The 10 most daring commando raids in history - We Are The Mighty
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The 10 most daring commando raids in history

1. Trojan Horse

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

 


Perhaps one of the earliest examples of a successful commando raid can be found in the 12th century B.C. during the legendary siege of Troy. Though some historians doubt its certainty, both Homer’s Illiad and Virgil’s Aeneid histories point to a daring operation conducted by a select cadre of up to 30 Greek warriors who sealed themselves into the hollow body of an enormous wooden horse statue.

The symbol of the walled city of Troy, the horse was cunningly offered as a gift to the Trojans as the Greek fleet disembarked for home. Seen as a sign of good luck and an offering to the goddess Athena, King Priam of Troy accepted the gift over the objections of several in his court. That night, the Greek commandos emerged from the horse, opening the gates to the rest of the Greek army that clandestinely returned to shore and sacked the city.

Whether its truth or myth, the Greek raid of Troy using subterfuge and disguise still lives on as one of the most cunning and dangerous special operations raids of all time.

2. Assault on Eben-Emael

 

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
German paratroopers pose after the successful raid on the Belgian fort at Eben-Emael.

The first modern military to embrace the concept of special operations, the German army of World War II conducted one of the first commando raids of the 20th Century in the opening days of the invasion of France. Rehearsed in minute detail over a year, the raid by German paratroopers, or Flieger-Jaeger, on the Belgian fortress at Eben Emael is still considered one of the most thoroughly-planned and executed commando operations in history.

A nearly 80-man team of specially-selected paratroopers, including engineers and assaulters commanded by Capt. S.A. Koch, flew aboard nine gliders to the heavily armed fortress built as a part of the famed Maginot Line intended to blunt an anticipated German invasion after World War I. In the early morning hours of May 10, 1940, and despite severe damage to their gliders from anti-aircraft fire and not a few servings of bad luck, the German commandos were able to neutralize the fort’s more than a dozen heavy guns. Though unable to penetrate the fort itself and forced to fight off harassing attacks for more than a day before the Belgians surrendered, the paratroopers rendered Eben Emael’s guns useless within minutes of the assault.

The paratroopers were eventually relieved by German infantry supported by Stuka dive bombers and each of the participants was awarded a medal of valor for the successful — and daring — raid.

3. Entebbe Raid

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
A C-130 is seen parked on the runway at Entebbe airport in Uganda during a raid to free Israeli passengers of a hijacked Air France flight.

In one of the most iconic hostage rescues ever — and one that served to epitomize the cunning grit of the fledgling Jewish state — the operation by Israeli commandos to seize a hijacked Air France jetliner in the Ugandan city of Entebbe perhaps epitomizes how special ops could successfully blunt terrorist attacks.

On June 27, 1976, an Air France flight out of Tel Aviv bound for Paris was hijacked by four terrorists, including two West German revolutionaries and two attackers from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. After a brief stop in Athens and Tripoli the plane eventually landed into the open arms of Idi Amin’s Uganda. The terrorists demanded $5 million and the release of 40 Israeli-held Palestinian militants and threatened to kill the Israeli passengers of the flight.

When negotiations eventually broke down several days later, the Israeli military began planning a raid that would eventually involve nearly 100 men, including 29 assaulters from the legendary Sayeret Matkal — which was modeled off the British Special Air Service — who would fly into Entebbe airport via C-130 Hercules transports and rescue the hostages held in a nearby terminal building.

In the late hours of July 4, the C-130s carrying the assault team commanded by Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu lifted off from the Sinai bound for Entebbe. After landing at the Ugandan airport, the Sayeret Matkal assaulters stormed off the plane in a series of vehicles similar to a motorcade used by Idi Amin. The team eventually secured the hostages, killed the hijackers and held off Ugandan army attacks until they lifted off from Entebbe 90 minutes later.

In all, three hostages were killed, one Israeli commando was killed and five were wounded.

4. Operation Neptune Spear

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

It may not be surprising to some that probably the most complex and dangerous commando raid in modern times was pulled off by Navy SEALs. A nearly 400 mile round trip into a nuclear armed country who has no idea you’re coming? Check. A terrorist target who’s been running from you for a decade and has a team of fanatical followers rigged to blow you to smithereens if he gets even a whiff of your plan? Check. A super-secret stealth helicopter? Check. A team of spies backing you up? Check. A commando dog? Check.

Sounds like a job for SEAL Team VI.

It’s no longer much of a secret that the operation to kill or capture Osama bin Laden was one of the ballsiest raids ever launched by special ops troops. From the months of practice on full mock-ups of the Abbottabad, Pakistan, bin Laden compound to the clandestine attempts to get DNA samples of the terrorist mastermind, Operation Neptune Spear will surely remain at the top of the list of most daring commando raids for years to come.

On the night of May 1, 2011, a select team of about 24 SEALs from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group flew aboard previously unknown stealth Black Hawk helicopters and assaulted bin Laden’s sprawling compound deep in Pakistani territory. After a crash nearly threw the operation sideways, the SEALs successfully assaulted the compound, killing bin Laden, his son Khalid, his courier Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, al-Kuwaiti’s brother Abrar and his wife. The raid took a total of 38 minutes, with more than half the time devoted to plundering the compound’s trove of intelligence, including computers, hard drives and documents.

The almost unimaginably complex raid was a complete success, with all operators successfully exfiltrating the compound without a single casualty. And if you remember anything from the raid, it’ll probably be the radio call from bin Laden’s room: “For God and country … Geronimo EKIA.”

5. The Raid on Son Tay Prison Camp

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

Dubbed “Operation Kingpin” and commanded by legendary Army Special Forces Col. Arthur D. “Bull” Simons, the commando raid on the Son Tay prison camp in North Vietnam ranks up with one of the riskiest missions in spec ops history. And while ultimately unsuccessful in its primary mission of rescuing the camp’s American prisoners of war, the mission serves as a prime example of joint special operations planning and support.

Planning for the mission began in early May 1970 after Air Force aerial photos confirmed the camp’s existence, which for years had been suspected of housing more than 60 POWs. Simons selected a team of 130 Special Forces Soldiers from about 500 volunteers to begin training at a secret base in Florida. Over several months, the commandos and Air Force Special Operations air crews flying HH-3E Jolly Green Giants rehearsed the raid on a scale model of the camp.

Finally, in the late hours of November 20, support aircraft including A-1 Skyraiders, F-4 Phantoms and F-105G Wild Weasels and the assault force of six Jolly Green Giant helicopters lifted off for the rescue from bases in Thailand and South Vietnam. At about 2:00am local time, the main assault force of some 50 Green Berets deliberately crash landed its helicopter into the main courtyard of the prison camp guns blazing. After a methodical search of the prison barracks and multiple engagements with guards, the assault force boarded a second helicopter for its exfiltration, empty handed.

Though the mission didn’t recover any of the POWs (intelligence later found they had been moved in July), the raid was a major success, involving a host of joint service assets — including a Navy decoy mission using A-7 Corsairs and A-6 Intruders that tied up North Vietnamese air defense assets as cover for the raid —  and resulting in only one injury.

6. Operation Flipper

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
British commandos conducted a daring raid to kill or capture Gen. Rommel that ended in failure

On the eve of a major offensive in North Africa against the German Afrika Corps, British generals planned a daring operation to assault Gen. Irwin Rommel’s headquarters and kill or capture the legendary Desert Fox.

Dubbed “Operation Flipper,” a team of nearly 60 soldiers from the #11 Scottish Commando and Special Boat Service were to make their way ashore on the coast of Libya and assault inland to Rommel’s headquarters near Apollonia. But the Nov. 10, 1941, mission was a disaster from the start.

Weather eventually forced much of the assault team to abandon the mission, leaving only 25 commandos to attack the objective. The team made it to Rommel’s headquarters but were shortly discovered by German staff and guards. The commando leader was shot and eventually died on the scene. And to make matters worse, Rommel was not at the headquarters.

The operation ended in total failure, with only two of the commandos and one of the SBS operators making it home alive. Nevertheless, Operation Flipper is seen as a bold and complex commando raid that combined covert insertion from a submarine, an arduous trek across miles of desert and a target whose death or capture could have decisively changed the direction of World War II.

7. Operation Oak

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

It was July 1943 and the Allies were beginning their push north from Sicily and bombing Rome. With the Nazis tied up in the epic battle of Kursk in Ukraine, Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini was left to his own devices after the Grand Fascist Council passed a no confidence vote on his leadership and he was arrested.

Eventually imprisoned at the Campo Imperatore ski resort high on a mountain in Gran Sasso, Italy, Mussolini was thought to be safe from any escape. But Hitler had other plans.

So on September 12, 1943, elite paratroopers from the German Fallschirmjager and Waffen SS commandos flew DFS 230 gliders to the mountaintop redoubt, landing atop the resort and subduing Mussolini’s 200 captors without firing a shot. The Italian strongman was then whisked away aboard a short takeoff prop plane and eventually took up residence in Vienna, Austria.

Dubbed “Operation Oak” by the German high command, the commando operation was bold and technically difficult given the remoteness and altitude of the Campo Imperatore resort, not to mention the compliment of 200 well-trained Carabinieri guards securing the site — all of whom surrendered to the elite German operators without a fight.

8. Operation Nimrod

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
Video footage of Operation Nimrod.

In one of the most public commando raids in history, two teams of British Special Air Service operators conducted an early evening assault on the Iranian embassy in London in front of hundreds of television cameras and reporters who broadcast the operation in real time.

Dubbed “Operation Nimrod,” the SAS assaulters repelled from the roof of the embassy and crashed through the ground floor to rescue 26 hostages taken by an extremist Arab independence group. For six days in April and May of 1980, a team of six terrorist besieged the embassy, deadlocking on negotiations with British officials.

On May 5, the SAS was called in after the terrorists killed one of their hostages and the raid was launched in broad daylight. More than 30 assaulters were involved in the raid, which killed all but one of the terrorists. One hostage was killed in the crossfire.

While the entire raid lasted only 17 minutes, the SAS was embroiled in controversy over its tactics, with some questioning whether the commandos used excessive force. One of the terrorists escaped with the hostages but was discovered by an SAS operator later and served a 27-year prison sentence.

9. Moscow Theater Rescue

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
Assaulters from the Russian Spetznaz Alpha group rescued hundreds of hostages from terrorists who besieged a Moscow theater.

In one of the boldest terrorist hostage takings in history, Chechen separatists besieged a Moscow theater holding more than 800 people captive for nearly a week.

Up to 40 Chechen terrorists, including female suicide bombers strapped with explosives and detonators, held theatergoers for days, demanding the withdrawal of all Russian forces from the Republic of Chechnya. Negotiations broke down, two hostages were killed and the Russian government spooled up the elite Alpha Group of the Federation’s Spetznaz.

On October 26, 2002, using a specialized gas to knock out both the terrorist captors and their hostages pumped in through the theater’s air ducts, the Alpha troops stormed the theater guns blazing. No quarter was given to the terrorists, some of whom lay unconscious with bombs still strapped to them and thumbs on their detonators. The Spetznaz commandos shot nearly 40 Chechen terrorists and captured several more.

While most of the hostages were rescued, more than 130 eventually died from poor care after the assault, the gas causing many to suffocate. Some of the Alpha troops also suffered injuries due to exposure to the gas. The raid was aggressive, cunning and was the first known major commando assault to use a still unknown gas to suppress the target before the assault.

10. Benjamin Tallmadge

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
Painting of Congressman Benjamin Tallmadge by Ezra Ames.

 

While not a specific raid per se, the combined operations of Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge and his troop of 2nd Continental Light Dragoons caused mischief and mayhem among British troops during the American Revolution, raiding Redcoat convoys, burning supplies and even running an espionage ring in the Northeast.

In one famous operation, Tallmadge and his Dragoons rowed across Long Island sound, hiked 20 miles inland and assaulted the British fort at Manor St. George in New York. The colonial commandos killed two British troops and quickly subdued the fort in the dead of night in November 1780. Tallmadge and his Dragoons are also famous for holding off attempts by British commandos to assault Gen. George Washington and his staff, serving as Washington’s personal body guard.

Tallmadge also played a pivotal role in unmasking the treachery of Benedict Arnold and his spy ring.

The role of Tallmadge’s 2nd Continental Light Dragoons is noteworthy because at the time such special operations and covert assaults were frowned upon by many traditional military officers, and it is seen as a testament to Washington’s strategic thinking that he allowed Tallmadge and his patriot commandos to operate as they did.

Christian Lowe is the former managing editor of Military.com. He's currently the online content director at the Grand View Media Group. Christian Lowe is the former managing editor of Military.com. He’s currently the online content director at the Grand View Media Group.

Humor

17 GIFs that will remind you of your first combat deployment

Deploying to war is an interesting time in a person’s life.


The experience will change how they see the world and they’ll never forget the milestones they encountered.

Related: 6 silly things troops bring into combat zones

Check out these GIFs that will remind you of your first combat deployment:

1. That feeling you got when your unit was informed they’re going on a year long deployment

You couldn’t wait to go. (Images via Giphy)

2. That patriotic moment when you boarded the bus to leave and looked back at your family

‘Merica! (Images via Giphy)

3. How awesome it felt to gear up for that first patrol

Oh, yeah! (Images via Giphy)

4. That time when your squad left the wire and were ready to f*ck sh*t up

We’re coming for you. (Images via Giphy)

 5. When you got bummed out because the enemy didn’t shoot at you

D*mn… (Images via Giphy)

6. When you have that first nightmare because you actually took the Doxycycline

I’m having a bad trip, guys. (Images via Giphy)

 7. How you initially reacted the first time you heard a massive explosion

Where’s it coming from? (Images via Giphy)

8. That special moment when you finally got to engage the enemy

Take that, ISIS. (Images via Giphy)

9. When your unit received its first care package shipment

Beef Jerky! Socks! (Images via Giphy)

10. The first time you tried to call home

“We’re breaking up!” “Wait, what?!” (Images via Giphy)

11. When the RR transport was loading up to leave

Thailand, here we go! (Images via Giphy)

12. When your motivation finally runs out

I’m done. (Images via Giphy)

13. Your dreams after you stopped taking your Doxycycline

So comforting. (Images via Giphy)

14. When the massive explosions didn’t bother you anymore

No big deal. (Images via Giphy)

15. What you did to someone that jokingly brought up the term “stop loss”

Tell me I have to stay one more time. (Images via Giphy)

17. When you’re finally told you’re rotating back home after a year deployment

Celebrate. (Images via Giphy)

Bonus: When you ate your first home-cooked meal back in the states.

Thanks, Mom! (Images via Giphy)

Can you think of any more? Comment below.

Articles

15 quotes from Gen. Mad Dog’ Mattis, slayer of bodies

Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis is known for his aggressive tactics and his even more aggressive quotes.


While he embraced counter-insurgency tactics with the rest of the military, his quotes put a decidedly lethal spin on “low-intensity combat.” Check out these 15 great Mattis quotes — but be warned… they’ll make you want to charge into hordes of America’s enemies with nothing but a Ka-Bar:

1. “The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some a-sholes in the world that just need to be shot.” (America and Iraq: Policy-making, Intervention and Regional Politics)

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
Photo: U.S. Marine Corps

2. “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f-ck with me, I’ll kill you all.” (Slate)

3. “I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.”

4. “Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit … Demonstrate to the world there is no better friend, no worse enemy than a U.S. Marine.” (Letter from Mattis to his troops just before the Iraq invasion)

5. “I don’t get intelligence off a satellite. Iraqis tell me who the enemy is.” (Press conference in Iraq via National Review)

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
(Photo: U.S. Department of Defense Erin A. Kirk)

6. “Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.”

7. “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

8. “Be the hunter, not the hunted: never allow your unit to be caught with its guard down.” (Letter from Mattis to his troops just before the Iraq invasion)

9. “The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.”

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric A. Clement)

10. “You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.” (Letter from Mattis to his troops just before the Iraq invasion)

11. “There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.” (Told to troops at Al Asad, Iraq)

12. “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communications Specialist Shawn P. Eklund)

13. “There is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It’s really great.”

14. “You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad.”

15. “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.” (Said during a panel discussion in San Diego, via CNN)

Lists

The best submarine movies of all time

This is a list about the best submarine movies. Who doesn’t love a good submarine film? Be honest. You know that whenever you see a trailer for a new submarine movie or hear about a great submarine movie you’ve never seen before that you get super excited and you feel like your head is about to implode… from the pressure. That’s a submarine joke. Water. …Depth.


From some of the top submarine movies like The Hunt For Red October, and Crimson Tide, to all-time great submarine movies like Das Boot, this list has everything you’ll need to satisfy your insatiable need for input on the most famous submarine movies.

The amount of times the word “submarine” appears in this list description is not an accident. Submarines are awesome (they go underwater, and there are people in them, and they are basically magic, and they shoot rockets and win wars!) and they deserve to be talked about more.

Thankfully, Hollywood agrees. Please enjoy this list of the best submarine movies of all time.

Vote for your favorite submarine films now!

The Best Submarine Movies Of All Time

More from Ranker:

This article originally appeared at Ranker. Copyright 2015. Like Ranker on Facebook.

NOW: 27 incredible photos of life on a Navy submarine

Lists

17 photos that show why the F-14 Tomcat was so darned awesome

During more than 34 years of fleet service, the F-14 Tomcat transformed from analog fighter to digital precision attack platform. Originally designed to keep Russian bombers away from the battle group by employing Phoenix missiles at very long range, by the time the Tomcat was retired in 2006 it was capable of missions as far ranging as forward air controller (airborne), reconnaissance, close air support, and precision deep-strike, which made it CENTCOM’s platform of choice over Afghanistan and Iraq.


Here’s a gallery of 17 photos that celebrate the legendary F-14, the last of the Grumman cats:

 

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

The Tomcat came in three different models: A, B, and D. Here an F-14D — with two General Electric F-110 engines and the fully digital APG-71 radar system — makes a supersonic pass.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

The F-14A had the less powerful (and less reliable) Pratt and Whitney TF-30 engine that required the pilot select afterburner when launching from the carrier. The F-14A and B also had the AWG-9 weapons system, which used physical tape to transfer data.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

Because the GE F-110 had the same thrust at military power as the TF-30 had in Zone 2 afterburner F-14B and D pilots could launch from the carrier without selecting afterburner, which didn’t look as cool but was much safer.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

Unlike the F-4, which extended its nose strut for catapult launches, the F-14 “knelt,” or compressed, the nose strut, giving it the look of a dragster about to zorch down the quarter mile.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

Airborne off Cat 3! Here Tom Twomey, a radar intercept officer with the VF-111 “Sundowners,” takes a selfie (before that was a thing) as his pilot starts a left-hand clearing turn away from the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

The engineers who designed the Tomcat swore that asymmetric wing sweep was impossible, but test pilots proved them wrong during test. In spite of this over the history of the airplane the wing sweep system proved to be very reliable.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

Because 25 percent of the Tomcat’s lift came from the large area between the wings — popularly referred to as the “tennis court” — the Tomcat didn’t have a very impressive roll rate relative to airplanes like the A-4 or F-16. But its large horizontal stabilizers gave Tomcat pilots significant pitch authority, which made the jet a lethal dogfighter in the right hands.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

People tend to forget that the United States sold Iran F-14s back when the Shah was in charge in the late ’70s and that they’re still flying them today (although none of them are believed to be fully mission capable). The Iranian Air Force used the Phoenix missile to shoot down Iraqi opponents during the Iran-Iraq War, something U.S. Navy crews never did.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

Iranian ace Jalil Zandi shot down 11 Iraqi aircraft during the Iran–Iraq War, which makes him the most successful F-14 pilot by far.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

The first Gulf of Sidra incident occurred in 1981 when a section of Tomcats from VF-41 flying off of the USS Nimitz shot down two Libyan Su-22s. Wing RIO Lt. Jim Anderson (far left) was later killed in a skiing accident. Lead pilot Cdr. Hank Kleeman (second from left, squadron CO at the time) was later killed when he flipped an F/A-18 while taxiing. Wing pilot Lt. Larry Muczynski (second from left) got out of the Navy to become an airline pilot. Lead RIO Lt. Dave Venlet (far right) became a pilot and ultimately rose to the rank of Vice Admiral and headed the Naval Air Systems Command.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

The second Gulf of Sidra incident took place in 1989 when two Tomcats from the VF-32 “Swordsmen” shot down two Libyan MiG-23s. (Read the full amazing story here.)

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

The Tomcat’s size — nearly 70 feet from wingtip to wingtip — demanded pilots be right on azimuth when they crossed the aircraft carrier’s ramp. Here a pilot makes a last-second lineup correction that almost leads to disaster.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

The F-14 had a lot of moving parts in the landing pattern — flaps, slats, speed brake, spoilers, rudders, and horizontal stabilizers — which earned the airplane the nickname “Turkey” because of how it looked to be flapping when the pilot was actively moving the controls. (Also note the LANTIRN pod — the gear that made the Tomcat a smart bomber — mounted on the right weapons station.)

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

“The John Wayne loadout,” six Phoenix missiles. Although this is why the Tomcat was initially fielded, during the years the fighter flew the real-world threat never demanded this complement of missiles.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

A Tomcat tanking from an Air Force KC-135, an always-sporty evolution because of the adapter that was placed at the end of the boom to accommodate Navy aircraft that didn’t give much slack and had a tendency to rip off probes if pilots weren’t careful.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

Arguably the coolest paint job in the history of military aviation. VX-4’s “Vandy One” was a big hit on cross-countries and at airshows in the days before the Playboy bunny came to represent pure evil (and JAGs figured out the U.S. Navy was in gross violation of copyright laws). (But you could be somebody climbing out of this one, tell you what . . .)

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

Those who flew you miss you, Big Fighter. Tomcats forever, baby!

Articles

The top 10 militaries of the world in 2017

Everyone wants to know who’s carrying the biggest stick. While everyone has their own measurements for how to judge the size of a nation’s military, these 10 militaries are easily some of the best equipped and trained in the modern world:


10. United Kingdom

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
A British sniper sights down his L115A3 sniper rifle. (Photo: Ministry of Defense)

The United Kingdom has one of the world’s newest aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth. It also has nearly 900 aircraft and an active duty military of over 150,000 people. But it has a small overall navy for an island nation at 76 total ships and its total armored vehicles, counting its 250 tanks, is just a hair over 6,000.

9. Germany

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
German army Upper Cpl. Andre Schadler scans the battlefield for threats with a thermal sight during the first day of training at the Great Lithuanian Hetman Jonusas Radvila Training Regiment, in Rukla, Lithuania, June 10, 2015. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. James Avery)

With almost 700 aircraft and over 6,000 armored vehicles as well as 180,000 well-trained active troops, Germany is well-positioned for a defensive war. Why only defensive? Because it lacks most significant power projection platforms like carriers and has few troop transports and submarines.

8. Italy

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
A member of the Italian Special Forces participates in small unit tactics at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center in Amman, Jordan, during Eager Lion 2017. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Lange)

Italy has two smaller aircraft carriers, lots of helicopters, and almost 250,000 active troops, allowing it to push significant force around the world. Those service members are equipped with over 800 aircraft and 7,000 armored vehicles. Unfortunately, a shortage of tanks (about 200) and ships (less than 150 for a peninsular nation) hurts its ranking.

7. France

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
A French paratrooper watches other airborne soldiers descend from a C-130. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Lloyd Villanueva)

The French military has 204,000 active military personnel and 183,000 in reserve. Those are relatively small numbers, but its forces are equipped with capable equipment produced by a homegrown defense industry — think of the Mirage fighter and the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship.

It relies more heavily than most on armored fighting vehicles as opposed to tanks with almost 7,000 of the former and just over 400 of the latter. The nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle is the only non-American nuclear carrier in the world. Its foreign legion is one of the most famous combat forces in the world.

6. South Korea

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
U.S. Soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment and Republic Of Korea Soldiers (ROK) with 8th Division,137th Battalion conducts an urban breaching at Rodriguez Live Fire Range, South Korea, March 9, 2016. (Photo: U.S Army Staff. Sgt Kwadwo Frimpong)

With over 624,000 troops; 2,381 tanks; and 1,412 aircraft ready to go, South Korea is anything but weak. It also boasts over 5 million reserve service members. Most of its equipment is on the newer side and some of it is homegrown. But, it’s important to remember why Korea keeps so much firepower at hand.

It’s most likely enemy is North Korea, which has one of the largest artillery stockpiles in the world stacked within range of the South Korean capital. And while the huge North Korean military is too badly equipped, trained, and prepared to make this list, it’s still likely that an invasion from the north would cripple South Korea and level its capital before the aggressors could be beat back.

5. Japan

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
Japan’s JS Atago, a guided-missile destroyer. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Jennifer A. Villalovos)

Japan maintains a “Self-Defense Force” that is very capable on both offense and defense. With the fourth largest submarine force and four small aircraft carriers — often called “helicopter carriers” — as well as homegrown tanks and aircraft and imported weapons like the U.S. Apache, Japan has a varied and capable collection of military hardware.

Still, the country suffers from a significant size issue. It has less than 1,600 aircraft, 4,000 armored vehicles, and only about 130 ships. All of that is manned by a little over 300,000 troops. In a protracted war, Japan will keenly feel every loss of a submarine or other high-value asset.

4. India

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
IAF Garud Commandos in an Indian Air Force training video (IAF Video Still)

India has a large number of troops, but those are largely reserve personnel (2.8 million reserve vs. almost 1.4 million active). It boasts a large number of armored vehicles at over 11,000, but has a relatively small air force and navy and relies on more prosperous allies for much of its defense development.

But some of those joint ventures are paying off. While India’s Sukhoi planes purchased from Russia have repeatedly ran into problems, the country is also working with Russia to perfect a fifth-generation fighter and a supersonic cruise missile that could be carried by submarines, planes, and vehicles.

3. China

The 10 most daring commando raids in history
A Chinese ZBD-04 infantry fighting vehicle. (Chinese Defense Ministry photo)

China has the world’s largest population at 1.4 billion and its largest military population at 3.7 million with 2.2 million of those being active troops. Those millions of men and women are equipped with almost 3,000 aircraft, 13,000 armored vehicles, and 714 ships.

But China struggles with modernization and organization problems as decades of power struggles between the army and navy hollowed out sections of the force. But with increased military spending that puts it behind only the U.S., it’s quickly closing the technological and equipment gaps, especially in strategically important areas like Taiwan, the South China Sea, and Africa.

2. Russia

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Russian special forces. (Photo: The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

When it comes to countries punching above their weight, it’s hard to find an example better than Russia. Despite a relatively small economy (data differs, but it’s typically ranked 10th or lower in the world), it manufactures a large amount of military hardware and is the second largest exporter in the world after the U.S.

This allows it to field about 3,800 planes, 5,600 armored vehicles including tanks, and 282 warships (counting everything from its aircraft carrier to small logistics vessels). It’s currently trying to develop the T-14 Armata. If successful, that would be the world’s most advanced tank, boasting active protection systems, an auto-loader, and nearly unbeatable armor.

1. United States

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(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Shiloh Capers)

If you were surprised, you shouldn’t be. The U.S. spends the most on its military, both per capita and total. Its Navy has the largest and most aircraft carriers in the world with 11 full-sized carriers (counting the new USS Gerald R. Ford) and 8 “helicopter carriers” in service. Its Air Force flies the largest and most technologically advanced air fleet in the world which is just a little larger than the U.S. Navy’s air fleet.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps aren’t the largest of their respective groups worldwide, but they are some of the most capable. Both forces enjoy very high spending per service member compared to rival forces, and that allows them to bring their artillery and aircraft to the fight.

All four U.S. Department of Defense branches are trained to work together on a battlefield, combining their powers into one joint team.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Memesday! Thirteen of our favorites are below. Feel free to plaster your favorites all over our Facebook page.


1. That’s the sergeant major’s grass and you’re just lucky you won’t have to guard it.

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But once it comes in a little more, you will be grooming it.

2. Mk-19s are for when you don’t like an entire geographic area.

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It will occasionally take care of buildings you don’t like, too.

SEE ALSO: 17 photos that show why troops absolutely love the .50 caliber machine gun

3. Armories makes no sense to airmen (via Military Memes).

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4. Sailors are the world’s most glorified travel agents (via OutOfRegs.com).

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The anchors sail away while the Marines go to play.

5. The Devil Doge (via Marine Corps Memes).

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Prepare to be bit.

6. You train like you fight …

(Via Coast Guard Memes)

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… in ankle deep water.

7. When you learn your last unit was f-cked up (via Marine Corps Memes).

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8. It’s a time-honored tradition (via Military Memes).

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It’s not comfortable, but it’s time-honored.

9. Give your driver dip and energy drinks.

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But, choose the energy drinks carefully.

10. How you know your unit needs more range time (via Sh*t My LPO says).

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They may need a new range safety first though. The old one had a heart attack.

11. Why you get up at zero-dark-thirty for an afternoon mission (via Marine Corps Memes).

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There will be a few more delays before anyone actually steps off.

 12. When “personalizing” your vehicle, don’t use military patterns (via Sh*t My LPO says).

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That’s as bad as putting your entire military career in stickers on your back window.

13. The Air Force has so many sprinkles you can shower food in them (via OutOfRegs.com).

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But, they’re totally a military branch and not a kid’s birthday party. Totally.

NOW: That time the Nazi’s planned to blow up Hoover Dam

OR: 6 of the most badass US military test pilots

Lists

The best World War I airplanes

World War One airplanes began as primitive, unarmed artillery spotters that could barely take offensive action – and ended as powerful bombers and sleek modern fighters. Germany, the UK, and France led the way in aircraft development, creating iconic aircraft like the SPAD, Sopwith Camel, and the scourge of allied pilots, the German Fokker.


This was a time when air-to-air combat was quite literally being made up as pilots went along. The first fighter planes were little more than lumbering artillery spotters with an extra man carrying a revolver. Soon, the interrupter gear was invented, giving aircraft the ability to shoot through their propellers. German technology quickly took control of the skies, first in the “Fokker scourge” of 1916, then “Bloody April” 1917. But Allied pilots fought back, and by the end of the war, both sides had thousands of the most sophisticated planes available, and experienced pilots to fly them.

Aircraft technology developed so quickly that fighters would be rolled out in mass quantities, and be obsolete by the time they were actually used. Even so, the war pioneered many of the tactics used in World War 2 aircraft, including heavy bombers escorted by fighters, deep-penetration reconnaissance planes, night fighters and bombers, and innovative technology.

Here are some of the most important, widely-produced, iconic, and effective planes of World War 1. Vote up your favorites or add your own.

The Best World War 1 Airplanes

More from Ranker:

This article originally appeared at Ranker. Copyright 2015. Like Ranker on Facebook.

Lists

5 ways Morse code is better than text messaging

In 1999, the last official Morse code message was sent out from the Globe Wireless master station south of San Francisco. It was the end of an era for a form of communication that lasted well over 163 years. To put this into perspective, early forms of ARPANET email are about 47 years old and SMS text messaging has been around almost 26 years.


Today, only ten Airmen a year learn the craft of reading Morse code and it’s more of a history lesson than a practical one. You can still find the occasional radio enthusiast who picked it up as a party trick or a conversation starter. Once you learn the skill, however, you start realizing how many other Morse code nerds there are out there. Hell, even the original Nokia SMS notification chime was just “SMS” written in Morse code as (…/- -/…).

1. It’s an easy skill to learn that blows people away

You see it in the movies and on television all the time. In some tense action scene, someone blurts out, “oh my god! It’s Morse code!” Suddenly, everyone looks at the guy who figured it out like he’s a genius.

It’s really not rocket science. Once you realize that the letters are organized in a way that the most common letters in the alphabet, like ‘E’ and ‘T,’ have the least amount of dots and dashes (‘E’ is just one dot and ‘T’ is just one dash), it starts to make sense. Conversely, the rarer a letter, the more dots and dashes it requires. Numbers are five dots and dashes and punctuation marks are six. Standard guides are nice, but flowcharts like the one below make things so much easier.

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(Chart by Learn Morse Code)

2. Doesn’t always need electricity

Using an actual telegraph requires electricity. It was called the “electric telegraph” after all. But you can just as easily knock on things or even blink to get your message across.

A famous use of Morse code in military history was in the Vietnam War when Commander Jeremiah Denton was taken as a prisoner of war. He was forced into an NVA propaganda film and made to explain how “well” his captors were treating him. So, he said exactly what his captors wanted him to say while also blinking “torture” (-/- – -/.-./-/..-/.-./.). He got his message across while leaving the NVA completely unaware.

Also read: This Vietnam War POW used a propaganda film to blink ‘TORTURE’ in Morse Code

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a5175-PXao

(Parker’s Video Portal | YouTube)

3. You can talk about people in front of them

On that note, because learning Morse code isn’t that common, you can also mock people in front of them if you take the time to learn it.

There’s no subtlety in pulling out your cell phone and telling someone that, “this is bullsh*t.”

[dailymotion //www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x2pduoh expand=1]

4. ‘K’ actually means something

One of the most infuriating text messages you can receive after writing out paragraphs is just, ‘k.’

If you send out the message (.-.), or ‘k,’ in Morse code, you’re also saying in short-hand that you’re ready to receive the message from the other person.

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Spend five minutes writing to someone and they don’t even have the time to write more than just one letter? A*sholes… (Meme via Know Your Meme)

5. There are no emojis.

I mean, technically, you can still make old-school emoticons, like “:)” as (- – -…/-.- -.-), but no one will get what you’re saying.

But as emojis get more elaborate, conversations start getting dumber. There isn’t any of that crap in Morse-code conversations.

Articles

The 12 Funniest Military Memes This Week

It’s time for our meme round up, but first a little disclaimer. This week we did things a little different. We trolled Ranger Up‘s Facebook page to bring you our favorite Ranger Up memes. But there’s more, we also pulled meme replies from their fans. Here’s what we got:


As it turns out, no one is safe on Ranger Up’s Facebook page, not even the Navy SEALs.

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Whatever happen to Delta Force anyways? They need to hire a new PR firm.

Really, this is how it is.

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Don’t worry Delta Force, patience is a virtue.

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Or you could take a page from the E-4 Mafia and use your time like this …

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The E-4 Mafia can get very creative.

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For some, this is the most action they’ll get.

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This is what happens when things get real.

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A move like this qualifies you as the ultimate blue falcon.

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No one likes a blue falcon.

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How soldiers feel when they get a hooah.

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Ranger Up is our reference for Air Force jokes. Here’s one of our favorites.

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Sometimes, when Ranger Up starts their meme wars, they let others fire first. Sometimes.

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NOW: The 11 Best War Faces In Military Movie History

AND: The 18 Military Facebook Pages You Should Be Following

Articles

The 17 most hardcore WWII Air Corps bomber jackets

Cartoon characters with machine guns, sexy pin-ups riding phallic bombs, and/or — for the more skilled — an array of Nazi Swastikas or Japanese Rising Sun flags indicating the number of aircraft or ships destroyed . . . these are just a few of the common images worn on the backs U.S. Army Air Corps pilots, bombardiers, and navigators in World War II.


Whether it was for good luck, a sense of home or belonging, or just because wearing a jacket featuring Bugs Bunny Pulling Hitler’s severed head out of a hat fueled stories for the grandkids, there’s no doubt these jackets will always be enduring icons of a hard-fought air war.

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16. Props (see what we did there?) to this unit. This jacket looks pretty damn good for being hand painted:

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15. After 35 bombing runs, this probably says it all. TWANNGGG:

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14. Does that type look familiar? During WWII, the Walt Disney Company was much looser with its trademarks when it came to the war effort. Disney designed many of the unit and morale patches used by the Army Air Corps:

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

13. Native American imagery was a popular theme, not just because this imagery was born in the Western Hemisphere and is associated with the Western U.S. and Great Plains, but also because the percentage of Natives who serve in the U.S. military is disproportionately high:

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12. Lady Liberty was every pilot’s best girl:

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11. Not just an awesome jacket with great art, using German seems like a it would be a bigger F**k You to Hitler and the Nazis, and it’s a really funny name. Der Grossarschvogel translates to “The Big Ass Bird”:

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10. John McClane preferred Roy Rogers, But the Lone Ranger is good too (Yippy Ki Yay, Motherfu**er):

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9. Finally, a play on words using an aviator’s term:

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8. This gets to the point faster than TWANNGGG:

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7. The award for incorporating (what would become) the Air Force song:

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6. The thing about being crazy is if you know you’re crazy, then you’re not crazy.

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5. This way, you’d always remember your crewmen’s names.

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4. Who among us hasn’t dated Ice Cold Katy at least once? This guy is a hero.

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3. Nice use of the Air Corps star:

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2. Ramp Tramp – n. military/aviation term for a semi-skilled or unskilled airbase flightline worker, typically a baggage handler or aircraft cleaner. Flight crew and skilled mechanics/avionics personnel would not be considered “ramp tramps.” This is a nice shout out:

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1. The top spot has to go to this guy. There’s no room for scantily-clad women when you’re trying to work in 100 bombing runs, five Japanese aircraft kills, and 12 ships, one of them a battleship.

The 10 most daring commando raids in history

Lists

7 productivity hacks straight from the US Navy

Have you stopped checking email, turned off all notifications, and started saying no to unproductive meetings but still struggling to get ahead of your work? These seven productivity hacks from the U.S. Navy can help you be more efficient:


1. Have meetings standing up.

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Photo: John F. Williams/US Navy

Prevent yourself and others from becoming too comfortable during short meetings. Sailors usually stand up instead of sit, since it tends to keep everyone alert and promotes more productive meetings.

2. Always keep study materials on hand.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alan Gragg/US Navy

Find the time to study for your next certification between tasks by keeping your books within arms reach. Whether you are the CEO or an entry-level employee, you should keep a book or learning app on your phone for downtime. You can learn from the sailors’ habit of carrying study materials during boot camp to learn their General Orders, the Sailor’s Creed, the Navy song and more. Those who maintain the habit when they arrive at their duty station accelerate faster than those that don’t.

3. Teamwork improves productivity. 

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Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique M. Lasco/US Navy

This is an obvious one, but it may not be so clear in a competitive environment. However, if you learn to work together, you can accomplish herculean tasks efficiently. Navy SEALs learn this lesson the hard way. During SEAL training, they are broken down into small boat crews and tasked with paddling several miles past the tough Coronado surf. They quickly learn that they must paddle in unison to be efficient.

4. Delegate, delegate, delegate.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ian Carver/US Navy

The chain of command exists for a reason, so use it. Focus on your strengths and delegate the rest to others. This is not a new philosophy but people sometimes become too timid to enforce it. The Navy ensures a healthy chain of command structure by providing constant leadership training. Delegating what’s appropriate to your subordinates improves your leadership while making you more productive at the same time.

5. Do easy tasks right away for a quick productivity boost.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Paolo Bayas/US Navy

If it takes less than five minutes, do it now. A quick task is not worth adding to your “to do list” or delegating to another. By adopting this habit, you will clear a lot of tasks from your list and it also gives you the satisfaction of achievement. This habit is instilled in every sailor, from the most senior to the most junior. It is also a habit formed out of necessity because small tasks can easily turn into bigger ones for you and everyone else, killing productivity. 

6. Mentor and evaluate.

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3d Class Michael Achterling/US Navy

Think of mentoring and evaluating your staff like maintaining a vehicle: If you don’t follow up with your fluids and tire rotations, your vehicle will break down faster. The same is true for your staff. An evaluation a couple of times a year, or frequent career mentoring will help them take the proper steps for advancement, which in turn provides a qualified person to delegate to. It is mandatory in the Navy to have frequent performance evaluations throughout the year. Evaluations determine a sailor’s knowledge and also determine whether he or she is ready for a promotion.

7. The most important productivity tip? Make your bed every morning.

Making your bed every morning will give you the satisfaction of accomplishing your first task of the day. It will encourage you to do another task followed by many more compounding into many tasks completed by the end of the day, according to Navy SEAL Adm. William H. McRaven. “Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.” Hear it from McRaven, with this advice starting at 4:36:

Lists

6 tips to help you get through Air Assault School

Many Soldiers seek Air Assault School as a simple way to get a skill badge for gloating rights. It’s only two weeks of sliding down ropes — how hard could it be? Kinda difficult, actually, if you’re not prepared.


Being a dope-on-a-rope is the fun part, but cocky and unprepared soldiers will often get dropped before they reach that point. To get the opportunity to really learn what rotor wash is, you’re going to have to do a lot of work. There’s a lot more to the school than you might think. Here’s what you need to know if you want to make it through.

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I honestly don’t know if that guy was planted there by the instructors, but we all got the message. There’s no messing around at this school.

(Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

If you’re at the Sabalauski Air Assault School, for the love of all that is holy, don’t sh*t-talk the 101st Airborne

If you’re stationed at Fort Campbell, home of the Sabalauski Air Assault School, you’re more than likely going to be voluntold to attend. The 101st is pretty fond of their Air Assault status and almost everyone at the school is rocking their Old Abe.

If you’re not in the 101st and are attending on TDY, it’s ill-advised to sport an 82nd patch or Airborne wings. You might get pestered if you do, but won’t get kicked out or anything. All of that goes out the window, however, if you mouth off about the divisional rivalry.

Just how easy is it to get kicked? Here’s a fun, true story: A guy standing next to me on Day Zero couldn’t hold his tongue. He told the instructor, who kept his composure throughout, that “if you choking chickens can do this, so can I.” The instructor just opened the fool’s canteen, poured some water out, shook it near his ear, and told the idiot that he was a no-go before he could set foot on the obstacle course.

Get as much time on obstacle courses as you can before attending

The Day-Zero obstacle course isn’t that physically demanding. Every obstacle is designed so that everyone from the biggest gym rat to the smallest dude can pass. It’s more of a thought exercise than a physical exam.

The challenge that gets the most people is the rope climb. You can climb a rope with almost no effort if you carefully use your feet to create temporary anchors as you work your way up. Check out the video below for a visual example.

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The “Air Assault” that will forever play in your head will remind you why your knees are blown out at 25.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Matthew Hecht)

Get used to saying “Air Assault” at least 7000 times a day

“When that left foot hits the ground, all I want to hear is that Air Assault sound.” This literally means you’ll be saying, “Air Assault” every single time your left foot hits the ground while you’re at the school. It’s not very pleasant considering it’s a three-syllable phrase and you’ll be uttering it every other second.

The answer to every question is “Air Assault.” Every movement is “Air Assault.” You’ll probably start mumbling the phrase after a while, but don’t let the instructors catch you doing it.

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Also, don’t sleep in class. That’s a shortcut to getting kicked.

(Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

There’s actually a lot of math

After you’re done with the obstacle course, the first phase is all about the helicopters. You’ll be expected to memorize every specification of every single helicopter in the Army’s roster.

And, yes, you’ll need to brush up on your basic math skills to plot out how far apart each helicopter should be given their size and area of landing. But don’t worry, you’ll get to the fun stuff soon enough.

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Another heads up: That yellow stick thing is super important. You don’t want to learn the hard way why you have to poke the helicopter with it.

(Photo by Pfc. Alexes Anderson)

Expect to do more sling-load operations than fast roping

Oh, you thought Air Assault was all about jumping out of helicopters and quickly touching on what it takes to be a Pathfinder? That’s hilarious. You’re now going to be qualified for a detail that will almost always come up when you’re deployed: sling-loading gear to the bottom of helicopters.

The math skills and carrying capacities you crammed into your brain will ensure that you’re the go-to guy whenever a sling-load mission comes up. It’s only after that test that you move onto the repelling phase. This is when things gets fun.

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Do units still do blood wings? Probably not. It’s not that bad, really.

(Photo by Sgt. Mickey Miller)

Make sure your 12-mile ruck march is up to speed

If you’re in a combat arms unit, making a 12-mile ruck march in under three hours isn’t asking much. That’s just one mile every fifteen minutes if you pace yourself properly. The ruck is the absolute last thing you’ll be doing at Air Assault School, just moments before graduation. And yet, people still fail.

If your unit came to cheer you on and give you your blood wings and you can’t complete the elementary ruck march at the end, you’ll never live down the fact that you failed while everyone was finding parking.

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