5 of the most accurate military representations on screen - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

A common gripe among those in the military is that there aren’t enough accurate representations of us in film and on television. There’s plenty of representation, sure, but “accurate” is the operative term, here — and Hollywood tends to get more wrong than they do right. Every once in a blue moon, however, you’ll stumble upon a tiny golden nugget truth on screen. That special piece of media will ignite a fire within you and you’ll be forced to stand up and shout, “that right there! THAT is what it was like!” to all your civilian friends.

Now, we’re not saying Hollywood does a piss-poor job. Service members have a tendency to be extremely nit-picky when it comes to military depictions on screen. We see even the smallest flaw and we say, “nope. They got it wrong again.” Realistically, there are many reasons why that happens, but it’s most likely because they didn’t have someone on set who knew what they were talking about.

But when they get things right? Well, you get the items on this list:


5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

R. Lee Ermey was immortalized by this performance.

(Warner Bros.)

‘Full Metal Jacket’

Specifically, we mean the boot camp scene. The entire film is great, but the representation of Marines in the first act of the film is (mostly) accurate. This can be attributed to the legendary R. Lee Ermey. He was actually a drill instructor and Stanley Kubrick was dedicated to making everything as authentic as possible.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Oh, and it has Jake Gyllenhaal in it.

(Universal Pictures)

‘Jarhead’

Based on the true story written by Anthony Swafford, the film adaptation paints the character of Marines in a very accurate light. The dark humor put forth by the characters and the way they portray our mannerisms on screen are absolutely spot on.

So, how’d they do it? Well, if you’ve read the book and you’ve seen the movie, you’ve probably noticed that they didn’t stray too far from the source material, which was written by someone with first-hand experience.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

The Marines in this series are downright authentic.

(HBO Films)

‘The Pacific’

Based on the novels of Eugene Sledge and Robert Leckie, this miniseries was produced by none other than Saving Private Ryan star Tom Hanks, and it nails the attitude of Marines. If you’ve served in the Marine Corps, you can appreciate even the smallest details, such as the Marines stealing Army rations because they’re superior.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

The nod of approval for this series.

‘Generation Kill’

If you thought The Pacific and Jarhead got Marines right, then you’ll be blown away by Generation Kill. When it comes down to it, the series not only got the character and mannerisms of Marines down pat but, the situations, scenarios, and leadership are all true-to-life, too.

Again, this show was based on Evan Wright’s source material, which surely added to the authenticity — he even wrote a couple episodes. Oh, and it certainly helps to have Marines like Rudy Reyes playing themselves.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

The cast of this series could not be more perfect.

(HBO Films)

‘Band of Brothers’

Unsurprisingly, we’ve got another Tom Hanks-produced miniseries atop this list. This series portrays the brotherhood (as the title suggests) experienced in the military better than anything else. Not only do they get the gear, the actions, and the missions right, it’s all capped off by amazing acting performances. Most of the characters are fantastic, but nobody compares to Damien Lewis’ enthralling rendition of Maj. Richard Winters.

So, what’s the secret sauce here? In addition to an immense attention to detail, the actors actually met with their characters’ real-life counterparts. If you’re making a movie about a group of people who did extraordinary things, who better to learn from than the men themselves?

MIGHTY MOVIES

How Carrie Fisher’s daughter helped play Princess Leia

In addition to playing a Resistance lieutenant, Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd had a special second role in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

Lourd stepped in to play Princess Leia during the short flashback scene in “Episode IX.”

“Billie was playing her mother,” Industrial Lights & Magic visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach told Yahoo Entertainment. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.”


During the scene, a young Luke Skywalker, who is played by Mark Hamill, is training his sister to be a Jedi. At one point, both of them take off helmets to show their younger faces. For a few moments, you’re seeing Lourd combined with images of Fisher from “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.”

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Here’s a reference of how Leia looks in most of “Return of the Jedi.” The look is reminiscent of how we see her in the new film.

(Lucasfilm)

“If you’re going to have someone play [Fisher’s] part, it’s great that it’s [Billie] because there are a lot of similarities between them that we were able to draw from,” added Tubach. “The real challenge was just making the Leia footage we had to work with fit in that scene.”

The ILM team told Insider that bringing Fisher back was “a gigantic puzzle.” The team utilized previously unused footage from director J.J. Abrams’ “The Force Awakens” to help bring her to life.

“When you see Leia in ‘Episode IX,’ basically it’s a live-action element of her face with a completely digital character,” visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett told Insider.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

Read more:

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Marine Corps tested a skateboard unit in the 1990s

Before the days of the Iraq War made training to fight in urban centers a necessity, the Marine Corps was being proactive with the idea that the U.S. Military might have to capture some cities during a war. Urban combat exercises became a focal point after the Battle of Mogadishu, culminating in the large-scale Urban Warrior exercises in 1999.

One of the innovations tested in Urban Warrior was the development of the combat skateboard.


Urban Warrior was a test by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory to test the effectiveness of Marines fighting in large urban areas, which the Corps predicted would materialize on the world’s coastlines. The urban area was more than just another terrain for fighting. It came with its own set of obstacles to overcome including lack of shelter, lack of resources and the ease of booby-trapping rooms, trash, and even entire buildings.

The idea was that conventional U.S. Military power would be limited in an urban environment with a large civilian population and the potential for collateral damage. American tanks, munitions, and other go-tos of the arsenal of democracy would be useless in such an environment. On top of that, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance would have to accompany the fighting to prevent the devolution of the city into another Stalingrad.

Since the Corps knew what wouldn’t work, Urban Warrior was a chance to see what would work.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Like these spiffy “new” Urban BDUs.

On top of weapons, strategies, and uniforms, the Marines who landed and took over parts of Chicago, San Francisco, and Oakland in 1999 also tested a number of tactical ideas at their makeshift proving grounds, including the combat skateboard.

The Marines used store-bought, off-the-shelf, skateboards during Urban Warrior to detect tripwires in buildings and draw sniper fire, among other uses. What the Marines really took away from its experimentation with combat skateboards is that standard knee and elbow pads were useless for American troops fighting in urban centers and specialized ones would have to be obtained.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Lance Cpl. Chad Codwell, from Baltimore, Maryland, with Charlie Company 1st Battalion 5th Marines, carries an experimental urban combat skateboard which is being used for manuevering inside buildings in order to detect tripwires and sniper fire. This mission is in direct support of Urban Warrior ’99.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Vallee)

Also tested by Marines in urban combat exercises were paragliders and bulldozers, which Marines dubbed “the bulldozer from hell.”

Lists

8 useless pieces of gear the military still issues out

Every time a soldier steps into the Central Issue Facility, they are given a lot of gear — some necessary, like more uniforms, and some beloved, like the woobie.


But there’s a lot of gear that just never gets touched until the next time they come back to clear CIF. It’s probably still in the same packaging it came in when it’s turned over.

This crap just sits in a duffle bag, shoved in the back of the closet.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen
And yet it will get rejected for not being cleaned — even if it’s still sealed in the friggin’ bag! (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joseph Moore)

8. Canteens

Ask any civilian to name a piece of military gear and they’ll say the canteen.

Back in the day, it was a life saver — no doubt about that. But today, it’s only ever seen in training environments or by that one “overly high speed” dude in every unit. The rest of us use water bottles or Camelbacks while we’re deployed.

Because rubber canteens are gross.

The canteen cup, however, is still very useful. It makes a great coffee cup/shaving water container/holder of smaller crap.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

7. Elbow Pads

Knee pads help protect a sensitive and fragile part of your body that really takes a beating (and will ultimately be destroyed anyway after years of ruck marching or one static jump). But until then, kneepads protect from bruising and lacerations, and, most importantly, help secure a more comfortable firing position.

Not the elbow pads. They just get in the way.

A common joke deployed is that you can always tell who the POGs are by either how they react to the Indirect Fire (IDF) siren or if they actually think other soldiers actually wear those useless pieces of crap that just slide down or restrict movement.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen
Makes even less sense is that they have the buckles and little sleeve thing. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood)

6. Most Rain Gear

Other units may authorize their Joes to wear most of the wet weather gear, others only allow it in the worst conditions that even the salty Sergeant Major has had enough of it. Shy of the Gortex top, no one touches their wet weather bottoms or boots.

Even the poncho only ever gets used as a makeshift shelter half on field exercises.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen
Or as a makeshift raft in Ranger competitions. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Austin Berner)

5. MOPP Boots

Speaking of useless boots, the pair that gets used interchangeably during lay outs is just as useless.

In an actual chemical gas attack, we put our gas mask on first. Followed by everything else in order of what is the most vital to survival. The boots? Nope. They take way too freaking long to put on in an emergency when you have bigger things to worry about. Taking the time to lace your MOPP boots properly definitely falls off the to-do list.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen
In that time, you’re probably already dead. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Courtney Enos)

4. Glove Inserts

It’s nice when troops are allowed to wear gloves in formation. The problem is that the standard issue leather shells also need liners.

The glove inserts are just a thin piece of wool that do nothing to stop the cold. Wind cuts right through them and god help you if they ever get wet.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen
There’s a reason everyone buys other pairs that get as close to regulation as possible. (Image via Olive Drab)

3. Load Bearing Vest (LBV)

The purpose behind the LBV makes no sense. It holds all of the gear that one would need down range, or at the range, but offers none of the protection of an actual ballistic vest.

So why not wear the actual ballistic vest? LBVs don’t do anything except dig into your shoulder.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen
Seriously. The only non-photoshopped image of a soldier actually wearing one (and not a mannequin or a tacticool civilian) I could find is from the Army’s official video on how to set one up. (Screengrab via YouTube)

2. Surefire ACH Light

Everyone wants to be high speed and rock the high speed gear…until it’s time to rock the high speed gear.

At first glance, these look nifty as hell. It would be helpful to have a hands free light guiding your way.

But no. Try working these with gloves on or switching to the red light without cycling through every single other function first.

Or even try to make it through a forest field training without bumping into something and losing the $200 waste of garbage. Good luck finding the right batteries for these things too.

Too complicated. Not worth it.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen
I believe the Army stopped issuing these, but slick sleeve cherries still buy them at the PX. (Image via Armslist)

1. BVD Army Issued Skivvies

Anyone who says they didn’t immediately trash all pairs of these after Basic so they “can stay within regulation” is either way too ‘Hooah’ for their current rank or a damned dirty liar.

The skivvies are like sand paper grinding against your ‘sensitive bits’ whenever you take a step. No one will ever check to see if their subordinate is wearing proper under garments or even care (and if they do…there’s a much bigger problem at hand). Why not just wear whatever you bought at American Eagle or Target?

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen
No. Just No. (Image via eBay)

popular

6 of the most notable pre-M16 military guns

Throughout history, the U.S. Military has used a wide variety of guns to win its battles. Prior to the M16, there were several weapons used across the service throughout some of the most devastating wars the world has ever seen.

Here are some of those weapons:


5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

These rifles are still in use by the Danish military as they perform reliably in arctic conditions.

(War Relics Forum)

Model 1917 Enfield

The Lee–Enfield is a bolt-action British rifle that used heavily in the first World War. Americans took that original design and had it modified to fit its needs, thus giving birth to the Model 1917 Enfield, widely referred to as the “American Enfield.” The official name, however, was “United States Rifle, cal .30, Model of 1917.” You can see why it was given a nickname.

This is one of the weapons Sergeant Alvin York, one of the most decorated American Soldiers of WWI, used on the night of October 8th, 1918.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Soldiers in French trenches with Springfield 1903 .30-06s during World War I.

(Imperial War Museums)

Springfield 1903

The bolt-action Springfield 1903 .30-06 saw service as the standard-issue rifle from the first World War until it was replaced by the M1 Garand in 1936. By the time WWII broke out, it wasn’t standard issue but, despite this, it was a popular sniper rifle during World War II, the Korean War, and even into the early stages of Vietnam.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

(U.S. Library of Congress)

M1 Garand

One of the most notable rifles used during World War II, the M1 Garand was favored by Soldiers and Marines across the military. As a semi-automatic rifle firing a .30 caliber cartridge, it was useful in a wide variety of military applications.

General Patton even once said it was “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” It was eventually replaced by the M14 during the late 1950s.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Marine Sgt. John Wisbur Bartlett Sr. fires a Thompson submachine gun during the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

(Defense Imagery)

Thompson submachine gun

Favored by gangsters, cops, civilians, and Soldiers alike, the Thompson submachine gun was fully automatic and fired a .45 ACP round from a 20-round stick magazine.

It initially earned its infamy on the streets of Chicago during the Great Depression but was later adopted by the U.S. Military and used from 1938 until 1971. It’s no M16, but the Thompson was well loved. 

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Marines using M14s in Vietnam.

(American Historical Foundation)

M14

Of all the items on this list, the M14 is the only one still in active service in the military since its introduction in 1959. This rifle fires a 7.62x51mm NATO round (.308 Winchester) and was the first standard-issue rifle to take a 20-round box magazine.

This powerhouse of a weapon saw service during Vietnam as the standard-issue rifle until it was replaced by the M16. Now, it’s a designated marksman rifle.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

This baby helped us win independence.

(Norfolk Island Museum)

Land Pattern Musket aka “Brown Bess”

This was the most commonly used long gun during the American Revolution. This .75 caliber musket was originally British-made but many American colonists were required to have this on-hand for militia duty.

The nickname “Brown Bess” is of unknown origin, though there is a lot of speculation about it.

Articles

5 things you learned about America while being deployed overseas

Being deployed overseas means time away from family, friends and embarking on a life-changing journey that will probably change the way you think forever.


You may not see it at first, but the longer you’re away, you’ll start to form your own opinions about the world around you — especially the home you left.

Related: 7 ways to surprise your spouses when they return from deployment

So check out what we learned about America from our time deployed overseas.

1. There’s no place like America

After the first few months, your fighting spirit usually tends to die out, then you really do begin to believe those classic words Dorothy from Kansas once spoke. This motivation is usually what gets you through the rest of the deployment.

America and its people are certainly flawed, but we love them anyway.

2. Bigger problems

Stateside you have all types of bills, some family drama and if you’re living in the barracks, room inspections.

Now that you’re deployed half way around the world, those issues still exist, but you put them on the back burner. Although combat stress can get pretty jarring, many prefer that headache over fighting heavy traffic.

3. Americans are true supporters

Mail call doesn’t come around too often, but when it does, it’s like Christmas no matter the time of year. Many don’t have families back home to support them while they’re off fighting the bad guys. So Americans from across the U.S. often come together and pack up goodies and send them off to deployed service members around the world.

4. How good American air smells

Being stationed on a small patrol base, you incinerate all the trash you accumulate in a burn pit not far away from where you eat, sleep and stand post. The smell can be pretty nasty.

Come home after a year-long deployment and smell that good old fashion America breeze.

Also Read: 4 insane things service members can do to stay awake

5. How little stuff we need to survive

As Americans, we buy a lot of crap we don’t need but convince ourselves we do. Live for months on an aircraft carrier or on a patrol base and you’ll have maybe 10 square feet of personal storage — you’ll still get by just fine with a whole lot less stuff.

popular

Lyrics you shouldn’t text your friends if you’re in the Air Force

The “Mileygate” witch hunts, the scandal over four instructor pilots and searches of their personal cell phones conducted with dubious legality, hit a new low. Despite no evidence of actual drug use, and each passing every drug test, three were stripped of their wings and given reprimands which will effectively end their careers. All because they were texting Miley Cyrus, JellyRoll, and other artists’ songs whose lyrics contain references to “molly,” slang for the club drug Ecstasy.


 

The text messages were originally found as the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) was looking into a case of an unprofessional relationship between another pilot and his student. One of the four pilots was ordered to give his cell phone up after being told OSI had a warrant for the phone, except the warrant was signed the day after the seizure. One pilot was refused a lawyer. Despite the ridiculous misunderstanding, the Air Force continued its persecution of the officers and is in full damage control mode. Lt. Col. Julie Huygen, chief of the military justice division, Air Force Legal Operations Agency, wants airmen to realize they are expected to abide by Air Force standards of professionalism at all times, even when they are off duty:

You must avoid offensive and/or inappropriate behavior on social networking platforms and through other forms of communication that could bring discredit upon on [sic] the Air Force or you as a member of the Air Force, or that would otherwise be harmful to good order and discipline, respect for authority, unit cohesion, morale, mission accomplishment, or the trust and confidence that the public has in the United States Air Force.

With Lt. Col. Huygen’s warning in mind, WATM felt it necessary to help the Air Force bring you a few examples of other lyrics airmen should be careful of texting to their friends.

“She a hot tamale when she pop a molly, it’s time to party, we party hard/Drink and smoke it, drink and smoke it, drink and smoke it, we high for sure”

Try to remember you and your friends are airmen in the world’s greatest air force and not Chief Keef, 50 Cent, and Wiz Khalifa.

“How dare you bring another chick in my bed / You lucky I’m doing my yoga or you might be dead.”

This Miley Cyrus lyric is problematic at best, as adultery is punishable for military members under Article 134 of the UCMJ. Also, the military looks down upon threats of violence off the battlefield.

“I’m tryna give Halle Berry a baby and no one can stop me.”

Drake threatening to force a baby on Halle Berry is not only prejudicial to good order and discipline, it’s also punishable under Article 120 of the UCMJ.

“Yeah I smoke pot, yeah I love peace, but I don’t give a f-ck, I ain’t no hippie.”

Miley strikes again.

“Loaded up the Smith with the hollow TIPS/It’s time to FLIP/And blast my way to the top ten LIST”

Big Pun can use hollow tip bullets, but under the Hague Convention of 1899, as a military member, you are forbidden.

“Put Molly all in her champagne/She ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain’t even know it.”

There’s so much wrong with this Rick Ross lyric, I don’t know where to begin. Mr. Ross, you need to attend SHARP training.

“A 50, 60 grand, prob’ a hundred grams though… I be smoking dope and you know Backwoods what I roll”

Fetty Wap can do a lot of things forbidden to U.S. military personnel.

“Let him hit it cause he slang cocaine/He toss my salad like his name Romaine”

Trading sexual favors for illegal drugs is forbidden under Article 112b and Articles 134-138 of the UCMJ. Even if it’s with Nicki Minaj.

“Coke on her back made a stripe like a zebra”

Kanye can say this because he’s not A1C West.

“MDMA got you feeling like a champion” Jay Z

“I’m used to Promethazine in two cups, I’m screwed up” – Lil Wayne

“Enough Oxycontin to send a f–king ox to rehab.” – Eminem

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ post-credits scene will make olds very happy

After finishing off Avengers: Endgame with a definitive and decidedly sweet ending, the next big Marvel movie — Spider-Man: Far From Home — will return to Marvel’s diabolic plans to get you to sit through the credits for extra scenes. Are there post-credits scenes for Spider-Man: Far From Home and do that matter? The answer is a big yes.

No spoilers ahead.

It’s hard to know which of these facts feels more surreal:


  1. Tom Holland has been in five Marvel movies as Spider-Man at this point
  2. It’s only been five years since Andrew Garfield was in his second Spider-Man movie; which also starred Jamie Foxx getting bitten by electric eels.
  3. 2019 marks twelve years since Tobey Maguire did his emo-Spider-Man dance routine in Spider-Man 3.

Feeling old yet? If so, there’s some very good news about Spider-Man: Far From Home. The post-credits scene is basically made for olds. If you remember seeing the first Tobey Maguire Spidey-flick like the same year you were able to legally buy alcohol for the first time (or maybe even before) then this post-credits scene is for you.

SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME – Official Trailer

www.youtube.com

We aren’t going to spoil what it is exactly yet, but let’s just put it this way: There are two post-credits scenes for Spider-Man: Far From Home, and the first one is the one you’ve got to see. Technically, this is what the pros call a “mid-credits” scene because it happens pretty quickly after the movie “ends.” (These movies never end.)

Will this scene make everyone happy? Yes. Does it set-up great things for the next big phase of Marvel movies. Big yes.

So, word of warning, between now and July 2, 2019, avoid spoilers as much as you can. This might not as Endgame-level as some thought, but if you’re of a certain age, it’s going to be very, very cool.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is out in theaters on July 2, 2019, which is, friendly reminder, a freaking Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this soldier became the first enlisted female Army ranger

As Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley made her way through mountainous terrain in the midst of a scorching Georgia summer in 2018, she admittedly struggled, carrying more than 50 pounds of gear during a patrol exercise.

Tired and physically drained, her body had withstood nearly a month of training in the Army’s most challenging training school. She had already suffered a fracture in her back in an earlier phase and suffered other physical ailments.

But then she looked to her left and right and saw her fellow Ranger School teammates, many of whom she outranked.

“I know that I have to keep going,” said Kelley, the first enlisted female graduate of the Army Ranger School at Fort Benning. “Because if I quit, or if I show any signs of weakness, they’re going to quit.”


In the middle of 21 grueling training days in northeast Georgia, Kelley knew if she could weather the mountain phase of the Army’s Ranger School, she and her teammates would reach a new pinnacle, a critical rite of passage for Ranger students. The electronic warfare specialist spent 21 days in the mountains which includes four days of mountaineering, five days of survival techniques training and a nine-day field training exercise. She had already been recycled in the school’s first phase and didn’t want to relive that experience.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Staff Sgt. Amanda F. Kelley marches in formation during her Ranger School graduation at Fort Benning, Ga., Aug. 31, 2018.

(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

“It’s not about you at that moment,” Kelley said. “It’s about the people around you. You don’t realize in that moment how many people look up to you until you complete it. Everybody has those trying periods because those mountains are really rough.”

Her graduation from Ranger School paved the way for her current assignment as an electronic warfare specialist with the Third Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Since 2016, more than 1,200 female soldiers have entered combat career fields, including field artillery, armor and infantry.

Kelley said the Ranger training pushed her to meet the same standards as her male counterparts. She finished the 16-mile ruck march in under three hours.

“You literally go through the same thing,” Kelley said. “It’s not any different … You do the same thing that they do. That’s the greatest thing about Ranger School: there’s one set standard, across the board.”

Taking the easy road has never been how Kelley has lived her life. As a teenager she competed as a centerfielder on boy’s baseball teams. She also was on her high school’s track team. Growing up in the small rural community of Easley, South Carolina, she had few mentors as a teen.

“I just wanted to be somebody,” Kelley said. “And I also want to be someone that others can look up to. I didn’t have that growing up. We don’t all come from a silver spoon background; some of us have to fight for things.”

She joined the Army on a whim in 2011, considering joining the service only six months prior to enlisting. She admired the Army’s rigid discipline and high standards.

“Better opportunities,” was one reason Kelley said she joined the Army. “I wanted to get out of where I was.”

Kelley wanted to reach even higher. The 30-year-old wanted to one day become sergeant major of the Army and let her supervisors know that it wasn’t some pipe dream. After an Iraq deployment with the 1st Armored Division, Kelley’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Mike Vandy, told her that attending Ranger School would help chart her path to success.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

A family member places the Army Ranger tab on Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley’s uniform.

(Photo by Patrick A. Albright)

“When I went to Ranger School, I didn’t go so I could be the first (enlisted female),” Kelley said. “I went so that I could be sergeant major of the Army. And I want to be competitive with my peers.”

After Kelley decided to apply for Ranger School, she spent five months physically preparing herself and studying while deployed. Her roommate in Iraq, former Staff Sgt. Mychal Loria, said Kelley would work 12-hour shifts, workout twice a day and still found time for study. At the same time, she helped mentor other soldiers.

“She just exemplified the perfect NCO; always there for her soldiers,” Loria said.

Kelley praised former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey for helping create more opportunities for women in combat career fields. Since the first two female graduates — Capt. Kristen Griest and then-1st Lt. Shaye Haver — completed Ranger training in 2015, more than 30 female soldiers have earned their Ranger tab. Sgt. 1st Class Janina Simmons became the first African American woman to graduate from the course earlier this year.

Kelley said has begun preparation for a six-month deployment to an undisclosed location. The South Carolina native said she looks forward to using many of the skills she learned during her time training to be an Army Ranger.

The eight-year Army vet said the Third Special Forces group has fostered a welcome environment for unit members, offering a wealth of training opportunities to help advance her career, including electronics and intelligence courses.

Kelley offered some advice for soldiers who may be considering Ranger School or other certifications to advance their careers.

“Soldiers need to understand that sometimes things you had planned change,” she said. “So just be open-minded to new things and don’t be scared to go after things that seem impossible. Because nothing’s impossible if somebody’s done it before you.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The insane USAF flying saucer-shaped missile

The wizards who brought you the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank have been serving the U.S. military’s needs for more than a century. In that time, General Dynamics, the multi-billion dollar defense contractor responsible for many amazing technological advances, has made history many times over, from developing the Navy’s first submarines to the Air Force’s first ICBM.

They may have even develop the flying saucer UFO.


In the late 1950s, the Air Force was looking to replace the B-52 Bomber with a nuclear-capable hypersonic upgrade. For this mission, the air service wanted the experimental XB-70 Valkyrie. The Valkyrie could fly at speeds of Mach 3 while dropping nuclear bombs on the unsuspecting or unprepared Soviet Union.

But how can the Air Force protect its bombers while they’re flying at three times the speed of sound in an unfriendly territory? The answer was to give it a defensive missile system, code named Pye Wacket, after a local Massachusetts urban legend involving a witch’s familiar who protected her master.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

The XB-70.

(U.S. Air Force)

The Valkyrie didn’t actually need defensive missiles. The Soviets didn’t have anything that could actually threaten the XB-70, but the airframe was considered a long-term solution and the Air Force wanted to ensure it had defenses should the need materialize. The missiles wouldn’t just need to hit interceptor aircraft, it would need to be capable of hitting SAM batteries and surface-to-air missiles themselves.

It also needed to be able to fly at seven times the speed of sound. So, General Dynamics engineers developed a wedge missile, in the shape of a lens – a kind of flying saucer – that could be fired from the aircraft in any direction and was capable of deft maneuvering.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Pye Wacket at the Arnold Engineering Development Center, in Tennessee.

The Air Force tested the new weapon between 1957 and 1961. The weapon was based on a saucer propulsion design from NASA’s Alan Kahlet, who wanted to use it for manned spacecraft. For the missile, designers wanted to include a small nuclear warhead, one that would neutralize the target but also be able to prevent an enemy nuclear warhead from exploding, a process called “dudding.”

Unfortunately for the future of the Pye Wacket missile, the Air Force ultimately decided that the best way to hit the Soviets with a barrage of nuclear devices was a series of rockets that used extremely unstable fuel and could be fired by any fool who knew the key combination was “000000000.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

An awful car killed more Nazi generals than World War II

The Czechoslovakian-built Tatra 87 was Hitler’s car of the future. With a top speed of more than 100 mph, it was a car destined for the Autobahn. Its sleek, futuristic design and high performance made it the vehicle of choice for Nazi officers. It was the Allies’ vehicle of choice for their enemy, too. They wanted all Nazis to drive one – because it would eventually kill them.


If 100 miles per hour doesn’t seem impressive by today’s standards, in 1935, it was a big deal. The car’s aerodynamic design helped it achieve these speeds. It didn’t hurt that the speed and design also made it seem like the future was coming, and the Nazis were leading the way. And it was coming, it was just a very short future. For most of the Nazi officers that pushed the limit in the car, their future usually consisted of wrapping themselves around a tree.

While the Tatra 87 has an incredible top speed, it seems it handles like a shopping cart. The death toll it took on Nazi officers was so bad, the Allies referred to the cars as their “secret weapon.” It even killed more of them than actual World War II combat – and these were the officers fighting the Soviet Union.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

There’s good, old-fashioned nightmare fuel in Stalingrad.

“These high-ranking Nazi officers drove this car fast, but unfortunately the handling was rubbish, so at a sharp turn they would lose control, spin out and wrap themselves around a tree killing the driver more often than not,” said author Steve Cole.

In the first week of its availability, seven officers took the 95 horsepower, 3.4-liter V8 engine for a spin and never came home after spinning it out of control. But there was a safer, more economical version. In 1939, the Volkswagen Beetle was introduced, which borrowed a lot of design elements from the Tatra, so much so that its designer, Porsche, had to pay Tatra for infringement.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US military is quietly killing terrorist leaders in Syria with its secret missile packed with swords

The US military has been quietly taking out terrorist leaders in Syria with a modified Hellfire missile packed full of swords, The New York Times reported Friday.

Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Thursday, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christopher Miller revealed that in Syria, “Hurras al-Din — a group made up of several al Qaeda veterans — has suffered successive losses of key leaders and operatives.”


And, the secretive Hellfire AGM-114R9X missile, a US weapon typically referred to as the R9X, reportedly played a role in some of those losses.

On Sept. 14, a US Reaper drone operated by special operations forces killed Sayyaf al-Tunsi, a senior attack planner for al Qaeda and its affiliates, with an R9X, The New York Times reported, citing US military and counterterrorism officials, who said that the hit would disrupt Hurras al-Din operations.

Following an R9X strike in June believed to have killed two Hurras al-Din members, the most recent strike marks at least the second time in three months the weapon has been used.

The R9X, The Times reports, has proven useful for targeting terrorist leaders in urban areas, where they assume the US is more hesistant to engage due to the heightened risk of civilian casualties.

The so-called “Ninja Bomb” or “Flying Ginsu,” a modified Hellfire equipped with a non-explosive warhead that kills enemies with 100 pounds of metal, sheer force, and six blades, first became public knowledge when The Wall Street Journal reported its existence in May 2019.

The weapon’s development began during the Obama administration as an airstrike armament less likely to kill civilians than other battlefield options.

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At the time of The Wall Street Journal report, it was believed that the US had used the weapon only about half a dozen times.

It is suspected to have been used to kill Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri, a top al Qaeda leader, in Syria in February 2017 and Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali al-Badawi, the al Qaeda operative who masterminded the deadly October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, in Yemen in January 2019.

There have been several other suspected R9X strikes since then.

The New York Times reports that while explosive Hellfire missiles are preferred for groups of terrorist targets, the non-explosive R9X is the “weapon of choice” for eliminating leaders and other high-value targets who are traveling alone.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army pilots prove their chops in risky terrain

Coming from the relatively flat state of New Jersey, Capt. Matthew Munoz recently learned for the first time how to land a UH-60 Black Hawk above 12,000 feet.

As a National Guard pilot, Munoz normally does flight training with sling loads and hoists, or he transports soldiers in air assault courses.

For the most part, those missions allow a large power margin for his helicopter, meaning there is less stress on the aircraft.


But here surrounded by the Rocky Mountains in western Colorado along Interstate 70, it’s a whole new ballgame. The mountainous terrain tests helicopter pilots with risky landing zones on limited, uneven space often strewn with large rocks and trees.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Students practice landing on mountainous terrain during the weeklong training program at the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, Colo., Aug. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Sean Kimmons)

“There definitely is that pucker factor,” Munoz said. “You have that caution and fear in that confined space. And there’s that potential for the rotors of the aircraft to strike an obstacle.”

A student at the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site, Munoz recently took the site’s weeklong course to hone his power management techniques that may one day help him out of a bad situation.

The only aviation school of its kind in the Defense Department, HAATS teaches about 350 students per year across the U.S. military as well as from foreign militaries, which account for about 20 percent of its enrollment.

The school is one of four Army National Guard aviation training sites in the country. Given its access to over 1 million acres of rugged forest with landing zones from 6,500 to 12,200 feet, HAATS mainly focuses on power management that teaches pilots how to maximize the utility of their helicopters.

The training sharpens pilots heading into combat or to perform missions back home, where they may find themselves flying in high altitudes, hot weather or carrying heavy loads, all of which can sap power from an aircraft.

“It’s important for us to give them the tools they need to make sure that they can complete their mission successfully and not bend or break aircraft in the process,” said Lt. Col. Britt Reed, the HAATS commander.

Schoolhouse

Operated by a small 30-member cadre of full-time Colorado Guardsmen, federal employees and an instructor pilot from the Coast Guard, the school relies on pilots to bring their own helicopters that can range from Black Hawks, CH-47 Chinooks and UH-72 Lakotas.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Students practice landing on mountainous terrain during the weeklong training program at the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, Colo., Aug. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Sean Kimmons)

What they lack in numbers, the staff makes up with experience. Many of the instructors have thousands of hours of flight experience and multiple combat tours from when they served in line units, Reed said.

Instructors also have a dual role of conducting search and rescue missions when emergencies pop up across the state.

Once they arrive, students head to the classroom to learn about approaches and takeoff sequences, weather and environmental considerations, and then power management.Afterward, pilots typically fly twice a day out in the rugged terrain, practicing the skills they just learned.

Reed considers the training to be “graduate level,” intended for more experienced pilots.

“It would be difficult to take a student fresh out of flight school and put them through this training,” he said, “while they’re trying to learn their aircraft and how to maneuver it.”

With only two years of experience as a Lakota pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Ferguson said he was lucky to be chosen for the recent course.

The Virginia Guardsman plans to use the skills when he is next called upon for drug interdiction operations in the state. High above the ground, Ferguson helps conduct surveillance for law enforcement as they search for suspects or illegal marijuana fields hidden in the forest.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

An instructor pilot from the Coast Guard teaches a classroom portion of the weeklong training program at the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, Colo., Aug. 26, 2019.

(Photo by Sean Kimmons)

Many times the job requires him to hover at high altitudes so as not to spook suspects and for safety reasons.

“If you get too low, the helicopter hovering over the house becomes pretty obvious, pretty quick,” he said. “So, you got to know how to maintain standoff, how to read the wind, [and] position the helicopter where you need it to be positioned.”

The techniques and finesse he picked up at the HAATS course, he said, gave him a better control touch of the aircraft when it’s using a lot of power.

Crew chiefs

Since they manage the aircraft, crew chiefs frequently join the pilots in the training to hone their skills, too.

By being together, aircrews can improve their teamwork, especially in dangerous landing zones where a crew chief is needed to spot dangers on the ground.

“Having good aircrew coordination between everybody in the aircraft is pinnacle because if you’re not talking to each other, then something is going to get missed,” said Sgt. Robert Black, a Black Hawk crew chief.

One time while deployed to Iraq, Black said he was on a helicopter that landed roughly on the side of a mountain as his crew went to check out a new landing zone during a training event.

“When we came in, we kind of browned out and then touched down a little bit harder than usual,” said Black, who is assigned to the Virginia National Guard.

While no one was injured, Black still saw it as a wake-up call. “If we would have had the training we had here, that probably wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Students practice landing on mountainous terrain during the weeklong training program at the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, Colo., Aug. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Sean Kimmons)

During the course, instructors will show videos that simulate previous helicopter crashes and discuss how to avoid the issues faced by those crews.

While somber, since some of the crashes have led to deaths, the videos are valuable learning aids.

“They’re all lessons learned,” Black said. “Being able to recognize somebody else’s mistakes and being able to learn from them is a key part of any kind of training.”

Seasoned crew chiefs also share their personal stories with their students.

Instructor Staff Sgt. Greg Yost often draws upon lessons from his time in Afghanistan where he served as a crew chief on a medical evacuation helicopter, which had to fly quickly in hot weather that sometimes took a toll on its power supply.

“If I can’t teach you something here in this course, then I have failed you,” Yost said of what he tells his students. “It is my goal, my duty to impart some kind of knowledge to every student that comes into my classroom.”

Training for combat

Earlier this year, Reed said the school was requested by the 10th and 82nd Combat Aviation Brigades to train up its younger crews ahead of deployments. The units flew several helicopters out to the site and for weeks the school cycled soldiers through.

HAATS even has mobile training teams that travel around the country to prepare aircrews.

At times, instructors hear back from crew members downrange they’ve helped train, who thank them and tell them they were able to apply the skills to real-world missions.

5 of the most accurate military representations on screen

Staff Sgt. Greg Yost, a crew chief instructor, teaches a classroom portion of the weeklong training program at the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, Colo., Aug. 26, 2019.

(Photo by Sean Kimmons)

Occasionally, crews will even share newly-found techniques with instructors that may help future students.

“More than anything, it validates what we’ve been doing,” Reed said.

While counterinsurgency operations in the Middle East may be waning, Yost believes skills in the course can still be used to mitigate risks in future operations.

For instance, helicopters may require heavier equipment, such as armor or technology, to offset anti-air threats posed by near-peer adversaries.

“As that stuff develops, it will be bolted onto the aircraft,” the senior crew chief said. “It will be adding weight, maybe increasing drag. All these contributing factors will reduce the aircraft’s performance.”

Whatever the mission, it’s no secret what they teach at the site, Reed said, who hopes every aircrew takes advantage of the course.

“We’re trying to spread the word and share it,” the commander said. “Often times we hear about a helicopter crash that’s power related. We want to do everything we can to make sure that all the aviators out there have these tools and make the right decisions.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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