'Eye In The Sky' is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare - We Are The Mighty
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‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

Above: An exclusive clip from “Eye in the Sky.”


A group of terrorists huddle in a house in an al-Shabab controlled area of Kenya. Among them are high-value individuals who perpetuate terror attacks throughout East Africa. They pray and then rig their suicide vests. Drones overhead beam the scene to allied forces, but time is running out and there is potential for collateral damage and civilian casualties.

The new movie “Eye In The Sky” tackles this scenario. The allied mission commander, British Army Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren), orders a U.S. military drone strike on al-Shabab terrorist organizers and would-be suicide bombers, but her call is made more complicated by the fact that a little Kenyan girl (Aisha Takow) will likely be killed in the strike.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

The film, which premiered last year at the Toronto Film Festival, shows a unique vision of how calls are made in the heat of battle. From Col. Powell and the drone pilot, 2nd Lt. Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) to the highest rungs of the British and American governments, those watching the camera feeds decide the fates of the terrorists and the innocent bystander. They each make their own arguments in turn as the situation evolves.

The film shows a number of thought-provoking moral questions in the microcosm of this one drone strike. It weighs morality against the tactics of modern warfare. The characters try to minimize the damage done by drone strikes while suicide bombers prepare to kill as many people as possible. The film also questions the value of targeted killings over real human intelligence in the war on terror. But the moral calculus has to be figured out in a hurry. The clock is ticking on this potential strike. A decision must be reached before the terrorists are allowed to disappear into the sprawling city to carry out their suicide missions.

“Eye in the Sky” depicts the divide between civilian leaders and the men and women who conduct targeted operations. Civilian leaders want to achieve political goals but dislike the means by which they have to achieve them. The warfighters have to educate elected leaders on weighing the risks of collateral damage while the civilians have to remind the them about the propaganda value of targeted killings for the enemy. Neither side comes away clean as they argue over the fate of civilians who are otherwise going about their daily lives while this international debate unfolds.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

The film’s final scene features the late Alan Rickman in his final onscreen role as British Lt. Gen. Frank Benson. In one of his finest moments as an actor, he delivers a harsh rebuke to a civilian Member of Parliament: “Never tell a soldier he does not know the cost of war.”

“Eye In the Sky” is a thrilling nail-biter that also asks questions about the ethics of fighting a high-tech war.

 

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Memes, memes, memes! Here are the 13 funniest ones from around the military:


1. When the crew is tired of MREs, but first sergeant doesn’t understand:

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Maybe drive through some mud on the way back.

2. The platoon isn’t scared of getting a little wet, are they?

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
What’s a 50-foot drop, then 50-foot climb among buddies?

SEE ALSO: These 8 TV characters would never survive in the real military

3. Elsa created an actual, functioning snowman (via Team Non-Rec).

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
You really thought she would never build an army?

4. Don’t be jealous, he had to turn the wrench a lot of times for those (via Sh-t my LPO says).

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Sure, it was mostly because he turned it the wrong way the first dozen times, but still.

5. Remember to always keep your weapon pointed downrange and away from the cat (via Devil Dog Nation).

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
And don’t aim at your mom.

6. Next time a paratrooper calls someone a leg …

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
… remind them that the rest of the Army can’t get drug around by silk.

7. “Oh yeah? You ready to show me your life jackets now!?”

(via Coast Guard Memes)

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

8. Marines do more with less, rah?

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
If you wanted armor, you should’ve joined the Army.

9. Reflective belts are always coming through in the clutch (via Air Force Nation).

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
They keep away bears, bullets, and now thieves, apparently.

10. The Air Force demands excellence of every recruit (via Air Force Memes Humor).

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
She can also do a better pull up than you, but maybe that’s why she joined the Marines.

11. Whenever the next Engineer Ball is held, I’d like tickets.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Not to the actual event, just the closing fireworks.

12. It’s chief’s least favorite dish (via Sh-t my LPO says).

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Try it today with a side of sadness.

13. “You still have another foot before you hit the tree.”

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

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7 struggles these veterans know all too well about humping gear

SAPI plates, hundreds of rounds of ammo, and as much water as you can haul is just a fraction of the gear our ground troops carry on their back as they move through their objectives every day.


Related: This is why grunt gear isn’t for the average man

Not too long ago, WATM ran a story featuring a TV show host who wanted to know what it felt like to carry the typical combat load a Vietnam War GI would haul. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, click here: This is why grunt gear isn’t for the average man

Many members of our loyal audience took the opportunity to chime in after reading the article and commented about what the heavy equipment they had to lug around during their time serving “in the suck” and here’s what they had to say.

1. The veteran grunt

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

2. The motivated Corpsman

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

3. The usual checklist of gear for this grunt was…

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

 

Related: 8 things Marines love to carry other than their weapon

4. The proud and seasoned machine gunner

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

5. Packing some major heat

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

6. He’s down to do it all over again

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

7. Ready for just about anything

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

 

What gear did you carry? Comment below.

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SECDEF Mattis’s official aircraft also happens to be America’s ‘Doomsday’ jet

Secretary of Defense James Mattis goes by many badass nicknames, including “Mad Dog,” “Warrior Monk,” and “Chaos.”


So it’s only fitting that the aircraft he usually flies on while functioning his official capacity is known by an equally badass name — “Nightwatch.”  Its name hints at its original mission — a doomsday plane, equipped to provide the president and high-ranking members of the military with the ability to retain control of America’s offensive forces in the event of an all-out nuclear war or cataclysmic event.

Nightwatch now serves as an airborne command post for the SECDEF, allowing him to remain in touch with the U.S. military he oversees while traveling anywhere in the world, especially useful should the unthinkable occur.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Nightwatch refueling over the UK while transiting back to the US (USAF photo)

The Air Force possesses four Nightwatch aircraft — converted Boeing 747-200 jumbo jet airliners. Like their civilian counterparts, these airplanes come with a considerable operating range and internal carriage capacity. However, that, and a passing external resemblance, is where all similarities end. Underneath the hood, these are completely different aircraft with unique systems and sensors that allow it to do what no other aircraft in the Air Force can.

Unlike a commercial Boeing 747, these aircraft, officially designated E-4B Advanced Airborne Command Posts, lack the rows of plush seats, fold-out meal trays and entertainment screens. Instead, each E-4B is divided up into compartments for its Battle Staff, a joint services team of controllers and coordinators ready to interface with various military units should they be called into action.

Nightwatch crew quite literally have the ability to call virtually connect to any phone number in the world, thanks to a complex satellite communications suite aboard the aircraft. It’s this suite that allows them to also relay commands and orders to America’s nuclear arsenal, forward-deployed submarines and Navy battle groups operating around the globe, or even to speak directly with the President at secured locations.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
SECDEF James Mattis briefs members of the press aboard an E-4B (USAF photo)

Because Nightwatch was designed during the Cold War, where nuclear war was still a distinct possibility, it was built to fly with incredible endurance. Defense analysts estimate that each E-4B could spend up to seven days flying continuously with the help of aerial refueling, though the Air Force has only actually flown its E-4Bs up to 35 hours in testing thus far.

The cockpit of the aircraft looks just as it would in the 1980s, with a few modifications. Instead of LCD screens and touch-pads, the Air Force has kept the original analog gauge-type flight instruments, as they’re less susceptible to failing after experiencing an electromagnetic pulse blast from a nuclear explosion.

That’s right… the E-4B is built to be able to fly through the immediate aftermath of a nuclear detonation without sustaining any damage to its systems. The entire aircraft is sealed off and pressurized with special “scrubbers” in its air conditioning system constantly filtering out harmful particles that may find their way inside the cabin. Should an E-4B actually fly through nuclear radiation, its crew inside will be completely safe and sound. The aircraft also carries a considerable amount of rations and potable water for its crew, as well as sleeping berths and its own troubleshooting staff, ready to assist with technical malfunctions and glitches as needed.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
SECDEF Mattis arriving at King Salman Air Base, Saudi Arabia (USAF photo)

However, flying theses monsters isn’t very cheap at all – each Nightwatch costs an average of around $159,529 per hour to fly. Sourcing parts for the fleet isn’t easy either, especially considering that Boeing ceased production of the 747-200 platform decades ago.

It’s estimated that by 2039, all four E-4Bs will have served out their entire useful lifespans, and will have to be replaced, this time with an even more capable long-range aircraft that will assume the mantle of being America’s doomsday plane. Until that day comes, Nightwatch still serves at the Secretary of Defense’s pleasure, ferrying him around on official trips and visits as a visible sign of American military power.

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This Army veteran’s new mission is to rebuild New Orleans’ most devastated ward

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
This post is reprinted with permission from NationSwell, new digital media company focused on American innovation and renewal.


New Orleans native Burnell Cotlon has spent the last five years on a mission. He’s turning a two-story building that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (along with most of his Lower 9th Ward neighborhood), into a shopping plaza. Already, he’s opened a barber shop and a convenience store, and as of last November, is providing the neighborhood — identified as a food desert — with its first full-service grocery store in almost a decade.

The Lower Ninth Ward, which experienced catastrophic flooding during Hurricane Katrina, has had a much slower recovery than most New Orleans neighborhoods. Before Katrina, the area had a population of around 14,000 and boasted of the highest percentage of black homeownership in the country. According to the last census, however, only around 3,000 people live in the neighborhood. Many of its roads are still torn up, it lacks basic resources and the closest full-service grocery store is nearly 3 miles away in the neighboring city of Chalmette.

Burnell’s merchandise is still mostly limited to non-perishables and fresh produce, but he hopes to add poultry, bread and dairy this year.

Burnell Cotlon relies on a lot of second hand supplies, and with the right equipment, he could meet his goal of offering more food options for members of his community. Please consider making a donation and spreading the word in order to support his work.

Click here to show your support

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This article originally appeared at NationSwell Copyright 2015. Follow NationSwell on Twitter.

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10 tips on raising resilient kids from an Al Qaeda-fighting Rhodes Scholar

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Eric Greitens in Iraq.


Eric Greitens is no parenting expert, so why should you listen to his tips on raising resilient kids? Take your pick: The guy’s a Rhodes Scholar with a doctoral degree in ethics, philosophy and public policy. After doing humanitarian work in some of the less pleasant corners of the world, he became a Navy SEAL with 4 deployments, including a turn commanding an Al Qaeda targeting cell. Along the way, he picked up a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and 7 other major military awards and commendations. Greitens has persevered through more in one life than most could in 5, and he did all that before having his first kid last year. So, how has he applied what he knows about resilience to that little adventure? Read on …

1. If youre not a resilient guy, your kid wont be a resilient kid.

“To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, who you are will speak more loudly to your children than anything you say,” says Greitens. If they see you always able to pick yourself up when you’ve been knocked down, that’s behavior they’re going to adopt intuitively. While you’re at it, maybe try to get knocked down a little less.

Also read: 7 leadership lessons from former commanders of America’s most elite warriors

2. Being resilient begins with taking responsibility.

If you have no ownership over anything – actions, property, your sister’s feelings – then you have no incentive try hard or try again when the moment calls for it. “Teach your children early not to pass the blame or make excuses, but to take responsibility for their actions” says Greitens. That doesn’t just apply when they tag their sister in the face with a rubber band; it’s just as important when they agree to walk the dog or keep their room clean.

3. Empower them through service.

Helping others teaches all sorts of important skills, including empathy and resourcefulness and an understanding that life’s a box of chocolates and sometimes you pick the one with the gross orange-flavored filling. But, more importantly, Greitens says, “Children who know that they have something to offer others will learn that they can shape the world around them for the better.” That’s a powerful source of optimism for a kid, and it will come in handy when you’re old and broke.

4. Make a daily habit of being grateful.

Now that your kid is seeing what misfortune looks like through their service, it’s a good time to introduce the idea of gratitude. If nothing else in life, they’ve got a father who loves them unconditionally and irrationally (they probably also have a roof over their head and 3 square meals a day, too), and not everyone is so lucky. Taking a minute out of each day to remember that makes it easier to handle whatever curveball comes next.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

5. Resist the urge to fix, solve or answer everything for them.

“Your children should know that you’re always there for them, and that they can call on you when needed,” says Greitens. “But give them the opportunity to learn to solve their own problems.” You know you’re supposed to object to this and insist that you just can’t help rushing in to save them because you love them so much, but admit it: His plan is way less work for you.

6. Help them understand consequences, for better and worse.

Learning the negative consequences of their actions is a key step in your kid understanding why they shouldn’t torture the dog and why they should do their homework. It’s on you to enforce the consequences that are within your control, but they don’t always have to be negative – understanding how their actions can also have positive outcomes will help them look for the best course of action in any situation.

7. Failure is a good thing.

“In failure, children learn how to struggle with adversity and how to confront fear. By reflecting on failure, children begin to see how to correct themselves and then try again with better results. A culture that rewards failure with trophies steals from children the great treasure chest of wisdom that comes from pain, from difficulty, from falling short.” Considering that, when Greitens talks about struggling with adversity and confronting fear, he means “Shit I saw serving as a Navy SEAL,” it’s probably best to take him at his word on this one.

8. Allow risk taking.

Failure, consequences, independence, responsibility – every single one of the aforementioned tips involves your kid taking some kind of risk. If you try too hard to mitigate those risks, you mitigate your whole kid. “To be something we never were, we have to do something we’ve never done,” says Greitens. Again, Navy SEAL. Don’t argue.

9. Know when to bring the authority.

“Not every risk is a good risk to take, and adults need to be clear with children about what will and won’t be tolerated. Children don’t get to choose to ride in a car without seatbelts,” says Greitens. Properly wielded, authority actually frees your kid up to take the good kind of risks, because you’ve established safe limits within which to operate – like, in the yard but not in the street. Or in their pants and not without pants.

10. Demonstrate your love for them every day.

What? You thought the guy was a hardass just because of the whole Navy SEAL thing?

Greitens has plenty more to say on the topic of resilience in his new, appropriately titled book, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom For Living A Better Life, out now.

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Marines are dropping the hammer on ISIS in Libya

Beginning in early August, the US Marines aboard the USS Wasp have conducted airstrikes against ISIS’ Libyan stronghold of Sirte from the Mediterranean. This has forced the group to retreat to a point where the Marines can now use the big guns: AH-1W SuperCobra attack choppers.


While drones and Harrier jump jets launched from the deck of the USS Wasp helicopter carrier had been attacking ISIS targets in Libya for weeks, the use of the SuperCobra represents a change in tactics.

Because helicopters can hover, loiter, and maneuver easily, they are ideal for seeking out hidden targets in urban areas. ISIS has been forced to retreat as Libyan and US forces drive the group into the “densest, most built-up part” of Sirte, a Defense Department official told The Washington Post. The birthplace of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Sirte is an important port city in the divided nation.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
An AH-1W SuperCobra | US Marine Corps photo

But the SuperCobras are vulnerable to rocket fire, and shoulder-fired antiaircraft platforms have become common in North Africa and the Middle East. The choice to use manned helicopters suggests that the Marines are confident they have weakened and chased down ISIS fighters in the city.

The SuperCobra attack choppers are guided by US Special Forces on the ground in Libya along with other allied and Libyan forces aligned with the Government of National Accord, a UN-backed government that has requested US assistance in riding the country of ISIS.

The Libyan parliament, however, recently passed a vote of no confidence on the GNA, further complicating the situation.

Before the US air campaign, ISIS was estimated to have 6,000 fighters in Libya, mainly massed around Sirte.

Sirte’s position in the Mediterranean means it could be a staging point for ISIS looking to mount attacks in Europe. The power vacuum left over from the death of Gaddafi in 2011, as well as internal disagreements in Libya, has caused the country to become a hub of crime and human trafficking.

Though Libya remains divided, the ousting of ISIS can only be a good thing for the country’s stability. A recent statement from US Africom said only a few hundred or so ISIS fighters remained in Libya.

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These are the secret tunnels ISIS uses to launch sneak attacks in Syria

The Kurdish YPG, a contingent of the US-backed forces fighting ISIS in Syria, released a video Aug. 29 showing the underground tunnels that ISIS digs to launch sneak attacks.


The video shows two rather large tunnels inside a captured, bombed-out mosque, from which the YPG claim that ISIS had been using.

“The barbaric group, aware of the YPG’s sensitivity towards people’s places of worship and other historic sites, has been using [mosques] as bases to delay the liberation of Raqqa,” text in the YPG video reads.

ISIS has been known to use such tunnels in Iraq and Syria not only for sneak attacks, which the militants reportedly paid civilians $2 per day to dig, are also used for moving supplies, housing ISIS fighters, and laying booby traps.

 

(YPG PRESS OFFICE | YouTube)

 

Former ISIS fighters have reportedly said that some of the tunnels are extremely complex, some even containing rooms, toilets, and medical facilities.

A YPG commander recently said there are about 700 to 1,000 ISIS fighters left in Raqqa, and that the battle should be over in about 2 months.

This older Fox News video shows how intricate the tunnels can get:

 

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Female midshipmen will wear pants instead of skirts at graduation this year

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
(Photo: U.S. Navy/Peter Lawlor)


In keeping with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ recent initiatives aimed at pushing gender integration as far as possible across the entire fleet, the U.S. Naval Academy’s Commandant of Midshipmen announced a few nights ago that this year’s female graduates will wear trousers to the graduation ceremony instead of the traditional skirts.

This decision comes on the heels of Mabus ordering a review of job titles across the Navy with an eye on eliminating those that use the word “man” in them. He has also told the Navy SEALs to prepare to accept female candidates into the rigorous training program.

USNA spokesman Cmdr. John Schofield told The Baltimore Sun that the new dress policy will reinforce the idea of “shipmate before self.”

“The graduation and commissioning ceremony at the US Naval Academy is not about individuals,” he said. “It’s about the academy writ large. It’s about the brigade writ large.”

Mabus introduced his gender-neutral uniform initiative during an address at Annapolis last year.

“Rather than highlighting differences in our ranks, we will incorporate everyone as full participants,” he told the Brigade of Midshipmen. “In the Navy and in the Marine Corps, we are trending towards uniforms that don’t divide us as male or female, but rather unite us as sailors or Marines.”

Female cadets at the Air Force Academy are allowed to choose whether to wear trousers or a skirt to graduation, and the entire Corps of Cadets at West Point has worn trousers to the ceremony for years.

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Increased number of casualties among Afghan women and children

The number of civilians dying in Afghanistan’s protracted 16-year war dropped slightly during the first three months of this year, the United Nations reported April 27, but in a surprising twist more women and children are among the dead and wounded than in previous casualty reports.


The report blamed the hike in casualties among women and children on aerial attacks. According to U.N. figures, there were 148 casualties from aerial bombings in the first three months of this year compared to 29 last year. Casualties from unexploded ordnance, which seemed to claim mostly children, was also up slightly.

“It is civilians, with increasing numbers of women and children, who far too often bear the brunt of the conflict,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan in a release.

Although there was a four percent overall drop in casualties during the first three months of the year, the U.N. suggested the drop may be the result of Afghan civilians fleeing their homes. According to the report there is an unprecedented number of Afghans displaced by war living inside the country. There are another 1.5 million Afghans living as refugees in neighboring Pakistan.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Afghan women and children come to a bazaar to sell home-spun crafts to help support their families through sales of Afghan souvenirs. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Lawn, 1st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs/Released)

The U.N. blamed 62 percent of the civilian casualties on insurgents while ordinary Afghans caught in the crossfire accounted for nearly 35 percent of all casualties.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group are present in Afghanistan. They are fighting each other and Afghanistan’s security forces.

Earlier this week, a half dozen Taliban attacked an army base in northern Afghanistan in one of the worst attacks against the security forces, killing as many as 140 soldiers.

Also read: ISIS militants nabbed trying to escape capture by dressing as women

Meanwhile, the U.S. has about 9,800 troops in Afghanistan. NATO ended its combat mission in the country in 2014, and the primary role of U.S. troops is now to assist and train, though increasingly the U.S. has been called in by Afghan Security Forces for support.

The report accused anti-government elements, without specifying Taliban or the Islamic State group, of intentionally targeting civilians.

“During an armed conflict, the intentional killing and injuring of civilians is a war crime,” Yamamoto said in the release. “Anti-Government Elements must stop this deplorable practice and everybody must apply- and respect – the definition of ‘civilian’ provided by international humanitarian law.”

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Train hero Spencer Stone gets promoted — twice

In a very special three-minute ceremony, Spencer Stone, one of the heroes of this summer’s thwarted train attack in France, received a promotion to Senior Airman (E-4 for you military types), holding that rank for a very effective one minute, before his subsequent promotion to Staff Sergeant (E-5).


‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone, 60th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician, listens as the responsibilities of non-commissioned offers are read during a promotion ceremony at Travis Air Force Base, California, Oct. 30, 2015.  Stone was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant by order of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. According to Air Force Instruction 36-502, the chief of staff of the Air Force has the authority to promote any enlisted member to the next higher grade. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III decided to promote Stone to E-5 because Stone already had a date to put on E-4. Stone’s promotion was not without controversy from some within the Air Force.

“I’m not going to give it the time of day,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Cody said during a recent USAF town hall meeting. “If someone wants to personally come up to me and be educated about how we came to that decision and why, I’m happy to do so in a professional manner.”

Stone and friends (Army Specialist Alek Skarlatos and civilian Anthony Saddler) stopped Moroccan-born Ayoub El-Khazzani from carried out an alleged mass shooting with an AK-47 on a Paris-bound train. Stone was stabbed in that incident. For his actions, Stone received the Purple Heart and Airman’s Medal as well as France and Belgium’s highest honors. The Airman’s Medal is the USAF’s highest non-combat decoration.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

Stone was until recently recovering from serious wounds sustained during a late-night altercation outside of a Sacramento, California night club. He was stabbed four times in this most recent attack, in the heart, left lung,  liver, and in the back. He had to have open heart surgery to save his life from the knife wound to his heart.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare

“It is an honor to be promoted to Staff Sergeant,” Stone said in a statement provided by the Air Force. “And I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to lead my fellow Airmen. I am ready for the growth and challenges that are ahead of me.”

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This why a soldier’s chow came in a can back in the day

C-rations, c-rats, Charlie-rations: Call them what you will, there isn’t a soldier from the Korean War- or Vietnam War-era who doesn’t remember the military’s answer to balanced nutrition.


Relished and reviled, C-rations fed millions of troops in the field. The iconic green cans were far from home cooking – but they did sustain a fighting man when he was far from home, or at least the mess hall, until 1981 when they were replaced by the MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat).

“If you were in the field, hungry and you could heat them up, they were great – slightly better than shoe leather,” said Dick Thompson, vice-president of the Vietnam War Foundation Museum in Ruckersville, Va., and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel.  “If you were in garrison where you had a choice, forget about it!”

Napoleon once said an army marches on its stomach. In other words, poorly fed troops fight poorly – food is a force multiplier.

The U.S. military is no different. From the Revolutionary War to the U.S. Civil War, military rations could be summed up by mentioning the Three Bs: Bread, Beans, and Beef. (However, salt pork made frequent appearances as a meat item as well.)

The items fit the dietary habits of the times, cooked up with relative ease under field conditions and (usually) satisfied the troops. But as time passed spoilage increased – some Civil War hardtack had more weevils than wheat flour in them when soldiers got their rations.

Canned foods improved the situation. They were heavy, but canned food stayed edible and palatable for long periods of time and in a pinch they could be consumed cold right out of the can.

During the 1930s, the U.S. War Department did its best to develop several kinds of compact, long-lasting rations that could feed men in combat.

One was the C-ration, first issued in 1939. It was three cans of different meat and vegetables (field manuals of the time described the contents as having “the taste and appearance of a hearty stew”) and three cans containing crackers, instant coffee, and sugar.

It wasn’t Mother’s home cooking, but it was filling. Each complete C-ration contained about 2,900 calories and sufficient vitamins to keep the troops healthy.

C-rations were just one of the letter-coded rations issued during World War II. Most soldiers and Marines from that time remember – and detest – the K-rations of the era, which had three separate meal units for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

When it comes to palatability, C-rations won hands down. But that didn’t keep more than one soldier from cracking wise about the canned rations.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Dig in, Devil Dogs! Yum-meee . . .

A story goes that a World War II GI attended a USO show where one of the acts was a man who consumed unusual items. As the audience watched, the entertainer chewed glass, gobbled nails and even swallowed swords.

Unimpressed by the spectacle, the soldier turned to a friend sitting next him and asked, “But can he digest C-rations?”

C-rations remained the choice of soldiers in the field. By the Korean War, the Defense Department phased out K-rations and began work on updating the C-ration menu.

In 1958, the Defense Department created 12 different menus. Each menu contained one canned meat item; one canned fruit, bread or dessert item; one “B unit” that contained items such as crackers and chocolate; an accessory packet containing cigarettes, matches, chewing gum, toilet paper, coffee, creamer, sugar, and salt; and a spoon.

Although the meat item could be eaten cold, even the military admitted the updated ration was tastier when heated.

The Pentagon designated the new rations “Meal, Combat, Individual.” Whatever – soldiers in the field still called them C-rations.

Troops considered some of the items downright toothsome. Canned fruit, canned fruit cocktail, canned baked goods like pound cake and cinnamon nut roll, and canned meat items like ham slices and turkey loaf were G.I. favorites.

But one menu item was universally loathed by soldiers: Ham and Lima Beans. It was considered so disgusting that it acquired an obscene nickname – “Ham and MoFo’s” is a polite rendering of its nom de guerre.

“It was an unnatural mix of ingredients,” said Vincent E. Falter, who enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private during the Korean War and retired as a major general after 35 years of service. “Why not red beans? Navy beans? Any beans other than Lima beans?”

Efforts to improve the taste included troops adding heavy doses of Tabasco sauce or serving the ration scalding hot. It didn’t work – most soldiers from the C-ration era declare Ham and Lima Beans the most detestable military ration ever created.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Soldier chows down during the Vietnam War. (Photo:atroop412cav.com)

Other C-ration menu items earned equally colorful names. G.I.s called Beans with Frankfurter Chunks in Tomato Sauce “beans and baby dicks.”  In addition, Chopped Ham and Eggs earned the nickname “H.E.s” (high explosives) because of the bloating and gas they caused.

Heating your food always was a challenge. Some literally fastened cans of rations to the engine block of vehicles in an effort to warm the ration – just remember to puncture the can for steam vents so it won’t explode.

If you didn’t have an engine manifold handy, there were “heat tabs” made of a solid-fuel called Trioxin to warm food.

If troops ran out of heat tabs, there was always C-4 – as in C-4, the explosive. When ignited, a small chunk of it burned like Sterno with a steady, hot flame sufficient to heat food and beverages.

Some soldiers will do anything for a hot meal.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The real-life ‘Chappy’ Sinclair from Iron Eagle was an Air Force legend

Airmen and 80s movie buffs are likely to be familiar with the 1986 cult classic Iron Eagle. Sometimes called the “Top Gun of the Air Force,” Iron Eagle did not have the big budget, box office success or star power that its Naval-based counterpart did (although the soundtrack did have its fair share of great songs). However, the film did feature Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr. (of An Officer and a Gentleman fame) as Colonel Charles “Chappy” Sinclair, the wise Vietnam Veteran fighter pilot who gave Top Gun‘s Jester a run for his money. Chappy serves as a mentor to the main character, teenager Doug Masters played by Jason Gedrick, and guides him throughout the film.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Iron Eagle movie poster. (Credit to TriStar Pictures)

As a mentor, Chappy shares his knowledge and experience, gained in the unforgiving skies above Vietnam, with teenage Masters. An accomplished fighter pilot, Chappy helps Masters to acquire intelligence, create a rescue plan and steal two F-16 fighter jets to attack the fictional Middle Eastern country of Bilya where Masters’ father is being held. While these fictional feats are impressive, they pale in comparison to the accomplishments of the real-life Chappy.

Daniel “Chappy” James, Jr. was born on February 20, 1920 in Pensacola, FL. He graduated Tuskegee University in 1942 and received his pilot wings and commission as a 2nd LT at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Alabama on July 28, 1943. He remained at Tuskegee to train pilots for the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron. Having completed training in the P-40 Warhawk fighter, Chappy trained on the B-25 Mitchell bomber and was stationed in Kentucky and Ohio until the end of the war.

Chappy first saw action during the Korean War. In 1949, he went to the Philippines as a flight leader in the 12th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 18th Fighter Wing at Clark Field. In July of the next year, he left for Korea where he also flew with the 44th and 67th Fighter-Bomber Squadrons in P-51 Mustang and F-80 Shooting Star fighters. During the war, Chappy flew a total of 101 combat missions.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
Chappy poses with his P-51 Mustang in Korea. (Photo from the United States Air Force)

After the war, Chappy continued his Air Force career, holding commands and serving at a number of bases. In 1954, while stationed at Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts, Chappy was given the “Young Man of the Year” award by the Massachusetts Junior Chamber of Commerce for his outstanding community relations efforts. In June 1957, he graduated from the Air Command and Staff College.

After serving on staffs, and later as assistant director and director of operations for a number of wings, Chappy went to Thailand in 1966 to support combat missions in Vietnam. He became the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing vice commander under triple (then double) ace Col. Robin Olds. Flying from Ubon Air Base in Thailand, the two men created a strong and effective tactical command, earning them the nickname “Blackman and Robin.” In total, Chappy flew 78 combat missions into North Vietnam during the war.

Following his service in Vietnam, Chappy became the commander of the 7272nd Fighter Training Wing at Wheelus Air Base in the Libyan Arab Republic. Following the coup by radical Libyan military officers, including Muammar Gaddafi, the U.S. announced plans to close Wheelus Air Base. Wanting to see how far he could push the Americans, Gaddafi sent a column of armored half-tracks through the base housing area at full speed. Unamused by the stunt, Chappy closed the base gates and confronted Gaddafi. During their confrontation, Gaddafi kept his hand on the pistol in his hip holster. “I told him to move his hand away,” Chappy recalled having had his own .45 strapped to his hip. The future Libyan dictator complied. “If he had pulled that gun, his hand would have never cleared the holster.”

Chappy’s Air Force career saw him serve as principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, vice commander of the Military Airlift Command, commander in chief of NORAD/ADCOM, and special assistant to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force. Chappy retired in 1978 as a four-star general, the first African-American to achieve the rank.

‘Eye In The Sky’ is a thriller that challenges the ethics of drone warfare
General Daniel “Chappy” James, Jr. Command Photo. (Photo from the United States Air Force)

The next time you watch Iron Eagle, remember General Daniel “Chappy” James, Jr., the trailblazing African-American pilot who served in three wars, stared down Gaddafi, and dared to see just how far he could go.

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