5 types of platoon sergeants you'll face in the infantry - We Are The Mighty
Humor

5 types of platoon sergeants you’ll face in the infantry

Platoon sergeants have to be jacks-of-all-trades to handle their many roles. They must balance the welfare of their troops and supervise training evolutions all while keeping up with the platoon’s administrative tasks — it’s a lot of work.


When you first enter the unit as a newbie boot, it’s rare that you’ll ever get to know much about your platoon sergeant outside of their name, rank, and how many countries they’ve deployed to. However, there are others who pride themselves on getting to know a few things about each one of their troops. Every platoon sergeant has their own style of leading that works best for them.

But, if you’re in the infantry, you’ll come in contact with at least five different types of platoon sergeants in a grunt unit.

Related: 11 things your platoon medic would never say

1. The tactical, hands-on one

Some platoon sergeants take a back seat to their other NCOs when it comes training their troops. Others want to spearhead the training and break everything down themselves, “Barney style” — which isn’t a bad thing.

2. The organized pointer

This type of platoon sergeant has practically seen it all and done it all. He shows up prepared and ready to kick ass. They know what they need and how to get the job done.

3. The one who wants to get in the fight

This motivated leader helps plan out missions and even lends a hand when they aren’t in battalion-level meetings.

Locked and loaded. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

4. The one who loves themselves some training

These are one of our favorite types. They’re the ones who will strap on a heavy pack and go on a ruck march to prove they can lead, and that they’ve still “got it.”

After a 12-mile hike, this platoon sergeant is still smiling — no big deal. (NCO Journal photo by Clifford Kyle Jones)

Also Read: 7 different types of MPs you’ll face at the gate

5. The seasoned badass

This is the type that when he speaks, everyone in the platoon listens like the words are spoken from scripture. He’s earned the right to be heard by everyone. Other up-and-coming grunts hope they’ll be like him someday.

Staff Sgt. Tom Painter, a section leader with Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoon debriefs his Marines after conducting a field exercise. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Humor

5 stereotypes radio guys get stuck with

One of the most versatile specialties in the military is the radio operator. Whether they’re a full-fledged MOS or the product of, “Hey, you! We need someone on radio!” the radio guy is tasked with, well, manning the radios. From the S-6 kid who comes to fill the convoy’s radios before they head out to the dude who’s right there on the officer’s heels, radio operators take all forms. But no matter what role we’re filling or what task we’re doing, everyone seems to view us as, simply, “the platoon nerds.”


Also Read: 4 stereotypes platoon ‘Docs’ get stuck with

That’s not entirely without merit — if there’s smoke, there’s fire. You may know a commo guy who matches every point on this list, but it varies from troop to troop. That being said, these are the biggest stereotypes radio guys are stuck with.

5. We’re all nerds

Truth is, plenty of us are just as “bro” as the next guy in the unit. We’ll still go out to the bars and kick a few back, we’ll still watch the game with you, and we’ll still actually talk to girls. Just some of us are better at video games than others.

This is still probably what most of our barracks rooms look like. (Photo by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez)

Writer’s Note: I’m probably the worst person to counter this argument since I’ve written extensively about the military connections of Star Wars, video games, and comic books. Many radio guys aren’t like me — I would know. They usually don’t want to nerd out over Game of Thrones with me.

4. We can fix your computers

There are two sides to the Signal Corps coin: the radio guy and the computer guy.

The computer guy can probably get your computer up and running before you know it. Give us radio guys a SinCGARS that isn’t working and it’ll be done by the time you blink. Hand us your laptop then say, “it’s running slow,” and we’ll probably just look at it funny.

Then again, if you offer us a case of beer, we’ll give it a shot. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Vance Hand)

3. We’re annoying as f*ck

This stereotype takes many forms. Since it’s our job is to communicate, a lot of us talk too much. Since it’s our job to correct others using improper radio etiquette, a lot of us use radio lingo off the net. Since there are some nerds in commo, a lot of us go on and on about that TV show you agreed to watch but never will.

That one is entirely on that one radio guy — don’t lump all of us in with him.

2. We’re overly comfortable with our officers

The radio guys who actually are out on the line of a combat arms unit need to be at the heel of our officers at all time. If they need to call something in, we need to have that hand-mic ready for them.

This often gets misinterpreted as us being ass-kissers or suck-ups. In actuality, it’s because the 2nd Lt. can’t be trusted with the radio gear.

Think of us less like suck-ups and more like glorified pack-mules. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Shiloh Capers)

1. We’re all POGs

To be fair, yes, there are a lot of POGs in the signal world. Our Signal Corps counterparts can often be the furthest thing from “grunt” you can possibly imagine.

But POG is a state of mind, not an MOS. Just as you’ll see whiny infantrymen now and then, you’ll see some hardcore-as-f*ck radio guys. Hell, 18Es are Special Forces Communications and no one would ever dare call them POGs.

18Es: Making radio guys look sick as f*ck since 1952. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Charles Santamaria)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How to protect yourself from Chinese cyber spies

The FBI has a clear message for the US public: Chinese society itself is a threat to the US due to its heavy engagement with espionage and influence campaigns.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said as much at a February 2018 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, during which he said naive academics have allowed “nontraditional collectors” of intelligence to infiltrate the US’s revered “very open research and development environment” in universities.


While Chinese citizens have been pouring into US and Western universities and industries, China has seen an explosion in domestic technology, especially in its military and space sectors.

To be fair, all countries with the capability engage in spycraft, but the Chinese Communists don’t gather intelligence like the US does.

China’s society is not like the US’s. In China, everything belongs to the ruling Communist Party, including the military and intelligence services, and its people can be coerced into their service.

Beijing has gone to extreme lengths to police its people on even social interactions, establishing leverage over their citizens, even the ones living abroad. Chinese citizens in the US and Canada have reported threats being made to their families on the mainland when they speak up against the CCP.

The US has accused China of coercing foreign firms into technology transfer. The private sector, as it tries to break into China’s massive market, is filled with off-the-record horror stories of spying and theft of secrets.

(Photo by howtostartablogonline.net)

Because of the clandestine nature of spycraft, it’s almost impossible to know if you’re the subject of Chinese espionage, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk you face.

Based on insider accounts, here’s how you can protect yourself from suspected outlets of Chinese espionage as a US citizen.

Avoid Chinese tech

Bill Bishop, an author who has lived on and off in China for decades and writes the Sinocism newsletter for Axios, tweeted the following: “Entertaining to talk to Chinese engineers with experience with Huawei about whether or not Huawei installs back doors. Unanimous ‘Of course’ followed by ‘how naive are the foreigners who still doubt that.'”

New court documents filed in the US allege that ZTE, another Chinese phone maker, was set up with the express purpose of conducting international espionage.

With a camera, microphone, and the logins of its owners accounts, accessing the smarphones of US citizens would be a massive intelligence boon for any nation.

Public naivety comes up again and again in intelligence circles. In May, the US banned all Chinese-made smartphones from the Pentagon, saying devices from Huawei and ZTE “may pose an unacceptable risk to department’s personnel, information and mission.”

If the Pentagon is taking seriously the risk of espionage via Chinese-made phones, maybe savvy US citizens should follow suit.

Don’t bring tech to China

“If you have a security briefing” before heading to China for a company with sensitive information, “you would be told ‘do not take a laptop,'” Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project told Business Insider.

“I once got a security briefing or someone told me ‘do not leave the laptop in your room and take a shower, someone could walk in and download your information and be out,'” said Glaser.

Glaser said it’s common for foreigners staying in a hotel in China to return from the gym or a trip and find “people rummaging around their room.”

(Photo by Charles & Hudson)

China has been “aggressive” about intelligence gathering from government and business officials “for years and years and years, and they are really good at it,” said Glaser.

“Any person who is really dealing with proprietary information, nobody takes a laptop, nobody writes an email. People who are really serious about security will take a burner phone, they would never take their own phone,” said Glaser.

Use caution with Chinese nationals

The Chinese Communist Party has extraordinary powers within its borders to detain and reeducate people over something as central and inoffensive as an ethnic or religious identity.

In 2014, the FBI issued a public service announcement warning against being a pawn for Chinese spies. US students are “coming back from an overseas experience saying unusual things happened, offers that didn’t make sense, for money, big favors, positions they really weren’t suited for. And we think a lot of those were pitches or recruitments,” the FBI said.

Naturalized Chinese citizens in the US been indicted countless times, with many being employed by Chinese firms to steal secrets across a broad swath of US industries. The FBI’s Wray warned in February 2018, specifically that Chinese “professors, scientists, students” all participated in intelligence gathering.

China is widely suspected of using cyber crime to steal US plans for the F-35 stealth jet, but other more civilian industries like agriculture and manufacturing are at risk too, according to experts.

F-35 Lightning II
(Lockheed Martin photo)

Wray received considerable backlash for his comments from Asian-American civil rights groups who noted in a letter to Wray that “well-intentioned public policies might nonetheless lead to troubling issues of potential bias, racial profiling, and wrongful prosecution.”

But Wray stood firm in his analysis.

“To be clear, we do not open investigations based on race, or ethnicity, or national origin,” Wray told NBC News. “But when we open investigations into economic espionage, time and time again, they keep leading back to China.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s how to watch SpaceX try its ‘most difficult launch ever’

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, said his rocket company’s toughest mission yet has arrived — and you can watch it live online.

Sometime between 11:30 p.m. ET on June 24, 2019, and 2:30 a.m. ET on June 25, 2019, a Falcon Heavy rocket will try to lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Tonight’s launch attempt marks SpaceX’s third-ever with Falcon Heavy. The rocket design debuted in February 2018, has three reusable boosters, and is considered the planet’s most powerful launch system in use today.

“This will be our most difficult launch ever,” Musk tweeted on June 19, 2019.


What makes this mission, called Space Test Program-2 (STP-2), so challenging is what’s stacked inside the rocket’s nose cone: 24 government and commercial satellites that together weigh about 8,150 pounds (3,700 kilograms). When fully fueled, a Falcon Heavy rocket weighs about 1,566 tons (1,420 metric tons), or more than 300 adult elephants’ worth of mass.

An 8,150-pound (3,700-kilogram) stack of 24 government and commercial satellites inside the nose cone of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket in June 2019.

(Official Space Missile Systems Center/DoD via Twitter)

After getting its behemoth rocket off the pad at Launch Complex 39-A, SpaceX has to deploy the two dozen spacecraft into multiple orbits around Earth over several hours. To do this, it must shut down and reignite the engine of an upper-stage rocket four times, according to the company.

One satellite holds NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock, which may change the way robots and astronauts navigate space. Another spacecraft is the Planetary Society’s LightSail, an experiment that could change how vehicles propel themselves to a destination. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is also launching six small weather satellites built in partnership with Taiwan.

There’s even a spacecraft holding the ashes of 152 people, and it will orbit Earth for about 25 years before careening back as an artificial meteor.

But SpaceX will also be attempting to land all three of the rocket’s 16-story boosters back on Earth for reuse in future launches. The two attached to the side of the Falcon Heavy rocket are set to touch down on land a few minutes after liftoff.

Meanwhile, the central or core booster — which will fire longer and disconnect from the upper-stage rocket later in the flight — will try to land on a drone ship sitting about 770 miles (1,240 kilometers) off the coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean.

Watch SpaceX’s launch attempt live on Monday night

SpaceX is streaming the STP-2 mission live on YouTube, and the company said its broadcast would begin about 20 minutes before liftoff (about 11:10 p.m. ET).

There’s a 20% chance that SpaceX will delay its launch because of thunderstorms, according to a forecast issued by the US Air Force on Monday morning. If the launch is pushed to its backup window 24 hours later, there’s a 30% chance of delay.

If you want to follow the launch and deployment events, we’ve included a detailed timeline below the YouTube embed.

STP-2 Mission

www.youtube.com

Launch events and timing relative to the moment Falcon Heavy lifts off the pad are outlined below and come from SpaceX’s press kit for the STP-2 mission.

-53:00— SpaceX launch director verifies go for propellant load
-50:00— First-stage RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
-45:00— First-stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
-35:00— Second-stage RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
-18:30— Second-stage LOX loading begins
-07:00— Falcon Heavy begins prelaunch engine chill
-01:30— Flight computer commanded to begin final prelaunch checks
-01:00— Propellant tanks pressurize for flight
-00:45— SpaceX launch director verifies go for launch
-00:02— Engine controller commands engine-ignition sequence to start
-00:00— Falcon Heavy liftoff

Once the rocket lifts off, Falcon Heavy hardware and its payload will go through a series of crucial maneuvers. The side boosters and core booster will try to separate and land. Following that, the rocket’s upper or second stage will propel into orbit, then attempt to deploy its 24 satellites from a device called the Integrated Payload Stack over several hours.

The timing and events below are also relative to liftoff, in hours, minutes, and seconds.

00:00:42— Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:27— Booster engine cutoff (BECO)
00:02:31— Side boosters separate from center core
00:02:49— Side boosters begin boost-back burn
00:03:27— Center core engine shutdown/main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:03:31— Center core and 2nd stage separate
00:03:38— 2nd stage engine starts (SES-1)
00:04:03— Fairing deployment
00:07:13— Side boosters begin entry burn
00:08:41— Side booster landings
00:08:38— 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)
00:08:53— Center core begins entry burn
00:11:21— Center core landing
00:12:55— Spacecraft deployments begin
01:12:39— Second-stage engine restart (SES-2)
01:13:00— Second-stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)
02:07:35— Second-stage engine restart (SES-3)
02:08:04— Second-stage engine cutoff (SECO-3)
03:27:27— Second-stage engine restart (SES-4)
03:28:03— Second-stage engine cutoff (SECO-4)
03:34:09— Final spacecraft deployment

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

4 famous lines from legendary speeches that were made up on the spot

A good speech from a great leader can change the world. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, a speech that strengthened the resolve of the Union to continue fighting battles like that for another two years. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt told the American people that day would live in infamy, and it has ever since.

But it might surprise you to discover that some of history’s greatest lines were improvised by the speaker, instead of written into the script of the age.


President Bush’s Ground Zero “Bullhorn Speech”

George W. Bush has been accused of a lot of things, but being one of history’s greatest orators is not one of them. Still, in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States needed its fearless leader to show up at the center of it all and encourage the nation to stand tall, and George W. Bush was able to do that. What started out as an impromptu, unprepared remark about empathy turned into one of the most memorable speeches of modern presidential history when a worker in the back shouted, “we can’t hear you,” referring to the president’s bullhorn.

President Bush, contrary to what some might believe, is quick on his feet and responded with the legendary line “I can hear you. The whole world hears you. And whoever knocked down these buildings will hear all of us real soon.”

Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. walked to the podium on Aug. 28, 1963, intent on sticking to the script. His prepared remarks mentioned nothing about the dream King had. He’d mentioned the dream speech before, but was convinced the speech wouldn’t have the same effect on such a gathered crowd for such a long speech. In the middle of the speech, Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to Dr. King, telling him to use the “dream” line.

At around 12:00 above, you can see the shift in Dr. King’s face. He stops looking down at his notes as he had for the previous 12 minutes and begins to address the crowd directly, flawlessly delivering the “dream” portion of the speech. This part of the speech is much less measured and more emotional than a banking analogy.

Winston Churchill’s “The Few” Speech

By August 1940, Britain stood alone in Europe against the Nazi war machine. Poland and France had already fallen, and the only things protecting England was the English Channel and the Royal Air Force. British airmen were giving everything they had to defend the island nation from the relentless attacks of the Nazi Luftwaffe, day and night, and they were running low on planes and pilots. Churchill was moved by the pilots who survived the bombing of an RAF airfield just days before and told the assembled men that ‘never in the history of mankind has so much been owed by so many to so few.’

He delivered a speech on that to Parliament on Aug. 20, 1940.

(Smithsonian Institution)

George Washington “Grows Blind”

The Continental Army was growing restless in 1783. Victory in independence was just around the corner, but they didn’t know that. They were upset at having not been paid by Congress. Officers and soldiers of the army decided to meet in Newburgh, N.Y. to draw up a letter to Congress. Their demand was to be paid or warn the body of a coming mutiny. When George Washington heard about it, he decided to address the men on a day of his choosing.

When he entered the hall, he entered through a side door instead of the main door and proceeded to give a nine-page speech warning them against such a mutiny. He also expressed support for their sentiments and went to share a letter from a Congressman who shared it too. As he pulled out the letter, he also pulled out his glasses and said the immortal words:

“Gentlemen, you must pardon me. I have grown gray in your service and now find myself growing blind.”

It was that improvised line that prevented the mutiny, reaffirmed their loyalty to their graying commander, and won the war.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Semper Fi’ trailer explores what happens when a hero breaks bad

West Point graduate Sean Mullin (Amira & Sam) returns to writing with Semper Fi, a film about a police officer and Marine Corps Reservist who is faced with an ethical dilemma when it comes to helping his brother in prison. Murderball director and co-writer Henry-Alex Rubin directed the film, which is filled with stars like Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad), Finn Witrock (Unbroken), and Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl).

But it’s perfectly reasonable if you’re most excited about Recon Marine Rudy Reyes, who plays a role in the film and served as a military advisor for the production.


SEMPER FI Official Trailer (2019) Nat Wolff, Jai Courtney Movie HD

www.youtube.com

Watch the trailer:

Courtney plays Cal, a police officer and Marine Corps reservist who decides to break his younger brother Oyster (played by Paper Towns’ Nat Wolff) out of prison. In doing so, he’ll question the system he has sworn to uphold, whatever the cost.

Also read: 3 major reasons you should hire veterans in Hollywood

Some of the initial reactions to the trailer have included veterans and Marines saying the film goes against “what it means to be a Marine” but, given that the film doesn’t come out until Oct. 4, 2019, I’d say it’s probably too soon to tell. Furthermore, what “semper fi” means to one Marine might be different from what it means to another.

Besides, Mullin has a history of writing non-traditional veteran stories. Amira Sam, which Mullin wrote and directed, was about a veteran who comes home from war and his relationship with an immigrant. “I think every single ‘veteran comes home from war’ movie that’s ever been made is about a veteran with post-traumatic stress, and I wanted to tell the first story about a veteran who comes home and he’s okay but his country’s lost its mind,” Mullin told Military.com.

Sometimes vets are heroes and sometimes they break bad. It sounds like Courtney portrays a Marine who is navigating both roads — it’ll be interesting to see how the story plays out.

Either way, you can find out for yourself in October. In the meantime, feel free to keep the conversation going on our Facebook page: what is Hollywood’s responsibility when telling military stories?

MIGHTY TACTICAL

DARPA wants drone swarms to be your battle buddy in urban combat

DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program envisions future small-unit infantry forces using small unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and/or small unmanned ground systems (UGSs) in swarms of 250 robots or more to accomplish diverse missions in complex urban environments. By leveraging and combining emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming, the program seeks to enable rapid development and deployment of breakthrough swarm capabilities.


To continue the rapid pace and further advance the technology development of OFFSET, DARPA is soliciting proposals for the second “swarm sprint.” Each of the five core “sprints” focuses on one of the key thrust areas: Swarm Tactics, Swarm Autonomy, Human-Swarm Team, Virtual Environment, and Physical Testbed. This second group of “Swarm Sprinters” will have the opportunity to work with one or both of the OFFSET Swarm Systems Integrator teams to develop and assess tactics as well as algorithms to enhance autonomy.

The focus of the second sprint is enabling improved autonomy through enhancements of platforms and/or autonomy elements, with the operational backdrop of utilizing a diverse swarm of 50 air and ground robots to isolate an urban objective within an area of two city blocks over a mission duration of 15 to 30 minutes. Swarm Sprinters will leverage existing or develop new hardware components, algorithms, and/or primitives to enable novel capabilities that specifically demonstrate the advantages of a swarm when leveraging and operating in complex urban environments.

The conclusion of the second sprint is aligned with a physical and virtual experiment, where “sprinters” will be able to more deeply integrate and demonstrate their technology developments. The sprinters will have the opportunity to work with DARPA and the Swarm Systems Integrators to further expand the capabilities relevant to operational contexts.

“As operations in urban environments continue to evolve, our warfighters need advanced capabilities to keep up with the ever-changing complexity of the urban scenario,” said Timothy Chung, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO). “The focus on enhancing autonomy in operational contexts will further advance future swarming capabilities allowing the warfighter to outmaneuver our adversaries in these complex urban environments.”

The announcement for this second swarm sprint follows the awarding of contracts to the first cohort of OFFSET Swarm Sprinters to:

  • Lockheed Martin, Advanced Technology Laboratories
  • SoarTech, Inc.
  • Charles River Analytics, Inc.
  • University of Maryland
  • Carnegie Mellon University

Each of these inaugural sprinters will focus on generating novel tactics for a multi-faceted swarm of air and ground robots in support of the mission to isolate an urban objective, such as conducting reconnaissance, generating a semantic map of the area of operations, and/or identifying and defending against possible security risks.

Instructions for submitting a proposal to participate in the second core swarm sprint (under Amendment 2), as well as full OFFSET program details, are available on the Federal Business Opportunities website: https://go.usa.gov/xRhPC. Proposals are due at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on April 30, 2018. Please email questions to OFFSET@darpa.mil.

(More information about OFFSET and swarm sprint thrust areas is available here: https://youtu.be/c7KPBHPEMM0 and http://www.darpa.mil/work-with-us/offensive-swarm-enabled-tactics.)

Humor

That time NASA totally beat the Navy at epic graffiti

The skies over Okanagon, Wash. got a little more hilarious in 2017 when naval aviators on a training flight drew a giant penis in the sky using contrails. It’s now known forever as the “skydick” incident and the pilots responsible were immediately grounded. It was an epic troll, at best. It was well short, however, of the graffiti record set by NASA four years prior.


Good effort, Top Gun.

“The American people rightfully expect that those who wear the Wings of Gold exhibit a level of maturity commensurate with the missions and aircraft with which they’ve been entrusted,” said Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker after the incident. “Naval aviation continually strives to foster an environment of dignity and respect. Sophomoric and immature antics of a sexual nature have no place in Naval aviation today.”

Meanwhile, over at NASA, there was a Mars Rover who made history by accidentally drawing its own phallic tracks on the red planet. The NASA rover Spirit landed on Mars in 2004 and was declared dead in 2010. But in 2013, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released an image taken by Spirit of its tracks after making a turn on the planet’s surface.

Even though the photo was almost nine years old, the internet still had a field day.

NASA’s Spirit Mars rover created these tracks shortly after touching down in 2004 to execute a turn, not deface the surface like a Marine Corps bathroom.
(NASA/JPL/Cornell)

While NASA totally outdid the Navy in epic penis-drawing, they both received the same, polarized replies. When NASA released the image, the internet-wide response was either one of juvenile glee or calls for people to “grow up.” The response from the Navy’s “sky dick” equally contrasting — the brass were outraged while veterans and civilians were largely amused.

That’s one way to bridge the civilian-military divide.

popular

This is what makes SAS selection the toughest in the world

The Special Air Service is the longest active special missions unit in existence and has remained one of the best. Staffed with the toughest and most resourceful enlisted and commissioned soldiers the United Kingdom has to offer, the SAS only accepts the cream of the crop. Of all candidates who try to earn the coveted beige beret and the title of “Blade,” only the very best make it through.


In order to thin out the herd, the SAS holds one of the most arduous and rigorous selection and training programs in the modern special operations community. Timed cross-country marches, treks through jungles, and a mountain climb are just a few of the challenges that make joining the SAS an extreme task.

Typically, the SAS runs two selection periods every year, one in summer and the other in winter. While any fully-trained member of the British Armed Forces may apply for selection, the bulk of candidates tend to come from light infantry, airborne, and commando units.

Selection lasts around five months and consists of multiple phases, each designed to break down every candidate and push them to their limits and beyond. That’s probably why the program has an astonishing 90% fail rate. Many drop out due to stress or injury — those who remain must meet and exceed the high standards set by the selection cadre.

The dreaded Pen y Fan in Brecon Beacons

It all begins with physical testing designed to ensure that each candidate meets the minimum requirements to join the SAS. Selection then moves forward with a series of forced marches in the Brecon Beacons, a mountain range in South Wales. Candidates are issued rifles, weighted rucks, and rations and are then sent packing. Their ultimate test in the first phase is navigating themselves across Pen y Fan, the highest peak of the Brecon Beacons, alone and within a 20 hour time limit.

This segment, called officially “Endurance,” but popularly known as the “Fan Dance,” holds a special (if not dreaded) place in the hearts of all candidates. It’s such an excruciating and dangerous trek that some have even perished over the years in attempts.

After completing Endurance, all surviving candidates are given weeks of instruction on weapons, tactics, and procedures. This is their first real introduction to the shadowy world in which the SAS generally operates. Lessons on tradecraft, medical care, and hand-to-hand combat are also included. This segment is run in the hot, dense jungles of Brunei, Belize, or Malaysia.

An L85 rifle, similar to those used during SAS selction, are standard issue of the British Armed Forces.
(US Marine Corps)

Upon passing the jungle phase, candidates return to the United Kingdom to Hereford, home of 22 Special Air Service Regiment, where they receive further specialized instruction and undergo testing on their trade. Their marksmanship abilities are honed and developed, their combat driving abilities are refined, and their proficiency with foreign weapons and vehicles is enhanced.

Candidates are also put through airborne school, learning how to conduct static line and freefall jumps, and are committed to a grueling combat survival and resistance program, similar to the US military’s SERE school. After a one week-test during which candidates are hunted down and brutally interrogated, they are finally on their way to joining the active SAS.

By the end of SAS selection, an initial batch of around 200 candidates will have dwindled down to roughly 25. These candidates are sent to operational squadrons for further training and eventual deployment. They represent the finest the British Armed Forces have to offer, and are thus awarded their beige berets and the SAS badge — the winged dagger.

They have earned the right to call themselves “Blades.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Vietnam veteran saved thousands of lives on 9/11

“Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming, Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming, To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady, It cannot be ever said ye
For the battle were not ready. Stand and never yield!”


As employees of Morgan Stanley evacuated the South Tower on 9/11, they heard a familiar voice singing to them. Rick Rescorla, their Vice President of Security, was calmly and efficiently guiding them out of the offices and down a stairwell. Moments earlier, a plane had struck the North Tower, and a PA announcement had told workers in the South Tower to remain at their desks.

Rescorla would have none of that.

Grabbing his bullhorn and walkie-talkie, he immediately ushered the employees out. As the employees were going down the stairwell, the building lurched suddenly. The second plane had hit above them, and the building violently shook. As the evacuation started to turn to panic, the voice of Rescorla called out. Remain calm, help each other, be proud of being Americans, we will get through this. Then the singing. The employees took strength in his calm demeanor and followed and helped each other down the tower. By the end of it, almost 2,700 employees made it safely out of the building. Of all of Morgan Stanley’s employees, only six didn’t make it.

Rescorla was one of them.

He was last seen on the 10th floor and like many heroes who perished on that day of days, was headed up the stairs, into the fire to find more people to save. His body was never found.

As Morgan Stanley employees shared their stories about Rick and how calming he was, quite a few talked about the singing. How it was surreal yet calming as if telling them everything would be ok.

As the stories spread, a few men heard about that and were quite familiar with Rick singing. He had sung to them when they were in a life or death situation and it had calmed them down too. It was years earlier on the edge of a mountain in the Ia Drang valley in Vietnam.

Rick Rescorla was born in Cornwall in the United Kingdom in 1939. When he was 16, he signed up to join the British military and ended up fighting against insurgents in Cyprus in the late 1950s. From there, he ended up in Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) as part of the North Rhodesian Police. He met an American named Daniel Hill, who would later become a lifelong friend. Rescorla, by this time, was very much an anti-communist, and Hill had told him that the United States was sending troops to a place called Vietnam to prevent the spread of communism there.

As soon as his contract was up, Rescorla worked to make his way to the U.S. He lived in a hostel and waited for the first chance to enlist in the United States Army. He ended up being selected to Officer Candidate School and, after further training, ended up on the 7th Calvary. The unit had once been led by George Custer into the last stand at Little Bighorn. Rescorla would be under the command of Hal Moore, and would find himself headed into a last stand of his own.

Most of us have seen the movie, We Were Soldiers or read the amazing book the movie was based on.

Rick Rescorla was a platoon leader and was one of many American soldiers who showed their bravery and tenacity on that battlefield. The battle was the first major engagement of the war and Rescorla saw first-hand how bloody it would be.

“There were American and NVA bodies everywhere. My area was where Lt. Geoghegan’s platoon had been. There were several dead NVA around his platoon command post. One dead trooper was locked in contact with a dead NVA, hands around the enemy’s throat. There were two troopers – one black, one Hispanic – linked tight together. It looked like they had died trying to help each other.”

Through the thick of battle, Rescorla was seen moving from position to position, encouraging his men and singing Cornish and Welsh hymns to them. It put them at ease and got them settled down to see their leader keeping his cool. At the end of the battle, Rescorla famously found an old French bugle on the body of a dead North Vietnamese soldier. It was a trophy from the previous war fought in Vietnam between the Vietnamese and French colonialists. A photo of Rescorla moving around the battlefield became one of the enduring images of the Vietnam war.

After the military, Rescorla went into academics for a while, before deciding to get into the world of private security. He ended up becoming the head of security of Dean Whitter, which later would merge into Morgan Stanley. Working out of the World Trade Center, he once brought in his old friend from Rhodesia, now also a security consultant, to give a security analysis of the complex. They both headed down to the underground garage and found an exposed load-bearing beam that might crumble with a powerful enough explosion. They wrote up a report saying the load-bearing beam was too accessible and should be protected. The report was made in 1990. It was ignored. Three years, later Muslim extremists drove a rental truck laden with explosives into the basement of the World Trade Center and targeted that column. Luckily it held, but Rescorla knew they would try again someday….

He implemented major changes at Dean Whitter and later Morgan Stanley to ensure that employees would know what to do in case of a major emergency. He drilled them constantly on evacuation drills and made sure everyone knew where to go if the worst happened. As usually happens, as the years since the bombings passed, people got complacent. Management would throw fits during drills as they view them as unnecessary and a distraction. Rescorla didn’t care. He was certain another attempt would be made and even asked Morgan Stanley to move to a location in New Jersey. He even ventured the next attack would be via a cargo plane laden with explosives.

He was almost right.

On the fateful day as Morgan Stanley employees filed out of the building, they saw a familiar face. With his bullhorn, Rescorla projected calmness as he directed them down the stairwells. As they walked down two by two and maintaining space so they wouldn’t bunch up as they had drilled constantly, they heard the singing.

As he was with his troops in Vietnam, Rick Rescorla was the cool, calm and collected leader in the maelstrom of hell on the fateful September day.

For his bravery, this past year, Rescorla was posthumously awarded the Presidential Citizenship Medal by President Donald Trump in a ceremony at the White House.

Intel

This is why Pacific Partnership is a big deal

Recently, the Navy announced that the expeditionary fast transport USNS Brunswick (T EPF 6) completed Pacific Partnership 2018 in Thailand. If you’re out of the know, you may be asking yourself why this operation is such a big deal. Well, believe it or not, this annual exercise has been going on for a dozen years now and it’s an essential part of being ready for the worst.


After the 2004 tsunami ravaged Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and several other neighboring countries in one of history’s worst-ever natural disasters, the United States deployed relief ships to provide humanitarian aid. This generated generated a lot of good will among affected nations and their allies. This matters a great deal — when you have a reservoir of good will among a population, you’re much less likely to find yourself embroiled in war.

USNS Mercy (T AH 19) taking part in Pacific Partnership 2018.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey L. Adams)

At the time, the United States had a pair of hospital ships, USNS Mercy (T AH 19) and USNS Comfort (T AH 20), that hadn’t seen much use. Although these ships are slated for replacement, they still house much more advanced medical facilities than most countries can offer. Those aboard USNS Mercy rendered care for 108,000 patients between 2004 and 2005.

After supplying aid in the wake of a terrible disaster, the Navy began to make annual deployments. The Navy has also used the big-deck amphibious assault ships of the Tarawa and Wasp classes in these deployments.

A Navy corpsman gives a tour of the medical facilities on board USNS Mercy (T AH 19) during Pacific Partnership 2015.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mayra A. Conde)

During Pacific Partnership, not only does the Navy provide a lot of medical aid, they host disaster relief training exercises with partner nations, like Thailand. As the old saying goes, “you fight like you train.” The same can be said of providing disaster relief.

This exercise is not entirely a one-way street, however. During Pacific Partnership, in exchange for advanced training, the Navy gets a lot of knowledge about the terrain and personnel are given the opportunity to build relationships with their local counterparts.

Big-deck amphibious ships, like USS Essex (LHD 2), have also been used in Pacific Partnership deployments.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Adam Brock)

The operation isn’t exclusively for governments. Representatives from various non-governmental organizations also take part. These aren’t the normal passengers on Navy vessels, and having them aboard allows the Navy to practice operating as part of grand-scale, disaster-relief efforts.

At the end of the day, Pacific Partnership is one of the U.S. Military’s greatest chances to practice responding to a disaster. The fact that it generates good will and gets some nice press is just a bonus.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The world’s biggest airplane took its first flight ever

Somewhere out in the California desert, a streamlined, aerodynamic behemoth woke up on April 13, 2019. It was Stratolaunch Systems’ critical test flight for an airframe designed to launch rockets into space while in mid-air. The aircraft was a long time coming, the dream of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who died of Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2018.


After the plane’s historic two-hour flight, Allen would have been proud to watch the mammoth plane land on the Mojave Desert test strip.

Stratolaunch’s six-engine, 500,000-pound aircraft has a 385-foot wingspan and is designed to fly around 35,000 feet. In comparison, the largest aircraft used for civilian air travel is the Airbus A380-800, with a wingspan of 238 feet and weighing in at slightly more than the Stratolaunch.

“The flight itself was smooth, which is exactly what you want a first flight to be,” said test pilot Evan Thomas. “It flew very much like we had simulated and like we predicted.”

The previous record holder for largest aircraft ever flown was Howard Hughes’ famed Spruce Goose, an eight-engine, wooden-framed plane that was less than half the weight of the Stratolaunch. Until April 13, it was the longest wingspan aircraft to ever fly.

“It was an emotional moment for me, personally, to watch this majestic bird take flight,” said Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd.

Stratolaunch was founded in 2011, the brainchild of Allen, who originally also wanted to make the rockets the Stratolaunch planes would launch into low earth orbit. The company plans to do incremental tests of the airframe over the coming years, as they had done in previous years. Other small tests included engine tests and runway taxis before the April flight.

While the two-hour test flight was a success, not much else was conclusive save for a deal with Northrop Grumman to use Stratolaunch planes to put their Pegasus XL rockets into space. Who knows – these could be the early models of a Space Force troop transport. The skies are no longer the limit.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 cringe-inducing weapon fails from ‘The Walking Dead’

Without Rick and Morty, Westworld, or Game of Thrones, Sunday nights are getting fairly thinned out with regards to binge worthy TV shows. Luckily we still have The Walking Dead, a great show that keeps fans watching every week because of the fantastic cast of characters living out the zombie apocalypse fantasy we all think about.


One of the key components of the show is the over indulgence of firearms. Makes sense, right? Zombie apocalypse would need plenty of nobodies to pack some heat to survive. Not everyone can be a bad ass with a crossbow or katana.

However, people who have actually seen a firearm cringe when they see how the weapons are actually portrayed.

Some things can be hand-waved away by the user being a idiot and no one correcting them in the apocalypse (I’m looking at you, everyone with sh*tty trigger discipline!).

Other times the writers throw in a spotlight piece of dialogue, such as when someone gets a headshot on a walker from maybe 500 yards and someone else says, “Wow! That’s impressive!” and they respond with “I wasn’t aiming for that one.”

This is called “hanging a lantern” on stretches of the imagination (but it still doesn’t explain the max effective range on a 9mm Glock).

This list is ranked from “Okay, I guess the show creators are taking some creative freedom with that” to “Wait… what? But why… what?”

Minor non-specific spoilers ahead if you care about spoiler tags.

#6. Cocking your weapon multiple times

This one isn’t specific to just The Walking Dead. If you’ve never picked up a weapon before, you might think guns are ready to jump into bang-bang mode at any moment. This doesn’t happen in reality. A weapon won’t fire a round if there’s no round in the chamber. And it is possible that they did chamber their weapon off-screen — not everything in life is cinematic enough to make good cinema/television.

But this isn’t like weapon maintenance and cleaning. Even more egregious is when they show the same weapon being cocked when they’re about to start fighting. And then again when they’re seconds away from a fire fight. Possible? Totally. But we’d see that round that was chambered a few minutes ago fly out. Just going to gloss right over the manual cocking sound of a revolver being applied to semi-auto pistols, but you catch the drift.

I won’t bore you with my rant on how there’s never any brass on the ground, unless it’s for a cool low-angle “after battle” shot  (Television Series “The Walking Dead” by AMC)

#5. Who needs a rear sight post anyways?

Quick run down on how aiming works: Think of when you were looking at the stars. If you line up a tree with, say, a fence post and sit in the same spot days later. You can observe the movement in the sky. You lined up the object at four points. The star, the tree, fence post, and your eye. You need two points between your eye and the star to keep positioning just right in a straight line.

In the case of a firearm, that straight line is also the barrel. Take away a sight post, that straight line is skewed. All of this means that it won’t hit jacksh*t, and the characters wasted their time zeroing their weapons.

Or maybe no one needs to zero their weapon in the zombie apocalypse…

Don’t worry, I’m not done with the Governor just yet…

#4. Who needs an eye to look through the scope anyways?

Okay. Maybe they’re so intertwined with their weapon that it becomes second nature. Like previously mentioned, everyone is an expert as shooting walkers from god knows how far. The rifle being brought up to the shoulder may just be out of second nature.

What about our characters that don’t have their dominant firing eye? What the hell are they even aiming at?

You’d think at least the actor with the eye patch would notice this and say something… (Television Series The Walking Dead by AMC)

#3. Infinite Ammo Cheat Codes

L1, R1, SQUARE, R1, LEFT, R2, R1, LEFT, SQUARE, DOWN, L1, L1.

Apparently everyone types this in before every episode of the show, because unless it’s for dramatic tension, no one runs out of ammunition. The world is ending. It’s a constant worry in the show to find food. But ammo? Nah. We got it covered.

#2. Misunderstanding what certain bullets do

Last science rundown: Newton’s Third Law of Motion. All forces between two objects exist in equal magnitude and opposite direction. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

In firearm science, this means that the kickback from firing a weapon will hit the target with a similar kick, accounting for minor air resistance and many other factors. So if you were to shoot a handgun at someone, they are hit with the same force. It’d hurt like a b*tch, but no one is flying through a window.

Same works the other way around to. If you shoot a M2 .50 Caliber machine gun into the engine block of a civilian jeep, it won’t just ding off like some dirt.

#1. Head shots for days against zombies, but no one can seem to hit a human for some reason

Why why WHY can no one hit a single living person? Plot armor must be a hell of a thing. At least the Stormtroopers have a reason for why their aim ‘sucks’.

Related: 6 reasons why it would suck to be a Stormtrooper in Star Wars

At least Shiva was consistent about her killing ability. If you didn’t want spoilers, don’t look too deep into the use of past tense. (Television Series The Walking Dead by AMC)

*Bonus*  Just. No. That’s not how that works…