The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:
Soldiers, assigned to KFOR Multinational Battle Group-East’s Task Force Hurricane, made up of Soldiers from The National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve, hiked to the peak of Mount Ljuboten in southern Kosovo, Aug. 23, 2015.
Soldiers, assigned to U.S. Army Africa, work with French Armée de Terre service members to offload a Puma helicopter from a United States Air Force C-17 in support of Operation Barkhane at Camp Kossei in N’Djamena, Chad, Aug. 23, 2015.
ARABIAN GULF (Sept. 1, 2015) The Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8) participates in a night underway replenishment (UNREP) with Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).
ARABIAN GULF (Sept. 1, 2015) Sailors aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) conduct a night replenishment-at-sea (RAS) with the Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8).
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Aug. 31, 2015) U.S. Marines assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion observe the approach of amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) during well deck operations aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25).
An F-15C Eagle flies over East Anglia, England, Aug. 27, 2015, during a flyover event at Royal Air Force Lakenheath. The F-15C, assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, circulated until it flew in unison with the U.K. Avro Vulcan XH558 to mark the first and last time these aircraft will fly together.
Staff Sgt. Saber Barrera, with 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron firetruck and refueling maintenance, works with a co-worker to replace an engine starter in Southwest Asia, Aug. 27, 2015.
Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Stott, the 90th Medical Group superintendent, splashes through muddy water Aug. 29, 2015, during the second annual mud run at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The run attracted more than 100 Airmen and their families.
An M1A1 Abrams main battle tank, from 2nd Tank Battalion, hides in the brush during a defensive maneuver on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 26, 2015.
Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, practice loading and unloading rounds during sustainment training on Aug. 21, 2015. The CAAT, composed of heavy machine gunners and anti-tank missilemen, is used to combat hardened targets as well as provide security.
A Marine assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, climbs a rope as part of the Dark Horse Ajax Challenge aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 20, 2015. The eight-mile course tested the Marines’ and Sailors’ endurance and leadership skills with trials spread across the San Mateo area.
Leading the way in maritime drug interdiction, the USCG Cutter Adelie interdicted an estimated 2,900 pounds of marijuana Saturday. This is the second interdiction of illegal drugs by Washington-based patrol boats within the last week.
The 47ft motor lifeboats were conducting approaches to one another for training.
Military investigators are trying to piece together the cause of a crash that killed 15 Marines and a sailor in Mississippi in July, but it could be a year or more until any information becomes public.
In the meantime, the Marine Corps’ fleet of KC130T transport planes remains grounded. That plane is similar to the one that crashed near Itta Bena on July 10.
April Phillips, a spokeswoman for the Naval Safety Center, said August 21 that final reports often don’t become public for 12 to 18 months following a crash. Even then, much of the information in the reports is often withheld from public view.
“Ours are done solely to ensure what happened doesn’t happen again,” Phillips said, saying that various military commanders must endorse the report before it’s finished.
Marines and other investigators finished collecting debris August 3, recovering all of the plane’s major components, said Marine Forces Reserve spokeswoman Lt. Stephanie L. Leguizamon. She said last week that there’s still work going on to clean up the crash area.
Naval Safety Center investigators are both reconstructing the wreckage and interviewing witnesses. Their report will ultimately include recommendations to enhance safety.
Victims included nine Marines based at Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, New York, who flew and crewed the plane, plus six Marines and a Navy Corpsman from an elite Marine Raider battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The passengers were headed for pre-deployment training in Yuma, Arizona. Cargo included at least some ammunition.
Brig. Gen. Bradley S. James has told reporters that whatever went wrong began when the plane was at cruising altitude. Most of the plane pancaked upside down into a field, but part of it, including the cockpit, broke off and landed far from the fuselage and wings. Debris was scattered for miles over fields, woods, and ponds.
Witnesses said they saw the plane descend from high altitude with an engine smoking, with some describing what pilots call a “flat spin,” where a plane twirls around like a boomerang.
Phillips said the plane didn’t have an in-flight data recorder. That, plus the lack of survivors, could make the debris crucial to determining what happened.
“A lot it, in this case, is likely to come from forensic evidence,” she said.
Phillips said the C-130 and its variants have historically been one of the safest planes operated by the Marine Corps. The Navy classifies its most serious incidents as Class A mishaps, involving death, permanent disability, or more than $2 million in damage. Only two in-flight Class A mishaps were recorded before the Mississippi crash, both in 2002. A KC-130R experienced a flash fire and crashed into a mountain in Pakistan while nearing an airfield, killing seven people. A KC130F crash landed shortly after taking off inCalifornia, causing injuries but no deaths.
The New York squadron is the last Marine unit flying the KC-130T version and is scheduled to upgrade to a newer version in 2019. Only the remaining 12 KC-130Ts are affected by the grounding.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on July 30 presided over a massive military parade from an open-topped jeep, declaring, “The world is not peaceful, and peace needs to be defended.”
And as China’s show of force demonstrates, Beijing may have the will and the strength to replace the US as the world’s defender of peace.
“Our heroic military has the confidence and capabilities to preserve national sovereignty, security, and interests … and to contribute more to maintaining world peace,” Xi said at the parade, one day after US President Donald Trump lashed out at Beijing for its inaction regarding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
China’s massive military modernization and increasing assertiveness have irked many of its neighbors in the region, and even as the US attempts to reassure its allies that US power still rules the day, that military edge is eroding.
China showed off new, mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles that it says can reach the US in 30 minutes, along with its J-20 stealth interceptor jets. And Xi inspected thousands of troops drawn from the 2 million-strong People’s Liberation Army on its 90th anniversary.
The historian Alfred McCoy estimates that by 2030, China, a nation of 1.3 billion, will surpass the US in both economic and military strength, essentially ending the American empire and Pax Americana the world has known since the close of World War II.
But China could achieve this goal patiently and without a violent struggle. China has employed a “salami-slicing” method of slowly but surely militarizing the South China Sea in incremental steps that have not prompted a strong military response from the US. However, the result is China’s de facto control over a shipping lane that sees $5 trillion in annual traffic.
“The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, may already be tattered and fading by 2025 and, except for the finger pointing, could be over by 2030,” McCoy wrote in his new book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.”
China’s J-20 jet also most likely borrows from stealth secrets stolen from the US through a sophisticated hacking regime. Though China hasn’t mastered stealth technology in the way the US has, the jet still poses a real threat to US forces.
Meanwhile, the US is stretched thin. It has had been at war in Afghanistan for 16 years and in Iraq for 14, and it has been scrambling to curtail Iranian and Russian influence in Syria while reassuring its Baltic NATO allies that it’s committed to their protection against an aggressive Russia.
Under Xi, who pushes an ambitious foreign policy, China’s eventual supremacy over the US seems inevitable.
A Tactical Control Party Airmen and qualified Joint Terminal Aircraft Controller assigned to the 9th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Hood, Texas, directs an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft during a close-air-support exercise at Fort Hood, Texas Oct. 30, 2020. The 330th Recruiting Squadron used this exercise, along with the 2020 Lightning Challenge to publicize the capabilities of Special Warfare Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III).
On May 14, 2021, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) awarded a total of $19.2 million to five companies for demonstration prototypes under the Armed Overwatch program. The project seeks to provide SOCOM with a low-cost aircraft to fly surveillance and provide airstrikes in support of special operators in austere combat environments.
The five aircraft that SOCOM selected are the Leidos Inc. Bronco II, MAG Aerospace MC-208 Guardian, Textron Aviation Defense AT-6E Wolverine, L-3 Communications Integrated Systems AT-802U Sky Warden and Sierra Nevada Corp. MC-145B Wily Coyote. All five prototypes will take part in a demonstration at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, which is expected to be complete by March 2022. If their prototype is successful, a company could be requested to provide a proposal for a follow-on production award.
The Armed Overwatch program follows the Air Force’s efforts to replace the U-28 Draco with their light attack experiment. SOCOM is looking to purchase 75 aircraft under the Armed Overwatch program to fly close air support, precision strike, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. James C. “Jim” Slife, set a procurement goal of FY 2022.
“We can do that at relatively low risk based on what we’ve seen from the vendors who have indicated that they intend to bring platforms to demonstrate for us in the coming months,” he said in February 2021.
In the FY 2021 defense policy bill, Congress blocked SOCOM from purchasing aircraft. However, the command was allowed to proceed with the Armed Overwatch flying demonstration.
“I think Congress is appropriately and prudently exercising their oversight role,” Lt. Gen. Slife said. “I would view this as a lower-risk enterprise than perhaps some charged with oversight do, but the fact that we see it differently doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.”
As the War on Terror expands to operational theaters outside of the Middle East, close air support and ISR assets are being stretched thin. The acquisition of a low-cost armed overwatch aircraft could provide a vital force multiplier to special operations in remote areas of the world.
Jacob Parrott was a U.S. soldier who participated in the legendary Civil War mission popularly known as the Great Locomotive Race. His bravery as a member of the Union crew that stole a Confederate train led to recognition as the nation’s first Medal of Honor recipient.
Prior to the Civil War, the democratic peoples of the United States resisted the very idea of military medals. Americans connected a chest covered in fruit salad with the kind of European traditions the new nation was designed to eliminate.
Give the credit to Lt. Col. Edward D. Townsend for first suggesting a medal of honor to his boss Commanding General of the U.S. Army Winfield Scott in 1861. Scott resisted, but the idea took hold. After Secretary of Navy Gideon Welles supported legislation for a Navy version, the Army got on board with the concept and Congress passed legislation that created the award.
The April 1862 mission, led by civilian spy James Andrews, was designed to cut off Confederate supply lines by destroying rail tracks and telegraph communications along a route between Marietta, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Andrews’ raiders boarded a train in Marietta and hijacked it when passengers got off for breakfast at the first stop heading north.Advertisement
If Confederate troops holding Chattanooga could not be resupplied from the South, Union generals believed they could take the city and speed up the South’s defeat, ending the war at least two years before the actual surrender at Appomattox.
Confederate soldiers chased the train. Andrews’ men had to switch trains over the course of the journey and their replacement train ran out of water and fuel before they could complete their mission. The men scattered and Andrews was executed by Confederates for leading the mission. Parrott was captured and flogged before imprisonment. He was later returned to the Union Army in a prisoner exchange.
The story has been told on film before. Disney made “The Great Locomotive Chase,” a 1956 movie starring Fess Parker as James Andrews. Parker was at the height of his Davy Crockett fame. Claude Jarman Jr., best known as Jody in “The Yearling,” played Jacob Parrott in his final movie role before ending his on-screen career to join the U.S. Navy.
The movie tries to appeal to all audiences. The Confederates are honorable men who have a mission and so are the Union spies. Parker even tries to shake hands with his Confederate nemesis William Fuller (played by Jeffrey Hunter) before he goes to the gallows. There are opponents but no one’s really the villain.
Jacob Parrott was one of six Army volunteers who received a medal of honor on March 25, 1863. Because he’d been physically abused in a Confederate prisoner of war camp, Parrott was the first man to receive his medal in recognition of his sacrifice. He was joined that day by Sgt. Elihu H. Mason, Cpl. William Pittinger, Cpl. William H. H. Reddick, Pvt. William Bensinger and Pvt. Robert Buffum.
AUSA will be publishing three more Medal of Honor graphic novels this year, featuring Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., a Native American soldier who sacrificed his life in Korea, Wild Bill Donovan, the WWI hero who later founded the OSS, and Roger Donlon, the first recipient from the Vietnam War and the first Special Forces recipient.
It could be argued that the history of aviation spans thousands of years, but in the last generation alone, mankind has developed technology that has allowed humanity to not only take flight, but to accomplish powerful feats of aerodynamic speed, distance, and heights. We’ve also built advanced weapons — both manned and unmanned — that have changed the scope of warfare forever.
This is a list of the top 10 fighters to transform the aerial battlespace for better… or for worse:
(Photo by Dimitri Tarakhov)
10. Su-27 Flanker
The Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker introduced a true modern fighter for the Soviet Union. It was developed in response to the F-15 Eagle during the Cold War and would become one of the most impressive fighter jets of the 20th century. The combination of AA-11 Archer missiles and Helmet Mounted Sight system introduced a true close-in threat to western fighters. The Su-27 might even have an edge over the F-15 in a dogfight — if the Eagle’s superior avionics let it get that close, but I’ll let you guys debate that in the comments.
Built for air superiority, the Su-27 has the flexibility for interceptor and ground attack missions and it remains in service as a multi-role fighter to this day.
The F-86 Sabre was the first swept-wing airplane in the U.S. fighter inventory. It scored countless air-to-air kills against Soviet-built aircraft during the Korean War, namely the MiG-15 Fagot. In 1948, an F-86A set a world speed record of 570 mph; model upgrades would go on to beat that record when an F-86D flew 698 mph in 1952 and then hit 715 mph in 1953.
While the United States would discontinue production of the F-86 in 1956, it still boasts the legacy of defeating its enemy with a victory ratio of 10-to-1 over the Korean Peninsula, where nearly 800 MiG-15s were destroyed at the cost of fewer than eighty Sabres.
(Photo by Stefan Krause)
8. Fokker Dr 1
The Fokker Dr 1 is infamous for its missions at the hands of German World War 1 ace Baron Manfred von Richtofen — otherwise known as the Red Baron. In fact, it is the very plane he was killed in after his 80th and final victory. The triplane was built to outmaneuver Great Britain’s Sopwith Triplane — and it did. While relatively slow with a maximum speed of 115 mph at sea level, it could, according to the Red Baron himself, “maneuver like a devil.”
More impressive, perhaps, were its thick cantilever wings, which needed no struts or bracing wires, unlike most other planes during the war. While later variants of the Fokker would surpass the Red Baron’s driedecker (translation: triplane), the Fokker Dr 1 earned its reputation paving the way for aerial dogfights.
The F-4 Phantom made this list not only because it was one of the most versatile fighters ever built, but also because of its bad a** Wild Weasel role during the Vietnam War. The Phantom was specifically designed to go looking for trouble, flying low and slow to light up enemy SAMs (surface-to-air missile sites).
Early models of the F-4 didn’t even have an internal gun — it was built for beyond visual range weapons. Carrying everything from the AIM-9 Sidewinder to nuclear weapons, the Phantom ushered in modern air combat as a true multi-role fighter.
With the Bf-109, the P-51 Mustang, and P-38 Lightning in the skies, it can be hard to choose a favorite plane from World War II, but we’re giving the glory to the Supermarine Spitfire. The British icon was built with an advanced all-metal airframe, making it fast and maneuverable. It was also full of firepower, and its role in the Battle of Britain against the German Luftwaffe gave the Allies a crucial victory when they needed it the most.
During the D-Day invasion, the Spitfire Mark IX carried 20mm cannons and .50 calibre machine guns, carrying out critical ground-attack missions — and even injuring General Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, himself.
(U.S. Dept. of Defense photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II)
5. F-117 Nighthawk
While stealth technology had been explored since World War II, the F-117 Nighthawk gets credit for bringing true stealth capabilities to combat. Shrouded in secrecy during its development, the F-117 was designed to attack high-value targets without being detected by enemy radar. In 1981, it became the world’s first operational stealth aircraft.
In 1999, the U.S. lost its edge when an F-117 was shot down in Yugoslavia. The details about the event are still classified, but it’s known that the aircraft landed relatively intact, potentially allowing Russia and China to enter the stealth technology game.
The F-117 saw combat during multiple operations over two decades and it paved the way for the 5th generation stealth fighters we fly today.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Rob Tabor)
4. F/A-18 Hornet
The F/A-18 Hornet was the first tactical aircraft designed to carry out both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, making it a versatile fighter for both Naval aircraft carrier duty and Marine Corps combat operations. The Hornet could switch roles easily, a feat it performed successfully during the Persian Gulf War when it shot down two Iraqi MiG-21s in fighter mode and then took out a ground target in attack mode during a mission.
The Hornet is not only the nation’s first official strike-fighter, it’s proven to be one of the most reliable as well, operating as a fighter escort, fleet air defense, and providing both close and deep air support.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)
3. MQ-1 Predator
The MQ-1 Predator brought true combat drones to reality and marked the beginning of the end of man-powered aerial combat. Yeah I said it. Come at me, flyboys. With its first Hellfire kill in November, 2002, the Predator changed warfighting forever.
The Predator was operated remotely by a pilot and one or two sensor operators. It was a multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance asset that primarily operated as an ISR platform, but its armament capabilities offered it the ability to strike targets as needed.
The U.S. Air Force officially retired the Predator on March 9, 2018, to give way to its super-sized follow-up, the MQ-9 Reaper, which saw the Hellfire missiles of the MQ-1 and raised it some JDAMs and the GBU-12.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Ammons)
2. F-15 Eagle
The F-15 Eagle boasts an undefeated record in air-to-air combat, with models still in use today despite the design being from the 1970s. Its longevity can be attributed to its unprecedented acceleration, groundbreaking maneuverability, and impressive weapons capabilities. It’s high thrust-to-weight ratio and low wing-loading allow the Eagle to turn tightly without losing airspeed while its top speed above Mach 2.5 made it the first U.S. fighter capable of vertical acceleration.
It’s avionics package and armament specs — notably including the AIM 120-D AMRAAM radar-guided missile — combined with flight performance defined air superiority and it has yet to meet an enemy capable of bringing it down.
The F-22 Raptor is the most powerful air dominance fighter in the world — no, in the universe. Considered the first 5th generation fighter in the U.S. inventory, the Raptor boasts unprecedented attack capabilities, integrated avionics, and battlespace awareness, as well as stealth technologies that allow it to protect not only itself but other assets.
In air-to-air configuration, the Raptor carries six AIM 120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinders, while in air-to-ground mode it can carry two GBU-32 JDAMs (while bringing along two AMRAAMs and two Sidewinders just for kicks).
The F-22’s powerful engine and sleek aerodynamic design allow it to cruise at supersonic speeds without using afterburner and its flight controls and maneuverability are unmatched by any other aircraft. Ever.
If that list doesn’t make you want to cross into the wild blue yonder, then dammit, I don’t know what will. Leave a comment and let me know.
French Emperor Napoleon was fresh from one of his greatest victories in July 1807. The previous month, his forces routed the Army of Russian Tsar Alexander I at Friedland. The victory ended the War of the Fourth Coalition, brought Russia into Napoleon’s Continental System and ended any threat to the empire from mainland Europe.
Napoleon decided to celebrate the victory of his glorious empire with a good old-fashioned rabbit hunt. Rather than wander through the woods for hours on end looking for rabbits (and potentially coming up with none at all), he assigned his Chief of Staff, Alexandre Berthier, to go and collect a large number of rabbits for the event.
Berthier did his job beautifully. Even, you might say, too beautifully. He collected what could only be described as “too many rabbits.” Some historians believe the Chief of Staff collected as many as 3,000 rabbits for the hunt. Nothing Napoleon ever did would ever be called “understated,” so 3,000 rabbits for a handful of men to hunt doesn’t seem so unbelievable.
He then invited all of the emperor’s top brass to the event, which began with a luncheon before the main event. The men ate as the rabbits sat in cages on the outskirts of a grassy field. After the meal, the hunters (Napoleon included) armed themselves and signaled their readiness. With guns in hand, the rabbits were released from their cages.
At this point, it’s important to know that rabbits are usually a flighty animal, easily frightened and known to dart away when in danger. Or for any reason at all. That’s probably what Napoleon and his generals expected to happen when the cages opened. That’s not what happened when the cages opened.
Instead of darting away, the rabbits began to make a beeline for the most powerful men of the world’s most powerful empire. What was probably pretty funny at first took a turn for the worse when the rabbits, seemingly unable to take any more oppression, were suddenly taking their outrage out on the Emperor and his men.
Now too close to simply shoot, Napoleon, his generals, Berthier, coachmen and servants all began to take swipes at the bunnies with riding crops, sticks, and whatever else they had handy. The four-legged assault still continued as they climbed up the men’s legs and coats. Napoleon and his generals were about to retreat for the first time.
Napoleon ran away to his carriage, as most other attendees likely did. Then the rabbits took a page out of the Emperor’s own playbook. They broke into two smaller, but still considerably large formations and surrounded the entire party. Only when Napoleon and the others drove off did the bunny onslaught stop.
Berthier apparently was so eager to ensure the bunnies were in place for the hunt that day that he didn’t acquire live rabbits from the wooded areas nearby. Instead, he picked up the rabbits from locals. These were not the flighty, frightened rabbits we see almost everywhere these days. They were tame, accustomed to humans, and likely ready for that day’s meal when the Frenchmen opened their cages. When they made their Monty Python-esque attack for the French brass, there’s a good chance they were thinking about having a luncheon of their own.
If we were to ask Napoleon today about his worst defeat ever, he would likely say it was Waterloo, the battle that finally ended his reign for good. But somewhere in the back of his mind, the day he faced down thousands of pointy ears might come a close second.
Being in the military requires you to quickly adapt to a very strict code of conduct. The military lifestyle prevents laziness and forces you to maintain a consistent, proper appearance. When troops leave the service, however, their good habits tend to fly out the window.
Now, that’s not to say that all veterans will lose every good habit they’ve picked up while serving. But there are a few routines that’ll instantly be broken simply because there aren’t any repercussions for dropping them.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Maybe you’re that Major Payne type of veteran. If so, good job. Meanwhile, my happy ass is staying in bed until the sun rises.
We’re also probably not going to make our beds with hospital corners any more, either.
(Photo by Cpl. Octavia Davis)
Waking up early is an annoying, but useful, habit
The very first morning after receiving their DD-214, nearly every veteran laugh as they hit the snooze button on an alarm they forgot to turn off. For the first time in a long time, a troop can sleep in until the sun rises on a weekday — and you can be damn sure that they will.
When they start attending college or get a new job, veterans no longer see the point in waking up at 0430 just to stand in the cold and run at 0530. If class starts at 0900, they won’t be out of bed until at least 0815 (after hitting snooze a few times).
Finding time after work to go to the gym is, ironically, too much effort.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Dave Flores)
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with waking up early. The morning is the perfect time to go for a run — but most veterans are going to be catching up on the sleep they didn’t get while in service. Plus, the reason many so many troops can stay up all night drinking and not feel the pain come time for morning PT is that their bodies are constantly working. It’s a good habit to have.
The moment life slows down and you’re not running every day, you’ll start to feel those knees get sore. Which just adds on to the growing pile of excuses to not work out.
Don’t you miss all that effort we used to put into shaving every single day? Yeah, me neither.
(Photo by Senior Airman Erin Piazza)
Shaving every day, haircuts every week…one of the most annoying good habits
If troops show up to morning formation with even the slightest bit of fuzz on their face or hair touching their ears, they will feel the wrath of the NCOs.
When you get out, you’ll almost be expected to grow an operator beard and let your hair grow. Others skip shaving their chin and instead shave their head bald to achieve that that Kratos-in-the-new-God-of-War look.
“Hurry up and wait” becomes “slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson)
15 minutes prior
If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re 14 minutes early, you’re still late. If you’re 25 minutes early, you’ll be asked why you weren’t there 5 minutes ago. It’s actually astonishing how much troops get done while still managing to arrive 30 minutes early to everything.
Vets will still keep up a “15 minute prior” rule for major events, but don’t expect them to be everywhere early anymore. This habit is one we don’t really miss.
Civilians also don’t get that when you knifehand them, you’re telling them off. They think you’re just emoting with your hands.
(Photo by Sgt. Bryan Nygaard)
Suppressing opinions is a hard habit to break
Not too many troops share their true opinions on things while serving. It’s usually just a copy-and-paste answer of, “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” This is partly because the military is constantly moving and no one really cares about your opinion on certain things.
The moment a veteran gets into a conversation and civilians think they’re an expect on a given subject, they’ll shout their opinion from the mountaintops. This is so prevalent that you’ll hear, “as a veteran, I think…” in even the most mundane conversations, like the merits of the newest Star Wars film.
Except with our weapons. Veterans will never half-ass cleaning weapons.
(Photo by Airman Eugene Oliver)
Putting in extra effort
Perfection is key in the military. From day one, troops are told to take pride in every action they perform. In many cases, this tendency bleeds into the civilian world because veterans still have that eye for minor details.
However, that intense attention to detail starts to fade over time, especially for minor tasks. They could try their hardest and they could spend time mastering something, but that 110% turns into a “meh, good enough” after a while.
In the military, everyone looks out for one another. In the civilian world, it’s just too funny to watch others fall on their face.
(Photo by Alan R. Quevy)
Sympathy toward coworkers
A platoon really is as close as a family. If one person is in pain, everyone is in pain until we all make it better. No matter what the problem is, your squadmate is right there as a shoulder to lean on.
Civilians who never served, on the other hand, have a much lower tolerance for bad days. If one of your comrades got their heart broken because Jodie came into the picture, fellow troops will be the first to grab shovels for them. If one of your civilian coworkers breaks down because someone brought non-vegan coffee creamer into the office, vets will simply laugh at their weakness.
According to a report by The Daily Beast, the information gathered in the aftermath of the raid — which resulted in the death Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator William Owens and injured several other troops — indicated that al-Qaeda had developed bombs that could fit inside laptop computers. An explosion on a Somali airliner last year was seen as a “proof of concept” for the new bombs, failing due to the low altitude of the plane.
The Daily Beast reported that the bombs must be manually triggered, prompting their ban from the aircraft cabins and carry-on luggage, but not from checked baggage. Wired.com reports that the American ban applies to inbound flights from eight predominately Muslim countries. The Daily Beast reported that the United Kingdom imposed a similar ban in the wake of the American one.
The Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for that airliner attack, which reportedly used PETN, the same explosive used by “shoe bomber” Richard Reid in 2002. As little as three and a haf ounces of PETN could bring down an airplane.
The Jan. 28 raid was controversial, not only for the death of Owens, but also due to civilian casualties, the unexpected heavy opposition, and the loss of a V-22 Osprey tiltrotor.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, labeled the operation a failure. President Donald Trump, though, called the operation a success, and also claimed that substantial intelligence had been gathered.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has targeted airliners in the past. In 2009, the terrorist group was involved in the plot to use an underwear bomb to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253. The device malfunctioned, injuring the terrorist.
After giving over 21 years of his life to this nation, Navy SEAL Senior Chief Chad Wilkinson died by suicide on October 29, 2018. His wife Sara and GORUCK are on a mission to stop other veterans from doing the same.
In 2008, GORUCK was founded by veteran Green Beret Jason McCarthy and his wife, Emily. The two founded the company together out of her house in West Africa, where she was stationed as a CIA agent. Their company motto highlights service being a way of life: Building Better Americans, stronger communities, empowered people.
“I joined after 9/11 because of 9/11, (Jason) McCarthy explained. “I felt I needed to serve something bigger than myself and also wanted revenge, quite frankly. I was in Special Forces from 2003 until 2008 and got out to start GORUCK which is patterned after the Special Forces. Since the beginning it’s always been important to us to give back. Veteran suicide has been an enormous challenge in our community and our country.”
Although the CDC lists warning signs and concerning behaviors to look for in someone who may be suicidal, Sara Wilkinson said none of the typical red flags were present in Chad — he had never talked about struggling with anything. But she also admitted spouses tend to chalk things up to “that’s just how they are” due to the nature of their job. For Chad, it was more than a job.
Being a SEAL was the dream he told her about when she was just 13 years old. “We were military kids who met on base at a DoD high school. He always wanted to be a SEAL and that’s where the path took us,” Sara explained.
Chad even left college early to enlist in the Navy, following in the footsteps of an uncle and his own father who’d both been SEALs. “It was always in his heart to serve this country. Chad graduated from BUD/s Class 204 in 1996 and went to SEAL Team 8 after completing his medic training at Fort Bragg,” she said.
After 10 years with the team, Chad got out. “We absolutely hated it,” Sara laughed. In less than three years, Chad was back in. This time, he was initially sent to the west coast but was fast-tracked to SEAL Team 6. Also known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, widely known to be comprised of the most elite special operators in the world.
“There were multiple deployments — way too many,” Sara said. “As time went on they all changed. I am probably one of the few spouses who will say it outloud. They are just made to be larger than life humans. That affects them too.”
Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI, is a very real diagnosis making the rounds for veterans. But there are some brain traumas within the scope of TBI being missed in scans. After Chad’s death, Sara donated his brain for medical research. The results showed significant “interface astragal scarring” — caused by blast waves.
In 2016, a study of eight brains of veterans who’d died by suicide or drug overdose revealed the same damage undetected by typical scans.
“When you’re talking about people who’ve done multiple deployments, shooting RPGs — I mean they are blasting doors constantly not just overseas but in training,” Sara explained. “Basically, it not only deteriorates your brain but affects your entire body at the physiological level. It’s really hard when you’ve loved someone your whole life to think like, ‘That broke him?’ He was unbreakable.”
Though McCarthy personally didn’t know Chad, he said his story resonated deeply with him. The GORUCK Team wanted to do something to honor him and bring awareness to the issue. It was here the idea for the Veterans Day Chad 1000X Workout was born. In 2020, the initiative raised over $100,000 for the Navy Seal Foundation and other veteran mental health programs.
“It was incredibly humbling how many people took to the workout and how widespread it got in such a short amount of time. When you lose someone who is so close to you, all you want is for someone to know the person you loved,” Sara said through tears.
Though the often quoted 22-a-day statistic may fluctuate, the number is an alarming trend which no amount of funding seems to be able to adequately address. “We are looking for things to blame and I believe the solution is far more foundational. The solution is bringing people together and not letting people isolate to the point of loneliness, depression or anxiety,” McCarthy explained.
For both Sara and McCarthy, they see the way the symptoms are hidden due to fear or shame. “My hope for this would be to normalize it because it doesn’t discriminate across the board. We’re about to reach a point where when someone retires at 20 years, they’ve spent their entire career at war,” Sara said. “I do think there should be a conversation about being okay that it will affect you and it doesn’t make you less.”
McCarthy echoed the sentiment. “Someone like Chad who everyone thought was unbreakable, broke. It’s not because he was born to break, either. It’s a cautionary tale to everyone out there. He hid this really well,” McCarthy said. “There is no easy button or easy fix. We want to raise awareness and funding and stress the idea of people coming together.”
Though Sara is grateful his memory will live on with the Chad 1000X through GORUCK, the workout is about the current veterans and their spouses, she said. “They are hurting, very badly. For me, that is where my heart is. I would do just about anything for this to not happen to someone else.”
To register for the GORUCK Veterans Day CHAD 1000x Workout, click here.
Zukunft reiterated that point time and again during an Aug. 24 speech to members of the Alaska policy nonprofit Commonwealth North in Anchorage.
He recalled a conversation he had with then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice when Rice asked him what President Barack Obama should highlight shortly before the president’s extended trip to Alaska in late August 2015.
“I said (to Rice) we are an Arctic nation. We have not made the right investments and we do not have the strategic assets to be an Arctic nation and that translates to icebreakers and that’s almost exactly what President Obama said when he came up here,” Zukunft said.
“Fast forward — it’s Jan. 20, 2017, and I’m sitting next to President Trump and as they’re parading by he says, ‘So, you got everything you need?’ I said, ‘I don’t. The last administration, they made a statement but they didn’t show me the money. I need icebreakers.’ (Trump said) ‘How many?’ ‘Six.’ ‘You got it.’
“You never miss an opportunity,” Zukunft quipped.
It’s well documented in Alaska that the US has “one-and-a-half” operable icebreakers. That is, the heavy icebreaker Polar Star and the medium icebreaker Healy, which are in the Coast Guard’s fleet. A sister ship to the Polar Star, the Polar Sea remains inactive after an engine failure in 2010.
Zukunft noted Russia’s current fleet of 41 icebreakers to emphasize how far behind he feels the US is in preparing for increased military and commercial activity in the Arctic as sea ice continues to retreat — a message Alaska’s congressional delegation stresses as well.
“We are the only military service that’s truly focused on what’s happening in the Arctic and what happens in the Arctic does not happen in isolation,” Zukunft said.
He added that Russia is on track to deliver two more cruise missile-equipped icebreakers in 2020.
“I’m not real comfortable with them right on our back step coming through the Bering Strait and operating in this domain when we have nothing to counter it with,” he said.
The Coast Guard’s 2017 budget included a $150 million request to fund a new medium icebreaker, which Zukunft characterized as a “down payment” on the vessel expected to cost about $780 million, according to an Aug. 15 Congressional Research Service report on the progress of adding to the country’s icebreaking fleet.
For years it was estimated that new heavy icebreakers would cost in the neighborhood of $1 billion each, but those estimates have been revised down as the benefits of lessons learned through construction of the initial vessel and ordering multiple icebreakers from the same shipyard are further examined.
The CRS report now estimates the first heavy icebreaker will cost about $980 million to build, but by the fourth that price tag would go down to about $690 million for an average per-vessel cost of about $790 million. That is on par with the cost for a single new medium icebreaker.
Zukunft said the Coast Guard is working with five shipyards on an accelerated timeline to get the first icebreaker by 2023, but how it will be fully funded is still unclear.
“We have great bipartisan support but who is going to write the check?” he said, adding that aside from Russia and China, the United States’ economy is larger than that of the other 18 nations with icebreakers combined.
The Obama administration first proposed a high-level funding plan for new icebreakers in 2013 that has not been advanced outside of small appropriations.
“Our GDP (gross domestic product) is at least five times that of Russia and we’re telling ourselves we can’t afford it,” Zukunft continued. “Now this is just an issue of political will and not having the strategic forbearance to say this is an investment that we must have.”
He also advocated for the US finally signing onto the United Nations Law of the Sea treaty, which lays out the broad ground rules for what nations control off their coasts and how they interact in international waters.
Not signing onto the Law of the Sea, which was opened in 1982, leaves the US little say as other nations further study and potentially exploit the Arctic waters that are opening, he said.
“We are in the same club as Yemen; we are in the Star Wars bar of misfits of countries that have not ratified the Law of the Sea convention,” Zukunft said.
If you’re in the market for a used fighter jet that can still fly, the Albanian Air Force would like to talk with you in the near future before they run out of stock!
Forty Cold War-era fighter jets have been put up for auction by the Albanian government with the goal of eventually selling all of its retired fixed-wing fleet to whoever has the highest bid. Of that forty, eleven fighters parked at the old Rinasi air base near Tirana are currently open for immediate sale, with opening bids beginning at 1.1 million to 1.9 million leks. Yes, million, and no, that’s not actually a lot of money when you do the currency conversion. Overall, it comes to the grand range of $8,600 to $14,800 USD, according to the Associated Press.
That pretty much means anybody with a job could probably afford to buy one of these fighters… not including transportation, maintenance, and insurance costs. Not to mention operational costs if you decide to actually fly these aircraft.
It’s somewhat unclear whether or not these fighters up for sale are actually MiGs or the Chinese clone copies, though a closer inspection of each aircraft will undoubtedly reveal their source. The Albanian Air Force originally fielded Soviet-built MiG-15s, -17s, and -19s, though it began to procure Chinese-made clones after Albanian relations with the USSR ended in 1961. Albania eventually bought large numbers of Shenyang J-5s and J-6s (MiG-17s and MiG-19s respectively) and a smaller fleet of Chengdu J-7s (MiG-21s).
Before you tell your wife you’re about to take out a second mortgage on your house, or your college roommates that you just found something really sweet to pool your money on, you should probably be aware of the fact that the Albanian Air Force had an astoundingly high accident rate with its fighters. When the USSR ended diplomatic ties with Albania, it became incredibly difficult to find parts and the appropriate jet fuel for their MiG fighters, so Albania spurred on its industry to attempt to produce a similar fuel composition to keep their fighters flying. The fuel wasn’t similar enough, and apparently wreaked havoc on the engines it was burned in, shortening their lifespans, and in some cases, outright blowing up aircraft while in-flight.
If the test sale of the 11 MiGs (or Shenyangs?) is successful, the remaining fighter fleet will be opened up for sale. Prospective bidders include museums around the United States and Europe, as well as private bidders who just want the aircraft to add to their collections. I can’t say with certainty that the TACAIRNET team won’t try to bid on one, either… So you’d better hurry if you’re looking to have a MiG-17 parked in your driveway by the end of this year!
Before they were big-name celebrities, these nine men served as pilots and aircrewmen in the U.S. military.
In 1942, at age 19, Joseph Heller joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Two years later he was sent to the Italian Front, where he flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier.
Heller later remembered the war as “fun in the beginning … You got the feeling that there was something glorious about it.” After his military service Heller went on to write Catch-22, which to many represents the standard of American military sarcasm. (Source: CNN)
Before Jimmy Stewart starred in classic American films like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Rear Window” he was an Army Air Corps pilot. On March 31, 1944 he was appointed Operations Officer of the 453rd Bomb Group. Subsequent billets included that of Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat wing, 2nd Air Division of the 8th Air Force. Stewart ended the war with 20 combat missions. He remained in the USAF Reserve and was eventually promoted to brigadier general. (Source: Military.com)
Clark Gable may have frankly not given a damn when dissin’ Scarlett in the movie “Gone With The Wind,” but he most likely did when he served as an bomber crewman in World War II.
Gable flew five combat missions as an observer-gunner in B-17 Flying Fortresses, which earned him the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. During one of the missions, Gable’s aircraft was damaged by flak and attacked by fighters, which knocked out one of the engines and shot up the stabilizer. In another raid on Germany, one crewman was killed and two others were wounded, and flak went through his boot and narrowly missed his head. (Source: Wikipedia)
Charles Bronson‘s steely-eyed glaze as seen in “The Dirty Dozen” was certainly perfected while staring down Japanese air defenses in the Pacific during World War II.
In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aerial gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron. In 1945, as a B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group, Bronson flew 25 missions and received a Purple Heart for wounds received in battle. (Military.com)
Dallas Cowboys’ iconic fedora-wearing coach Tom Landry earned his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant at Lubbock Army Air Field, and was assigned to the 493d Bombardment Group at RAF Debach, England, flying the B-17 Flying Fortress.
From November 1944 to April 1945 he flew 30 combat missions. During that period he also survived a crash landing in Belgium after his bomber ran out of fuel. (Source: Tom Landry: An Autobiography)
Before Norman Lear created groundbreaking TV shows like “All in the Family” and “Maude” he was a B-17 radio operator/gunner with the 772nd Bombardment Squadron, 463rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the 15th Air Force.
He flew 52 combat missions and was awarded the Air Medal. (Source: WNYC)
Paul Newman is best known for his salad dressing and the characters he played in movies like “Cool Hand Luke” and “Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid,” but he was also a sailor during World War II in the Pacific theater. He had hoped to be accepted for pilot training but was dropped when docs discovered he was color blind.
He was redirected to boot camp and eventually flew from aircraft carriers as a turret gunner in the Avenger torpedo bomber. He was aboard USS Bunker Hill during the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. He missed one mission when his pilot developed an ear infection, and all of those who wound up going were killed in action.
The same eyesight that made Ted Williams a legendary slugger for the Boston Red Sox made him a great fighter pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps.
Williams had earned his Wings of Gold at the tail end of World War II and was called back to active duty six games into the 1952 baseball season because the Corps needed pilots for the Korean War effort. Williams flew 39 combat missions, and his plane was hit by enemy gunfire on at least three occasions. He was awarded three Air Medals before being sent home with a severe ear infection and recurring viruses. (Source: Wikipedia)
Before he dominated the challenges and finished third on the hit TV series Survivor in 2005, Terry Dietz attended the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating with the Class of 1982. He earned his Wings of Gold and served on the USS Carl Vinson with VF-51 flying the F-14 Tomcat.
He also served as an instructor at VF-124, the Tomcat training squadron on the west coast. Deitz left active service in 1992 and continued flying in the Navy Reserves on logistics missions around the world. He retired in 2001 at the rank of commander. In recent years Dietz has kept his hand in the TV game by hosting military-themed shows on a variety of networks.