'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.

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.

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.

 

MIGHTY MOVIES

Russia is making a rival to HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’

Russia is working on its own TV show about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster — but this version focuses on a conspiracy theory that a CIA agent sabotaged the reactor.

The Russian show, whose release date is not yet known, comes at the heels of HBO’s successful miniseries, “Chernobyl.”

The HBO show attributes the 1986 nuclear disaster to a combination of reckless decisions made by senior plant staff and Soviet state censorship, which resulted in the government hiding dangerous problems at the plant from the public, as well as other scientists and plant staff.


This portrayal is considered highly accurate. Many former Soviet, however, slammed it as inaccurate and slanderous of the Soviet Union.

Donald Sumpter on HBO’s “Chernobyl” miniseries.

(HBO)

The nuclear disaster propelled radioactive particles over 1,000 square miles of Ukraine and Belarus. The death toll remains unknown, but some studies say tens of thousands of people died as a result of the leak.

Moscow’s version of “Chernobyl” — which is produced by NTV, an arm of Russia’s majority state-owned Gazprom Media — is premised on the theory that CIA agents sabotaged the nuclear reactor, which ultimately led to the accident, NTV said in April 2018.

Specifically, the plot will follow a Russian KGB agent in the town of Pripyat, near the plant, as he tries to track down US spies before they trigger the disaster, director Alexei Muradov told The Moscow Times on June 4, 2019.

Russia’s ministry of culture gave NTV 30 million rubles (2,000) to produce the Russian version of “Chernobyl,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The idea for Russia’s version of “Chernobyl” is based from a popular conspiracy theory in the country, Muradov told The Moscow Times.

“One theory holds that Americans had infiltrated the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and many historians do not deny that, on the day of the explosion, an agent of the enemy’s intelligence services was present at the station,” he said.

The US and Soviet Union were in the midst of the Cold War at the time of the explosion, and espionage and mutual mistrust were high.

Digitalization of Chernobyl disaster.

Journalists from former Soviet countries have taken issue with HBO’s adaptation of the nuclear disaster.

One writer from Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia’s most popular paper, said last month the series was designed to slander Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear energy company.

The same newspaper also ran the headline on a separate story, which said according to The Guardian: “Chernobyl did not show the most important part — our victory.”

Another journalist wrote in Kosovo’s Express Gazeta that HBO had wrongly depicted “ignobility, carelessness and petty tyranny.”

HBO’s “Chernobyl” is the highest-rated TV series of all time, Esquire cited IMDB as saying.

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

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US Navy rules Blue Angel crash in Tennessee due to pilot error

(Photo: ABC2 News)


The U.S. Navy has just released the final mishap report for the crash involving Blue Angel No. 6 that occurred in Smyrna, Tenn. on June 2, and investigators have determined that it was due to pilot error.

According to the report, the pilot, Capt. Jeff Kuss, took off from the Smyrna Airport as part of the team’s afternoon practice session. Kuss, flying as what the Blue Angels call the “opposing solo,” attempted to execute a “high performance climb,” which involves a high G pull into the vertical using the jet’s afterburners followed by a “Split S” back toward the ground.

Kuss started his dive from too low an altitude, the report states, and he failed to take any corrective action as he hurtled straight down at full power. Just before the F/A-18C hit the trees, Kuss pulled the ejection handle, but it was too late. By the time the canopy blew off and his seat rocketed away he’d traveled too far to allow the chute to open. He died from what the report described as “blunt force trauma” after hitting the ground.

Although the report reveals that Blue Angels 5 and 6 had a brief discussion about a cloud deck above the departure end of the airport, the investigators dismissed weather as a causal factor. The report also states that Kuss was fully qualified for the flight and in good health and that the Hornet he was piloting had no mechanical problems.

The Navy’s report also reveals that the Blue Angels have a history of “Split S” mishaps. In 2004, Blue Angel No. 6 — new to the team at the time — hit the ground after failing to properly execute the maneuver during a practice session. The pilot survived the crash, but the aircraft was a total loss.

The U.S. Marine Corps also had a Hornet crash in 1988 when the wing commander at MCAS El Toro — who flew the air show routine even though he was not fully qualified to do so — attempted a Split S below the proper altitude. The pilot, a colonel, survived, but sustained massive injuries to both of his feet and his face.

Watch the video of the USMC El Toro Split S mishap below:

The Blue Angels skipped the next three shows following Kuss’ death. Cdr. Frank Weisser, who’d been part of the team from 2007-2010, was brought back to assume Opposing Solo duties for the balance of the 2016 season.

Kuss is the twenty-seventh Naval Aviator to die while flying with the Blue Angels either during practice or actual shows in front of crowds. The last fatality before him was Lcdr. Kevin Davis, who was lost in a crash just outside of MCAS Beaufort, SC after blacking out from high G forces and losing control of his airplane and hitting the ground while attempting to rendezvous with the rest of the diamond formation.

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Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are looking for badass vets to star in new reality show

(Photo by Matt Baron/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock)


Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are producing a new reality show for Verizon’s Go90 mobile video network. The show, called The Runner, will feature a contestant trying to make his or her way across the country without being caught by a team of pursuers or the audience. The winner of the game will get over $1 million.

The Runner is casting the show in two groups: Runners and Chasers. According to the show’s producers Runners must be shrewd, in good shape and independent. Runners have no one to rely on but themselves. The ideal runner is adaptive, resilient, street smart and great with strategy.

Chasers must apply as a two-person team. The team must be outgoing, clever, competitive, and in good shape. It doesn’t matter if the team consists of friends, relatives, or co-workers as long as they can strategize and win.

The producers are specifically looking for military personnel with SERE or other survival training or a special operations background.

The deadline to apply is Thursday, April 28.  Apply at www.TheRunnerCasting.com.

 

 

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This is how one Marine earned a Navy Cross fighting in the ‘Punchbowl’

Intense firefights, mortar attacks, and rough terrain were just some of the many threats the Marines faced as they battled their way across the 38th Parallel of the Korean War.


In the fall of 1951, the infantrymen of 3rd Battalion 5th Marines dealt with overwhelming odds as they occupied an extinct volcano known as the “Punchbowl” located in the Taebaek Mountains.

While taking enemy contact, a Chinese mortar struck a Marine bunker near where replacement Marine Cpl. Salvatore Naimo was engaging opposing forces. From this position, he heard the screams of his wounded comrades coming from inside the newly-damaged area.

Salvatore Naimo’s boot camp graduation photo. (Source: Salvatore Naimo)

Naimo, who joined the Marines to avoid being drafted into the Army, dashed over to aid his brothers, exposing himself to enemy fire.

Related: These ax murders along the DMZ almost started another Korean War

As mortars continued to destroy the surrounding area, Naimo spotted two severely wounded Marines and scooped up one of them up, protecting him with his own body. Soon after, Naimo dropped off the first injured Marine at the aid station and headed right back for the second man as waves of incoming enemy fire blanketed their position.

After returning to the aid station with the second wounded Marine, Naimo informed the corpsmen that he was going to head back to the bunker and continue to fight.

Salvatore Naimo in Korea. (Source: Salvatore Naimo)

Upon his arrival at the unmanned bunker, he was lucky to discover the Marines before him had stockpiled it with machine guns, ammo, and extra grenades. As the next wave of Chinese attacks throttled, Naimo fired the arsenal of weapons into the enemy — who closed within 15 yards of his position.

Also Read: The ‘Chosin Few’ gather to dedicate a monument to Korean War battle

Hours later, Marine Lt. Walter Sharpe came across Naimo’s bunker, where he found 36 dead soldiers from the 65th Army Group of Mongolian laid out. Sharpe decided to recommend Naimo for the Navy Cross but sadly was killed in action two days later. He never filed the proper paperwork to get Naimo his Navy Cross.

More than six decades after his heroic efforts, then-Lt. Bruce F. Meyers (who was injured in that same battle) filed the necessary paperwork to award Cpl. Salvatore Naimo the well-deserved Navy Cross.

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The oldest living female World War II veteran just turned 108


World War II Veteran Alyce Dixon, affectionately known as “Queen Bee” by those who know her and care for her at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center, is now 108-years young.

Cpl. Dixon has quite a story and quite a personality. Rocking a tiara on top of her head for the occasion, she was queen for the day at the D.C. VAMC. Fellow Veterans, volunteers, staff and family members celebrated her life at a special ceremony held Sept.11.

“God has been so good,” Dixon said. “He left me here with all these lovely people and all these nice things they’re saying. I hope they mean it.”

Dixon is now the oldest living female World War II veteran according to VA records. She joined the military in 1943 and was stationed in both England and France with the postal services. She was one of the first African-American women in the Army as part of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion  – the only unit of African-American women in the WAC to serve overseas during WWII.

“This has been a marvelous day. I feel real special,” Dixon said regarding the celebration that included flowers and gifts from family and friends.

NOW: Meet Richard Overton, the 109-year-old WWII veteran who stays young smoking cigars and drinking whisky

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This is why the US is considering sending weapons to Ukraine

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said August 24 the Trump administration is considering supplying weapons to Ukraine after a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev.


Mattis said he would return to the United States and advise leaders on what he learned during his visit to Ukraine.

Mattis’ trip is the first by a US defense secretary to Ukraine in more than a decade.

The meeting comes after US Treasury Department in June announced it would add 38 more individuals and entities to the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s list of those sanctions due to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

A Ukrainian soldier with the 1st Battalion, 28th Mechanized Infantry Brigade fires a modified DSHsK heavy machine gun to cover the advance of fellow 1-28 soldiers during a live-fire training exercise. Photo by Sgt. Anthony Jones

The move is an attempt to pressure Russia into following Minsk Protocol cease-fire agreement.

Mattis said the United States will continue to pressure Russia because it is “seeking to redraw international borders by force.” The Pentagon chief said the United States will continue to pressure Russia until Moscow changes its behavior.

“The US and our allies will continue to press Russia to honor its Minsk commitments and our sanctions will remain in place until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered them,” Mattis said.

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7 best viral videos from troops overseas

Troops overseas are generally expected to keep their heads down and do their jobs. But every once in a while, some military leaders decide to let their Joes and Jills take a break from work and put together some of the hilarious videos they see on the internet.


Typically, this includes a bunch of troops dancing and singing along to a popular pop song. There’s also the occasional motivational speech (such as number 2 on this list where U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Brian Walgren gave a paraphrased speech from Col. John Glenn) that goes viral.

Just a warning, most of these viral videos include adult language.

In no particular order, here are seven of the bests viral videos from troops overseas:

1. U.S. troops perfectly recreate Miami Dolphin cheerleaders lip syncing to “Call Me Maybe”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H96-TwrwY7M

2. Gunnery Sgt. Brian Walgren motivates Marines before they assault Marjah

3. Marines in Iraq sing “Hakuna Matata” before the gym

4. Marines sing (part of) “Build me Up, Buttercup”

5. Paratroopers lip sync “Telephone”

6. A bunch of Marines coming home sing “Sweet Caroline” to their flight attendant named Caroline

7. Navy and Marine medical unit performs “Gangnam Style” dance

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D-Day: The story behind the largest amphibious assault in history

With more than 6,000 ships and 150,000 troops involved, along with nearly 12,000 aircraft, D-Day stands as the largest amphibious assault in history. The Allies pulled together every resource available to breach Hitler’s Fortress in Europe, but they had to do so without America’s experts in amphibious warfare. The U.S. Marine Corps was busy pushing back the Japanese in the Pacific, island by island. Here’s how Eisenhower and his generals did it.


Planning for D-Day pits allies against each other

Photo: US Army Signal Corps

The demands of D-Day caused fights for resources. The Americans and British fought over when to make Normandy the priority while the Army was pitted against the Navy for resources, according to historical essays from “Command Decisions.”

The stress between the American and British leadership centered on an American belief that the British wanted to spend more time consolidating gains in the Mediterranean rather than pivot to France and open the new front in the war. The Americans thought that British leadership wanted to spend more time in Southern Europe to gain political power there, while British planners thought the focus should remain in the area a little longer to force Germany to move more reinforcements away from Normandy.

For the Army and Navy, the fight was over how shipbuilding assets should be used. The Army wanted more landing craft while the Navy needed shipbuilders focused on repairing and rebuilding the deepwater fleet that had been diminished by Pearl Harbor, submarine warfare, and escort duties for convoys.

Both problems were settled at the Cairo-Tehran conferences in 1943. British leaders assured the U.S. that they were committed to crossing the English Channel in 1944. The issue of new landing craft was settled due to two factors. First, the Navy had reduced need for new ships as German submarines were sinking fewer craft. Second, Churchill decried the shortage of landing craft, pledging his country would focus on constructing ships for the landing if the Americans would increase their effort as well.

Heavy German defenses force the Allies to do the unexpected

Photo: US Army History Museum

The obvious points for an Allied force to invade Normandy in the 1940s were the large port at Pas-de-Calais or the smaller ports at La Havre and Cherbourg. German defense planners reinforced these zones to the point that invaders would either fail to reach the beaches or be immediately pushed back upon landing. Instead, the Allies created a plan to land at a beach instead of a port.

The final plan was to land between Le Havre in the east and Cherbourg in the west. The invading forces would spread from there while airborne troops would jump ahead onto key objectives, securing bridges, destroying artillery, and wreaking havoc on the enemy communications. The plan faced numerous challenges, though two stood out.

First, German leadership knew of the Allies use of landing craft in Sicily and assessed the beaches as vulnerable, likely targets. Second, the Normandy coast was famous for bad weather and extreme tides, up to 21-foot changes in a day.

This would leave the Allies with relatively lightly-defended beaches, but a huge logistics problem once they had landed. Large ships would have no deepwater piers to pull up to and no cranes to remove supplies from cargo holds.

The Allies would ultimately get around this through the construction of “Mulberry Harbors,” prefabricated, floating piers protected by sunken World War I ships and caissons. The first piers were operational by June 14 and allowed vehicles and supplies up to 40 tons to drive from deepwater ships to the shore.

Weather delays D-Day but also saves it

The movement of supplies and soldiers to Britain had taken place over two years, culminating in a massive troop buildup in 1944. But the day of the invasion had to be set for small, three-day windows centered on proper tides and moonlight. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, set the invasion date for June 5, 1944 and trusted British Capt. James Stagg to make the weather decision for proposed invasion dates.

Stagg and the British meteorologists found themselves in disagreement with the Americans as to the weather for June 5. Stagg recommended delaying the invasion due to storms the British predicted, while the Americans thought a high pressure wedge would stave off the storms and provide blue skies. Luckily, Eisenhower only heard directly from Stagg and accepted his recommendation. D-Day was pushed to June 6.

The Germans, meanwhile, also predicted the storms but thought they would last for at least a week or more. With this weather forecast, the German high command went ahead with war games and pulled its troops away from the coastal defenses so they could practice defending the coasts. The head of German land defenses, Gen. Erwin Rommel, left to give his wife a pair of birthday shoes. The beaches would be more lightly defended and lack key leadership when the Allies arrived.

June 6, 1944: D-Day

Though the weather wouldn’t clear for hours, Stagg recommended to Eisenhower that he go ahead with the June 6 invasion. Just after midnight, the invasion of Hitler’s Fortress Europe began.

Prior to the beach landings, 23,000 American, British, and Canadian paratroopers dropped through heavy cloud cover to begin securing what would become the flanks of the main force at the beaches. They also struck at key logistics and communications hubs, allowing for the eventual push from the beach while also weakening the Germans’ ability to organize their counter attacks. Allied bombers struck targets on the beaches, preparing the objectives for the main force.

The landings on the Normandy coast began at 6:30 a.m. with the 8th Regimental combat team under Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt at Utah Beach. Soldiers at Utah experienced a successful, relatively light invasion. Over the next few hours, Allied troops were landing at Gold, Juno, Sword, and Omaha Beaches.

At Omaha, bombing and naval fire had been relatively ineffective and many floating tanks were sunk due to the weather. Troops landed at heavily defended beaches where engineers had trouble clearing obstacles. The first wave took cover behind enemy anti-ship defenses and was bogged down. Follow-on troops helped assault the enemy defenses, climbing cliffs under fire to reach objectives. All four Medal of Honor awardees from D-Day fought on Omaha Beach.

Photo: US Army

“As our boat touched sand and the ramp went down, I became a visitor to hell,” said Pvt. Charles Neighbor, a veteran of Omaha Beach. By nightfall, the other four beaches were held with forces pushing between two and four miles inland. At Omaha, Allied soldiers continued to fight against pockets of resistance.

D-Day cost the lives of 4,413 Allied soldiers and between 4,000 and 9,000 Germans. The remaining pockets of resistance on Omaha Beach were conquered on June 7, and the Allies began the long push to Berlin. The War in Europe would rage for nearly another year before Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945.

NOW: Listen to Reagan’s chilling speech about soldiers who scaled cliffs under heavy fire on D-Day

OR: 12 rare and amazing photos from the “War to End All Wars’

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These pictures of Marines drinking Cobra blood are as grisly as you’d expect

Every year, the United States team with its Pacific allies for a military exercise in Thailand, Cobra Gold. Cobra Gold is the largest multinational military exercise in which the U.S. participates and has been an ongoing exercise for more than 30 years. In 2015, Cobra Gold included 26 nations, and for the first time, included China. The exercise smooths interoperability between nations in the region, especially when coordinating responses to a crisis, like Tsunamis and Typhoons.


The operation consists of a live fire exercise, a command post exercise, and (as with many military exercises) an operation to benefit the local population. There is also a jungle survival Training exercise where Thai Marines train U.S. troops to find water, which foods are safe to eat (scorpions!), and famously, demonstrate how they subdue a Cobra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrmm1MZW4ak

After the jungle training, those in attendance are given the option to participate in the Thai custom of drinking the Cobra’s blood.

Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, Recon Battalion, Marine Division demonstrates how to capture a cobra for U.S. Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, Recon Battalion, Marine Division demonstrates how to capture a cobra for U.S. Marines with Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

Royal Thai Marine Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Pairoj Prasansai, right, Recon Battalion, Marine Division feeds cobra blood, which can be a useful source of energy, to U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jerry Clark, squad leader, 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

A Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit drinks the blood of a king cobra during a jungle survival class taught by Royal Thai Marines as a part of Cobra Gold 2013 here, Feb. 20. Drinking of the cobra blood is a survival technique used to maintain hydration and replenish nutrients while in the hot jungle. Cobra Gold demonstrates the resolve of the U.S. and participating nations to increase interoperability, and promote security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.

 

Cpl. Kyleigh M. Porter, from Montross, Va., eats a scorpion Feb. 8 in Ban Chan Krem, Thailand, during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. The Royal Thai Marines demonstrated several jungle survival tactics and asked for U.S. Marine volunteers to participate. Porter is a radio operator with Marine Air Support Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

 

A Royal Thai Marine kisses a cobra’s head Feb. 8 at Ban Chan Krem, Thailand, during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. The Thai Marines demonstrated several survival techniques including how to capture a cobra and drink its blood. Drinking the snake’s blood is used as a last resort in case there is nothing else to drink. Other survival methods such as starting fires and how to eat spiders and scorpions were also taught. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

 

Royal Thai Army Soldiers assigned to the 31st Infantry Regiment, Rapid Deployment Force, Kings Guard, demonstrate how to properly handle and neutralize a King Cobra snake to U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division during a jungle training exercise on Camp 31-3, Lopburi, Thailand, Feb. 10, 2015. The training was conducted as a part of the joint training exercise Cobra Gold 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven Hitchcock/Released)

 

Lance Cpl. Dakota Woodward, from Brandon, Florida, drinks cobra blood Feb. 8 during exercise Cobra Gold 2015. The Royal Thai Marines showed U.S. Marines various jungle survival methods. Drinking snake blood is used as a last resort in case there is nothing else to drink. Woodward is a distribution management specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Isaac Ibarra/Released)

 

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kurt Bellmont, platoon sergeant, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment feeds cobra blood cobra blood to his Marines, which can be a useful source of energy , to his Marines during a jungle survival course in Ban Chan Krem, Chanthaburi province, Kingdom of Thailand, Feb. 17. The class was held to teach U.S. Marines basic jungle survival techniques as part of Exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG13). CG 13, in its 32nd iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer/Released)

 

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A Navy SEAL is now governor of Missouri

Eric Greitens — a Navy SEAL; Rhodes scholar; White House Fellow; founder of the veterans organization The Mission Continues;  author; and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People —  was elected governor of Missouri Nov. 8.


(Facebook photo)

It was an uphill battle, according to Kaj Larsen, a fellow SEAL and friend of WATM who helped campaign for Greitens. The outgoing governor, Jay Nixon, was ineligible to run for re-election due to the state’s term limits, but Greitens nevertheless faced a tough challenger in current Missouri Attorney Gen. Chris Koster.

“We started with nothing against our opponent’s $11 million,” Larsen wrote on Facebook as Greitens claimed victory in the state. “But when your buddy is in a gunfight, you show up with ammunition to help. For three months straight we outworked our opponent.”

Kaj Larsen introduces Eric Greitens for his victory speech at a hotel in the Chesterfield suburb of  St. Louis. (Facebook photo)

Greitens is a Republican who ran against what he saw as corrupt establishment politics; called for banning gifts from lobbyists; advocated instituting term limits for every elected office in Missouri; wants to cut government spending; supports the Second Amendment, and called for more backing of local firefighters and law enforcement officers in the state.

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

At 42, Greitens is the youngest governor in the United States. This is his first attempt at public office. Republicans have only won the Missouri Governor’s seat once since 1992.

According to his book, “The Heart and the Fist,” Greitens went to Naval Officer Candidate School in January 2001, then went to BUD/S — the basic training course for Navy SEAL candidates — in February 2002.

He deployed four times in support of the Global War on Terror, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa. He then joined the Naval Reserve in 2005. His service was attacked during the campaign, but his staff released 225 pages of his military records before the election, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.

His awards include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, among many Achievement and Commendation Medals.

Eric Greitens as a SEAL in Iraq.

“We’re going to take on the special interests and clean up Jefferson City,” Greitens said in his victory speech as recorded by the Kansas City Star. “Our mission in this campaign was to build a stronger and better Missouri we can take in a new direction.”

Not everyone is thrilled with Greitens’ victory. The most controversial issue surrounding his campaign is his support of making Missouri a “Right-to-Work” state, sapping power from local labor unions.

“It was one of the high honors of my life to introduce my friend and swim buddy last night as he took the stage to give his victory speech,” Larsen wrote on Facebook.
Winning the governorship is a big deal, but as the BUD/S motto goes: The only easy day was yesterday.
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Marine Aviators will fly in the F-35 Vs. Super Hornet review

A recently launched Pentagon review comparing F-35C carrier-variant Joint Strike Fighters with F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets will involve Marine Corps aviators and aircraft, the Corps’ deputy commandant of aviation said Wednesday.


Speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said the review, commissioned by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Jan. 26, would study the two aircraft “apples to apples” to determine whether the 4th-generation Super Hornet can fill the shoes of the brand-new F-35C.

Related: A-10 vs. F-35 flyoff may begin next year

“Really, it is — looking across the mission sets — does a Block 3 Super Hornet match up, compare to an F-35C,” Davis said. “It’s for the carrier air wing of the future.”

Pilots with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 exit F-35B Lightning II’s after conducting training during exercise Red Flag 16-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, July 20, 2016. This is the first time that the fifth generation fighter has participated in the multi service air-to-air combat training exercise. Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson

The Marine Corps, Davis said, has already purchased 10 of the 67 F-35Cs it planned to buy and has six on the flightline at Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 in Beaufort, South Carolina.

While the Navy is planning to purchase most of the F-35Cs, with a strategy to buy 260, the Corps has gone ahead of the other services to hit a number of F-35 milestones. Its F-35B jump jet variant was the first to reach initial operational capability in July 2015, and it was the first to forward base a squadron overseas in January.

Davis noted that the Marine Corps owns a significant portion of the program’s institutional wisdom as well.

“I probably have the most experienced F-35 pilots in the department of the Navy on my staff right now,” he said.

Mattis’ directive, aimed at finding ways to shave cost off the infamously expensive Joint Strike Fighter program, dictates that the review assess the extent that improvements can be made to the Super Hornet “in order to provide a competitive, cost-effective fighter aircraft alternative.”

U.S. Marine Corps F-35 Lightning II aircraft and F-18 Hornets assigned to Naval Air Station Pensacola fly over the northwest coast of Florida May 15, 2013. | Department of Defense photo

Davis said that F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin and Super Hornet maker Boeing would have opportunities to make their case for the aircraft.

However, he said, he expects the study to validate the need to have the technologically advanced F-35C deployed aboard carriers in the future.

“I think it will be a good study, and my sense is we’ll probably have validated the imperative to have a 5th-generation aircraft out there on our nation’s bow,” he said.

If F-35Cs are taken out of the picture as a result of the review, attrition rates of the 4th-generation Super Hornet may become an issue, Davis said, suggesting such a move would limit the aircraft’s ability to deploy in some situations.

“We’re not going backward in time, we’re going forward in time,” he said. “The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, we’re deployed, naval and expeditionary, and we want to make sure our Marines and our sailors have the very best gear in case something bad happens. And that’s 5th-generation airplanes.”