This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes - We Are The Mighty
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This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

The Marine Corps is most famous for stripping away one’s individuality at boot camp and spitting recruits out 13 weeks later as Marines, formed into bands of brothers (and sisters).


But those bonds were tested when some of its strongest, toughest competitors battled one other in the second-annual High-Intensity Tactical Training Tactical Athlete Championship. When the dust settled after the fourth day of competition, the top male and female Marines were crowned “Ultimate Tactical Athlete.”

Sgt. Calie Jacobsen chewed up the final obstacle course event and took the top prize among 13 women who competed along 19 men to vie for bragging rights in the Aug. 15-18 service-wide competition at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego, California.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
A Marine performs pushups with a pack during the 2nd Annual Tactical Athlete Championship aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Aug. 17. The competition was a part of the Marine Corps’ High Intensity Tactical Training program and tested the strengths and abilities of Marines from different installations around the Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Liah Kitchen/Released)

Jacobsen, 23, a nondestructive inspection technician at Miramar, spent eight weeks preparing for the championship and held the lead going into the final event, the obstacle course. The other women wouldn’t make that easy, but it was her strongest event. “I wasn’t planning on winning. I just wanted to go out there and do good,” she said. “The females definitely were at a higher level than I was expecting to see.”

Jacobsen and the male winner, Cpl. Ethan Mawhinney, each received a championship belt and 53-pound kettle bell.

Mawhinney, a 22-year-old from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, beat 18 other male Marines in his second shot at the service championship. He placed sixth last year in the inaugural contest. “I trained a lot harder for the prelims this year,” said the Marine air-ground task force planner from Camp Allen, Virginia. Winning “was surreal. I had left last year really hoping to take the title.”

HITT is like CrossFit, but for and by Marines. That means using brute strength, endurance and determination to survive tactical battles against fellow Marines on the athletic field, in the water and on the paintball battlefield.

“Competition was tough,” said Lance Cpl. Isaac Namowicz, an admin clerk with Marine Security Guard headquarters and this year’s Quantico Marine Corps Base, Virginia, HITT champ. “There’s a lot of passion.”

Marines traded tips and even encouraged each other during the championship, but each had a mission: Win. “You’re a brother, but at the same time, you are trying to beat everyone,” Mawhinney admitted. That included the male 2015 Ultimate Tactical Athlete, Cpl. Joshua Boozer.

Boozer, ammo tech with 1st Tank Battalion at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., was champ this year at his home base but met his match at Miramar.

“It’s not easy competition,” he said, catching his breath after enduring the “500 Yard Power Shuffle” where competitors did nearly a dozen events including tire flips, box jumps, dummy carry, weighted sled pull and push and a variety of weight lifts — on a sweltering athletic field. It was the longest event, time-wise.

The Marine Corps organized its first HITT competition last year, held at Twentynine Palms. Like last year, Marines learned events’ details at the start of the competition, so they didn’t really know what they’d face.

Ryan Massimo, the Corps’ HITT program manager and event coordinator, said the intent is to include some base-specific events – this year’s “Maneuver Under Fire” took place at Miramar’s paintball park – with physical challenges that reflect the strength and conditioning program. Last year, the run up and down the desert base’s hills while lugging heavy items made “sugar cookies” of a weakened competitor.

This year’s championship included a timed water event, the “Amphibious Tactical Challenge.” Competitors in boots and utes swam multiple laps bearing their pack and rubber rifle, and then they traversed the pool, diving and ducking with a pack under markers before cranking out 10 (men) or 5 (women) pushups wearing the pack. “It did definitely throw a curve ball for some people,” Mawhinney said.

Namowicz said he struggled in the pool.

“I was not expecting all that weight. It felt like cinder blocks,” he said. “My upper body was getting tired.”

At times, he’d talk to himself as he pushed weighted sleds or carried 35-pound ammo cans and 120-pound dummies in the sweltering heat. “I just kept saying, ‘Finish this.’ You have people in the stands pushing you, and it just keeps you motivated,” he said. “You just want to be done.”

Jacobsen hadn’t real plans to become competitive until the Miramar HITT Center coordinator encouraged her to the local HITT combine challenge. “I didn’t know how big it was, that it was Marine Corps-wide,” said the Nebraska native. “We just went in unassuming.”

And she finished first among the women, getting the ticket to compete against other installation winners for the championship.

She’s a HITT convert. The isolation workout she previously did for weightlifting “isn’t applicable to everyday life,” she said. Interval training demands endurance and strength and “is a lot more applicable to everyday life. That’s definitely changed my mindset.”

Thin crowds watched this year’s competition, but Jacobsen said she was glad to see her station commander and sergeant major on the sidelines. “It’s an awesome event, and it needs to be more widely broadcast,” she said.

It’s certainly not as well-known as the military’s most famous tactical-physical competition, the “Best Ranger.”

The 60-hour event at Fort Benning, Georgia, pits Army Rangers against each other in two-man teams to test their skills, including land navigation, small-arms firing, obstacles and, in true Ranger style, parachuting.

Not to be outdone, Marines run the less-known but still grueling and gung-ho “Recon Challenge” at Camp Pendleton, California. After a predawn swim in the Pacific, two-man Marine Recon and Marine Raider (and Navy recon corpsmen) teams run in boots-and-utes with rucksack and weapon, enduring a nonstop series of grueling events in the pool, on the range and along Pendleton’s roller-coaster scrubby hills.

A close parallel to the HITT championship may be the Army’s “Best Warrior” competition, a four-day contest where soldiers complete tactical challenges, written exams and fitness events in more battlefield-like environments. The top 10 soldiers and 10 noncommissioned officers who’ve bested their local competitors will vie for the title at this year’s contest, to be held Sept. 26-Oct. 3 at Fort A.P. Hill, Virgina. The Army National Guard held its own contest on June 22 at Joint Base Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Events included a 14-mile ruck march.

The Air Force’s 1st Air Support Operations Group put airmen through grueling individual challenges and 22 events over a week in July for “Cascade Challenge 2016.”

The contest, held at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska this year included navigating the wild Alaskan forests with body armor and 50-pound rucksack.

The Navy takes a different tack in sailor competition. Its surface fleet of destroyer, cruiser and frigate crews each year showcase their athletic and professional naval skills during “Surface Line Week.” Sailors went toe-to-toe in firefighting drills, valve packing, welding, small-arms shooting, sailing and stretcher-bearer races. Team events include dodgeball and soccer, so fun is the operative word.

East Coast units this year even raced off in a cardboard boat regatta.

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7 awesome airpower quotes from General Curtis LeMay

The most powerful weapon in the United States’ Cold War arsenal was likely not its hundreds of nuclear warheads — it was the man whose job it was to deploy them.


There are few men in Air Force history as noteworthy and controversial as Gen. Curtis LeMay. He earned the nickname “Iron Ass” for his stubbornness and shortness once his mind was made up. When he did speak, the stout, cigar-chomping, stone-faced general had a reputation for his outspoken manner. Though not always remembered fondly by history, some of his image as a shoot-first-ask-questions-later, caveman may be undeserved.

He was the youngest general to wear a fourth star. When he retired, he had served as a four-star general longer than anyone in American history; a big deal for a general who didn’t go to a service academy, instead graduating from Ohio State. At the height of his career, he was the symbol of American military might. A bit more about one of the U.S. Air Force’s most influential founding generals can be gleaned through his more noteworthy quotes.

1. “We should always avoid armed conflict. But if you get in it, get in with both feet and get out as soon as possible.”

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

Despite his gruff, cold image, every operational goal, in LeMay’s mind, was a means to an end. Ending a war quickly meant saving American lives. During World War II, LeMay was responsible for the firebombing of Japanese cities which completely destroyed most major Japanese cities. It was his command that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Official estimates from the United States Strategic Bombing Survey determined at least 330,000 killed, 476,000 injured, 8.5 million people made homeless, and 2.5 million buildings destroyed. Almost half of 64 Japanese mainland cities were completely destroyed. The destruction was not lost on LeMay. He acknowledged that if the Japanese had won the war, he would have been tried as a war criminal.

Later he would reveal that dropping the atomic bombs was totally unnecessary, given the level of destruction he had already waged on Japan. He said he only dropped them because of President Truman’s authority. After the war, Japan’s former Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe confirmed that the decision to surrender was based on the prolonged bombing wrought by General LeMay’s Marianas-based air forces. LeMay took command of the Marianas in January 1945. The Japanese surrendered in August of 1945.

2. “War is never cost-effective. People are killed. To them, the war is total.”

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

He was known as a tough commander, but a fair one. He earned a reputation for being stone-faced, uncaring about the needs of his men but LeMay actually suffered from Bell’s Palsey, which literally immobilized his face. When a Harvard study found Army pilots were aborting bombing missions over Germany out of fear, LeMay personally led every bombing sortie and ordered any crew who didn’t go over the target be court martialed.

The gruff general took combat losses to heart, knowing he’d sent men to die, but firmly believed if the death of one American could save a thousand, then it was the right decision to make. In The Fog of War, a documentary about the life of former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, McNamara quoted LeMay: “Why are we here? Why are we here? You lost your wingman. It hurts me as much as it does you. I sent him there. And I’ve been there, I know what it is.  But you lost one wingman, and we destroyed Tokyo.”

3. “Successful offense brings victory. Successful defense can now only lessen defeat.”

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

This is an “extremely belligerent, many thought brutal” man who believed in the power, threat and use of nuclear weapons. He wanted SAC to be able to deliver every nuclear warhead in the American arsenal on the Soviet Union at once. This military rationale earned LeMay the image of a cold man who was obsessed with starting any kind of war with the Russians.

It was Gen. LeMay who inspired the character of Buck Turgidson in “Doctor Strangelove,” willing to pay for a victory over the Soviet Union with unlimited American lives. As a bomber pilot, LeMay’s point of view was one of overwhelming force. At its height, the SAC had 1600 bombers and 800 missiles in its arsenal.

4. “We can haul anything.”

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

As the commander of U.S. Air Forces In Europe, LeMay was asked by the Commander of all U.S. forces in Europe, Lucius D. Clay, about the feasibility of an airlift (later known as the “Berlin Airlift”) to break the Soviet blockade of West Berlin.

Gen. Clay asked LeMay “Can you haul coal?” Even though he preferred the more aggressive response of an armed convoy backed by bomber aircraft, Gen. LeMay enthusiastically began the 5,000 ton per day airlift operation within weeks. He was so instrumental in its startup, it was initially called “The LeMay Coal and Feed Delivery Service.” LeMay’s response to Clay’s hauling question represents the can-do attitude and spirit of the U.S. Air Force.

5. “If I see that the Russians are amassing their planes for an attack, I’m going to knock the shit out of them before they take off the ground.”

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

Robert McNamara, who served under LeMay during WWII and over him as Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy Administration, called him the finest combat commander there ever was. While he was convinced a war would happen at some point and believe the U.S. should fight it on the grounds most favorable to it, LeMay’s military upbringing taught him that true readiness required constant training and this readiness was to be in place when the civilian leaders of the military deemed it necessary to use them.

His solution was to create a force so powerful no one would dare sneak an attack. He would always advocate for a heavy military response, most notably during the thirteen-day Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, but always loyally and diligently carried out the orders and policy of his civilian superiors.

6. “To err is human, to forgive is not SAC policy”

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

When he took control of Strategic Air Command in 1948, most of his bomber crews couldn’t hit Ohio with a mock atomic bomb during exercises. The SAC under Gen. LeMay became one of the most effective military units in the world on the basis of relentless training.

One officer was quoted as saying: “Training in SAC is harder than war … it might be a relief to go to war.” Within two years, the procedures, checklists, and training implemented by General LeMay gave SAC one of the best safety records in U.S. military history.

7. “The price of failure might be paid with national survival.”

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes

After retiring from the Air Force in 1965, LeMay ran with George Wallace on his segregationist party ticket. It led many to conclude that LeMay agreed with Wallace’s racial views. In truth, LeMay agreed to run with Wallace because he believed in a hard line against Communism, and an end to the War in Vietnam, and didn’t see any of the potential candidates doing these things.

LeMay was no racist. During his tenure as a commander in the Air Force, he had actually promoted the integration of units well before Truman’s executive order. Protesters would attend Wallace rallies shouting “Sieg heil” at the man who designed the bombing plans that crippled Nazi war production, even personally leading the most dangerous missions.

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A guide to CW5s, the military’s mythical rank

There is a special bedtime story that all platoon sergeants and petty officers tell their troops; there exists a special rank of chief warrant officer that is the premiere technical expert in their field. This mythical rank is called “Chief Warrant Officer 5.”


Young service members typically believe in the story for the first few years, but then begin to question it. If warrant officers 1 and chief warrant officers 3 could really grow up to be chief warrant officers 5, wouldn’t they have seen one by now?

But now, in a We Are The Mighty exclusive, we can confirm that CW5s — a commonly accepted abbreviation for the species — do really, truly exist.

While many of their superpowers are still unknown, here are the ones they’ve demonstrated in view of our crack team of researchers so far:

1. Insane levels of knowledge (probably)

This photo reportedly depicts a CW5 from the New York National Guard dropping some major knowledge bombs on other troops. WATM could not independently verify that this particular CW5 exists, but the chest markings are consistent with the specimen we observed. (Photo: U.S. Army National Guard Master Sgt. Raymond Drumsta)

The video at the top highlights the power that supposedly makes the CW5s so valuable. Legend says that they know everything about their assigned area. Aviation CW5s can quote the length and placement of each storage panel on the body of an Apache. Signal CW5s can quote frequencies like chaplains quote chapter and verse.

Having witnessed one of the beautiful creatures in action, WATM can confirm that they say a lot of technical stuff that sounds super impressive. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if what they’re saying is accurate since it usually involves details so obscure that literally no one else knows where to check for answers.

2. CW5s can appear and disappear at will

A CW5 and chief warrant officer 4 sit in a helicopter together a short time before they disappeared without a trace. Aviation CW5s may be the most elusive of their breed since they can literally fly away from observers. An unsubstantiated report claims that the two chiefs in this photo are brothers. (Photo: U.S. National Guard Sgt. Jodi Eastham)

The only specimen which WATM was able to observe was working in an office with an open door on a separate floor of our building. We, of course, established a 24-hour watch with a duty log filled with hundreds of pages of blank paper that we thought would soon be filled with observations.

But, somehow, after only a few hours, the CW5 disappeared without a sign. According to troops of more common rank in the area, that’s how CW5s work. They’ll be present at a random formation or two and visible in the office for an hour at a time, but then they’ll be gone. When they return, everyone is so carried away with awe that they forget to ask the CW5 where they were.

3. CW5s are masters of camouflage

Think this is a prior service lieutenant? Then he fooled you. That’s a Marine Corps CW5. It takes only a slight amount of glare to render their markings indistinguishable from the lowly LT. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl Timothy A. Turner)

One possible explanation for the disappearing act is that CW5s are able to blend in with lesser members of the military thanks to two important features of their markings. First, their skin is covered in the same pattern as other service members, allowing them to blend into the herd like zebras would.

Second, their identifying rank markings are a thin bar of blue, black, or red sandwiched between two silver bars. This causes many observers to mistake them for extremely old lieutenants.

4. Still, there’s a lot we don’t know

While WATM is excited and proud of this advance in warrant officer science, many avenues of research remain open and require answers. Is it true that CW5s retire from the military? Does the president really have to sign off on their rank? Do they really originate from the ranks of chief warrant officers 4?

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dave Dale sprays down Chief Warrant Officer 5 Richard Wince following his final flight in a Delaware National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. It’s possible that this ritual allows CW5s to prepare their knowledge to transfer into a new vessel. (Photo and first half of the cutline: U.S. Army National Guard 2nd Lt. Wendy Callaway)

WATM’s working theory is that CW5s do not retire and are not created by promotion. Instead, CW5s are reincarnated in a system similar to the Dalai Lama and Panchem Lama. When a CW5s mortal body fails, its knowledge moves to a new human frame. Other CW5s find this new repository and grant it the ancient markings of their people.

Of course, we will continue our research into this amazing discovery.

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These roving robots are helping to improve hostage rescue training

Hostage rescue is one of the most dangerous missions special operations troops can be assigned to.


One of the big reasons: You have to pull your punches, lest you accidentally kill the people you’re there to rescue. You have to be very stealthy, or you will be detected and the bad guys will kill the hostages. You must move quickly, or the bad guys will kill the hostages.

But it’s hard to find people who want to be in the middle of training for hostage rescue. The answer, according to one DoD release, may be to use robots.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians with the 27th Special Operations Wing conducted some hostage rescue training using the robots this past December – and some of it was caught on video:

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This sub sank but came back to terrorize Japanese sailors in World War II

The USS Sailfish was a silent assassin in World War II that struck Japanese military and civilian freight ships. The submarine sent eight of them, including an escort carrier, to the bottom of the ocean. That combat record is impressive on its own and netted the crew a Presidential Unit Citation, but the really surprising thing is that all this happened after the sub sank in a 1939 accident.


This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
The USS Squalus is launched in this 1938 photo. Photo: Office of Naval Research

Originally christened the USS Squalus, SS-192 was a cutting-edge submarine that could dive to a depth of 250 feet and patrol for 75 days and 11,000 miles while hunting enemy ships and subs. Unfortunately, while the Squalus was undergoing a diving test in 1939 it suddenly flooded and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Twenty-six men were killed in the initial sinking but 33 were able to survive in the stern of the ship by closing the hatches. At the time, no one had successfully rescued submariners from depths of greater than 20 feet. The Squalus was sitting under 240 feet of cold Atlantic waters.

Another submarine, the USS Sculpin, raced to find the lost Squalus and the USS Falcon, a submarine tender, sailed towards the wreck with the new McCann rescue chamber. The McCann was a specialized diving bell that allowed rescuers to descend to a wrecked submarine and create an airlock around the hatch. It could then ferry survivors to the surface.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
A diver descends to the McCann Rescue Chamber after the lines are fouled during the rescue of the USS Squalus crew. Painting: US Naval Historical Center, John Groth #7.

Ultimately, the rescue was successful and all 33 people who survived the initial accident were rescued after 39 hours.

The Navy took another look at the wreck and realized that SS-192 could likely be salvaged, so they raised it from the deep, rinsed it out, and repaired it.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
The USS Squalus breaches the surface during one of the attempts to raise it. Photo: courtesy Boston Public Library

Re-christened the USS Sailfish, the submarine was sent to the Asiatic Fleet. Sailfish was operating out of Luzon in the Philippines when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor and America was dragged into the war. Sailfish began conducting wartime patrols the same day.

The sub struggled to find and engage enemy ships on the first few patrols. But, on Feb. 28, 1942, Sailfish was operating out of a Dutch base in Java when it spotted a Japanese aircraft transport escorted by four destroyers. Sailfish fired four torpedoes and landed two hits on the transport, destroying it.

Sailfish went on to destroy seven more Japanese ships over the course of the war and damage another. A few of the kills were cargo and transport ships, relieving a little of the pressure on Marines and soldiers fighting ashore.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
The USS Sailfish crew pose on the conning tower. Their Presidential Unit Citation Flag is visible flying behind the American flag. Photo: US National Archives

The crew’s greatest achievement came on their 10th wartime patrol. Just before midnight on Dec. 3, the Sailfish spotted Japanese warships in a severe storm. Four ships, including an escort carrier, were sailing together. Sailfish fired a four-torpedo spread at the carrier and scored two hits.

As the Japanese ships counterattacked, Sailfish dove for safety but didn’t leave the battle. Five hours later, Sailfish fired a three-torpedo spread at the damaged carrier and scored two more hits. Finally, at 9:40 that morning, Sailfish hit the ship with two more torpedoes and the escort carrier Chuyo sank into the Pacific.

The crew received a Presidential Unit Citation for this engagement, but they later learned that American POWs had been aboard the Chuyo. Unfortunately, 21 American submariners from the USS Sculpin, the submarine that helped rescue the crew of the Squalus, were aboard and 20 died when the Chuyo sank.

After the war, the Sailfish was decommissioned and sold for scrap.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

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


AIR FORCE:

Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rarang, Senior Airman Tormod Lillekroken and Staff Sgt. Seth Hunt, all 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controllers, walk along a road as part of a training scenario during exercise Serpentex 16 in Corsica, France, March 15, 2016. JTACs are considered qualified service members who direct the action of air and surfaced-based fires at the tactical level. They are the Airmen on the ground with the authority to control and call in airstrikes on target.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sara Keller)

Airman 1st Class Anthony Mahon, of the 436th Airlift Wing, performs a visual inspection on a C-17 Globemaster III during thick fog prior to the aircraft’s launch from Dover Air Force Base, Del., March 17, 2016. Experienced reservists from the 512th Airlift Wing frequently train active-duty Airmen in various career field tasks.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Bernie Kale

ARMY:

Soldiers assigned to 2d Cavalry Regiment, with support from a 12th Combat Aviation Brigade (Griffins) CH-47 Chinook helicopter crew, conduct sling load training with a M777 towed 155mm howitzer during an exercise at the 7th Army JMTC’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 22, 2016.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Tanner

Soldiers, assigned to Joint Task Force-Bravo, conduct pre-flight checks on a U.S. Army South UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, March 10, 2016.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Army photo by Martin Chahin

NAVY:

WATERS SURROUNDING THE KOREAN PENINSULA (March 23, 2016) Sailors clean an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Black Aces of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled U.S. 7th Fleet deployment.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andre T. Richard

ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2016) An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Gunslingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105 takes off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the flagship of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. Dwight D. Eisenhower is underway conducting a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group in preparation for a future deployment.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado

MARINE CORPS:

Marines assigned to Marine Air Control Group 28, conduct an underwater gear shed during a basic swim qualification course at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, March 16, 2016. Marines are required to demonstrate proficient combat water survival skills to complete the basic qualification.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jered T. Stone

A candidate assigned to Delta Company, Officer Candidates Class-221, breaks the surface of the murky water of ‘The Quigley’ at Brown Field, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, on March 15, 2016. The mission of Officer Candidates School (OCS) is to “educate and train officer candidates in Marine Corps knowledge and skills within a controlled, challenging, and chaotic environment in order to evaluate and screen individuals for the leadership, moral, mental, and physical qualities required for commissioning as a Marine Corps officer.”

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Patrick H. Owens

COAST GUARD:

Seaman Anthony Fritz conducts firefighting training aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Albacore in Bristol Bay, Rhode Island, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2015. The Albacore is an 87-foot cutter home ported in New London, Connecticut.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Chief Petty Officer Armando Medina

Two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point conduct a practice formation flight around the Island of Oahu, March 4, 2016. The Dolphin aircrews along with an HC-130 Hercules aircrew practice proficiency with multiple aircraft flying at once.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle

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The Commander-in-Chief laid out a plan to fight ISIS (and civilians are a part of it)

Last night the Commander-in-chief addressed the nation to lay out the latest iteration of his plan to fight ISIS (aka Daesh, a name the terrorist group hates) in Iraq and Syria. The speech came at a critical time as the fight requires a legal vote from Congress to continue funding the military response in the region. Until now, the President used the 2001 and 2003 resolutions Congress passed to allow for military action in Iraq and Afghanistan against Daesh, maintaining the terrorist group is an offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq.


This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
The current map of the Syrian Civil War (ISIS territory is in gray)

In effect, the President is asking for a declaration of war but without the powers and privileges a formal declaration of war from Congress would give the Executive office. An authorization of military force gives the President the power and funds to use the military as he sees fit, but does not automatically trigger a constitutional set of domestic laws that he might need in an all-out war. Those laws include giving him the power to take over businesses and transportation systems, detain foreign nationals, conduct warrantless domestic spying, and the power to use natural resources on public lands. The last time a declaration of war from Congress gave the President these powers was at the outset of World War II.

The President’s 13-minute speech was, in effect, an request to Congress to vote on an authorization of military force. Obama said the following:

“For seven years, I have confronted this evolving threat each morning in my intelligence briefing. And since the day I took this office, I have authorized U.S. forces to take out terrorists abroad precisely because I know how real the danger is. As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the security of the American people.”

He laid out four points in his current plan to combat the terrorists at home and abroad:

  • Hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where necessary.
  • Provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIS on the ground to remove safe havens
  • Work with allies to stop ISIS operations, to disrupt plots, cut off financing, and prevent recruiting
  • Lead the international community to establish a process  for ceasefires and a political resolution to the Syrian Civil War

His request to Congress on expanding the fight in the United States not only includes passing an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) but means to combat those who are already radicalized in the United States or are on their way to the U.S.:

  • Vote to authorize the continued use of military force against the terrorist organization
  • Ensure no one on a No-Fly List is able to buy guns or assault weapons
  • Place stronger screenings for travelers to the U.S. without visas if they’ve been to war zones

On top of his call to Congress, the President, as Commander-in-chief, laid out the roles of the American civilian in the fight against terrorist extremists.

  • Avoid a costly ground war
  • Reject anti-Islamic sentiment
  • Help American Muslim communities root out extremist ideology

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
Muslim Twitter User @rsalaam posted this photo of his Marine Corps uniform and core values card when he felt his patriotism and loyalty were publicly questioned

“Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes — and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country.”  – President Barack Obama

The three points enumerated by the President are points many experts agree is part of the terrorist organization’s strategy to draw the West into un-winnable ground wars in the Middle East while gaining followers and recruits, disillusioned by the West’s potential knee-jerk anti-Islamic responses to Daesh terrorism.

The President has been asking for this authorization since February 2015. There are many who believe Congress will not authorize the continued use of force against ISIS. There are a few reasons why Congress may not pass a formal authorization:

  1. While the President’s actions against ISIS have so far been acceptable to Congress, even without an authorization for use military force (AUMF), a formal AUMF would require details and specifics which would telegraph the U.S.’ plans to the enemy
  2. Politics: The Presidential race is wide open and neither side wants to give that kind of power to a potential political rival
  3. A new AUMF is not necessary. The Obama Administration has been acting on previous authorizations and the Bush Administration established a precedent of engaging abroad as matters of “imminent national security.”

Congress’ disregard for a new AUMF suggests that no one wants to rock the boat for fear of giving too much power to the other political party, and there’s no political pressure to change the course of action for the time being.

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The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (Aug. 10 edition)

Get your week started with the right intel:


Now: The most important battlefield innovation is not a weapon 

MIGHTY FIT

The Air Force finally ditches the waist measurement test. Why?

In the military, being fit isn’t just for looks. Without meeting certain fitness standards, military personnel may not be able to do their jobs properly, putting themselves and others in danger. What those standards should be, exactly, has been up for debate for decades. Now, the Air Force is rethinking what it means to be fit for duty. In 2021, the universally despised “tape test” will finally be gone. 

Say goodbye to unfair fitness assessments, say hello to a stronger Air Force.

The US Air Force fitness test has historically been composed of three sections measuring cardiorespiratory endurance, strength, and body composition. While the cardio and strength sections are still under review, the body composition portion is getting a makeover. 

In the past, the test has relied on waist or neck measurements to estimate body fat percentages. Unfortunately, it’s not a very accurate assessment. Some airmen with muscular frames had very low body fat, but still failed the waist measurement test. Getting an accurate waist measurement is another challenge; measurements vary depending on the time of day, how much you ate for breakfast, and who is administering the test. 

Because of this, Airmen who didn’t pass were previously forced to reduce their measurements however they could in order to meet the testing standards; even when that meant losing muscle mass in the process. The goal here isn’t to make it easier to get away with lower levels of fitness. On the contrary, the entire point is to give a more accurate assessment of how fit an individual is, regardless of their individual build or body type. 

Upcoming tests, which are expected to resume in January 2021, will still include a 1.5 mile run, and one minute each of pushups and situps. Until new standards are defined, everyone will receive full marks for the waist measurement portion of the test. According to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., more changes are likely to come soon. 

A new, more holistic approach to fitness testing is on the horizon. 

While the pushups and running are still part of the standards for now, that may not always be the case. Ultimately, department leaders are working to redesign tests with a focus on long term fitness outcomes. Why train with dozens of pushups when planks are less damaging and just as effective? Brown is hoping for fewer overuse injuries, fewer ineffective testing measurements, and better health and fitness for future Airmen.

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This hard-luck WWII soldier survived the Bataan Death March, torture and the atomic bomb

Army Sgt. Joe Kieyoomia was captured by Japanese forces in 1942 as the Philippines fell to the Japanese war machine. Unfortunately for him, that was the start of 43 months of captivity that began with the infamous Bataan Death March and only ended with the surrender of Japan.


This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
Joe Kieyoomia in uniform.

When he was captured by the Japanese, Kieyoomia – like tens of thousands of other Filipino and American POWs – was forced to walk some 60-70 miles in the sweltering heat, under constant enemy mistreatment. When he finally arrived at a prison camp, he watched as his captors forced them to dig their own graves and then shot them.

Kieyoomia was eventually sent to the Japanese mainland, because of his looks and his name. The enemy assumed he was Japanese American, but unfortunately for Kieyoomia in this instance, he was a Navajo. When he arrived on the mainland, he was beaten and tortured daily.

“They didn’t believe me,” he told The Deseret News when he was 72 years old. “The only thing they understood about Americans was black and white. I guess they didn’t know about Indians.”

But Kieyoomia wasn’t a code talker. He was deployed to the Philippines with New Mexico’s 200th Coast Artillery. When the Japanese needed to know what the Najavo code was, they came to Kieyoomia – but he didn’t know the code. He didn’t even know about the existence of the code.

The Japanese then had him listen to radio broadcasts – he was surprised to hear his native language. The broadcasts made no sense. His jailers didn’t believe that he couldn’t understand the messages and he was forced to stand naked in six inches of snow on a parade ground in below freezing temperatures.

Kieyoomia’s feet froze to the ground. When he was forced back inside, his skin stuck to the ground and he left a bloody trail on the parade ground. He was tortured for months on end.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
Joe Kieyoomia before his 1997 death.

“I salute the code talkers,” he said in the interview with Deseret News. “And even if I knew about their code, I wouldn’t tell the Japanese.”

The Japanese came to Kieyoomia with written words, transliterated into English. The Japanese tortured him to learn the Navajo code, but it was very different from mere words from the language. Kieyoomia couldn’t tell them if he wanted to it was gibberish, and it was designed to sound that way, even if someone spoke the language.

The Navajo soldier tried to end his own life with a hunger strike, but that only earned him more beatings from his Japanese captors.

His troubles were only ended by the second atomic bomb dropped on Japan. On Aug. 9, 1945 “Fat Man” detonated over the city, killing 40-75,000 people instantly.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
Nagasaki, August 1945.

Kieyoomia miraculously survived the nuclear blast because of the way he was sitting next to the concrete wall in his cell. He was abandoned for three days before a Japanese officer freed him.

After the war, Sgt. Joe Kieyoomia returned to the Navajo nation, recovered from his wounds, and lived to age 77. He died in 1997.

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Homeless man’s funeral attended by hundreds of fellow vets who didn’t know him

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
(Photo courtesy of Des Moines Register)


Hundreds gathered at Iowa Veterans Home Cemetery this afternoon to pay their respects to a once homeless Korean War Navy veteran named Charles ‘Chuck’ Lanam.  They didn’t know Lanam — and they didn’t know each other — but today on the burial hill the strangers came together as family.

“This man would have been buried on his own,” said Simon Conway, Des Moines resident and radio host at 1040 WHO. “There was literally nobody coming to this … this man had nobody, no family, no friends. There was no one to carry his casket, there was no one to give the flag to … no one to tell us about our grateful nation. Today, Chuck was laid to rest with full military honors and around 400 Iowans in attendance. We make a difference.”

See footage from the funeral here.

Lanam was born September 16, 1934 in Fairfield, Iowa. He was the son of Christopher and Marian (Byers).  He attended school in the Fairfield area. He served four years in U.S. Navy aboard USS Valley Forge during the Korean conflict. After retiring from the military, Lanam resided in Tennessee and Iowa and did electrical contracting. He never married. He was homeless for a number of years until February 2015, when moved into the Iowa Veterans Home. He remained there until he passed away.

This veteran, who never owned a computer, much less a had Facebook page, posthumously became a viral topic on the social media platform last week. Mitchell Family Funeral Home director Marty Mitchell reached out to his friends and community after Lanam’s death asking for their help in honoring this veteran’s life with this post

I’m sitting in my office right now and contemplating the rest of the week- and really struggling with one thing that I would like to open up and share with all of you- and no, not a joke, something real. On Monday, we are going to bury a man who served our country honorably, and probably before many of us were born. He has no family – absolutely no family, so our staff and the chaplain from IVH will gather on a quiet hillside at IVH and put this man to rest. No pallbearers, no mourners, no flowers, no one to even present a flag to saying his service was recognized. If you so desire and it’s in your hearts, we are having a service at 1:30 p.m. at the cemetery at IVH. Even though you did not know him, this man Charles Lanam, you are welcome to come and honor his life or serve as a pallbearer or even as important, send your prayers. Death equalizes us in the end, but before that time, appreciate that you do have a family. God bless you all my friends!

That request was shared over 1,700 times. It attracted Patriot Riders and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. A suit was donated for Lanam to be buried in, and pallbearers volunteered. In response, Mitchell posted the following to his page:

“I truly think Mr. Lanam is smiling down at all of you for caring about him. He might be overwhelmed, but I do think he is happy. He now gets to rejoin his mom, his dad and his sister who went on before. Thanks to the Iowa Veterans Home for making his last years a home and family- a change he deserved from being homeless, and thanks for making his resting spot available. God bless all of you for focusing on what is important in life…”

This afternoon, Lanam’s coffin was draped in a flag with hundreds in attendance.  “Last Wednesday, I expected to be standing on a lonely hill overlooking the veteran’s zone with Marty and a few staff members saying a quiet farewell to Chuck today,” Chaplain Craig Nelson said before beginning the eulogy. “Instead, I find myself surrounded by those who were moved by his story and wanted to come out so he might not be laid to rest alone.”

Mary Drake, business manager at Mitchell Family Funeral Home said any donations they receive in Charles’ honor will be sent to Iowa Veteran’s Home.

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Here’s who’d win in a dogfight between Russia’s and the US’s top fighter jets

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
We Are The Mighty | Lockheed Martin | Creative Commons


Russia’s air force recently grabbed the international spotlight with its bombing campaign in support of Syria’s Bashar Assad. But how does it stack up against the world’s greatest air force?

During Russia’s stint in Syria, four of their latest and greatest Su-35 Flanker jets flew sorties just miles from the only operational fifth-generation fighter jet in the world, the US’s F-22 Raptor.

Given the fundamental differences between these two top-tier fighter jets, we take a look at the technical specifications and find out which fighter would win in a head-to-head matchup.

F-22 specs

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
John Dibbs | Lockheed Martin

Max Speed: 1,726 mph

Max Range: 1,840 miles

Dimensions: Wingspan: 44.5 ft; Length: 62 ft; Height: 16.7 ft

Max Takeoff Weight: 83,500 lb

Engines: Two F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with two-dimensional thrust-vectoring nozzles

Armament: One M61A2 20-mm cannon with 480 rounds, internal side weapon bay carriage of two AIM-9 infrared (heat seeking) air-to-air missiles, and internal main weapon bay carriage of six AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-air load out) or two 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and two AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles (air-to-ground loadout).

Source: Af.mil

Su-35 specs

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
Dmitriy Pichugin | Creative Commons

Max Speed: 1,490 mph

Max Range: 1,940 miles

Dimensions: Wingspan: 50.2 ft; Length 72.9 ft; Height 19.4 ft

Max takeoff weight: 76,060 lb

Engines: Two Saturn 117S with TVC nozzle turbofan, 31,900 lbf/14,500 kgf each

Armament: One 30mm GSh-30 internal cannon with 150 rounds, 12 wing and fuselage stations for up to 8,000 kg (17,630 lb) of ordnance, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, rockets, and bombs.

Source: CombatAircraft.com

Maneuverability

Montage showing the different phases of an acrobatic maneuver performed by a Sukhoi Su-35 piloted by Sergey Bogdan at the 2013 Paris Air Show.

Russia based the Su-35 on the rock-solid Su-27 platform, so its status as a “supermaneuverable” fighter is a matter of fact.

Russian pilots familiar with previous generations of the Sukhoi jet family’s thrust-vectoring capabilities have carried out spectacular feats of acrobatic flight, like the “Pugachev’s Cobra.”

On the other hand, the F-22 has a great thrust-to-weight ratio and dynamic nozzles on the turbofan engines. These mobile nozzles provide the F-22 with thrust-vectoring of its own, but they had to maintain a low profile when designing them to retain the F-22’s stealth edge.

Most likely, the Su-35 could out-maneuver the F-22 in a classic dogfight.

Electronic warfare

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
F-22 deploys flares | U.S. Air Force

Both Russia and the US classify their most up-to-date electronic-warfare capabilities, but it should be assumed that they are both state of the art and nearly equal in efficacy.

Firepower

A fully loaded Su-35.

Both planes are equipped with state-of-the-art missiles capable of shooting each other out of the sky. The Su-35’s need to carry ordinance outside the fuselage is a slight disadvantage, but in general, the first plane to score a clean hit will win.

The Su-35 can carry 12 missiles, while the F-22 carries just eight, but as Justin Bronk from the Royal United Services Institute notes in an interview with Hushkit.net, the Su-35 usually fires salvos of six missiles with mixed seekers, meaning the 12 missiles only really provide two credible shots.

The F-22 could engage the Su-35 from farther away as it is harder to detect due to its stealth advantage, so it could potentially make more economical use of its missiles.

Stealth

A US Air Force F-22 Raptor flies over the Arabian Sea in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, January 27, 2016.

This is where things get interesting: In the arena of stealth, the F-22 is head and shoulders above any other operational jet in the world right now.

For perspective, the Su-35’s radar cross-section (area visible to radar) is between 1 and 3 square meters, or about the size of a large dinner table. The F-22’s radar cross section is about the size of a marble.

As Justin Bronk notes:

Whilst the Su-35 does have the hypothetical capability to detect the F-22 at close ranges using its IRST (Infa-Red Search and Tracking) and potentially the Irbis-E radar, both sensors would have to be cued to focus on exactly the right part of sky to have a chance of generating a target track. By contrast, the F-22 will know exactly where the Su-35 is at extremely long range and can position for complete control of the engagement from the outset with superior kinematics.

Conclusion: USA.

An F-22 Raptor pilot from the 95th Fighter Squadron based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, gets situated in his aircraft.

So the F-22 and the Su-35 prove to be two planes of significantly different talents. The Su-35 carries more missiles, can fly farther, and is significantly cheaper. The Su-35 is a reworking of earlier Sukhoi models that are proven to be effective in traditional dogfighting.

But the F-22 wants no part in traditional dogfighting. Battles that occur when the two planes are within visual range of each other seem to favor the Russian jet, but importantly, battles begin beyond visible range.

A single Su-35 simply stands little chance against a similar number of F-22s because the US jets employ far superior stealth technology.

F-22 pilots need not worry about out-turning or out-foxing the agile Su-35, as they could find and target the aircraft from much farther away and end the dogfight before it really starts.

Additionally, the US Air Force trains F-22 pilots to some of the highest standards in the world.

Historically, US-made planes have battered Russian-made ones, and the newest generation of US warplanes reimagines aerial combat in a way that future pilots won’t even have to get their hands dirty to deter or defeat the enemy.

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Veterans clap back at those demanding Starbucks hire 10,000 vets

Starbucks Armed Forces Network, a private group within the company of Starbucks, released a statement yesterday asking that those calling for Starbucks to hire 10,000 veterans instead of refugees check their facts.


Recently, Starbucks came under fire for announcing that they would hire 10,000 refugees. The general reaction was anger and calls for boycotts of Starbucks until they vowed to also hire 10,000 veterans.

This is how the US military finds its ultimate tactical athletes
Devin Craig (second from right), a district manager for Starbucks Coffee Company, Wash., and his team talk to Soldiers and Veterans during the Boots 2 Work Military Career Fair at Cheney Stadium, Tacoma, Wash., Aug. 27. The career fair gave Soldiers the opportunity to meet with local businesses and learn job hunting skills. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Cody Quinn, 28th Public Affairs Detachment/Released)

The problem with that? Starbucks vowed to hire 10,000 veterans in 5 years way back in 2013. And they’re ahead of schedule.

One of the many internal groups at the coffee giant, Starbucks Armed Forces Network, penned a note to their customers to explain why the anger at the refugee program was misdirected.

The note, simply signed by The Men and Women of Starbucks Armed Forces Network (AFN), began, “We write to you today as representatives of the thousands of veterans and spouses who currently work for Starbucks Coffee Company.”

The writers went on to express their gratitude to their customers and then they moved right into addressing the refugee and veteran initiatives.

“The false and inaccurate statements [about the veteran hiring initiative were] deeply troubling to those of us who’ve served,” the group wrote.

The statement described how the CEO and his wife, Howard and Sheri Schultz, had visited military installations around the country to learn more about how they could advocate better for veterans and military spouses after announcing the veteran hiring initiative in November 2013. The couple invested their own personal funds into “plans for transitioning service members,” according to the group.

“We respect honest debate and freedom of expression,” the statement read. “But to those who would suggest Starbucks is not committed to hiring veterans, we are here to say: check your facts. Starbucks is already there.”

The 5 year initiative has only used about 60 percent of its time, but has met 88 percent of its goal. This means that, if they continue at this rate, Starbucks will surpass their initial goal of hiring 10,000 veterans by 2018 by 4,600 veterans.

Starbucks operates 32 Military Family Stores near several major installations. Owned by veterans, military spouses, or family members, the stores participate in “Military Mondays.” Weekly, Starbucks partners with local Veteran Service Organizations to provide space for the organizations to offer pro-bono legal support and other services to the military community.

The company also offers Military Service Pay to employees who have to report for National Guard or Reserve assignments. Eligible partners can receive up to 80 hours of paid time to fulfill their reserve service obligations yearly.

Starbucks provides a Military Allowance to eligible employees that are called to active duty, as well.

Starbucks has made a name for themselves as a veteran friendly company, even being awarded Gold status by G.I. Jobs in this year’s annual “Military Friendly” list.