbolic and will provide a welcome respite to the visitor. The inherent potential of “inventing” a new typology of civic space that works well as a memorial is the challenge.

Articles

Explosion at Army ammunition factory with volatile history

An explosion inside an Army ammunition factory in Missouri on April 11 left one person dead and four others injured.


The Army Joint Munitions Command, which is tasked with managing military weapons and equipment, confirmed that the explosion occurred in a mixing building at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in the city of Independence, local outlet KY3 News reports.

The man killed in the explosion reportedly worked at the plant for 36 years.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. (U.S. Army photo)

Manufacturing ammunition is “dangerous work, and our employees risk their lives to protect our men and women in uniform,” said Lt. Col. Eric Dennis, commander of the plant, according to KSHB Kansas City. “This is a sacrifice they make to support our country, and I am humbled by the ultimate sacrifice this employee made today.”

An explosion injured six people at the same factory in 2011 in a construction area where the powder is loaded. All of the nearly 1,800 employees were sent home following the most recent unexpected detonation. Investigators are still trying to decipher how the explosion occurred.

Federal investigators fined the 707,000-square foot facility three times in the last decade (2008, 2011, 2012) for workplace safety violations.

The private contractor operating the plant in 2011 was initially charged $28,000 for safety issues, and paid $5,600 to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which cited “serious” problems with the handling of potentially dangerous chemicals.

The property holds more than 400 buildings, including nine warehouses. The plant primarily generates and tests small-caliber ammunition.

Articles

6 new changes to expect at the Pentagon with Mattis as SECDEF

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rejoiced when retired Gen. James “Warrior Monk” Mattis was picked for the top job at the Pentagon by President-elect Donald Trump.


The hard-charging Marine is known for his tenacity both on and off the battlefield. He expects the same tenacity among those who serve under him (just ask Col. Joe Dowdy).

But the Mattis love can get a little out of hand.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Or… right at hand. (Vato Tactical and Kinetic Concepts Design)

So we tried to come up with a few ideas of what the Pentagon employees might expect now that Mattis could be next Secretary of Defense.

1. The “Run, Hide, Fight” active shooter policy will be simplified.

The Department of Homeland Security prepares citizens to respond to an active shooter scenario using the phrase “Run. Hide. Fight.” Which is great… for DHS. James Mattis’ DoD won’t run. And they definitely won’t hide.

2. Incoming employees must submit a plan to kill everyone in their work section.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

One of the former General’s most colorful quotes goes:

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

Mattis isn’t going to be the kind of SECDEF that won’t put his money where his mouth is.

3. No more TVs; just mandatory fun reading time.

Mattis himself has never owned a television.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
This man does not care about the new Gilmore Girls episodes.

He spent the time most of us spend on TV, video games, a wife, children, hobbies, etc. reading Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Patton, and Thucydides.  That’s where he earned the nickname “Warrior Monk.”

Bring a book. And don’t think “Harry Potter” will cut it.

4. Every employee’s in-processing checklist will include getting shot at.

As the Marine once said:

“There is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It’s really great.”

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Don’t flinch.

5. No more “Mad Dog.”

Now that Mattis will be in command again, the nickname so many use for him (including the President-elect) will have to be killed, slowly and deliberately, because according to NBC News, he really doesn’t like it.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

And it’s unwise to continue to use a nickname for someone who doesn’t like it, especially when that person is known to enjoy shooting “some assholes in the world who just need to be shot.”

6. No more sauerkraut in the cafeteria.

The place still stinks to high hell from Robert Gates’ Reuben sandwiches. From now on, everyone will be required to drink three small glasses of fruit punch-flavored pre-workout drink Mattis invented, known as “The Blood of Our Enemies.”

This is how JTACs stay sharp

Articles

Australia to resume bombing of ISIS targets in Syria

Australia will resume air combat missions against Islamic State targets in Syria after the Australian Defense Force lifted a temporary suspension initially sparked by Russian threats to shoot down coalition planes.


The Australian Defense Force is fighting IS in both Syria and Iraq under the name ‘Operation OKRA.’ Australian Defense Force Chief Mark Binskin said on June 21st the operations were halted while the Australians examined what was happening in what he had described as a “complex piece of airspace” over Syria.

“Australian force protection is uppermost in our minds” in deciding when to resume missions over Syria. The fighter jets had been occupied recently supporting Iraqi security forces in retaking the city of Mosul, so the suspension had little effect on their operations, The Guardian quoted defense minister Marise Payne, as saying.

Australia had suspended air strikes over Syria ‘as a precautionary measure’ after Russia threatened that it would consider any plane from the US led coalition flying west of Euphrates as potential targets.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Three Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets. USAF photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch

The threat was seen as retaliation for the US downing of a Syrian air force jet, as tensions in the region rose.

The Australian Defense Force, which includes about 780 personnel, including 300 service members working in its air group, has announced it would resume airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.

Australia has six fighter jets based in the United Arab Emirates that strike targets in Syria and Iraq. Australia said its sorties in Iraq would continue as part of the coalition.

Australian defense force personnel are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria and a decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course,” Guardian quoted the spokesman for the Department of Defense .

The tensions between Moscow and Washington escalated after United States Navy F-18 attacked Syrian Su-22 government warplane on June 18th, which was carrying out operations against the Syrian Democratic Forces positions south of Tabqah.

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Australian army soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. (USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Lock)

Consequently, the Russian military halted cooperation with its US counterparts in the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria.

The US military failed to use the communication line with Russia concerning this attack, despite the fact that Russian warplanes were also on a mission in Syrian airspace at the time, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Russia’s defense ministry said the US had given it no warning, following which Moscow was also suspending coordination over “de-confliction zones” that were created to prevent incidents involving US and Russian jets engaged in operations in Syria, reports the Guardian.

However, the Pentagon states that the Syrian jet had dropped bombs near US partner forces involved in the fight to extract Raqqa from Islamic State control.

Articles

Stricken 6 year-old ‘earns’ SEAL trident

Six-year-old Mason Rudder of Kansas City, Missouri was born a Escobar Syndrome, a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder that causes muscle weakness and joint deformities. There is only one thing he ever wanted to be when he grows up: a U.S. Navy SEAL.


“I want to save the country and I want to save people,” Mason told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His condition affects his bones and joints and restricts his range of motion, but that didn’t stop him from clearing a house with his fire team.

Mason’s SEAL training began when his parents reached out to Asymmetric Solutions, a St. Louis-based tactical training company, staffed with former special forces operators of all varieties, even boasting some Israeli commandos. Asymmetric Solutions’ ex-SEAL Jared Ogden trained Mason at a tactical training center near Farmington, Missouri.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

The company agreed to host a “Navy SEAL for a Day” event just for Mason. The little SEAL cycled through rounds of firearms training, including M4 and AR-15 rifles, and setting off a wall bomb that blew the door of a building. His training culminated in the house raid that “killed” a “Taliban leader.”

Ogden pinned a SEAL trident to the boy’s sweatshirt as a symbol of completing the training.

“You wear that with pride,” Ogden said to Mason. “Good job, team leader.”

This is how JTACs stay sharp

See Mason’s Trident Pinning at stltodday.com.

Articles

Another ship attacked off Yemen

This is how JTACs stay sharp
Galacia Spirit. (Photo: shipworld.org)


Nearly two weeks after a series of incidents involving the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), another ship has come under attack in the Bab el Mandab. This time, the ship targeted was a Spanish-flagged liquefied natural gas tanker passing near Perim Island, which is about 8.7 miles off the coast of the coast of Yemen.

According to a report by the British news agency Reuters, the Galicia Spirit, owned by the Teekay shipping group, came under attack by a rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire from a small boat. The RPG missed the LNG tanker, which was escorted by Djibouti naval vessel. The method used in the attack is similar to that used in the October 1 attack on HSV-2 Swift that caused a fire and damaged the former U.S. Navy vessel, which was on a humanitarian mission. HSV-2 Swift was towed away from the scene of the attack, which prompted the deployment of USS Mason, USS Nitze (DDG 94), and USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) to the region.

The Galicia Spirit would have potentially fared a lot worse than HSV-2 Swift did. Even though it is much larger than Swift at about 95,000 gross tons to the Swift’s 955, it is usually carrying a large amount of a highly flammable and volatile cargo (137,814 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas). That would have been a huge explosion.

Yemen has been wracked by a civil war between the government lead by Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The Houthi rebels were responsible for the attacks on Swift and Mason. Nitze fired Tomahawk cruise missiles at Houthi coastal radar sites after the attacks on Mason.

Articles

This Navy SEAL’s intense boot camp prepares actors for movie combat

The reviews for “Suicide Squad” are in, and they’re a mixed bag, to put it politely. The film disappointed critics, but fans were more forgiving. What’s not in question, however, are military skills on display in the movie. That success is owed to Kevin Vance (of Vance Brown Consulting), a former Navy SEAL and professional military advisor for the film industry.


This is how JTACs stay sharp

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback there,” says Vance. “In terms of the gear we brought in, we had so much support. SS Precision, Vickers Tactical — the list goes on and on.”

He doesn’t judge what’s “good” and “bad.” That’s not his job. He can, however, understand the decisions made by the studios. Vance believes they tried to make a movie for the fans of the comic, like filmmaker Kevin Smith (who called it “dope“).

“I just know David Ayer and the film he wants to make,” the Navy veteran says. “He’s made so many great films over the years and has such a unique perspective. If he sucker-punches you while he tells his story, so be it. He’s not going to do it simply for effect. He’s going to do it to kind of smack you and wake you up”

This is how JTACs stay sharp
David Ayer on set. (Vance Brown photo)

Filmmaker David Ayer is a Navy veteran who hired Kevin Vance to train the cast of a previous film, 2014’s “Fury.” That film was about a U.S. Army tank crew in World War II. In the film, the experienced crew looses their bow gunner and gets a reluctant replacement.

“What was fascinating to me was Wardaddy’s (Brad Pitt) job was to really dismantle this young man’s sense of decency,” says Vance. “The resistance to becoming a functioning soldier was going to get everyone killed. The sense of decency is what he to break apart.”

Vance put the entire cast – Brad Pitt, Shia LeBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, and Jon Bernthal – through a rigorous WWII-style basic training, complete with canvas tents, cots, and lanterns to protect from the cold, North Atlantic winds in the open countryside.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

“I wasn’t there to train those guys to be soldiers,” the former SEAL recalls. “I was there to put them in a state of mind. I was there to make them fatigued, miserable, cold, hungry, pissed-off. I broke them down physically and mentally to build them back up. They suffered together to create a functioning group inside that tank.”

They did learn to work as a team in a real Sherman tank, Brad Pitt commanding.

“They’re tight because of it now,” Vance says. “They all still talk to one another; they do dinners together. I’m not saying that’s just because of me. That’s guys bonding.”

military advisor (Flag) and Will Smith (“Deadshot”) in 2016’s “Suicide Squad.”

“Suicide Squad” was a much different animal in terms of mechanics, actor training, and weapons training. The film was about individuals being individual characters working together. Vance and his fellow military veterans had two weeks and $50,000 in blank ammo to drill the stuntmen and actors to move like operators.

“I was there to get these guys functioning on a level that the audience can truly appreciate, that our peers will appreciate, and then create scenarios where other movies have not performed,” Vance says. “We build this foundation of physical skills then move into this other space which the actor truly needs to perform well – and that’s that mental space.”

To Kevin Vance, that means combat mindset, leadership, and the emotional, psychological, or physical scars a character would have. Vance and his colleagues provide the actors with historical examples and personal examples from their real-world warfighting colleagues so they can take what they want and need for their character.

“Will Smith’s character [Deadshot] is very different from, say Flag [Joel Kinnaman] or Lt. Edwards [Scott Eastwood],” Vance says. “We’re all looking of that life-test. We’re looking to truly challenge ourselves. I didn’t know what that was. I just got very, very lucky when an old book landed on my lap in college when I was 19.”

That book was about scouts and raiders during World War II. It piqued Vance’s interest so much, he read more and more, eventually coming across books about Navy SEALs. One day he met a Vietnam veteran who inspired and educated him. One thing led to another, and Kevin Vance joined the Navy and served as a SEAL from 1994 to 2003. The frustrations of bureaucracy and war led Vance into entertainment.

This is how JTACs stay sharp

“We used to have we called the ‘vent book,'” he recalls. “Guys can work out and vent. Guys can use conversation these different ways. So we created this book which turned into, something turned it into something really funny. It’s like how would you fight the war if you were Dirty Harry?”

The SEALs on Vance’s team got really creative with the vent book. Vance know some video game producers with the blessing of his team, decided to pitch the book to see where it led. That turned into Vance and his fellow Team guys writing a “Medal of Honor” game for Electronic Arts.

When I asked Kevin Vance for advice he could give separating military members on working in Hollywood, he was quick to remind me that his case is unique, he’s a “lucky guy,” and that he just came from a 48-hour shift at the local firehouse.

“If you’re getting out of the military, first thing first is to have a plan,” he says. “Don’t make Hollywood your plan A. Hollywood is not a structured environment like the military is, like a fire department is. You’re left to your own devices in a world that is unpredictable and unreliable.”

This is how JTACs stay sharp

Vance says success in the film industry is also hinged highly on people skills and mission focus. The military from the garrison to the battlefield is one and the same with movies from set to screen. Veterans could use that same decisive skills set to engage, inform, and aid their own communities.

“I think people are hungry for a challenge,” he says. “Look at things like Mud-Runs, challenges you can pay to get.  We ask 19-year-olds, men and women, to be soldiers, to be ambassadors, and spend a significant period of their adult years overseas. The people in our country need help. They need true leaders. We need people who can inspire other people and motivate other people. That’s what this generation of veterans has to offer.”

Articles

Here are 7 things NOT to do before a military move

This is how JTACs stay sharp
(Photo: Amy Bushatz, Military.com)


If you sit down at your computer and search for, “Help with PCS,” you will find dozens of articles telling you what to do. Heck, the military even hands your spouse a list that says, “DO THIS.”

This is not one of those lists.

Instead, this is a list to help you de-crazy your brain in those weeks leading up to the Big Move. This is a list that reminds you that everything that needs to get done will, in fact, get done.

And, if it doesn’t? It probably wasn’t that important to begin with.

1. Do Not expect to de-clutter, organize and label every aspect of your life before the movers come.

We have big plans to separate and label all of the junk we aren’t willing to part with this time around, and we may even purchase the storage bins as a proactive move. But, let’s face it. Moving day comes at lightning speed, and you end up lugging all those loose pictures you planned to consolidate into albums. Try again next PCS.

2. Do Not become too attached to those expected dates for your Household Goods to arrive.

Riiight, 5-10 business days? Try two weeks, or a month. Or, half of it within three days, and the other half in six months after they locate it. The point is, bring enough clothes, enough toys and at least one pot for making macaroni and cheese with you to the new duty station, and you’ll survive until the movers get here. … Whenever that is.

3. Do Not bother doing all your laundry before they pack up the house.

If you plan on driving to the next duty station, toss the laundry basket of dirty clothes in your car and finish it while you sit in temporary lodging. Trust me, you’ll need something to do while you’re waiting for your spouse to out-or in-process. Candy Crush gets boring after a while.

4. Do Not plan too many activities the week of moving day.

You will be stressed out, you will be overloaded, and you will already be racking your brain to think of the million and one things you’re probably already forgetting. Plan your last Girl’s Night Out, or your kiddos last play dates the week before, and reserve those final days for the last-minute-details that always seem to pop up.

5. Do Not assume the movers will know not to pack certain things.

Even obvious things like trash, car keys and cat litter boxes. And, if they don’t have a problem packing cat feces, they’re for sure going to assume your child’s favorite stuffed animal that they tossed on the floor — the one that they have to sleep with or the world falls apart — is fair game. So, if you don’t want them to pack it, my best suggestion would be to take open a safety deposit box at the bank and keep all of the stuff you want to take with you in it. I assume that will prevent them from finding it, but no guarantees.

6. Do Not get hung up on what the movers put in which boxes.

As long as it all generally goes in the same room—or floor—of the house, just call it good. You’ll run yourself ragged trying to micromanage an entire house move, and annoy the movers at the same time. Remember, happy movers mean the potential for less damaged items.

7. Do Not sweat the small stuff.

That first PCS will make you crazy as you balance trying to clean out base housing to the housing office’s satisfaction and feeling helpless watching as the packers touch every single item of your personal effects and pack it away for who-knows how long.

A PCS only comes around … well, to be honest, they come around pretty often, which is why a “don’t” list is something we all need. Do Not fret; you learn something from each move, and by the time you make your final one, you’ll be a pro.

Articles

15 of the most expensive projects abandoned by the US military

The US military is unquestionably the world’s strongest force with the world’s largest defense budget.


But throughout the 2000s, the Pentagon spent $51.2 billion on 15 major programs “without any fielded systems to show for it,” according to a new Center for Strategic and International Studies report.

The abandoned projects are largely the result of a lack of funding attributed to the Budget Control Act and sequestration.

Sequestration, indiscriminate budget cuts across the board that affect every portion of the military equally, is currently the greatest threat to the US military, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Business Insider.

Below are a series of the military’s modernization projects that were canceled partially because of a lack of funds:

Future Combat Systems

This is how JTACs stay sharp
U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $18.1 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately superseded by the Ground Combat Vehicle program, which was also ultimately canceled.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

RAH-66 Comanche Armed Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter

This is how JTACs stay sharp
U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $7.9 billion

Follow-On: The helicopter was superseded by the later canceled Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter project.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System

This is how JTACs stay sharp
An artist’s concept drawing. | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Branch: Air Force and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Sunk-Costs: $5.8 billion

Follow-On: The program was replaced by the now canceled Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). The DWSS is slated to be restarted as the Weather Satellite Follow-on.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Airborne Laser

This is how JTACs stay sharp
U.S. Missile Defense Agency

The Airborne Laser in flight with the mirror unstowed.

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $5.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was canceled without an identified replacement.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

VH-71 Presidential Helicopter

A conceptual drawing.

Branch: Marine Corps

Sunk Costs: $3.7 billion

Follow-On: The project was restarted as the VH-92A Presidential Helicopter.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle

This is how JTACs stay sharp

US Marine Corps

Branch: Marine Corps

Sunk Costs: $3.3 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately superseded by the Amphibious Combat Vehicle program.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

XM2001 Crusader Self-Propelled Howitzer

This is how JTACs stay sharp
U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $2.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was superseded by the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System, which was also canceled.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

E-10 Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft

This is how JTACs stay sharp
An E-8, which was intended to be replaced by the E-10. | U.S. Air Force photo

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $1.9 billion

Follow-On: The program was superseded by the Joint Surveillance Target and Attack Radar System program.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Space Based Infrared Systems-Low

This is how JTACs stay sharp
An artist’s rendition. | U.S. Air Force

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $1.5 billion

Follow-On: The program was superseded by the Space Tracking and Surveillance System.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Advanced SEAL Delivery System

This is how JTACs stay sharp

An SDV is docked into place by Navy SEALs. | U.S. Navy Photo

Branch: Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.6 billion

Follow-On: The project was superseded by the later canceled Joint Multi-Mission Submersible.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter

This is how JTACs stay sharp
U.S. Army

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $0.5 billion

Follow-On: The project was deferred following the US Army’s decision to field a mix of drones and AH-64Es instead.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Aerial Common Sensor

This is how JTACs stay sharp
U.S. Navy

The Aerial Common Sensor was replaced with the P-8 (above).

Branch: Army and Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.4 billion

Follow-On: The project deferred in favor of the US Navy’s P-8 program and upgrades to Army aircraft.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

CG(X) Next Generation Cruiser

This is how JTACs stay sharp
A DDG 51 destroyer, which was bought instead of the CG(X). | U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Patrick Reilly

Branch: Navy

Sunk Costs: $0.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was deferred, and the Navy bought additional DDG 51 destroyers instead.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

CSAR-X Combat Rescue Helicopter

This is how JTACs stay sharp
The HH60 Pave Hawk, produced as part of the Critical Rescue Helicopter program. | Airwolfhound/Flickr

Branch: Air Force

Sunk Costs: $0.2 billion

Follow-On: The project was ultimately restarted as the Combat Rescue Helicopter.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Next-Generation Bomber

This is how JTACs stay sharp
The B-2 Spirit, the project that replaced the Next Generation Bomber. | Photo by U.S. Air Force

Branch: Army

Sunk Costs: $0.1 billion

Follow-On: The project was restarted as the Long Range Strike Bomber.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Do Not Sell My Personal Information