Military snipers were trained sharpshooters assigned to kill a man with one perfect shot. These highly disciplined marksman often stalked a target for days waiting for just the right moment to squeeze the trigger. Lurking in the shadows alone, the deadly stealth of the sniper made him the most feared man on the battlefield. As a young hunter, Chuck Mawhinney grew up with a gun in his hand. In October 1967, Mawhinney was just 19 years old when he made his first kill as a scout sniper in Vietnam.
On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched the largest amphibious military assault in history known as D-Day. More than 150,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion involved nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers. Some of the first men to hit the beach on D-Day were the U.S. Navy Combat Demolition Unit. Jerry Markham and John Talton were members of this elite group. In this episode, these courageous veterans tell their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.
Welcome to the first episode of Season Two of Warriors In Their Own Words. This episode is about the first Combat Helicopters. Today these aircraft carry the firepower of an artillery battery and can strike targets deep behind every lines, flying day or night in any weather. But back in 1944 helicopters were a brand new technology. Aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky supplied the first primitive choppers to the US Army and four pilots were trained to fly the untested aircraft in the jungles of Burma. Carter Harman was one of those first courageous pilots and he performed the world’s first helicopter combat rescue mission.
The training to carry oleoresin capsicum (pepper spray) or a Tazer generally requires that a military police officer experience the sting of their weapon before they can carry it. Some troops are even required to recertify and be sprayed and Tazed every six months.
Here are 17 photos and one video that show what the training is like:
1. Pepper spray, training opens with the service member getting a blast straight to the face.
2. The spray forces the eyes closed and irritates the skin.
3. In most cases, the students have to complete certain tasks and training lanes after being sprayed.
4. Part of the training lane is fighting against a simulated aggressor while still blinded.
5. Students may be required to fight with batons or riot gear.
6. Trying to use weapons while under the spray’s effects is especially challenging.
7. But the soldiers are expected to force their way through.
8. Near the end of the training, the students will usually have to subdue a subject.
9. Once they finish the lane, they can rinse out the spray.
10. Removing the chemical agents is a welcome step.
11. It takes a lot of water to get the oleoresin capsicum off.
12. Even after rinsing, the eyes and face will likely be sore and inflamed for a while.
13. Tazers are an entirely different beast.
14. The shock of the Tazer can immediately incapacitate a trainee.
15. The faces of those being shocked are usually pretty funny.
16. Other troops will support the students during the shock so they won’t hurt themselves as they fall.
17. Attempting to resist the 50,000 volt shock is useless as the Tazer overwhelms the nervous system.
To see Marines going through pepper spray, Tazer, and riot control training, check out the video below:
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:
U.S. Air Force Capt. Raymond Whisenhunt, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing chief of protocol, tumbles to the ground as a military working dog locks onto the bite suit he is wearing at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 30, 2016. MWD’s are highly motivated canines utilized for patrol, drug and explosive detection, and other specialized mission functions.
An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot assigned to the 134th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron performs preflight checks at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, Dec. 29, 2016. The 134th EFS is flying combat missions for Operation Inherent Resolve to support and enable Iraqi Security Forces’ efforts with the unique capabilities provided by the fighter squadron.
Nevada National Guard soldiers patrol the Las Vegas Strip last night as part of Operation Night Watch, an annual law enforcement mission supporting the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department during the annual New Year’s Eve celebration.
U.S. Army U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, United States Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard Service members conduct an Armed Forces Full Honor Farewell Ceremony for for the departing commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama at Comny Hall on Joint Base Myer – Henderson Hall, Va., Jan. 4, 2016.
NORFOLK (Dec. 30, 2016) Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) as it returns to homeport. Dwight D. Eisenhower and its carrier strike group conducted a 7-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.
VENICE, Italy (Jan. 3, 2017) Sailors man the helm aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) as it departs Venice, Italy. Porter, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
Marines with Alpha Battery, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, conduct an M777 Howitzer live-fire night fire mission during Exercise Alligator Dagger, Dec. 18. This nightscape was taken as a single, long exposure photograph. The chaos of different colored lights are red-lensed headlamps worn by the artillery Marines moving and operating the different gun positions around the M777. The unilateral exercise provides an opportunity for the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to train in amphibious operations within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
Marines with Tank Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct tank maintenance during Exercise Alligator Dagger, Dec. 8, 2016. Maintenance checks are done around the clock to ensure equipment is operating safely and efficiently and to ensure the safe conduct of training. The unilateral exercise provides an opportunity for the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 11th MEU to train in amphibious operations within the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. The 11th MEU is currently supporting the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation’s mission to promote and maintain stability and security in the region.
Two kayakers recover from the seas and weather aboard a Coast Guard Station Maui 45-foot Response Boat-Medium Dec. 15, 2016. Coast Guard crews responded to a call for assistance from the kayakers when they were beset by weather off Maui.
Members of the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard stand at parade rest during the Pearl Harbor Remembrance ceremony on Coast Guard cutter Taney in Baltimore Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The battle for Iwo Jima in World War II became the bloodiest in U. S. Marine Corps history. But for survivors like Chuck Tatum, it also represents the best, the Marines and the United States has to give. For despite the 23,000 American casualties, including 5,400 dead, the flag atop Mount Suribachi, is a symbol of this nation’s willingness to fight for freedom and liberty, no matter what the cost. This episode is an in-depth interview with Chuck Tatum. These are his dramatic experiences in his own words.
For many people, CBD is their bread and butter. It’s the thing that keeps them going as it treats a number of health and wellness issues that include anxiety, pain, inflammation, depression, sleep issues, skin problems, and more.
However, for America’s service men and women, CBD is off the table. The Defense Department has made it very clear that CBD is not to be used by any member of the military. Even broad spectrum CBD capsules, CBD oils, and CBD gummies, which contain no THC, are not allowed.
As you might imagine, this creates a challenge for some military members, but also for those who are managing military members. If you’re involved in the military in any way, it’s vital that you understand CBD and the only legal uses of it in the military.
THC Content Creates a Problem
In the United States, it’s legal to sell CBD online across the United States as long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC. This tiny trace amount isn’t enough to create any psychoactive effects, and millions enjoy the benefits of CBD without losing their mental clarity.
However, many companies sell CBD products that do not accurately label the THC content on the package. Or, they try to hide it with vague claims and promises of significant benefits.
“The problem is there is no regulatory framework to ensure that the CBD products being sold meet the Farm Act,” Patricia Deuster, director of a laboratory at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, told Military.com. She added that there is no research, other than studies done on the impact of CBD on seizures, to support many of the claims made by product manufacturers.
“…Don’t believe what [the companies] are telling you,” Deuster said, pointing out that there’s currently no one to regulate the production of CBD products, and people are getting hurt as a result.
Deuster also told Stars and Stripes last year that military bases all over the United States have reported more than 100 cases of military personnel falling ill due to their use of CBD laced with an illegal THC content. They experienced increased hear rates and hallucinations that nodded to a more serious health condition such as a stroke or heart attack.
In many of those cases, the CBD they took was labeled as a package of gummy bears that could homeopathically help treat anxiety. The label likely didn’t say that it contained THC at the level that it did, since that’s illegal. However, many military personnel are left to suffer the consequences.
Military Heads Struggle to Gain Control
The military heads are working to prevent the use of CBD by demanding more regular drug testing from their constituents. If the THC content in CBD is high enough (like in full-spectrum CBD), it will show up on a drug test.
However, CBD often does not show up in a drug test. Plus, the products are so easily accessible that it’s very difficult to get any kind of control on it.
“It’s a real conundrum, and it’s going to be a major issue for the military because it is available [nearly everywhere]. You go into any store, and you can find gummy bears with a supplement fact panel on it,” said Deuster.
Their current defense against CBD is to court martial any military member who tests positive for THC or who has CBD in their possession. This means that simply misreading the label on a CBD product could mean the end of a career.
CBD Treatment for Seizures Remains Legal
There is one exception to the all-out ban of CBD products in the military, and that’s Epidiolex, the only FDA-approved CBD-based drug on the market. It’s designed to treat seizures in severe forms of epilepsy and has shown incredible results in doing so. Other cannabis-based prescription drugs are also allowable in the military.
That being said, there are few roles for those who experience seizures or other medical problems that cannabis can treat, so the likelihood of a service member taking Epidiolex is very slim.
Still, this shows great promise for the cannabis industry. If the U.S. government recognizes this FDA-tested drug as an acceptable form of treatment in the military, it’s only a matter of time before further research and FDA-involvement creates exceptions for other CBD products prescribed under a doctor’s recommendation.
The Military Demands Regulation
It appears that U.S. military professionals do not have a problem with the best CBD oil as a pure substance to help treat ailments like anxiety, pain, and sleep disorders. Their problem lies in the fact that the CBD industry is simply unregulated and a huge risk.
Every day, new CBD products hit the market. Some are carefully curated and contain exactly the ingredients found on the label. Others are made by sneaky business people trying to cut corners with no regard for the safety of their customers. With no government regulation, they’re simply getting away with it.
“[CBD] is everywhere. We are waiting for the FDA to do something,” Deuster said.
Currently, the only way to ensure that you’re getting a good product with CBD is to do extra research yourself. You must check for third-party lab reports that show the potency and ingredients listed on the bottle are accurate. Sometimes, you have to call the lab to verify that the results are real.
If there was greater regulation in the industry, the military and other organizations would not have to be so strict in banning a substance that can help so many people thrive despite serious health conditions.
Every May, in celebration of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day), thousands of people take to the streets all over Russia with portraits of their ancestors who fought in World War II. They mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in an event called the “Immortal Regiment” march.
In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin led the march through Red Square, one of the largest turnouts in memory, carrying a portrait of his father, who fought the Russians in The Great Patriotic War, what the Soviet Union called WWII. The final tally saw 12 million people march across the country in 2015. They march to remember those who fought in the conflict and remember the sacrifices their forebears made.
Felipe Tofani is a photographer and Art Director based in Germany who happened to be in St. Petersburg, Russia during 2015’s Immortal Regiment March. He marched with the Russians and took a beautiful series of photos for his photography blog, Fotostrasse. He also recorded his thoughts as he marched in the parade that day.
“Russians seem to go crazy with at the Victory Parade,” Tofani wrote. “There were a lot of people dressed in the military uniforms from the Soviet Union.”
“We grew up in Brazil and we never learned about the importance of Russia in the Second World War. In Brazil, you learn about the Allied Victory over Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union gets a secondary importance in the fight.”
“Everything changed when we moved to Berlin and learned about the Cold War and the Second World War from a different point of view. From that day, we knew we had to visit Russia and pay our respects to all those who died.”
“There were soldiers in this greenish uniform marching and a lot of red Soviet flags. It was our first sight of the Victory Parade and we were amazed by that.”
“The idea behind the Immortal Regiment is to honor the memory of the heroes who earned a hard-won victory over Nazi Germany.”
“The Immortal Regiment is to immortalize family memory. The Immortal Regiment brings people together to remember the grandparents and parents that fought from 1941 to 1945.”
“We read about the veteran parade a little later. But we didn’t know what it was since most of the people that were veterans during the Second World War were already dead.”
“We took pictures of everything and that includes a SUV that was transformed into a Katyusha rocket launcher.”
All photos are owned by Felipe Tofani, and used by permission. See Tofani’s original post on Fotostrasse.
Forward Air Controllers or FACs choreographed this skies over the battlefield in Vietnam. They courageously flew low, slow and unarmed over enemy territory in small, propeller driven aircraft like the Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog and 0-2 Skymaster. The FACs were experts at spotting an evasive, well camouflaged enemy and they often braved a battery of enemy ground fire to target the opposing force. In this episode, Forward Air Controllers William Platt and Bill Townsley tell their dramatic stories, In Their Own Words.
Phoolan Devi was born to a low-caste family, endured rape and torture, went on to kill the men who hurt her and harbored her enemies, and then was elected to Parliament. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that many thought of her as an incarnation of Durga, a warrior goddess.
She was born on Aug. 10, 1963, in a small rural village. She was married at the age of 11 to a man in his 30s, and there are varying stories of what happened to her next. She was raped and abused by her husband, but Phoolan Devi managed to escape, to survive, and years later, to join a band of dacoits, a gang of rebels and armed robbers. She would ultimately lead this band.
When she was 18, a rival gang attacked her group, holding her hostage for weeks and brutally raping her.
But Phoolan Devi would have her revenge.
She led her dacoits to a village in Behmai, where Lala Ram Singh and Sri Ram Singh, leaders of rival dacoits were hiding. Armed with a Sten gun, bands of ammo across her chest and red nails, she issued an ultimatum: give them both up or die.
Her men searched for an hour, but found no trace of the Ram brothers. Phoolan Devi warned the villagers one last time, then rounded up thirty men and shot them. Twenty-two were killed. It was the second largest dacoit massacre since the founding of modern India.
A price was put on her head but she evaded capture for two years until she surrendered on her own terms in exchange for the return of her father’s land, a job for her brother, and a reduced sentence for members of her gang. She was held without trial for 11 years before she was released.
But Phoolan Devi’s story was far from over.
“They wouldn’t let us live in peace; you will never understand what kind of humiliation that is. If they wanted to rape us, to molest us, and our families objected, then they’d rape us in front of our families,” Phoolan Devi told Mary Anne Weaver of The Atlantic in 1996.
She was angry — rightfully so — and she chose to use that anger toward a higher purpose.
She chose to run for a seat in the lower house of the Indian Parliament — and she won. A woman and a member of a lower caste, she inspired the people of India who had long been oppressed. It was a new era in caste politics, but Phoolan Devi would not live long to see it.
On July 25, 2001, she was shot and killed by three masked men who were never caught, though it is suspected that they acted in the name of vengeance for Behmai.
Phoolan Devi is remembered as a powerful public speaker, a woman of unerring instinct, a cunning and charming politician, a leader, and a survivor.
Frightening attacks on US personnel in Havana struck the heart of America’s spy network in Cuba, with intelligence operatives among the first and most severely affected victims, The Associated Press has learned.
It wasn’t until US spies, posted to the embassy under diplomatic cover, reported hearing bizarre sounds and experiencing even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, individuals familiar with the situation said.
While the attacks started within days of President Donald Trump’s surprise election in November, the precise timeline remains unclear, including whether intelligence officers were the first victims hit or merely the first victims to report it. The US has called the situation “ongoing.”
To date, the Trump administration largely has described the 21 victims as US embassy personnel or “members of the diplomatic community.” That description suggested only bona fide diplomats and their family members were struck, with no logical motivation beyond disrupting US-Cuban relations.
Behind the scenes, though, investigators immediately started searching for explanations in the darker, rougher world of spycraft and counter-espionage, given that so many of the first reported cases involved intelligence workers posted to the US embassy. That revelation, confirmed to the AP by a half-dozen officials, adds yet another element of mystery to a year-long saga that the Trump administration says may not be over.
The State Department and the CIA declined to comment for this story.
The first disturbing reports of piercing, high-pitched noises and inexplicable ailments pointed to someone deliberately targeting the US government’s intelligence network on the communist-run island, in what seemed like a bone-chilling escalation of the tit-for-tat spy games that Washington and Havana have waged over the last half century.
But the US soon discovered that actual diplomats at the embassy had also been hit by similar attacks, officials said, further confounding the search for a culprit and a motive.
Of the 21 confirmed cases, American spies suffered some of the most acute damage, including brain injury and hearing loss that has not healed, said several US officials who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the investigation and demanded anonymity. They heard an unsettling sound inside and in some cases outside their Havana homes, described as similar to loud crickets. Then they fell ill.
Over time, the attacks seemed to evolve.
In many of the more recent cases, victims didn’t hear noises and weren’t aware an attack was occurring, identifying the symptoms only later. That has raised concerns among investigators that the attacks may be getting more sophisticated and harder to detect, individuals briefed on the investigation said.
Though the State Department has called all the cases “medically confirmed,” several US officials said it’s unclear whether all of the victims’ symptoms can be conclusively tied to attacks. Considering the deep sense of alarm among Americans working in the embassy, it’s possible some workers attributed unrelated illnesses to attacks.
Almost nothing about what has transpired in Havana is perfectly clear. But this is Cuba.
For decades, Washington and Havana pushed their rivalry to unprecedented levels of covert action. The former enemies tracked each other’s personnel, turned each other’s agents, and, in the case of the CIA, even mounted a failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban government in the 1961 “Bay of Pigs” invasion.
There were hopes, though, that the two nations were starting to put that bitter history behind them after renewing diplomatic relations in 2015. When the attacks first occurred, the US and Cuban governments were hard at work on clinching new commercial and immigration agreements. No new spat among intelligence services was publicly known.
Cuban President Raúl Castro (left) shakes hands with former US President Barack Obama, 2015. Photo courtesy of the White House.
Eleven months on, the US cannot guarantee the threat is over. Last week, the State Department warned Americans to stay away from Cuba and ordered more than half the embassy staff to leave indefinitely. The US had previously given all embassy staff the option to come home, but even most of those struck by the mysterious attacks had opted to stay, individuals familiar with the situation said.
For those staying and new arrivals, the US has been giving instructions about what to watch and listen for to identify an attack in progress. They’re also learning steps to take if an attack occurs that could mitigate the risk, officials said.
But the US has not identified whatever device is responsible for the harm. FBI sweeps have turned up nothing.
So to better identify patterns, investigators have created a map detailing specific areas of Cuba’s capital where attacks have occurred, several individuals familiar with the matter said. Three “zones,” or geographic clusters of attacks, cover the homes where US diplomats live and several hotels where attacks occurred, including the historic Hotel Capri.
Since first disclosing the situation in August, the United States had generally avoided the word “attacks.” It called them “incidents” instead until Sept. 29. Now, the State Department deems them “specific attacks” targeting Americans posted in Havana, without saying what new information, if any, prompted the newfound confidence they were indeed deliberate.
The most obvious motive for attacking Americans in Havana would be to drive a wedge between the US and Cuba. If that’s the case, the strategy appears to be succeeding.
Last week’s embassy drawdown added to the growing friction between the nations. And an accompanying new travel warning deemed Havana’s hotels unsafe for visitors, threatening to drive down tourism, a backbone of Cuba’s economy.
In Havana, American diplomats are frantically selling off possessions — from mattresses to canned goods to children’s toys — and hurriedly making plans to return to the US, where some haven’t lived in years. The State Department has worked feverishly to arrange transportation, temporary jobs, and places to live for those coming back early from Cuba.
“Heartbroken? Me too, but this will make you feel better,” one seller posted in a chatroom for foreigners in Cuba, under a picture of a Costco artichoke hearts jar selling for $6.
For Cubans, it may be no better. The US has been providing 20,000 visas a year to Cubans moving to the United States. It has issued thousands more to Cubans wishing to visit family in America. The reduction in US staff in Havana means visa processing there has been suspended indefinitely.
Cuba has vehemently denied involvement or knowledge of the attacks. Some in the US government believe the Cubans may be telling the truth, officials said.
When President Raul Castro denied any culpability in February, he did so on the sidelines of a meeting in Havana with five visiting US members of Congress, the AP found. The US had raised complaints about the attacks to Cuba just days earlier through diplomatic channels.
Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Chargé d’Affaires at US Embassy Havana. Photo from US State Department.
But the visiting lawmakers knew nothing of the attacks taking place in the country they were visiting.
Nor did they know that Castro had used the occasion of their meeting to pull aside Jeff DeLaurentis, then the top US diplomat in Cuba, to say privately that his government was equally alarmed and willing to help.
The lawmakers all declined to comment. Cuban officials say they’re disappointed in the US retaliatory measures but will continue cooperating with the investigation.
The Islamic extremists that ambushed and killed US Army commandos in Niger last week hadn’t operated in that area before, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Oct. 11, referring to what officials believe was a relatively new offshoot of the Islamic State group there.
Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Tampa, Mattis said he rejected suggestions that rescue forces were slow to respond to the assault, noting that French aircraft were overhead within 30 minutes. But he said the US military is reviewing whether changes should be made to these types of training missions in Africa.
“We will look at this and say was there something we have to adapt to now, should we have been in a better stance,” said Mattis. “We need to always look at this. We’re not complacent, we’re going to be better.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr
US Africa Command has launched an investigation into the attack that will review what went wrong and whether additional security or overhead armed support may be needed for some of these missions.
American officials have said they believe the militants belonged to a tribal group that previously may have been tied to al-Qaeda or other extremists, but more recently re-branded themselves as IS. The officials said they do not believe the militants were fighters who came to Niger from outside the region. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Three Army commandoes and a soldier were killed a week ago when dozens of militants ambushed them during a joint patrol with Niger troops. The US and Niger troops were in unarmored trucks.
Mattis and other officials haven’t said how long it took to evacuate the troops, including several US and Niger forces who were wounded. One US Army soldier was missing for nearly two days before he was finally found by Niger troops around the area where the attack happened.
According to US officials, details about the exact timeline for the rescue effort are still unfolding. The troops were evacuated by French aircraft.
Army special forces have been working with Niger troops for some time, and that training effort has been increasing in recent years.
They are often working in remote locations well beyond what the US military likes to call the “golden hour.” That one-hour standard for medical evacuation was set during the peak war years in Iraq and Afghanistan and was aimed at getting wounded troops out within an hour of their injury, making it more likely they will get the treatment needed to survive.
Mattis praised the quick response of the French and Niger support forces.
“The French pilots were overhead with fast movers with bombs on them ready to help, and helicopters were coming in behind,” he said adding that Niger forces with French advisers also responded to the attack, which took place attack about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Niger’s capital, Niamey.
The US and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed. There were about a dozen US troops and a company of Niger forces, for a total of about 40 service members in the joint mission.
US officials have described a chaotic assault in a densely wooded area, as 40-50 extremists in vehicles and on motorcycles fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns at the patrol, setting off explosions and shattering windows. The soldiers got out of their trucks, returning fire and calling in support from the French aircraft.