A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in 'Apocalypse Now' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

The Army’s Special Forces command came down to one man during the Vietnam War. His job performance earned him the nod from screenwriter John Milius, who turned retired Army Colonel Robert Rheault’s legacy into something more enduring than he ever imagined. He was immortalized forever by actor Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.

Unlike Col. Kurtz, however, there was nothing insane or dark about Col. Rheault.


A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

Rheault shortly after the end of the “Green Beret Case.”

Robert Rheault grew up in a privileged New England family, went to West Point and later studied in Paris, at the Sorbonne. The young Army officer picked up a Silver Star for service in Korea, but it was his time in Vietnam that would change his career forever, devastating the man who only ever wanted the Army life.

In Vietnam, Col. Rheault commanded all of the United States Special Forces. Taking command of the 5th Special Forces Group in July, 1969, it was only three weeks before the darkest incident of his career would put him in the middle of one of the war’s most controversial events – the “Green Beret Case.”

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

Rheault was an accomplished soldier, a paratrooper, Silver Star Recipient and Korean War veteran by the time he arrived in Vietnam.

The United States had been in Vietnam in force since 1965. By 1969, there were more than a half million U.S. troops in theater. Special Forces A-Teams were operating in 80 or more isolated areas throughout Vietnam. Given their mission and skills sets, the intelligence gathered by Special Forces soldiers was the most solid in the entire war, and the U.S. military estimated that SF components were able to identify, track, and eliminate entire Viet Cong units in their area of responsibility.

At the time, Special Forces operators were in the middle of a project called GAMMA, a similar intelligence-gathering operation targeting the North Vietnamese in Cambodia – and the project was the biggest secret of the war until that point. After SF troops identified NVA or VC units in “neutral” Cambodia, B-52 bombers would illegally hit those Communist targets in defiance of UN conventions.

Rheault commanded a force of Green Berets and South Vietnamese commandos who would lead raids into the neighboring countries to gather intelligence and take out key Communist infiltration, transportation, or storage sites – whatever would cause the most harm to the enemy. Sites they couldn’t take care of themselves were left to the CIA and the U.S. Air Force. The Colonel oversaw five of these “collection teams” and its 98 codenamed agents. It was the most successful intelligence net of the war.

But something kept happening to the Special Forces’ most valuable intelligence assets. They kept ending up dead or disappearing entirely. They began to suspect a double agent in their midst. That’s when a Special Forces team raided a Communist camp in Cambodia. Among the intel they picked up was a roll of film that included a photo of a South Vietnamese GAMMA agent, Thai Khac Chuyen.

He was not long for this world.

After ten days of interrogations and lie detector tests, Chuyen was found to have lied about compromising the GAMMA program. To make matters worse, the double agent might also have been working for the South Vietnamese government. This meant that if the triple agent was released to them, he could possibly walk free, a prospect unacceptable to the Americans. After conferring with the CIA, they decided to handle Chuyen in the way that most double- or triple-agents meet their end. He disappeared.

Chuyen’s American handler, Sgt. Alvin Smith, was not a member of Special Forces, but rather an Army intelligence specialist assigned to the project. It turns out that Smith did not follow protocol when onboarding Chuyen. Smith failed to administer a polygraph test that might have revealed why Chuyen spoke such fluent English, that the agent was from North Vietnam and had family there, and had worked for many other U.S. outfits and left them all in incredible turmoil.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

Col. Rheault returns to the U.S. with his wife in 1969.

Smith began to fear for his own safety, having failed the Special Forces and compromising one of the best intelligence networks of the entire war. So he fled, taking refuge with the CIA office in the area and spilling the beans about what really happened to the triple-agent Chuyen. Rheault and seven other officers were arrested for premeditated murder and jailed at Long Binh.

Rheault actually knew about it and lied about the cover story (that Chuyen was sent on a mission and disappeared) to protect the men who served under him. But Rheault took no part in the planning or execution of Chuyen’s murder. Still, he lied to Gen. Creighton Abrams who already had a distaste for the Special Forces. So, when the officers’ courts-martial began, the Army was looking to throw the book at all of them.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

Abrams was well-known for hating paratroopers and Special Forces.

The event made national news and soldiers under Rheault’s command were flabbergasted. The colonel had done nothing wrong, and they knew it. Moreover, there was no one more qualified for his position in the entire country, as he was one of very few officers qualified to wear the coveted green beret. But the CIA wouldn’t testify against the soldiers, and by September, 1969, it wouldn’t matter. The Secretary of the Army, Stanley Resor, dropped the charges against the men after succumbing to pressure from President Nixon and American public opinion.

By then, the damage was done. All eight of the officers’ careers were ruined, and Rheault accepted an early retirement. The fallout didn’t stop there. The publicity associated with what became known as the “Green Beret Case” prompted RAND Corporation analyst Daniel Ellsberg to leak the “Pentagon Papers” to the American Press.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Dunford reflects on World War I sacrifices

Military leaders must appreciate the changing character of war, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Nov. 11, 2018, as he returned home from Paris, where he was attending ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford reflected on the anniversary, which signaled 100 years since the end of World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

“I think one of the things with World War I is the character of war hadn’t changed in some time,” he said. We saw … our own experience in the Civil War — machine guns, concertina wire, railroads, communications, and so forth. And I think even 50 years later, it’s pretty clear that leaders didn’t fully appreciate the changed character of war and the introduction of new technologies and how they’re going to change war.”


The general described that costs of subsequent wars has “an enduring lesson for all of us, [and] that one of our responsibilities as a leader is to appreciate the changing character of war, and ensure that we anticipate the changes and the implications of those changes.”

Alliances and partnerships

Dunford said the fact that the United States fought alongside allied countries for the first time during World War I resonates even today, as one of three lines of effort within the 2018 National Defense Strategy involves the nation furthering its alliances and partnerships with other nations.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Ellyn, visit the chapel at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial near the Belleau Wood battleground, in Belleau, France, Nov. 10, 2018.

(Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

“If you look back at the 20th century, [in] every conflict we were involved in, we participated as part of a coalition, participated with allies and partners on our side: World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the main skirmishes that we had in between,” he emphasized. “And … the NDS recognizes that we certainly don’t anticipate being on any future battlefield without allies and partners.”

During his two-and-a-half days in Paris, the chairman participated in the 100th Armistice Day commemoration at the Arc de Triomphe with President Donald J. Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, and some 80 other heads of state.

He also attended ceremonies at World War I gravesites of U.S. servicemen at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near the site of the Battle of Belleau Wood in Belleau, France; and Suresnes American Cemetery outside Paris.

Doughboys

Dunford noted some key leaders of World War I, but emphasized, “For me, World War I is less about an individual leader and more about the individual doughboy. Many of them, [at] 17, 18, 19, 20 years old left home for the first time [and] in many cases came from rural America and never had seen anything outside of their hometown before they found themselves on the battlefields of France. And so what I’ve been mindful of all weekend … [is] just the young faces for every young doughboy lost in France.”

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

EUCOM Joint Color Guard carry the colors at Suresnes American Cemetery to honor the centennial of Armistice Day, Paris, France, Nov. 11, 2018.

(Photo by Cpl. Kevin Payne)

Dunford found his tour of Belleau Wood on Nov. 10, 2018 – also the Marine Corps 243rd birthday – to be a solemn experience. Before touring the gravesites, he and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly laid a wreath in front of the chapel at Aisne-Marne cemetery, where the names of 1,060 U.S. service members, whose remains never were found, are etched in stone, high on the chapel’s interior walls.

At the hallowed grounds of the American cemetery and the adjoining World War I battlefield – where the Marine Corps played a key role in securing Allied victory and earned distinction for their tenacity during the battle – the chairman said he was moved by the profound loss that takes place in combat: The human toll.

‘Powerful’ commemoration

At the 100th Armistice Day commemoration at Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, Nov. 11, 2018, Dunford said he was struck by the number of leaders who all came together to replicate what took place when the deadly war came to an end.

“It was very powerful to see them all there … and to have them representing their countries; and frankly, I think in many ways making a commitment never to repeat the mistakes that led us into World War I,” the chairman reflected. “I think it was a reminder probably for all of us, and certainly those senior leaders in uniform, of the responsibility that we have to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

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4.20 things veterans should know about marijuana

Medical cannabis might not be legal in all 50 states yet, but mark my words: it is the future.

It’s less addictive and destructive than prescription meds, alcohol, or hard drugs. Meanwhile, more and more scientists and doctors are discovering and acknowledging its medicinal benefits.

Still, there’s a stigma around that delicate little flower. So, let’s talk about it, shall we?


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1. Federal laws still limit legal use of marijuana

Though several states have approved the use of marijuana for medical and/or recreation use, veterans should know that federal law classifies marijuana — including all derivative products — as a Schedule One controlled substance. This makes it illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

That being said, the VA is actually more progressive here than one might have expected. According to their website, veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of marijuana use and they are encouraged to discuss marijuana use with their VA providers.

Maybe there’s hope in this cruel world…

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True story.

2. Medical cannabis can help treat PTSD, anxiety, and pain

And there are clinical studies in the works to prove it, specifically in the case of combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan — but because cannabis remains a federally controlled substance, widely recognized research is hard to come by.

A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine gives a comprehensive look at the science of cannabis — and its benefits for the treatment of chronic pain.

Meanwhile, a study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence explored the use of marijuana to relieve anxiety, and found that a low dose of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, a main active ingredient of cannabis) produces subjective stress-relieving effects, but that higher doses could actually increase negative mood. This means the user needs to find the right dose.

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Security cam footage of me in a dispensary.

3. There are more ways to imbibe than just smoking

You’ve heard of edibles (magic brownies… mmmm), but there are so many sophisticated ways to enjoy marijuana without smoking it. Infused food and beverages are just one way (one easy and delicious — but super potent way. Again, educate yourself about doses — more on that later).

I personally still categorize vape pens and vaporizers in the “smoking” category but, technically, they do not involve smoke inhalation. Vaporization methods raise the temperature of the product just enough to create a light vapor.

Topicals are some of my favorites for pain relief. Oils, lotions, or balms infused with cannabis (and quite often essential oils like lavender, mint, or citrus — they don’t teach you about these things in boot camp, but dammit, they should) to soothe aches in the body.

Because of the way the body absorbs marijuana, skin care products provide the therapeutic benefits without any of the euphoria.

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The munchies are real, my friend.

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4.20 There are potential side effects — so use with caution

Look, marijuana contains chemicals called cannabinoids that affect the central nervous system. Scientists are still exploring its impact over short- and long-term use. Tread lightly.

WebMD lists some of the possible side effects (as well as a more comprehensive list of “other marijuana names” than I would have expected, which I found very amusing: Anashca, Banji, Bhang, Blunt, Bud, Cannabis, Cannabis sativa, Charas, Dope, Esrar, Gaga, Ganga, Grass, Haschisch, Hash, Hashish, Herbe, Huo Ma Ren, Joint, Kif, Mariguana, Marihuana, Mary Jane, Pot, Sawi, Sinsemilla, Weed).

As with any substance, marijuana should be explored carefully and with proper research. There are so many strains and so many ways to imbibe and so many ways for the body to absorb the chemicals, which is why it’s recommended that you start slowly and consult your physician.

The first time I tried an edible, I thought I was supposed to eat the whole thing. Next thing I knew, I was time traveling and I was convinced there was a rabbit in the closet that wanted to bite my ankle. I spent the night perched on my dresser like a cartoon character that just saw a mouse. My mom thought it was hilarious, but I wasn’t thrilled about the experience.

I now know that the edible I ate contained 100mg of THC — today, I take about 2mg at a time to treat anxiety. So, yeah, you could say I had too much.

The bottom line is to educate yourself and enjoy safely.

Legally, if possible.

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Jobs

Great pilot jobs: one more reason the Air Force has a pilot shortage

Becoming a commercial or airline pilot is a natural transition for any veteran who had experience flying aircraft during their time in service. Pilot jobs pay very well, and while technology is making aircraft more autonomous, the need for pilots is still going to continue to rise in the future.

Here’s what you need to know about becoming a pilot.

What commercial and airline pilots do

Put simply, pilots are the men and women who fly aircraft and navigate the air space. But there are also other duties some pilots must perform. These might include:

  • Checking the condition of an aircraft before and after flights
  • Ensuring that the aircraft is within weight limits
  • Ensuring that the aircraft is properly fueled based on flight length and weight
  • Preparing flight plans
  • Communications with air traffic control
  • Monitoring engines, fuel consumption, and other aircraft systems during flight
  • Respond to changing conditions, such as weather events and emergencies (for example, a mechanical malfunction)

Pilots must be able to effectively communicate with their co-pilot and flight engineer, especially during takeoff and landing of the aircraft. Depending on what kind of pilot you become you may be responsible for any of the above duties. There are several different kinds of civilian pilots.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
(Photo by Kristopher Allison)

Airline pilots

Airline pilots work for airlines that transport both passengers and goods on fixed schedules. The pilot in command is typically the most experienced pilot working on the flight crew. They are responsible for the activities of the crew. The second pilot in command, or the co-pilot, will share in the in-flight duties with the captain. Some older aircraft require a flight engineer, who monitors equipment and flight instruments. Technology has reduced the need for flight engineers.


Commercial pilots

Commercial pilots may operate on a non-fixed schedule and perform activities in addition to hauling cargo and transporting passengers. They may work in aerial tours, aerial application and charter flights. Some commercial pilots may be in charge of scheduling flights, arranging for the maintenance of the aircraft and loading and unloading luggage.

There are also agricultural pilots who handle chemicals and pesticides, and are responsible for the spraying of these chemicals on crops.

Work environment of pilot jobs

The bulk of a pilots responsibilities will take place inside an aircraft or preparing flight plans. Pilots must have meticulous attention to detail and must be able to diagnose problems very quickly. They must be able take into account weather conditions and adjust altitudes based on turbulence and other factors.

Pilots must also be able to deal with fatigue and stress if they are operating a long flight. Because of the concentration required to be a pilot and the stress that results, the FAA mandates that pilots must retire at age 65.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
(Photo by Chris Leipelt)

Aerial applicators, sometimes known as crop dusters, are exposed to dangerous chemicals and pesticides. They also must be able to operate in less than ideal runway conditions and be aware of surround land and structures when spraying crops.

Typically airline pilots fly about 75 hours per month and spend an additional 150 hours per month performing other activities, like monitoring weather patterns and preparing flight plans. Airline pilots may also spend extended periods of time away from home staying in hotels.

How to become a pilot

Airline pilots will often times begin their careers as commercial pilots before they become certified to fly for an airline. Airline pilots must have a bachelor’s degree, while commercial pilots need a high school diploma or equivalent. The great news for military pilots is that they may transfer right from the military and apply to an airline.

Any pilot who is paid to fly must have an FAA commercial pilot’s license. Airline pilots are required to have their Airline Transportation Pilot Certificate, as well as thousands of hours of flight experience. The interview process to become an airline pilot is extremely rigorous and includes both physical and mental examinations, as well as a review of a person’s decision making process while under stress. New airline pilots also receive on-the-job training according to FAA regulations.

Outlook for pilot jobs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for airline pilots as of May 2017 was $137,330, while commercial pilots on average earned $78,740. Pilot jobs are expected to grow 4% by 2026, which is slightly slower than the average occupation is expected to grow over the same time period.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
(Photo by Jeremy Buckingham)

As airlines create aircraft that can carry more passengers, there will be less flights, meaning less pilots. But with the required retirement age of 65, there will always be jobs opening. Pilot jobs are by no means declining, but jobs like flight engineers are due to new technology.

Companies hiring for pilot jobs

DynCorp: DynCorp International is a leading global services provider offering unique, tailored solutions for an ever-changing world.

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Vinnell Arabia: Vinnell Arabia is the leader in U.S. military doctrine-based training, logistics, and support services inside Saudi Arabia.

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AECOM: AECOM is built to deliver a better world. We design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries.

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Companies listed in this article are paying advertisers

This article originally appeared on G.I. Jobs. Follow @GIJobsMagazine on Twitter.

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These are the real brothers that inspired ‘Saving Private Ryan’

The 1998 movie “Saving Private Ryan” is one of the all-time great war movies. While much of the movie is a fictional account, the premise behind Capt. Miller’s mission is based on a true story. That is the story of the Niland brothers — Edward, Preston, Robert, and Frederick — from Tonawanda, New York.


A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

The two middle brothers, Preston and Robert, had enlisted prior to the beginning of the War. After America entered the war the oldest, Edward, and youngest, Frederick, known as Fritz to his friends, joined up in November 1942.

Because of the tragedy of the Sullivan brothers aboard the USS Juneau earlier that year, the brothers were split up and sent to different units around the Army.

Edward became an enlisted pilot, with the rank of Technical Sergeant, of a B-25 Mitchell bomber flying in the Burma-India-China theatre.

Preston was commissioned into the infantry and assigned to Company C, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

Robert and Fritz both became paratroopers. Robert served with Company D, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. Fritz joined Company H, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
U.S. Army paratroopers are dropped near Grave, Netherlands while livestock graze near gliders that landed earlier. This was the beginning of Operation Market Garden during World War II, which resulted in heavy Allied losses. (Photo source unknown)

As fate would have it, three of the brothers found themselves preparing for the invasion of mainland Europe.

However, before the brothers could start their “Great Crusade” to liberate Europe, Edward was shot down somewhere over Burma. He was listed as Missing in Action, but this usually carried a presumption of death at the time, especially if he had fallen into the hands of the Japanese.

Then, in the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Robert and Fritz joined over 23,000 Allied paratroopers in cracking Fortress Europe.

Although Fritz’s unit, 3rd Battalion, 501st PIR, was supposed to be the division reserve, the misdrops meant they were thrust into action in ad hoc groups. These forces were able to secure vital causeways, bridges, and locks allowing the 4th Infantry Division, and Niland brother Preston, to exit Utah beach later that day.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
U.S. Soldiers of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, move out over the seawall on Utah Beach after coming ashore. Other troops are resting behind the concrete wall. (Army Signal Corps photo)

Elsewhere, Robert Niland had landed outside of Ste. Mere-Eglise with the rest of the 505th as part of Mission Boston. After the 3rd Battalion was able to capture the town early in the morning, the 2nd Battalion linked up with it to establish a defensive perimeter.

When a strong German counter-attack came from the south, Robert Niland and the rest of D Company’s 3rd platoon were left to guard the northern approaches to the town in a small village called Neuville.

When two companies of Germans came at their position, they fought tenaciously to hold them off to buy time for their comrades to the south. When the position became untenable, Robert Niland, along with two other paratroopers, volunteered to stay behind and cover the platoon’s retreat toward Ste. Mere-Eglise.

While manning a machine gun in the face of the German onslaught, Robert Niland was killed in action.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
One on the 210mm gun of the German Crisbecq Battery in Normandy, not far away from Utah Beach. (U.S. Army photo)

That very same morning, Lt. Preston Niland led his men onto the shores of Utah beach as part of the seaborne invasion of Normandy. Though casualties were relatively light for the men of the 4th Infantry Division on Utah beach, the battles beyond would be much tougher.

Despite having made if off the beaches, the men of the 4th Infantry Division still had numerous gun batteries of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall to clear. The task of capturing the Crisbecq battery, which had already sunk the destroyer USS Corry, fell to Lt. Niland and his men.

On June 7, Niland led his men against the German position. During the heavy fighting Niland fell mortally wounded. The rest of his unit was repulsed. The battery would not fall until several days later to units of the 9th Infantry Division.

The Niland brothers’ parents received all three notifications in a very short amount of time. Their only condolence was a letter from Fritz informing them that “Dad’s Spanish-American War stories are going to have to take a backseat when I get home.”

Fritz was unaware of the fate of his brothers.

Also read: 10 brothers who received the Medal of Honor

When the War Department received word of the tragedy orders were dispatched to return Fritz Niland to the United States. That task fell to the regimental Chaplin, Father Francis Sampson. Sampson located Fritz, who had been searching for his brother in the 82nd and began to paperwork to send him home.

Returning to the United States in 1944, Fritz served for the remainder of the war as an MP in New York.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
The Preston and Robert Niland rest side by side in Normand American Cemetery. (Photos via Wikipedia user Nilington)

Then, in May 1945, the Nilands received some rather unexpected news. Edward was found alive in a Burmese POW camp when it was liberated by British forces.

He had survived bailing out of his plane, several days in the jungle, and nearly a year as a prisoner of the Japanese. During his captivity he had lost significant weight and returned to New York at a meager 80 pounds.

The other two Niland brothers, Preston and Robert, are buried side-by-side in the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.

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It looks like Marine infantrymen are getting a new rifle — again

The Marine Corps has gone all in with the Heckler Koch-made M27 rifle, posting an order in August from the gunmaker for over 50,000 of the 5.56mm rifles.


Marine officials have hinted they intend to supply the entire Marine Corps with the pricey, German-made rifle but will start by outfitting Leathernecks in the infantry and eventually combat engineers and LAR Marines, according to multiple sources.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
Marines with Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, sight-in with M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 16, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jorge A. Rosales/ Released)

Most firearms experts, including top infantry officials in the Corps, believe the M27 — a military version of the HK416 rifle — is a superior weapon compared to the M4 and M16A4 issued to most Marines. With a more durable barrel, a modern, free-float handguard and a cleaner gas-piston operating system — as well as a full-auto firing mode — the M27 will deliver more accurate fire over greater distances and with less wear and tear than current rifles, officials have said.

But this is the third time since 9/11 the Corps has changed up its rifle of choice, with the service upgrading to the M16A4 just after 9/11, then changing those over to the shorter M4 for infantry in 2015.

In 2010, the Corps bought a limited fleet of M27s, dubbing it the “Infantry Automatic Rifle” and supplying it in place of the Squad Automatic Weapon in infantry units.

The M27 was so popular among the rank and file, the Corps decided to adopt it for the entire force, with Commandant Gen. Robert Neller shifting more of the Corps into HK’s direction.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
Select Marines have been training with M27s equipped with suppressors. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Autmn Bobby)

“Everything I have seen suggests that the M27s we have been using for some time have been the most reliable, durable, and accurate weapons in our rifle squads,” Neller has said.

For the past year, the Corps has experimented with equipping the bulk of an infantry battalion with the M27, including suppressors and better optics. Those experiments reportedly show the new gear helps Marines do their mission more effectively and are Marine-proof enough to be fielded throughout the fleet.

But some say the M27 — which costs around $3,000 per rifle — is an expensive alternative to simply upgrading existing M4s with new upper receivers.

“It is not that the M27 is a poor weapon, but rather that, in the ten years since the Infantry Automatic Rifle program was made public, substantial commercial off the shelf improvements have been introduced that could provide a weapon of equal or greater capability to the M27, but at lower cost and lower weight,” one small arms expert told The Firearm Blog.

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Trump sets price reduction target for F-35

President-elect Donald Trump wants to lower the price tag for the F-35 Lightning II by about ten percent. That push comes as he also is trying to lower the cost of a new Air Force One.


According to a report by FoxNews.com, the President-elect has been very critical of the high costs of the fifth-generation multi-role fighter intended to replace F-16 and F/A-18 fighters and AV-8B V/STOL aircraft in the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The fighter’s cost has ballooned to about $100 million per airframe. The President-elect reportedly asked Boeing to price out new Super Hornets.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
An F-35 from Eglin AFB flies with an F-16 from Luke AFB at the Luke Airshow. (Lockheed Martin photo.)

Some progress is being made in bits and pieces. An Air Force release noted that an improved funnel system developed by the team testing the F-35 will save nearly $90,000 – and more importantly, time (about three days).

Foxnews.com also reported that President-elect Trump met again with the Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of Boeing, over the Air Force One replacement. Last month, the President-elect tweeted his intention to cancel the program, which was slated to cost over $4 billion – an amount equivalent to buying over three dozen F-35s – for two airframes.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Muilenburg told Reuters, “We made some great progress on simplifying requirements for Air Force One, streamlining the process, streamlining certification by using commercial practices.” Those efforts, he went on to add, could save money on the replacement for Air Force One. The VC-25A, the current version of Air Force One, entered service in 1990, according to an Air Force fact sheet.

One way costs per airframe could be cut is to increase a production run. A 2015 Daily Caller article noted that when the productions for the Zumwalt-class destroyer and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle were slashed, the price per unit went up as each ship or vehicle bore more of the research an development costs. In the case of the Zumwalt, the reduction of the program to three hulls meant each was bearing over $3 billion in RD costs in addition to a $3.8 billion cost to build the vessel.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Why the Army Futures Command is a great step forward for science

A new innovation for the United States Military means an innovation for the entire world. Something as simple as the creation of the GPS, which started as a DoD project in the 70s, quickly became one of the most useful quality-of-life tools used in today’s society — and this isn’t the first (or last) time military tech landed in the hands of civilians.

A large portion of the government’s tech eventually trickles down to the people. Recently, the Army established an entire command unit dedicated to research and development, called the Army Futures Command (AFC). Everything about this newly-formed group of soldier-scientists seems like it can only mean great things for moving science — and society at large — forward.


A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

And that’s not hyperbolic to say. It’s actually vastly underselling the mind-boggling capabilities of quantum computing.

(U.S. Army photo by Jhi Scott)

Of course, they’ll be developing new weapon systems (technology that will likely not trickle down) that will give America the fighting edge it needs on the battlefield, but it goes much further than that. The AFC will be working on projects that range from computer technologies to advanced medicine and beyond — anything that will aid future soldiers.

While integrating lasers into anti-missile defenses to detonate incoming projectiles from hundreds of miles away is going to be a game-changer for warfare, they’re also taking a serious crack at the Holy Grail of computer engineering: quantum computing. To put it at simply as possible, quantum computing is having a computer use atomic particles to compute instead of 1s and 0s and, theoretically, this technology will instantly increase the potential for computing power a thousandfold. If the ACR can figure it out, the U.S. government and, subsequently, the American civilian tech industry, will make unbelievable leaps forward.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

“You say you can put a laser on an Apache? Shut up and take my money.”

(Department of Defense)

The primary focus of the AFC is and will always be increasing a soldier’s combat readiness. Based in Austin, Texas, it will employ both civilian and soldier innovators. The AFC and its Army Application Laboratory (AAL) are designed to be a place where inventors can create what hasn’t already been recognized as an official priority.

And even when an invention doesn’t revolutionize technology, the road that led them there is valuable. Adam Jay Harrison, the USAFC Innovation Officer, said at a conference for potential innovators that “at the end of the day, 90 percent of what we do ain’t going to work, but 100 percent of what we do should be informing somebody’s decision.

This kind of open environment and ease of access to funding gives the inventive minds of the U.S. a chance to create anything they can imagine — as long as it helps Uncle Sam. That level of trust in its scientists is unheard of in the academic world and it’ll be the cornerstone of the Army Futures Command.

The AFC is on track to be fully operational by September 2019. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what kind of insane designs will come out of it.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Is COVID-19 over yet? 4 horrible events that went faster than the pandemic

Here we are, on quarantine day X-teenth, wondering when the world will once again open. Some states have already announced that certain businesses are open with restrictions, but for the overwhelming majority of the United States, we’re still operating from a distance. Kids are schooling from home, even parts of military training have been put on hold; soldiers are sheltering in place and working remotely.

Industry experts and politicians agree that the pandemic has been unprecedented, most notably by the fact that we don’t know when this thing will blow over.

Take a look at unpleasant events from the past, all of which were over in less time than the COVID-19 pandemic.


A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

Hurricane Katrina

The category 5 hurricane that hit New Orleans back in 2005 was a devastating event. It’s one that had a particular effect on Marine forces in the area. Today, Katrina is being used as one of the biggest comparisons for economic turmoil, albeit still on a lesser scale.

The entire hurricane’s lifespan lasted eight days, while landfall lasted one, August 29of 2005. Hurricane Katrina was a deadly, horrific occurrence, but with an impact that was felt far longer than the disaster itself.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

9-11

Another comparison of the effects of the pandemic are the months following 9-11. The dastardly terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers caused widespread loss and injury, as well as a trickling economic impact. But that’s not the only unfortunate similarity; New York City has become the epicenter for COVID-19, as were the 9-11 attacks.

The main events of September 2001 took place in less than two hours, while its horrific aftermath lasted far longer.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

Pearl Harbor

Another cruel attack that famously took place on U.S. soil is the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the day in 1941, which FDR famously said will live in infamy. Though it led to the United States joining World War II, the actual event, brought on in two waves by the Japanese, lasted a single morning.

The war itself, its heartache and gruesome side effects lasted far longer, including years of involvement by the United States.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

San Francisco Earthquake

In 1906, the city of San Francisco was hit by one of the strongest earthquakes in modern history. Its location and magnitude, striking miles of the California coast, was grim for San Francisco in particular. The quake also caused massive fires to start and tear through the city, eventually destroying 80% of the entire town.

The quake itself was short lived, while the fires lasted for three days. Its devastation was felt for years following this single natural event.

The U.S. has seen its fair share of disasters. Together, we band and lift one another up to get through some truly awful times. Don’t forget all we’ve overcome in a time of pandemic and that as a country, we, again, can pull together and thrive.

Humor

6 of the top ways to spot a veteran wannabe

America is full of some amazing, patriotic people who have gone to great lengths to serve their country. That said, there’s a countless number of people who didn’t serve who enjoy dressing the part for their personal entertainment.


And, frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that — as long as they don’t claim to be a veteran.

Here’s how you can spot a veteran wannabe.

Related: 6 ways you can tell a troop isn’t an infantryman

1. They use military terminology because they think it’s cool

“Let’s go Oscar Mike back to the COP before 1300 to get some chow and hit the head.”

Translation: Let’s go home before 1 o’clock to get some food and use the restroom. Oscar Mike means, “leaving.” COP stands for “Combat Outpost.”

Why can’t these people just talk normally? We know, it’s a damn shame.

2. They wear military-print everything

It’s no secret that camo print is a go-to style for many civilians. Sure, we get that. But it’s another thing when people wear camo day-in and day-out. Even if they never served, they want to look like they have.

3. They wear overpriced Spec Ops gear

Airsoft and paintball are pretty fun. Sometimes, however, the players buy over-the-top, faux-spec ops gear to immerse themselves in the military mindset.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

4. They wear their “serious faces” in group photos at the range

It’s hard to fully understand the struggle of grabbing a sushi lunch just an hour before charging the tree house guarded by the blue team. Make sure to take a photo to show how tough you are.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
The Most Expendables.

5. They bring up excuses as to why they didn’t serve — unprovoked

Not everyone was meant to join the military. Hell, even some people who join the military weren’t meant to be a part of the team. However, civilians frequently volunteer reasons as to why they didn’t join — often without prompt.

Just continue to be patriotic, that’s all we ask.

Also Read: 6 ways to avoid being ‘that guy’ in your unit

6. They think they’re an operator for conducting airsoft and paintball missions

Veterans across the globe reenact historic battles to preserve the memories of the men that served. However, if you civilians dressing up like a SEAL team and recreating the Osama bin Laden raid, that’s the ultimate red flag of the veteran wannabe.

MIGHTY TRENDING

That time the Air Force went inverted over a Russian bomber

Last week, we published a blurry shot of a U.S. Air Force F-4 Phantom flying inverted during an intercept mission on a Russian Tu-95 Bear. The photograph went viral and reached Robert M. Sihler, the author of the shot, who was so kind to provide some interesting details about the image that brought to mind one of the most famous scenes in Top Gun movie.


“Although I don’t remember the exact date, the mission occurred in either late 1973 or early 1974.  The F-4C belonged to the 57th FIS at Keflavik NAS.  The mission was a standard intercept of a “Bear” by two F-4s after the alert crews were activated,” Bob wrote in an email to The Aviationist.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’
In June 1973, the F-4s replaced the F-102s at Keflavik. (All images: R. Sihler)

I was a Navigator, or in the F-4, a Weapons System Officer. I entered the USAF in Oct 1969. On active duty, I spent a couple of years at Norton AFB, CA in C-141s. From there, I trained in the F-4 and spent one year at Keflavik, Iceland. Following that, I went back to C-141s at Charleston AFB, SC from 1974 to 1977. I left active duty and spent the next 14 years in C-130s at Andrews AFB, MD and Martinsburg ANGB, WV. I retired as a Lt Col in Dec 1991. The assignments to Iceland were generally either one or two years. I elected to do one year without my family accompanying me there. Others chose to bring their families for two years.

Dealing with the close encounters with the Tu-95s:

“At that time, we probably averaged two intercepts of “Bears” per week. They were the only aircraft we saw while I was there. Generally, the intercepts occurred on Fridays and Sundays, at the “Bears” flew from Murmansk to Cuba on training and, we guessed, “fun” missions. Generally, we did these barrel rolls at the request of the Soviet crewmembers. They gave us hand signals to let us know they wanted us to do it.  They photographed us as well.  The Cold War was winding down and the attitudes on both sides had improved,” Sihler explains.

When asked whether the barrel roll was difficult or unsafe maneuver, Bob has no doubts: “Not really!  The Soviets, at the time, gave us hand signals asking us to “perform” for them. The rolls were not dangerous at all.”

The famous shot of the inverted flying F-4 Phantom (the aircraft was actually ending a barrel roll):

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

An F-4C from 57th FIS escorts a Tu-95 intercepted near Iceland in the early 1970s:

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

The same 57th FIS F-4C that performed the barrel roll around the Tu-95 depicted during the same intercept mission:

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

A Tu-95 as seen from a Phantom’s cockpit:

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

A big thank you to Robert Sihler for answering our questions and providing the photographs you can find in this article.

Humor

This is how two Air Force Bases ended up in a Twitter feud

What do Whiteman Air Force Base and Minot Air Force Base have in common? Bombers! But on Oct. 23, the bomber families began butting heads on Twitter over whose airframe is the superior one.


Team Minot has since seemed to delete the tweets that sparked the exchange, but judging from Whiteman’s responses, the shots fired must have been pretty good.

Finally, the official Air Force account stepped in.

Which would have been fine except they told the world that Santa isn’t real.

Which got everyone’s attention.

Including the national media. One of the more recent holiday traditions in the United States is NORAD’s Santa Tracker, which the Air Force helps run every year. The Air Force backtracked quickly.

But I think we’re going to give this one to Whiteman Air Force Base until Minot releases its Twitter history. The USAF Twitter Champion lives in Missouri.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How ISIS is trying to make a comeback with assassinations

Roughly four years ago, ISIS shocked the world when it took over a large swath of territory across Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of a new Islamic caliphate in the process.

Fast forward to 2018 and the terrorist group is a shadow of what it was even a year ago. It has lost the vast majority of the territory it previously held and the number of fighters it counted among its ranks has dwindled exponentially to below 3,000.

Nevertheless, ISIS remains a threat in the Middle East, and a new report from the Soufan Center warns it’s attempting to make a comeback by resorting to a tactic it employed back in 2013 when it was still known as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) — the targeted assassinations of Iraqi security personnel.


“To get back to its heyday of 2014, the Islamic State first needs to get back to 2013, a year in which the terrorist group concluded one very successful campaign to free thousands of its detained members from Iraqi jails and started another campaign to assassinate and intimidate Iraqi security personnel, particularly local police officers,” the report stated.

In late June 2018, Iraq executed 12 ISIS members, which the Soufan Center says was in response to the “high-profile assassination” of eight Iraqi security personnel.

‘A weakened Islamic State is now trying to recreate that past’

With fewer numbers, ISIS will be less inclined to focus on regaining territory and more likely to ramp up attacks on Iraqi police to sow the same brand of chaos it did back in 2013, according to the Soufan Center.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

A masked man in a video that Islamic State militants released in September 2014.

(FBI)

“A weakened Islamic State is now trying to recreate that past,” the report noted.”Targeted attacks on police and government officials have risen in several provinces as the group has stopped its military collapse and refocused on what is possible for the group now.”

The report added, “Assassinations require few people and are perfectly suited as a force multiplier for a group that has seen its forces decimated.”

‘The social fabric of Iraq remains severely frayed’

Peter Mandaville, a professor of international affairs at George Mason University who previously served as a top adviser to the State Department on ISIS, backed up the Soufan Center report.

“I think it would be difficult for ISIS to retake significant territory given the ongoing presence and vigilance of [US-led] coalition forces,” Mandaville told Business Insider, adding, “They certainly have the capacity to engage in an extended insurgency campaign using the kinds of tactics highlighted in the Soufan Center report.”

Mandaville said the situation on the ground in Iraq — that led to the rise of ISIS in the first place — has not changed significantly even though ISIS has more or less been defeated militarily.

“The social fabric of Iraq remains severely frayed, with high levels of political polarization,” Mandaville said. “Until the central government succeeds in advancing key political and security reforms, many areas of Iraq will continue to provide a permissive environment for low intensity ISIS operations.”

David Sterman of the New America Foundation, an expert on terrorism and violent extremism, expressed similar sentiments.

A Green Beret was the inspiration for Col. Kurtz in ‘Apocalypse Now’

David Sterman, Senior Policy Analyst, New America International Security Program; Co-Author, All Jihad is Local, Volume II: ISIS in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula

Sterman told Business Insider that the threat of ISIS returning to the strategy of breeding chaos on the local level by targeting Iraq security personal is “very serious.”

“ISIS continues to show capability to conduct attacks in liberated areas, an issue seen also during the surge,” Sterman added. “Bombings in Baghdad in January 2018 illustrate this as well as the assassinations and smaller attacks discussed” in the Soufan Center report.

In short, ISIS is still in a position to create havoc, albeit in a more limited capacity, in an already troubled country that really hasn’t even begun to recover from years of conflict.

ISIS continues to operate underground across the world

From a broader standpoint, this does not necessarily mean ISIS poses a significant threat to the US.

“Even at its height, ISIS did not demonstrate a capability to direct a strike on the US homeland (as opposed to Europe),” Sterman said. “So the threat [in the US] predominantly remains homegrown and inspired. Of course that doesn’t mean the US should take its eye off of what is happening in Iraq and Syria. ISIS’s bursting onto the global scene is proof of that.”

ISIS continues to wage an effective propaganda campaign online, which helps it maintain a global footprint even as its presence in Iraq and Syria has become more faint.

Moreover, ISIS is also turning to Bitcoin and encrypted communications as a means of rallying its followers worldwide.

“If you look across the globe, the cohesive nature of the enterprise for ISIS has been maintained,” Russell Travers, the acting head of the National Counterterrorism Center, recently told The New York Times. “The message continues to resonate with way too many people.”

The Trump administration says there’s ‘still hard fighting ahead’ against ISIS

Speaking with reporters in late June 2018, Defense Secretary James Mattis lauded the success the US-led coalition has had against ISIS in Iraq and Syria but added that “there’s still hard fighting ahead.”

“Bear with us; there’s still hard fighting ahead,” Mattis said. “It’s been hard fighting, and again, we win every time our forces go up against them. We’ve lost no terrain to them once it’s been taken.”

Meanwhile, US troops stationed near the Iraq-Syria border have been hammering ISIS in Syria with artillery in recent weeks.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.