Land Rover has always been known for their gorgeous cars dominating rugged terrain. Now, they’re looking to make an impact beyond the highways: in marine and coastal conservation. The company is currently sponsoring a “Defender Above & Beyond Service Awards” for nonprofits to compete for a fully-customized Defender to help their organization go “Above & Beyond.” Five nonprofits remain in the “Marine and Coastal Conservation” category, and only one is veteran-owned and operated: FORCE BLUE.
“Over the past year, there have been incredible displays of bravery and resilience,” Land Rover stated on their website. “As defenders and helpers in your own right, you have been pushed to your limits—only to discover how truly capable you are. We are inspired by your commitment to serving others. And we want to support you.
“For seven decades, Land Rover has been creating hard-working vehicles that are known worldwide for taking service workers on missions to help others. Now we are awarding seven customized Defender models to seven U.S. nonprofits that go Above & Beyond for their communities every day.
“We know that great things happen when a highly capable vehicle is driven by highly capable people.” FORCE BLUE is certainly run by capable people — Jim Ritterhoff and Rudy Reyes.
According to their website, the idea for FORCE BLUE grew out of a dive trip co-founders Ritterhoff and Reyes took to the Cayman Islands in Summer 2015 to meet up with their friend, Keith Sahm, General Manager of Sunset House, the oldest continuously operated dive resort in the Caribbean.
For Ritterhoff and Sahm, experienced recreational divers who’d been reef diving for decades, this was just another week in paradise. But for Reyes, a former Recon Marine who had struggled with PTS and depression since returning home from multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the experience was nothing short of life changing.
“Here’s this trained combat diver,” Ritterhoff remembers. “One of the best, most highly skilled individuals you’ll ever encounter underwater. Yet he’s never seen a fish.”
For Reyes, like most SOF veterans, diving had never been about exploration or enjoyment. To him diving meant hauling 200 lbs. of gear underwater to destroy some potentially dangerous target in the dead of night. What Cayman offered was transformative.
Reyes immediately proposed scheduling another trip so that he could bring down more of his Recon brothers to experience what he just had. But after a few hours of discussion, the three men hatched a different plan. One that would include combat divers from all branches of service, along with marine scientists, conservationists and journalists.
“We saw it as the ultimate win-win,” says Sahm. “An opportunity to do some good, not only for our veterans, but for the planet as well.”
“By starting a program that isn’t just about helping veterans or just about helping the marine environment, but about helping both, we’re really uniting two worlds.” Says Ritterhoff. Hopefully, FORCE BLUE will encourage each to look at the other with a bit more empathy and understanding.”
Help FORCE BLUE continue to go Above & Beyond by voting once a day, every day until May 3, here.
The officer who’s running a massive Marine Corps and Navy war game in April that’ll test around 50 new technologies for storming beaches actually wants things to go wrong.
Navy Capt. Chris Mercer, a top tester for the service’s future concepts and technologies office, went so far as to say during a March 23 meeting with reporters: “If we don’t fail, I haven’t done my job.”
Now, before you start measuring Mercer for a new white coat with a very snug fit, think about this. With the upcoming Ship To Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation Advanced Naval Technology Exercise 2017 in April, the Marines are looking to change how they carry out forced-entry operations. Forget what you saw in “The Pacific” – the renowned HBO series actually presents an outdated view on such operations. It’s not going to be sending hundreds of Higgins boats to storm a beach under heavy fire. Instead, the Marines, rather than storming a surveyed beach, will be looking for what Doug King of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory called a “gap in the mangroves.”
But how will they find that gap? The answer lies in new technology – and this is what ANTX 2017 is intended to evaluate. With over 50 dynamic demonstrations planned for the 11-day exercise and another 50 static displays, ANTX 2017’s purpose is to find out what the state of today’s technology is – and to turn “unknown unknowns” into” known unknowns” or “known knowns” — to borrow from the logic former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made popular.
“In these early stages of prototype demonstrations and experimentation, the intent is to push the envelope and take on higher risk technologies,” Mercer told We Are The Mighty. “We expect to find systems that perform well technically, but score low in the operational assessment and vice versa.”
“If everything is performing well and going exactly as planned, then we were probably not aggressive enough in our efforts to advance.”
So, that’s why Mercer is hoping to see failures during ANTX 2017 — if you don’t fail, you don’t learn.
Four years after the 195th and final F-22 Raptor stealth fighter rolled out of Lockheed Martin’s factory in Marietta, Georgia, the U.S. Air Force still hasn’t committed to developing a new manned air-superiority fighter.
But the world’s leading air arm is proposing to develop some kind of new aircraft to complement, and perhaps replace, the F-22 on the most dangerous air dominance missions in heavily defended territory.
Noting that enemy air defenses are developing faster than the Air Force can counter them, the flying branch’s “Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan,”published in May, warns that “the Air Force’s projected force structure in 2030 is not capable of fighting and winning.”
“Developing and delivering air superiority for the highly contested environment in 2030 requires a multi-domain focus on capabilities and capacity,” the flight plan notes. To that end, it calls for the Air Force to begin developing, as early as 2017, a new “penetrating counterair” system, or PCA.
“Capability development efforts for PCA will focus on maximizing tradeoffs between range, payload, survivability, lethality, affordability, and supportability,” the flight plan explains.
Studiously avoiding specificity with regard to the PCA, the plan leaves open the possibility that the new penetrating counterair system could be manned or unmanned. In any event, the PCA will be part of a network of systems.
“While PCA capability will certainly have a role in targeting and engaging, it also has a significant role as a node in the network, providing data from its penetrating sensors to enable employment using either stand-off or stand-in weapons,” the plan explains.
“The penetrating capabilities of PCA will allow the stand-in application of kinetic and non-kinetic effects from the air domain.” In other words, the PCA could be a highly stealthy manned fighter or drone whose main job is find targets for other systems to attack.
Not coincidentally, the Pentagon has studied modifying existing large aircraft — most likely B-52 and B-1 bombers — to serve as “arsenal planes,” carrying large numbers of long-range munitions and firing them, from safe distance, at targets designated by stealthy aircraft flying much closer to enemy territory.
Along the same lines, the U.S. military is developing a wide range of new munitions, including hypersonic rockets, lasers and microwave weapons. It’s possible to imagine that, around 2030, the Air Force will deploy teams of systems to do the same job the F-22 does today. A team could include a stealthy drone communicating with a distant B-1 arsenal plane hauling a load of hypersonic missiles.
Of course, it’s also possible that the penetrating counterair system could be an existing fighter. The new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter possesses some air-to-air capability plus a higher degree of stealth than do most planes.
But even the Air Force admits that the F-35 isn’t a suitable replacement for the F-22. “It’s not that it can’t do it, it’s just that it wasn’t designed to be a maneuvering airplane,” Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said in late 2015.
More likely, today’s F-22s could give way to … tomorrow’s F-22s. Seven years after then-defense secretary Robert Gates cancelled F-22 production, the U.S. defense establishment has concluded that 195 F-22s is not enough.
The U.S. Congress has pressured the Air Force to at least consider plans for more F-22s. And Air Force leaders are warming up to the idea, despite the high cost. The RAND Corporation, a California think-tank, estimated that 75 new F-22s would cost $19 billion in 2016 dollars. Even so, an F-22 restart is “not a crazy idea,” Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, said in May.
Fortunately, the Pentagon had the foresight to order Lockheed to preserve the F-22’s tooling and document production processes. More problematic is the limited networking capability of the current F-22 design. A Raptor’s datalink is compatible only with other Raptors, complicating the F-22’s participation in a network of systems. If a Raptor can’t talk to other aircraft, it certainly can’t designate targets for them.
But again, there are solutions in the works. The U.S. government’s tiny fleet of Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft — a mix of Global Hawk drones, business jets and old B-57 bombers — carry radio gateways that can “translate” datalinks in order to link up disparate aircraft.
More elegantly, Boeing has developed a scab-on datalink system called Talon HATE that, installed on an F-15, allows the older fighter to securely exchange data with an F-22. Talon HATE is still in testing, but could find its way to the frontline F-15 fleet in coming years.
It’s not clear whether the Air Force’s top leadership — to say nothing of Congress and the White House — will follow the air-superiority flight plan’s recommendation and begin development of a penetrating counterair system in the next year or so. But if the stars align, the Air Force could soon, however belatedly, have a replacement for the F-22.
When thinking about 18th and 19th century weaponry, the standard perception is of cumbersome muskets loaded standing up and only the skilled and lucky getting off as many as three rounds in a minute. But an innovative air-powered semi-automatic rifle developed by an Austrian watchmaker in 1779 or 1780 served several armies for decades, and even played a role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Bartholomaus Girandoni, an watchmaker from the Austrian Empire province of Tyrol, had developed an innovative form of firearm, especially for the technological limitations of the time. A pressurized container of air, in the form of a removable stock, would propel a .46 calibre musket ball at speeds comparable to modern day handguns. A tube magazine, typically holding more than 20 rounds, fed through a manual switch.
The weapon was pointed upward and a switch was pressed to reload. Considering that standard muskets at the time required the operator to be standing while reloading, this let soldiers keep low to the ground, presenting a much smaller target and allowing them to stay under cover. It was comparable in range, accuracy, and penetration to a standard musket.
A soldier armed with the rifle typically carried three air tanks and a hundred lead shot in a special leather case.The air canister was good for perhaps 30-40 effective shots, with range and accuracy dropping as the pressure went down. An additional benefit was that it was much quieter than gunpowder based weapons.
A semi-automatic weapon of this level of effectiveness was basically unknown, and the Austrian Army eagerly adopted the design. It saw extensive action in the Napoleonic Wars, and was used for over 30 years.
Thomas Jefferson, who always had a keen interest in inventive new technology, purchased several of the rifles. One of them was carried by the legendary Lewis and Clark expedition, whom demonstrated the rifle to American Indian tribes they met along the way. The Indians were impressed with the weapon’s firepower and it’s much quieter report than a standard musket.
But the weapon had a number of disadvantages. Recharging a canister could take over 1,500 cranks from a small hand pump, though larger horse drawn recharge stations were often used. The weapon was complex and easily damaged, and the leather seals connecting the tank to the gun had to be kept wet in order to prevent leaks. Compared to the relative simplicity of regular muskets, it required a lot of training to maintain and suffered from serious reliability issues.
The weapon was simply too complex for the technology at the time, and in mass production suffered from too many defects and expense. The conscript armies of the period needed simple weapons that could be built and maintained anywhere, and it was never widely adopted by other European armies.
Though it was phased out by 1815, the weapon’s technology was unique, and an infantry weapon of similar capabilities in sustained rapid fire were not seen again for 50 years. In the end, it’s real flaw is that it was ahead of it’s time.
Members of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, inspect the Tabqa dam on March 27, 2017, which has been recently partially recaptured, as part of their battle for the jihadists’ stronghold in nearby Raqa.
Clashes raged around a key northern Syrian town on Tuesday after the Islamic State group launched a counter-attack to fend off a U.S.-backed advance near the jihadists’ stronghold Raqa.
Backed by air power from an international coalition bombing, the Syrian Democratic Forces are laying the groundwork for an assault on the heart of the jihadists’ so-called “caliphate.”
A key part of the campaign is the battle for the ISIS-held town of Tabqa on the Euphrates River, as well as the adjacent dam and military airport.
The SDF seized the Tabqa airbase late Sunday and began pushing north towards the town itself, but ISIS fighters doubled down on their defenses on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The fighting is a result of ISIS launching a counter-offensive to exhaust the Syrian Democratic Forces around the Tabqa military airport,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
He said the SDF was working to “consolidate its positions” near the airport ahead of a final push for the town.
SDF fighters are also bearing down on the Tabqa dam after capturing its northern entrance on Friday from ISIS fighters.
The fight around the structure has been backed by forces from the US-led coalition, with American-made armoured vehicles bearing the markings of the U.S. Marine Corps seen moving along a nearby road.
An AFP correspondent at the dam on Tuesday said it was generally quiet around the dam itself, despite the occasional ISIS-fired mortar that landed in SDF-controlled parts of the riverbank.
Airplanes could be heard humming above as SDF forces patrolled the northern entrance of the structure.
On Tuesday, coalition forces could be seen standing near military vehicles less than one mile from the dam, their mortar rounds casually stacked nearby.
After a brief pause in fighting on Monday to allow technicians to enter the dam complex, SDF fighters resumed their operations around the structure, said spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed.
“ISIS amassed its fighters and attacked our forces in the area, which forced us to respond and resume the operations to liberate the dam,” she said.
Earlier this year, the United Nations raised concern about the prospect of damage to the dam in fighting, warning that water levels — which put pressure on the structure — were already high.
ISIS has also issued warnings through its propaganda agency Amaq that the dam “is threatened with collapse at any moment because of American strikes and a large rise in water levels”.
On Tuesday, technicians accompanied by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent could be seen examining the dam to assess whether water levels had risen in recent days.
“The explosions and the clashes are threatening the dam, and we ask for all sides to distance themselves from it,” said Ismail Jassem, an engineer from the SDF-controlled Tishreen Dam in neighbouring Aleppo province.
“The water levels are acceptable now. We came to open up one of the gates to relieve the pressure,” he told AFP.
The SDF launched its offensive for Raqa city in November 2016, seizing around two thirds of the surrounding province, according to the Britain-based Observatory.
At their closest point, the forces are just five miles from Raqa city, to the northeast.
But they are mostly further away, between ten to fifteen miles from Raqa.
The Observatory, which relies on a network of source on the ground in Syria, said ISIS had deployed around 900 fighters from Raqa city to various fronts in the wider province.
“Fighting is raging on every front around the city of Raqa, accompanied by non-stop air strikes,” Abdel Rahman said.
Syria’s conflict began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 but has turned into a brutal war pitting government forces, jihadists, rebels, and Kurds against each other.
UN-mediated talks between government and rebel representatives continued Tuesday in Geneva, aimed at bringing an end to the war that has killed 320,000 people.
The MiG-29 may not be the most advanced fighter in the Russian arsenal but it still has all the features it needs to do what it was designed to do: take down American F-16s. Though it may not all the bells and whistles of the newer, more advanced MiG-35, there’s no way you’ll actually be able to fly a MiG-35, short of joining the Russian Air Force.
While that’s probably unlikely for most people reading this, anyone with the cash to spare can actually fly a MiG-29 Fulcrum. All they need to do is bring their money and their flying credentials to Russia.
MiGFlug is a Swiss company founded by two aviation enthusiasts, Philipp Schaer and Flavio Kaufmann. The two traveled the world flying aircraft and they’ve personally selected the planes and options available to pilots and passengers alike. Admittedly, they put together a number of rare and unique options open to people worldwide.
In the United States, licensed, qualified pilots can take a ride in a Skunkworks masterpiece, the F-104 Starfighter. In Europe, you can fly the legendary Hawker Hunter, the MiG-15 or engage in aerial combat with two Czech-built L-39 Albatrosses. The real fun possibilities come in – where else – Russia.
During a visit to Nizhny Novgorod, home of the SOKOL Air Base, $17,000 will buy you a 45-minute ride in the Soviet Union’s most advanced fighter aircraft, the MiG-29. During the flight, trained pilots will take the stick of the aircraft. They will break the sound barrier, perform rolls, loops, Immelmann-turns, vertical ascents and tail slides.
If that sounds intimidating, even for an experienced pilot, that’s because it is. Your vitals will be checked before you climb aboard the aircraft designed to kill F-16 Fighting Falcons. But civilian pilots who’ve never flown fighters before don’t need to be intimidated, an experienced MiG-29 pilot will be there to make sure you don’t die tragically while pushing the plane to its limits.
The Mikoyan MiG-29 entered service in the Soviet Union’s air force in 1982, at a time when the United States was flying not just F-16s, but also F-15 Eagles, F/A-18 Hornets and who knows what other secret aircraft was cooked up at Area 51. The USSR’s answer to these aviation miracles had to be fast, maneuverable and above all, lethal. The MiG-29 had some later variants but wasn’t fully replaced until Russia introduced the MiG-35.
MiGFlug also offers anyone the chance to channel their inner tech billionaire and fly the Mikoyan MiG-29 to the edge of space. In a 50-minute flight, the MiG-29’s pilot will rocket you up 13.4 miles to the very edge of space, where you see the curvature of the Earth at an altitude that only Russian Cosmonauts and Astronauts have ever beaten.
Or if piloting the Soviet Union’s fourth-generation fighter isn’t your thing but you have the right stuff, you can still feel like a pioneer of military aviation by going up in a Soviet-built Ilyushin IL-76 MDK and experience zero gravity. This package includes a tour of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.
Just bring $7,000 for your solo spaceflight to Zvyozdny Gorodok, north of Moscow. If you have a group of friends, you all can rent out the Ilyushin for just $70,000. You will likely love it, judging by customer comments, but your stomach may feel differently.
Feature image: Vitaly V. Kuzmin/ Wikimedia Commons
We all know Santa’s making a list, checking it twice… probably with some help from the NSA. Meanwhile, North American Aerospace Defense Command is also making a list and checking it twice to ensure their considerable assets are ready to help ensure that Santa accomplishes his mission safely.
This long-running tradition started by accident during the height of the Cold War. But it’s stuck around, even in the post-9/11 era. According to a 2008 Air Force release, the accident occurred in 1955, when NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense command, or CONAD, got a call from a kid. A newspaper had misprinted a phone number to allow kids to track jolly old St. Nick. Instead of the local Sears store, they got the operations hotline for CONAD.
Colonel Harry Shoup was the director of operations on that Christmas Eve. Tracking Santa had not been something he’d prepared for or had been briefed to do. But when each kid called, he provided them Santa’s position, saving Christmas for the kids by assuring them that Santa was safe and on the job. The next year, CONAD did it again, and did so the year after that. When NORAD took over for CONAD in 1958, they assumed that Christmas Eve duty – and tradition – as well. In 2015, a DOD release noted that over 1500 volunteers helped carry out the mission.
The official web site, www.NORADSanta.org, includes videos, games, music, and a gift shop. There is also a Facebook page for that in this era of social media. And yes, there are apps for tracking Santa on Windows phones, Android phones, and iPhones. NORAD says that starting at 2:01 AM Eastern Standard Time on Dec. 24, they will have video of Santa making preparations for his mission. At 6 AM EST that day, live phone operators will be available at 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to email@example.com. And check out this video of the history of how NORAD got started.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Marine Corps is proving the potential of its newly established rapid capabilities office with an early purchase: a tactical decision-making kit, invented by Marine grunts, that blends a range of cutting-edge technologies to allow infantry squads to compete against each other in a realistic simulated training environment.
The service inked a $6.4 million contract March 31 for enough kits to outfit 24 infantry battalions with the technology. The contract came just 51 days after Marine leaders identified the technology, invented in a Camp Lejeune barracks room, as a valuable capability for the service, said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.
In an interview with Military.com on Tuesday at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference, Walsh said leathernecks from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, decided to turn space inside one of the battalion’s barracks facilities into a makeshift warfighting lab, combining a handful of technologies already in use by the Corps into a sophisticated mission rehearsal system.
The North Carolina-based 2/6 created what it called a tactical decision room, linking computers equipped with deployable virtual training environment simulation software already in use by the service.
The Marines used quadcopters to create a 3D map of a real training area, which was then uploaded to the simulation. They could then run and re-run the same realistic mission in the simulated environment. They added in the Corps’ Instrumented-Tactical Engagement Simulation System equipment, technology that allows tracking of battlefield movements and simulated fires using lasers, allowing for realistic training and complex after-action feedback for the warfighter.
“So now what we’re seeing these guys do is, they’re gaming in their barracks, squad-on-squad — gaming back-and-forth on decision-making,” Walsh said. “… They all get to take it 3D, plug it into what they look at virtually, figure out how they’ll attack it, then go conduct the mission.”
In an article published in the Marine Corps Gazette, four platoon leaders from 2/6, all second lieutenants, described how they saw the system they helped create fitting into infantry training.
“As infantrymen, we do not spend as much time in the field as we would like,” they wrote. “The decision room is a way to maximize our training and tactical prowess garrison … we can optimize the natural technical aptitudes of millennials while not requiring units to purchase additional materials.”
The Office of Naval Research assisted with pulling the software components together and making them communicate as a complete system, Walsh said. Ultimately, top Marine leadership, including Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Assistant Commandant Gen. Glenn Walters, designated the system as a candidate for investment through the Corps’ rapid capabilities office, which activated late last year.
Col. James Jenkins, director of Science and Technology for the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, said the value of the system is in the ability of squads and small units to run and re-run the same scenario with detailed after-action feedback.
“Here’s the debrief, here’s who shot who when, and here’s why, and go back and just get better every time,” he said. “It’s all about that sets and reps.”
Jenkins said the first system will be delivered early next month, with planned delivery of four tactical decision-making kits per month until all 24 battalions are equipped. Jenkins said the kits will be delivered strategically when a unit has time to learn the technology and incorporate it into training, not during pre-deployment workups or other kinetic seasons.
This summer, between June and July, the Corps plans to publicly promote the tactical decision kit within the service, describing the innovation process at 2/6 and how relatively junior-ranking grunts came up with something of value to the greater institution.
“It was truly bottom-up, how could we make this better,” Jenkins said.
Walsh said the purchase illustrates the need for the rapid capabilities office and funding for fast prototyping and development. Ideally, he said, he would like to have around $50 million available to invest in new ideas and technologies.
“Is it the 100 percent solution? Probably not. We’re going to have to keep adjusting,” he said of the 2/6 invention. “But it’s now getting every squad in the Marine Corps wargaming, experimenting and doing tactics and learning from them.”
Called the “Counter-External Operations Task Force” – and dubbed “Ex-Ops” in the Pentagon – it takes the JSOC targeting model and expands it to a global scale, bypassing regional combatant commanders, answering to the Special Operations Command, to expedite the U.S. efforts to attack global terror networks, the story says.
Previously, methods used to target and kill individual terrorists or small cells involved deploying a unit under SOCOM command to regional combatant commands, who would direct the SOCOM assets. The new changes under the Obama administration will, in practice, elevate SOCOM to a regional combatant command.
The Post cites anonymous sources who say the new task force is the “codification” of the U.S. military’s best practices honed over the past 15 years in the War on Terror.
Some fear that elevating SOCOM authority and allowing its mission to bypass existing commanders will cause friction between commands, but reducing layers of authority and red tape is the purpose of the Ex-Ops mission.
“Layers have been stripped away for the purposes of stopping external networks,” a defense official told the Washington Post. “There has never been an ex-ops command team that works trans-regionally to stop attacks.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis yesterday completed his first trip to the Middle East, where he gained valuable insight as he prepares to make key policy decisions, including submitting the results of a review of the department’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to the White House, Pentagon press operations director Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters this morning.
In a memorandum signed Jan. 28, President Donald Trump ordered the Defense Department to come up with a new plan within 30 days to defeat ISIS. Davis said the review is due early next week, and added, “we’re on track to deliver it on time.”
The captain called the review a comprehensive, whole-of-government plan.
“It will address ISIS globally, and it is not just a DoD plan,” he said. “We’re charged with leading the development of the plan, but it absolutely calls upon the capabilities of other departments.”
Davis said the White House memorandum “puts the bull’s eye of the target squarely on DoD to lead it, but it is absolutely being done with the input of other agencies. We chair it. We’re developing the strategy, but we’re doing it together with other departments.”
Review Involves Many Countries
The review will be an outline of a strategy that encompasses numerous issues surrounding the defeat of ISIS, he said. “We have been working diligently with our interagency partners to develop it with the intelligence community, our military commanders on the ground, the Joint Staff and our policy team here, and it represents the input of a number of other departments.”
The captain said that the proposed plan will go to the president, who will make decisions based on the recommendations contained in the review.
Countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya and others in the Southeast Asia region are included in the review, he said, “in the sense that this is going to explore the strategy for how we combat ISIS outside of Iraq and Syria, where we’ve seen ISIS spring up in other places.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)
Mexico’s Veracruz state may be one of the most dangerous places in the entire country. The extortion and kidnapping of civil servants and journalists are rampant, dismembered bodies are a common occurrence, and the city is on the front lines of Mexico’s ongoing drug war.
The Fuerza Civil – the Civil Forces of the Mexican state – is an elite security force designed to protect trade routes, migrants, agricultural areas, fisheries, and forests as well as assist with municipal authorities in preventing organized crime. They need all the help they can get.
Enter the Gurkha armored vehicle.
The Fuerza Civil equipped with next-generation weapons, armor, and vehicles to support that mission. One of those advanced armor vehicles comes from Canada’s Terradyne Armored, Inc. and is dubbed the Gurkha after Nepal’s feared elite warriors.
The Gurkha is a 4×4 light armored patrol vehicle, currently produced in three tactical configurations – each of which uses the Ford F550 chassis. They also run with Ford’s in-house built 6.7L Power Stroke V8 diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission.
The power and armor make a huge difference in Veracruz. Civilians and police are regularly targeted or in the crossfire of ongoing violence between the Zetas, Sinaloa, and Gulf Cartels. Things got so bad the Mexican government had to deploy military forces to quell the fighting.
With 100 years of war films combined with the infamously derivative nature of Hollywood, there were bound to be a few archetypical characters popping up here and there (and everywhere). As a result, any given war movie will have at least one of these guys:
1. The Recruit
Young, green, and completely new to war and death, the Recruit is a little naive but ready to tackle any challenges thrown at him. He or she will either lose his or her innocence or die. (Oops, spoiler alert).
If the story starts in basic training, the movie will see a number of characters grow and evolve into some of the other character types.
It doesn’t have to just be a basic trainee, though. There are many stages of military training where a service member can show how green he or she may be. The longer they remain naive, however, the more likely they won’t make it to the end of the movie, because it makes their death more tragic and that is a great catalyst for the main character.
2. The Cocky Pilot
Everyone knows this guy before he even shows up. He knows his bird, he knows his job, and he knows the skies. So does everyone else. He might be a loose cannon, a renegade… a Maverick?
Sometimes the other pilots don’t entirely trust him; his leadership questions his judgement. He might be too good. You may not trust him at first either, but he’ll surprise you. He probably rides a motorcycle.
3. The Drill Sergeant
Where would the platoon be without training? Who turns the recruit into the Dependable NCO (more on that later)? The Drill Sergeant of course. the most famous example being R. Lee Ermey’s Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, his lines are, at some point in their career, quoted incessantly by everyone who ever served ever.
You don’t see much of the Drill Sergeant lately, but if there’s a story that covers a character’s entire service or requires a group of raw recruits to congeal as a unit, they have to start somewhere. It’s usually basic training.
If you civilians are wondering why someone who is supposed to be scaring the undisciplined crap out of recruits to train them to be the best American fighting forces on the planet is depicted as being so funny, it’s because the drill instructors are funny. We just aren’t allowed to laugh until at least a year later.
4. The Crazy Officer/NCO
He could be a war junkie or he could be literally insane. The truth is, there’s a screw (or two) loose up there somewhere and unfortunately, everyone in his chain of command will still act on his orders. Because the Drill Sergeant trained us to.
If the Crazy Officer gets too crazy, you can be prepared for his downfall being central to either the main plot or one of the rising actions as the story goes along. If you hate him and he doesn’t really add anything to the unit like the Drill Sergeant does, chances are good he’s gonna die or just be removed in some way. Captain America in Generation Kill is also a good example of the Crazy Officer, but one the most memorable is Col. Kilgore from Apocalypse Now.
5. The Dependable NCO
This is the guy you want leading you into battle… because he will lead you out of it. You will not only learn how to fight this war, but you’ll learn why you’re fighting it and why it matters to your country. He will probably save your ass at some point. He is 100 percent good, following the laws of war and protecting his men and civilians. This earns him some enemies among his own but he is still one bad ass good guy. Sgt. Elias in Platoon is a good example of the Dependable NCO.
Unfortunately, your emotional attachment to him means his days are probably numbered. He might be too good for the enemy to kill, so he will likely be killed by either friendly fire or in some sort of fragging incident. You will want to save him and so will many of his men… but they probably can’t. There are a few notable survivors, however.
6. The Dependable Officer
A true leader, he is also undeniably human. Where the Dependable NCO knows the score in every situation, the Dependable Officer struggles with the morality of every decision he or she makes and weighs it against what his gut tells him. When it comes time to be decisive, he nails it. You would never know how long he or she thought about it. This is why his troops trust him. He also regularly pulls his people out of harm’s way.
The Dependable Officer sympathizes with the people he or she leads, but takes the fallout of the decision on and doesn’t let themselves get too carried away. No matter what, they will always do the right thing until they can’t go on.
He is often an old school officer, never fraternizing, but knows his men well. The Dependable Officer may talk to other officers about his thoughts, but he will only reveal himself as a real person to his men if/when necessary.
Like the Dependable NCO, the Dependable Officer’s fate isn’t always sealed. For unknown reasons, The Dependable Officer actually has a much higher survival rate than the NCO.
7. The Gruff NCO
The saltiest of the salty, the grizzled, old Gruff NCO has been there and done that and survived. You don’t have to like him, and he doesn’t care if you do or not, but you will respect him. Chances are good he will make it to the end credits and teach you about life along the way.
8. The Incompetent Officer (or NCO)
The Incompetent Officer seems like he’s in the unit way too long. How can it not be clear to everyone how bad this person is at his job? The truth is we need this person to commit egregious acts of stupidity and inability for far too long, right up until the critical moment, because from his removal or comeuppance, a true leader will emerge.
If the true leader doesn’t emerge, then the incompetent one is used either as an example of what the worst case scenario for an officer could be, or to contrast with the really good people in the outfit, to make them look even better, like Captain America did to contrast Lieutenant Fick’s leadership in Generation Kill.
9. The Jokester
Usually the best part of that particular movie, the Jokester is the comic relief for a film or one of the central characters. They’re usually up against a person or system that is so unfunny and rigid so as to be like… an Army or something.
Still, their behavior doesn’t make them unlikeable, at least not on screen. Chances are good, however, in real like you would probably want to blanket party this person every night. But this isn’t real life, and watching mudwrestling with Ziskey and Ox seems like a great time.
The Jokester doesn’t have to be an outright party animal. Joker in Full Metal Jacket may have been a Jokester, but he was actually still a good troop who did his job, even as a rifleman, despite his personal feelings about the war. Remember, Joker is the one who shot the Vietcong sniper at point blank range.
10. The True Leader
He emerges when he’s needed most. He handles every situation he’s in like an expert, even when he’s not. He wears a brave face for his men, but even so, the men know he cares for real. More often than not, when the True Leader shows up in a war film or show, the character is based on a real person.
The True Leader would have to be based on a real person who was a true leader, because if he were fictional, no one watching would ever be able to believe he did the things he did.
11. The Sniper
This one is pretty self- explanatory. The Sniper isn’t in every movie, but when he’s there, he’s the guardian of the troops on the ground, the eyes in the sky, and the avenging angel of death who gets sh*t done when no one else can.
One thing is for certain: it really is awesome to watch sniper scenes.
12. The Veteran’s Veteran
Maybe he’s trained in a bunch of stuff the average troop will never see or even read about. Maybe we’re better off not knowing guys like this exist. Some of them are so awesome in battle, they don’t need a quick reaction force, close air support, or even a gun.
No matter how operator they may be, what makes them The Veteran’s Veteran is what they do for their fellow warfighter. Their feelings are usually captured in a meaningful speech during or after the battle.
It’s no secret North Korea has a pretty big chip on its shoulder. They have to do everything bigger, more ridiculous, and more grandiose than every other country on the planet.
In an effort to prove their superiority to the world (but mostly to themselves), they put everything into that external image. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their armed forces. If we’re comparing armies to cars, the Korean People’s Army is pretty much the Pontiac Aztek of the world’s fighting forces. That doesn’t stop them from peacocking their insane special forces on the internet.