Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy's nephew - We Are The Mighty
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Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
One veteran will receive the medals earned during Vietnam thanks to the nephew of his late battle buddy.
Three years ago, Curtis Sidwell of Watson, Illinois decided to research his uncle Donald Sidwell’s experience in Vietnam.  Donald passed in 2009, and never shared his experiences behind enemy lines with his family.
While searching through his uncle’s effects, Curtis found that Donald had written two letters to the wife of a man named Phillip Taylor. In the first letter, Sidwell had written the worst news any friend might have to deliver to a loved one. Donald’s letter said that Taylor had been killed in a helicopter crash. The second letter corrected the first. It wasn’t true; her husband was not dead. Sidwell had been misinformed. Taylor was in fact, alive.
Stars and Stripes described the situation in an article titled, “A Whisker”:
“Severely injured during a firefight south of Pineapple Forest on Oct. 18, 1968, Taylor waited for an medevac chopper to transport him to a hospital in Chu Lai. When a chopper came, it took fire as it hovered over a row of trees, went into a tailspin, and then crashed. Taylor was thrown from the chopper, and was the only survivor of that accident.”
Curtis Sidwell was able to track down Taylor, and during a phone conversation Taylor recounted his ‘lone survivor’ incident.  He also said that one of his superiors had promised he would receive a citation for how he’d conducted himself. Sadly, decades had gone by and no such thing happened.
“You could tell in his voice that he was bothered about that,” Curtis said in an interview with The Edn. “Knowing the day that Philip had and what he went through for the United States of America and for us, it only seemed fair to get him his medals.”
Sidwell embarked on a three-year effort to ensure Taylor got the recognition he was due, and his work paid off in the form of Taylor receiving a Purple Heart, an Army Commendation Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Star awards, a Combat Infantryman Badge, a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, a Sharpshooter Badge, and a Marksman Badge. According to The Edn, a review is underway at Fort Knox for a Bronze Star related to Taylor’s bravery.
“It’s the least I can do,” said Sidwell. “And I think my uncle would be tickled if he could know what I’ve done.”
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That time a US Navy aircraft carrier was shut down by a race riot

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew


The early 1970s were a weird time in the U.S. military in terms of the social fabric across the force. As was the case for the American public, the Vietnam War was increasingly unpopular among service members and that feeling had a big impact on morale and caused myriad challenges for military leaders trying to maintain mission focus. And one of the most dramatic examples of this dynamic was the race riot aboard the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) in October of 1972.

A subset of the antiwar movement was a sense among African-Americans that they were being taken advantage of because of their economic status and were used as cannon fodder against the enemy without any consideration for advancing their quality of life in society. This was felt acutely by black service members across all branches of the military.

The seeds of unrest aboard Kitty Hawk were sown the night before the riot happened, which happened to be the ship’s final night in port at Subic Bay, Philippines. The ship’s crew had just received word that they would be headed back to the waters off of Vietnam and not heading home to San Diego as planned. Morale was lower than ever and tempers were ready to flare.

A group of African-American sailors from the crew got into a fight with some other sailors at the enlisted club on base. Once the carrier put to sea, one of the black sailors was called to the investigating officer’s space to answer some questions about the incident. That black sailor showed up with 9 others, all very belligerent. The sailor was informed of his rights under the guidelines of non-judicial punishment. He was told he could make a statement, and he refused. He was allowed to leave.

Mayhem quickly swept across the ship, mostly centered on the mess decks. Black sailors began attacking their white shipmates without warning. The Marine detachment was called into action to try and put down the violence. One Marine started to draw his weapon, which made things worse.

The carrier’s executive officer, the second in command, was Captain Benjamin Cloud. Believing the fact he was black would be a calming factor, he confronted a large group of rioters in one of the aft mess decks. Cloud ordered the Marines who were there to stand down and leave the area. Once the Marines left he tried to reason with the rioters, asking the leaders among them to join him in his cabin to discuss the nature of their grievances.

At that point the carrier’s commanding officer, Captain Marland Townsend (who was white), approached the discussion and saw the XO had things under control, so he left without letting Cloud know he was there. The lack of coordination between CO and XO proved to be a problem as the day wore on.

The CO, having noted the hostile attitude of the group being addressed by the XO, left the area and instructed the the Marines to establish additional aircraft security watches and patrols on the hangar and flight decks. The Marines were given additional instructions by their CO to break up any group of three or more sailors who might appear on the aircraft decks, and disperse them.

As the XO released the group with whom he had been talking, the major portion of them left the after mess deck by way of the hangar deck. Upon seeing the black sailors come onto the hangar deck, the Marines attempted to disperse them. The Marines at the moment were some 26 strong and, trained in riot control procedures, they formed a line and advanced on the black sailors, containing them to the after end of the hanger deck. Several sailors were arrested and handcuffed while the remainder, arming themselves with aircraft tie-down chains, confronted the Marines.

At this point, the ship’s CO appeared and, moving into the space between the Marines and the black sailors, attempted to control the situation. The XO, upon being informed of this activity, headed there, arriving in time to see a heavy metal bar thrown from the area of the black sailors land near and possibly hit the CO. At this point, the XO was informed that a sailor had been seriously injured below decks, so he departed. The CO, meanwhile, ordered the prisoners released and the Marines to return to their compartment while he attempted to restore order personally.

The XO, after going below, became aware that small groups, ranging from 5 to 25 black sailors, were marauding about the ship attacking white sailors, pulling many from their berths and beating them with their fists and chains, dogging wrenches, metal pipes, fire extinguisher nozzles and broom handles. The ship’s dispensary was busy with doctors and corpsmen working on the injured personnel. Alarmingly, another group of black sailors harassed them and the men waiting to be treated.

The XO was then informed by at least two sources that the CO had been injured or killed on the hangar deck. Not sure of the facts but believing the reports could be true, the XO made an announcement over the ship’s public address system ordering all the ship’s black sailors to the after mess deck and the Marines to the forecastle, thereby putting as much distance between the two groups as possible.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Capt. Benjamin Cloud, Kitty Hawk XO at the time of the race riot in ’72. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The CO, still on the hangar deck talking to a dwindling number of the black sailors, was surprised and distressed at the XO’s announcement. At this point he was still unaware of the various groups of black sailors assaulting their white shipmates in several different areas of the ship, and he was, obviously, neither dead nor injured.

He headed for the nearest public address system microphone, found the XO there, held a brief conference with the XO, and made an announcement of his own to the effect that the XO had been misinformed and that all hands should return to their normal duties. The announcements by the CO and XO, occurring around midnight, were the first indication to the majority of the crew that there was troubled aboard.

The black sailors seemed to gravitate to the forecastle. Their attitude was extremely hostile. Of the 150 or so who were present, most were armed. The XO followed one group to the forecastle, entered and, as he later stated, he believed that had he not been black he would have been killed on the spot. He addressed the group for about two hours, reluctantly ignoring his status as the XO and instead appealing to the men as one black to another. After some time he acquired control over the group, calmed them down, had them put their weapons at his feet or over the side, and then ordered them to return to their compartments. The meeting broke up about 2:30 in the morning and for all intents and purposes, the violence aboard Kitty Hawk was over.

The ship fulfilled its combat mission schedule that morning and for the remainder of her time on station. During this period Kitty Hawk established a record 177 days on the line in a single deployment. After the incident senior enlisted men and junior officers were placed in each berthing compartment and patrolled the passageways during night-time hours to ensure that similar incidents would not recur.

The 21 men who were charged with offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and who requested civilian counsel, were put ashore at Subic Bay to be later flown to San Diego to meet the ship on its return. The remaining 5 charged were brought to trial aboard the ship during its transit back to the United States.

(The Naval Historical Center contributed to this article.)

Now: 14 things only people working at the Pentagon understand

 

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Marines could ditch ammo cans in push to get lighter

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Marines lift ammo cans during a Company C squad competition at Robertson Barracks, Northern Territory, Australia, Sept. 23, 2016. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Carlos Cruz Jr.


QUANTICO–In the Marine Corps’ rush to drop weight, one of the most beloved and storied pieces of gear could be left behind. At the service’s first Equipping the Infantry Challenge here Sept. 27, program managers said they’re looking for a lighter, more practical alternative to the iconic ammunition can.

Scott Rideout, program manager for ammunition at Marine Corps Systems Command, told industry leaders that the rectangular can, which today looks much the same as it did during World War II and Vietnam, may be overdue for an upgrade.

Also read: 5 obvious fixes for the military’s weight problem

Marine Corps ammo comes to the warfighter, he said, “in the same metal can that it’s come in for 100 years. That metal can is one of those things that when the ammunition is brought to Marines, they take the ammunition out, distribute it however they’re going to distribute it, then throw [the can] away. The ammo can itself provides no value added to the Marine, except to help get the ammunition there.”

Some may disagree. The blog Shooter’s Log in 2013 listed 50 possible uses for the ammo can that range from improvised washing machine to anchor. Another website, Survival List Daily, topped that with 74 uses, including field toilet and cook pot.

The gear is even more central to Marine Corps identity: one of the elements of the Combat Fitness Test that all Marines must pass once a year is the ammunition can lift, in which troops are tested on the number of times they can lift a 30-pound can above their head and shoulders within two minutes.

But the calculus is simple, Rideout said: “Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain.”

Emerging technology, such as logistics drones that might be able to carry resupply items to troops in the field, may also put limits on how much a new delivery of ammunition can weigh.

The cans, which weigh anywhere between three and seven pounds depending on their make and the caliber of ammunition, can amount to a quarter of the ammo weight that Marines are carrying, Rideout said.

“If we can get that weight out of the system, that’s more ammunition that can be resupplied to Marines to allow them to do their jobs,” he said. “So we need lighter-weight packaging. Ammo is what ammo is, but there are a couple areas out there where we can reduce weight to enable Marines to do their jobs better, especially against a near-peer type competitor or distributed ops.”

Ammo cans aren’t the only area getting a look.

Rideout and Mary Flower LeMaster, chief engineer for ammunition at SYSCOM, said the brass casing that houses bullets may also be ripe for improvement.

“The brass provides no value added to the weapons system; it’s just to enable the round and the propellant to interface with the weapon to provide effect downrange,” Rideout said. “That’s where we need to attack that weight. And there is technology out there that can do that and so we’re looking for industry to help us there.”

Rideout and LeMaster provided no alternatives to these key ammunition items, and it’s unclear how the Marine Corps might move forward with service-specific improvements to items used by multiple service branches, like ammo cans and brass. But this call-out to industry is in keeping with a broader service effort to solicit revolutionary ideas to improve the way Marines fight on the battlefield. During the same Infantry Equipping Challenge event, SYSCOM Commander Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader said he wanted ideas for a meal, ready-to-eat optimized for Marine infantrymen in the field, with more efficient and practical packaging.

Currently, the ammunition managers said, they’re looking for ideas to improve five different calibers of ammo, as well as the cans: 9mm, 5.56, .762, .50-caliber, and .300 Winchester Magnum.

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This ‘Magic Carpet’ will help Navy pilots land on carriers

Landing on an aircraft carrier is one of the most difficult tasks any aviator can face. A 1991 Los Angeles Times article quoted one Desert Storm veteran as saying that the stress really came “when I got back to the ship and started landing on the carrier in the dark,” rather than when he was being shot at by Iraqi SAMs.


How can that stress be eased? This is an eternal question – mostly because there are lots of variables. One carrier landing could be in daylight with clear skies and a calm sea. The next could be in the middle of a thunderstorm in pitch black darkness. A pilot has to keep all of that in mind, not to mention the fact that the carrier itself is moving.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines

Boeing, though, has been working on some new software for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and the EA-18G Growlers to make this most difficult and stressful of tasks a little less so. It’s called the Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies. The acronym appropriately spells “MAGIC CARPET.”

This system handles calculating the many variables pilots making a carrier landing have to deal with, allowing the pilot to make simpler adjustments as the plane heads in for a landing.

Boeing put out a video about MAGIC CARPET. Take a look at the future of carrier landings!

Articles

Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

A C-130J Super Hercules from the 37th Airlift Squadron fires flares as it performs anti-aircraft fire tests during exercise Carpathian on May 9, 2016, in Romania. The 37th AS, from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, began participating in off-station training deployments with Romania as early as 1996, allowing the U.S. Air Force to work with NATO allies to develop and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lane Plummer

Phase technicians from the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work on an F-16C Fighting Falcon during routine phase maintenance at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, May 18, 2016. Phase inspections are performed on aircraft every 300 flight hours and involve procedural maintenance actions that require robust attention to detail.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Justyn M. Freeman

ARMY:

A 2d Squadron 2d Cavalry Regiment infantryman suppresses opposing forces with a M240B machine gun during Exercise Spring Storm in Voru, Estonia, May 14, 2016. Approximately 6,000 military personnel from the U.S., Finland, German Bundeswehr, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom’sHM Armed Forces and Canadian Armed Forces participated in the annual Estonian Army Land Defense Forces training exercise.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven M. Colvin

Soldiers assigned to 3rd Infantry Division, move to their battle position in a M1 Abrams during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge (SETC) at 7th Army JMTC’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, May 11, 2016.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Javon Spence

NAVY:

PACIFIC OCEAN (May 17, 2016) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Michael Allen, assigned to amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), directs an AV-8B Harrier from Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 311 on the ship’s flight deck. America is an aviation centric amphibious assault ship that supports small-scale contingency operations of an expeditionary strike group, to forcible entry missions in major theaters of war. The ship is currently conducting maritime training operations off the coast of California.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan A. Colon/Released

GUAM (May 17, 2016) U. S. Navy Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 land and retrieve their parachutes in Guam after a high altitude-low opening parachute jump. EODMU5 conducted counter improvised explosive device operations, renders safe explosive hazards and disarms underwater explosives.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Doug Harvey

MARINE CORPS:

A Marine attending the Military Police Basic Course, runs to cover during a field training exercise at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., May 11, 2016. The purpose of the course is to provide entry level pipeline and lateral move Marines the knowledge and skills to become disciplined, motivated and capable of performing the duties and responsibilities of military occupational specialty 5811, Military Police.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James R. Skelton

Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) provide security while other Marines conduct fast-rope inserts from a UH-1Y Huey with HMLA-267, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, May 9. 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (1st Anglico), I MEF, facilitated a helicopter rope and suspension technique training package for U.S. Marines and Royal British Commandos.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan Boynes

COAST GUARD:

My name is 1/c Kevin Alvarez and I will be taking you through the events that occur during commencement week leading up to graduation for the class of 2016! Pictured above is the sunset regimental review that took place last night in honor of Rear Admiral Rendon, Superintendent, United States Coast Guard Academy.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Coast Guard Photo by PA2 Mendenhall

Step 1 of 3: 186 First Class Cadets line up and make their way to Cadet Memorial Field where they will soon be handed their diplomas and be commissioned as officers.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
U.S. Coast Guard Photo

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57 technical errors in ‘Courage Under Fire’

While watching “Courage Under Fire” it was surprising how much they got right. Everyone was wearing branch insignia except for the general officer, just like it’s supposed to be. Most radio calls were about right, and helicopters and tanks worked about the way they should.


Still, Hollywood never gets it all right. We found 57 errors that we’ve listed below.

1. (3:30) Someone fires an illumination flare over a bunch of tankers as they’re preparing for a night fight. Better hope the enemy that is only a few kilometers away hasn’t crept closer in the darkness. Also, most of the soldiers look up at the light, something they’re trained not to do since it ruins their night vision. The light is bright enough to damage vision for minutes afterwards.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

2. (5:20) Lt. Boylar has the call sign of “Cougar 6.” That call sign would typically mean he was the commander of an element. As a lieutenant, Boylar would most likely be the executive officer or a platoon leader. An executive officer wouldn’t use the number 6 and a platoon leader would have another number mixed in, “Cougar 2-6” or “2 Cougar 6.”

3. (5:26) Lt. Col. Serling allows a subordinate element to pull off from the planned route because they have “No joy over here.” He doesn’t ask why the tanks can’t move as planned or which alternate route Cougar element will use. He just tells them to meet up at Phase Line Hammer.

4. (5:31) Cool tank fight, but that guy with the flare at the beginning was doubly stupid if the Iraqi tanks were that close to the Americans. Enemy scouts could have been trying to get a glimpse of the tanks, and the illumination would’ve lit up the whole formation for them. The scouts would have seen the tankers getting ready and known the attack was coming.

5. (6:40) Serling is in an important discussion with the general, but leaves it to shoot at infantry his crew chief could easily kill instead.

6. (7:00) Surrendering Iraqis are allowed to move forward with their weapons.

7. (7:15) Iraqis apparently buried their mines with the entire upper quarter of the ordnance above ground. Aren’t mines supposed to be a secret?

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

8. (8:54) There’s a possible friendly fire incident, and suddenly every single tank in the battle quits firing. Pretty unrealistic, especially since it is later revealed that quite a few Iraqi tanks were still alive at this point.

9. (10:00) A medevac pilot lands, looks at Lt. Col. Serling significantly, and then leaves. The dialogue suggests that they’re picking up Boylar’s body, but no one is shown going to or from the helicopter.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

10. (10:40) The investigating officer of a battalion commander suspected of killing his own tank crew would almost certainly outrank the officer he is investigating. The Army would choose a former battalion commander for this job, not a major.

11. (11:45) Serling isn’t wearing a unit patch. Even if he was removed from command, which would be a messed up decision from the general if an investigation was ongoing, he would still be in a unit.

12. (12:45) This captain is pretty casual with speaking to a superior officer. No one calls a superior officer by their rank.

13. (13:00) They have inquiries from press about a very sensitive incident and no one mentions the public affairs office that exists to deal with the press.

14. (15:10) Serling is assigned to be an investigating officer for an award, and only seconds later is in a room listening to testimony. He didn’t get a file, didn’t get background, and didn’t even get a chance to grab a notepad.

15. (15:15) Almost no one in the briefing is wearing a distinctive unit insignia (DUI) or regimental unit insignia (RUI). Soldiers are assigned DUIs when they graduate job school and can be given RUIs while they serve. They are always required to wear one in the dress uniform.

16. (16:05) The lieutenant is wearing his helmet with the chinstrap undone. The Army calls this John Wayne helmet and loses it when soldiers do it in training, let alone in a combat situation. The other guys at the crash site have their body armor open, even though they know they could take contact at any moment.

17. (16:07) The soldiers testify that they were flying in a Blackhawk, but this is a Huey wreck.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

18. (16:35) The medevac bird shouldn’t be flying into enemy held territory on its own. If Walden did pilot into the area without an attack helicopter escort, it would prove she was brave and call later testimony against her into question.

19. (16:45) Medevac birds are typically not allowed to have machine guns on them. They are never allowed to engage in offensive warfare against a tank.

20. (18:30) Everyone says “nothing else sounds like an M-16” But M16s aren’t all that distinct, especially when you’re in a helicopter booking it away from a fight.

21. (19:00) Why is there even such a push to give the Medal of Honor so fast? Medal of Honor investigations and deliberations take years. The White House aide keeps talking about how good the photo opportunity will help the president. Does he have an election coming up? An election that will rely on people being happy about a Medal of Honor?

22. (20:05) Serling imagines Cougar 6 going up in flames. American tank rounds generally kill the crews within milliseconds and Serling would know this.

23. (26:12) Monfriez yells, “We’re taking fire!” There are rounds ricocheting through the helicopter. Everyone knows they’re getting shot at. The information they could use is direction, distance, and description of the enemy, which is why you’re supposed to yell that.

24. (27:25) Even big Molotov cocktails with flares will not kill a tank, especially not in seconds.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

25. (27:35) All of the crew should be tied off to the helicopter. They shouldn’t be sliding nearly out of the bird.

26. (33:45) Monfriez is from XVIII Airborne Corps, but the rest are from the 44th Medical Command. Monfries later says he was tasked out from another unit, but as a staff sergeant he wouldn’t have been tasked that way. He would’ve been busy working with his squad or platoon during the invasion, not hanging out near the helicopters looking for a side job as a door gunner.

27. (35:45) Seriously, why was no one wearing a helmet? Even keeping the standard crew helmet on would be preferable to not wearing one.

28. (36:00) Monfriez keeps firing his SAW the wrong way. It should be fired from a tri/bipod if possible, resting on the ground when not possible. He also should be firing controlled bursts, not sweeping the ridge. It makes the shooter more accurate and saves ammunition which will become important if you have to hold out without reinforcements or resupply.

29. (36:55) Ilario says that the night was pitch dark, but desert nights are famous for how bright the stars are.

30. (37:20) America had overwhelming air superiority in this war. But, apparently it left crashed helicopter crews on their own for hours and hours.

31. (38:00) Three members of the crew are hit in the firefight, but the medic doesn’t move to any of them.

32. (39:45) Helmets have specific sizes, and Ilario is wearing the helmet of another guy. It’s unlikely to fit him properly. On the other hand, at least he’s wearing one. He and Monfries are the only ones who think a crash site under fire is a good place to wear a helmet.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

33. (41:30) It’s more likely the Army would’ve sent Apaches to try to rescue the survivors of the two helicopter crashes, though it’s not impossible Cobras would arrive instead.

34. (41:52) Capt. Walden, with no clear damage to her legs and her abdomen good enough to keep flipping to different firing positions, says she won’t leave the crash site until someone returns with a stretcher.

35. (41:40) Capt. Walden’s pistol kicks up dirt like it’s a .50-cal.

36. (42:00) Why is Monfriez not wearing armor and has his uniform top unbuttoned? Everyone in this scene should be wearing armor.

37. (42:05) Ilario uses the world’s lightest touch to assess Capt. Walden’s pulse.

38. (42:50) Why does everyone keep pulling their helmets off?

39. (44:20) Unit runs by in background in full winter physical training uniforms, even though it’s warm enough for families to swim in the outdoor base pool.

40. (51:00) Serling tells the general that the investigation isn’t a rubber stamp situation. No Medal of Honor investigation is ever a rubber stamp situation.

41. (51:25) Hershberg doesn’t care that testimony doesn’t line up, even though his ass will be on the line if he’s involved and doesn’t follow up.

42. (54:00) Everyone keeps discussing the death of Boylar, but not the rest of his crew, because screw the enlisted.

43. (55:21) None of the infantry drill sergeants are wearing their blue discs for the campaign hat. One instructor isn’t even wearing his drill sergeant hat.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

44. (55:30) Recruit calls a drill sergeant “sir” and isn’t corrected.

45. (55:35) Monfriez sees a recruit run away from an obstacle, leaving a soldier trapped inside. Monfries yells at the soldier that he should never leave another soldier behind, then promptly allows the recruit to run off while the other guy is still trapped in the wire.

46. (57:51) Monfriez says he wouldn’t know what time the M16 ran out of ammo because he was on the SAW. He’s an infantryman and the senior noncommissioned officer and so should know that he needs to track the amount of ammunition for each weapons system.

47. (1:01:45) Monfriez keep complaining about not being able to hear movement with everyone speaking, but he isn’t even bothering to look out for enemies approaching.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

48. (1:04:00) The crew leaves the M16 behind when they depart.

49. (1:05:50) This scene supposedly happens at a base with basic training on it, but every unit patch on the walls is from XVIII Airborne which is headquartered at Fort Bragg and has no basic training.

50. (1:11:00) Capt. Walden wears medical insignia, but she would’ve fallen under aviation branch as a pilot.

51. (1:13:00) Hershberg tells Serling that he could give a direct order to Serling to turn in the report. The first time Hershberg told Serling to turn in the report, that was a direct order. It doesn’t matter if he says, “This is a direct order.”

52. (1:21:00) Staff Sgt. Monfriez is wearing a patrol cap even though he’s a drill sergeant at this point.

53. (1:28:25) Monfriez says he doesn’t need Walden’s permission to run from the crash site, but he does. Since Walden is in command, anyone who leaves without her permission is committing desertion in the face of the enemy. Since Monfriez follows up the threat by committing mutiny, seems like he’s not too worried about it.

54. (1:33:50) Walden has Ilario leave her behind to cover their escape, but the Army trains its soldiers on how to drag someone so the injured person can provide cover fire.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

55. (1:39:30) Recording of the Al-Bathra incident has interior tank comms as well as information from the battalion net and the signals coming in from the general. In the real world, these would have been on separate channels.

56. (1:46:45) Everyone is sitting at the Medal of Honor presentation. Awards are presented with all military in attendance at the position of attention.

57. (1:47:30) The Air Force conducts a missing man flyover for an Army pilot. First, Walden was in the Army which does a missing man roll call at memorial ceremonies, not a missing man flyover. Second, this isn’t a memorial ceremony so there wouldn’t be a missing man process at all.

NOW: 69 painful mistakes in ‘Basic’ – the worst Army movie ever

OR: 6 reasons why the guys from ‘The Hangover’ are like an Army unit

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This little known safety net can help service members and veterans in a pinch

Finances are stressful in emergency situations, and it doesn’t matter what rank you are. From an unexpected death in the family to a broken car courtesy of the deployment curse, financial emergencies happen no matter how well you plan for them.


Fortunately for service members, their spouses, and veterans, there’s a little safety net in place for each of the services to help when these things happen, dubbed the “Emergency Relief Fund.”

Army:

The Army has the Army Emergency Relief, a non-profit that helps soldiers, retirees and families with resources in a pinch. Additionally, AER provides access to interest free loans, grants, and scholarships.

The AER is endorsed and run by the Army.

National Guard:

The National Guard has the National Guard Soldier and Airman Emergency Relief Fund, which provides up to $500 to eligible households. For more information, check out the National Guard’s publication on its emergency relief fund.

Air Force:

The Air Force has the Air Force Aid Society, and it provides emergency assistance, education support, and community programs. While the AFAS is a private non-profit, it is “the official charity of the United States Air Force.”

Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard has Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, wich is a private non-profit organization that works closely with the Coast Guard to provide interest free loans, grants, and counseling.

Navy / Marine Corps:

The Navy and Marine Corps share a relief fund called the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. The NMCRS is a non-profit that, though unaffiliated with the Department of Defense, can be found on nearly all Navy or Marine Corps bases.

The NMCRS is completely funded by donations and on-base thrift stores, and it provides financial assistance and counseling, quick assist loans, education assistance, health education and post-combat support, budget for baby classes, emergency travel, disaster relief, and the on base thrift stores.

American Red Cross:

For service members, family members, and eligible veterans who are not near an installation, there is The American Red Cross. The Red Cross works alongside the above mentioned aid societies to provide assistance.

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9 of the most evil weapons of all time

Of course, anything made to kill another human being has an element of dubiousness about it; but some designs go above and beyond merely killing and add suffering to the equation. Here are nine of these evil weapons:


1. Boiling Oil/Hot Tar

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

One of the earliest forms of evil weapons. When defending a castle, use arrows and spears and rocks to simply kill. Use hot tar to terrorize and demoralize the enemy as well as kill him.

2. Mustard Gas

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

Mustard gas was first used in battle by the Germans in World War I with the expressed intent of demoralizing the enemy rather than kill him. The skin of victims of mustard gas blistered, their eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. This was extremely painful. Fatally injured victims sometimes took four or five weeks to die of mustard gas exposure. (Source: Wikipedia)

3. V-1 Buzz Bomb

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

The V-1 rockets were not intended to hit specific targets, but instead, they were designed terrorize the population of England during World War II.

4. Flamethrower

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

What do you do when you don’t want to crawl into tunnels and pull Japanese soldiers out of their hiding places one-by-one? You strap on your flamethrower and burn them out — a torturous way to go.

5. Firebombing

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

Firebombing is an air attack technique that combines blast bombing with incendiaries to yield much more destruction than blast bombs would alone. The Germans firebombed Coventry and London in 1940, and the British paid them back in spades toward the end of the war, most notably at Dresden.

6. Atomic Bomb

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

Since August of 1945 service academies and war colleges have studied the calculus of using the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but regardless of whether the strategy ultimately saved lives that would have been lost during a manned invasion of the Japanese homeland, it inflicted great suffering on the population in the form of destruction on an unprecedented scale and the follow-on radiation poisoning.

7. Anti-personnel Mines

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

These mines are designed to maim, not necessarily to kill. Stepping on them causes the mechanism to bounce up to pelvis level before exploding, causing maximum suffering before a slow painful death.

8. Punji Sticks

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

An evil booby trap most notoriously associated with the Vietnam War, Punji Sticks were a low-fi weapon used by the Vietcong to terrorize American forces patrolling the jungle. The sharp sticks were hidden under tarps or trap doors covered with brush, and they inflicted nasty and painful wounds to lower extremities.

9. Napalm

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

A bomb full of a gelling agent and petroleum, Napalm was originally used against buildings but later became an anti-personnel weapon. The flaming goo that erupts when the weapon goes high order sticks to skin and causes severe burns.

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Which US plane best matches up with GOT dragons — BUFFs or Warthogs?

Let’s face it, everybody loves Danaerys Targaryen’s dragons. And why not? They bring the rain… well, more like they bring the kind of fire and brimstone that’d make Col. Kilgore from “Apocalypse Now” smile in the morning.


Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Drogon would have Col. Kilgore in heaven. (WATM Archive)

There are planes that are very loved as well… like the A-10 Thunderbolt II. This plane is best known for its GAU-8 “Avenger” cannon, which brings a load of firepower. But the dragons have more payload than the beloved “Warthog.” In fact, they can devastate an entire area. Just look at this clip from “The Spoils of War.”

As you saw, Drogon is essentially delivering an “Arc Light” of fire on the Lannister/Tarly army. The plane that carried out the “Arc Light” missions is none other than the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, also known as the Big Ugly Fat F@cker, or “BUFF.”

And like the BUFF, Drogon unleashes long, long trails of fire, like the string of 51 Mk 82 500-pound bombs (or M117 750-pound bombs) that a B-52 delivers in those carpet-bombing raids. Who remembers the dragons tearing apart the slavers’ fleet? Did you know that B-52s have been equipped to carry AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles?

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
This is what a normal B-52 Stratofortress can carry, and Harpoons, too! (USAF photo)

But Drogon was doing a fair bit of that in a close-air support role. That is the bread-and butter mission of the A-10 Thunderbolt. His first pass cut a hole through the Lannister lines. And like the A-10, which is legendary for taking damage and getting back home, Drogon showed he could take a hit and still remain very dangerous. Hell, he even pulled the same “fire from the ground” maneuver Doug Masters did, and Jamie Lannister is darn lucky he isn’t a crispy critter after that “gun run.”

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
(Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski)

This does seem perplexing. Are Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal more like BUFFs, or are they more like the Warthogs that our ground troops love? There are good arguments both ways.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

In this case, the best answer may be that they combine the best of both of these legendary planes. They can handle the close-air support mission, but they are also very dangerous against strategic targets. The Mother of Dragons would have beaten Cersei a long time ago if she’d used `em properly at the beginning, instead of making big-time blunders.

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This is how agile ‘Lightning carriers’ could rule the South China Sea

The US Marine Corps just set forth its vision of a battle plan to take on growing threats around the world — and it calls for small “Lightning carriers” armed to the teeth with F-35s.


The 2017 Marine Aviation Plan acknowledges the burgeoning “missile gap” between the US and adversaries like China, who have a number of “carrier killers” — long-range precision weapons specifically designed to hit land bases and aircraft carriers before they can hit back.

While the US Navy is working on the MQ-25A Stingray as an unmanned refueling system to extend the range of its carrier aircraft, the Marines seem ready to press ahead with a similar concept in “Lightning carriers.”

Basically, the Marines will already have enough F-35Bs to equip several of their smaller amphibious assault ships, sometimes known as helicopter carriers, while the Navy waits on their F-35Cs to sort out carrier-launch issues for its larger, Nimitz-class carriers.

Related: Here’s when the F-35 will use stealth mode vs. ‘beast mode’

“While the amphibious assault ship will never replace the aircraft carrier, it can be complementary, if employed in imaginative ways,” reads the plan. The Marines refer to one such creative use of the smaller carriers as a “Lightning carrier,” or an amphibious assault ship with 20 F-35Bs and an “embarked, organic aerial refueling capability” to extend their range.

The Marines plan to further reduce reliance on land and sea bases with “mobile forward arming and refueling points” that employ decoys and deception to confuse the enemy and keep US aircraft spread out and unpredictable.

The F-35B with its stealth, unparalleled intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, plus extended range, can match the long range missiles fielded by Russia and China and help the Marines secure land and sea bases by allowing them to see first, and if need be, shoot first.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Four F-35B Lightning II aircraft perform a flyover above the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during the Lightning Carrier Proof of Concept Demonstration. | US Navy photo by Andy Wolfe

In December, an F-35 pilot aboard the USS America, a new type of amphibious assault ship built specifically for the F-35, called the “Lightning carrier” concept “the most powerful concentration of combat power ever put to sea in the history of the world.”

Additionally, the F-35 won’t just increase capabilities, but if acquired faster to replace the aging F-18s and Harriers in the Marines’ fleet, it could save $1 billion, according to the US Naval Institute.

But the Marines aren’t just waiting on the F-35B to save them. The service has big plans to network every single platform into a “sensor, shooter, electronic warfare node and sharer – able to move information throughout the spectrum and across the battlefield at light speed.”

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
From boots on the ground to satellites in the sky, this complicated graphic details how the Marine Corps plans to integrate every bit of data from any platform, anywhere. | USMC Graphic

With upgraded data sharing and command and control abilities, every asset from boots on the ground to satellites in the sky will work together to provide decision-quality information to war fighters, whether they’re on carriers, land bases, or taking a beach.

While China cements its land and sea grab with militarized islands in the South China Sea, the Marines’ aviation plan takes on a new urgency. The plan details how the first F-35B squadrons will deploy to Japan and the US’s West Coast.

Articles

These are the 6 wars the Chinese think they’ll fight in the next 50 years

In 2013, the China News Service, the second largest state-run media outlet in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), published a piece in its Chinese language service with all the promise of a less-than-peaceful rise. China News has a very pro-PRC slant, and this particular piece was no different. Called “Six wars China is sure to fight in the next 50 years,” the article alluded to the PRC’s pride, shredded after centuries of defeat and embarrassment.


Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army 1st Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division prepare to provide Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen with a demonstration of their capabilities during a visit to the unit in China on July 12, 2011. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

China’s growth as a global economy boomed under the leadership of Chinese Communist Party leader and President Hu Jintao. Hu stepped down in 2012 and his successor, Xi Jinping, has ideas of a “Chinese Dream,” a desire to revitalize the nation and to return China to national glory, perhaps by any means necessary. The article itself could be either bluster or a shared collective feeling, a Chinese “Manifest Destiny.” Either way, the Chinese are already anticipating the needs of – and obstacles to – their rise.

1. The Unification of Mainland China and Taiwan

The mainland Chinese do not seem to believe a peaceful unification with the Republic of China (Taiwan) is possible. Taiwanese politicians use the threat of China or the promise of unification as election year stunts but make no real progress on the issue. The PRC sees the existence of Taiwan as a weakness, given that other countries can use their relations with Taipei as leverage in negotiations. The author of the China News piece proposes giving the Taiwanese a referendum by 2020, to vote on peaceful unification or unification by force. They expect the answer will be war.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Amphibious Mechanized Infantry

The Chinese expect to win, of course. It’s just a matter of time, and that all depends on how much the U.S. and Japan intervene to save Taiwan. The Chinese expect a mainland invasion from the U.S. and will respond with “total war,” and believe they can beat Taiwan and its allies in six months. If the United States doesn’t intervene, the PRC predicts a three-month victory.

2. The forced acquisition of the Spratly Islands

The Chinese think the forced unification of Taiwan will show the other countries of the region the PRC’s resolve in its territorial demands. After a two-year rest from the Taiwan War, the Chinese believe Vietnam and the Philippines will be waiting at the negotiating table to see what the Chinese do, rather than be aggressive or offensive. China will give these countries with territorial claims the option of preserving shares of investments already made in the Spratlys. If not, the Chinese military will take these holdings by force.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
A Marine Corps brigade under the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducts amphibious armored training

China also believes its victory in the Taiwan War will have taught the U.S. “a lesson not to confront too openly with China,” but knows the U.S. will aid the Philippines and Vietnam under the table, with arms, training, and money. Only the Philippines and Vietnam “dare to challenge China’s domination.” China will attack Vietnam first (because that worked out so well the first time), in hopes of intimidating other Pacific nations. The PRC’s win there will make sure other countries return their claims on the islands and ally themselves with China. This victory also gives the Chinese Navy unfettered access to the Pacific Ocean.

 3. Reunification of South Tibet

In 1914, the British and Chinese negotiated the McMahon Line, a legal border between China and India, as part of the Simla Accord. the Simla Accord also carved up Tibet into “Inner” and “Outer” Tibet. Even though the Chinese dispute this line (because they would have to recognize Tibet as an independent state at the time of this treaty), it is the line used on maps between the two countries from 1914 until the Sino-Indian War of 1962. That war changed nothing, except the area once known as the North-East Frontier Agency became known as the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. On top of the border dispute, this state now has major hydropower potential.

Парад_в_честь_70-летия_Великой_Победы_-_40

Despite the 1962 war, the Chinese believe they can beat India and “reconquer” South Tibet by force if they can incite the disintegration of the Indian states, sending arms to Pakistan to retake Kashmir, force a war on two fronts and “blitz” into South Tibet. India will lose this war, and China will join the U.S., Europe, and Russia as global powers.

4. The conquest of the Diaoyu and Ryukyu Islands

By this time, the author predicted three major military wars and some years of rest in between. Now, mid-21st century, China will assert its claim over these two sets of islands. China claims these two chains are ancient vassal states of China’s, now occupied by the Japanese (and the Americans, as the base on Okinawa is in the Ryukyus).

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Marines of the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) (PLA(N)) stand at attention following a demonstration of the brigade’s capabilities. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. J.J. Harper)

With its growing worldwide military presences and global prestige, the Chinese will move to occupy the islands. They predict a weakened U.S. will fight alongside Japan, but that Europe and Russia will do nothing, resulting in a Chinese victory within six months.

5. The Invasion of Mongolia

The Chinese refer to Mongolia as “Outer Mongolia,” a separate part of China, distinct from the Autonomous Region of “Inner Mongolia,” a Chinese province. They assert that the country of Mongolia is a part of China. In the 1600s, it was ruled by the Chinese, but if we’re going back in time, the Mongols ruled China for a while.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

No matter what we (or the Mongols) think, the Chinese will place a claim on the country shortly after their invasion of Taiwan. Like their invasion of Taiwan, they will offer the Mongolians a referendum to vote on whether their unification with the People’s Republic of China. If they vote for peace, Mongolia will be accepted into China. If the Mongols vote for war, the PRC should be prepared to not only invade militarily but also be prepared to fight off foreign aggression against this action. The Chinese believe by this point, they will be so powerful and the U.S. and Russia will be in decline so much, it would be difficult for them to mount anything other than a diplomatic defense.

6. Taking back lands from Russia

Even though the relations between the two countries have recovered since the Sino-Soviet Split during the Cold War, a lot of mistrust remains. In China’s view, Russia occupies 160 million square kilometers of land belonging to China since the Qing Dynasty, circa 1644. The Chinese author believes by this time (roughly 2045), the Russian government will be in further decline and will take full advantage, especially given the veteran status their military will have after five wars.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew

The Chinese author asserts “there must be a war with Russia,” and should be prepared to use nuclear weapons if the need arises, especially if a first strike to disarm the Russian nuclear arsenal. Once the Chinese neutralize Russian nuclear assets, they believe the Russians will capitulate and hand over the lost Chinese lands.

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STRATFOR: Loose Nukes In Russia Will Be ‘The Greatest Crisis Of The Next Decade’

The most alarming prediction in the Decade Forecast from private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, involves a Russian collapse leading to a nuclear crisis.


The firm believes the Russian Federation will not survive the decade in its present form, after a combination of international sanctions, plunging oil prices, and a suffering ruble trigger a political and social crisis. Russia will then devolve into an archipelago of often-impoverished and confrontational local governments under the Kremlin’s very loose control.

“We expect Moscow’s authority to weaken substantially, leading to the formal and informal fragmentation of Russia” the report states, adding, “It is unlikely that the Russian Federation will survive in its current form.”

If that upheaval happened, it could lead to what Stratfor calls “the greatest crisis of the next decade”: Moscow’s loss of control over the world’s biggest nuclear weapons stockpile.

Russia is the world’s largest country and its 8,000 weapons are fairly spread out over its 6.6 million square miles. According to a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists study, Russia has 40 nuclear sites, which is twice as many as the US uses to house a comparable number of warheads. This policy of dispersal makes it difficult for an enemy to disable the Russian nuclear arsenal in a single attack, but it also makes the Russian stockpile difficult to control.

The Bulletin report also found that the Russia was uncertain exactly how many short-range “tactical” or city-busting “strategic” nukes it has, nor what the weapons’ state of assembly or alert status may be.

Stratfor fears that the dissolution of the Russian Federation could cause an unprecedented nuclear security crisis. Not only could the command-and-control mechanisms for Russia’s massive and highly opaque nuclear arsenal completely break down. Moscow might lose its physical control over weapons and launch platforms as well.

“Russia is the site of a massive nuclear strike force distributed throughout the hinterlands,” the Decade Forecast explains. “The decline of Moscow’s power will open the question of who controls those missiles and how their non-use can be guaranteed.”

In Stratfor’s view the US is the only global actor that can formulate a response to this problem, and ever that might not be enough to prevent launch platforms and weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

“Washington … will not be able to seize control of the vast numbers of sites militarily and guarantee that no missile is fired in the process,” the Forecast predicts. “The United States will either have to invent a military solution that is difficult to conceive of now, accept the threat of rogue launches, or try to create a stable and economically viable government in the regions involved to neutralize the missiles over time.”

The forecast doesn’t go into detail about what kind of “military solution” might be appropriate. US Special Forces could conceivably transport fissile material out of the country or temporarily secure the most vulnerable sites, but those materials would have to be evacuated to another country, something that would undoubtedly raise tensions with whatever authority still rules in Moscow. In fact, the surviving Russian government would probably consider any US or allied military action to be an act of aggression.

Regardless of the extent of the collapse, Stratfor predicts a major security vacuum in Russia in the next decade.

The firm also predicts declining US assertiveness in world affairs, the fracturing of the European Union, and the decline of Germany’s powerful export economy, and more.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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US could be working alongside a terrorist group in Lebanon’s assault on ISIS

Lebanon’s US-backed military is gearing up for a long-awaited assault to dislodge hundreds of Islamic State militants from a remote corner near Syrian border, seeking to end a years-long threat posed to neighboring towns and villages by the extremists.


The campaign will involve cooperation with the militant group Hezbollah and the Syrian army on the other side of the border — although Lebanese authorities insist they are not coordinating with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

But the assault could prove costly for the under-equipped military and risk activating IS sleeper cells in the country.

The tiny Mediterranean nation has been spared the wars and chaos that engulfed several countries in the region since the so-called Arab Spring uprisings erupted in 2011. But it has not been able to evade threats to its security, including sectarian infighting and random car bombings, particularly in 2014, when militants linked to al-Qaeda and IS overran the border region, kidnapping Lebanese soldiers.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
An ‘informal tented settlement’ in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley. Lebanon is housing an estimated 1.2 million Syrian refugees. Photo from Department for International Development.

The years-long presence of extremists in the border area has brought suffering to neighboring towns and villages, from shelling, to kidnappings of villagers for ransom. Car bombs made in the area and sent to other parts of the country, including the Lebanese capital, Beirut, have killed scores of citizens.

Aided directly by the United States and Britain, the army has accumulated steady successes against the militants in the past year, slowly clawing back territory, including strategic hills retaken in the past week. Authorities say it’s time for an all-out assault.

The planned operation follows a six-day military offensive by the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah that forced al-Qaeda-linked fighters to flee the area on the outskirts of the town of Arsal, along with thousands of civilians.

In a clear distribution of roles, the army is now expected to launch the attack on IS. In the past few days, the army’s artillery shells and multiple rocket launchers have been pounding the mountainous areas on the Lebanon-Syria border where IS held positions, in preparation for the offensive. Drones could be heard around the clock and residents of the eastern Bekaa Valley reported seeing army reinforcements arriving daily in the northeastern district of Hermel to join the battle.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Members of the Lebanese Armed Forces operate a Talon explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robot with Sailors assigned to Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.1 during Resolute Response 16 in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Scott

The offensive from the Lebanese side of the border will be carried out by the Lebanese army, while Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters will be working to clear the Syrian side of IS militants. Hezbollah has been fighting alongside Assad’s forces since 2013.

On August 8, the army’s top brass conferred with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and interior and defense ministers at the Presidential Palace to plan operations in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

The committee took the “necessary counsel and decisions to succeed in the military operations to eliminate the terrorists,” Maj. Gen. Saadallah Hamad said after the meeting.

Experts say more than 3,000 troops, including elite special forces, are in the northeastern corner of Lebanon to take part in the offensive. The army will likely use weapons it received from the United States, including Cessna aircraft that discharge Hellfire missiles.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Two AGM-114 Hellfire Missiles. Photo by 玄史生 via Wikimedia Commons.

Keen to support the army rather than the better equipped Iranian-backed Hezbollah, the US and Britain have supplied the military with helicopters, anti-tank missiles, artillery, and radars, as well as training. The American Embassy says the US has provided Lebanon with over $1.4 billion in security assistance since 2005.

But the fight is not expected to be quick or easy.

According to Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk, there are about 400 IS fighters in the Lebanese area, and hundreds more on the Syrian side of the border.

“It is not going to be a picnic,” said Hisham Jaber, a retired army general who heads the Middle East Center for Studies and Political Research in Beirut. “The Lebanese army will try to carry out the mission with the least possible losses.”

Jaber said the battle may last several weeks. “It is a rugged area and the organization (IS) is well armed and experienced.”

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Marines with Charlie Company and Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Soldiers of the Lebanese Army conduct a live-fire, combined arms range, May 12, 2012. Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Chad Kiehl

There are also concerns the offensive may subject Lebanon to retaliatory attacks by militants, just as the country has started to enjoy a rebound in tourism.

A Lebanese security official said authorities are taking strict security measures to prevent any attack deep inside Lebanon by sleeper cells. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said authorities have detained several IS militants over the past weeks.

Lebanese politicians say IS controls an area of about 296 square kilometers (114 square miles) between the two countries, of which 141 square kilometers (54.5 square miles) are in Lebanon.

The area stretches from the badlands of the Lebanese town of Arsal and Christian villages of Ras Baalbek and Qaa, to the outskirts of Syria’s Qalamoun region and parts of the western Syrian town of Qusair that Hezbollah captured in 2013.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

In a televised speech last August 4, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said that once the Lebanese army launches its offensive from the Lebanese side, Hezbollah and the Syrian army will begin their attack from the Syrian side. He added that there has to be coordination between the Syrian and Lebanese armies in the battle.

“Opening two fronts at the same time will speed up victory and reduce losses,” Nasrallah said, adding that his fighters on the Lebanese side of the border are at the disposal of Lebanese troops if needed.

“I tell Daesh that the Lebanese and Syrians will attack you from all sides and you will not be able to resist and will be defeated,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the extremist group.

“If you decide to fight, you will end up either a prisoner or dead,” Nasrallah added.

Vietnam vet to receive overdue medals thanks to late battle buddy’s nephew
Syrian brothers who are now refugees living in an informal tented settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Photo from DFID Flickr.

Some Lebanese politicians have been opposed to security coordination with the Syrian army. The Lebanese are sharply divided over Syria’s civil war that has spilled to the tiny country of 4.5 million people. Lebanon is hosting some 1.2 million Syrian refugees.

Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister, is opposed to Assad while his national unity Cabinet includes Hezbollah as well as other groups allied with the Syrian president.

Last week, Hariri told reporters that Lebanese authorities are ready to negotiate to discover the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers who were captured during the raid on Arsal by IS and al-Qaeda fighters in August 2014. Unlike their rivals in al-Qaeda, the Islamic State group is not known to negotiate prisoner exchanges.

“The presence of Daesh will end in Lebanon,” Hariri said, using the same Arabic acronym to refer to IS.