Yesterday, Coffee or Die Magazinebroke the story that the Marines have developed a new course to train snipers for the Corps’ elite Reconnaissance units.
That means we can now reveal that Coffee or Die staffers have been embedded with the Marines of Reconnaissance Training Company on Camp Pendleton off and on for the past month as they train 10 students in the first-ever Reconnaissance Sniper Course. We are following this first class of Recon Snipers all the way through the pilot course, which concludes March 19.
As always, we’re committed to what we do best, which is put boots on the ground to produce detailed multimedia coverage of these types of historical developments and, in this case, provide our readers an intimate view of how some of our most elite warriors are trained.
We have a lot more coverage on the Recon Sniper Course coming, but for now, here’s a taste of some of our best photos so far.
Air Force intelligence analysts and operational leaders moved quickly to develop a new targeting combat plan to counter deadly ISIS explosive-laden drone attacks in Iraq and Syria.
In October of this year, ISIS used a drone, intended for surveillance use, to injure troops on the ground. Unlike typical surveillance drones, this one exploded after local forces picked it up for inspection, an Air Force statement said.
The emergence of bomb-drones, if even at times improperly used by ISIS, presents a new and serious threat to Iraqi Security Forces, members of the U.S.-Coalition and civilians, service officials explained to Sout Warrior. Drone bombs could target advancing Iraqi Security Forces, endanger or kill civilians and possibly even threat forward-operating US forces providing fire support some distance behind the front lines.
Air Force officials explained that many of the details of the intelligence analysis and operational response to ISIS bomb-drones are classified and not available for discussion.
Specific tactics and combat solutions were made available to combatant commanders in a matter of days, service experts explained.
While the Air Force did not specify any particular tactis of method of counterattack, the moves could invovle electronic attacks, some kind of air-ground coordination or air-to-air weapons, among other things.
However, the service did delineate elements of the effort, explaining that in October of this year, the Air Force stood up a working group to address the evolving threat presented by small commercial drones operated by ISIS, Air Force Spokeswoman Erika Yepsen told Scout Warrior.
Working intensely to address the pressing nature of the threat, Air Force intelligence analysts quickly developed a new Target Analysis Product to counter these kinds of ISIS drone attacks. (Photo: Scout Warrior)
“The working group cuts across functional areas and commands to integrate our best experts who have been empowered to act rapidly so they can continue to outpace the evolution of the threat they are addressing,” Yepsen said.
Personnel from the 15th IS, along with contributors, conducted a 280-plus hour rapid analysis drill to acquire and obtain over 40 finished intelligence products and associated single-source reports, Air Force commanders said.
Commercial and military-configured drone technology has been quickly proliferating around the world, increasingly making it possible for U.S. enemies, such as ISIS, to launch drone attacks.
“Any attack against our joint or coalition warriors is a problem. Once it is identified, we get to work finding a solution. The resolve and ingenuity of the airmen in the 15th IS (intelligence squadron)” to protect our warriors, drove them to come up with a well-vetted solution within days,” Lt. Col. Jennifer S. Spires, 25th Air Force, a unit of the service dealing with intelligence, told Scout Warrior.
While some analysts projected that developing a solution could take 11 to 12 weeks, the 15th IS personnel were able to cut that time by nearly 90 percent, Air Force officials said.
“While we cannot talk about the tactics and techniques that the 15th IS recommended, we can say that in every case, any targeting package sent to the air component adhered to rules that serve to protect non-combatants,” Spires added.
The 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing provides a targeting package in support of the Air Component. (Photo: Scout Warrior)
“The supported command makes the final decision about when and how to strike a specific target. Once the theater receives the targeting package it goes into a strike list that the Combatant Commander prioritizes,” Spires said.
Also, Air Force Secretary Deborah James recently addressed an incident wherein two Air Force ISR assets were flying in support coalition ground operations — when they were notified of a small ISIS drone in the vicinity of Mosul.
“The aircraft used electronic warfare capabilities to down the small drone in less than 15 minutes,” Erika Yepsen, Air Force Spokeswoman, told Scout Warrior.
While James did not elaborate on the specifics of any electronic warfare techniques, these kinds of operations often involve the use of “electronic jamming” techniques to interrupt or destroy the signal controlling enemy drones.
Some of the top robots in the world competed last week in a competition that tested their ability to respond to disasters. There were some contenders that succeeded and will be remembered as trailblazers in disaster response. These other robots performed … well, Skynet will need to keep looking before it builds its army.
Al Qaeda behind the scenes is both crazier and more mundane than most would expect. On the one hand, they fill out expense reports and submit job applications. On the other hand, they’re terrorists who use video games to train. This video from AllTime10s lists some of lesser known and surprising details of Al Qaeda.
It’s just one of those things – Israel didn’t take responsibility, but everyone seems to know it was Israel. Iran’s nuclear scientists seem to keep dying in explosions. The Natanz centrifuges keep finding ways to go out of commission, either from computer viruses, mysterious explosions, or this time, due to a blackout.
It happens so often, even Israeli media back in Tel Aviv seem to know Mossad’s work when they see it.
On April 11, 2021, centrifuges at Natanz, Iran’s main nuclear material production site suffered a catastrophic blackout, which may have been caused by an explosion. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the Israeli government of sabotaging the plant with an act of “nuclear terrorism.”
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied any responsibility for the incident. Nor has it ever confirmed or denied responsibility for any one of the many Iranian nuclear scientists who have died from explosions, poisonous gas leaks, or a one-ton automated gun. At least seven Iranian nuclear scientists have met a mysterious fate since 2007.
But killing nuclear scientists haven’t been the only setbacks for the Iranian nuclear program. Aside from their deaths and the latest setback, a fire at the facility in August of 2020 caused the temporary shutdown of the Iranian enrichment program. In 2010, a virus called Stuxnet caused chaos at the facility, forcing sensitive equipment to spin out of control and overheat.
The blackout, which may sound harmless, may still have done untold damage to the centrifuges at the facility.
“Since the first-generation centrifuges are very sensitive and precise devices, it is likely that the sudden power outage damaged 5,000 of them and made them unusable,” Behrooz Bayat said in an interview with VOA Persian on Monday. Bayat is a consultant with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. “This does not mean that they cannot be repaired, but it will take months, and Iran’s enrichment program will be postponed.”
The incident comes just days before the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin landed in Israel for a historic meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Benny Gantz. It also comes at the heels of talks between the U.S. and Iran for rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.
“The diplomatic discussions that have been taking place … we expect them to be difficult and long,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told Voice of America. “We have not been given any indication about a change in participation for these discussions.”
Iran stopped short of officially blaming Israel for the blackout, but has promised future retribution for the repeated attacks. Originally built in a bunker to protect it from an air attack, external forces have to get creative in hitting the Natanz facility. Iran is now rebuilding the entire facility deep inside a nearby mountain, south of the capital of Tehran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often described Iran as the premier threat to the nation of Israel, a sentiment echoed by many Israeli officials
“The Tehran of today poses a strategic threat to international security, to the entire Middle East and to the state of Israel,” Gantz said. “And we will work closely with our American allies to ensure that any new agreement with Iran will secure the vital interests of the world, of the United States, prevent a dangerous arms race in our region, and protect the state of Israel.”
Attacks on the Natanz facility or any part of Iran’s nuclear program are not likely to stop anytime soon.
After leaving the Marine Corps, Chloe Mondesir was bit by the acting bug. She moved to Los Angeles with her daughter to pursue her acting dream and found success by surprise. Here’s her unusual Hollywood story.
Chloe says she initially joined the Marines specifically because everyone told her it would be too hard, that she was too small to succeed there. Her coworker had been a former Marine whose husband was a recruiter, and one day she told him she was coming with him to his office. “It was the easiest recruit he’d ever gotten,” she laughs.
She continued to refuse to balk from things that might have been difficult, so when someone suggested she audition for a play after she left the Marine Corps, she went despite her fear and got the part. Once she got a small taste of acting, she was ready to go full throttle.
A year after she had made up her mind, she moved to Los Angeles with her three-year-old, who, fittingly, has a huge personality. Without any contacts in the area and no one to babysit, her daughter came with her to auditions.
On one for a national commercial shoot, the casting director said that while Chloe wasn’t what they were looking for, her daughter was, and after a short audition, she instantly booked the part.
When she brings her daughter to her photoshoot, their bond is so obvious and their energy infectious. Check out their shoot in the video above.
The idea of winning hearts and minds dates back decades. Higher command believes that if allied forces do favors for and give material gifts to the enemy, they’ll be influenced by the acts of kindness and, perhaps, change their way of thinking.
Since that plan rarely works, many ground troops will appeal to the enemies’ children, thinking they can steer them over to the good side while they’re impressionable. In America, the idea of strange men giving candy to little kids is reprehensible, but on deployment, it’s cool.
However, in a country like Afghanistan, where most of the population is dirt poor, little kids have no problem with walking up to a patrol and asking an infantryman for “chocolate,” which means they’ll take any candy you have.
Sure, the kids usually have good intentions, but there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t give them those sugary snacks from your MRE.
Lance Cpl. Randy B. Lake talks to some children during a foot patrol.
(Photo by Marine Cpl. Adam C. Schnell)
It might piss off their parents
Some Afghan parents don’t want their kids socializing with American troops because they don’t want the bad guys to see it happening — or they just flat-out hate America.
The last thing a grunt wants to hear is a potential Taliban member screaming at them.
What if the kids have allergies?
Some kids are allergic to chocolate, coconuts, or peanuts — and you can be sure that they won’t read the nutritional facts to see what’s in the small treat you gave them. Most of the kids think all candy is called chocolate and they want that piece you have stowed away in your cargo pocket. Once they get it, they just pop it in their mouth.
If they eat that bite-sized Snickers bar you gave them, suddenly go into anaphylactic shock, and their airway closes, you’ve just made the local populous even more pissed off than they already are at you for being in their country.
It’s hard to learn a little trust, but easy to place an explosive in a poorly placed dump pouch.
A friendship going bad
Grunts are people, too, and they have one or two strands humanity floating around in their bloodstreams — somewhere. Frequently, the infantryman will notice a little kid who reminds him of someone back home. In this moment, they might “bro down” a little and give them some candy.
However, Marines wear dump pouches that they use to put things in, like empty magazines or extra bottles of water. There could be a time where their new little friend sneaks up to them, discreetly steals something out of the dump pouch (or puts a ticking grenade in there) and takes off running.
That troop could die because he trusted that little sh*t. We’re speaking from experience here.
They might sell it for drugs
Countless kids we encountered on patrol while in Afghanistan were high off their asses. They were entertaining as hell, yes, but doped out of their minds. It’s possible that the piece of candy you gave them was what they need to sell to get the cash to buy their next fix.
We could put a photo of some Afghan kids getting lit below, but this article isn’t supposed to depress anyone… right?
It would’ve taken one launch officer who wasn’t right in the head to trigger a nuclear war and start World War III. For nearly two decades, the nuclear launch code was “000000000000,” according to Dr. Bruce G. Blair in his 2004 article “Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark.”
In the documentary Countdown to Zero, Dr. Blair describes the launch sequence and the device into which the code was entered:
When I was serving in the Air Force as a launch officer there was a device in the launch control center into which 12 digits had to be dialed in to unlock the missiles from firing. This had been installed under Robert McNamara over the objections of the Strategic Air Command. Since they couldn’t prevent the panel from being installed the strategic air command in Omaha had set these codes to zero and we all knew it. That was the secret unlock code for firing our missiles, twelve zeros. In fact in our launch checklist we had to ensure that the unlock code was set to all zeros before we completed the launch sequence.
One of the greatest rivalries in college football is Army vs. Navy. And Midshipman Rylan Tuohy has stepped up the game.
Whether on the field or cheering their teams along, both Army and Navy take winning this particular game very seriously. And the rivals are calling each other out through clever videos such as Rylan’s Suit and Tie parody. Six points to Navy for this one. Rylan is just as talented a singer as he is a United States Naval Academy midshipman.
By 2030, the United States Marine Corps might look a little different from the Marine Corps of today. According to a 180-page document released by Breaking Defense, there’s an aggressive strategy in place to redesign the sea service in less than 10 years.
Called the “Tentative Manual For Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations,” the Corps is going to be overhauled to focus on the challenges posed by an emerging China and a newly-aggressive Russia.
The Marine Corps newest iteration, according to the unreleased manual, is going to create small units to focus on individual small unit capabilities, specifically air defense, anti-ship warfare, fighting for control of small, temporary bases all in an “island-hopping” campaign in the Pacific.
If that sounds familiar, that was the strategy used by the United States Marine Corps and Navy during World War II in the Pacific, meant to check the expansion of Imperial Japan. That plan was itself based on Operational Plan 712: Advanced Base Operations in Micronesia, one of the Marine Corps’ foundational doctrines.
Instead of massive invasions like the ones seen on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, however, the Marines will be called in to capture or construct small bases to launch missiles or use as resupply stations as Marines and Naval forces operate throughout the Pacific Theater.
“The scale of the problem today cannot be met by merely refining current methods and capabilities,” the manual reads.
The Marine Corps also isn’t limited to the technology of days past, either. The Corps will use precision-guided missiles, unmanned aerial and seaborne vehicles, and any other innovations that would make movement between islands and contesting islands more practical and decisive.
One of the first signs of developing this newly-oriented, more agile Marine Corps will come in the 2022 defense budget requests from the Marine Corps. The document predicts the Corps will want a hundred Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessels available for use, along with Light Amphibious Warships in Littoral Maneuver Squadrons.
It will also list Navy-Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS) batteries, hundreds of anti-ship Naval Strike Missiles with a 115-mile range built on the chassis of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
This document is said to outline Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s very fast timeline to reconstruct the Marine Corps and its combat roles. Combat teams will be roughly battalion-sized, according to Breaking Defense, and will see at least three Marine Littoral Regiments stood up in the Pacific within the coming years. Each will be responsible for multiple versions of these small bases.
The bases will be “conducting sustained operations to enable fleet operations via sea denial” and be a supply and refueling point for units “conducting major combat operations,” the article says.
Marines operating at these “ad hoc” bases will be protected from advanced aircraft and advanced ballistic weapons by Marine air wings, communications, and ground-based air defenses.
One of the reasons the “Tentative Manual For Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations” is being taken so seriously is that unlike many other so-called “concept papers” from military branch leaders, this document is painstakingly detailed over 200 pages, covering everything from joint force interoperability to command and control oversight, as well as the size and roles of individual Marine Corps units.
Read more about the newer, smaller, and more agile Marine Corps from the original at Breaking Defense.
The Greek town of Vrontados on the island of Chios has an Easter tradition they call Rouketopolemos, which literally means Rocket War.
This annual event pits two rival parishes against each other by firing tens of thousands of home-made rockets at the opposing side’s bell tower. The next day, both congregations count the direct hits to determine the winner, but no matter the results, each parish claims victory. Since both sides end in disagreement, they agree to settle the score next year, thus perpetuating the rivalry.
The origins of this tradition are unclear, but one popular story states that it was born from the Turkish occupation of Greece. People from the island were prohibited from celebrating Easter the way they used to. So, the Christians from the churches of San Maria and San Marco decided to have a fake war with rockets to keep the Turkish away. Frightened by the sudden violence, the Turkish kept their distance. In the meantime, the communities celebrated Easter they way they were accustomed to, according to Rocketwar.
The midnight rocket war is truly a spectacle, the action begins at 3:40 of this video:
In the late 1950s, Kubrick became so concerned about the possibility of nuclear war that he read over 50 books on the subject. One of those books was Peter George’s Red Alert, which a friend had recommended. Mesmerized by the novel, he purchased the rights and began developing a reality-based thriller called Edge of Doom based on Red Alert.
But as he wrote the lighter side of armageddon emerged. “He kept coming across various aspects of the story that weren’t tragic but were comic,” said film critic Alexander Walker. “For example, if a man learns of nuclear annihilation in his office, the result is a documentary. When he’s in his living room, it’s a social drama. When he’s in the bathroom, it’s a comedy.”
Kubrick chose the latter, and the result is Dr. Strangelove. The film holds the record for being the 24th greatest comedic film of all time on Total Film magazine and has a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
This video is an interesting look into how the movie was made. Watch: