This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition - We Are The Mighty
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This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

This article should probably start off with a spoiler warning. Then again, if you’re reading things about “Game of Thrones,” you are either caught up, have no intentions of watching the show, or don’t care about spoiler warnings.


If by some reason you aren’t any of those and wouldn’t want this week’s episodes spoiled, here’s an article about MREs.

The final shot of this week’s episode finished with Jon Snow, Gendry, Jorah, The Hound, Tormund, Beric, and Thoros all headed beyond the wall to capture a wight to prove that the dead are a threat.

One thing I noticed was how perfectly everyone in lined up with a modern unit composition.

(YouTube, Kristina R)

Substitute modern weaponry and medical supplies for swords, warhammers, and magic, and you can make an argument that Jon Snow’s team closely resembles that of Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha.

Bear in mind, they are undermanned compared to an actual fire team, with only seven men out in the field, one garrisoned at Eastwatch, and another in Winterfell. A full SFOD-A team consists of twelve men on mission. Normally, there would also be two communications experts, a medical doc, and an engineering sergeant on the team.

In this exercise at least, all of the key positions are at least filled. Here’s how:

Detachment Commander (18A) — King Jon Snow

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

Every team needs a dedicated leader. A voice everyone can rally behind. Someone with a clear vision of what the objective is and how to achieve it.

Being King of the North and the one who brought them all together definitely qualifies Jon Snow as the leader of this team.

Assistant Detachment Commander (180A) — Lord Beric Dondarrion

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

The second in command needs to be a skilled warfighter. If the team separates, the second would step in to lead a group. They must also be willing to assume control of the whole unit if the worst happens to the commander.

Beric lead the Brotherhood Without Banners until they reached the Wall. If anything, he’s still in charge of both Thoros and The Hound.

Operations Sergeant (18Z) — Ser Davos Seaworth

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

The Operations Sergeant is responsible for the overall organization and functionality of the team. They are also the senior most enlisted advisor on the team.

Although Davos didn’t join them beyond the wall, he was still pivotal in assembling the team and advising Jon Snow on how to carry out the mission.

Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant (18F) — Tormund Giantsbane

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

The Assistant Operations and Intelligence Sergeant ensures the team is war-fighting capable. They also gather and analyze all the mission-critical information.

Tormund lived his life Beyond the Wall. No one knows the area and the enemy better than him.

Weapons Sergeants (18B) — Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Ser Jorah Mormont

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

Weapons Sergeants must be experts in a wide variety of weapon systems. Any weapon they get their hands on can and will be used.

Both Sandor and Jorah are some of the best fighters in Westeros. They have each proven to be lethal no matter what weapon they had — and in any arena.

Engineering Sergeant (18C) — Gendry

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

Engineering Sergeants are masters of construction and destruction. They can build a bridge just as flawlessly as they can destroy one.

Gendry trained many years under the greatest blacksmith in the series. If Valerian Steel weapons are needed to fight the dead, he’s ready. Afterall, he was trained under Mott (the guy that reforged Ned Stark’s sword into two more Valerian Steel swords.)

Medical Sergeant (18D) — Thoros of Myr

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

Special Operations Medical Sergeants are experts in treating battlefield trauma. They are tasked with providing life-saving aid to the team.

The Lord of Light has brought back the dead many times in the books, making Thoros a handy guy to have around in battle. It’s not perfect, with each resurrection taking a part of the person that dies, but it is invaluable to keeping his men in the fight.

Communications Sergeant (18E) — Lord Bran Stark the “Three-Eyed Raven”

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

The Communications Sergeant is the life blood between fire teams and command. They are required to maintain a constant flow of information between all troops.

In the show, Bran wasn’t seen joining the group. He’s still in Winterfell. But in the same episode the group was formed, he was flying around the enemy in raven form.

We may find out until next episode that he’ll be assisting Jon’s team.

All told, it was exciting to see this rag-tag group come together to go beyond the wall.

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This failed secret mission changed special ops forever

Nearly four decades ago, America’s fledgling counter-terrorism force launched a daring operation to a remote desert outpost to rescue Americans held hostage. The mission failed, but its repercussions were felt for years, and the flames and death of that day forged the special operations force that was able to successfully execute even more daring — and successful — missions in the decades to come.


On Nov. 4, 1979, approximately 3,000 Iranian militants took control of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding 63 Americans hostage. An additional three U.S. members were seized at the Iranian Foreign Ministry for a total of 66.

This was in response to President Jimmy Carter allowing Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the recently deposed Iranian ruler, into the U.S. for cancer treatment. New leadership in Iran wanted the shah back as well as the end of Western influence in their country.

After a few weeks, 13 hostages, all women or African Americans, were released but the remaining 53 would wait out five months of failed negotiations.

President Carter, originally wanting to end the hostage crisis diplomatically and without force, turned to alternative solutions as he felt the political pressure to resolve the problem. On April 16, 1980, he approved Operation Eagle Claw, a military rescue operation involving all four branches of the U.S. armed forces.

The two-day rescue mission consisted of eight Navy RH-53D helicopters and multiple variations of C-130 aircraft. All aircraft were to gather together at Desert One, a salt flat about 200 miles outside of Tehran. There, the helicopters would refuel through the C-130’s and then transport assault units into a mountain location near Tehran where the rescue mission would begin. Unfortunately, the mission never made it that far.

On April 24, 1980, Operation Eagle Claw began. All aircraft proceeded to Desert One but a strong dust storm complicated traveling. Two of the eight helicopters were unable to complete the mission and had to turn around. Another helicopter broke down at Desert One, leaving a total of five working helicopters. Mission commanders and leadership needed a minimum of six to complete the mission. The decision was made to abort the operation and return home.

During departure from Desert One, one of the helicopters collided with a C-130, killing eight U.S. service members. The remaining members all left in the additional C-130 leaving behind numerous helicopters, a C-130 and the eight dead Americans. The failed mission, in addition with loss of life, was a humiliating blow for the U.S. However, this tragedy put a magnifying glass over the inadequacies of joint operations, forever changing the future of the U.S. military and special operations.

The need for enhanced capabilities between more than one military service was the prediction for the future of the Armed Forces. Significant military reforms, such as the Goldwater-Nichols Act and Joint Doctrine, addressed the readiness and capability issues demonstrated in Operation Eagle Claw. It pointed out the necessity for a dedicated special operations section within the Department of Defense with the responsibility to prepare and maintain combat-ready forces to successfully conduct special operations.

Today, the different branches training alongside each other is common practice. Planning for missions consist of specific details with back up plans to the back up plans. Ultimately, the lives lost as Desert One weren’t in vain. The lessons learned from that mission made special operations into what we know them as today.

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Here’s what an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities might have looked like

For the better part of the past decade it was one of the most consequential questions in international affairs, with an answer that could potentially spark a war between two Middle Eastern military powers.


Just how close was Israel to attacking Iran’s nuclear program? And if Israel ever launched a preventative strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, what would such an operation actually look like?

A blockbuster report by the Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous provides one possible answer. According to Entous, Israel planned a daring — and, in the US’ view, disastrous and even suicidal — commando raid on Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility in the early 2010s. Fordow ishome to 2,700 uranium enrichment centrifuges and is housed inside a hollowed-out mountain on an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base.

“Cargo planes would land in Iran with Israeli commandos on board who would ‘blow the doors, and go in through the porch entrance’ of Fordow, a senior US official said,” according to Entous. “The Israelis planned to sabotage the nuclear facility from inside.”

At some point in 2011 or 2012, Israel was apparently serious enough about this plan to violate Iranian airspace in the course of its preparations: “Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry run for a commando raid on the site,” Entous reported.

The “dry run” could have been doubly aimed at signaling the seriousness of Israeli intentions — and Israeli military capabilities — to a US administration that was then in the process of opening backchannel nuclear negotiations with Tehran. But the US took the possibility of an Israeli strike seriously enough to alter its defense posture in the Persian Gulf in response to a possible Israeli attack, sending a second aircraft carrier to region for some unspecified period of time, the Journal reported.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

Until the Iran nuclear deal was signed this past July, an Israeli strike on Iran was one of the most intriguing — and perhaps terrifying — hypothetical scenarios in global politics. Israeli officials often argued the country was capable of launching an attack that would destroy or severely disable many of Iran’s facilities. At times, Israel pointedly demonstrated its long-range strike capabilities. In October of 2012, Israeli jets destroyed an Iranian-linked weapons facility in Khartoum, Sudan, a city almost exactly as far from Israel’s borders as Iran’s primary nuclear facilities.

A September 2010 Atlantic Magazine cover story by Jeffrey Goldberg laid out what were believed to be the requirements of a successful Israeli attack on Iran’s facilities. Israel has no strategic bombers; its fighters would have to use Saudi airspace in order to make it to Iran while maintaining enough of a fuel load to return to base. Some of its planes might have had to land in Saudi Arabia to refuel, or even use a temporary desert base as a staging area. (One of the intriguing unanswered questions in the Wall Street Journal story is whether Israeli planes crossed into Saudi airspace during the alleged “dry run.”)

As Goldberg notes, it wouldn’t be enough for Israel just to destroy Iranian facilities. The Israeli mission would also have to have a ground component to collect proof of a successful strike.

The consequences of a direct hit on Iran’s facilities — something which might require the most sophisticated military operation in Israel’s history — are unknowable ahead of time. Perhaps an attack would touch off a devastating escalation cycle in which Iranian linked terrorists attacked Israeli and US assets abroad, Iran launched attacks on Saudi targets to retaliate for their perceived cooperation, and the Iranian proxy militia Hezbollah unleashed its arsenal of 200,000 rockets at Israel.

Or maybe a jittery Tehran would hold back, cutting its losses after a superior military’s direct hit on one of the regime’s most important strategic assets. After all, neither Bashar al Assad nor Saddam Hussein retaliated when Israel destroyed their nuclear reactors from the air in2007 and 1981, respectively.

But administration of president Barack Obama was worried enough about the possible outcome of a strike to make the prevention of an Israeli attack one of it major foreign policy priorities. As Entous stresses, the US withheld information from Israel on the progress of its talks with Iran out of fear that Israel might attempt to sabotage the talks or use an attack to preempt a diplomatic resolution to the Iran issue.

Whether this was a legitimate fear was perhaps less important than the fact that the tactic worked: Israel hasn’t attacked Iran yet, and the Iran Deal substantially raises the costs of a future strike for Israel. The deal signed this past July may or may not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But it effectively removes an Israeli strike against the country from the realm of possibility into the foreseeable future.

As Entous’s reporting indicates, it wasn’t that long ago that Israeli officials really were thinking seriously about an Iran strike — enough to risk sending their planes into enemy territory, and raising tensions with their top ally.

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The new SECARMY is killing it with sea turtles, pushups, and Nicki Minaj

Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning has a lot of work ahead of him. Keeping the Army strong enough to counter threats from Russia, China, and international terrorism while facing constant budget questions is tough.


Only time will tell if he can rise to the challenge. If nothing else, though, he will definitely leave his mark on the Twittersphere because he is already killing it there.

Fanning was confirmed on May 17, 2016. Since then, he’s Tweeted a Star Wars GIF to show love for baseball:

… and an “Across the Universe” GIF to talk about Fort Jackson drill sergeants turning citizens into Soldiers:

Of course, it’s not all movies with the new SECARMY. He was scheduled to visit soldiers training in Anakonda 16 during the 241st Army Birthday and tweeted a clip of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” video to let them know he was coming to Torun, Poland to make sure they were working out:

That turned into a Twitter exchange where he challenged a German general to one-handed pushups (via a GIF of “Kung Fu Panda,” because of course he used “Kung Fu Panda”) and 16th Sustainment Brigade soldiers responded with a video of 0-handed pushups:

While he was in Poland, he visited those same troops and worked out with them, then tweeted a photo of it:

Finally, while Fanning was working out with the troops, the Secretary of the Navy tweeted a happy birthday message to America’s oldest military branch. The Fanning responded with an awesome sea turtle, giving a nod to the sea service and “The Little Mermaid” in the process:

Fanning is going to face a lot of leadership challenges during his tenure as secretary. He’s already had to offer leadership and condolences as Fort Hood lost nine soldiers killed when their truck overturned in floodwaters and the Army Reserve lost a captain in the attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

But while he can’t be physically present every time a soldier is in danger or needs comfort, he can help keep morale up by ensuring troops know that someone smart and capable has their back in Washington D.C. If he can run the beltway half as well as he runs his Twitter feed, then the Army should be okay.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 more comic book creators who served their country

If there’s any single artistic medium that draws in a remarkable amount of veterans, it’s comic books. Oftentimes, it takes the mind of someone who has served in the military to create a truly believable, relatable superhero.

It’s widely known that many of the godfathers of the comic book industry served in the U.S. military. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Syd Shores, for example, all fought in the Western Front in WWII. But many of the other writers and artists served, too — like these 6 creative minds.


This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

(Courtesy Photo)

Jim Starlin — Navy

Many of Marvel’s space-themed comics come from the mind of Vietnam War photographer and Navy veteran Jim Starlin. After returning home to Detroit, he initially made a living working on cars. Eventually, he broke into the comic book industry with many originals and revisions to existing cosmic characters.

Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, and even Thanos were all co-created by him. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ultimate MacGuffins, the Infinity Stones, and the much of the basis for the latest blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War, come from Starlin’s storylines.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

Humbly enough, she never wrote herself into a comic… even though she kinda earned it.

(Courtesy Photo)

Alice Marble — OSS

Before becoming one of the first women to play a prominent role in comic books, Alice Marble lived an insane life. Not only was she a world-class tennis player but, during World War II, she served as a spy for the American government. She recovered from being shot in the back by a German agent and started to share her life through the adventures of Wonder Woman.

She served as the associate editor for Wonder Woman and was the creator of the Wonder Women of History strips. These shorts were page-long bookends attached to the end of each Wonder Woman issue that showcased the badassery of one woman per issue.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

He’s also responsible for making superheroes jacked as hell under their spandex.

(Photo by Alan Light)

Curt Swan — Army

DC’s most respected artist of the Silver Age served in the Minnesota National Guard during WWII. Curt Swan was activated and deployed to Europe when his peers discovered his amazing gift for drawing. He was immediately reassigned by his superiors to make comics for Stars and Stripes.

After falling in love with a Red Cross worker (who he would eventually marry), Swan got a job at DC Comics, drawing Superman from 1948 until 1986. His ability to convey frenetic superpowers in print, like the iconic wooshings that show speed or the powerful impact bubbles that denote heavy punches, was heavily imitated.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

He worked on ‘The ‘Nam’ with the next entry on this list…

(Marvel.com)

Doug Murray — Army

Doug Murray served in Vietnam and later crafted what is considered one of the truest depictions of the war through his series, The ‘Nam. Remarkably, Murray was clever enough to stay true to the horrors and ugly sides of war while also keeping the Comics Code Authority happy.

The ‘Nam wasn’t pretty and touched on many horrific truths of war, but it cleverly hid its punches to get approved for publication. Outside of The ‘Nam, Murray also wrote the Weapon X series, which gave Wolverine his definitive backstory.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

The ‘G.I. Joe’ character Tunnel Rat is entirely based on him and his life.

(Courtesy Photo)

Larry Hama — Army

After fighting in Vietnam as a combat engineer and “tunnel rat,” Larry Hama began a career in acting before coming back to his childhood passion, comic books.

Not only did he work on The Warlord, Wonder Woman, and Batman for DC, but he earned his place as one of the Marvel greats when he took over the G.I. Joe comics and turned it into the deep franchise fans love today instead of just a line of generic military toys. He also co-created The ‘Nam, Wolverine, Punisher: War Zone, and Venom.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

Sgt. Rock’s service number was Kanigher’s in real life.

(DC Comics)

Bob Kanigher — Army

There was a drastic dip in comic book popularity in the 1950s that nearly destroyed the industry. Only kids and troops read comics — and kids started losing interest. The day was saved when an Army veteran by the name of Robert Kanigher burst onto the scene.

He took over Wonder Woman after William Moulton Marston’s death and ushered in the Silver Age of Comics. His works include nearly everything in DC that wasn’t created during the Golden Age. His artistic baby, however, is one of the military and veteran community’s favorite comics, Sgt. Rock.

MIGHTY MOVIES

How Hollywood got ‘Hunt For Red October’ Wrong

As a lieutenant in the Navy, I was around when Paramount Studio was working on “Hunt for Red October”. They needed some crash footage to run with, so we helped out. That’s where Hollywood started one of their biggest technical errors to date.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition

F-9 Cougar hitting the ramp of the USS Midway (CV 41) during the Korean War. For some reason that only Paramount Pictures might be able to explain, the film of this mishap was used to represent an F-14 Tomcat crashing in the movie “The Hunt for Red October.”


In the fall of 1989 I was a lieutenant in the Navy on a shore tour serving as the editor of Approach magazine, which is the Naval Safety Center’s aviation safety publication. Among my duties was to produce the “Crash n’ Bash” video — a collection of aircraft carrier mishap footage set to music — for use at the command’s booth during the annual Tailhook Convention in Las Vegas.

In the days before YouTube and Facebook this sort of video was very unique, and the Naval Safety Center’s booth was very popular as a result. Most people hadn’t seen this footage and setting the crashes to music was a brand new idea at the time.

Among those who saw the video was Paramount Studio’s production team working on the film “Hunt for Red October,” based on Tom Clancy’s wildly popular debut novel. A few weeks after I got back from the convention one of the producers called me and explained that he was working with the Navy’s public affairs reps and they had instructed him to call me to obtain the footage they’d seen at Tailhook. I asked him what sort of airplane they needed to show crashing. The producer said an F-14.

After verifying it was cool with my immediate superior, I FEDEX’d Paramount the master copy of the full video, which contained a bunch of crash footage of various airplanes, including some F-14s.

Fast forward a few months to me watching the movie in a theater in Virginia Beach and being very surprised with the following scene:

You can see they show an F-14 on the screen behind actor Fred Thompson (playing the fleet commander who figures out what to do with a determined Jack Ryan played by Alec Baldwin). But as the airplane gets closer it magically switches into a Korean War-era F-9 Panther that plows into the carrier’s ramp and then rolls down the deck. What was Hollywood thinking? (The pilot in that mishap survived with nothing more than minor burns to his wrists, by the way. I met him at Tailhook.)  For some reason the Paramount filmmakers also reversed the image, so not only is it the wrong airplane, it’s the wrong airplane backwards.

If you go to the 1:42 mark of this video you can see more of the F-9’s approach, ramp strike, and aftermath;

I still don’t know why they picked that footage of all the stuff they had at their disposal. Gotta love Hollywood, I guess . . .

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ISIS chief Abu al-Baghdadi may still be at large

As the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate collapses across Iraq and Syria under unrelenting pressure by the US-backed coalition, the whereabouts of the group’s chieftain, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remain a mystery.


Since fleeing the group’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa in May, various reports over recent weeks allege the terrorist leader either has been killed by Russian or coalition forces or is still at large in the group’s redoubts in central Syria.

The impetus inside the White House and Pentagon to kill or capture al-Baghdadi has seemingly been lukewarm at best compared to the hunt for al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, which ended with the Navy SEAL raid on the terrorist leader’s Pakistani hideout in May 2011.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition
Former President Barack Obama and members of the national security team receive updates on Operation Neptune’s Spear, a target and kill operation against Osama bin Laden in the White House Situation Room, May 1, 2011 (White House photo)

The defeat of the terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL, along with the death of its emir, has been the clearest objective of President Trump’s national security and foreign policy strategy, and one that critics claim has been heavy on rhetoric and little else.

What remains unclear is how the Trump White House plans to carry on the fight against Islamic State once al-Baghdadi is no longer in the picture.

US military officials have reiterated that al-Baghdadi’s death remains a top priority for the American-led coalition battling Islamic State. However, coalition commanders and Pentagon officials also claim that the Islamic State chieftain has been effectively sidelined from any command-and-control role over the group’s operations in the Middle East and across the globe.

The Islamic State leader “is somebody who we would like to see dead,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters July 17.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

US and coalition-led operations to kill or capture Baghdadi and other Islamic State leaders are integral to the mission to dismantle and destroy the terrorist group and its affiliates worldwide, Capt. Davis said during a briefing at the Pentagon.

“Leadership strikes are important,” he said of the coalition’s operations to hunt down the upper echelon of Islamic State, starting with al-Baghdadi. Such missions provide the “moral authority or imperative” to American and coalition forces fighting to curb Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.

But the Pentagon spokesman made clear that while the hunt for al-Baghdadi may be morally essential, his loss will mean little on the battlefield.

“Militarily speaking, he is already irrelevant,” Capt. Davis said.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition
ISIS patrol the streets of Raqqa, Syria. (Image from Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.)

Those comments echo those of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who said al-Baghdadi’s death would create “disarray in the enemy’s ranks” and upend efforts by Islamic State to hold onto its territorial gains in the Middle East.

“We’re not here to help him through his midlife crisis. We’re here to give him one,” the Pentagon chief said.

Top Islamic State leaders, including al-Baghdadi, reportedly began fleeing Raqqa for Deir-e-zour and Madan en masse in May ahead of the coalition’s operation to liberate the Syrian city of Raqqa, which had been the group’s self-styled capital in the country since taking the city three years ago.

Since his departure from Raqqa, unconfirmed reports of the Islamic State leader’s demise have permeated across a number of media outlets over the last several weeks.

Russian news outlets, citing defense officials in Moscow, had reported al-Baghdadi’s demise months earlier, saying he had been killed during Russian airstrikes on Islamic State positions outside Raqqa in May.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition
DoD photo from Staff Sgt. Charles Rivezzo.

Most recently, members of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — which has a strong track record for accuracy in the chaotic Syrian struggle — claimed they had irrefutable evidence al-Baghdadi had been killed in counter-terrorism operations in the Deir-e-Zour area in eastern Syria.

Those claims were upended by reports from Kurdish intelligence officials who said al-Baghdadi remains alive.

“It is not about Baghdadi necessarily, there are other leaders waiting” who are former Iraqi military under Saddam Hussein, Lahur Talabani, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s intelligence services, told Reuters July 17. “Do not expect the game to be over anytime soon for the Islamic State.”

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Dunford: speed of military decision-making must exceed speed of war

Military decision-making needs to exceed the speed of events, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote recently in Joint Forces Quarterly.


Since Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford became the chairman in September 2015, he has emphasized innovations and changes that speed the military’s ability to respond to rapidly changing situations.

While America’s joint force is the best in the world, he said, it must continue to innovate to stay ahead of potential foes and to adapt to constantly changing strategies.

Also read: Mattis threatens ‘overwhelming’ response if North Korea ever uses nukes

“As I reflect back on four decades of service in uniform, it is clear that the pace of change has accelerated significantly,” Dunford said.

He noted that when he entered the Marine Corps in the 1970s, he used much the same equipment that his father used during the Korean War. “I used the same cold-weather gear my dad had in Korea 27 years earlier,” he said. “The radios I used as a platoon commander were the same uncovered PRC-25s from Vietnam. The jeeps we drove would have been familiar to veterans of World War II, and to be honest, so would the tactics.” Marine units, he added, fought much the same way their fathers did at Peleliu, Okinawa or the Chosin Reservoir.

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition
Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven Martinez, left, a corpsman, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Quintanilla, a platoon sergeant, both with 3rd Marine Regiment, brace as a CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366 takes off after inserting the company into a landing zone aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, July 26, 2015. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt.Owen Kimbrel

Accelerated Pace of Change

Today, “there are very few things that have not changed dramatically in the joint force since I was a lieutenant,” Dunford said.

He spoke of visiting a Marine platoon in Farah province, Afghanistan. “This platoon commander and his 60 Marines were 40 miles from the adjacent platoons on their left and right,” he said. “His Marines were wearing state-of-the-art protective equipment and driving vehicles unrecognizable to Marines or soldiers discharged just five years earlier. They were supported by the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which provided precision fires at a range of 60 kilometers.”

The platoon, Dunford recalled, received and transmitted voice, data and imagery via satellite in real time, something only possible at division headquarters just five years before his visit.

These changes are mirrored across the services and combatant commands, the chairman said, giving commanders amazing capabilities, but also posing challenges to commanders on how to best use these new capabilities.

“Leaders at lower and lower levels utilize enabling capabilities once reserved for the highest echelons of command,” Dunford said in the article. “Tactics, techniques and procedures are adapted from one deployment cycle to the next.”

This accelerated pace of change is inextricably linked to the speed of war today, the general said. “Proliferation of advanced technologies that transcend geographic boundaries and span multiple domains makes the character of conflict extraordinarily dynamic,” the chairman said. “Information operations, space and cyber capabilities and ballistic missile technology have accelerated the speed of war, making conflict today faster and more complex than at any point in history.”

Shortened Decision-Space Adds New Risks

The American military must stay ahead of this pace because the United States will not have time to marshal the immense strength at its command as it did in World War I and II and during Korea, Dunford said. “Today, the ability to recover from early missteps is greatly reduced,” he said. “The speed of war has changed, and the nature of these changes makes the global security environment even more unpredictable, dangerous and unforgiving. Decision space has collapsed and so our processes must adapt to keep pace with the speed of war.”

The situation on the Korean Peninsula is a case in point, the chairman said. In the past, he said, officials believed any war on the peninsula could be contained to the area. However, with the development of ballistic missile technology, the North Korean nuclear program and new cyber capabilities that is no longer possible, Dunford said. A war that once would have been limited would now spiral, almost immediately, with regional and global implications, he said.

“Deterring, and if necessary, defeating, a threat from North Korea requires the joint force to be capable of nearly instant integration across regions, domains and functions,” Dunford said. “Keeping pace with the speed of war means changing the way we approach challenges, build strategy, make decisions and develop leaders.”

This means seamlessly integrating capabilities such as information operations, space and cyber into battle plans, the chairman said. “These essential aspects of today’s dynamic environment cannot be laminated onto the plans we have already developed,” he said. “They must be mainstreamed in all we do, and built into our thinking from the ground up.”

This is what Game of Thrones can teach you about squad composition
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman, and senior enlisted leaders from across the Defense Department during the Defense Senior Enlisted Leaders Council at the Pentagon, Dec. 1, 2016. | DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

Integrated Strategies Improve Responsiveness

Dunford said the joint force must also develop integrated strategies that address transregional, multidomain and multifunctional threats. “By viewing challenges holistically, we can identify gaps and seams early and develop strategies to mitigate risk before the onset of a crisis,” he said. “We have adapted the next version of the National Military Strategy to guide these initiatives.”

The military must make the most of its decision space, so military leaders can present options at the speed of war, Dunford said. “This begins with developing a common understanding of the threat, providing a clear understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the joint force, and then establishing a framework that enables senior leaders to make decisions in a timely manner,” the chairman said.

Leadership is essential, said the chairman, noting the joint force depends on leaders who anticipate change, recognize opportunity and adapt to meet new challenges.

“That is why we continue to prioritize leader development by adapting doctrine, integrating exercise plans, revising training guidance and retooling the learning continuum,” Dunford said. “These efforts are designed to change the face of military learning and develop leaders capable of thriving at the speed of war.”

Adaptation and innovation are the imperatives for the Joint Force, the chairman said. “The character of war in the 21st century has changed, and if we fail to keep pace with the speed of war, we will lose the ability to compete,” he said.

“The joint force is full of the most talented men and women in the world, and it is our responsibility as leaders to unleash their initiative to adapt and innovate to meet tomorrow’s challenges,” Dunford said. “We will get no credit tomorrow for what we did yesterday.”

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The F-35 isn’t the first time the Pentagon has tried to make one airplane for 3 branches

In 1961, the United States military was ordered to try to make a single airframe serve the needs of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Army. That project was called the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) project. It later became the General Dynamics F-111, known affectionately as the Aardvark.


As just about any military aviation buff can tell you, the results were not what the then-Secretary of Defense had been hoping for. The F-111 made an excellent all-weather attack plane, capable of delivering 31,500 pounds of ordnance onto a target. If anything, had there been another round of modernization in the early-to-mid 1990s, allowing the Vark to use GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions or Joint Stand-Off Weapons or the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, it might still be carrying out that mission today.

The efforts to fill the needs of the other services didn’t go so well. The close-air support versions for the Marines and Army never happened. The Navy’s F-111B, intended as a fleet air-defense plane, just didn’t work, prompting Vice Admiral Thomas Connolly to tell a Senator, “There isn’t enough power in all Christendom to make that airplane what we want!” The results of Connolly’s career-ending honesty included the Navy developing the F-14 Tomcat, which proved to be very effective as an interceptor and air superiority fighter.

But the Air Force, Navy, and Marines all ended up using a common airframe from the 1960s to the 1980s. It just wasn’t the airframe many would have picked to be a joint strike fighter before there was ever a thought of having a Joint Strike Fighter.

The iconic McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom started out as an all-weather interceptor for the Navy. Equipped with four AIM-7 Sparrows and four AIM-9 Sidewinders, this Mach 2 plane had a combat radius of almost 370 miles, and was also capable of carrying almost 19,000 pounds of bombs. The Marines also bought the plane as well.

The Air Force, looking for a new fighter-bomber, tried out the F-4. Very quickly, the Air Force realized that the Phantom was working out very well, and soon they, too were buying hundreds of F-4s. The Air Force was even able to add an internal M61 cannon to the plane – something the Navy never really got around to.

The Phantom saw service in the Vietnam War – and it was the plane flown by America’s aces in that conflict: Randy Cunningham, Willie Driscoll, Steve Richie, Charles DeBellevue, and Jeffrey Feinstein. The Phantom shot down 147 enemy planes in the Vietnam War. It also saw service with numerous American allies: including Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, Iran, Egypt, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, and Greece. It still remains in service, now as a fighter-bomber.

The F-35 seems to have taken a few pages out of the F-111’s playbook; notably, the three versions have similar missions – even though one is intended for use from normal air bases, the other is V/STOL, and the third is carrier-capable. But the F-35 program is now pushing 15 years since Lockheed won the Joint Strike Fighter competition) — twice as long as the F-111’s.

The F-35 also shares something in common with the F-4: The Air Force version is the only one with an internal cannon. The Navy and Marine Corps versions (as well as the one used by the RAF) don’t. And whether the F-35 can become a classic like the Phantom is something that only time will tell.

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Das Boom: 6 best weapons designed to kill submarines

China and Russia are both building up their sub fleets, and potential conflict areas in the Black Sea, South China Sea, and under the Arctic Circle mean it’s possible submarine warfare could make a comeback. If the NATO and Russian or Chinese fleets clash, these are 6 weapons that will decide who comes out on top:


1. F21 Heavyweight torpedo

The F21 is a relatively new torpedo being fielded by the French Navy. It can swim at speeds of 25-50 knots for an hour while searching for an enemy sub. Since it uses a quiet electric battery to power itself through the water, it allows French subs to fire at the enemy without giving up their own position.

2. Mk. 54 lightweight torpedo

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Photo: US Navy Mass communications Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert

The U.S. and allied navies have one of the best light torpedoes in the world in the Mk. 54. It has a 96-pound warhead guided by a torpedo that can ignore enemy countermeasures and home in on an enemy sub at 40 knots. It can be launched from ships, helicopters, and planes and reaches deep enough to kill all known subs.

3. Improved Shkval underwater missile

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Photo: Wikipedia/One half 33544

The Shkval is a Russian weapon that moves under the surface like a torpedo, but is generally referred to as a missile or rocket because it creates a pocket of air to move through in the water.

This reduces friction and allows it to fly through the water at speeds of over 230 mph. A 463-pound warhead then detonates after a set time, destroying nearby enemy submarines or incoming torpedoes. There’s speculation in the West that it would also destroy the submarine that fired it.

4. RUM-139/RUR-5 Anti-submarine rockets

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Photo: US Navy

Anti-submarine rockets are fired from a Navy ship into the water where the missile then deploys a torpedo. This allows the torpedo to start chasing the sub from relatively close, reducing enemy reaction time. It also allows ships to fire torpedoes from much greater range than would normally be possible.

Currently, U.S. Navy anti-submarine rockets carry the Mk 54 torpedo described above. Some ships used to carry rockets with the Mk 45 nuclear torpedo described below.

5. Anti-submarine mortar

Anti-submarine mortars and grenades are the shotgun of anti-submarine warfare. A few dozen rounds are fired at once and sink through the water, detonating against the submarine hull with a contact fuse.

They’re lethal in short-range fights that could occur in a fjord or sea channel, but their limited range means an enemy submarine would have the advantage in a long-range fight where the sub’s missiles and torpedoes could be launched.

6. Mk. 45 and T-5 nuclear torpedoes

During the Cold War, both the U.S. and Russia developed nuclear torpedoes. While they aren’t in service today they’re still some of the most effective weapons for killing an enemy submarine. They could also kill the firing sub, so they’re not great weapons, just effective.

The Russian T-5 in the video above carried a 3.5 kt nuclear warhead. The U.S. Mark 45 had an 11 kt nuclear warhead. Both torpedoes were steered into position and detonated via a command wire between the torpedo and launching submarine.

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Army networks 50-cal sights to helmet display

The U.S. Army will soon begin to produce new high-tech, crew-served thermal weapons sights able to automatically adjust range, see through adverse weather, detect targets with a lightweight laser range finder and use a wireless targeting link between weapons and a soldier-worn helmet display, service officials said.


Designed for the M2 .50-cal, M240 machine gun and Mk 19 grenade launcher, the system brings higher-resolution thermal imaging technology and increases field of view, developers explained.

Also read: From shoot to BOOM! This is the deadly science behind the RPG

“This is the first time the soldier will have a system which combines a true day and night capability with a laser range finder to adjust for the ballistics of the various ammunition types for the crew served weapons,” an Army official told Scout Warrior.

BAE Systems was recently awarded an Army contract to develop the technology, called Family of Weapons Sights – Crew Served (FWS-CS), in a deal worth up to $384 million.

Using a wireless link, gun-mounted thermal sights send a targeting reticle from the gun to a soldier head-worn display, allowing soldiers to hit targets without needing to physically “look” through the gun-sights themselves in a certain physical position — such as crouching, lying down or standing exposed in a vehicle-mounted gun-turret, the Army official explained.

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Photo by BAE Systems

A wireless helmet mounted display is designed to provide a more natural firing position as well as allow soldiers to remain more protected, a BAE systems statement said. Crew-served weapons, such as the .50-cal machine gun, are often used to “blanket” enemy areas so that troops can maneuver while under attack or deliver suppressive fire.

A wireless link allowing soldiers to remain in a standing position or different configuration than what is otherwise needed to look through the sights naturally lowers the risk of exposing soldiers to enemy fire.

BAE Systems’ FWS-CS system is also engineered to improve targeting speed and precision. It uses a 12-micron sensor technology to provide soldiers with greater clarity and range, developers said.

“FWS-CS also, for the first time, incorporates a high-resolution day camera and laser range finder into the weapon sight, allowing the user to engage targets with a range correct reticle,” John Koltookian, technical director at BAE Systems, told Scout Warrior.

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US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika

With an initial development order of $10.5 million, work will be performed at the company’s facilities in Hudson, New Hampshire and Austin, Texas.

This crew-served weapons technology is engineered to function alongside a similar Army program called Family of Weapons Sights – Individual (FWS-I); in similar fashion to the FWS-CS, this system uses a wireless link to connect thermal sights on an M4 rifle with an individual soldier’s night-vision goggles display.

A key advantage of this technology is, by design, to allow soldiers to target and attack enemies without having to “shoulder” the weapon and bring it up to their face.

FWS-I is already in Low-Rate-Initial Production and slated to be operational by 2018, service officials said.

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6 Army Chaplains who made the ultimate sacrifice

Chaplains have long held a special place in many troops’ hearts. In fact, at times, they become legends. In the Army, the first chaplains were authorized on July 29, 1775. They’ve been with the troops on the front lines ever since.


Some chaplains have made the ultimate sacrifice. The most famous instance was that of the “Four Chaplains” who were on board the transport SS Dorchester when it was torpedoed by U-223 at 12:55AM on Feb. 3, 1943.

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Painting of the rescue of USAT Dorchester survivors by USCGC Escanaba (WPG-77) on Feb. 3, 1943, in the North Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Coast Guard image)

According to HomeofHeroes.com, when the transport was hit, the four chaplains, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Rev. George L. Fox, Rev. Clark V. Poling, and Father John P. Washington promptly began to aid the troops who were on the stricken vessel.

One sailor was heading back to his bunk for gloves, but Rabbi Goode instead handed his over. Despite a loss of power, they got some of the troops to the deck. Then, they began handing out life jackets, even as the Dorchester was rapidly headed to a watery grave.

Finally, when the life jackets ran out, they gave up their own. They were among the 668 who went down with the Dorchester, but many of the 230 men who were saved owed their lives to the Four Chaplains, each of whom received the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously.

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Army Capt. (Chaplain) Emil Kapaun performs Mass in the field, Oct. 7, 1950. (Photo: U.S. Army Col. Raymond Skeehan)

In the Korean War, two other chaplains notably made the ultimate sacrifice. Chaplain Emil Kapuan, a Catholic priest, was captured during the Chinese offensive of 1950 — and shortly after his capture, he shoved a Chinese soldier who was trying to execute an America.

Then, while held as a POW, he would steal drugs and smuggle them to a doctor. He continued to steal supplies and bolster the morale of his fellow prisoners. He would die in captivity on May 25, 1951. In 2013, he was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.

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Chaplain Herman Gilbert Felhoelter. (U.S. Army photo)

Then there was the case of Chaplain Herman G. Felhoelter, also a Catholic priest, who, during the initial salvos of the Korean War, offered to stay behind with a medic to help the wounded. As he was providing comfort, North Korean troops attacked and wounded the medic, who escaped.

The North Koreans then proceeded to carry out what became known as the Chaplain-Medic massacre, killing the wounded Americans and the chaplain. Felhoelter received the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously for his actions.

These cases only begin to scratch the surface of why the troops love their chaplains.

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These 7 American legends were pilots for the Flying Tigers

The “Flying Tigers” (formally known as the American Volunteer Group or AVG) were famous for being in the fight very early in World War II. They were recruited to fly for the Republic of China — with the quiet approval of the United States government.


Despite the fact many had no flight experience in fighters like the P-40s made famous by the AVG, they were able to inflict heavy casualties on the Japanese — even as they had to fall back due to being badly outnumbered.

So it’s not surprising that some of the Flying Tiger pilots became legends later in the war and beyond.

1. Gregory Boyington

Probably the best-known Flying Tigers alum (due to the TV series “Baa Baa Black Sheep” or “Black Sheep Squadron”), Boyington claimed six kills while with the Tigers — although CAMCO gave him credit for only 3.5.

Some historians dispute that total, but what is beyond any doubt is the fact that Boyington would later become the top Marine ace of all time with 28 kills. He would also receive the Medal of Honor for his service.

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2. James H. Howard

Howard was recruited for the Flying Tigers from the Navy. His kill total with the Flying Tigers was six and a third, per CAMCO bonus records (pilots received a $500 bonus for every confirmed kill).

Not bad, but his real moment of glory came when the son of American missionaries in China was all that stood between 30 German fighters and a group of B-17 Flying Fortresses on Jan. 11, 1944.

At least three of the Nazi fighters were shot down in that incident, and Howard probably put lead in more. He would receive the Medal of Honor for his actions.

He modestly said, “I seen my duty and I done it.”

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James H. Howard, after returning from combat duty in Europe. (USAAF photo)

3. Robert L. Scott

The Georgia native unofficially flew with the Flying Tigers before he took command of their successors, the 23rd Fighter Group, and was known as a “one-man air force.” Scott ultimately scored 13 kills with the 23rd Fighter Group, but was better known for writing the book “God is My Co-Pilot,” which later became a movie.

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4. Robert W. Prescott

A 5.5-kill ace with the Flying Tigers, Prescott was best known for being among those who founded the Flying Tigers Line. While that aviation firm is now part of Federal Express, it did gain a measure of immortality in an episode of the 1960s iteration of Dragnet.

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A 747 with the Flying Tigers airline founded by Robert Prescott, an AVG veteran. The airline was later bought by FedEx. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

5. Robert Neale

Neale scored at least 15 kills with the Flying Tigers, per AVG records. Had he accepted a commission from the United States Army Air Force, he could have racked up a much higher total.

Instead, he stayed on, and was the first commander of the 23rd Fighter Group — while still a civilian — until Robert Scott officially took command. Neale then became a civilian ferry pilot for the duration of the war.

6. David “Tex” Hill

Hill was born in Korea — like Howard, the son of missionaries.

Prior to joining the AVG he served in the Navy, where he flew two planes that were notable during the Battle of Midway: The TBD Devastator torpedo bomber (notable for the losses suffered by torpedo squadrons) and the SB2U Vindicator (the plane flown by Richard Fleming, the only Medal of Honor recipient for the Battle of Midway).

Hill scored 10.25 kills with the AVG, then stayed on afterwards with the Air Force.

Hill ended the war with 18.25 kills, and not only commanded the 23rd Fighter Group, but later commanded an Air National Guard fighter group during the Korean War.

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7. Charles Older

Older wasn’t only a double ace with the Flying Tigers, he scored eight more later in World War II.

Then he flew a night intruder bomber in the Korean War before graduating from law school and becoming a judge, presiding over the Manson trial.

Manson took a swing at the former Flying Tiger, but bailiffs restrained him. Probably lucky for Manson…with his experience of fighting against long odds, Older probably could have taken the punk down.

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A Flying Tiger in front of Charles Older’s P-40. Older had 10 kills with the Flying Tigers, and added eight more later. (AVG photo via Wikimedia Commons)