The 9 best military movies of 2015 - We Are The Mighty
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The 9 best military movies of 2015

2015 was a good year for movies. Anticipated series continuations from franchises like Terminator, Jurassic Park, and James Bond met with mixed success. Star Wars came back in a big way, as did the Avengers. Marvel’s Ant-Man was a surprise hit while The Fantastic Four saw even the most die-hard Marvel fans struggle to stay in the theatre for the duration of the movie.


The 9 best military movies of 2015
This is not The Fantastic Four from 2015. But it might as well be.

But it was a good year for military movies the world over. The world’s best war and conflict films from the past year are at your fingertips. A few movies are a great way to recover from New Years’ Eve.

1. Beasts of No Nation

Netflix made a foray into conflict films this year with its critical hit Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba as a warlord recruiting child soldiers to fight in a civil war in Liberia. The government falls as the warlords forces attack a village under international protection. A young boy named Agu flees after his father is shot and is captured by the NDF, rebel guerillas.

The film captures the brutality of life as a child soldier, with rampant drug use, rape, and murder of civilian noncombatants.  The powerful film holds a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

2. Cartel Land

This is a film about vigilante groups fighting drug cartels in the Mexican Drug Wars. The most shocking part of Cartel Land is that its a documentary, and you can see the characters and events unfold as they did in the real world.

The brutal film was shot in Mexico and Arizona. It garnered a 94% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is currently shortlisted for an Academy Award nomination.

3. Kilo Two Bravo

Released in 2014 in Europe as KajakiKilo Two Bravo is the story of a small group of British soldiers stationed near the Kajaki dam in Afghanistan.

Though set during the modern day Afghan War, Kilo Two Bravo is more horror-thriller than a traditional set piece war film. The outcome is a realistic, critical success with a 100% Rotten Tomatoes critical rating.

4. Krigen (“A War”)

Danish Army Company commander Claus Michael Pedersen and his men are stationed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy Taliban crossfire. In order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that ultimately sees him return to Denmark accused of a war crime.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRkE5ZrPzs0

Claus’ wife Maria is trying to hold everyday life together with a husband at war and three children missing their father. This film is remarkable for its depiction of what life is like for the wife and children of deployed troops. The war hits those at home every bit as much as it affects the men who fight it. The film also uses real Danish Army veterans.

5. April 9th

2015 saw a lot of WWII films produced the world over. April 9th, also from Denmark, depicts the Nazi invasion of Denmark as bicycle and motorcycle companies are deployed to hold off the German Blitzkrieg until reinforcements arrive.

Denmark, of course, couldn’t resist the Nazi onslaught and fell in only six hours.

6. 1944

In the last full year of World War II, the Eastern Front was the most brutal battleground in the world. This Estonian film depicts the 1944 Battle of the Tannenberg Line through the Battle of Tehumardi. The war for Estonia was very different, as it bordered both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, each with mutually exclusive ideologies.

More than ideology, its location forced Estonians to choose sides during the war, pitting Estonians in the Wehrmacht against Estonians in the Soviet Red Army. The film shows the war from both sides.

7. Baahubali: The Beginning

This film is a Telgu and Tamil film. It’s the fictional story of two ancient brothers at war. One prince returns to free his mother the queen who was wrongfully usurped by his elder brother.

The two-part blockbuster is also the most expensive Indian film ever made. It took a full year of preproduction, 25 artists made 15,000 storyboards, there were 380 shooting days over three years, 2,000 stuntmen worked on it, and thousands of weapons and props were used.

8. Hyena Road

This Canadian film is eagerly anticipated outside of Canada. It’s the story of Canadian forces building a road deep into Taliban territory, creating a dirt track that can only be driven in armed convoys protected by snipers. The road is strategically crucial to defeating the Taliban.

The theme of war being bad while those who fight are inherently good continues in Hyena Road but the depiction of the deployed life and combat by Canadian Forces by Canadian writer Paul Gross is authentic and realistic.

9. The Battle for Sevastopol

When the Nazis invade the Soviet Union in 1941 a young girl, Lyudmila, joins the Red Army. She turns out to be a natural sniper, and her impressive skills impress those around her. Her wounds keep her from fighting on, so she travels to the United States to press for a second front.

https://vimeo.com/123744971

This film is actually about a real Red Army sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, one of WWII’s deadliest snipers. The movie hero fights in the Battles of Odessa and Sevastopol. She racks up 309 confirmed kills, she is sent to the US to campaign for American support. She meets Eleanor Roosevelt, just as the real Pavilchenko did. This joint Russian-Ukrainian project is like the Mockingjay on steroids but, you know, real.

See Also: Four fearless fighting females

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This presidential nominee’s campaign was tanked by a tank

In the 1988 presidential campaign, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee for President, had a problem: he needed to look credible as a commander-in-chief during a time when Democrats were being criticized for their defense policies.


Throughout the 1980s, the Reagan Administration had been pushing through a major peace-time military build-up.

According to CQ Researcher, a large portion of the Democrats in Congress had opposed that build-up in the 1984 elections. That caused the perception that the Democrats were being weak on defense, which led to Reagan’s 49-state landslide.

Dukakis had been among those who were critical of the buildup, the mainstays of which — the B-1B Lancer, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine, and a host of other weapon systems – are in service today (with a few exceptions).

 

The 9 best military movies of 2015
An E-2C Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft flies over the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zackary Alan Landers/Released)

Worse, according to a 2013 article in Politico, during the month of August, Dukakis had gone from leading Vice President George H.W. Bush by 17 points to trailing him, and one big reason was that 54 percent of Americans felt that then-Vice President Bush would do a better job on national security, while only 18 percent thought Dukakis would.

To counter that, Dukakis went on a swing that discussed defense, but one event was marked by defense workers jeering him. Then, he went on a visit to a General Dynamics plant in Michigan where he planned to ride in an M1 Abrams tank, a key part of the buildup that Democrats had criticized.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Aerial drone image of an M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank crew. (Dept. of Defense image)

 

However, to do the ride, Dukakis was told he had to wear protective headgear. He did so, and ended up sealing his fate.

Within a week, the photo of Dukakis in the helmet had become a joke (think Kushner in his vest), but the worst was to come when operatives with Bush’s campaign developed an attack ad. Using 11 seconds of footage, they highlighted Dukakis’s opposition to the Reagan buildup and foreign policy.

Dukakis, who had already been trailing, and already saw 25 percent of Americans less likely to vote for him, was now in freefall. He eventually lost the 1988 election by seven million votes.

You can see a video by Politico on the infamous tank ride below.

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This is how to fly the plane that killed Yamamoto

We know the key facts of what happened on April 18, 1943. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was killed when his Mitsubishi G4M Betty attack bomber was shot down by a Lockheed P-38 Lightning flown by Capt. Thomas G. Lanphier Jr., marking the “Zero Dark Thirty” moment of World War II.


It was the moment of triumph for the plane, which had its own troubled development, and which was further hampered due to a friendly fire incident.

But it took a bit more training to get the most out of the P-38.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
The P-38 Lightning was the premiere twin-engine American fighter in World War II. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Museum)

Lockheed helped out in this regard by making a training film, using expertise from their production pilots. The takeoff procedure was different, mostly in not using flaps. The plane also was very hard to stall.

The plane did have limitations: A pilot needed to have a lot of air under him, due to both the compressibility that early models suffered, and the speed the P-38 could pick up in a dive. The pilot couldn’t stay inverted for more than 10 seconds, either.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
The J model of the P-38 carried the same .50-cal machine guns and 20mm cannons of its predecessors, but could also carry bombs. (Photo: U.S. Army Air Force)

The film also showed some P-38s modified as trainers. The film shows one trainee being shown how to deal with propellers running wild. The pilots were also trained to feather props.

The P-38 was surprising easy to fly as a single-engine plane. The film shows Tony LeVier, a noted test pilot, simulating an engine failure during takeoff.

The P-38 was a superb fighter, even if the Mustang, Hellfire, and Thunderbolt got most of the press. Put it this way, America’s top two aces of all time, Maj. Richard Bong and Maj. Thomas McGuire, flew the P-38 plane in World War II and combined for 78 confirmed kills.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Maj. Thomas B. McGuire Jr. with Richard I. Bong (Majs. Bong and McGuire were the top two scoring U.S. aces in World War II with 40 and 38 victories, respectively; taken Nov. 15, 1944 in the Philippines). (U.S. Air Force photo)

The training film is below. Now you have a sense of what it was like to fly the plane that killed Yamamoto.

popular

This is the ironic reason the Spitfire beat the Bf 109

Every student of history knows that the British won the Battle of Britain in August and September of 1940, and that the Spitfire played a key role. But why was that the case?


The answer is stunningly ironic, and it requires us to look at what both the Spitfire and the Bf 109 were supposed to do.

(Yes, I said Bf 109. Believe it or not, calling Willy Messerschmidt’s signature design a Me 109 isn’t accurate. Messerschmidt worked for the Bavarian Aircraft Works, or Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. Now, Messerschmidt bought the company in 1938, but planes designed before the purchase, like the Bf 109, kept the old designation.)

 

The 9 best military movies of 2015

 

So, with that out of the way, let’s look at the Bf 109 and Spitfire.

Both planes were really designed to fulfill the same mission profile: that of a short-range interceptor.

The Spitfire Mk VB had a top speed of 370 miles per hour, could climb 2,600 feet per minute, and had a combat radius of 470 miles. The Bf 109G had a top speed of 398 miles per hour, a range of 621 miles with a drop tank, and could climb 3,345 feet per minute.

In 1940, the Germans needed a plane to escort their bombers, and the Bf 109 was their only option. They tried the Bf 110, a twin-engine plane with long range and heavy firepower. The problem was, the Bf 110 was easily killed by the more maneuverable Spitfires, so the Bf 109 found itself pressed into service.

But even with a drop tank, the Bf 109 just didn’t have the endurance to be a good bomber escort.

 

The 9 best military movies of 2015
A Spitfire Mk. 1A flies in 1937. (Photo: Royal Air Force)

The Spitfire was also plagued with short endurance, but during the Battle of Britain — and even over Dunkirk earlier in the summer of 1940 — it was fulfilling its role as a short-range interceptor.

In essence, it was doing what it was designed to do. The Bf 109 was also a short-range interceptor…but it was pressed into service as a bomber escort, and it just couldn’t hack it.

When the United States entered the war, one thing they were truly successful at was coming up with the perfect escort fighter, the P-51 Mustang. You could say they had learned from Nazi Germany’s mistake.

Articles

The 13 Funniest Military Memes Of The Week

The staff at WATM sorts through the interwebs to find you the very best military memes out there. Here are our 13 picks for this week:


Snipers: The Waldoes of the military.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Don’t worry if you can’t find them. They’ll find you.

Remember to properly secure your firearms and Marines.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Don’t worry, guys. It probably won’t be long.

Ingenuity means different things to different people.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
(If you want to make fun of them, use small words so they get it.)

This is unfair and inaccurate:

The 9 best military movies of 2015
We all know SEALs start with book deals and then sell the movie rights later.

If you don’t need fixing, basic training will be easy.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Trust me, though, we all needed some fixing . . .

Speaking of drill sergeants, they’re arriving with your wake up call.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Your wake-up call will be at zero-dark thirty.

I can’t relax if I don’t feel safe.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
It’s called position improvement, and if we get attacked you’ll stop complaining.

Finally, camouflage for the Navy (a.k.a. “aquaflage”) makes sense.

The 9 best military movies of 2015

 Reflective belts in the military are like car keys for teenagers.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
You can’t go anywhere without them, the older crowd uses them to control you, and you lose them every time you want to leave.

 Air Force marksmanship training focuses on real world skills.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
(But don’t worry, you won’t ever get in a real firefight.)

 Bring every item, even the ones you weren’t issued.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
You’ll also be unpacking it at every stop for inspections. And when we get in-country. And a few more times because first sergeant wants to see it. By the way, the packing list isn’t final.

 Air Force: Military lite.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Notice how the Coast Guard didn’t occur to either of them?

Keep updating social media, ISIS.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
We can target off of your pictures. Please, send more.

NOW: The Hilarious Result Of Mashing Up Left Shark With Famous Military Quotes

And: 11 Things New Soldiers Complain About During Basic Training

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The US military took these incredible photos in just a week

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


AIR FORCE:

Airmen push down on the wing of a U-2 after its landing at Royal Air Force Fairford, England, June 9, 2015. If the aircraft lands slightly off balance, it has the potential to tilt to one side or another.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton/USAF

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Talon Leinbaugh, 66th Rescue Squadron aerial gunner, conducts aerial surveillance in an HH-60G Pave Hawk over the Pacific Ocean during Angel Thunder 2015, June 11, 2015. Angel Thunder is hosted by the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., but many flying operations will extend throughout Arizona, New Mexico and California.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier/USAF

NAVY:

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) cast a line from a combat rubber raiding craft to Sailors in the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) during combined training with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU).

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek A. Harkins/USN

The U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, perform the Diamond 360 maneuver at the Ocean City Air Show. The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform 68 demonstrations at 35 locations across the U.S. in 2015.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrea Perez/USN

ARMY:

Paratroopers, assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, rehearse amphibious landings aboard British Navy landing craft as part of Exercise BALTOPS 2015 in Ravlunda, Sweden.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: 1st Lt. Steven Siberski/US Army

Soldiers, assigned to 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, conduct training during a Decisive Action Rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: Spc. Ashley Marble/US Army

MARINE CORPS:

Falling in style. Gunnery Sgt. Eddie Myers, parachute safety officer assigned to Detachment 4th Force Reconnaissance Company, parachutes from a UH-1Y Venom helicopter during airborne insertion training at the flight line aboard Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: Lance Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson/USMC

Mud bath. Marines and Sailors competed in the 2015 Commanding General’s Cup Mud Run at Camp Pendleton, California.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: Lance Cpl. Asia J. Sorenson/USMC

COAST GUARD:

Just a few months ago, the Coast Guard officially stood up its 22nd rating, the dive rating for enlisted members and dive specialty for chief warrant officers.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: USCG

Honoring paying respect to Old Glory.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Photo: USCG

NOW: See more military photos

OR: Watch the top 10 militaries in the world:

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BRRRRRT: Congress wants the Air Force to keep the A-10 aircraft that troops totally love

After months of impassioned pleas from troops on the ground, hand-wringing from Air Force leadership, and a blur of questions from Congress about the Air Force’s plans for the future, lawmakers have decided enough is enough: the A-10 Thunderbolt II will stay in the USAF arsenal.


The 9 best military movies of 2015
Smiles all around! (U.S. Air Force Photo)

On Monday, The House Armed Services Committee released its $612 billion Fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a provision called “Prohibition on Availability of Funds for Retirement of A-10 Aircraft,” which obliges the Secretary of the Air Force to:

“commission an appropriate entity outside the Department of Defense to conduct an assessment of the required capabilities or mission platform to replace the A-10 aircraft.”

This means the Air Force’s can no longer ignore Congressional concerns about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and how it can fill the A-10’s close-air support (CAS) role. The provision in the new defense budget means the Air Force will have to actually hire an independent researcher from outside of DoD and acquire hard data on how to replace the A-10, instead of just asserting everything is fine and forcing Airmen to say nice things about the $1.5 trillion F-35.

In the meantime, the Air Force must maintain a mission-capable 171 A-10s and Congress provides $467 million for it in the 2016 bill.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Armored vehicle post-A-10 Close Air Support.

The John Q. Public blog, run by retired Air Force officer Tony Carr, went through the ten paragraphs of the Congressional directive in detail, where Congress list the ways the A-10 bests the F-35 (without mentioning the F-35), directing the Air Force to study and answer for things like the “ability to remain within visual range of friendly forces and targets to facilitate responsiveness to ground forces and minimize re-attack times … the ability to operate beneath low cloud ceilings, at low speeds, and within the range of typical air defenses found in enemy maneuver units …  the ability to deliver multiple lethal firing passes and sustain long loiter endurance to support friendly forces throughout extended ground engagements.”

The 9 best military movies of 2015

Not only does the provision make the Air Force answerable for attempting to shelve its only CAS solution, it also takes back a compromise between the service and Congress made last year, which allows the Air Force to mothball 36 A-10s and move their maintenance and funding to other areas.

The House of Representatives issued a fact sheet specifically slamming the Air Force for trying to kill the A-10 with an adequate replacement.

“Rigorous oversight, endorsements from Soldiers and Marines about the protection only the A-10 can provide, and repeated deployments in support of OIR have persuaded many Members from both parties that the budget-driven decision to retire the A-10 is misguided…” it reads. “The NDAA restores funding for the A-10 and prohibits its retirement. Unlike past efforts to restore the platform, the NDAA identifies specific funding to restore personnel, and preserve, the A-10 fleet.”

While this sounds like good news for A-10 supporters, the fight isn’t over yet. According to DoD Buzz, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said he is recommending President Obama veto the bill, which is being voted on by the House on Thursday.

NOW: The awesome A-10 video the Air Force doesn’t want you to see

OR: Here’s why the Warthog is the greatest close air support aircraft ever

Articles

Trump teases big order of F-18s in response to F-35 cost overruns

President Donald Trump again teased the prospect of placing a “big order” of F/A-18 Super Hornets to a cheering crowd at Boeing’s South Carolina factory on Friday.


“We are looking seriously at a big order” of F-18s said Trump to applause from the crowd at Boeing, the company that builds the F/A-18.

Trump’s Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis announced in January that the military would “review” the F-35 program and possibly opt for more “advanced Super Hornets” instead of the F-35C, the Navy’s carrier-based variant of the Joint Strike Fighter that continues to struggle.

Also read: World’s most-advanced aircraft carrier one step closer to completion

Trump continues to seriously explore the idea despite backers of the F-35 program have protested the notion that an updated F-18 can do the F-35’s job.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
F-35C Lightning IIs, attached to the Grim Reapers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, and an F/A-18E/F Super Hornets attached to the Naval Aviation Warfighter Development Center (NAWDC) fly over Naval Air Station Fallon’s (NASF) Range Training Complex. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Darin Russell/Released

The advanced Super Hornet package offered by Boeing builds on the company’s reputation for delivering upgrades to the F-18, first built in the 1970s, on time and on cost.

This contrasts heavily with the Navy’s F-35C, made by Boeing rival Lockheed Martin, which has faced significant difficulties achieving readiness in the military.

Dan Gillian, Boeing’s vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18 programs, told Business Insider that even with the coming F-35C naval variant, US carrier air wings would consist of a majority of F/A-18s into the 2040s. In fact, Boeing has contracts currently underway to update the F/A-18s.

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of Oct. 21

Alright, everyone. Remember to pace and budget yourselves. Next weekend is Halloween weekend, so don’t blow your entire savings account and get an Article 15.


You do that next weekend. In the meantime, check out these 13 funny military memes:

1. When your commander goes into the fine detail of each policy letter on day one:

(via Team Non-Rec)

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Don’t even fight it. Just make it worth it.

2. This is why they do sustained airborne training before every jump (via Air Force Nation)

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Because this would be a horrible time not to remember what to do next.

SEE ALSO: This Coast Guard reservist saved an Army-Navy convoy in world War II

3. Hey, at least he actually managed to get a signal out (via Military Memes)

The 9 best military movies of 2015
He’s using none of the proper radio protocol, but still. Got a signal.

4. Just apply the fundamentals the same way, and these site adjustments will put you dead center (via Team Non-Rec).

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Except you know that the trigger puller is going to change their site picture.

5. Only gets an 8 out of 10 because he has no ammo (via Military Memes)

The 9 best military movies of 2015
That shirtless look becomes much less cool when the armor starts to chafe.

6. If it’s on the list, you better have it (via Devil Dog Nation)

The 9 best military movies of 2015
I like the idea of ancient knights with PT mats.

7. Really didn’t think the Coast Guard would have the bootiest boots who ever booted, but there you go (via Coast Guard Memes)

The 9 best military movies of 2015

8. And that’s when things got serious (via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

The 9 best military movies of 2015
How often do security forces use their radar guns to check passing planes? Better be constantly.

9. How the Air Force feels whenever one of the surface branches wants to make fun of them:

(via The Salty Soldier)

The 9 best military movies of 2015
They get much quieter when you challenge them to anything physical.

10. “So, want to walk close enough that one grenade could kill everyone?” (via Military Memes)

The 9 best military movies of 2015

11. Seriously, admin. Why can you not keep track of this for more than 10 minutes?

(via The Salty Soldier)

The 9 best military movies of 2015
There’s no way it’s that hard to not lose sheets of paper.

13. Sweepers, sweepers, time to do our sweepers.

The 9 best military movies of 2015

12. The time to prep for a tornado is not during the tornado (via The Salty Soldier).

The 9 best military movies of 2015
That poor CQ NCO is going to have some uncomfortable talks with the sergeant major.

Articles

Top sniper squads from around the world just competed in Germany

Military trainers in Germany just wrapped up a four-day competition to determine the best sniper squad in Europe and a Norwegian team took first place at the end of 27 events designed to test key tasks that snipers must complete in combat.


Eleven countries sent squads to the competition, and the U.S. sent five squads including paratroopers and Marines.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
A Spanish soldier fires at a target from a Zodiac boat during the European Best Sniper Squad Competition at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Oct. 24, 2016.(Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Spc. Emily Houdershieldt)

The competition, hosted by the U.S. Army Europe and organized by the 7th Army Training Command, took place at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany. Participants took part in multiple shooting competitions as well as casualty evacuation, ruck marching, and other general military events.

Also read: Meet the 62-year-old sniper who has over 170 ISIS kills

The 9 best military movies of 2015
Spanish soldiers master the Rough Terrain Run task during the European Best Sniper Squad Competition at the 7th Army Training Command’s, Grafenwoehr Training Area, Bavaria, Germany, Oct. 26, 2016. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)

“The competition challenged the competitors’ physical and mental toughness as well as their marksmanship proficiency,” said U.S. Army Maj. Erick Nyingi, the officer in charge of the competition.

One of the most suspenseful and distinctly sniper-oriented events was the stalking lane, where squads had to proceed as far as possible without being detected by observers.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
A Latvian soldier checks the camouflage of his weapon before taking part in the stalking challenge of the European Best Sniper Squad Competition at the 7th Army Training Command’s, Grafenwoehr Training Area, Bavaria, Germany, Oct. 26, 2016. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Spc. Emily Houdershieldt)

Some high-octane events included a high-angle shot lane where snipers rode in a Black Hawk helicopter and had to engage two targets in under two minutes using three rounds or less. There was also a water shoot where the snipers engaged targets from a boat.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
U.S. Marines conduct the high-angle shot lane during the European Best Sniper Squad Competition at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Bavaria, Germany, Oct. 24, 2016. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Army Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)

The sniper squad competition is the 2016 version of the annual Best Squad competition held by U.S. Army Europe. Each year focuses on a different type of squad. Last year, it was infantry squads.

No matter which type of unit is highlighted, the goal is to bring NATO members and other allies together to share tactics and engage in friendly competition so the troops can share new tactics, and training techniques.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
The Norwegian squad finished in first place during the 2016 European Best Squad Competition, hosted by U.S. Army Europe at 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Oct. 27, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)

“Overall the competition will definitely meet the objective of getting the squads to exchange ideas and [tactics],” Nyingi said. “There was a lot of collaboration after each day’s events, and I believe the greatest dividends will be realized from this exchange of ideas.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

After cast trolling, Spider-Man 3 title is ‘No Way Home’

It’s a good thing Tom Holland is so adorable because he gets away with SO MANY SPOILERS, especially about the new Spider-Man 3. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is renowned for keeping the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films under lock and key. Marvel films will restrict scripts and shoot alternate endings so not even the cast and crew know exactly how a film will end.

And then there’s Tom Holland, one of the youngest members of the cast, whose enthusiasm and authenticity have probably saved his life career.

If this is the first you’re hearing of this, here’s a short compilation of Tom Holland spoiling things:

So the MCU team decided to have a little fun with it. Fans had a hunch something was going on when Holland and fellow cast members Jacob Batalon and Zendaya began sharing images with fake titles for the third Spider-Man film:

The actual film title was finally revealed today: Spider-Man: No Way Home, and, showing their love and support for their spoiler-y lead, they released a little video poking some fun at Holland.

“They gave us a fake name again. I just don’t understand why they keep doing this,” laments Holland.

“You don’t understand? I feel like it’s pretty obvious. It’s because you spoil things,” retorts Batalon.

Marvel and Sony are obviously having some fun with their promotion efforts for what should be another great addition to Marvel’s expansive universe of films and projects. 

Spider-Man: No Way Home is set to premiere Dec. 17, 2021.

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These massive submarines were actually stealthy aircraft carriers

After masterminding the attacks at Pearl Harbor, Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto knew that his country’s dominance of the Pacific Ocean would not last against the U.S.’s industrial might.


He began forming plans for a weapon that could terrify the U.S., especially eastern cities like New York and Washington D.C. He thought a campaign of vicious attacks on the east and west coasts would convince the U.S. to quickly sue for peace.

The 9 best military movies of 2015
The British HMS M2 launches her reconnaissance plane. Photo: Wikipedia

At the time, some submarines carried a reconnaissance plane. Yamamoto asked his engineers if they could devise a submarine that would instead carry three bombers each and have range to carry the bombers around South America to the east coast of the U.S.

What the engineers returned with would be I-400 class submarines. At 400 feet long and displacing 6.560 tons, they were the largest subs of the war. Each massive ship could sail for 37,500 miles without refueling and had a 115-foot long watertight hangar for the aircraft and an 85-foot catapult to launch them.

The planes landed on the water and were recovered using a crane on the deck. The M6A1 Seiran torpedo-bombers were designed for the I-400. They had wings that rotated and folded along the fuselage and even the tail folded down to fit in its tiny hangar.

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Gif: Youtube

In addition to their aircraft, the subs carried a 140mm cannon, 4 anti-aircraft guns, and had 8 torpedo tubes.

To help the subs avoid U.S. Navy sonar, the subs were coated in a rubber and asphalt blend that absorbed sound waves.

Progress on the subs were slow and the initial order for 18 of them was eventually cut to just five due to materiel shortages. Yamamoto would be shot down and killed by U.S. Army Air Corps pilots before the first sub was launched.

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The I-401 submarine. Photo: Wikipedia

By the time the first sub took to the water at the end of December 1944, Japan was in rapid retreat across the Pacific. The original I-400 mission to attack the U.S. mainland had been scrapped long before.

The idea of using the planes to deliver biological weapons was considered, and then a Kamikaze attack on the Panama Canal was planned and canceled.

Finally, the I-400 and I-401 were sent to destroy the U.S. carrier fleet at Ulithi Atoll before they could invade the Japanese mainland. The subs were to send their six bombers on Kamikaze attacks against the 15 carriers there.

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To maximize the chance that the planes would reach their targets, the Japanese admiralty ordered the planes be painted silver with U.S. markings. Though the pilots protested, the illegally camouflaged planes were placed in the subs and sent to sea.

Luckily, Japan surrendered while the subs were staging for the attack. Both subs were captured by the U.S. Navy. American officers studied the ships but then sank them before Soviet officers could ask to see them. There was concern that the Soviet Union would develop its own version if it saw the I-400.

The subs were then lost for decades, but the I-401 was found in 2005 and the I-400’s final resting place was found in 2013.

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China is close to entering the ‘war on terror’ — and they won’t be on our side

By now, everyone who follows the fight against terrorism will know that there was an unsuccessful VBIED attack on Aug. 30 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in which a suicide bomber attempted to ram the embassy gates before detonating. This attack only managed to kill one person – the bomber – though it wounded several others. In the past year, Kyrgyzstan’s authorities have successfully foiled multiple alleged plots and an estimated 500 of its citizens are believed to be in territory controlled by ISIL. Whether or not ISIL eventually claims credit for this attack, it will likely have been carried out by ethnically Uighur separatists from Western China – a population that not only has a presence in ISIL’s ranks, but also is actively being trained for attacks on Chinese targets by Dutch jihadi Israfil Yilmaz.


The ongoing conflict between East Turkestan separatists/Uighur jihadists and the Chinese government has been at a low-broil for decades. Strict movement controls, an intense intelligence collection apparatus with an emphasis on big data analysis, and a heavy occupying presence in Muslim majority areas of China will largely continue to prevent successful mass casualty attacks against prestige targets. However, small-scale incidents, such as stabbings and rudimentary IED attacks, continue to affect cities in Western China from time to time – probably more than is possible to independently verify, given the inability of Western journalists to report in these areas.

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An anti-China, pro-Uighur protest outside the White House. Photo from Flickr user Malcolm Brown.

In the meantime, at risk of sounding cliché, China is rising. President Xi Jinping has embarked on a well-known effort to modernize China’s oversized, lumbering, corrupt, Cold War-era military into an efficient, combat-ready force ready for contingencies wherever they occur – from the South China Sea to the transportation infrastructure in its Western near-abroad known as the New Silk Road. This “Silk Road” seeks to modernize the ancient trade route of the same name and will undoubtedly re-orient Central Asian economies towards China.

These Central Asian countries, run by aging autocrats, are universally known as some of the least free nations in the world and are potential tinderboxes. They clamp down heavily on religion (the local religion is largely Sunni Islam). They rely on trade with Russia and high energy prices – and energy prices have been low for a while now. They have restive and young populations. Saudi Wahhabis fund unemployed youths’ spiritual journeys, and some of these very youths are already trained and combat-experienced from battlefields in Syria, Iraq, Chechnya, and Afghanistan. Expect more attacks against Chinese targets where and when possible.

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Soldiers with the People’s Liberation Army at Shenyang training base in China, March 24, 2007. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, US Air Force.

So what does this imply for the United States? Several things, but it does not mean a straightforward area of potential military and diplomatic cooperation. China will likely reluctantly find itself more combat-experienced than it currently is (it last fought a war in 1979 against Vietnam – it did not go well for China). It will bring China to the world stage like never before as it picks up the slack it previously left for the US alone. However, China has signaled strongly that is not aligned with US counter-terrorism policy. When the heartbreaking video of wounded Syrian child Omran Daqneesh emerged, Chinese state-media ridiculed it as faked, saying that he was “eligible for an Oscar.” The People’s Liberation Army has instituted a training mission for Syrian forces (taking place safely in Mainland China). In other words, China is stepping up – and will continue to step up – but it will do so in a manner more aligned with Russia and Iran than with the United States and NATO.

Many Western analysts believe that for a country of its size, China really ought to do more to stabilize the world. Given what we know about the Chinese government and Xi’s modus operandus, and given the pressure China will be under from its nationalist netizens should a more successful attack against Chinese interests occur, we should be careful what we wish for. China stepping up will not mean closer partnership with the United States.

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