The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world - We Are The Mighty
Intel

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world

  • In April, Coast Guard ships had close encounters in the Persian Gulf and sailed into the Black Sea.
  • The missions reflect the Coast Guard’s role overseas, set to grow amid competition with China.
  • But that will add to the service’s responsibilities as it balances current missions and future needs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Encounters far from home in April underscored the US Coast Guard’s growing overseas role, which is set to expand as more attention and resources are dedicated to countering China.

On April 2, an Iranian ship repeatedly sailed in front of Coast Guard patrol boats Wrangell and Monomoy at “an unnecessarily close range” as they operated in the Persian Gulf, which the US deemed “unsafe and unprofessional.”

Three weeks later, Iranian vessels again approached US ships — Navy patrol boat Firebolt and Coast Guard patrol boat Baranof — in the Gulf. After verbal warnings to the Iranian ships went unheeded, Firebolt fired warning shots.

Wrangell, Monomoy, and Baranof are all based in Bahrain as part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the Coast Guard’s largest unit outside the US, which was set up in 2002 to support operations in the Middle East.

Hours after Baranof’s encounter, the Coast Guard cutter Hamilton sailed into the Black Sea, where longstanding tensions increased this spring, amid a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Iranian ship Harth 55, left, crosses the bow of US Coast Guard patrol boat Monomoy, right, in the Persian Gulf, April 2, 2021. 

Hamilton had escorted two cutters sailing from the US to join Patrol Forces Southwest Asia but remained in Europe, sailing into the Black Sea on April 27. Russia’s Defense Ministry said that day that its Black Sea Fleet was monitoring Hamilton’s “actions.”

Hamilton is the first Coast Guard vessel to enter the Black Sea since 2008 and is “emblematic of our presence in the Black Sea,” Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, said in response to a question from Insider at an Atlantic Council event on April 29.

The Coast Guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security, not the Defense Department, but it often works with other branches of the US military and with foreign militaries.

“We particularly appreciate the Coast Guard’s ability to cooperate with other equivalent services … around the world, but in this case in the Black Sea,” Cooper said.

Cooper echoed Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz, who said in March that while the service hadn’t operated in Europe “in a good number of years,” the deployment suited its ability to cooperate and compete.

“I think the Coast Guard brings access. The Coast Guard brings a different look. The Coast Guard brings some unique, complimentary capabilities,” Schultz told reporters after his annual address to the service.

‘We’re going to push them out’

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
A Turkish coast guard boat escorts the Hamilton in the Mediterranean Sea, April 27, 2021. 

The Coast Guard often ventures long distances to enforce US laws and help other countries assert their own.

Coast Guard ships patrol the eastern Pacific Ocean to intercept drug smugglers. Cutters were deployed to Africa’s Atlantic coast to assist countries there in 2019 and 2020 for the first time in nearly a decade. In late 2020, a cutter was deployed on a South Atlantic patrol for the first time “in recent memory.”

The Coast Guard’s presence in the western Pacific Ocean is also increasing amid broader competition with China.

Since mid-2020, the service has stationed three new fast-response cutters in Guam, a US territory. Those ships have “about a 10,000-mile reach,” Schultz said in March.

“We’re going to push them out to some of the outer reaches of Oceania. We’re going to team them up with national security cutters on occasion,” Schultz added, referring to the service’s largest cutters, which include Hamilton.

Many recent Coast Guard operations have focused on countering illegal fishing, a growing source of friction with China. In December, a Coast Guard cutter helped Palau apprehend a Chinese vessel suspected of illegal fishing.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
US Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Japanese Coast Guard ship Akitsushima during an exercise near Japan’s Ogasawara Islands, February 21, 2021. 

Coast Guard ships also work with the US Navy in the region. In May 2019, a Coast Guard cutter transited the Taiwan Strait for the first time, sailing alongside a Navy destroyer.

“I just think those lines are going to thicken,” Schultz said of Navy-Coast Guard cooperation.

The Navy’s operational tempo “has been very high for a considerable period … so it’s not surprising that they’d reach out and try to supplement” with the Coast Guard, said Michael Desch, a professor and international-security expert at Notre Dame.

But the Coast Guard’s more overt role comes as the US military’s service branches balance resources between current missions and modernization.

The Coast Guard has a number of domestic responsibilities and a growing role in the increasingly accessible Arctic but didn’t see the same budget increases as other branches did during the Trump administration.

While the Coast Guard is very capable and often better suited than the Navy to work with foreign forces, the growing workload should raise questions about the scope of US commitments, Desch said.

The recent encounters “seem to be indicative of the fact that we’re being stretched by all the things that we’re doing,” Desch told Insider. “Rather than throwing everything we’ve got but the kitchen sink at some of these missions, we ought to ask ourselves, are these missions really essential?”

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

Intel

Military experience helped this Marine Corps veteran become a model and entrepreneur

Destiny Monique is a Marine Corps veteran who used her military experience to break into modeling and acting. She has appeared in tons of magazines domestically and abroad and now owns her own modeling company.


In this Spotlight episode, Marine Corps veteran turned professional photographer Cedric Terrell tells Destiny Monique’s unusual transition story.

Destiny spent four years in the Marines stationed at Camp Pendleton, with her service also taking her to Iraq and Kuwait. When she entered the acting and modeling industry, she knew that there was plenty of competition. So she used her military resume to her advantage, and booked plenty of magazine spreads, taking her as far as Spain, over the following years.

She took her experience with her career to start a company called Models for America. With her modeling network, she photographs models for trading cards and posters and sells the works online, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

NOW: This veteran’s Army and Air Force experience made him the perfect host for a military TV show

OR: For years ‘The Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart has given veterans their big showbiz breaks

Articles

This Rifle Can Turn Anyone Into An American Sniper

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Photo: TrackingPoint


Your accuracy is guaranteed with Tracking Point’s high-powered, precision-guided rifles.

“Every shot you take is going to land exactly where you send it,” said Anson Gordon – TrackingPoint‘s marketing lead – in an interview with Engadget.

Also Read: The Pentagon Is Developing A Dirt Bike That Barely Makes A Sound

The technology behind these rifles takes a shooter’s experience, skill, and environment factors out of the equation. Simply tag your target and squeeze the trigger. It’s that simple. The same tracking and fire-control capabilities found in advanced fighter jets are incorporated into these rifles, according to TrackingPoint.

“Being proficient at Call of Duty or Battlefield takes more practice and skill than firing a weapon in the real world does now,” reported Timothy for Engadget. “This is the future we live in.”

The rifle also has a password-protected firing mechanism, which doesn’t fire until you’ve aligned the rifle with your target. It also features the ability to video stream, which allows you to share the view from the scope to any device connected to the Internet.

This three-minute video demonstrates how the rifle works:

NOW: DARPA Is Making A Real-Life Terminator (Seriously)

AND: This Is The Vehicle Lamborghini Designed For The Military

Intel

Here are a few more reasons not to be a deserter (in case you needed them)

The maximum punishment for desertion during a time of war is death. But it’s highly unlikely Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who allegedly left his Afghanistan post in 2009, or any troop today would receive that sentence. The last service member executed for desertion was Pvt. Eddie Slovik in 1945 (by a twelve-man firing squad).


There were over 20,000 American military deserters between 2006 and 2015. Of those, about 2,000 have been prosecuted.

This short TestTube News video explains the severity of desertion and its place in military history.

Watch:

Intel

This guy on roller blades firing an AK-47 is the best combat footage you’ll see all day

If you need to cross a danger area, why run when you can just skate?


That seemed to be the reasoning shown in this video, which purportedly shows a Libyan rebel wearing roller blades in the middle of a firefight. The fighter points his AK and fires off a few rounds as he crosses the street, which the opposing side can probably claim as a drive-by shooting.

Watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52x9zn79ovE

(h/t Funker 530)

Articles

‘Timbuktu’ Is One Of The Most Important Movies Ever Made About Terrorism

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Photo: Youtube/screenshot


Violent jihadism as a governing ideology has been a significant feature of the global scene for nearly two decades.

There are certainly differences between say, the nature Al Shabaab’s control over Somalia in the early 2010s, the Taliban state’s governance of Afghanistan from 1996 until the US-led invasion in 2001, and ISIS’s “caliphate” in the present day.

But militant groups spurred by a combination of religious radicalism, violent disenchantment with the existing state system, revisionist philosophies of Islamic history, and a rejection of secularism and Enlightenment value systems have morphed into territorial political units with alarming frequency in recent years.

One such instance was in Mali in early 2012, when jihadists piggybacked on a long-simmering Tuareg autonomy movement — itself empowered by the collapse of Mali’s government in the wake of a shocking military coup — in order to take control of several population centers in Mali’s desert north. Among them was Timbuktu, a legendary center of trade and Islamic scholarship.

The jihadist occupation of Timbuktu was brutal but thankfully brief: In early 2013, a French-led coalition liberated the city after 10 months of militant control. Now, the rule of Al Qaeda-allied militants over the city is the topic of what might be the important movie of the past year.

The hypnotic and visually overwhelming “Timbuktu,” the work of Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako and an Oscar nominee for best foreign language film, is an intimate and terrifying inquiry into one of the defining authoritarian ideologies of the 21st century, as told from the perspective of the people who are actually suffering under its yoke. (The film is currently playing in New York and LA and will open in various other US cities in February and March.)

US movie audiences have usually met jihadists through the lenses of American sniper rifles, or lying prone in front of CIA interrogators. “Timbuktu” is hardly the only movie that’s portrayed them as political and social actors. “Osama,” a multi-national production about a girl living in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan that won the 2004 Golden Globe award for best foreign-language film, and Iranian director Moshen Makhmalbaf’s highly regarded “Kandahar,” about a Afghan woman who sneaks into Taliban Afghanistan to try to stop her sister from committing suicide, succeed in giving viewers a first-hand look at the societies that jihadists create and the horrors this visits upon the people trapped in them.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Photo: Youtube/screenshot

In the wake of ISIS’s takeover of a Belgium-sized slice of the Middle East, “Timbuktu” has more immediate resonance than either of those films. The movie opens with a pickup truck of fighters flying a black flag nearly identical to ISIS’s. As the opening credits roll, the fighters eviscerate a row of traditional figurines in a hail of machine-gun fire.

But the firmest sign that jihadist rule is something external, alien, and deeply unwanted comes in the next scene, when gun-toting fighters enter a mud-brick mosque without taking their shoes off. They tell the imam that they have come to wage jihad. The imam replies that in Timbuktu, people wage jihad (which has the double meaning of spiritual reflection and self-purification, in addition to earthly holy war) with their minds and not with guns.

The next hour and a half is a grisly survey of what happened when this 1400-year-old precedent was inverted.

The jihadists ban music — one of the most celebrated aspects of Malian culture — and then whip violators in public. They ban soccer, and then break up a group of children miming a game in silent protest. The jihadists speak a smattering of local languages and broken Arabic; their leader bans smoking only to sneak cigarettes under the cover of the town’s surrounding sand dunes.

In one of the more illustrative scenes, a female fish seller is told by one jihadist that women can no longer appear in public without wearing gloves. She explains to him that she can’t work unless she’s barehanded and then dares the fighter to cut her hands off on the spot.

In “Timbuktu,” the jihadists are power-tripping, thuggish and hypocritical. They are in the city to create a totally new kind of society and revel in their own insensitivity to local concerns.

But crucially they are not entirely outsiders, and some of the film’s most affecting scenes involve a Tuareg who joins with the jihadists occupying the town, a reminder that there are local dynamics at play. Just as importantly, the film hints at the context of state collapse and social chaos that allowed the jihadists to take over in the first place.

The movie’s primary narrative follows a Tuareg herder who accidentally kills a fisherman from a different ethnic group during an argument over his cows’ access to drinking water along a disputed riverbank. The film’s central conflict encapsulates the unresolved questions of ethnicity and resources that kept northern Mali in a state of crisis that the jihadists later exploited.

The herder’s treatment at the hands of Timbuktu’s new overlords depicts the imposition of an an outside ideology. But the killing is itself is a pointed example of how social turmoil can feed into a violent, totalitarian mania seemingly without warning. It harkens back to ISIS’s swift takeover of Iraq this past summer, a national-level instance of the dynamics that “Timbuktu” manages to boil down to an intimate, dramatic scale.

“Timbuktu” has a happy ending. Even if it isn’t part of the movie, the city was eventually liberated from jihadist control. The film depicts a now-extinct regime.

But the nightmare of “Timbuktu” is far from over. The liberation of the areas that ISIS rules will come at some indeterminate future date, and parts of Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria are still under the control of extremists whose ideologies are not categorically different from what appears in the film.

“Timbuktu” is maybe the best cinematic depiction ever made of what millions of people around the world are suffering through.

More from Business Insider:

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

Intel

This forgotten Cold War-era technology is actually alive and well

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Image: YouTube


During the Cold War, the Soviets exploited the ground effect phenomenon by creating some of the largest and fastest vehicles of the time called “Ekranoplans.” They were not quite airplanes or hovercraft but something else in between known as Ground Effect Vehicles (GEVs).

Related: These Soviet airplanes were built to fly fast right over the surface of water

Although the technology already existed, they took it to the next level by scaling these vehicles to three-quarters of a football field, weighing more than 350 tons and traveling at speeds beyond 400 miles per hour.

The technology was reportedly used from 1987 to the late 1990s. There was a transport version, a battle version, and even a hospital version of the Ekranoplan. The last of its kind was 90 percent complete when funding ran out. It now sits unused at a naval station in Kaspiysk off the Caspian Sea.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Image: Google Maps, Orvelin Valle

Today, the ground effect technology is making a come back in small hobby vehicles and glorified water taxis. GEVs are fuel and power efficient and become even more economical as they get bigger, according to the video below. “In theory, wing in ground effect works better as the craft gets bigger, so a really big craft would be very, very efficient. That’s where the economics starts to make sense and you can start to build a business out of it.”

This video shows how ground effect technology is making a comeback decades since the Cold War.

Watch:

YouTube, Science Channel

Intel

Taliban interrupts soldiers’ cookout, soldiers care less and keep grilling

Nothing comes between a man and a perfectly-grilled steak. Not even enemy fire.


Though this video is a few years old, it’s been making the rounds once again on various military blogs and Facebook pages (we found this one via Brian Jones at Task Purpose).

The video shows a group of soldiers grilling some steaks at OP Vegas in the Korengal Valley, according to the description. But while they are cooking up their delightful meal, the bad guys decide to start shooting.

While many of the soldiers begin to fire back, at least a couple stick around for the more important task of not overcooking the steaks. “The steaks are fine, that’s all that matters,” one soldier says in the video.

Watch (language warning):

SEE ALSO: The 6 types of people you meet outside of every military base

Articles

The Most Famous Photograph Of World War II Was Taken 70 Years Ago

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world


The most famous photograph of World War II was taken 70 years ago at the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Just five days into a battle that would last a total of 35 days, Marines scaled Mount Suribachi and planted the American flag. Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal was there to capture it on Feb. 23, 1945.

Also Read: The Battle Of Iwo Jima Began 70 Years Ago — Here’s How It Looked When Marines Hit The Beach 

Via CNN:

It might be hard today to comprehend how a single image can become iconic, exposed as we are to streams of photographs and videos every day from our news and social media feeds. But Rosenthal’s image resonated with all who saw it and was swiftly reproduced on U.S. government stamps and posters, in sandstone (on Iwo Jima, by the Seabee Waldron T. Rich) and most famously in bronze, as the Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington. The photograph won a Pulitzer Prize in 1945 and is considered one of the most famous images of all time.

Rosenthal’s image was the second raising of the flag on Suribachi that day. A few hours before the famous image was captured, a Marine photographer captured the first flag raising, which saw much less fanfare. The first, and smaller flag, was taken down and replaced since a U.S. commander thought it was not large enough to be seen at a distance, reports CNN.

There were five Marines and one Navy corpsman who raised the second flag. Although the image was thought to represent triumph and American might, it was also a reminder just how deadly the battle for Iwo really was. Three of the six photographed would later lose their lives on that island.

According to the The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, American military planners thought the battle would only be a few days. Instead, it dragged on for five weeks, at a cost of more than 6,800 American lives. The Japanese lost more than 18,000.

NOW: 21 Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photos That Capture The Essence Of War 

OR: This Guy Kept Fighting The War For 30 Years After Japan Surrendered 

Intel

6 reasons the Air Force wants to get its hands on Russian DNA

On Jul. 19, 2017, the Air Force posted a request on FedBizOpps, the U.S. government’s contracting opportunities site, looking for price quotes on how much it would cost to acquire 12 each fresh frozen normal human Synovial tissue and Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) samples. So why do they want Russian DNA? 


 

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Let me google that for you.

The samples must be free of sexually transmitted diseases and musculoskeletal injuries. The most interesting part was the requirement that all the samples be from Russia and be Caucasian – Ukrainian blood, RNA, and tissue samples will not be accepted. This recently raised a few eyebrows in Russia.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Two in particular.

 

The Air Force says it’s for trauma research. But Putin’s theory is that the U.S. is developing a biogenetic weapon that only works on Russian people, a weapon would use the unique genetic code of an ethnic Russian to inflict pain and physical damage.

No weapon like this has ever proved to actually exist. So what could the Air Force actually want?

1. They want to solve the Anastasia Romanov mystery.

You know what I mean. If you’re anywhere near the age of 30, chances are good you’ve heard the story of the last Tsar of Russia’s “missing” daughter, Anastasia.

 

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
And you heard it in his voice. Oh god, why is he at a carousel?? WHY?!

It’s a well-known fact that the Tsar’s Russian Imperial family was murdered by Communists, gunned down, bayoneted, and clubbed in a basement somewhere near Yekaterinburg. Somehow, the story goes, the 17-year-old Duchess survived, escaped, and fled to America. In the intervening years, many women have come forward, claiming to be the lost Anastasia Romanov.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Anastasia at the time of her death (left) and what she might look like today, almost 100 years later (right).

 

It might be time for the Air Force to settle the mystery once and for all. And maybe find a real claim to the throne. Who loves America.

2. Better digestion.

Have you eaten an MRE lately? Are you still waiting for it to digest? I ate a chicken tetrazzini MRE in 2006 and I’m still upset about it. But do you know who seems like they can digest anything? Russians. Especially Russian soldiers. Look at what they get served in their DFACs.

Yet, the Russian Army still runs on its galvanized steel stomach. Maybe in basic training they’ll stop putting salt peter in the gatorade and switch to hearty Russian gut bacteria.

Also Read: 4 Myths with military roots

3. To see how well it make the grass grow.

If you’ve ever spent a day in the U.S. military, you probably know what makes the grass grow. Maybe Russian blood can help the cabbage grow, too.

 

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
GUYS. They love this sh*t.

4. Whatever is happening here.

Seriously, who is this woman from the meme? Is she really Russian? And what purpose will tossing tree trunks serve? Are we planning to invade Scotland and fight on their terms?

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world

5. Seriously, a biological weapon.

It would help immensely to be able to expel ethnic Russians from Ukraine without killing Ukrainians. Or anyone else for that matter. Imagine a war where only the enemy dies.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
(Laughs in Mongol)

Except the Russian Army is as genetically diverse as the American Army. Many countries in the former Soviet Union are still very friendly to Russia and fiercely pro-Russian. Non-Russians have joined its military since the days of the Soviet Union.

6. No, really. Trauma research.

Human synovial tissue is an incredibly specific request, judging by my time researching medical things and then asking my pathologist ex-girlfriend what those big words mean.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Still looks like sushi, Dr. A.

Although the Russian request is tricky to explain, given that you can buy the tissue online now.

But the Air Force says, “the supplier originally provided samples from Russia, suitable for the initial group of diseases, the control group of the samples should also be of Russian origin. The goal is the integrity of the study, not the origin (of the samples).”

Intel

These American veterans are fighting against ISIS — for very different reasons

As ISIS continues to expand its reach in Iraq and Syria, a small but growing number of U.S. veterans and foreign fighters from around the world have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the fight against the terrorist group.


Every fighter has their own reasons for joining the fight, but for former Army Ranger Bruce Windorski, 40, and Marine Corps veteran Jamie Lane, 29, the fight is personal. Windorski is fighting to avenge the death of his brother – Philip Windorsky – who was killed when Iraqi insurgents shot down the Army helicopter he was traveling in during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009.

Lane is fighting to avenge the sacrifices of his fellow Marines and to keep the promise he made to the locals during a previous tour with the Marine Corps, according to this Wall Street Journal video.

The video shows real combat footage from Windorski and Lane’s GoPro mounted cameras.

Watch:

NOW: General briefs Congress that fight against ISIS is a total mess

OR: Bin Laden shooter Robert O’Neill threatened by ISIS as ‘number one target’

Intel

How sports signals are basic espionage tradecraft

How does a runner on second know when he should steal third? Does a batter automatically know when to bunt? When does a quarterback call an audible – and how can he communicate that play without the other team knowing just what he saw in their defense? Hand signals and codes are simple ciphers designed to communicate a simple message. It’s no different from what intelligence agents have been doing since days of Julius Caesar.


Sports teams have been using encrypted signals since before World War I. Most famously, the 1951 Giants put a man with a telescope in center field to read the opposing teams calls and signals. The Giants overcame an almost 14-game deficit that year to force a playoff with the Brooklyn Dodgers. From the Giants’ center field manager’s office, coach Herman Franks relayed the opposite teams’ signs to the bullpen using an electric buzzer system. The catcher’s call would then be relayed to the batter.

The scheme was simple intelligence tradecraft.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Simple, right?

“These are simple messages being sent,” says Dr. Vince Houghton, the curator and historian of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. “They take a basic step of encryption, the way an army encrypts tactical plans to attack or defend. You can let the enemy know what you’re going to do next, so you can’t send these messages in the clear.”

The reason the ’51 Giants encrypted their signals was the same reason they climbed back into the playoffs: unencrypted messages were easy to intercept, which made it so their hitters knew what the pitcher would do, giving them a huge advantage.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
The incident would later be made into the film ‘Bat 2-1’u00a0starring Gene Hackman and Danny Glover. (TriStar Pictures)

The relationship between sports cryptography and the military can go the other way, too. In Vietnam, Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton was shot down in an EB-66 near the North-South Vietnam Demilitarized Zone. This was literally the worst situation for military intelligence. Hambleton not only had the intelligence vital to the Vietnam War, but the U.S. military’s entire Cold War-World War III contingency plans. If he was captured by the North Vietnamese, they would be able to give the Soviets the entire Strategic Air Command war plans.

Hambleton survived and the NVA knew exactly how valuable he was. While looking for extraction, he had to evade the NVA patrols looking for him while making his way to the rescue area. The problem was he had to be told how to get there over the radio – and an unencrypted radio was all he had.

Knowing Hambleton was crazy about golf – perhaps the best in the U.S. Air Force – the military fed him the info he needed to move using a simple substitution cypher. It took Hambleton a half-hour to figure out what they were doing.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
The real-world Iceal Hambleton (U.S. Air Force)

“Instead of telling him to move south 100 meters, they would tell him to walk the first hole on Pebble Beach,” says Dr. Houghton. “He was tracked by using descriptions of golf course holes he knew well.”

Other codes included playing 18 holes, starting on No. 1 at Tucson National.

“They were giving me distance and direction,” Hambleton later explained. “No. 1 at Tucson National is 408 yards running southeast. They wanted me to move southeast 400 yards. The ‘course’ would lead me to water.”

Unlike using a radio, sports code has to be done in plain sight — that’s where the hand signals come in to play.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world

Check out the International Spy Museum if you’re in the DC area or just take a look around their website for tons of fascinating spy history. You can catch more of Dr. Vince Houghton on the International Spy Museum’s weekly podcast, Spycast, on iTunes and AudioBoom.

For tickets to visit the exhibits and see the largest collection of espionage-related artifacts ever placed on public display, visit https://www.spymuseum.org/tickets/. Also, there’s a $6.00 military discount!

Intel

How US special operators use a Vietnam War-era method to get into and out of dangerous spots quickly

  • During the Vietnam War, US commandos developed an insertion and extraction method that is still used today.
  • Now, with conflict in Southeast or East Asia a growing prospect, its an increasingly relevant but still risky method.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

During the Vietnam War, American commandos developed an insertion and extraction method for operations in the jungle that is still used by today’s special operators.

The Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction (SPIE) system is designed for small special-operations teams that operate in areas where an enemy presence or the terrain prevents helicopters from landing.

The SPIE technique hasn’t been used operationally for decades, in part because US air superiority and lackluster enemy anti-aircraft capabilities have meant it wasn’t needed.

But as the US military gears up for great-power competition against near-peer adversaries, like China and Russia, the SPIE technique is relevant again, especially in a potential conflict in the Pacific.

Warriors of the jungle

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
SOG recon team members dangling in mid-air after being evacuated from the jungle. 

The SPIE system can be traced to the rope insertion and extraction techniques of the Vietnam War. It was the innocuous sounding Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) that invented and used the method.

A highly classified unit, SOG took the fight to the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong, conducting cross-border operations into Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam—where US troops officially shouldn’t have been.

Composed of Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Recon Marines, Air Commandos, and indigenous forces, SOG tried to stop the onslaught from the North and give South Vietnam some breathing space.

SOG’s classified operations mainly took place in rough and inaccessible jungle, where the NVA had built the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail complex, over which flowed supplies to their forces in South Vietnam. The terrain restricted operations and often forced SOG teams to create their own landing zones by either detonating explosives or by requesting B-52 bombing runs to create craters where helicopters could land.

But landing wasn’t always an option. Secrecy was paramount for mission success. SOG patrols of six to 14 men didn’t have a chance of survival against hundreds or thousands of NVA in an open battle.

With so few landing zones available in the jungle, and with the NVA always trying to monitor them, SOG operators came up with different techniques that didn’t require landing.

Ropes away

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Recon Marines practicing SPIE insertions and extractions. 

At the time, the SPIE terminology didn’t exist, and operators simply used the term “ropes” to refer to methods such as the STABO Extraction Harness, McGuire Rig, and “Swiss Seat.”

The STABO Extraction Harness, or STABO rig, was one of the most used. Designed for quick infiltration into and exfiltration from the jungle, the STABO rig was a mandatory piece of equipment for every recon member. It was worn throughout the mission since recon team members didn’t know if or when they would be compromised, which would often mean a frantic race to escape from superior forces.

During an extraction by ropes, the helicopter crew chief would throw ropes with a sandbag tied to one end down from a hovering helicopter. SOG commandos would hook the ropes to links on their uniforms. The helicopter would then rise straight up to clear the jungle before flying away.

Throughout the Vietnam War, ropes methods saved several lives, and their use sometimes seemed straight out of a movie.

In June 1967, a reinforced SOG company composed of Green Berets and local troops entered Laos to conduct battle-damage assessment after an airstrike on a North Vietnamese headquarters hub along the Ho Chi Minh trail complex.

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal sailors conduct a special patrol insertion/extraction exercise aboard aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, September 29, 2015. 

The roughly 100-man “Hatchet Force” came upon a strong NVA force, and a fierce battle ensued. The American commandos and their local allies were surrounded and pinned down, but their firepower saved them from being overrun.

The NVA shot down several fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft that tried to exfiltrate or support the battered SOG company. Eventually, some choppers were able to come in and exfiltrate members of the force.

During one of those trips, a Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Stallion was shot down close to the Hatchet Force’s perimeter. Somehow, Sgt. First Class Charles Wilklow survived the crash, though he was badly wounded.

The NVA captured him but, seeing his wounds, thought he only had a few hours to live. They tied him down and used him as bait for a rescue operation. Considering the certain failure of a rescue mission, SOG headquarters didn’t take the bait.

After four days, Wilklow was still alive, despite his grievous wounds. Yet the NVA didn’t guard him, believing he wouldn’t survive. Wilklow managed to free himself and crawl into the jungle at night.

The next day, a SOG forward air controller spotted an almost-dead Wilklow. He was soon extracted by ropes — despite his ordeal, he was still wearing his STABO rig.

Moving parts

The Coast Guard is taking a frontline role against US foes on the other side of the world
US Marines conduct special patrol insertion/extraction and helicopter rappel training in Okinawa, Japan, October 23, 2020. 

As tensions rise with China, and with conflict in Southeast or East Asia a growing prospect, the SPIE method is increasingly relevant, but it remains risky and inconvenient.

“[SPIE] operations are pretty dangerous, with lots of moving parts that can potentially go wrong,” a Marine Raider told Insider. “You have to watch as you exit the aircraft mid-air, and more so if you’re the first man out because you’ve got five, six, sometimes seven guys right behind you while the pilots are trying to hold position midair. You also have to account for the rotor wash in water and desert ops. You can’t see much while landing because of the sea spray or dust in the air.”

Since the SPIE technique can be used for both land and water operations, it provides special-operations units with more choices when planning operations in the Pacific theater.

For example, the SPIE technique can be used to extract Navy SEALs conducting special reconnaissance along the Chinese coast or a Special Forces detachment doing unconventional warfare in support of local forces on China’s borders.

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information