This is how US troops help spread 'Americana' throughout the world - We Are The Mighty
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This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

There aren’t many places in the world where you can’t order a glass of American whiskey, sing along to the latest Top 100 song, or watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Hell, North Korea may be the only country in the world where you can’t easily buy a Coke.


American culture made its mark throughout the world, for better or worse. And it turns out, American troops are some of the country’s best cultural ambassadors.

It’s a time honored tradition for soldiers to “Americanize” Local Nationals where ever they go. The ice cream man in Baumholder, Germany, never failed to get a laugh out of my unit whenever he would use our slang through his thick German accent. The carpet salesman in Afghanistan kept up with the latest superhero films far more than any of us did. And Kuwaiti workers would clean out Porta-Johns, rocking blue jeans.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

The nations that U.S. troops have partnered with have had their economies grow drastically. One of the best places in the world to see this is in post-war Japan.

America provided a “Security Umbrella” to its former enemy, letting the island nation to focus more of its GDP on manufacturing and reentering the international marketplace. Today, Japan is the fourth largest export economy, with it’s top export going to the United States.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
Flyer for the Hell Fighters Band

As America shed it’s isolationist ways and entered World War I in Europe, the world got a glimpse of what we’ve been up to on the other side of the ocean. When stationed in Paris, African American soldiers brought with them jazz, swing, and ragtime music.

The soldiers, between conflicts, would perform their new style in music halls. French crowds went crazy for it. Lieutenant James Reese Europe and his Harlem Hellfighters traveled all across France and quickly became one of America’s first international celebrities.

Related: Here are 5 things the ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ did that cemented their place in history

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
U.S Army photo by Staff. Sgt Kwadwo Frimpong

One nation that had plenty of American influence is South Korea. South Korean technology has boomed in recent years and has helped spawn K-Pop (The genre of music that gave the world Gangnam Style) and Hallyuwood (Korean film industry).

This East Asian country had U.S. troops stationed there since the ’50s. All males between age 18 and 35 have been conscripted for a mandatory two year obligation. With this, many of the Republic of Korea Army soldiers are also sent to train and serve with the U.S. Army.

KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the United States Army) soldiers form strong bonds of friendship with their American counterparts. Through this program, many Koreans learn of American culture and vice-versa.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Samuel Guerra

No matter where US troops are sent, they are sometimes the first actual interactions locals have with Americans. Some places refuse to serve Americans, others welcome them with open arms.

As long as you’re not a jack a–, you’ll be embraced. Even if you are brash, just be funny.

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If the battle of Thermopylae was fought today with 300 Marines

The legendary defense of the Spartans at the “hot gates” of Thermopylae has gone down in military history as one of the greatest last stands.


But what if 300 Marine infantrymen, along with a couple thousand other fighters, had to repeat what Leonidas, 300 Spartans, and their Greek allies did in 480 B.C. against a modern foe?

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
(Photo: flickr/Guillaume Cattiaux)

First, the battlefield at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. was very friendly to defenders. The mountains pressed close to the sea, leaving only a thin gap of land through which Xerxes could press his army. This gap was further constricted by the Spartans when they repaired a low wall.

For the modern Marines, the gap could instead be narrowed with fighting holes, barbed wire, machine gun positions, and mines. Similarly, the fatal back path that Xerxes marched his “Immortals” through to doom Leonidas and his men could be blocked the same way, forcing an attacker to pay for every yard in blood.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson

Unfortunately for the Marines, their enemy can afford a few bloody engagements. While the Marines would boast 300 infantrymen and 6,000 other combat arms Marines, their enemy would number somewhere around 100,000.

The first thing the Marines would want to do against an enemy attack is copy the advantage that the Spartans used at Thermopylae, greater infantry range and stronger defenses. The Greek Hoplite carried a spear with slightly better range than the Immortal’s swords, and Hoplite armor was constructed of bronze strong enough to protect from Persian arrows.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
The M16 is bulkier than the M4, but boasts greater range. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Katelyn Hunter)

The Marines would need to reach back in their armories for a similar range advantage. While the M4 has an effective firing range of 500 meters, the same as the AK-74 and other common infantry weapons, the M16 has a 550-meter range against a point target, a 10 percent boost. And the Marines’ body armor and defensive fortifications would give them an advantage over attackers similar to the Hoplites’ bronze armor.

Unfortunately for the Marines, modern warfare isn’t limited to infantry fighting infantry, and so they would need to reckon with enemy artillery and air assets.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Zachery C. Laning)

While the U.S. faces an artillery range gap in relation to Russia and China, the Marines defending the pass could use the mountains on their west to place their guns at greater altitude. This would give their guns greater range and force the enemy to come within the envelope of the U.S. cannon to try to take out Marine artillery positions.

Air defenders would also need to position themselves up the mountains to provide an effective screen to protect their troops from enemy air attacks.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
(Photo: U.S. Navy Seaman Levingston Lewis)

Luckily for the Marines, the Corps is one of the few military organizations that has invested heavily in short takeoff, vertical landing aircraft — meaning that Ospreys and Super Stallions can deliver supplies to the besieged Marines while F-35s and Harriers provide air support either from small, forward refueling and rearming points near the front or from a nearby ship.

All of this adds up to a Marine force enjoying much of the same successes during the early days of the battle as the Spartans did. Enemy infantry and cavalry would be forced to maneuver into a narrow gap and be cut down by Marine rifles and missiles.

Even better, their artillery could force the enemy guns to fire from afar and break up forces massing for an attack, advantages that the Spartans lacked.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Akeel Austin)

But, like the Spartans before them, the Marines would eventually be overcome by their numerical limitations. Even with approximately 6,000 other Marines, the 300 infantrymen simply could not hold out forever.

Enemy assaults would make it deeper into the pass each time as engineers whittled away at the Marines’ defenses and artillery crews braved American guns to get rounds onto the defenders’ heads.

After a few days, the Marines would have amassed a stunning body count, possibly even as high as the 20,000 Persians credited to Leonidas and his forces, but they would be burned out of Thermopylae.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christopher Giannetti)

But if they could buy enough time, it’s unimaginable that the Navy and Marine Corps would not be able to get follow-on forces to Greece. And, using the Marine Corps’ amphibious capabilities, reinforcements could be rushed to the beaches just south of the battle.

Meanwhile, the Navy could press its jets into the fight, ensuring air superiority and providing a reprieve for the defenders.

Thanks to the mobility of America’s sea services and Thermopylae’s location on a coast, the battle could end much differently for the Marines standing where the Spartans once fell.

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Marines temporarily ground planes in wake of Hornet crash

The Marine Corps has ordered all non-deployed aircraft squadrons to observe a 24-hour “operational pause” after a Miramar-based squadron suffered a third F/A-18C Hornet crash in 12 months — two within the span of a week, one fatal.


Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns told Military.com there would be an operational pause for all Marine Aircraft Wings, exempting deployed units.

“This operational pause is to happen within the next seven business days,” she said in an email. “Operational pauses are routine and are a time to align, discuss best practices and look at ways to continue to improve.”

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
US Marine Corps photo

The news of this grounding throughout Marine Corps aviation was first reported by Marine Corps Times.

Burns said the timing of the pause was at the discretion of the wing commanders. Investigations into the most recent crashes are still ongoing, she said.

Pilot Maj. Richard Norton of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 was killed July 28 when his F/A-18C Hornet went down during training near Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.

A second pilot attached to the squadron, who has not been identified, is being treated after ejecting from his F/A-18C Hornet on Aug. 2 over Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, during a training flight.

That aircraft had been temporarily assigned to Fallon’s Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Detachment, officials said.

In October 2015, a Marine pilot also attached to VMFA-232, Maj. Taj Sareen, was killed when his Hornet crashed near Royal Air Force Airfield Lakenheath in England during a flight from Bahrain to Miramar at the completion of a six-month deployment to the Middle East.

No cause has been publicly released for any of these three crashes.

Officials said recently they have wrapped up an investigation into a deadly Navy F/A-18C crash that happened earlier this summer. Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, a soloist with the Blue Angels demonstration team, was killed June 3 when his aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff in what was supposed to be a rehearsal flight ahead of an airshow in Smyrna, Tennessee. The results of that investigation have yet to be released.

In a discussion at a think tank in Washington, D.C., on July 29, the Marines’ head of aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, said he did not believe diminished flight hours for Hornet pilots had contributed to the tragic July 28 crash.

“I track [flight hours] each week. This particular unit was doing OK,” he said.

Davis added he did not believe that reduced flight hours, a function of limited resources and available aircraft, were making Marine Corps squadrons less safe, but added the Corps was “not as proficient as we should be.”

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6 reasons why ‘Platoon’ should have been about Sgt. Barnes

There are so many war movies out there, but few come from the direct perspective of a man who personally lived through the hell that was Vietnam.


Critically acclaimed writer-director Oliver Stone (an Army veteran) took audiences into the highly political time in American history where the Vietnam war was strongly opposed in his film Platoon.

Although the film was excellent, did you ever wonder how different it would have been if Sgt. Barnes — the film’s villain — was the star?

Related: 7 reasons ‘Top Gun’ should have been about Iceman

Well, we did and here are six reasons why we think the movie should have been about him.

1. We would have gotten the back story on how he got his epic scar.

Just look at that thing and tell us you don’t want to know more about it. Is it from a hand grenade or did he knife fight someone or what?

2. Remember when he shot that woman?

We’re not condoning executions, but seeing Sgt. Barnes’ interrogation methods a few more times could have been cool.

3. Besides the scene where Barnes threatens Chris with that cool looking blade, that knife doesn’t make another appearance.

If that film were about him, we probably would have seen Barnes use in on the enemy troops once or twice in hand-to-hand combat.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
You could slice and dice the enemy with this sharp and badass looking blade — no problem. (Source: Orion)

4. Pvt. Taylor (Charlie Sheen) would have just been a whiny boot replacement — which he was in the beginning — that no one cares about since the film would have been in Barnes’ perspective.

5. Sgt. Barnes is a pretty lethal killer, but we could’ve gotten a glimpse of what made him that way.

Although we discussed his epic scar earlier, it would be cool to get a flashback or two focusing on some of this bloody missions he was on before Taylor showed up.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
You know those eyes have seen some sh*t. (Source: Orion)

6. Barnes would have eventually snapped and put his non-alpha male platoon leader Lt. Wolfe in his place — and audiences would have loved to see that sh*t go down.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
It’s about to go down — if the movie was about Barnes. (Source: Orion)

Can you think of any more? Comment below.

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These are the 10 most epic battles on television

The rise of television has brought epic, cinematic stories to home screens, where episodic series can develop characters and plot steadily over a season and build suspense for the exciting climax in ways only film used to do — especially when it comes to battles.

Not only have the visual effects and sets improved, but filmmakers are telling military stories like never before. Whether the stories are fictional, as in Game of Thrones, or historical, as in Band of Brothers, storytellers are using real battles and tactics as inspiration for their shows.

So, let’s a take look at the 10 most dramatic battles in television history:


 

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

(Generation Kill | HBO)

1. Battle of Al Muwaffiqiyah — ‘Generation Kill’ (Episode 5)

Generation Kill tells the true story of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003. The seven-part miniseries from HBO realistically depicts the Marines, from the heroic moments to the horrifying mistakes. Rudy Reyes, who plays himself in the show, selected this particular ambush as one of the most impactful of the series.

The battle pitted Marines in Humvees against an insurgent attack force that allowed the viewer to perceive combat, through the characters’ eyes, exactly the kind of asymmetrical warfare our service members experience overseas. Dealing with faulty equipment, communication chaos, confusion, unknown enemy numbers or locations, and treating wounds in the field are all common scenarios for deployed troops.

What’s especially eerie is how accustomed they are to this environment. The characters are just as annoyed about trying to get the caravan to back up as they might have been while stuck in traffic back home in the States.

It’s not until the battle is done that the camera reveals how affecting combat truly is.

Inside Game of Thrones: Battling the Silence (HBO)

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2. Battling the Silence — ‘Game of Thrones’ (Season 7, Episode 2)

Battling the Silence was not the first groundbreaking naval battle in Game of Thrones, but even without Wildfire, it managed to be the most epic. Euron Greyjoy’s fleet ambushes his niece, Yara’s, in the night and the attack quickly descends into fire and brutality. For the battle, filmmakers cranked up the frame rate and filled the camera with too many people and fights to follow. They were inspired by riots, where the violence is chaotic and encroaching.

Not only are the heroes of this battle captured, killed, or forced to flee, their ships are sunk to the Narrow Sea’s version of Davy Jones Locker in a sound defeat, reminiscent of World War II’s “Ironbottom Sound,” where the Imperial Japanese fleet dealt a crushing blow to American and Australian forces at Savo Island in the Pacific.

The seven-minute scene took weeks to film and was shot with 40 stuntmen, six cast members, and all of the crew on the set, which was slippery from rain and actually burning with real fire and ember guns, spraying flaming ash through the air. Most importantly, “Silence” left fans of the show with a sharp introduction to the depravity that can be expected from the final season’s newest villain.

Battlestar Galactica | Pegasus & Galactica Vs Cylon Resurrection Ship

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3. Destruction of the Resurrection Ship— ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (Season 2, Episode 12)

In Battlestar Galactica, the cylons are able to download their consciousness into a new body aboard Resurrection Ships within range. In other words, they’re extremely difficult to kill because they can just jump into a new body when the old one is defeated.

In Season 2, the Colonial Fleet takes down its first Resurrection Ship — a major victory in their war with the Cylons. The destruction of a Resurrection Ship held the tactical weight of the raid at St. Nazaire by Royal Commandos against German drydocks in World War II. The ambush shifted the logistics of German ship repair in the Atlantic, forcing them to deploy their naval ships more cautiously, as they could only be repaired by sending them to the north coast of Europe (and past Royal Air Force and Royal Navy patrols).

Battlestar Galactica has a distinctly unique “signature style” of camera-work, especially during space battles. Cinematographers employed handheld work and zooms, almost as if the cameras were shooting a documentary, which gives the show a realistic feel.

Battlestar Galactica is also filled with subtle details that further heighten the realism. In this battle, you can see some of the Cylon missiles headed for the Pegasus turn or curve around it. Producers have stated that this was to demonstrate the electronic countermeasures employed by the Pegasus, just as modern aircraft scramble the guidance systems of enemy missiles.

Marvel’s The Punisher (S1 Ep. 3): Kandahar Fight Scene

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4. Kandahar Flashback — ‘The Punisher’ (Season 1, Episode 3)

The first season of The Punisher reveals a flashback to a visceral battle that Frank Castle fought while deployed as a Marine. The action sequence depicts Castle as a terrified warrior, driven by adrenaline, training, and instinct. His actions are violent, but the expression on his face conveys his horror — and his humanity.

Set to The White Buffalo’s “Wish It Was True,” the scene captures the tragic demands on military service members, who experience terror and violence while trying to do the right thing. As the scene nears its end, Castle snaps, succumbing to pure animalistic aggression. This moment would certainly influence the tortured destiny of the man who later becomes The Punisher.

Game of Thrones: The Loot Train Attack (HBO)

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5. The Loot Train Attack — ‘Game of Thrones’ (Season 7, Episode 4)

Whenever Daenerys Targaryen gives the command “Dracarus,” she proves just how dramatically airpower changed war. The sheer and immediate destruction wrought on the Lannister army by dragon fire was enthralling and horrifying. The director, Matt Shakman, likened the destruction to that of napalm or an atom bomb; the magnitude and heat of the flame was enough to turn people to ash in an instant.

The scene took 14 months to plan and 18 days to shoot, shifting from multiple characters’ points of view; but it was the perspective on the ground that was so gripping. Jaime and Bronn had become well-loved characters whose humanity was really revealed when they took in the harrowing aerial assault.

The lines of destruction are reminiscent of the Highway of Death during the Persian Gulf War, when aircraft destroyed hundreds of Iraqi vehicles on Highway 80. The photographs of the carnage after the attack — including bodies that were charred from the bombing — were so violent and disturbing that many media outlets refused to publish them.

Fans of the show await the final season — and inevitable undead dragon damage to come — with dread and morbid anticipation.

BTS Okinawa w/ Tom Hanks and WWII Veterans | The Pacific | HBO

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6. Battle of Okinawa — ‘The Pacific’ (Part 9)

Part 9 of The Pacific, HBO’s follow-up to Band of Brothers, portrays an almost post-apocalyptic version of war, where battle-hardened, weary Marines struggle to hold on to their humanity in the face of an enemy willing to fight to the death. Executive Director Steven Spielberg wanted to portray war as the hellacious experience veterans, like his father and uncle, said it was, rather than glorifying it in a traditional Hollywood format — and he succeeded.

In addition to capturing the grim brutality of battle, the Okinawa scenes also push the characters into battles of the soul. When Sledge and Snafu find a crying baby, they react as warfighters: They are suspicious, alert, and nearly desensitized to the child’s pain. The point is driven home by comparison when another Marine walks in and simply picks up the baby, leaving the characters — and the audience — to wonder whether these two young men can ever truly come back from this war.

Vikings: The Siege of Paris (Part 1) [Season 3 Battle Scene] 3×08 (HD 1080p)

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7. Siege of Paris — ‘Vikings’ (Season 3, Episode 8)

The Siege of Paris from Vikings expertly depicts the brutality and madness of scaling a wall, a common tactic in ancient or medieval (or Middle-Earthen) warfighting. Trying to overcome an enemy by scaling his walls means attacking from a position of weakness. Defenders would push scaling ladders away from the walls, light them on fire, or pour boiling pitch upon the insurgents. If the attackers did manage to make it to the top of the wall, they would be outnumbered by a well-fortified enemy.

In this episode, Floki straight-up panics at the thought of it and hides, which might not have been such a bad idea, considering what befell heroes like Rollo, Bjorn, and even Ragnar himself.

Lagertha doesn’t fair much better. After her forces are able to successfully break through a door — via reverse battering ram? — they advance into a trap and are torn down by French ballistae.

The vikings were handed a searing defeat, leaving a pile of bodies beneath the walls of Paris.

Band of Brothers (2001) – D-Day Drop Zone Scene

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8. D-Day — ‘Band of Brothers’ (Part 2)

Everyone knows about the storming of the beach at Normandy, but fewer people know about the paratroopers who jumped behind enemy lines to support the amphibious insertion.

The second episode of Band of Brothers depicts the men of Easy Company jumping into the midst of an air battle. The military is no stranger to waiting around… but waiting as the enemy lights up your fuselage had to have been terrifying.

Band of Brothers captured the details of human nerves and anticipation, military training coming through under duress, and moments of decision-making in the face of terror. Both the pilot and his passengers watch as AAA strike their companions, but neither can do much more than stay the course and try to make it to the drop zone.

Unfortunately for Easy Company, they jumped out of the fire… and into the war.

True Detective – Six minute single take tracking shot – no edits, no cuts – Who Goes There

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9. House Raid — ‘True Detective’ (Season 1, Episode 4)

In its first season, True Detective featured a 6-minute, single-take, tracking shot of a shoot-out when a raid goes bad. This scene made the list because, though it doesn’t feature army versus army, neither does most modern warfare that our troops engage in. America is fighting asymmetrical threats, often in urban environments among civilians — which is exactly what we saw in this shot.

Director Cary Fukunaga deliberately trained the camera tightly with Matthew McConaughey’s character, Rust, to create a feeling of dread, suspense, and imminent danger.

It is perhaps the greatest long tracking shot on television — and for good reason. According to an interview in The Guardian, the scene involved perfect coordination between the actors, grips, gaffer, cinematographer, operators, multiple rooms with fight choreography, a jumped fence, and a freaking helicopter.

Makeup artists dashed out to add blood and injuries to actors. Special-effects teams fired live rounds. And yeah, the helicopter flew in, right on target. Hell, even Woody Harrelson nailed his driving scene.

It was impressive in every department and cemented the notion that television had become every bit as cinematic as feature films.

Game of Thrones Season 6: Anatomy of A Scene: The Battle of Winterfell (HBO)

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10. Battle of the Bastards — ‘Game of Thrones’ (Season 6, Episode 9)

The Battle of the Bastards was not only an intensely satisfying showdown between two pivotal characters, Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton, it was one the most riveting battles depicted on television.

When Ned Stark lost his head in the first season, Game of Thrones made it clear that no character is safe on the series; as a result, the stakes are exponentially higher in Game of Thrones than in other shows.

But even beyond the emotional connection to the characters and their respective military forces, the Battle of the Bastards was loosely based on tactics from the Battle of Cannae in 216 CE, where the Carthaginian leader Hannibal Barca surrounded and defeated his enemy.

The Boltons’ tactic of using Romanesque scutums to surround the Stark forces was unnerving, and filmmakers captured the panic it inspired. Even commanding archers to volley their arrows into the fray of battle demonstrated the lengths Ramsay Bolton was willing to go to for victory.

The psychological effect of being trapped by a mountain of dead bodies is one that no healthy person should linger on for long — nor should we consider the slow and painful deaths that would have befallen our heroes had they not been rescued by the Knights of the Vale.

Did we leave something out? Write us a comment and let us know which dramatic television battles are your favorites.

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Debate rages over what the US military should look like in the next 10 years

Five of the top national security think tanks exchanged widely varying proposals on the force structure and funding the U.S. armed services would need to confront the global security environment 10 years from now.


This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant (CV) piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Robert “Champ” Guyette II, a test pilot from the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, flies over the stealth guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship transits the Chesapeake Bay on Oct. 17, 2016. USS Zumwalt, the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, joined the fleet Oct. 15. The F-35C Lightning II — a next generation single-seat, single-engine strike fighter that incorporates stealth technologies, defensive avionics, internal and external weapons, and a revolutionary sensor fusion capability — is designed as the U.S. Navy’s first-day-of-war, survivable strike fighter. The U.S. Navy anticipates declaring the F-35C combat-ready in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe/Released)

The proposals ranged from the minimalist, mind-your-own-business plan from the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, which would cut defense funding $1.1 trillion below the Obama administration’s long-term budget projects over 10 years, to the aggressive, act-like-a-global-power concept from the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which would add $1.3 trillion — with any force reductions or increases tracking to the funding levels.

The other think tanks — the Center for a New American Security, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies — fell in between those two extremes on both funding and force levels.

In the conference held in the Newseum’s Knight Studio Oct. 18, AEI’s Tom Donnelly said “we bought almost everything” the president has asked for, but still don’t have the military America needs.

“That tells you how much cutting has been done over the last generation,” he said.

Donnelly based his big increases in spending and force structure on a view that “the world is going to hell in a hand basket,” that from a global view of security “the trend lines are all negative,” and “the old post-Cold War world doesn’t exist any more. We need to build something new.”

Cato’s Benjamin Friedman, however, said his budget and force structure plans were based on “a strategy of restraint,” which “differs from the current prevailing view in Washington.”

“Given our geography, wealth and strategic prowess, we would be secure in the US regardless of how much we buy. This is about how much insurance we need,” Friedman said.

The three others, Paul Scharre of CNAS, Mark Gunzinger of CSBA, and Todd Harrison of CSIS, all agreed that the growing threats required additional spending, but generally favored selective modernization rather than the major force structure growth that Donnelly proposed.

The Navy would fare reasonably well in nearly all the projections, even getting smaller reductions within Cato’s heavy cuts. The submarine force was generally favored by all, with two proposing a new class of guided missile subs to replace the four converted ballistic missile SSGN boats. Cato and CSIS would cut four of the 11 aircraft carriers but CSBA and CNAS called for more carriers.

The Navy would get the biggest boost from CNAS, which called for an increase from the current battle force fleet of 272 to 345. The Navy’s goal is to reach 308 ships by 2020.

CSBA noted that the carriers’ ability to project power is threatened by the proliferation of long-range precision defense weapons and suggested off-setting that by fielding an unmanned carrier-based strike aircraft. The Navy currently plans to follow up its experimental X-47B carrier-capable UAV with the pilotless MQ-25, primarily used as an air refueling aircraft with some ISR capabilities.

The Marine Corps got widely varying support from the five organizations, with Cato proposing to cut it by one-third, CNAS eliminating four infantry battalions and CSIS cutting 6,000 Marines and one air group. Analysts at CSBA proposed an increase to 187,000 Marines from the current plan for 182,000. The Corps probably would gain under AEI’s funding boost.

The Army generally would be increased in size or strengthened by all of the think tanks, except of course Cato, with Donnelly advocating a major boost in armored brigades, which would be used to bolster NATO against Russia.

The Air Force also generally would be strengthened although not substantially increased by the other think tanks, while Cato called for cutting it by one-third. CSIS, CSBA and CNAS all proposed giving the Air Force a low-cost, light-attack aircraft in addition to the F-35A.

Other than Cato, which wants to cancel the entire program, the F-35 was favored along with other stealthy aircraft, including the Air Force’s existing F-22 Raptors and its still-on-paper B-21 long-range strategic strike bomber, now under development. Donnelly urged the Navy to buy the F-35B jump jet version the Marines are getting so it could put them on its aircraft carriers but off-load them in the forward theater to bolster ground forces.

While Cato would chop the nuclear deterrent triad to just the Navy’s ballistic missile submarines, the others all appeared to favor current plans to modernize the Air Force’s nuclear capable bombers and Minuteman III missiles, as well as buying the replacement subs for the Ohio-class SSBNs.

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This airman has advice for anyone working to be an Olympic lifter

For Tech. Sgt. Kate Barone, competitive weightlifting became more than just a way to break the monotony of a desk job as an Air Force information analyst. Instead, the Ohio native turned her after-work hobby into a new lifestyle that changed her life forever.


“For any type of competition – powerlifting, CrossFit, Olympic lifting, bodybuilding – the thing is to be focused on only that,” Barone told WATM. “If you want to do really well, it’s got to be on the same level as breathing, eating, sleeping. … That is your goal and you have to change your life around that.”

As an NCO in the Ohio Air National Guard, an Olympic lifter, and bodybuilding competitor, life in the service can be difficult for someone who’s trying to be competitive in a sport.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

“For me, sitting in front of a computer a lot, it is hard to not snack,” the 25-year-old says. “I know that as long as you are able to pack your food, bring it to work, still get to the gym, you can maintain your fitness and even compete.”

She joined the Ohio ANG at 17, right out of high school. The Cincinnati native comes from a military family — her grandfathers are Air Force and Army veterans and her uncles serve in the Army and Navy. She joined to challenge herself and get a nursing degree. She loves the Air Force lifestyle but wanted to stay around her family.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

Barone worked as a full-time Air National Guardsman for two years, even deploying to Korea for the annual joint training exercises there. It was on that deployment Barone realized she had to make a change. She loved the Air Force lifestyle, but went back to Guard service.

When she returned to Ohio, she finished nursing school and got into CrossFit. While Barone recalls CrossFit was rough at first, she eventually began competing in the sport, which led her to Olympic weightlifting competition, and later, bodybuilding.

In her first Olympic competition, the Strongest Unicorn, she competed in the 64-kilogram weight class against the likes of Holly Mangold of the U.S. Olympic Lifting Team. The next year, she dropped her weight class and finished second.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

“When you sign up for an Olympic lifting competition, you are supposed to put in your estimated total that you will lift,” Barone says. “You look at that and wonder how you are going to do against other people.”

“It’s not just the Olympic movements,” she adds. “You’ve got to do front squats all the time, back squats, jerks — a lot of that just to build up your muscle strength so you can lift a lot of weight.”

Bodybuilding is an entirely different kind of lifestyle change.

“You have to be in the right state of mind to do the bodybuilding part,” she says. “There are so many aspects. Unlike CrossFit or Olympic lifting, I can eat what I want, as long as I make my weight class the day of.”

But that doesn’t mean she can just go out and scarf down an entire pizza with the crew.

“It literally took up my life,” Barone recalls. “I can’t have drinks with friends because alcohol is cut out. I can’t go out to eat with my friends because I will be eating raw vegetables, egg whites, tilapia … it’s really hard to have that mindset and be focused on something without people supporting you.”

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

A lot of her support comes from the people in her squadron. Even so, it’s tough to eat fish and veggies while the rest of the unit is downing food from the local barbecue joint.

“They call me Bro-rone because I like to lift with them and I’m like a gym bro,” she says. “But then they bring that [food] in and I’m like oh my god I love barbecue, why are you all doing this to me?”

Barone says her sister proved pivotal to her success.

“She helped me pick out my suit, I wanted to know which one is going to look the best on me,” Barone says. “She picked the skimpiest red one with all the bling on it. You have to be prepared to show your ass in competitive bodybuilding.”

Barone says the trick is to make your training preparation a habit. Once you achieve that, missing a day at the gym becomes abnormal.

“Anyone can do it, as long as you are able to get to the gym at least once a day,” says Kate Barone.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

In Barone’s part-time civilian life, she’s a nurse at a local hospital and is excited to be taking a new position helping veterans at the local VA hospital. But fitness remains her biggest escape.

“When I’m sad, I’m depressed, I just don’t feel like things are right, I go to the gym,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if I’ve had a shitty day or something is going on in my life. … If I go to the gym, I lift some weight with my music blaring in my ears …  it’s therapy to me, it feels so good.”

Articles

How the feds used prison labor to build defective combat helmets

Spoiler Alert: This is not an Article 107 News article.  The federal government paid over $53 million to two companies to build combat helmets between 2006 and 2009.  The cost is not the problem.  The problem is almost 150,000 Army and Marine Corps combat helmets were defective.


And oh by the way, prisoners made the helmets.

First of all, the prisoners came from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, working under… wait for it… a federally owned company called Federal Prison Industries.  But wait, there’s more!  FPI, also known as UNICOR, received the sub-contract from a privat vendor, ArmourSource LLC.

So, a private company was awarded a government contract to make combat helmets after normal bidding procedures. No problem.

The private company then sub-contracted out a federally owned company for cheap prison labor and reaped a $30.3 million windfall as a result. That’s a problem, even if just from a perception viewpoint.

Furthermore, FPI received its own contract to make helmets for the US Marine Corps.  A federally owned company received a contract from its “owner,” and all without competitive bidding.  True to form, the government recalled the helmets after multiple deficiencies. This isn’t a case of “lowest bidder;” this is a case of negligence.  It is negligent to entrust the lives of American soldiers with equipment made by federal prisoners.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
Army photo by Spc. Alexandra Campo

A recently released Justice Department summary details the negligence and lack of quality control. Deficiencies included:

  • Scrap kevlar used in between layers (therefore, won’t stop bullets)
  • Blisters and bubbles which caused decreased effectiveness (therefore, won’t stop bullets)
  • Prisoners pried off kevlar pieces to use as potential weapons against guards (less material means, yep, won’t stop bullets)

And my personal favorite:

  • Prisoners prepared and conducted quality certifications on order from the FPI staff, and FPI staff signed the certifications without checking the prisoners’ work.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
Advanced Combat Helmet. Photo from US Army.

Consequently, ArmourSource settled for $3 million and still makes products for the military. The loss to the military was over $19 million. That seems like an unfair trade if you ask me.

If ever there was a time for people to call for accountability in the government contracting process, this is it. Discuss it, debate it, and actually support the troops you say you support.  War is a money-making machine and if you didn’t understand that after the $5 billion “Universal Combat Pattern” debacle then you do now.

I understand prison industry is a vital tool for teaching job skills and reducing recidivism rates.  What I do not understand is how anyone with a simple knowledge of course of action analysis felt it was a good idea to allow federal criminals to build US military equipment and put soldiers’ lives at risk.

Articles

UK sinks ‘Boaty McBoatface’; USAF may have to shoot down similar names

In an effort to drum up interest in the council’s efforts and in science in general, Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council launched a public poll last month to determine the name of its new $300 million advanced research vessel.  The winner was “Boaty McBoatface,” four times more popular than the next best suggestion, the “Poppy-Mai,” which would have named the boat after a 16-month-old girl with cancer.  The UK’s Science Minister, Jo Johnson sunk the suggestion this week, telling NPR the boat needed a more appropriate moniker.


This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

In March 2016, the U.S. Air Force launched a similar initiative to name its latest Long Range Strike Bomber, the B-21. The Air Force, like America, does not trust its citizens with direct democracy and does not allow the general public to vote on the name. It also is not publishing names for consideration. A few of the names floating around the Air Force’s tweet on the B-21’s name floated TrumppelinDeathkill Eaglehawk Firebird Hoora! Testosterone, and (of course), Bomby McBombface.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

Voting for the B-21’s name is limited to members of the U.S. Air Force active duty force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard components, their dependents, members of the U.S. Air Force Civil Service and U.S. Air Force retirees. There also exists a complete set of contest rules and regulations.

Articles

This veteran credits his success as a FEMA project manager to the flexibility of distance learning

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
(Photo: Augie Dannehl, We Are The Mighty)


Jeremiah Woznick dropped out of community college at 19 years old. “I never felt any personal connection between my professors and me,” he said. He joined the Navy, and his first duty station was an aircraft carrier. He took advantage of the ship’s distance learning program and passed his first course in accounting. He fully intended to keep going, but his plans were altered by the 9/11 attacks.

“I was working 15-18 hour days on the flight deck as a firefighter,” Woznick said. “I was trained to know how to shut down the various types of aircraft as well as being able to be a first responder in the event of a flight deck fire or aircraft crash landing.”

By the time Woznick’s enlistment was up, he was a seasoned veteran of three combat cruises at the ripe old age of 21. He moved to Hawaii with the intention of starting his own landscape design business while also pursuing his education using his post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

“The credits I had received while in the Navy would easily transfer, and — along with the discounts for veterans — the distance learning opportunities had me sold once again on the possibilities,” he said. After some research, Woznick decided to pursue an associate’s degree at Grantham University.

“I found I was using key lessons in my curriculum to apply to my everyday business model,” Woznick said. “My studies were becoming more and more a part of my life, and the results were apparent.”

Woznick finished his associate’s degree in 19 months, and celebrated by surfing some of the biggest recorded waves in history, on the North Shore of Oahu. A few days later Woznick hurt his hand while working his landscaping business, and while he was healing, decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree. Again he chose the distance learning option.

“I always had a hard time focusing in a room full of students and the nuisances of driving to school every day to fight for parking and a good seat was never anything that I looked forward to,” he said. “Being able to study at home in a peaceful environment or even on the beach in Waikiki was such a great way for me to be able to focus.”

While Woznick was working on his degree he began to teach surf lessons. But before he could officially be a surfing instructor he had to earn his “blue card,” which meant he had to pass tests in first aid, CPR, and water safety.

“I couldn’t have trained for these tests if I was sitting in a classroom all day,” he said.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
(Photo: Augie Dannehl)

Somewhat ironically, teaching surf lessons allowed Woznick to choose the direction he wanted to go with his bachelor’s degree.

“Teaching surf lessons to 50 students and being able to corral everyone together — different sizes and ages — in a safe way in a dangerous environment was very challenging,” he said. “The students were like different stakeholders, and I was like the project manager trying to manage them and get the project done correctly.”

Always looking for the next opportunity, Woznick had just leveraged his Grantham learning to start a tourism business when he heard about a job a FEMA.

“I found a project specialist in emergency management position with FEMA’s public assistance program through USA Jobs,” Woznick said. “My degree proved to be the major factor in me getting the job.”

His first deployment with FEMA was to Kansas City due to a major flooding event. While onsite he took the time to visit Grantham’s campus.

“It was extremely coincidental that my first FEMA deployment sent me to a spot near Grantham University, the institution that helped me get educated and hired,” Woznick said.

While back in Hawaii between FEMA deployments, he decided to continue his education by pursuing his master’s degree.

“Once I saw the curriculum for project management at Grantham University, I finally realized that that was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life,” he said.

As Woznick started to work toward his MBA — Project Management degree, his grandfather started showing signs of Alzheimers and dementia. His grandmother needed his help.

“I would study at night while my grampa incoherently moved around in his wheelchair nearby,” he remembered. “This was another example of how the school was flexible with my learning schedule. I couldn’t have made it if I’d had to be in class at a set time in a physical location the next day.”

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
(Photo: August Dannehl, We Are The Mighty)

Woznick’s second deployment put much of what he’d learned while pursuing his MBA to work. He was sent to Wimberley, Texas, a city ravaged by floodwaters. “The destruction and devastation were enormous,” he said.

“I worked directly with the city’s fire department and was even honored by the fire chief for my service,” Woznick said. “I could clearly see that the graduate courses I was taking were paying off. The skills I had acquired were being put to the test as I helped the community get grant funds to rebuild the city.”

Then, as if by grand design, the day Woznick found out he’d earned his MBA from Grantham was the same day he got his first pay raise with FEMA.

“I was once training people how to surf, and now I am training people how I can serve them with the FEMA Public Assistance program,” he said. “I could not be the person that I am today without distance education.”

Articles

Fort Carson troops train to fight microscopic enemies

Fort Carson soldiers trained Sept. 6 to tackle an unseen enemy — disease.


As part of a month-long, annual disaster drill at the post, soldiers practiced to fight a bacterial pandemic. It’s a new twist for the post, where soldiers have trained against fictional terrorist threats and even militant hackers in recent years.

But of all the exercises, fighting a microscopic enemy may be the toughest, Lt. Col. Renee Howell explained.

“I’m going to have to stay on my toes,” said Howell, who is the head of preventive medicine at Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital.

The training has roots in recent Army history. In 2014, 200 Fort Carson soldiers were sent to western Africa to help nations there combat an Ebola outbreak that claimed 11,000 lives.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
Photo courtesy of Fort Carson Police.

The post exercise began as a mystery, with leaders working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to determine what caused the imaginary sickness spreading through Fort Carson’s 24,500 soldiers and their family members.

“We have a huge population,” she said.

Troops used their detective skills and practiced ways to control the disease including quarantine measures. They also practiced working with local authorities who would also have to deal with a quick-spreading disease that could easily leave the 135,000-acre post.

On Sept. 6, they turned a gymnasium on post into the county’s biggest pharmacy.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
CDC Logo from Wikimedia Commons.

Soldiers from Evans worked alongside medics and military police to quickly process patients and dispense mock antibiotics.

They were able to handle about 200 patients an hour, each leaving the gym with an empty pill bottle.

“People will get the right medication at the right time,” Howell said.

While the drill centered on an imaginary infection, the procedures used could come in handy against all kinds of disasters, including the hurricanes menacing the East Coast and the wildfires raging in the West.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
Hurricane Harvey left streets and houses flooded after making landfall. USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf.

Howell said the common key to dealing with disasters is keeping track of people and efficiently meeting their needs.

“This operation is to make sure we screen people properly,” she said.

Away from the gym, the exercise drilled other troops in disaster skills. The hospital’s nurses and medics trained with a mass casualty exercise, overwhelming the emergency room with dozens of mock patients in need.

The post’s firefighters and ambulance crews also practiced their tactics for dealing with simultaneous emergencies.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world
Firefighters and other emergency personnel assisted one another in getting into and out of protective gear. Photo by Laurie Pearson.

Most Army training drills focus on combat troops, who learn how to use their weaponry and work as a team.

This one had the doctors and nurses in the spotlight.

“We are usually in the background,” Howell said.

But putting medical crews on the front lines for training has given Fort Carson piles of new plans that can be quickly implemented.

“It’s kind of plug and play,” Howell said.

Articles

If you can help capture this terrorist, you’ll be $10M richer

The Trump administration is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information about the whereabouts of the military leader of Syria’s al-Qaida affiliated Nusra Front.


The State Department says the reward will be paid for information “leading to the identification or location” of Abu Mohammed al-Golani. The offer is the first under the department’s “Rewards for Justice Program” for a Nusra Front leader. In a statement, the department said that the group under Golani’s leadership had committed numerous attacks in Syria, including many against civilians, since 2013.

Golani has been identified by the U.S. as a “specially designated global terrorist” since 2013 and subject to U.S. and international sanctions, including an asset freeze and travel ban.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why ‘Spider-Man’ was exactly the film that America needed at the time

There’s a constant debate within the nerd-o-sphere about which superhero film is best. Some score points for being accurate to the source material, some are of a higher quality than others, and some are just downright enjoyable to sit through while munching down a tub of popcorn.

In the end, this debate always boils down to personal preference, but there’s no denying that just one film truly cemented the audience’s desire for more superhero films — and that’s 2002’s Spider-Man, starring Tobey Maguire. Sure, it’s not the best filmmaking that the genre’s ever seen, nor is it even close to being the highest grossing, but what this film can claim that no other superhero film can is a crucial role in American pop culture following the horrific events that occurred the morning of September 11th, 2001.


This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

I mean, the guy is so down on his luck that he has to live with his aunt.

(Marvel Comics)

For anyone unfamiliar with his role in the comic books, Peter Parker was never some big, strong superhero. He never wore a cape and he he was never really a permanent member of some greater superhero alliance. In fact, he was generally the opposite of what most people would assume a superhero would be. He’s a quiet, shy nerd who works a low-paying, entry-level job for a boss that hates him.

In both the films and the comics, Peter Parker is actually the stand-in for the audience. The general public isn’t made up of rich billionaire philanthropists or Norse gods — they’re just average Joes trying to make ends meet.

This is how US troops help spread ‘Americana’ throughout the world

We told ourselves we would rebuild. And we did.

The film was in production for years and, just like in the comics, it showcased New York City a character, as much as anyone else in the film. So, in much of the film’s advertisements, they used the two most iconic buildings in the New York skyline: the Twin Towers. In promotional posters and even a stand-alone story trailer that showed Spider-Man stopping bank robbers in a getaway helicopter, the Towers placed a fairly central role.

Then, the day that none will forget came. Four passenger airliners were hijacked. Two successfully struck their target, the World Trade Center in New York City, and another hit the Pentagon. The fourth was brought down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

What seemed like an eternity to onlookers took one hour and seventeen minutes. There’s no denying that, in this moment, all American felt scared and, for once, vulnerable.

America was hurting bad. Meanwhile, certain scenes had to be re-shot that featured the New York skyline. This, of course, shuffled the release date back. But in the process, Sam Raimi, the director of the film, added one iconic moment that made the most lasting impression on pop culture — the very last twenty seconds of the film.

Spider-Man had saved the day, saved a hurting New York City, swung up to the top of the Empire State Building, and stood in front of a proud, billowing American flag.

It was exactly what most people, especially the film’s target demographic — a younger crowd that couldn’t really comprehend what had happened — needed to hear. Your average, everyday guy who just happened to be bit by a radioactive spider, is there to save the day.

And that America will be okay.

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