A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome - We Are The Mighty
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A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome

World War II has given the video game industry plenty of material, but a good World War I game is pretty hard to find.


Not anymore. A recently-released game set on the early 20th century battlefields puts players into the trenches, and it’s surprisingly good.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome

The first World War was a very different kind of war. Soldiers often served in long stalemates between trench lines, or “went over the top” to attack the enemy. It was often a battle for just inches of more ground, and not allowing game players to move very far seems a bit counterintuitive in a game.

With the game “Verdun,” the developers took an innovative approach to this problem, and made a World War I game actually worth playing. The developers went to great lengths to use historically accurate equipment, uniforms, and weapons, and they used reconnaissance photos — and in some cases walked the ground — to recreate the landscape of 1914-1918 France.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome

Still, a game that looks realistic could still turn out to be terrible. The gameplay is important, and “Verdun” excels in this area. While it’s a first-person shooter game, “Verdun” requires players to work along with their squad, much like they would if they really were in an infantry unit.

From Polygon:

What makes Verdun so different from other first-person shooters is the way battles ebb and flow. Some players are instructed to assault individual enemy strongpoints, while others are told to defend. Anyone who disobeys an order by moving outside the engagement area is killed — effectively shot on the spot for cowardice.

“The maps are a composition,” Hoebe said. “This imagery can all be found through Google. There are large collections of postcards on Flickr, but also Belgian towns post their historical collections online. I pretty much went through the extent of what could be found … and compressed this into on overall image.

The gameplay is unlike your typical World War II shooter or, any modern shooter for that matter. If you enjoy running around blasting the bad guys in “Call of Duty” while enduring quite a few hits, the realism of this game will certainly be a surprise.

“If you’re going into Verdun with a mind to cut about the place, emptying hot lead into the faces of all and sundry with reckless abandon, then you can quite rightly expect to be put into the ground very quickly. And many, many times, too,” writes Game Watcher.

There are three game modes: Frontlines, Attrition and Rifle Deathmatch. Deathmatch is the multiplayer slugfest you’d come to expect from most first-person shooters, except this one features no rocket launchers (sorry Doom fans) and only bolt-action rifles.

Frontlines is the game’s “campaign mode,” where you team up with your squad, ordered to capture or defend your ground. Attrition is centered around a single battle, with each side’s manpower levels being depleted as the player is killed and re-spawns.

“If nothing else, Verdun‘s given me an excellent understanding of what a mess World War I was,” Hayden Dingman wrote at PCWorld. “The game doesn’t have the best graphics, the best sound, the best character models, or what have you—and yet few games have so consistently stressed me out like Verdun.”

Here’s how the multiplayer gameplay looks:

NOW: These rare colorized photos show World War I like never before

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General Mattis’ thoughts about those ‘too busy to read’ are as awesome as you’d expect

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Wikimedia Commons


In the run up to Marine Gen. James Mattis‘ deployment to Iraq in 2004, a colleague wrote to him asking about the “importance of reading and military history for officers,” many of whom found themselves “too busy to read.”

His response went viral over email.

Security Blog “Strife” out of Kings College in London recently published Mattis’ words with a short description from the person who found it in her email.

Their title for the post:

With Rifle and Bibliography: General Mattis on Professional Reading

[Dear, “Bill”]

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.

Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.

With [Task Force] 58, I had w/ me Slim’s book, books about the Russian and British experiences in [Afghanistan], and a couple others. Going into Iraq, “The Siege” (about the Brits’ defeat at Al Kut in WW I) was req’d reading for field grade officers. I also had Slim’s book; reviewed T.E. Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”; a good book about the life of Gertrude Bell (the Brit archaeologist who virtually founded the modern Iraq state in the aftermath of WW I and the fall of the Ottoman empire); and “From Beirut to Jerusalem”. I also went deeply into Liddell Hart’s book on Sherman, and Fuller’s book on Alexander the Great got a lot of my attention (although I never imagined that my HQ would end up only 500 meters from where he lay in state in Babylon).

Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun.

For all the “4th Generation of War” intellectuals running around today saying that the nature of war has fundamentally changed, the tactics are wholly new, etc, I must respectfully say … “Not really”: Alex the Great would not be in the least bit perplexed by the enemy that we face right now in Iraq, and our leaders going into this fight do their troops a disservice by not studying (studying, vice just reading) the men who have gone before us.

We have been fighting on this planet for 5,000 years and we should take advantage of their experience. “Winging it” and filling body bags as we sort out what works reminds us of the moral dictates and the cost of incompetence in our profession. As commanders and staff officers, we are coaches and sentries for our units: how can we coach anything if we don’t know a hell of a lot more than just the [Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures]? What happens when you’re on a dynamic battlefield and things are changing faster than higher [Headquarters] can stay abreast? Do you not adapt because you cannot conceptualize faster than the enemy’s adaptation? (Darwin has a pretty good theory about the outcome for those who cannot adapt to changing circumstance — in the information age things can change rather abruptly and at warp speed, especially the moral high ground which our regimented thinkers cede far too quickly in our recent fights.) And how can you be a sentinel and not have your unit caught flat-footed if you don’t know what the warning signs are — that your unit’s preps are not sufficient for the specifics of a tasking that you have not anticipated?

Perhaps if you are in support functions waiting on the warfighters to spell out the specifics of what you are to do, you can avoid the consequences of not reading. Those who must adapt to overcoming an independent enemy’s will are not allowed that luxury.

This is not new to the USMC approach to warfighting — Going into Kuwait 12 years ago, I read (and reread) Rommel’s Papers (remember “Kampstaffel”?), Montgomery’s book (“Eyes Officers”…), “Grant Takes Command” (need for commanders to get along, “commanders’ relationships” being more important than “command relationships”), and some others.

As a result, the enemy has paid when I had the opportunity to go against them, and I believe that many of my young guys lived because I didn’t waste their lives because I didn’t have the vision in my mind of how to destroy the enemy at least cost to our guys and to the innocents on the battlefields.

Hope this answers your question…. I will cc my ADC in the event he can add to this. He is the only officer I know who has read more than I.

Semper Fi, Mattis

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An SAS sniper killed 5 ISIS suicide bombers with 3 bullets

A Special Air Service sniper who spotted a group of Islamic State fighters leaving a suspected bomb-making facility in Iraq fired three shots that detonated two suicide vests and killed all five fighters, according to reports in British media.


The SAS sniper was operating 800 meters away from the factory when he noticed the group wearing unseasonably warm and bulky clothing. The 10-year veteran of the SAS hit the first man in the chest and detonated his vest, killing three fighters. As the two survivors attempted to escape back into the factory, the sniper shot one in the head and the other in the vest, which detonated the second vest.

Also read: 7 longest range sniper kills in history

“This was a classic SAS mission,” a British Army source told the Express. “About three weeks ago the intelligence guys got information that a bomb factory had been set up in a nearby village. With just three well-aimed shots, that single team has probably saved the lives of hundreds of innocent people. The unit was sent in to see if they could identify the house and the bombers.”

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
UK (Ministry of Defence photo)

The decision to attack with a sniper was made due to concerns about collateral damage.

“There were too many civilian homes nearby and children were often around so an airstrike was out of the question,” the unidentified British Army source said. “Instead, the SAS commander in Iraq decided to use a sniper team and the operation was a complete success.”

In another engagement in Aug. 2015, another British sniper reportedly saved an 8-year-old boy and his father who were about to be executed.

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5 epic cavalry formations of the ancient world

Before the tank entered the lexicon of military history, there was horse cavalry.


The horse, like the modern day tank, provided support to the infantry and artillery. However, while every kingdom, like every modern nation today, has some sort of mobile land support designed to punch holes through enemy lines, only a handful of nations have the best trained. So here we take a look at 5 epic cavalry formations of the ancient world.

1. The Numidians (light cavalry)

The Numidians were from what is now Algeria and were known for their cavalry abilities.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
The Numidian cavalry of the ancient world. (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

Hannibal used these Numidian cavalrymen during the Second Punic War. So what made the Numidian cavalry so darn good?

The Numidians saw many battles during Hannibal’s campaign in Roman Italy. The Greek historian Polybius, describes the Numidian warriors as light cavalry armed with missile weapons (javelins). The Battle of Cannae 216 BCE, showcased their abilities.

What made the Numidian cavalry so effective at Cannae is that unlike the Spaniard and Celtic cavalries that also accompanied Hannibal, the Spaniard and Celtic horsemen were heavy cavalries that fought en masse, much like the Roman cavalry. The Numidians, being light cavalry, fought in a much looser formation and because of this, they harassed the Roman cavalry with complicated tactics before disengaging.

And while the Celtic and Spaniard cavalries had the Roman cavalry fixed, the Numidians went from harassment to providing shock support once the Roman cavalry turned their back. This caused the Roman cavalry to flee once the Numidians made contact and understood that if they do not make a break for it, they would be enveloped and decimated.

2. The Scythians (light cavalry)

The Scythians may not be the original inventors of asymmetrical warfare, but one could argue that they perfected it.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Scythians were ancient nomadic horse warriors who were first mentioned by the Assyrians during the reign of Sargon II (reigned 722 – 705 BCE). What made these horsemen so powerful was that they were raised in the saddle and were typically armed with a distinctive composite bow.

The Scythian bow is unique and revered throughout the ancient world by kings, historians, and a philosopher. King Esarhaddon of Assyria had a Cimmerian bow, the Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar II and Nabonidus were equipped with their bows and arrows, and even Hercules’ Greek portrait displays him armed with a Scythian bow. The Greek philosopher Plato said,

The customs of the Scythians proves our error; for they not only hold the bow from them with the left hand and draw the arrow to them with their right, but use either hand for both purposes.

When one examines the Scythian lifestyle, one can easily gain an understanding of the type of warfare necessarily carried on against more sedentary (non-migratory) people, like those in Mesopotamia. The Scythian took a guerilla approach to warfare as their method, using small bands to conduct military operations. Herodotus mentions their method of warfare when King Darius of Persia campaigned against them.

It is thus with me, Persian: I have never fled for fear of any man, nor do I now flee from you; this that I have done is no new thing or other than my practice in peace. But as to the reason why I do not straightway fight with you, this too I will tell you. For we Scythians have no towns or planted lands, that we might meet you the sooner in battle, fearing lest the one be taken or the other wasted. But if nothing will serve you but fighting straightway, we have the graves of our fathers; come, find these and essay to destroy them; then shall you know whether we will fight you for those graves or no. Till then we will not join battle unless we think it good.

The description indicates that the Scythians against whom Darius was warring had no center of gravity. King Darius’ military campaign into Scythia (modern Ukraine) went for nothing. As he could not catch them, the Scythians burnt their own their fields, destroyed Persian supplies, and harassed his forces with hit and run tactics.

In the end, Darius turned his large army around and headed home before it was annihilated.

3. The Parthians (light cavalry)

The Parthian horsemen are much like the Scythians.

The Parthians also known as the Parni/Aparni, originated from eastern Iran and like the Scythians, wore light attire, carried a composite bow and a sidearm — possibly a sword or a dagger. What made the Parthian horse archers so powerful was their ability to hit and run, and this was demonstrated at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE between the Roman Republic and the Parthian Empire.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
(Photo Wikimedia Commons)

The Roman general Crassus led his Roman legions into the desert wilderness thinking they were going to face a pussycat. Instead, they found themselves face-to-face with an equal foe. Once Crassus gave the order to form a square, the Parthian horse archers saw an opportunity. They showered the Romans with raining death.

The average Parthian horse archer, with a quiver of 30 arrows, loosed between eight to ten arrows a minute at Carrhae. It would take almost three minutes to exhaust his arsenal before needing to be resupplied. The amount of Parthian horse archers at the battle is estimated at 10,000. Now, if all 10,000 fired away for 20 minutes, the amount of arrows fired by an individual horse archer would have been between 160-200 arrows. Take 10,000 and the amount of arrows fired upon the Roman soldiers are estimated to have been an astounding 1.6-2 million arrows in a 20-minute timeframe.

The Greek biographer and essayist Plutarch describes the devastation brought upon the Roman legions.

In the convulsion and agony of their pain they writhed as the arrows struck them; the men broke them off in their wounds and then lacerated and disfigured their own bodies by trying to tear out by main force the barbed arrow heads that had pierced through their veins and muscles.

Romans could do little, for if they break formation they are dead, if they stand still they are dead but have a chance. Only nightfall saved them. While the Parthian horse archers showered the Romans with death, the Parthian cataphract was the hammer.

4. The Parthian Cataphract (heavy armored cavalry)

When it comes to heavy cavalry in the ancient world, the Parthian cataphract takes the lead.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Parthian heavy armored cataphract. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The word cataphract comes from the Greek Kataphraktos means “completely enclosed.” The origins of the cataphract may not have started with the Parthians but with the Massagetae, who also inhabited portions of Eastern Iran three centuries before the arrival of the Parthians. If you want more info on this, click “here.”

The Parthian cataphract in many ways looked like the medieval knights of Europe. What made them so effective on the field of battle was that the rider and horse were covered in armor. The rider would carry a lance, sword, and presumably a bow.

At the Battle of Carrhae, the cataphract would charge into Roman lines once the legions locked shields to protect themselves from the arrows. According to Plutarch, the cataphracts would hit the lines with such a force that “many (Romans) perished hemmed in by the horsemen. Others were knocked over by the pikes or were carried off transfixed.”

This hit and run attack would go on for some time until the Roman broke and fled.

5. Late Roman Equites Cataphractarii and Sassanid Clibanarii (very heavily armored cavalry)

It may be an understatement to say that Equites cataphractarii were heavy cavalry as they were indeed the heaviest of the bunch.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Equites cataphractarii were Roman. What is known about them is that they were designed to combat the best the east (Sassanid Empire) had to offer, which were the Clibanarii. The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus describes the Equites cataphractarii:

among them were the full-armoured cavalry (whom they called clibanarii or cataphracti equites ), all masked, furnished with protecting breastplates and girt with iron belts, so that you might have supposed them statues polished by the hand of Praxiteles, not men. Thin circles of iron plates, fitted to the curves of their bodies, completely covered their limbs; so that whichever way they had to move their members, their garment fitted, so skilfully were the joinings made

The Clibanarii were Sassanid. However, the Sassanids also used this term to describe the Equites cataphractarii. The description provided by Ammianus Marcellinus about the Clibanarii goes as follows:

Moreover, all the companies were clad in iron, and all parts of their bodies were covered with thick plates, so fitted that the stiff joints conformed with those of their limbs; and the forms of human faces were so skilfully fitted to their heads, that, since their entire bodies were plated with metal, arrows that fell upon them could lodge only where they could see a little through tiny openings fitted to the circle of the eye, or where through the tips of their noses they were able to get a little breath. Of these some, who were armed with pikes, stood so motionless that you would think them held fast by clamps of bronze.

The Persians opposed us serried bands of mail-clad horsemen in such close order that the gleam of moving bodies covered with closely fitting plates of iron dazzled the eyes of those who looked upon them, while the whole throng of horses was protected by coverings of leather.

So who had the best cavalry in the ancient world? Well, the answer to that question is the various nomads who dotted the Eurasian Steppe, Central Asia, and the Iranian plateau. These various nomads are the ones who not only perfected horse archery and heavy cavalry, they also brought civilization the chariot.

However, horse archers and heavy cavalry — no matter the kingdom — would come to an end once the gunpowder age arrived. Eventually new tactics took the rider off his mount and placed him into a tank.

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Russia has threatened to nuke Norway

A senior member of Russia’s defense and security committee told Russian TV that Norway has been added to the list of potential targets for a nuclear strike after Norway agreed to host 330 U.S. Marines for a rotational training deployment.


Norway has allowed other NATO militaries to use its country for cold weather training for years.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
A U.S. Marine trains in the snow in Norway. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Immanuel Johnson Fmall)

The Marines rotating into Norway are expected to stay at Værnes, an area 600 miles from the border with Russia.

A deputy chairman of Russia’s defense and security committee made the threats, saying, “How should we react to this? We have never before had Norway on the list of targets for our strategic weapons. But if this develops, Norway’s population will suffer.”

He later said, “Because we need to react against definitive military threats. And we have things to react to, I might as well tell it like it is.”

It’s not clear how the Marines provide a definitive military threat to Russia. While significant U.S. hardware is cached within Norway, the 330 Marines would have to invade through famously neutral Sweden to use a 700-mile route. Going around would add on hundreds of miles of travel distance and logistics problems.

And even Marines would struggle if they took on the Russian military in such small numbers.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
A U.S. Marine drifts a tank on ice during training in Norway. (Photo: YouTube/Marines)

Meanwhile, the U.S. already has troops permanently stationed in Germany, which is about the same distance from Russia, as well as service members on training rotations in Estonia, Latvia, and Ukraine — all of which share a border with Russia.

The Air Force, meanwhile, has forces permanently deployed to Incirlik, Turkey, which is also much closer to Russia than Værnes.

So it’s doubtful that Russia’s bluster is really about countering a valid military threat. More likely, this is Russia protesting what it sees as its continuing isolation as more and more countries deepen their ties with NATO.

Norway, for its part, insists that the Russian reaction to a training rotation of Marines is ridiculous.

The country’s defense minister told journalists, “There is no objective reason for the Russians to react to this. But the Russians are reacting at the moment in the same way toward almost everything the NATO countries are doing.”

Tensions between Russia and NATO have been on the rise, partially due to conflicting agendas in Syria where the U.S. and Russia are both conducting air strikes. But the dispute also comes from disagreements over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and threatening actions, such as the Russian abduction and jailing of an Estonian intelligence officer.

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4 actions to take before leaving the military

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Photo: US Army Cpl. Carol A. Lehman


The months and weeks leading up to separation or retirement can be exciting and terrifying. Some of you have a post-military career lined up, and others of you are faced with the overwhelming reality that there is no obvious and predictable next step.

To ensure you control as much of the career transition process as possible, you will need to do some deep thinking, self-reflection, and self-marketing to make yourself attractive to potential employers. Whether you are starting your own business, working for the government, joining a non-profit organization, or seeking employment in a private company, here are four important actions you can take to position yourself for success:

1. Define your goal and set a strategy

Defining your career goal to closely tie to the industry or job you are pursuing. For instance, if you want to be a journalist, it would help if your first job was in writing or editorial work. Your strategy might include getting connected to influencers and decision makers in journalism or publishing, demonstrating your abilities (perhaps you’ll write a blog, publish an article or write an essay showing your skills), and preparing a portfolio of your work that highlights your abilities and talents.

Next, get more detailed in your plan. Your first step might be to get lists of key publications you would like to work for, identifying the right person to contact for an informational interview (see number 3 below), and reading through their website to understand the opportunities and challenges facing that publication.

2. Make yourself findable online

As you transition out of military service (even if you will join the Guard and Reserve), your social networking will evolve. Now, more than ever, pay attention to your online presence. Recruiters, employers and hiring managers scour online profiles to find potential candidates, evaluate them, and find consistency in their values, experience, and talents.

Follow these rules to make yourself findable online:

    • Create a profile that genuinely represents you. From your headshot to your summary of your experiences and goals, make sure you represent your goals and values authentically. Recruiters are looking for real people with real ideas and credible experience.
    • Work your online networks. Platforms like Monster.com, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter are best used for business and career, so keep them professional. Have a plan for adding your voice to important conversations, and building your visibility in key groups and forums where recruiters for companies in your target industries participate.
    • Remember that everything you post is public. Nothing typed into or shared on a computer, smart phone, or tablet is private – ever! Anyone can share a screen shot of your instant message or “offline” post. Assume the hiring manager for your dream job is seeing that photo or that post… would they still want to hire you?

3. Request informational interviews

Instead of asking for a job, consider asking professionals for informational interviews. This type of meeting is an opportunity for you to spend 15-30 minutes with people in the industries, companies, or jobs you want to pursue, asking them about their field, career and insights. Because you are not asking for employment, it is a more relaxed meeting where you might inquire: “How did you get into this career?” or “Where do you see this industry headed over the next 10 years?”

4. Enlist champions

Use the contacts you make in the informational interviews, online connections, and mentors you connected with during your service to become your advocates. They can write your recommendations, introduce you to key contacts that might be helpful to your strategy, and endorse you when asked about your talents, character, and skills.

Nurture the relationship with your champions – send handwritten notes to say thank you, and let them know what you’re up to (successes and frustrations). Keep your energy level high and optimistic in your communications with them; people want to back a winner, so make sure you communicate that you are a good investment for them to support.

The transition process is not easy. Even those who have a career path lined up after taking off the uniform will find many nuances of the civilian work place different, frustrating and exciting. Start with a strategy for building your career, instead of just finding “a job” and you will reap the rewards of your hard work!

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5 crazy ways recruit training has changed

Veterans pride themselves on their accomplishments after spending some of the best years of their lives serving. But that path to greatness starts when recruits first enter boot camp — all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.


A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Recruits arriving at MCRD  San Diego — (Photo By: Cpl. Angelica I. Annastas)

As the world changes, so do the expectations of our future Marines, sailors, airmen, and soldiers as basic training gets revised based on new technology and evolving social norms.

But no matter how much things change, most of us we want our sons and daughters to have the same “in your face” training experience that we once endured.

Here are few ways boot camp has changed over the last several years.

1. Rifle Combat Optic

Back in the day, Marine recruits had to train and qualify on a rifle with their M-16s using precise breathing control, unsound vision and iron sights.

A few years ago, the Marine Corps decided to switch from the traditional iron sights to Rifle Combat Optics, or “red dot sights,” to help recruits better hit their targets.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
BANG! Center mass, baby.

From personal experience, the ability to home in and snipe out the enemy from far away is badass, but the downfall is if the optic takes a hard hit, the sight can be thrown off, limiting its effectiveness and you need to go back to the range to “zero” it back in.

With a set of iron sights, most damage isn’t severe enough to completely take you out of the fight.

2. Gender Integrated Training

In the mid-2000s, I marched into Naval Training Command Great Lakes to begin my path to become a corpsman. Little did we know that our division would get integrated with a female class. There’s nothing wrong with it generally speaking.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome

Being integrated means you’re going to train to fight on a ship alongside female recruits and might have a female Recruit Division Commander yelling at you to tie a bow knot faster.

Not saying women can’t be tough, but images like the one below suggest they may be too relaxed.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Nothing says hardcore discipline like a recruit smiling and shaking hands with the higher-ups during a photo op.

3. Weapons Training

In this day and age, Navy boot camp isn’t much more than eating three meals a day, memorizing your recruit handbook, some physical training here and there and eventually spending a long night going through battle stations.

My division spent a half of day snapping in, then firing approximately 30 rounds at a patched up target. That was it.

No wonder service members accidentally shoot themselves.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
These Navy recruits put on their serious faces while snapping in.

Back in the day, heading to the rifle range was a major event conducted as a massive outdoor range.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Navy Bootcamp during the 60’s in San Diego, Ca.  “Look Ma, iron sights.”

4.  Hard Training

The stress cards have been debunked awhile ago — they don’t exist.

What does exist is the fine line recruit trainers have to walk to avoid rules barring hazing. There have been quite a few reports of drill instructors being charged with hazing recruits in Parris Island. True or not, it’s a problem.

Not only do these reports shine a bright light on the way recruits are trained, it could also undermine the drill instructor’s authority.

In every branch of the military, there are going to have a few bad apples in charge who go overboard, but as one former Marine drill instructor stated: “you have to train for war to be effective in war.”

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Gunny Hartman is hard, but he is fair. (Source: WB/Screenshot)

Having known many Marines who went through recruit training during the Vietnam War era, Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” is a pretty accurate depiction of boot camp life back then. (Just the first act. The second and third acts aren’t known for their accuracy).

In some aspects, hazing is considered a right of passage, but punching or slamming recruits down isn’t cool.

5. Cellphone usage

I told you number five would shock you.

Remember when you showed up to boot camp and you got one phone call home to inform your family you arrived safely. Well, that still exists, but now in some Army boot camps you can call them on your personal cell phone at your drill sergeant’s discretion.

The recruits need to been in good standings to use their most prized possession on the weekends.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome

Note: Erase any sensitive photos you might have beforehand.

Can you think of any other changes not listed? Comment below.

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This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

Serving in the Marine Corps infantry is one of the most taxing occupations the military has to offer. Whether you’re out patrolling in a hot zone, calling in mortars on an enemy position or just humping hundreds of pounds of gear, it’s tough.


For one former Marine, military service fuels his music and reflects his experiences in the Corps.

“So you’re the newest PFC? Well, welcome to the infantry. Around here we like to do things a little differently. I know your drill instructor taught you those morals and ethics, but you got to put that to the side to kill more efficiently. ”

These are the opening lyrics of “Welcome to the Infantry” performed by Marine rapper, Fitzy Mess, and they couldn’t be more truthful.

Related: 7 things you should know before joining the infantry

Check out Fitzy Mess‘ video below for his cathartic rap song about life in the Marine infantry. And turn your sound up!

(Fitzy Mess, YouTube)
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This VA official fired for poor leadership just got his job back

A former director of the veterans hospital in the nation’s capital who had been fired for poor leadership has been rehired.


Brian Hawkins was put back on the Department of Veterans Affairs payroll after he appealed the decision to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Hawkins was let go last month after audits found mismanagement at the facility.

The board is requiring the VA to keep Hawkins as an employee until the Office of Special Counsel reviews his claim.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
David J. Shulkin visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Photo by Megan Garcia, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Command Communications

In a statement August 9, the VA says Hawkins had been reassigned to administrative duty at VA headquarters in Washington and would not work directly with patients.

It says VA Secretary David Shulkin will explore other ways to fire Hawkins under a newly enacted accountability law signed by President Donald Trump.

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Afghan special forces are trying to take back Tora Bora from ISIS

The Afghanistan Defense Ministry says the military operation against Daesh is ongoing in Pachir Aw Agam district in the southeast of Nangarhar province and security forces will soon reach to the Tora Bora region recently captured by the group.


The security forces are determined to defeat and eradicate Daesh from the area, the Afghanistan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said on June 16th.

Daesh captured the strategic Tora Bora region on June 13th. The area was used as a hideout by Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, who was killed in a US operation in 2011.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Emblem of the Ministry of Defense of Afghanistan. Photo licensed under public domain.

“Our security forces are in Pachir Aw Agam district and Daesh will be eliminated in the near future. The military operation against Daesh will continue without any delay,” Waziri said.

Meanwhile, Nangarhar Police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said Tora Bora will never turn into a safe haven for Daesh fighters.

“Daesh fighters have come to Pachir Aw Agam, but they will be defeated. Daesh and their supporters should be aware that there is no place for them [in the district],” Rahimi said.

Reports indicate that at least 600 families have left their houses in Dara-e-Sulaimankhail village close to Tora Bora area in Pachir Aw Agam district.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
The mountains of Tora Bora. DoD Photo by Spc. Ken Scar.

“Daesh came and captured the [Tora Bora] area and we left our villages,” a resident of Sulaimankhil said.

“Our goods have remained in our houses and all the people have fled,” another resident of Sulaimankhil said.

A number of military analysts said the presence of Daesh in Tora Bora would pose a serious threat to Nangarhar and its neighboring provinces.

“The reason behind the changing of Daesh into a big threat is that we concentrate on others instead of those who are killing the people and who loots their properties,” said Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, former Deputy Minister of Interior.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
A line of ISIS soldiers.

On June 15, Abdul Saboor Sabet, the head of the National Directorate of Security in Nangarhar, claimed that Pakistani militia fully supported Daesh in their offensive against the Tora Bora region this week in eastern Nangarhar province.

In a trip to Nangarhar’s Chaparhar district, Sabet said that Pakistani militia are still backing Daesh militants in the region.

“Daesh militants sustained heavy loses, whenever they suffer a toll, they get reinforcements from the other side of the border who are the Pakistani militias. The [Afghan] public uprising forces are bravely defending all districts against the enemies,” said Sabet.

Earlier this week, Waziri stated that up to 700 Daesh operatives had been killed in Nangarhar as a result of a military operation by security forces over the past three months.

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The body of Britain’s most legendary admiral was shipped home in a cask of booze

Vice-Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson remains Britain’s most famous naval hero. It was the fear of Lord Nelson and his fleet that kept Napoleon’s armies from crossing the English Channel. He was known for his supreme understanding of naval combat tactics and his unconventional strategies.


A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Also, his legendary death… we’re getting to that.

“Something must be left to chance; nothing is certain in a sea fight” – Lord Nelson

Lord Nelson was wounded many times in his career. He lost sight in his right eye during a campaign in Corsica. He lost his right arm trying to conquer an island in the Portuguese Azores. He also destroyed most of the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile, effectively stranding Napoleon and the French Army in Egypt.

Let me alone: I have yet my legs and one arm. Tell the surgeon to make haste and his instruments. I know I must lose my right arm, so the sooner it’s off the better.” – Lord Nelson

He met his fate in another decisive fight against Napoleonic France, at the Battle of Trafalgar. He fought a combined French and Spanish fleet, sinking twenty two enemy ships without losing a single one of his own. Nelson was shot in the shoulder by a French musketeer during the battle. The bullet would make its way to his spine, and he succumbed to this wound shortly after. He lived long enough to know he’d won the battle.

Nelson’s victory secured English rule over the seas for the rest of the Napoleonic Wars, even though the Vice-Admiral wouldn’t be around for them.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Nelson’s death at Trafalgar (Wikimedia Commons)

After the battle, a storm threatened the admiral’s flagship, HMS Victory, which was missing its mainmast and would not be able to return to England quickly. The ship’s surgeon, rather than bury England’s greatest hero at sea, wanted to get Nelson’s body back home for a state funeral. His solution? Shove the Vice-Admiral’s body in a cask of brandy to preserve it during the trip home.

“If I had been censured every time I have run my ship, or fleets under my command, into great danger, I should have long ago been out of the Service and never in the House of Peers.” – Lord Nelson

After the long trip home and Nelson’s elaborate state funeral, Nelson’s body had spent 80 unrefrigerated days before his final burial. In the days that followed, people questioned the decisions of the ship’ surgeon, wondering why he didn’t use the ship’s supply of rum to preserve Nelson’s body. In his official account, the surgeon maintained that brandy was better suited for preservation, but public opinion was so strong, people just assumed he used the rum. It was so prevalent that Navy rum soon became known as “Nelson’s Blood.”

After the body was removed, it was found that the Victory’s sailors had drilled a hole in the cask, and drank from it. though some speculate the sailors drank all of the brandy, no one knows for sure. But henceforth, the act of drilling a hole in a cask became known as “tapping the admiral.”

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
Nelson’s Column in London (wikimedia commons)

Nelson is so pivotal to the history of Britain that in 2002 BBC poll, Nelson still rated #8 on a list of the most important Britons. His likeness towers over London’s Trafalgar Square atop  a 169-foot-tall column surrounded by giant lions. The Victory, first laid down in 1759, is preserved as the flagship of England’s First Sea Lord, and is currently the oldest ship still in commission.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
HMS Victory docked at Portsmouth

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Meet the most decorated working dog of World War II

Chips, a German shepherd, collie, husky mix, was the most famous and decorated sentry dog in World War II, one of 10,425 dogs that saw service in the Quartermaster Corps’ new “K-9 Corps.” Prior to the K-9 Corps, dogs such as Admiral Wags on the carrier Lexington and World War I canine hero Sergeant Stubby were mascots without any official function.


The K-9 Corps was the culmination of a program begun by the Dogs for Defense, a civilian organization created in January 1942 by a group of notable dog experts and the American Kennel Club. Concerned about the vulnerability of America’s long coastline to infiltration by enemy saboteurs, it offered to provide the Army and Coast Guard with trained sentry dogs. After some initial resistance, the Army authorized an experimental program using 200 dogs. The success of that program caused the Quartermaster General to authorize the acquisition of 125,000 dogs (later reduced). Of the 10,425 dogs that served in the military during the war, most conducted sentry duty along America’s coastline and at military installations. But roughly 1,000 dogs were trained as scout dogs. Chips was one of those dogs.

Also read: A brief history of dogs in warfare

Chips’ owner was Edward J. Wren of Pleasantville, New York, who enlisted Chips in the Army in August 1942. After training at the War Dog Training Center in Front Royal, Va., he was assigned to Pvt. Rowell. Chips participated in Operation Torch, and was one of three dogs assigned guard duty for the Roosevelt/Churchill Casablanca Conference.

In the predawn hours of July 10, 1943, the 3rd Infantry Division under the command of Maj. Gen. Lucian Truscott landed on the shore of southern Sicily near Licata in Operation Husky. Among the troops that hit the beach was the 3rd Military Police Platoon, 30th Infantry Regiment, containing Pvt. John R. Rowell of Arkansas and his sentry dog, Chips. As dawn broke, the platoon was working its way inland when a machine gun nest hidden in what appeared to be a nearby peasant hut opened fire. Rowell and the rest of the platoon immediately hit the ground. But Chips broke free from his handler and, snarling, raced into the hut. Pvt. Rowell later said, “Then there was an awful lot of noise and the firing stopped.” The soldiers heard someone inside the hut fire a pistol. Roswell said he then “saw one Italian soldier come out with Chips at his throat. I called him off before he could kill the man. Three others followed, holding their hands above their heads.”

Chips suffered powder burns and a scalp wound from the pistol fired at close range. Medics treated Chips and released him to Rowell later that day. That night, while on guard duty Chips alerted Rowell of an infiltration attempt by ten Italian soldiers. Together they captured all ten.

Within days the story of Chips’ heroics had swept through the division. Chips was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star. More was to come. The platoon’s commander, Capt. Edward G. Parr put in a recommendation that Chips receive the Distinguished Service Cross for “courageous action in single-handedly eliminating a dangerous machine gun nest and causing surrender of its crew.”

War Department regulations prohibited the awarding of decorations to animals. But in the case of Chips, Truscott’s attitude was “regulations be damned.” He waived them and on November 19 in Italy he personally awarded Chips the Distinguished Service Cross.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
U.S. National Archives

The people back home learned of Chips’ heroism in newspaper stories published on July 14, 1944. While most people were thrilled, acclaim was not universal. The next day the War Department released a statement that it was conducting an investigation, noting the War Department regulations. In addition, William Thomas, the national commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, angrily wrote letters to the president, secretary of war, and adjutant general of the U.S. Army protesting that the Purple Heart was a decoration for humans, not animals. Then Congress got into the act. After a debate lasting three months, it decided no more decorations were to be awarded to non-humans adding “appropriate citations may be published in unit general orders.” This meant that at least they would receive honorable discharges.

Though they took away his medals, that didn’t make Chips any less a hero. Among those who honored Chips was Supreme Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. But, when Eisenhower leaned down to pet him, Chips, only knowing that Eisenhower was a stranger and possibly stressed from the attention he had been receiving, nipped the general’s hand.

Chips remained with the 3rd Infantry Division throughout the war. Shortly before he was honorably discharged, the men in his platoon unofficially awarded him a Theater Ribbon with arrowhead for an assault landing and eight battle stars. He returned home to the Wren family in December 1945.

Chips died seven months after coming home from complications of his war injuries at the age of 6. He is buried in the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery in Westchester County, United States of America.

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Marine captain writes stinging op-ed: ‘We lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan’

An active-duty US Marine captain wrote a stinging op-ed for the Marine Corps Gazette, going through all the problems he sees with the Department of Defense and the Marine Corps in addition to recent failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The biggest problem, according to Capt. Joshua Waddell, is “self-delusion.”

“Let us first begin with the fundamental underpinnings of this delusion: our measures of performance and effectiveness in recent wars,” he wrote. “It is time that we, as professional military officers, accept the fact that we lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
U.S. Marines huddle behind walls as they receive instructions about their next move after a M1A1 tank eliminates the Iraqi insurgents in a house the Marines were receiving fire from in Fallujah, Iraq. | U.S. Marine Corps photo

The active-duty infantry officer, who served with and lost Marines under his command with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, in Afghanistan, didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. He said it took several years for him to accept that, with the goal of improving the system.

A case in point, he says, is a comparison of the US military with other adversaries.

The Pentagon’s budget dwarfs the combined defense spending of the next 10 countries. The Army and Marine Corps are arguably the best-trained fighting forces in the world. The Air Force has the most high-tech aircraft and weaponry, while the Navy maintains nearly 20 aircraft carriers — far more than adversaries like Russia and China that have only one each.

These stats should mean the US military is unstoppable, but the budget, talk of being the best in the world, and other claims it makes don’t square with measures of effectiveness, Waddell writes.

“How, then, have we been bested by malnourished and undereducated men with antiquated and improvised weaponry whilst spending trillions of dollars in national treasure and costing the lives of thousands of servicemen and hundreds of thousands of civilians?” he wrote.

Waddell continues:

“For example, a multibillion-dollar aircraft carrier that can be bested by a few million dollars in the form of a swarming missile barrage or a small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capable of rendering its flight deck unusable does not retain its dollar value in real terms. Neither does the M1A1 tank, which is defeated by $20 worth of household items and scrap metal rendered into an explosively-formed projectile.

“The Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Organization has a library full of examples like these, and that is without touching the weaponized return on investment in terms of industrial output and capability development currently being employed by our conventional adversaries.”

His article isn’t just a critique; Waddell offers several solutions to get the military out of the “business-as-usual” mindset that looks good in PowerPoint briefs but doesn’t translate to success on the ground.

While military leaders typically complain to Congress that constrained budgets have a “crippling” effect on the military, Waddell says the military should work more efficiently with the money it has. He gives an example of a nation already doing this: Russia.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
World Military Balance 2016

Moscow’s military budget is about $52 billion, versus Washington’s proposed defense budget of $583 billion. Yet with far less money, Russia has been a consistent thorn in the US’s side in Syria, Ukraine, and now Afghanistan. That’s not to mention Moscow’s success in cyberwarfare.

“This is the same Russian military whom the RAND Corporation has estimated would be unstoppable in an initial conventional conflict in the Baltic states, even against the combined might of the NATO forces stationed there,” Waddell wrote. “Given the generous funding the American people have bequeathed us to provide for the common defense, is it so unreasonable to seek an efficient frontier of that resource’s utility?”

Waddell’s critique includes a call to fix inefficiencies between the Defense Department getting gear to war fighters, as some have to buy things they need because they don’t get there before they deploy. Waddell also calls for an audit of the Marines to see whether there are redundant efforts among contractors.

A videogame set in the trenches of World War I is surprisingly awesome
A squad automatic weapon gunner provides security during a break in his squad’s patrol in Southern Shorsurak, Helmand province, Afghanistan. | US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga

“There is no reason we should be paying twice for the same work or, as is often the case, paying government personnel for work that they have instead outsourced to more capable contractors for tasks within the government worker’s job description,” he wrote. “I would be willing to bet that a savvy staff officer with access to these position and billet descriptions as well as contracting line items could save the Marine Corps millions of dollars by simply hitting Control+F (find all) on his keyboard, querying key tasks, and counting redundancies.”

It’s unclear how much of an effect this op-ed would have on any changes. The Marine Corps Gazette is read mostly by senior Marine leadership, but whether that translates to taking this captain’s advice in an institution that is resistant to change is an open question.

“I have watched Marines charge headlong into enemy fire and breach enemy defenses with the enemy’s own captured IEDs in order to engage in close combat,” Waddell wrote. “This same fighting spirit from which we draw so much pride must be replicated by our senior leaders in leading comprehensive reform of our Corps’ capabilities and in creating a supporting establishment truly capable of fostering innovation.”

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