Shot by First Lt. Mike Scotti on his home camera,and told through the journal entries of Kristian Fraga, “Severe Clear” is a first-person account of the Marines who were on the front lines of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
“Here is the truth about being a Marine that you won’t find on the local news,” Scotti says behind a jiggling, hand-held camera. “We’re loud. We drink too much, fight too much and swear too much. Truth be told, our rifles are the only things we think about more than sex.”
Watch this brief clip that captures some of the ups and downs of this roller coaster documentary:
Earlier this week, defense officials from the United States and the United Kingdom signed an agreement that will allow the two nations to merge forces into a joint U.S./U.K. carrier strike group in 2021. The joint strike group will be led by the U.K.’s new flagship carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, and will include a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, as well as a compliment of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters.
“This deployment underscores the strength of our bilateral ties and demonstrates U.S.-U.K. interoperability, both of which are key tenets of the U.S. National Defense Strategy,” a Pentagon’s announcement on the agreement reads.
Carrier strike groups represent some of the most potent means of force projection in any nation’s military, made up of an aircraft carrier and assorted ships tasked with defending and supporting carrier operations. The standard U.S. Navy carrier strike group is led by one of America’s supercarriers from the Nimitz class of ships (with Ford-class carriers expected to enter operational service in the near future as well). Each carrier maintains a carrier air wing made up of as many as 70 aircraft, allowing a single ship to leverage more destructive power than some entire nations. The U.S. Navy operates F/A-18 Super Hornets and will soon fly F-35C Joint Strike Fighters from the decks of its flat tops.
That carrier is usually accompanied by at least one cruiser, two destroyers or frigates, and other ships that may support specific operations like nuclear submarines or supply ships. All told, a single American carrier strike group usually boasts more than 7,500 personnel and wields enough conventional firepower to achieve tactical and strategic objectives on a broad scale. At any given time, the United States maintains 10 such carrier strike groups around the world.
The U.K. maintains only one carrier strike group, which is smaller in scale than any of America’s. Today’s UKCSG (U.K. Carrier Strike Group) is comprised of nine total ships, including the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, two frigates, two destroyers, one replenishment ship, and a solid support ship. The Queen Elizabeth, which is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, is not nuclear powered like America’s Nimitz-class carriers and is notably smaller–displacing 65,000 tons compared to the Nimitz’s 100,000.
While the Queen’s carrier may not be as large as its American counterparts, it still packs one hell of a punch. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is capable of supporting more than 65 aircraft and intends to field between 24 and 35 F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, alongside another 14 helicopters, at any given time.
“Next year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead a British and allied task group on our most ambitious deployment for two decades,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. “We shall forward-deploy more of our naval assets in the world’s most important regions, protecting the shipping lanes that supply our nation.”
The UKCSG currently includes the HMS Diamond, HMS Defender, HMS Kent, HMS Richmond, at least one attack submarine, the RFA Fort Victoria supply ship, and a Tide-class tanker for fuel.
The HMS Diamond and the HMS Defender are both Daring-class air-defense destroyers with a suite of onboard weapon systems, including up to 48 Aster 15 and Aster 30 missiles. The Kent is a Duke-class frigate with anti-submarine torpedoes, 8 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and 32 anti-air missiles, and the Richmond is an older Type 23 frigate with a similar loadout. The subs used in the carrier strike group hail from either the older Trafalgar or the latest Astute-class of nuclear attack submarines.
In 2021, the UKCSG will be joined by the USS The Sullivans, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer homeported in Mayport, Florida. The 505-foot ship displaces around 6,800 tons and carries a crew complement of around 280. Each Arleigh Burke-class vessel can carry 56 Raytheon Tomahawk cruise missiles. Each Tomahawk can strike targets as far away as 1,550 miles.
The joint strike group will be bolstered in the air by 10 of the U.S. Marine Corps’ short take-off, vertical landing variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. While the U.S. Navy operates F-35C’s off the decks of its own flattops, the F-35B has been considered a better option for the Queen Elizabeth’s sloping deck. The F-35B is the only version of the stealth fighter that can land vertically, eliminating the need for arresting wires during landing. The U.S. Marine Corps has been operating F-35Bs off the deck of amphibious assault ships in recent years in a similar fashion, earning the colloquial name of “Lightning Carriers.”
The Snow Leopard Commando Unit is the China’s most elite counter terrorism unit, similar to America’s SEAL Team 6. Surprisingly, the unit is a federal police unit and not part of China’s Army.
Tasked with protecting the capital of Beijing, their activities are largely secret. Still, the glimpses the world gets are pretty impressive.
The unit is reported to have been established soon after China’s capital was selected for the 2008 Olympics. From 2002 to 2007, they trained in secret under the name “Snow Wolf Commando Unit.”
In 2007, their existence was finally announced just before a ceremony that changed their name to “Snow Leopard Commando Unit.” That same year, SLCU conducted some flashy training with Russian police.
SLCU continued service after the Olympic’s closing ceremonies. The elite unit is rarely reported on, but they made news in 2013 and 2014 for winning top honors at the Warrior Competition, a sort of combat Olympics held in Jordan every year.
The Chinese police very rarely leave China, but the Snow Leopard Unit does, providing security for Chinese dignitaries. They’ve also been dispatched domestically to stamp out unrest in China’s West.
Check out these shots of jets turning pounds and pounds of fuel into speed when the pilots push the throttles into afterburner.
An F/A-18C launches off of Cat 3 with both GE F-404 motors in full burner.
An Air Force F-16 launches out of Aviano, Italy at night with it’s single GE F-110 engine in full afterburner.
An F-22 Raptor makes a high-G pass at an airshow with it’s Pratt and Whitney F-119 engines at full power.
And F-15 Eagle launches with both Pratt and Whitney F-100s in full afterburner.
An F/A-18C Hornet raises the gear and starts a left hand clearing turn off the cat with vapes streaming off of the wingtips and both GE F-404s at full blower.
They didn’t call the F-14 the ‘big fighter’ for nothing. Here a Tomcat rages down Cat 1 with it’s Pratt and Whitney TF-30s at Zone 5 (full power).
A B-1 ‘Lancer’ (better known as “The Bone” — B+one . . . get it?) turns at sunset with all four GE F-110s (same engine used on models of the F-16 and F-14) in full afterburner.
An F-111B zorches over the water with wings swept aft and Pratt and Whitney TF-30 engines at full power.
Another shot of an F-14A Tomcat on the cat in afterburner.
A MiG-25 starts its takeoff roll with both Tumansky R-15B-300s at full power.
The F-35B Lightning II isn’t designed for speed as much as forward quarter lethality and survivability; but it’s single Pratt and Whitney F-135 does create a nice burner plume in this gorgeous sunset shot.
Over a decade after Marine Lance Cpl. Antonio “Tony” Sledd was killed in Kuwait — marking the first American casualty of the second Iraq War — the terrorist mastermind who was responsible has been killed.
The Pentagon reports that an aerial drone was used to take out two Kuwait men who were tied to Sledd’s death, according to Time Magazine.
Sledd was 20 years old when he was killed on Fylaka Island in October of 2002, about 20 miles east of the city of Kuwait. He and fellow Marines were training on the island, five months before the official invasion.
Sledd had been creating a makeshift baseball diamond during a break when a white truck driven by two Kuwaitis burst through the training exercise, opening fire with AK-47s. One of the men was Mushin al-Fadhli.
The 34-year-old al-Fhadli was killed in a drone strike on July 8 while he drove his vehicle through northwestern Syria.
“Al-Fadhli was the leader of a network of veteran al-Qaeda operatives, sometimes called the Khorasan Group, who are plotting external attacks against the United States and our allies,” Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. He added that al-Fadhli also was “involved” in the 2002 attack “against U.S. Marines on Faylaka Island in Kuwait.”
Marines have long dreamed of the day beloved retired Gen. James Mattis ‘finally’ takes residence in the White House, but they shouldn’t get their hopes up this campaign season.
In true Mattis fashion, the former head of U.S. Central Command gave it to ’em straight during a speech at Columbia Basin College in Washington State, letting his fans know that despite their interest, he would not be competing in the upcoming presidential race.
While many troops would love to see Mattis go up against the likes of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, he said he’d like to see others take on the challenge.
“[It’s] time for younger people, especially veterans, to run for office,” Mattis told Marine Corps Times.
That could leave many sporting “Mattis for president” T-shirts while drinking from their “Mattis in 2016” mugs disappointed. In 2012, one Marine veteran started a Facebook campaign to get voters to consider writing in Mattis’ name on their ballots.
Despite the promise of a rabid following in the veteran community, Mattis holds that he doesn’t have “a broad enough perspective” to be Commander-in-Chief, according to The Marine Corps Times.
During the initial invasion of Iraq on March 25, 2003, then-1st Lt. Brian Chontosh responded to an enemy ambush on his convoy in a way most would expect to see only in a Hollywood action movie. After being attacked by Iraqi forces with mortars, automatic weapons, and rocket-propelled grenades — and caught in the kill zone — Chontosh directed his driver to go straight toward the enemy position as his .50 cal gunner fired.
But wait, there’s more. From his citation for the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest award:
He then directed his driver into the enemy trench, where he exited his vehicle and began to clear the trench with an M16A2 service rile and 9 millimeter pistol. His ammunition depleted, First Lieutenant Chontosh, with complete disregard for his safety, twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack. When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, First Lieutenant Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers.
“I was just doing my job, I did the same thing every other Marine would have done, it was just a passion and love for my Marines, the experience put a lot into perspective,” Chontosh told Marine Corps News at his award ceremony.
When it was all over, Chontosh had cleared 200 meters of the enemy trench, killed more than 20 enemy soldiers, and wounded several others. Still, he didn’t want to take all the credit — instead commending the Marines with him that day for saving his life.
“They saved my life, multiple times that day, during the ambush,” Chontosh told Stripes. “That’s all them. If it wasn’t for them, I would be the lieutenant who would be reported as … a case of what not to do.”
Do you know someone we should highlight for the next Warrior Wednesday? Email us info [at] wearethemighty.com with their name, rank, award received, and any other information you think is relevant.
Some of their weapons were so far left field you’d think they pulled them out of a Robert Rodriguez flick. Case in point is the belt buckle pistol featured on the Forgotten Weapons YouTube channel.
The pistol—also known as the Power Pelvis Gun—was conceived by Louis Marquis during his stint in a World War I POW camp in 1915. Marquis was consumed by the idea for a concealed weapon to exert his authority over the other prisoners without drawing the attention of the guards. He patented his design in 1934 and named it the Koppelschlosspistole, but it was never mass produced because it wasn’t accurate, according to My Gun Culture.
Unlike Rodrguez’s 12-bullet cock revolver, this little pistol was practical in that it held your pants up while simultaneously being deadly in plain sight.
(By the way, how does Sofia Vergara fire this revolver? Where’s the trigger?)
The belt buckle pistol on the other hand, is pretty straight forward. The cover plate swings open to expose four barrels and firing triggers.
Re-cocking the gun is as easy as closing the barrel cover.
Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. was known for his courage and skill on the battlefield in world War II, but he was nearly as well known for his colorful character. He carried ivory-handled pistols, designed his own sword, and once burned a crate of Red Cross cash after he was offered free coffee.
Patton was moving through Bastogne, Belgium in December 1944 with one of his drivers, Francis “Jeep” Sanza. Patton spotted a Red Cross canteen truck and told Sanza to pull over.
The men got out of the Jeep and went to order food. Sanza got two crullers and a coffee, for which he was charged 10 Francs. The Red Cross worker then told Patton that he could have his snack for free. The general became angry that the Red Cross would give him special treatment but still charge his men. He demanded the woman show him the money the Red Cross had collected.
“So she takes out this orange crate filled with money, puts it down on the ground. He took out a lighter, lit one bill, let it burn and then ignited the whole box. Then he took a shovel from the Jeep and buried the ashes.”
Patton seems to have escaped punishment for his outburst, likely because his forces broke through German lines in Bastogne at the end of the same month. His success allowed 101st Airborne Division paratroopers under German siege to escape and pushed the German forces across of the Rhine River.
The TOW missile has been the go-to weapon for blowing up tanks since the Vietnam War.
The Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) missile was made by Hughes Aircraft and was initially deployed in Vietnam on Huey helicopters.
Unlike the Javelin with its fire-and-forget capability, the TOW missile system uses wires to guide its payload to targets. When the missile is launched, the optical sensor on the tube continuously monitors the position of the missile during flight, correcting its trajectory with electrical signals passed through the cables. This means that the target must be kept in the shooter’s line of sight until impact. The weapon quickly evolved into a portable system that could be fired by infantry units in the field and mounted on jeeps and other vehicles.
In 1997, Raytheon purchased Hughes from General Motors and continued to improve the TOW line. Under Raytheon, the TOW missile has evolved into a wireless version that uses a one-way radio link for guidance. It’s currently used by the Army and the Marine Corps.
Of course, tankers on the other side of the missile hate it for how it cuts through their armor. Watch:
Jordanian F-16s launched 20 airstrikes on Islamic State targets in 2015 following King Abdullah II’s declaration to wage a “harsh” war against militants from the group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or ISIS, after the brutal execution of captured Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbe.
Abdullah participating in a military special operations training exercises as Jump-Master.
The U.S. Navy is now recruiting enlisted servicewomen to serve on submarines in 2016.
This move will take the 2011 decision to integrate female officers into the submarine force one step further, assigning female chief petty officers and senior petty officers to co-ed crews.
Navy officers are reportedly optimistic about the transition process — even despite a video-taped shower scandal that took place aboard the USS Wyoming — one of the first subs to be assigned female officers in late 2011.
U.S. Air Force cadet Brett Hagan has big plans for next year’s Ring Dance.
The 23-year-old cadet recently uploaded a music video he created for none other than Taylor Swift, in the hopes that she will watch and agree to attend the formal with him in May of 2016, which celebrates promoting juniors.
The hilarious video is getting a lot of attention for its witty references to Swift’s song lyrics and Hagan’s impressive performance.
Despite her mega-star status, Hagan is hopeful that the starlet will “just say yes.”
“We could get to show her all the awesome things we do here. All the different mission we do here and she gets the full experience of what it means to be an Air Force Academy Cadet, not a lot of people get that opportunity,” Hagan told KKTV 11 News.
Now let’s just hope there’s no bad blood if she declines.