These are the boats you didn't know the Army had - We Are The Mighty
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These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had

The Army is known for its ability to fight on land, and most people know it has plenty of helicopters. But the Army also has an impressive fleet of watercraft that it uses for transportation, engineering, and even special operations platforms. Here are the watercraft that hardly anyone knows the Army has.


1. The landing craft that can be a floating base for special operators

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/RadioFan

Most people know landing crafts from World War II movies where ramps dropped, and soldiers rushed out and onto the beaches. Landing craft are still largely the same, with advances in technology allowing for larger, more resilient ships. The Army currently fields 34 Landing Craft, Utility 2000s.

The LCU works by pulling close to a shore, dock, or pier and dropping a ramp to form a bridge for vehicles. Supplies are then carried off by forklift while transported vehicles can roll off under their own power. The LCU-2000 can carry up to 350 tons into water as shallow as 9 feet, meaning it can drop 5 Abrams tanks directly onto a beach.

The LCU-2000s have been historically used as transportation platforms for supplies and armored vehicles, but they also saw service with special operators in Haiti and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In Haiti, the ships were used to transport operators to different fights while avoiding the heavily defended road network. In Iraq, they were used as floating staging bases for operators assaulting offshore oil platforms.

2. The landing craft that can assault beaches, fight fires, and act as a command center

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Stratton

The Landing Craft, Mechanized 8 is primarily a supply transport ship like the LCU-2000. It is smaller and carries only 53 tons, meaning it can’t lift a single heavy tank. It can carry smaller vehicles though and can operate in waters as shallow as 5 ft.

It is highly customizable though, and it’s used for a variety of purposes. Its shallow draft allows it to operate inland, far away from deep water. It can be fitted with firefighting equipment, diver support equipment, or communications relays. It especially shines in disaster relief since it can deliver to an unimproved beach or damaged dock as much cargo as a C-17 can carry.

The Army has 40 LCM-8s, but it’s looking to replace them. The Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) program calls for a new ship with capabilities above and beyond the LCM-8. It would carry more cargo, be more survivable under attack, and have both fore and aft ramps so vehicles could drive on and off faster.

3. Logistics support vessels that can deploy 24 combat-ready tanks

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: US Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Elisandro T. Diaz

Though the Army has only eight Logistics Support Vessels, they are heavy lifters. The LSV is capable of carrying 2,000 tons from deepwater boats to shore. Though it needs 12 feet of water to float, it has a longer ramp that allows it to reach the shore on beaches the LCM-8 and LCU-2000 can’t reach.

Its larger deck surface and greater capacity means it can carry 24 M1 tanks directly to a beach and the tanks can roll off, ready to fight. That’s almost enough space to carry an entire armored cavalry troop in one lift.

4. Dredges and cranes for re-shaping the coast

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mike Baird

Army engineers are in charge of U.S. dredging operations. That’s the removal of silt from the ocean floor to lay communications cable, open clogged shipping lanes, or deepen waterways for larger ships. To accomplish this mission, they maintain 11 dredging vessels that remove silt and sand and dump it out to sea or in pre-planned sites.

The engineers also keep a small fleet of floating cranes used to assist with dredging, repair or build ports, and move supplies onto and off of ships.

5. Tugs that can pull aircraft carriers

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: US Army Sgt. Edwin Rodriguez

Army tugs are used primarily to maneuver friendly ships in tricky ports or waterways just like civilian tugs. They are also useful for repositioning cranes and moving floating piers or barges into position.

The Army’s tugs are surprisingly capable. The largest six Army tugs are in the Nathaniel Greene class, and each can pull an aircraft carrier in a pinch. There are 24 tugs total in the Army inventory.

NOW: D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history

OR: The 4 biggest myths US Marines keep telling themselves

Lists

8 US Navy sailors who received the Medal of Honor

Sailors have been serving the U.S. bravely since the Navy was formed on Oct. 13, 1775. Some have gone above and beyond the call of duty and with through their incredible heroism, received the Medal of Honor.


While this list contains eight of the sailors who have received the award since Vietnam, more than 700 other sailors have received the medal. To find more recipients, see the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s searchable database of everyone who has received the Medal of Honor.

1. Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: US Navy

 

While operating as part of a Navy SEAL sniper team in Iraq on Sep. 29, 2006, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor and his fellow SEALs knew an enemy attack was likely after they engaged multiple insurgents in the area. When a grenade was thrown near the team, Monsoor was in the best position to escape. Instead, he yelled, “Grenade!” and jumped onto the explosive. He was mortally wounded but saved two other SEALs. 

2. Lt. Michael P. Murphy

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: US Navy

In Operation Red Wings, Lt. Michael P. Murphy was part of a four-man SEAL team scouting for a terrorist leader Jun. 28, 2005. The men were spotted by locals and a two-hour gunfight ensued where the SEALs faced more than 50 enemy fighters. Murphy exposed himself to heavy enemy fire to get clear communications to request assistance and was shot multiple times.

Murphy was successful, but the rescue team was shot down by an enemy RPG. Murphy, 10 other SEALs, and eight Army Nightstalkers were killed during the mission. Read more here.

3. Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Wayne M. Caron

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: US Navy

 

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Wayne M. Caron was rendering aid to Marines under fire on July 28, 1968 when he was shot in the arm but continued his mission. He was injured three times by small arms fire and continued to aid Marines before being killed by an RPG. Read more here.

4. Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Donald E. Ballard

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Donald E. Ballard was serving with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Regiment in Vietnam on May 16, 1968 when a grenade landed near an injured Marine under his care. Ballard jumped on the grenade, protecting both the injured Marine and the Marines on the litter team. When the grenade failed to detonate, Ballard calmly returned to aiding the wounded. Read more here.

5. Lt. Vincent R. Capodanno

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: US Navy Photographer’s Mate Kyle McCloud

 

Lt. Vincent R. Capodanno was a chaplain assigned to a battalion of Marines on Sep. 4, 1967 when a platoon found itself nearly overrun. Capodanno rushed forward and began administering last rites and medical aid. After being severely wounded by an enemy mortar round, Capodanno continued his mission but was killed by an enemy machine gun burst while attempting to save a wounded corpsman. Read more here.

6. Capt. Michael J. Estocin

Capt. Michael J. Estocin was a pilot in Attack Squadron 192 on the USS Ticonderoga. First on April 20, 1967 and again on April 26, Estocin spotted and engaged enemy surface-to-air missile sites with Shrike missiles. In both missions, Estocin’s aircraft was struck by enemy SAMs and set aflame. Both times, he regained control of his aircraft and re-engaged the sites before departing the target area. Read more here.

7. Hospital Corpsman Third Class Robert R. Ingram

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: Wikipedia

 

Hospital Corpsman Third Class Robert R. Ingram was wounded four times on Mar. 28, 1966 while aiding Marines under heavy attack from 100 North Vietnamese soldiers. From mid-afternoon until sunset, Ingram continued to aid the Marines despite his serious wounds, including one that was life-threatening. Read more here.

8. Construction Mechanic Third Class Marvin G. Shields

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: US Navy

 

Construction Mechanic Third Class Marvin G. Shields was serving with Navy Seabee Team 1104 in Vietnam June 10, 1965 when the Special Forces compound he was on came under fierce Viet Cong attack. After seven hours of fighting and being wounded multiple times, Shields assisted the local commander in knocking out an enemy machine gun nest that threatened the Americans. He was killed while returning to his defensive position. Read more here.

Articles

The Marine Corps goes back to the future with new military strategy

QUANTICO, Va. — The Marine Corps has released a bold new operational document that projects a future fight against a high-end adversary that could nullify many of the advantages U.S. forces have enjoyed for decades, and proscribes an extensive series of actions the Marines must take to prepare for that conflict.


The Marine Corps Operating Concept is subtitled “How an Expeditionary Force Operates in the 21st Century,” and strongly reaffirms the Corps’ traditional ties with the Navy.

It also revitalizes the post-Vietnam concept of “maneuver warfare,” but modernizes it by adding cyber and information operations to the use of rapid movement around enemy strong points and employment of kinetic force to confound the adversary’s command and control.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Marines with Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team Europe laugh during down-time, after completing an M240B machine gun range as part of Exercise Platinum Lynx at Babadag Training Area, Romania, Sept. 27, 2016. Multiple nations from across Eastern Europe, and the U.S., participated in the exercise designed to enhance warfighting capabilities and build relationships from an international level, all the way down to a platoon level. (Photo from U.S. Marine Corps)

Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller ordered the new strategic look, which was released Sept. 28 at the 2016 Modern Day Marine Expo here, and said its primary goal was to assure that any future Marine “doesn’t have a fair fight,” but is dominant.

The MOC is a replacement for the Expeditionary Force 21 operational guide released in 2014 under then-Commandant Gen. James Amos. But the officers at the forward-looking Ellis Group who crafted it and those who will have to implement it said it goes far beyond EF21.

It envisions a Marine Corps that is able to operate in what Neller called the “six domains,” of land, sea, air, space, cyberspace and information, is prepared to help the Navy retain sea control and the ability to project power in contested littoral regions and makes extensive use of unmanned systems.

“My goal by next year is, every deployed infantry squad will have a quad copter” unmanned aircraft, Neller told a packed audience at the Modern Day Marine exposition.

Neller assured the assembled Marines that the new document does not mean they are “fixing something” or the Corps is “broken.”

But, he reminded them, since 2001 “we have been fighting an insurgency.” Although those insurgents were brave and tenacious, they did not have electronic warfare capabilities, or an air force or armor. And “they didn’t have the ability to take down our networks, to deny our comms” and they “didn’t have a sophisticated information operations plan to deceive not only us, but our citizens.”

“What we’re trying to do with the MOC,” Neller said, is to look at their organization, training and warfighting doctrine and make the changes so “if we’re going to fight somebody that has this capabilities set” the individual Marine has what is needed “to make sure it’s not a fair fight.”

The MOC contains a lengthy list of future capabilities the Corps is expected to require for that future high-end fight. It includes the ability to fight in “complex terrain,” which includes congested urban settings; can match the global technology proliferation; can use information as a weapon and can win the “battle of signatures,” which means controlling its own electronic emissions to avoid being detected and finding and countering the enemy’s.

The MOC supports a point Neller has stressed, that future Marines be prepared to operate without sophisticated long-range communications, intelligence support and navigation aids because a high-tech enemy could disrupt them.

That could complicate some of the missions the MOC, including distributed operations by small units, or using landing forces to seize and hold “expeditionary advanced bases” on an enemy’s coast line to disrupt the sensors and weapons that could deny naval forces access.

The document also emphasizes the need to integrate Marine capabilities and operations with the Navy, Special Operations Command and the joint force.

And it sets out a list of “critical tasks” required to prepare the Corps for the future.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, the deputy commandant for combat development and integration, said his command, the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, the training and education and acquisition commands all will have major challenges in executing the MOC’s vision.

Neller urged the Marines in the audience to read the MOC and provide feedback and criticism. He acknowledged that the document may not have all the right answers and he expects they will have to make changes to it.

But, he said: “What we won’t do is stay the same. The world is changing too fast.”

Articles

USS Gabrielle Giffords completes maiden voyage and arrives at its home port in San Diego

Following construction and acceptance trials earlier this year at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Giffords sailed to Galveston, Texas, where she was commissioned June 10.


“Our Sailors are honored to represent the ship namesake, its homeport in San Diego, and the U.S. Navy,” said Cmdr. Keith Woodley, Giffords’ commanding officer. “Every Sailor will continue, through USS Gabrielle Gifford’s service to her nation, to fulfill the ship’s motto, ‘I Am Ready.'”

During her sail around transit from Mobile, Giffords Sailors conducted Combat Ship Systems Qualification Trials events, various crew certification training events, and regularly scheduled equipment and systems checks and transited through the Panama Canal.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo courtesy of US Navy.

Giffords is the ninth littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the fifth Independence-variant LCS. She joins other LCS, including USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), USS Coronado (LCS 4), USS Jackson (LCS 6), and USS Montgomery (LCS 8), who are also homeported in San Diego.

Giffords Sailors are excited for the future of their ship but also for their own return to San Diego.

“We have put in a lot of hard work over the past nine months,” said Operations Specialist 1st Class Lee Tran. “It is going to be nice to have a little down time with friends and family before continuing to work the ship toward its next milestone.”

Family and friends were similarly eager for some quality time with their returning Sailors. Many said they were also grateful for the support and friendships they forged with other families while their Sailors were away.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Sailors arrive in San Diego, CA aboard the USS Gabrielle Giffords. Navy photo by Lt. Miranda Williams.

“Knowing I was not in this alone and that there were more families out there going through it too made me at peace knowing our Sailors had each other,” said Morgan Witherspoon, friend of a Giffords Sailor.

LCS 10 is named after former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who survived an assassination attempt in 2011. Former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus selected the LCS 10 namesake and said it is appropriate that the ship is named for Giffords, whose name is “synonymous with courage when she inspired the nation with remarkable resiliency and showed the possibilities of the human spirit.”

LCS is a high-speed, agile, shallow draft, mission-focused surface combatant designed for operations in the littoral environment, yet fully capable of open ocean operations. As part of the surface fleet, LCS has the ability to counter and outpace evolving threats independently or within a network of surface combatants. Paired with advanced sonar and mine hunting capabilities, LCS provides a major contribution, as well as a more diverse set of options to commanders, across the spectrum of operations.

Articles

4 night terrors America’s enemies have about Jim Mattis

Retired Marine Gen. and current Secretary of Defense James Mattis was recently asked what kept him up at night and he responded, “Nothing. I keep other people awake at night,” because Mattis is a stone-cold killer. And he’s right.


Here is how four enemies of America try, and fail, to get sleep:

1. Supreme Man-Child Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un ends every night surrounded by the young women of his personal harem, but even that isn’t enough to distract him from his one true fear, Jim Mattis. When Mattis ruled only the Marine Corps, the dreams were frightening enough. Marines assaulted North Korea’s miles of exposed coastline while Harriers roared over Pyongyang.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
(Image: YouTube/JoBlo TV Show Trailers)

But now, Mattis has a hold of the entire military, and the sick dictator tosses and turns in his bed with the images of stealth-enhanced Blackhawks swooping over his palace and depositing the elite operators of SEAL Team 6. Their attack dogs tear out the throats of his most loyal bodyguards as the SEALs sweep, slightly crouched and sighting down the barrel for new threats, through polished hallways.

In Kim’s mind, the SEALs stealthily stack on his bedroom. He looks across the massive bed at the slight gap beneath the door and searches for any change in the light, any flicker that may indicate that Mattis’s mad dogs are here at last.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
(Photo: Department of Defense)

Nothing. No shadows, no lights, and no quiet boot falls interrupt the night. But Kim knows he will go without sleep once again.

And Kim isn’t the only enemy of America who is more afraid of the dark than ever before. Here are three others who share in his terror-ridden insomnia:

2. ISIS’s top dude Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
(Photo: U.S. Army)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi holds his final meeting each nightfall for as long as possible, offering pine nuts and Chai to his few remaining aides and field commanders until they beg for sleep. He reluctantly agrees, allowing them to file out of his chambers. But the moment the door closes on them, he can feel the dread closing around him.

He forces himself not to look over his shoulder as he has so many times before, but that doesn’t stop the thoughts. The wall suddenly explodes inward as charges create three openings for Delta Force to pour through. Their suppressed weapons chuckle in the dust clouds from the explosions. Amid the cracks of the rifles and guns, another sound is audible. It’s Jim Mattis, and he’s laughing in full kit.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had

Al-Baghdadi feels the first round pierce his lung as the second rips through his shoulder. He imagines himself slumped over, coughing, as the lights go out. He finally looks over his shoulder and prays the wall, and his crumbling “caliphate,” survives for just one more night.

3. Taliban’s current leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. John Bainter

A former Taliban judge and professor, Hibatullah Akhundzada is a true believer of his perverse version of Islam. But he also believes in patterns, and his predecessor was killed in a drone strike just like many of his peers. He has to force his anxiety down every time he gets into a car or walks outside for too long. But by nightfall, he doesn’t have the energy to keep the phantoms at bay.

He can hear the soft buzz of the drone’s engines as it circles him in the sky. He knows the thermal sensors can see which room he’s in as even his breath is enough to heat the small room he hides in. He wonders what kind of weapon it will fire when it comes for him.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Predator firing Hellfire missile. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The Hellfire would approach with a roar as its engine propelled it through the night, but the Paveway would fall with a slight whistle.

He knows it’s wrong, but every time he thinks of the drone that will finally end the nightmare, he imagines it has a full cockpit with Mattis, grinning, at the controls. Mattis flips up his visor, takes a long pull from a beer bottle, and toasts the bomb as it lands.

4. Leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri

Ayman al-Zawahiri has watched al-Qaeda go from the most infamous terror organization on Earth to a group of zealots barely visible in the shadow of ISIS. But he knows that some of his enemies will never forget which organization attacked on 9/11. Leaders like Mattis aren’t distracted black flags.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: (U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Akeel Austin)

He knows it’s Mattis who will keep the analysts working daily to find him, to track his patterns. Is tonight the night? The night that Mattis passes hand signals down the line as the Osprey approaches the compound and transitions from forward to vertical flight.

The rotor wash beats against al-Zawahiri’s building as Mattis and the Marine Raiders fast rope onto the roof. The al-Qaeda fighters rush to their assigned defense posts, prepared to make the Marines bleed for every room. But Mattis expected this. A young Marine detonates a charge on the roof directly over al-Zawahiri.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Lance Cpl. Corey A. Ridgway fires the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Rosales)

When it explodes, the blast wave disorients everyone in the room with al-Zawahiri, and Mattis descends through the hole headfirst with an M27 in his hands. The 5.56mm rounds rip through the bodyguards and then al-Zawahiri himself.

Al-Zawahiri shakes himself and turns on his TV to spend another night watching the videos Osama Bin Laden sent him before his death.

Lists

7 movies every sailor needs to watch

There are movies that fizzle, and then there are movies that last for generations.


At any given moment on any given ship, one of these movies is guaranteed to be on rotation. They’re not only relatable, but timeless too. For example, “Cinderella Liberty” was made in the 1970s and yet a variation of the plot still happens to sailors in today’s Navy. And, when sailors watch “Master and Commander” they realize that the Navy hasn’t changed much since the 1800s.

Then, there are movies like “Top Gun” and “Officer and a Gentleman” that motivated a generation of sailors to join the service. “Top Gun” debuted in 1986 and until this day you can hear the echoes of aviators throughout the ship referring to each other as Maverick and Goose (our resident ex-naval aviator Ward Carroll disagrees. We’re guessing he’s a huge “Behind Enemy Lines” fan instead).

Another reason for the longevity of these films is because sailors relate to different characters at different stages of their careers. Early on they see themselves as Mayo in “Officer and a Gentleman” and years later they find themselves relating to Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hunter in “Crimson Tide.”

Here’s our list of movies movies every sailor needs to watch. Got any more? Add them to the comments.

1. The Sand Pebbles — 1966

This Navy engineer is transferred to a new ship in a foreign land where tensions are high with the United States. He doesn’t get along with the shipmates or the skipper and to make matters worse, he gets implicated in an incident that could cause full out war. Every sailor will relate to Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Holman played by Steve McQueen at some point in their career.

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: 20th Century Fox

 

2. The Hunt For Red October — 1990

Set during the Cold War, the USSR’s best submarine captain and crew plan to defect to the United States without triggering full out war. After watching this movie, you’ll realize that the USSR Navy isn’t very different from the U.S. Navy.

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: Paramount Pictures

 

3. Top Gun — 1986

Dogfights, explosions, rivalries, and love, this movie was the beginning for a lot of aviators. A look at Maverick and you’ll understand what a lot of Navy pilots think of themselves.

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: Paramount Pictures

 

 

4. Crimson Tide — 1995

On one hand you have a trigger-happy skipper ready to unleash his nukes onto Russia and on the other you have a subordinate staging a mutiny. It’s a sailor’s fantasy played out.

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: Hollywood Pictures

 

5. Officer and a Gentleman — 1982

This story plays out every day in the military. It’s about a guy wanting to turn his life around by joining the Navy. Sound familiar?

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: Paramount Pictures

 

6. Master and Commander — 2003

Although this film is recent compared to the others, it made our list for its timelessness. With phrases such as port side, starboard, head, and others, sailors quickly realize that if they were to be transported to the 1800s that they would still make good sailors.

 

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

7. Cinderella Liberty — 1973

A quick read of the captions and you could probably think of a sailor or two that fit the profile.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Articles

New Call of Duty Battle Doc Pack is giving 100% of proceeds to vets

The military’s favorite game might be “Hurry Up and Wait” but our favorite games are the Call of Duty series. When troops, especially infantrymen, are told to stand by, the first thing we do is turn on our consoles. This month Activision Blizzard is raising money and awareness to an issue that awaits all of us post service: veteran employment. The Call of Duty Endowment has announced a new Battle Doc Pack with 100% of the proceeds going to fund veteran employment efforts.

Throughout the month of May on both Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Call of Duty: Warzone plays can by a new Operator Skin. It was created with the help of Army Veteran Combat Medic Timothy Hobbs Jr. who is also a recipient of the Endowment’s aid. He is one of the 5,800 veterans the #CODEMedicalHeroes Campaign aims to place with jobs in the medical field.

Civilians are doing their part, too

We often hear “Only veterans help veterans’ but I’m glad that this time we’re wrong. Call of Duty players, veterans and civilians, are raising $3 million by purchasing the Battle Doc Pack. $1 million can be raised by participating in an in-game Revival Challenge in Warzone. Players who revive five others while playing will unlock the Call of Duty Endowment calling card. Players have to hurry though, the Calling Card event ends this weekend on May 9th. One player commented, ‘Let’s get that revive challenge done in WZ bois time to donate that bread and give back to the vets’ on the Xbox YouTube channel.

If one million players complete the challenge, a double-XP Day will be given to all Call of Duty: Warzone players. Additionally, Activision Blizzard will donate $1 to the Endowment for each player that completes the challenge, up to $1 million.

Activision Blizzard

The pack also contains Easter eggs

The pack retails for $9.99 and 100% of all the proceeds will go to the Endowment’s mission of aiding veterans. It is available for a limited time until $2 million has been raised for the Call of Duty Endowment. Combined with the Revival Challenge, it will total $3 million if players are successful. The Pilot Company — another company putting their money where their mouth is — is donating $100,000 to the Endowment. Their contribution will change the lives of nearly 200 unemployed veterans to have a fighting chance at attaining a high-quality job. SFC Tim Hobbs, Jr. also describes other Easter eggs on the Operator Skin itself. When he helped design the pack, he also paid homage to his unit, his brothers in arms, and his service branch.

You can also track the progress the endowment is making in placing these veterans in gainful employment by following them on their social media pages.

Lists

5 reasons why Luke Skywalker was operator AF

From convincing Obi-Wan to re-enlist after 21 years of retirement to facing down Darth Vader, the most feared man in the galaxy, Luke Skywalker makes one hell of a rebel.


But if you look at all of his achievements, he looks like one badass operator.

Related: 8 reasons Marines hate on the Navy

Don’t believe us? Check out these 5 ways Luke Skywalker is operator AF.

5. He lost a limb in combat and kept fighting.

Some might lose a limb and just get out, but not Luke Skywalker — he gets a new hand and carries on with the plan of the day.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Not everybody just gets a new hand put on and goes about their business. (Image from 20th Century Fox’s Star Wars)

4. Luke completed a black ops mission before he even joined.

Before he even signed that dotted line, Luke infiltrated the Death Star, a major enemy base, disguised as one of them. Which brings me to my next point…

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Even has proper trigger discipline. (Image from 20th Century Fox’s Star Wars)

3. He saved one of the most important leaders of the rebellion.

Only an operator could infiltrate an enemy base and manage to save the highest-profile captive — a rebel general.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Oh yeah, Han Solo was there, too. (Image from 20th Century Fox’s Star Wars)

2. He could pilot an X-Wing without any training.

Luke may have had experience flying a T-16 Skyhopper, but he really had no proper training to fly an X-Wing. Despite that, he hops in the cockpit and flies a combat mission anyway.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
When you haven’t been properly trained, but you hope everything works out (Image from 20th Century Fox’s Star Wars)

Also Read: 5 reasons why Luke Skywalker was the perfect boot

1. Luke destroyed the enemy’s weapon of mass destruction with two shots.

Without his targeting computer. Not only was he not trained to pilot an X-Wing, but he takes out the enemy’s most prized accomplishment, the Death Star, with two shots.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
That’s one satisfying explosion. (Image from 20th Century Fox’s Star Wars)

What are some other things Luke Skywalker has done that would make him a certified bad ass?

 

Articles

This is how US Army uniforms have changed since the Revolutionary War

In the 241 years since the US declared independence from the English in 1776, the uniforms of those serving in the US Army have changed drastically.


Over the years, as the nation grew, uniforms, too, have evolved to fit the times and take advantage of changes in tactics and technology. In some cases, as this paper from US Army History notes, the changes were minor affairs, while in other cases, the look of the US Army was radically changed.

We have highlighted some of the major advancements in US Army uniforms in the graphic below.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Business Insider infographic by Dylan Roach

Articles

How SEALs were caught in ‘ferocious’ firefight during Yemen counter-terrorism raid

New details have emerged about the Jan. 28 raid on a compound used by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL and the loss of an MV-22 Osprey.


According to a report by the Washington Post, the raid had been intended to nab Yemeni tribal leaders and get intelligence on their ties with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The snatch operation turned into a firefight when terrorists launched a counter-attack.

Among the militants firing at the SEALs were women, an several were believed to have been among the 14 terrorists killed in the raid. The SEALs were forced to call in air support from AH-1Z Cobras and AV-8B+ Harriers based on the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) as the firefight went on, the Post report says.

Additionally, officials with Central Command said Feb. 1 that investigators are looking into allegations that among the dead were civilians in the compound targeted by the SEALs. Officials said in a release that civilians were “likely” killed and “may include children.”

“The ongoing credibility assessment seeks to determine whether any still-undetected civilian casualties took place in the ferocious firefight,” CENTCOM said. “The known possible civilian casualties appear to have been potentially caught up in aerial gunfire that was called in to assist U.S. forces in contact against a determined enemy that included armed women firing from prepared fighting positions and U.S. special operations members receiving fire from all sides, including from houses and other buildings.”

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
An AH-1Z Cobra helicopter assigned to Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Squadron (HX) 21, based in Patuxent River, Md., Approaches the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rebekah Adler)

To get the SEALs out, elements of what the report called “an elite Special Operations air regiment,” likely referring to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also called the Nightstalkers. After retrieving the SEALs, the Nightstalkers intended to meet up with a Marine quick reaction force on MV-22 Ospreys to transfer the SEALs to the Makin Island, where the wounded could receive medical treatment.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
A group of U.S. Navy SEALs clear a room during a no-light live-fire drill near San Diego. Naval Special Warfare reservists from a Combat Service Support unit attached to a West Coast-based Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Team conducted a field training exercise based on principles from the expeditionary warfare community. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Stevenson/Released)

That meet-up went wrong. One of the V-22s made a “hard landing” – more akin to a crash – which ended up leaving three Marines injured.

In an interview with reporters Feb. 1, Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. John Davis said officials are still investigating what went wrong with the Osprey, adding his suspicion was that brown-out conditions might have played a role.

“They were going into a firefight at night.  … But what’s the good news? A lot of people don’t walk away from hard landings, and everybody walked away from this one,” Davis said. “There’s a Marine who kind of bumped his head, but everyone walked away.”

After evacuating the wounded, the inoperable tilt-rotor was destroyed by an AV-8B using a Joint Direct Attack Munition, according to officials who spoke with the Post. During that time, Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens died from his wounds.

A Department of Defense release noted that the operation was “one in a series of aggressive moves against terrorist planners in Yemen and worldwide. Similar operations have produced intelligence on al-Qa’ida logistics, recruiting and financing efforts.”

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Seen through the greenish glow of night vision goggles, Navy SEALs prepare to breach a locked door in Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Columbia Pictures’ hyper-realistic new action thriller from director Kathryn Bigelow, ZERO DARK THIRTY.

According to a report by FoxNews.com, President Trump attended the return of the remains of Chief Owens and had a private meeting with the fallen SEAL’s family during a two-hour visit.

Articles

Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

The 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Moody Air Force base, Ga., landed nine A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 30, 2012. The 75th EFS deployed approximately 250 Airmen and 12 aircraft to Korea as part of a routine theater support package. The A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft is designed to provide close air support for ground troops and can also carry air-to-air missiles.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Cisek

Train to Survive

Airmen watch as an MH-60 Seahawk takes off during a jungle training course June 15, 2016, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Conducted by the U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division’s Lightning Academy Jungle Operations Training Center from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and supported by 736th Security Forces Squadron Commando Warrior cadre, students prepared a simulated patient for medical evacuation. During the course, they also learned survival skills, including land navigation and evasion techniques.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Smoot

ARMY:

A JMRC observer coach trainer team flies a UH-72A Lakota helicopter during Exercise Swift Response 16 at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, June 23, 2016. The exercise enhances the readiness of the U.S. Global Response Force to conduct rapid-response, joint-forcible entry and follow-on operations alongside Allied high-readiness forces in Europe.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Randy Wren

A U.S. Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter Crew Chief, assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, scans his sector as the sun sets over Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., June 21, 2016. Four Black Hawks participated in day and night air assault training with Soldiers from 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Brian Harris

NAVY:

SOUTH CHINA SEA (July 6, 2016) Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) wait on station as the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9) sends stores during a connected replenishment. Curtis Wilbur is on patrol with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ellen Hilkowski

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 5, 2016) Chief Construction Electrician Daniel Luberto, right, and Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Andersen Gardner, assigned to Underwater Construction Team 2, Construction Dive Detachment Bravo (UCT2 CDDB), remove corroded zinc anodes from an undersea cable at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, Hawaii.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Charles E. White

MARINE CORPS:

Marines with Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, approach a simulated enemy vessel during a visit, board, search, and seizure mission off the coast of San Diego, Calif., June 28, 2016. Although the MRF is capable of operating in land-based environments, its main role within a MEU is to conduct maritime operations, such as raids on gas and oil platforms, and enemy-controlled vessels.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Devan K. Gowans

Lance Cpl. Nick J. Padia, a gunner, writes the words “War Pig” on a window of his humvee after reaching one of their objective points at Cultana Training Area, South Australia, Australia, July 1, 2016. The Marines reached their first objectives during Exercise Hamel, a trilateral training exercise with Australian, New Zealand, and U.S. forces to enhance cooperation, trust, and friendship. Padia, from Chandler, Arizona, is with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III

COAST GUARD:

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Coast Guard photo

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Articles

This is the real, hard-luck story of SEAL platoon X-Ray

Legend has it that no SEAL platoon will use the designation “X-Ray” anymore. The story goes that the last platoon to use the literal nom de guerre had the worst luck — that is to say, a high casualty rate — of any platoon before or since.


These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
(U.S. Navy photo)

Related: This Navy SEAL unit was ‘the most hard luck platoon’ to fight in Vietnam

“That’s what I’ve heard,” says Gordon Clisham, a member of SEAL platoon X-Ray stationed in Vietnam during its hard-luck run there. “I don’t know if that’s true or not … the platoon lost four men — killed — and everyone was injured at least once.”

Clisham reached out to We Are The Mighty after reading our story about X-Ray in May 2016. He wanted to clear up some facts that he claims might not be as clear cut.

Specifically, Clisham wanted to set us straight on the counterinsurgency operation the SEALs conducted at Ben Tre which was lead by one of the team’s Vietnamese scouts.

“His name was Tong,” Clisham recalls. “I think he was dirty and I couldn’t prove it.” 

During the operation, X-Ray was ambushed by the Viet Cong. One story says a SEAL’s own grenades blew up while still on his belt. The explosion blew his glute off. Clisham says that’s not what happened.

A B-40 (a type of rocket-propelled grenade) hit the SEALs Mobile Support Team, Clisham says. The SEAL who supposedly lost a glute was actually P.K. Barnes, and he lost his leg from the knee down as a result of the explosion.

Clisham thinks it was their scout feeding intel to the enemy.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
X-Ray Platoon in Vietnam. Jim Ritter (KIA) took the picture. From left to right top row – Rick Hetzell, Irving Brown, Harold Birkey (KIA), Doc Caplenor, Frank Bowmar (KIA), Clint Majors, Mike Collins (KIA), Lou Decrose. Middle – Alan Vader. Bottom Row left to right – Mike Trigg, Dave Shadnaw, Gordon Clisham, Ah (the scout). (Navy SEAL Museum photo)

Ben Tre was just one operation among many that went wrong. Clisham estimates that about half the missions conducted by SEAL platoon X-Ray were compromised. They were just walking into one trap after another.

The reason? OPSEC.

Clisham suspects someone, maybe not just Tong, was feeding information to the enemy.

“I even went to Lt. Mike Collins [the unit commander] and said ‘We should get rid of this guy because we’re going on ops without him and we’re getting ambushed, and we go on ops with him, and he walks through the jungle like he’s walking through the park and we never get hit,'” Clisham says. “The boss didn’t want to shoot him, so we didn’t do it.”

What we had to do before we went out at night or any operation, was to get a clearance,” Clisham, who was the unit intel petty officer at the time, explains. “I would go up to the S2 center, give them our location –  never the exact location, we would ask for a ten grid square clearance, so they didn’t know exactly where we were at because a lot of the people working S2 center were VNs [South Vietnamese officers].” 

The Army wanted the exact location, but with the Vietnamese working in the intelligence, the SEALs were not willing to give up the coordinates. Lieutenant Collins struck a deal with the Army: SEAL platoon X-Ray would put the location of their ops in a sealed envelope before their mission. If necessary, the Army could open the envelope and provide support. If not, the location remained a secret.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
Standing, left to right: PK Barnes, Kit Carson Scout, Happy Baker, Mike Collins, Tong, Randal Clayton, Jim McCarthy, Ah, Mike Capelnor, Lou DiCroce, Kneeling: Allen Vader, Clint Majors, David Shadnaw. (Navy SEAL Museum)

After the first op, Clisham returned to the S2 to find the envelope opened. No one knew who opened it or why.

“There was a lot of hoopla raised about that,” Clisham recalls. “I don’t think anything was ever rectified, but we knew that somebody there was getting in on our intel or information of our location.”

To this day, as certain as he is that Tong, their scout was dirty, Clisham is sure it was a Vietnamese officer in the intel center who was giving their locations to the Viet Cong. To my surprise, he countered the May 2016 story’s claim that VC defectors who turned themselves in for amnesty – called “Chieu Hoi” – were untrustworthy.

“Now, we had a guy that worked with us that was ex-VC,” says Clisham. “That was Ah. He was a good man. He was on our side one hundred percent.”

There’s no exact reason why some veterans remember the details differently. As Clisham says, it was 45 years ago. When he and his fellow SEALs sit down for reunions, they don’t usually talk about what happened. They prefer to tell dirty jokes over cold beers.

But at least now history has a clearer picture of the “hard luck” that surrounded SEAL platoon X-Ray.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is how belt buckles became a thing in the military

The belt buckle used today has evolved over 2000 years. First incepted and used in China and Rome, the fastener has had multifunctional purposes. As its use went over centuries of the middle ages, the buckle became a more intricate element made of different materials, including bones and antlers.

Archaeological evidence has shown that the buckle has been used from as early as 3300 and 1200 BCE. This bronze age was defined by technological progress that defined how people used advanced tools and weapons, essential components for hunting, and other forms of survival. Bronze incepted an entirely new age of artistic decorative art who were involved people of varied creative capabilities.

As a necessity for carrying a broad range of components, particularly tools and weapons, belts with buckles became a norm.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
A soldier with 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment “Manchus,” 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, clutches his Manchu belt buckle while standing at parade rest at Soldiers Field House March 4. The 9th Inf. Regt. is the only unit authorized to wear the distinctive belt buckle in uniform. (DVIDS)

First Inception

The first used belt buckle was made out of softened tree bark covers. From this invention, belts have been shaped into different cultural and geographical specifications worldwide. Materials have evolved from traditional barks to bronze, seasoned leather and artificial components.

Early Roman buckles were D and square-shaped, crafted out of wrought iron by metalworkers. A few hundred years later, iron buckles were made out of hand, an art that transitioned to cast bronze. By the fourth and fifth centuries, buckles had spread across Europe, with oval and D buckles being created in large quantities for decorative art.

Military buckles made significant appearances within the civil war era and had a colossal influence on contemporary designs. American Navajo silversmiths began designing turquoise buckles, and by the 20th century, cowboys were accentuating the Stetson hat with conspicuous clasps.

Although cowboys existed way before the 1900s with suspenders and military buckles, they slowly took the stage in western movies. From over a dozen belt manufacturers to buckle-featuring flags, these components provided an avenue to feature a sense of patriotism throughout the US.

The buckle belt slowly garnered popularity from these crude beginnings and evolved to be appreciated by a dynamic art form of indigenous Indian tribes in the south. Shaped by the exquisite skills of Navajo Indians, the buckle was shaped into various styles by silversmiths.

These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had
A display of the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, belt buckles received by “Iron Knight” Soldiers after completing a “Colonel Burt Challenge” in honor of Capt. James M. Burt, April 10, 2015. Capt. James M. Burt was a Medal of Honor recipient and one of the 66th Armor Regiment’s most coveted Armor officers in the unit’s history. (Photo courtesy of 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd ABCT, 4th Infantry Division). (DVIDS)

Accessorized with multi-utility

Functionally, belt buckles served a significant purpose of offsetting the wearer’s shoulders from the burden of objects attached to garments. Another related objective was to secure items. During the middle ages, women secured cosmetics, pomanders and purses on their belts. The buckles also endured the imagination that sword sheaths were attached to straps by knights during the middle ages.

At the same time, buckles served military identification throughout the centuries. Officers in ancient warfare were divided into general staff, cavalry and infantry, all of whom wore buckles showing different branches of service. In the Marine Corps, officers and enlisted have different belt buckles complete with tradition and trivia.

Navajo Indians seemingly borrowed the Japanese culture of ranking swimmers in the 1960s for their martial arts. Fueled by the perception that belts should initially be white and turn brown throughout its use, after which it turns black, different colors were used to show ranking. Adding stripes to the buckle was also a way of showing advancement at lower levels.

In some cities, women wore buckles to show respectability, as those with questionable character were denied wearing them. Allegedly used to mitigate women’s fidelity, the Navajo Indians effectively used buckles to ensure women remained chaste while men were away.

Right through the 20th century, women’s belts were often of the same material as their coats. Buckles crafted out of plastic or metal also gained traction in the west, while men exclusively wore leather belts with metallic buckles to secure their trousers.

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