The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:
A security forces Airman secures the outside of a hardened facility after neutralizing the opposing force during a combat training course on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Capt. Alexander Goldfein, Thunderbird 3, and Maj. Jason Curtis, Thunderbird 5, fly above the U.S. Air Force Academy grounds in Colorado Springs.
Sailors assist Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) operating combat rubber raiding craft as they approach the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20).
Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Devorris Harris mans the bridge helm while transiting out of Victoria Harbor aboard Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2).
An Army chaplain candidate in the Basic Officer Leaders Course and his assistant negotiate the day infiltration course at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Knock, Knock. Marines attached to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, “The Lava Dogs,” stack up for door breaching with a water charge at Lava Viper aboard Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii.
Night Crew. U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced), 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, perform post-flight maintenance on an AH-1Z Viper aboard the USS Anchorage (LPD 23) in the Philippine Sea.
The Coast Guard Cutter Eagle sails into Norfolk, Va., as part of Norfolk Harborfest 2015. The Eagle is a 295-foot barque sailing vessel and the only operational commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. military.
A Coast Guard crewman stands at the ready on a 25-foot Response Boat – Small while watches the USS Chosin, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as it arrives for the Portland, Ore., annual Rose Festival.
Despite President Donald Trump’s national-security advisers’ note reminding him “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” Russian President Vladimir Putin on his election victory during their call on March 20, 2018, Trump did anyway.
When asked whether Trump thought Putin’s election victory was free and fair during a press briefing that day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders demurred.
“We’re focused on our elections,” she said. “We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate.”
During another press briefing in February 2018, Sanders argued Trump had been “tougher on Russia in the first year than [former President Barack] Obama was in eight years combined.”
This argument has become a frequent line of defense Trump officials have used when pressed about the administration’s complicated relationship with Russia.
Trump, whose response to the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election has been lukewarm at best, is often perceived as being hesitant to confront the Kremlin’s aggression.
But the Trump administration has actually taken some concrete actions against Russia. Here are five examples:
Trump originally signed the sanctions bill — officially called the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act — August 2017, albeit begrudgingly.
The sanctions bill also imposes a wide range of sanctions on North Korea and Iran.
2. Closing of diplomatic facilities
After Congress approved Russia-related sanctions summer 2017, Russia expelled 755 American diplomats from the country.
In response, the Trump administration ordered Russia to close three of its diplomatic facilities in the US, including its consulate in San Francisco and two annexes in Washington, DC and New York City.
3. Arms sale to Ukraine
In December 2017, Trump announced his support for the sale of lethal munitions to the Ukrainian government in its fight against Russian-backed separatists in the country’s Donbas region, a move that angered Russia, which has been engaged in a hybrid war in the region for the past four years.
The State Department officially approved $47 million weapons sale in early March 2018. It included Javelin launchers and anti-tank missiles.
The US, the UK, France, and Germany all blamed Russia for the attack.
Although Trump initially failed to deliver a forceful condemnation of Russia for the attack, other officials in his administration picked up the slack.
“Over the past four years, Russia has engaged in a campaign of coercion and violence, targeting anyone opposed to its attempted annexation,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
“We stand behind those courageous individuals who continue to speak out about these abuses and we call on Russia to cease its attempts to quell fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, and religion or belief.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the attack “clearly came from Russia” and US Ambassador to the US Nikki Haley said the US stood in “absolute solidarity” with the UK after the attack.
A full day after the UK blamed Russia, Trump told reporters that “as soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be.” Referring to the UK’s findings, he added, “It sounds to me like they believe it was Russia, and I would certainly take that finding as fact.”
National-security experts were baffled and alarmed by Trump’s delayed reaction to the chemical attack.
Trump then joined a statement with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreeing that there was “no plausible alternative explanation” than that Russia was to blame for the attack.
5. Trump officials repeatedly criticize Moscow
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley have been particularly critical of Russia.
On March 7, 2018, Nauert condemned Russia in a tweet, saying that it ignored a UN ceasefire agreement in Syria by bombing civilians in Damascus and Eastern Ghouta.
Her criticism elicited a direct response from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which told Nauert to “calm down.”
“Your propaganda machine is out of control — you’re spamming all of us,” the MFA added.
In January 2018, Nauert condemned Russia for supporting separatists in the country of Georgia. Trump recently promoted her to undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.
Haley has also been critical of Russia over a variety of issues, including Moscow’s support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and the Kremlin’s aggression in Ukraine.
Every military professional has his or her favorite war novel and picking the “greatest” is a tall order. But that’s what we do here at WATM. These are our picks for the greatest war novels ever written:
1. Catch 22
Written from several third person points of view with a circular dynamic centered around the paradox that is Catch-22, this Joseph Heller classic was in many ways years ahead of its time in that the wider audience didn’t relate to his reading of the military until well into the Vietnam War years. Beyond the biting satire and staccato pacing Catch-22 captures the personalities that populate the military to this day: inept commanders, opportunistic junior officers, and enlisted men staying sane by not taking anything around them too seriously. This is a must-read before every major deployment.
2. The Things They Carried
Tim O’ Brien’s Vietnam-era literary masterpiece is brimming with pathos. The novel’s strength isn’t necessarily in how it deals with war straight-on, but it lies in O’Brien’s atmospherics and states of mind and the resultant permanent scars of an ill-defined conflict carried out by a nation riven by it.
3. Mr. Midshipmen Hornblower
Most people think of Patrick ‘O Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series as the definitive historical fiction works around the heyday of warfighting sailing ships, but Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, the first book in C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series, skips getting bogged down in technical detail and instead offers timeless lessons in military leadership at sea and amazing perspective around what 17-year olds had to tackle responsibility-wise in the fledgling American Navy.
4. The Hunters
James Salter’s poetic prose elevates this Korean War-era story about Air Force pilots to timeless art as well as a definitive reading of those drawn to that particular warfare specialty. The Hunters has it all: a burned out CO, a confused chain of command, cocky junior officers, and significant others complaining about being ignored for the glory of air combat.
5. The Hunt for Red October
Tom Clancy was an insurance salesman who couldn’t interest anyone in his manuscript until the Naval Institute Press – a publisher that had never done fiction – decided to take a chance based on the story’s level of technical detail that bordered on classified. The book’s sales were relatively flat until President Ronald Reagan was seen carrying a copy, and from that point The Hunt for Red October became the title that launched a thousand technothrillers as well as Clancy’s prolific and lucrative career.
6. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Author Ben Fountain paints an all-too-accurate portrait of what “support the troops” has come to mean a decade and a half after 9-11. “Halftime Walk” is set at the Dallas Cowboys stadium where an Army unit is feted by the team’s owner and his circle of Texas fat cats who demonstrate the distance between the American population and those sent to do their fighting. More than a novel about war, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a national indictment.
7. All Quiet on the Western Front
Remarque’s groundbreaking World War I novel was among the first to dispel any laudable mystique surrounding war through its detail about trench warfare and mustard gas attacks and the portrayal of the protagonist’s decent from idealistic recruit to member of a generation forever scarred by “The Long War.” Paul Baumer’s heartbreak is that of the hundreds of thousands of service members who followed him into battle in the decades after his war ended, many of whom certainly read the book but went anyway.
An instant classic. Phil Klay’s much heralded debut novel about the Iraq War is worthy of the praise heaped upon it. Redeployment is at once timely and timeless in capturing the nuance of the emotions and states of mind of Marines at war and back home between tours. To get to what’s honorable about service you have to face the realities of an unclear mission without end and what accepting them does to those involved. In this effort Klay emerges as the de facto spokesman for the post-9/11 cohort of warfighters.
9. Slaughterhouse Five
Kurt Vonnegut’s best-known novel if not his masterwork, Slaughterhouse Five builds off of the author’s real-life experiences as an eyewitness to the aftermath of the Dresden firebombing during World War II and adds a time-traveling protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, to create a book that deftly illustrates the pointlessness and futility of war. (Also recommended by Vonnegut: Mother Night.)
The Internet is currently losing its collective cool over the King penguin promoted to brigadier general. While this is cute, it can sting for enlisted troops to learn that an animal has been promoted above them.
Well, it gets worse, guys and girls, because Brigadier Sir Olav isn’t the only adorable animal who outranks you. Olav has five American counterparts from history who held a military rank of sergeant or above:
1. Brigadier Sir Nils Olav
Brigadier Sir Nils Olav is one of the only animal members of a military officer corps or royal nobility.The penguin resides at the zoo in Edinburgh, Scotland and serves as the mascot of the Royal Norwegian Guard. The first penguin mascot of the guard was adopted in 1972. The name “Nils Olav” and mascot duties are passed on after the death of a mascot.
The Royal Norwegian Guard comes to the zoo every year for a military ceremony, and the penguin inspects them. Before each inspection, the penguin is promoted a single rank. The current penguin is the third to hold the name and has climbed from lance corporal to brigadier general. He is expected to live another 10 years and so could become the senior-most member of the Norway military.
Sinbad served 11 years of sea duty on the USCGC Campbell before retiring to Barnegat Light Station. During the war, he was known for causing a series of minor international incidents for which the Coast Guard was forced to write him up.
She was promoted to sergeant for her heroics there and was later promoted twice to staff sergeant, once by her colonel and once by the then-Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Randolph Pate.
4. Boatswain’s Mate Chief Maximilian Talisman
Boatswain’s Mate Chief Maximilian Talisman was a mascot aboard the USCGC Klamath who was officially assessed numerous times and always received a 3.4 out of 4.0 or better on his service reviews. He crossed the International Date Line twice and served in the Arctic Circle and Korea, according to a Coast Guard history.
5. Sgt. Stubby
Stubby was a dog who joined U.S. soldiers drilling on a field in Massachusetts in 1917. He learned the unit’s drill commands and bugle calls and was adopted by the men who later smuggled him to the frontlines in France. An officer spotted Stubby overseas and was berating his handler when the dog rendered his version of a salute, placing his right paw over his right eye.
The officer relented and Stubby served in the trenches, often warning the men of incoming gas attacks and searching for wounded personnel. He was promoted to sergeant for having spotted and attacked a German spy mapping the trench systems.
In an undated update from the Coast Guard, Turk held the rank of chief boatswain’s mate and was still on active service. But, he joined the Coast Guard in 1996 and so has likely retired and moved on by now. Hopefully, he was rewarded well for his service at Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where he promoted life preserver use and stood watch with his fellow Coast Guardsmen.
1. The Green Beret founder of SERE training used a math problem to trick the Viet Cong.
In the grand scheme of things, the Vietnam War tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to great stories of war — maybe it’s too recent or painful an event to be remembered with the nostalgia associated with WWII.
Regardless, the story of James Nicholas “Nick” Rowe is one that deserves a spot in the limelight, and might be one you haven’t heard before. Not only was Rowe a Green Beret during Vietnam, he would also create the Army SERE course, a grueling training course detailing methods of “survival, evasion, resistance, and escape” when captured by the enemy. One of the training’s more notorious tasks is learning how to drink snake blood to keep up your calorie intake, so it’s safe to say Rowe was a pretty hardcore guy.
But even the best of the best can get caught by surprise. While on a mission supporting South Vietnamese irregulars against the Viet Cong, Rowe and his fellow Green Berets walked into an ambush. The men fought valiantly, but after exchanging fire they were overpowered and taken as prisoners. When they reached the POW camp they were separated and locked in cages, entering a living hell that they would endure for the next five years.
It only got worse for Rowe. The Viet Cong knew he was the leader of his unit, and suspected he had information. They were right. Rowe served as the captured unit’s intelligence officer, and possessed exactly the kind of information the Viet Cong desperately needed. As a result, Rowe had to endure near-constant torture, on top of the already deplorable conditions of the prison. At one point Rowe confessed his “true” position, claiming he was just an engineer, but the VC weren’t going to let him off easy.
They cut the torture to give Rowe engineering problems to solve. Amazingly, despite the fact that he was starving, living in a cage and was not an engineer, he completed it correctly. His torturers were satisfied, and Rowe thought he could rest easy thanks to West Point’s mandatory engineering courses.
He was wrong. Around the same time, a group of American peace activists were on a mission to visit American officers in Vietnamese prisoner of war camps. The goal of the excursion was a little fuzzy, but they essentially wanted to prove that the North Vietnamese’s prison methods were above board. Rowe’s name was on their list of officers to visit, along with the fact that he was a Special Forces intelligence officer.
When the Viet Cong discovered the lie, they forced Rowe to stand naked in a swamp for days on end, leaving him ravaged by mosquitos and dizzy with lack of food or water. They were fed up with this phony engineer and his multiple escape attempts, and decided enough was enough. They gave Rowe an execution date, eager to rid themselves of his antics.
When the day finally came, Rowe was led far away from the camp, when suddenly a group of American helicopters thundered overhead, rustling the jungle trees and giving Rowe the split second of time he needed to break free, fend off his captors and sprint after the helicopters. Amazingly, one of the choppers noticed Rowe waving like a maniac in a clearing, and was able to rescue him from his scheduled death.
2. The British soldier who escaped The Gestapo’s “unescapable” castle
Escaping a prisoner of war camp is no easy feat, and many who have made it to freedom recount plotting their escape plans for months, even years, to execute it right on the first try. This, apparently, was not Airey Neave’s style. Instead of biding his time, the British soldier escaped his WWII POW camps whenever he could, undeterred by failed attempts.
Finally, when he and his friend were caught in Poland after escaping German POW camp Stalag XX-A, he was collected by the Gestapo, who sent him to Oflag IV-C, AKA the castle of Colditz, AKA the last stop for all troublemaking POWs.
It may look like a summer home fit for the Von Trapp family, but don’t be fooled, this place was no joke. If you’re doubtful you can read up on some accounts of the “escape proof” castle here.
The castle’s prisoners weren’t as confident in its “inescapable” qualities, and instead just came up with ridiculously complex plans of escape.
Failed attempts included the construction of a small wooden glider, a network of underground tunnels, and prisoners sewing themselves into mattresses to be smuggled out with the laundry. Tempting as these flashy failures were, Neave decided to take a more theatrical approach to his escape.
After he secretly acquired pieces of a Polish army uniform, he painted the shirt and cap green to resemble a German officer’s ensemble. Then he put on his new duds and strolled out of the prison like a Nazi on his way to Sunday dinner with his girl. What he didn’t anticipate, however, was how reflective the paint would be; once outside, he lit up like a Christmas tree under the guard’s searchlight passed over him. It didn’t end well.
But Neave still thought the idea was pretty awesome, and pulled the stunt a second time a few months later, with an updated “uniform” of cardboard, cloth, and more Nazi-green. He also had a partner in crime this time, another prisoner named Anthony Luteyn, who was also sporting a mock German getup.
During an all-inmate stage production that the prison sponsored and put on, Neave and Lutyen quietly slipped off stage, crawled underneath the floorboards that held the dancing inmates and right above the guard’s headquarters.
From there the pair dropped into the room from the ceiling and acted natural, strolling about and exchanging pleasantries in German as if they were simply visiting officers. Once they had ensured no one was suspicious, they calmly made their exit. Once outside of the prison, they threw away the homemade German uniforms and pretended to be two Dutch workers on their way to Ulm from Leipzeg, with (fake) papers to prove it. Unfortunately, the phony documents ended up getting the two stopped by German police, but they bought the disguises and sent them to the foreign aid office, believing they were just confused immigrants.
Despite this and other close calls, Neave and Lutven continued their journey — all on foot — until they made it to Switzerland and were finally free. Neaves would later work to ensure there were quality escape lines for other POWS in Europe, and would also serve on the Nuremberg Trials.
3. The three-prong tunnel system that led 3 POWs to safety
While the above escapists have steered clear of the old tunnel-digging prison cliche, it’s still an effective method. In fact, U.S. airmen Roger Bushell took the wartime tradition a step further by constructing a system of three tunnels in a German Air Force POW camp at the height of WWII. The tunnels, nicknamed “Tom”, “Dick”, and “Harry,” were each 30 feet deep. This way, Bushell hoped, they wouldn’t be detected by the camp’s perimeter microphones. Each tunnel was also only about two feet wide, though there were larger sections that contained an air pump and a space full of digging supplies. Pieces of wood were used to ensure the stability of the tunnel walls.
Electric lighting was also installed and attached to the prison’s electric grid, allowing the diggers to work and travel by lamplight 10 yards under the ground’s surface. The operation even advanced far enough to incorporate a rail car system into their tunnel network, which was used to carry tons and tons of building materials back and forth during the 5-month construction period.
Just as the “Harry” tunnel was completed in 1944, the American officers who had toiled over the escape route were moved to a new camp. The rest of the prisoners attempted an escape about a week later on March 24, but they had unfortunately miscalculated where their tunnels would end. Initially believing the secret tunnel would dump them inside a forest, they emerged to realize that they were short of the tree line and completely exposed. Still, over 70 men crawled through the dark, dank tunnels to the other side, rushing to the trees once they surfaced. Tragically, on March 25th, a German guard spotted the 77th man crawling out of the tunnel, leading to the capture of 73 of the men, and later the execution of 50 of them. Only three would survive and make it to freedom, but the escape had gone down as one of the most elaborate in history.
4. Bill Goldfinch and Jack Best’s plan to fly the Colditz coop
You didn’t really think we were going to just breeze by that wooden glider story, did you? There have been plenty of wacky escape methods, but none as bold or sophisticated as literally building yourself a two-man wooden plane to peace out in.
At least, this was the plan. Jack Best and Bill Goldfinch were similar to Neave in their can-do, slightly certifiable approach to escape. The men were pilots, and decided that the best way to bust out of the German castle was to do what they do best: fly. Or, more accurately in this case, glide. The Colditz castle was built atop a large cliff, perfect for launching a secret and probably highly unstable aircraft off of.
Goldfinch and Best began building the glider’s skeleton in the attic above the prison chapel, figuring the height would give it enough time to glide across the Mulde river, which was situated about 200 feet below the building. To keep the Germans from walking in on the construction, the pair built a false wall out of old pieces of wood, the same stuff they constructed the glider out of. The plane was mostly made up out of bed slats and floor boards, but the men used whatever material they could get their hands on that they thought the Germans wouldn’t miss. Control wires were going to be created from electrical wiring that was found in quieter sections of the castle.
Though the operation was deemed moot before it could ever be carried out (the Allies released the prisoners before it could be flown), we felt this almost-escape deserved some recognition because by many accounts, it would have worked. In 2000, a replica of the Colditz glider was constructed for a documentary entitled “Escape from Colditz”, and was actually flown successfully at RAF Odiham. It gets even cooler, though. Best and Goldfinch were able to watch the whole thing go down, and witness their “escape” firsthand.
Aside from the doom and gloom, sometimes the hormones act up, your sailor goggles come on, and the natural thing happens when you’re cooped up for months at a time with members of the opposite sex. It just happens. Yes, it’s stupid, and yes, you should know better. But, if you know better, and you’re still doing it, the following tips will help you and your “boat boo” from visiting the goat locker:
1. Forget about dating on a small ship.
It’s easier to conceal your well deck escapades on larger ships, such as carriers and amphibious vessels.
2. Keep your distance
Keep it professional, don’t make it obvious. No flirting in your shop. Avoid eye contact altogether.
3. Never date in your division.
Keep it secret from your division buddies. One thing is for sure, as soon the wrong person catches wind, prepare to be teased or worse.
4. If the person you’re seeing is in the same division, volunteer for TAD (Temporary Additional Duty).
Yes, everyone hates it, but volunteering to crank in the galley might save you from getting caught. Once you’re called back to your division, it’s your partner’s turn to reciprocate.
5. Share no more than one meal per day.
6. Pass notes like you’re freakin’ teenagers.
You’ve been there before, so take a page from your high school days. Also, if you have a network of trusted friends to pass along your letters, seal your notes with candle wax for an extra layer of protection. It sounds medieval, but it’s effective.
NOTE: Don’t be stupid; don’t save your notes. The goats – Navy speak for chiefs – will use them as evidence if you get caught.
7. Visit common spaces together.
The library is a great common space to meet and pass notes.
8. Have a buddy in supply or any division with access to storage spaces.
This one is extra risky, but if you feel the urge to take it to the “next level,” your best friend is your buddy in supply. Supply personnel have access to storage spaces, which could be used to lock you in for an hour or two. Beware, you risk not showing up for emergency musters, such as GQ or man overboard. You’re at the mercy of your supply buddy since storage spaces are locked from the outside.
9. Wait for “darken ship” to meet at the bottom of ladder wells and corners.
10. Volunteer for roving watch and rendezvous on the fantail.
… or a dark catwalk.
11. Find another couple to provide you with a shore-buddy alibi.
12. Go out in groups.
13. Have an open relationship. (And good luck with keeping that from getting messy.)
Acronym cheat sheet:
HM1: Hospital Corpsman, E6 pay grade
HM3: Hospital Corpsman, E4 pay grade
DRB: Disciplinary Review Board
CMC: Command Master Chief
WATM editor’s note: Let’s be clear, you should never date on a Navy ship. There’s too much to risk, such as being demoted, or even worse: getting the boot. For clarification, read the Navy’s Fraternization Policy.
In the latest of a series of White House personnel changes, President Donald Trump on March 22, 2018, replaced his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, with John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN.
Bolton is well-known for his hawkish statements, to say the least.
“John Bolton was by far the most dangerous man we had in the entire eight years of the Bush administration,” Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, tweeted on March 16, 2018. “Hiring him as the president’s top national security advisor is an invitation to war, perhaps nuclear war.”
It’s quite the statement about an administration that included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and other notable hawks of the 21st century.
Here are nine things Bolton has said that scare the national-security establishment.
1. “The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories; if you lost 10 stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference,” Bolton said in a 1994 speech, referring to the UN’s headquarters. He added later: “There’s no such thing as the United Nations.”
2. “I expect that the American role actually will be fairly minimal,” Bolton said in 2002, before the US invasion of Iraq. “I think we’ll have an important security role.”
3. “The main thing people feared at that time was Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons stocks,” Bolton said in 2009, defending the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In reality, what most feared was the Bush administration’s false claims that Hussein had nuclear ambitions and that the Iraqi government had ties to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda.
4. “I still think the decision to overthrow Saddam was correct,” Bolton told the Washington Examiner in 2015. “I think decisions made after that decision were wrong, although I think the worst decision made after that was the 2011 decision to withdraw US and coalition forces.”
Source: Washington Examiner
5. “I think obviously this needs to be done in a careful and prudent fashion,” Bolton said in 2008 of a strike on Iran. “But I think that the strategic situation now is that if we don’t respond, the Iranians will take it as a sign of weakness.”
Source: Fox News
6. “A strike accompanied by effective public diplomacy could well turn Iran’s diverse population against an oppressive regime,” Bolton wrote in 2009, advocating a strike on Iran by Israel. “Most of the Arab world’s leaders would welcome Israel solving the Iran nuclear problem, although they certainly won’t say so publicly and will rhetorically embrace Iran if Israel strikes.”
7. “The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program,” Bolton wrote in 2015. “Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”
Source: New York Times
8. “King Abdullah of Jordan, who is not simply the Muslim king of a Muslim country, unlike our president,” Bolton said in an August 2016 speech to the conservative American Freedom Alliance.
Source: American Freedom Alliance
9. “It is perfectly legitimate for the United States to respond to the current ‘necessity’ posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons by striking first,” Bolton wrote in February 2018.
When a writer needs to think up some great, imposing force to pit against their protagonist, sometimes they go a little overboard. Yeah, it’s great to see some young farmboy find the strength within needed to lead a rebellion against an evil, galactic empire, but most times, the troops fighting alongside the protagonist don’t have magic space powers (we’re looking at you, Luke).
And yet anyone who’s never seen the show will still think they’re just silly little robots…
The Daleks (Doctor Who)
At first glance, the Daleks are kind of silly. A rolling pepper shaker with two sticks for arms might not seem imposing — until you realize they’re almost impossible to kill inside their shells.
Fighting a near-undying force that’s backed by a ridiculous amount of troops hellbent on your extermination isn’t ideal — it doesn’t matter that you could just put a hat over their eyestalk.
Yep. And the other villains in the game try to capture these things — doesn’t work like that.
The Reapers (Mass Effect)
Normally, giant, spacefaring warships are hard to kill. They’re even harder to kill if they’re sentient and are capable indoctrinating entire galaxies under their control.
Reapers are massive beings often confused with space ships. They dominate entire star systems by slowly brainwashing their inhabitants. Or, if that takes too long and they just need some troops fast, they can shoot out robot appendages to turn anyone fighting them into lifeless, obedient husks. Every conquered world joins their ranks, becoming a new enemy that our heroes must fight physically and psychologically.
A rocket launcher may be overkill, but you don’t want to take any chances.
The Flood (Halo)
What’s worse than fighting zombies? Fighting space zombies. One of the most deadly things about the Flood is that they can destroy their enemies with a single touch.
They cover battlefields in disease, meaning any step may lead to infection. The Flood is so terrifying that it takes two great armies, the humans and the Covenant, to band together and defeat them.
Poor bug. No one ever takes them seriously.
The Arachnid (Starship Troopers)
No good military satire is complete without an insane enemy that comes in insane numbers and is armed with insane psychic abilities.
One of the most deadly things about the Arachnids was how mindless they seem. Everyone who initially thought, “oh, just a giant bug” was in for a rude awakening when they discovered they can communicate telepathically and shoot down spaceships in orbit.
The Borg even managed to assimilate the great Captain Jean-Luc Picard. And adding Picard to their ranks definitely gives them an edge.
The Borg (Star Trek)
These guys are the culmination of all the terrifying things on this list. Put together highly advanced technology, overwhelming numbers, near invulnerability, and mass assimilation and you end up with the Borg.
With most sci-fi hiveminds, destroying their leader usually means the destruction of their entire force. But with the Borg, it just means another Queen must take their place.
Who would win: 40 millenia of technological advancements or one Orky boy?
The Orks (Warhammer 40k)
To be fair, every army in Warhammer 40k is a force to be reckoned with. But even in a universe filled with futuristic demons, robot zombies, and blood-thirsty elves, the Orks are considered the most successful intergalactic conquerors.
When the space savages aren’t fighting among themselves, they’ll band together to overwhelm their foes — even if those foes are Chaos gods, alien samurai, or whatever the hell Tyranids are.
Special Forces soldiers are the snake-eaters, known for slipping into enemy territory, living off the land, and then killing all the enemies of America they find. They trace their unit lineage back to the Office of Strategic Services in World War II, served with distinction as both warriors and spies in the Cold War, and snuck into Afghanistan to hunt the Taliban before anyone else.
But for all most people think they know about Special Forces, there’s a lot they don’t. Here are 7 things that might surprise you.
1. They have a reputation for “creature comforts.”
While Green Berets are known to rough it on missions, they’re also known for bringing blankets and cots to training exercises. Operators have a grueling deployment schedule and are required to prove their skills to their teammates every day. So when they show up to a training event, they’re likely to cut loose and enjoy some barbecue and football in their off-time.
2. Green Berets are as much teachers as fighters.
While SF soldiers are very capable fighters, it’s just as important to their mission that they are good instructors. Green Berets are called on to deploy all over the world, build lasting relationships with local groups friendly towards the United States, and then teach those groups how to kill effectively. The SF soldiers then begin going on missions with the locals and fight side-by-side.
3. In the Special Forces, they are required to learn new languages.
Of course, training the locals to kill their enemies is a lot easier when everyone speaks the same language. Special Forces soldiers attend 18-24 weeks of foreign language and cultural training at the Special Operations Academic Facility at Fort Bragg.
The language these soldiers learn usually depends on what Special Forces Group they are later assigned to, since each group has a certain region of the world it needs to be oriented toward.
4. They’re in about 90 nations everyday.
Operators need access to so may bi- and trilingual service members because they are in about 90 nations every day. In 2015, they’ve already visited at least 135 according to media reports. This represents a significant increase in operational tempo. Eight years ago SF visited only 60 countries.
5. They’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Two of the countries people might not be surprised to find Special Forces is in Iraq and Afghanistan. While most military units have been pulled out of these countries, the Green Berets never left Afghanistan and may have never fully leave Iraq. Currently, Special Forces soldiers are advising troops in both countries. In Afghanistan they are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder against insurgents with commandoes they have trained. In Iraq, they are advising Iraqi Army and militia units who are trying to roll back ISIS.
6. Recruits can enlist straight into Special Forces.
Believe it or not, a recent high school graduate could walk into a recruiting office and enlist for 18X, Special Forces Candidate. These recruits go through basic training and then immediately enter the Special Forces training pipeline. If they fail or are simply aren’t selected during the Special Forces assessment, they are re-assigned to infantry.
It wasn’t always this way. In the past, Special Forces typically wanted soldiers to be older and more seasoned in the regular Army before making the jump. The older SF soldier even have a name for the younger generation making it through the Q-course: “SF Babies.”
We’ve all seen the military homecoming videos, with a service member returning from overseas to surprise their loved ones.
But what happens when a soldier comes home and surprises a total stranger? Well, not to worry, because the satirical website ClickHole has you covered.
“I think he’s going to be very surprised, because he has no idea that I’m finally back from Afghanistan,” says “Sgt. Luke Brundage,” in the video produced by the one-year-old offshoot of The Onion.
With the look and feel of many familiar homecoming videos, the video hilariously illustrates a very awkward meeting, if something like this ever did occur. Interestingly enough, the actor who portrays Brundage is a Marine veteran, according to The Marine Times.
And while it does have some technical errors (using “soldier” instead of Marine, for instance), it’s still funny as hell. And the actor, Jonah Saesan, had little to do with pointing those out.
“A few people want to focus on the detail,” Saesan told The Times. “I don’t think they understand how little I had to do with the creative process.”
Special operators are often America’s 911 call, flying to the scene of emergencies and safeguarding American interests while outnumbered and sometimes outgunned. Years of training and military exercises hone them into deadly weapons.
But it takes a lot of logistics to get the premier warfighters from their home bases or staging areas and into the fight, ready to kill or be killed on America’s behalf. Here’s a glimpse of the process:
1. Step one of deploying special operators is preparing gear and recalling personnel.
2. Operators and support personnel rush vehicles and other gear to loading areas. The exact makeup depends on the planned mission.
3. The vehicles are secured for transport. Often, this means the gear is going into planes. Gear that will roll off is secured to the plane itself while gear that will be airdropped is typically secured to a pallet.
4. Operators sometimes take part in securing their gear since it guarantees that it will come out as expected on the objective.
5. Once the gear is ready to go, the personnel have to get strapped in. While these guys are strapping on parachutes, some missions require they run off the ramp on the ground instead.
6. Attention to detail is critical since any mistake on the objective can cost lives.
7. While MC-130Js are one of the more famous planes for special operators, there are plenty of other aircraft that will do the job, such as this MC-12.
8. Or Black Hawks… Black Hawks are good.
9. Of course, operators on the ground like to have fire support, and they can’t be guaranteed artillery on the ground. So they’ll often fly in with extra firepower as well.
10. The AC-130s can bring everything from 20mm miniguns to 105mm howitzers. The typical modern armament is 25-105mm cannons. Jets and helicopters can bring the boom when necessary.
11. And then the operators get to work, grabbing bad guys, ending threats, and chewing bubble gum.
Soldiers and commanders are usually stuck with whatever equipment the procurement officers and civilian leaders are willing to buy for them, sometimes forcing troops to go into combat with outdated and inferior equipment.
But sometimes, those “outdated” weapons are actually just perfect for the fight. Here are five times that a supposedly obsolete weapon system saved the lives of its users:
1. Bayonets in Afghanistan and Iraq
Bayonets, most often associated with fighting in the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, actually played a key role in battles during the modern Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
But the A-10, a low and slow platform, made its operational debut in 1976, three years after the Yom Kippur War supposedly closed the books on them. Despite that, the A-10 has fought and survived in a number of contested environments, most notably Iraq where it has twice been a key part of American forces breaking the back of armored and anti-aircraft ground forces.
The women of Soviet Russia’s 588th Night Bomber Regiment, the Night Witches, flew in plywood and canvas biplanes through the best defenses that Nazi Germany had to offer, conducting multiple bombing missions per night to break up attacks against Soviet ground forces.
Their planes, the Polikarpov U-2 biplane, were underpowered and outgunned compared to the Luftwaffe’s modern air force. But the Night Witches used the biplanes to fly over German defenses nearly silently and drop bombs — they could only carry two at a time per plane — on Nazi positions.