MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Navy testbed is a very fast – and “sharp” – ship

Believe it or not, the United States Navy has a very fast testbed vessel — one that not only looks futuristic, but is also being used to test all sorts of futuristic technology. That vessel is known as the Stiletto, and while it looks like something out of science fiction, it’s actually 13 years old.

Sailors assigned to Naval Special Clearance Team One (NSCT-1), prepare to dock in the well deck aboard experimental ship, Stiletto.

(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Damien Horvath)

When you look at the Stiletto, your first impression, based on its shape, is that it’s some sort of stealthy vessel. That’s a common misconception. During a tour at the Navy League’s SeaAirSpace 2018 expo in National Harbor, Maryland, members of the Stiletto program explained that the ship’s radar cross section is about what you’d expect for a ship of its size.


The Stiletto’s hull is made from carbon-fiber composites.

(Harold Hutchison)

The ship looks as it does because it has a carbon-fiber hull. The material is incredibly light — I had the opportunity to handle a roughly softball-sized chunk of the material and can tell you first-hand. While the exterior is durable (the ship has handled seas rough enough to make lab-acclimated scientists queasy), it’s also vulnerable to being punctured.

SEALs prepare to enter the Stiletto. The vessel is small, but can accommodate the SEALs’ vessel inside.

(US Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Damien Horvath)

According to an official handout, the Stiletto has a top speed of 47 knots. However, during builders’ trials, the crew reported hitting a speed of 54 knots. Normally, the ship cruises along at a comfortable 30 knots and can go 750 nautical miles on one tank of fuel.

In addition to being able to carry a RHIB, the Stiletto can also launch drones.

(US Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Damien Horvath)

But the Stiletto also has ample space – it easily accommodated a rigid-hull inflatable boat that was over 30 feet in length, and there was still plenty of space left over for other gear. The crew explained that adding new systems to the adaptable ship takes a few hours or a day at most.

The wide array of sensors on the Stiletto show how easy it is to add something new to try out.

(Harold Hutchison)

One thing that was skimpy on the Stiletto, however, was the galley, which consisted of a microwave oven and stack of paper plates. The ship of the future, it seems, didn’t quite have everything.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This awesome anti-tank missile is getting mounted on drones

You ever imagine the guts it takes to be an infantryman trying to kill a tank? Sure, we develop a new missile to make the job easier every few decades, but that still leaves a dude in 35 pounds of body armor going up against a 41-ton tank. And the infantryman often has to get within 2.5 miles of a tank that can kill him from 5.5 miles away. Luckily, Raytheon has a new plan for that.


(Raytheon)

Unsurprisingly, that plan includes buying lots of Raytheon’s Javelin missiles. But if you can forgive us some enthusiasm, we’re willing to give them a pass if it means America is getting remote-controlled tank killers.

Basically, Raytheon put its missile into a Kongsberg remote launcher and mounted that on the Titan unmanned ground vehicle. The advantage would be clear. Infantrymen who need to kill a tank would no longer need to expose themselves to enemy fire.

Instead, they can send out the Titan, line up on the tank, and fire the missile. And since it’s a Javelin, they don’t even need line of sight on the enemy to kill the tank. Javelins, as the name implies, can fire up into the sky and then dive back down onto their target.

And the Javelin is “fire-and-forget.” So once the missile is launched, the firer can start re-positioning the drone. And if the tank or another enemy combatant manages to get a shot at the drone before it gets hidden away again, that’s still way better than the current situation where that counter fire would hit a U.S. Marine or soldier.

MIGHTY CULTURE

That time when Green Berets who avenged 9/11 on horseback recreated this legendary WWII jump

Before D-Day, on June 5, 1944, some 90 teams of two to four men parachuted into Nazi-occupied France. They were members of the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessors of both the CIA and the modern-day Army Special Forces. These OSS teams were called “Jedburgh” teams and were highly skilled in European languages, parachuting, amphibious operations, skiing, mountain climbing, radio operations, Morse code, small arms, navigation, hand-to-hand combat, explosives, and espionage. They would need all of it.

The OSS teams’ job was to link up with resistance fighters in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to coordinate Allied airdrops, conduct sabotage operations, and roll out the red carpet for the Allied advance into Germany. D-Day was to be the “Jeds'” trial by fire.


The Jedburghs preparing to jump before D-Day.

Fast forward to 75 years later: Europe is no longer a fortress and the OSS has since evolved into both the CIA and the US Army’s Special Forces. To honor that tradition, a team of Army Special Forces veterans, including SOF legend and 2017 Bull Simons Award Winner CSM Rick Lamb, are planning to recreate the Jedburghs’ famous nighttime jumps into Europe in June 2019 and those veterans just happen to be members of the ODA that rode into Afghanistan on horseback in the days following the 9/11 attacks — they are Team American Freedom.

If the name “American Freedom” sounds familiar, it’s because they’re also the founders of American Freedom Distillery, a Florida-based premium spirits brand, makers of Horse Soldier Bourbon and Rekker Rum. And it’s not only the Special Forces veterans jumping from the lead aircraft on June 5th, they’re in good company. Joining them in the jump will be retired Army Ranger Bill Dunham, who lost a leg in Panama in 1989, the Gold Star mother of another Army Ranger and some of her late son’s fellow Rangers, and a 97-year-old World War II veteran.

The American Freedom Distillery Team

“This group will represent every major known and unknown conflict for the past 30 years – every group who inserted early and fought with little recognition,” says American Freedom co-founder and Special Forces vet Scott Neill. “This is the last big World War II anniversary (other than VJ Day) that World War II vets and these generation will share. The very special part is that we will also share this with our families. Our wives who took care of the home front and our kids who watched daddy go away again and again. It’s a way to show our family why we did it.”

For the entire summer of 2019, France and England will be celebrating the D-Day landings and the start of the liberation of Europe. The D-Day airdrop is just the beginning, other events will include parades, military encampments, and showcases featuring World War II uniforms.

Good work if you can get it.

The team is set to stage out of Cherbourg, France and tour some of the areas where the most intense fighting occurred. On June 5th, they will jump out of a C-47 Skytrain, just like their forebears did 75 years ago, and hit the dropzone at around 11a.m. They won’t be coming empty-handed. They will also be dropping a barrel of their Horse Soldier Bourbon to support the festivities on the ground as 200 more jumpers hit the drop zone throughout the day.

(Image courtesy of Scott Neil, American Freedom Distillery)

If you want to support Team American Freedom as they remember the brave men who landed behind enemy lines a full day before the Allied invasion of Europe, you can help by contributing to their GoFundMe page. You will be enabling generations of special operators, CIA veterans, and Gold Star Families, many of who have lead insertions into modern day areas of operations attend this historic event.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why care packages are just as important for today’s troops

Few things can truly lift a deployed troop’s spirits like hearing the words, “Hey you, you got mail” before having a big ol’ box plopped on their lap. It doesn’t matter what’s inside — just the fact that someone remembered them while they were away makes things better. Some troops are lucky enough to have family members who send out weekly boxes of momma’s cookies, but even those without a constant support network get love from churches, schools, and youth groups.

In the earlier years of the Global War on Terrorism, everybody sent care packages. There was a time when you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wasn’t putting something together to send abroad, whether it was for a cousin, a friend, a friend’s cousin — whoever. That same war still lingers today and troops are still struck with the same homesickness.

Care packages are the classic cure to homesickness and, even today, they remain the best remedy.


Don’t get me wrong. They will still fight each other over a box of Girl Scout Cookies.

(Photo by Steven L. Shepard, Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs)

Some of the older items that were frequently put in care packages for troops, like socks, bars of soaps, and candies that (hopefully) won’t melt after being left in the desert sun for hours, are still appreciated today. Any time troops get sent handwritten notes and children’s drawings, they’ll feel obligated to write back — but things have changed since the beginning of the war.

Fewer troops are in direct combat roles and, thankfully, deployments have gotten shorter. Today, troops are less likely to be put directly in harm’s way for over twelve months at a time, but they’re still not home. What this means is that necessities that may have once helped forward-deployed troops remember what a shower feels like are now stockpiled in the chaplain’s office.

Everyone learns how to play spades while deployed. Why not give your loved one a nicer deck of cards to play with?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Meredith Brown)

Living conditions while deployed have changed a lot since 2001. Today, it’s far less common to see grunts crammed in a hastily made hut. Showers are definitely more abundant and troops have access to places where they can buy their own hygiene goods. That’s not to say that every single American GI is living a life of luxury, but the general level of “suckiness” has been reduced.

In short, this means that troops aren’t hurting for baby wipes like they used to. They’re still helpful to troops who leave the wire, but they’ll more than likely just be used so a troop can skip showering for a day. What troops need now are things for the mind, not the body. Books, movies, and games help pass the time. Without electricity, troops will always pull out a deck of cards and get a game of Spades going.

The joys of having money and pretty much nothing to spend it on…

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by: Sgt. Frances Johnson)

The leaps and bounds in technology have also changed the definition of hot-ticket care-package items. Troops no longer need to wait in long lines and hope that there’s still enough time on their pre-paid card to call home. Bases have been getting better and more expansive WiFi networks through the USO, which now allows troops to simply use their smartphone to call home while off-duty.

This boost in technology also does a lot of heavylifting on the part of AAFES, the service that sells regular goods to troops. Instead of hoping that they might have a new pair of running shoes or a fresh hard-drive for storing movies in this month’s package from home, they can just order stuff off Amazon.

Military cooks always try to shove the healthy options down our throats. What we really want is some junk food that reminds us of being back home.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mackenzie Richardson)

Which brings us back to what troops of today actually want and need. Anything given by a family member with sentimental value is always going to hit home. As corny as it sounds, troops will still put photos of their family and loved ones up on display, just as they have since photography was invented.

Any comfy fleece blankets will be used instead of the Uncle Sam-issued sleeping systems. I’ve personally known troops to keep those cheapo blankets they give out on international flights and use them for twelve months instead of the issued gear.

Sweets are always going to be enjoyed and shared — especially the homemade goods. It doesn’t matter if it was their own momma who made the cookies or someone else’s momma, they’ll be devoured.

It’s kind of a taboo thing to say, but troops will always ask for it, so it’s worth mentioning. If you know that the deployed troop smokes or dips, they could really use some actual stuff instead of the maybe-poisonous, maybe-just-awful tobacco products the locals sell.

It might seem like ancient history to some, but troops are still deployed in the Global War on Terrorism. That war has drawn on long enough that the needs of deployed troops have changed, but homesickness (and its remedy) remains the same.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 small changes that would have made these military movies better

We love movies! That’s exactly why studios spend millions of dollars making them. As long our eyes are glued to the silver screen, they’ll continue to put out blockbuster after blockbuster. Some film moments, however, don’t land well with the audience.


No movie is without flaws.

Even though we watch and rewatch these films, most of us would like to see some moments altered. Here’s what would’ve better satisfied our tastes.

*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD*

Related: 5 mistakes newbies make right after boot camp

6. Don’t let the terrorist win

If you watched 2017’s The Wall through to the end, you got an intense representation of what it’s like during a sniper duel. But, at the end of the movie, (spoiler alert) the good guy’s extraction helicopter gets shot down by the bad guy’s perfectly placed round.

Don’t get us wrong, we can appreciate a good plot twist, but watching a terrorist win out just isn’t any fun.

Isaac (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) takes cover behind a brick wall as he comes up with a plan to defeat his enemy. (Image from Roadside Attractions’ The Wall)

5. Don’t pull on the daisy chain wires

Not only is this dangerous, but it’s totally unpredictable. This tense sequence in The Hurt Locker would have been more believable had the EOD tech not pulled on all the cords for purely cinematic reasons.

Don’t pull it! Damn, he totally did. (Image from Summit Entertainment’s The Hurt Locker)

4. Get some freakin’ haircuts

We get that troops on the ground who engage the enemy sometimes don’t have time to get a haircut. We’ve been deployed, we know how it goes.  That said, Joker and the rest of the Marines in Full Metal Jacket seemed to have haircut amenities where they were stationed before being sent into Hue.

A good military haircut goes a long way.

Joker (middle) looks depressed as he waits on the base barber to show the f*ck up. (Image from Warner Bros’ Full Metal Jacket)

3. Trim down the love storyline a little and get to the action

We’re looking at you, Pearl Harbor.

As much as we want to see Kate Beckinsale as often as possible, we also want some awesome explosions — and sooner. (Image from Buena Vista Pictures’ Pearl Harbor)

2. Get a clean shave

Last Flag Flying puts the true meaning of military brotherhood, even years after service, on display. But let’s consider getting a good, clean shave before donning a set of Marine Dress Blues for a funeral.

Let’s clean it up there, staff sergeant. (Image from Amazon Studios’ Last Flag Flying)

Also Read: 5 things you didn’t know about Sgt. Elias’s death scene in ‘Platoon’

1. Save Mellish — or at least try to!

During the last firefight in Saving Private Ryan, Private Mellish engages a German in hand-to-hand combat in a small room. He yells out for help, but eventually succumbs. But, right outside the room where Mellish meets his doom sits Cpl. Timothy Upham on the staircase, crying his eyes out as his buddy is stabbed to death.

We wanted to see a little more physical effort from Upham. We’re okay with Mellish dying if the plot demands it, but holy sh*t, we can’t bare to watch Cpl. Upham idly cry.

Cpl. Upham, you disappoint us. (Image from DreamWorks Pictures’ Saving Private Ryan)

 

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what troops do when hurricanes are about to hit

Each year, like clockwork, hurricane season strikes America’s southeastern states. Right now, another hurricane is knocking on the East Coast’s door and, coincidentally, many installations of the Armed Forces stand in the way of the storm’s projected path. While most people are busy either evacuating or hunkering down, the troops from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and everywhere between aren’t simply waiting out the storm — they’re rushing into it.

And the action isn’t reserved exclusively for each state’s National Guard. Natural disasters, like Hurricane Florence, make for some of the few times when active duty troops from every branch directly help their community. They’re springing into action now, helping locals prepare, and they’ll be around afterward, helping the affected recover.


A simple meal and a smile goes a long way for people afraid of what’s coming.

(National Guard photo by Spc. Hamiel Irizarry)

It all begins with making proper preparations. Troops begin by stockpiling whatever resources may be useful for civilians, including blankets, MREs, and gasoline, to name a few. Then, they get out there and provide the locals with the essentials.

It may seem like a simple gesture, but being wrapped in a warm, dry military blanket and receiving a hot meal helps repair morale and lets those affected by the disaster know that everything is going to be okay.

If there’s one thing soldiers know how to do, it’s fill sandbags…

(Georgia Army National Guard photo by Capt. William Carraway)

Next, manpower is put towards barricading specific locations that either serve as excellent shelters or hold significance to the community. This process often involves having troops fill countless sandbags to keep flood waters from reaching the people behind them.

But the Air Force and NOAA are responsible for one of the most important — and dangerous — tasks. They’re called “Hurricane Hunters.” Their mission is to fly directly into the hurricane to monitor weather patterns and determine the storm’s course from the inside.

Meanwhile, the Navy and Coast Guard use their vessels to have hospitals and emergency centers on standby for the moment the hurricane makes landfall.

It’s one of the most beautiful and selfless things most troops will do stateside. BZ, guys. You’re making this country proud.

(Louisiana National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Rebekah Malone)

As much as lower enlisted troops may bemoan the process, they’re typically evacuated at the last possible moment. This ensures everything is in proper order and it gives civilians a head-start, allowing them to get out of town without being blocked in by clutter created by large military vehicles.

The troops who haven’t evacuated will shelter in place until the storm passes. Then, the rebuilding process begins…

MIGHTY CULTURE

Peace we seek, peace we keep: Naval ship named in MoH recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams’ honor

Medal of Honor recipient Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, an infantry rifleman corporal with 3rd Marine Division, 1st Battalion, 21st Marine Regiment, Charlie Company during the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, is having a United States naval ship commissioned in his honor on March 7, 2020 in Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.


Williams received a Medal of Honor from President Truman for his efforts as special weapons unit in a flamethrower demolition group in advancing US forces on Feb. 23, 1945.

www.youtube.com

Williams was born in 1923 in Fairmont, West Virginia. He decided to join the Marine Corps in May 1943. During his time in the armed forces, Williams fought the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. Marine Corps history, and Williams was a pivotal component in The United States’ victory.

“When we arrived on shore it was really chaotic because the Marines of the 4th Division had been pinned to that area for days; two days at least,” said Williams. “Many of them had been wounded and evacuated so there were packs and rifles and jeeps blowing up and tanks stuck in the sand.”

Williams shared how the Marines would “belly out” and the tracks would turn but couldn’t get any traction because the sand was so loose. He recalls how when he first arrived from the Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel (LCVP), or Higgins Boat, Marines that had been killed were rolled in their ponchos.

The goal was to destroy as many of the enemy’s pill boxes, or strategic bunkers that housed weaponry and allow protection from enemy forces. Williams used a flamethrower to take down the Japanese pillboxes for hours.

Upon his return home in 1945 he received a Medal of Honor award for his bravery by President Truman.

“From that day on, I took on a new life.” said Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, Medal of Honor Recipient and World War II Veteran. “I became a public figure that I had no plan whatsoever to be.”

He retired after twenty years in the Marine Corps Reserve and became the Commandant of the Veterans Nursing Home in Barboursville, West Virginia for almost 10 years. “It’s almost like a dream,” said Williams. “It’s something that I dreamed would never happened.”

Williams discussed how a Marine saw a ship with a Medal of Honor recipients name on it 20 years ago and he wanted to have a ship named after Williams as well.

Williams was told that that there would be a petition to have a ship named in his honor, and for several years there were petitions and paperwork to vouch for Williams having a ship named after him. Williams did not believe that a ship could be named after a corporal, and believed that was something reserved only for presidents and generals.

“I never dreamed it would happen,” said Williams. “I never thought it was possible.”

The Department of the Navy called Williams and told him that the petition would be approved. Upon approval, Williams needed to find a sponsor for the ship.

In naval history, the sponsor is traditionally one woman, usually the wife of the person having the ship named after him. This tradition was broken because Williams did not want to choose between his two daughters, so the Navy allowed both of his daughters to be the sponsors of his ship because his wife is deceased.

After picking a sponsor, Williams was required to pick a motto for the ship. The ships motto will be: peace we seek, peace we keep.

“I fought for quite some time; I could not come up with anything,” said Williams. “One morning, at about two o’clock in the morning I woke up and there it was. I jumped up and wrote it down before I lost it.”

Williams describes how he never dreamed that the Navy would actually use those words. He concluded the interview by sharing the principles that he chooses to live by.

“Serving others gives you a satisfaction that you cannot get anywhere else.” said Williams.

This article originally appeared on All Hands Magazine. Follow @AllHandsMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China is now grooming kids to make AI weapons

An elite group of “patriotic” students in China have been selected to begin training for new artificial intelligence weapons development program.

31 kids — all under 18 — have been recruited to participate in the “Experimental Program for Intelligent Weapons Systems” at the Beijing Institute of Technology, South China Morning Post reported Nov. 8, 2018, citing an announcement from the Beijing Institute of Technology. The program selected 27 boys and four girls from more than 5,000 applicants, the school’s website said, according to the Post.

“These kids are all exceptionally bright, but being bright is not enough,” a BIT professor who asked not to be identified told the Post.


“We are looking for other qualities such as creative thinking, willingness to fight, a persistence when facing challenges,” he said. “A passion for developing new weapons is a must … and they must also be patriots.”

According to the program’s brochure, each student will be mentored by two weapons scientists with both academic and defense backgrounds. The kids will later be tasked with choosing a specialization within the weapons sector and will be assigned to the relevant defense laboratory to hone their skills under the guidance of experts.

RoboCup 2015.

The institute expects students will go on to complete doctorate degrees and become leaders in the field of AI weapons technology, the Post said.

China has been outspoken about its interest in developing AI technology

China has touted its AI development across sectors, including a trillion-dollar autonomous-driving revolution and a massive expansion of its facial-recognition software.

In his 2017 keynote speech to the ruling Communist Party, President Xi Jinping called for the embedding of artificial intelligence technologies into the economy to create growth and expand its capabilities across industries.

In July 2018, China released its own AI development plan, which proposed building up its domestic AI industry to 0 billion over the next few years to establish the country as an “innovation center for AI” by 2030.

And while China has largely kept the development of its AI-weapons technology opaque, Elsa B. Kania an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security, predicts that China’s army will “likely leverage AI to enhance its future capabilities, including in intelligent and autonomous unmanned systems.”

China is reportedly working on a fleet of drone submarines in order to give China’s navy an advantage at sea. And in April 2018, the Chinese air force released details about an upcoming drill using fully autonomous swarms of drones.

A Reaper MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Air System.

(Photo by Corporal Steve Follows RAF)

But experts have repeatedly warned about the dangers of AI

Experts have repeatedly warned about the dangers AI, arguing that advanced systems which can make thousands of complex decisions every second could have “dual-use” to help or harm, depending on its design.

In February 2018, AI experts across industries outlined in a 100-page report the dangers of AI technology and how the technology could be weaponized for malicious use. Aside from using AI technology for attacks in the digital realm, the technology could be used in the physical realm to turn technology, like drones, into weapons and attack targets at the push of a button or the click of a mouse.

In April 2018, China submitted its proposal to the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems announcing its desire to create a new protocol for restricting the use of AI weapons. In its proposal, China highlighted the dangers of AI weaponry but also stressed the need to continue developing AI technology.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what Mattis and his would-be assassin talked about

On a summer morning in a desolate corner of Iraq’s western desert, Jim Mattis learned he’d narrowly evaded an assassination attempt.


A Sunni Arab man had been caught planting a bomb on a road shortly before Mattis and his small team of Marines passed by. Told the captured insurgent spoke English, Mattis decided to talk to him.

After Mattis offered a cigarette and coffee, the man said he tried to kill the general and his fellow Marines because he resented the foreigner soldiers in his land. Mattis said he understood the sentiment but assured the insurgent he was headed for Abu Ghraib, the infamous U.S.-run prison. What happened next explains the point of the story.

“General,” the man asked Mattis, “if I am a model prisoner, do you think someday I could emigrate to America?”

In Mattis’ telling, this insurgent’s question showed he felt “the power of America’s inspiration.” It was a reminder of the value of national unity.

Mattis, now the Pentagon boss and perhaps the most admired member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, is a storyteller. And at no time do the tales flow more easily than when he’s among the breed he identifies with most closely — the men and women of the military.

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command, speaks to Marines with Marine Wing Support Group 27, May 6. Mattis explained how things in Iraq have gotten better since the first time Marines came to Iraq. (Photo from U.S. Marine Corps)

The anecdote about the Iraqi insurgent, and other stories he recounted during a series of troop visits shortly before Christmas, are told with purpose.

“I bring this up to you, my fine young sailors, because I want you to remember that on our worst day we’re still the best going, and we’re counting on you to take us to the next level,” he said. “We’ve never been satisfied with where America’s at. We’re always prone to looking at the bad things, the things that aren’t working right. That’s good. It’s healthy, so long as we then roll up our sleeves and work together, together, together, to make it better.”

The stories tend to be snippets of Mattis’ personal history, including moments he believes illustrate the deeper meaning of military service.

On a trip last month to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and three domestic military installations, Mattis revealed himself in ways rarely seen in Washington, where he has studiously maintained a low public profile. With no news media in attendance except one Associated Press reporter, Mattis made clear during his troop visits that he had not come to lecture or to trade on his status as a retired four-star general.

“Let’s just shoot the breeze for a few minutes,” he said at one point.

Another time he opened with, “My name is Mattis, and I work at the Department of Defense.”

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis answers questions from the press during a flight to South Korea., Feb. 1, 2017. (US Army photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

Mattis used stories to emphasize that today’s uncertain world means every military member needs to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice.

He recalled the words of a Marine sergeant major when Mattis was just two years into his career:

“Every week in the fleet Marine force is your last week of peace,” the sergeant major said. “If you don’t go into every week thinking like this, you’re going to have a sick feeling in the bottom of your stomach when your NCOs (non-commissioned officers) knock on your door and say, ‘Get up. Get your gear on. We’re leaving.'”

By leaving, Mattis meant departing for war.

A recurring Mattis theme is that the military operates in a fundamentally unpredictable world. He recalled how he was hiking with his Marines in the Sierra Nevadas in August 1990 when he got word to report with his men to the nearest civilian airport. Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had just invaded Kuwait, and the Marines were needed to hold the line in Saudi Arabia.

Also Read: Why Secretary Mattis’ press briefings are so intense

In an exchange with Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Mattis recalled sitting in the back of a room at the Pentagon in June 2001 while senior political appointees of the new George W. Bush administration fired questions at a military briefer about where they should expect to see the most worrisome security threats. At one point, Mattis said, the briefer said confidently that amid all the uncertainty, the one place the U.S. definitely would not be fighting was Afghanistan.

“Five and a half months later, I was shivering in Afghanistan,” Mattis said, referring to his role as commander of Task Force 58, a special group that landed in southern Afghanistan aboard helicopters flown from Navy ships in the Arabian Sea to attack the Taliban in and around Kandahar.

Regardless how much they resonate with his young audience, Mattis’ stories illustrate how he sees his military experience as a way to connect with troops who often feel distant from their political leaders. They also are a reminder Mattis’ boss is one of the most politically divisive figures in recent history.

President Donald J. Trump, right, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (center) and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (DoD Photo by Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

Speaking to troops and family members at an outdoor movie theater at Guantanamo, Mattis pointed directly to the political battles.

“I’m so happy to be in Guantanamo that I could cry right now, to be out of Washington,” he said, adding jokingly that he wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his tenure away from the capital. He said as soon as he gets back in the company of uniformed troops, he is reminded of why the military can set a standard for civility.

“Our country needs you,” he said, and not just because of the military’s firepower. “It’s also the example you set for the country at a time it needs good role models; it needs to look at an organization that doesn’t care what gender you are, it doesn’t care what religion you are, it doesn’t care what ethnic group you are. It’s an organization that can work together.”

Articles

This Marine sniper threw the enemy’s grenade back to save his brothers

His team spotted by insurgents and forced to take cover in an abandoned compound, Marine sniper Joshua Moore went against his instinct when two grenades landed next to him, throwing one of them back at the enemy and holding off insurgent fire until help could arrive.


Moore, at the time a Lance Corporal, was later awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

Moore was part of a scout sniper platoon during a mission in Marjah, Afghanistan, in March 2011, when insurgents targeted his team.

The Marines fell back to a nearby compound, but enemy machine gun rounds soon sliced through the air, wounding two of them. After taking cover, Moore felt two objects hit him in the back. When he turned he saw two grenades lying in the sand.

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He reached down, grabbed the first grenade, and threw it back out the window where it detonated just a moment later. He went for the second but noticed it was covered in rust and was likely a dud.

The young sniper would later say that he was, “scared out of my mind, but I knew we had to do everything possible to get everyone home.” Despite the brush with death and under the continuing threat of incoming fire, Moore crawled from the building and held off the enemy until a quick reaction force arrived.

He went to the north where the enemy attack was heaviest and began aiding the wounded and returning fire. He used an M4 with an attached M203 grenade launcher to suppress fighters where he could find them.

The arrival of a quick reaction force and another sniper platoon allowed the Marines to finally gain fire superiority, evacuate the wounded and fall back to their patrol base.

Moore was meritoriously promoted to corporal less than two months after the battle and was awarded the Navy Cross in Nov. 2013.

“It’s an honor to receive an award like the Navy Cross. But to be honest, I was just doing my job,” Moore said after the ceremony.

Since then, Moore has been promoted to sergeant and assigned as an instructor at the scout sniper basic course. He told Stars and Stripes that he often shares the story of the engagement with his students, but that he avoids talking about his medal.

“That honestly not the important part,” he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Senate passes $740 billion defense policy bill with troop pay raise

U.S. troops are all but guaranteed a 3% pay raise next year under legislation that passed the Senate Thursday.

The Senate passed its version of the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act Thursday. The $740 billion bill contains numerous personnel initiatives, including the second consecutive 3% pay raise for service members, and hazardous duty pay for troops responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.


If signed into the law, the legislation would also make changes designed to standardize the military services’ Exceptional Family Member Programs, improve housing for military families and halt a planned reduction of teachers within Department of Defense Education Activity schools.

The measure also includes incentive pay to retain military health officers, increases funding for child care facilities, adds money for research on industrial chemicals used in firefighting foam and packaging and expands the list of diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure.

“The NDAA gives our military the personnel, equipment, training and organization needed to implement the National Defense Strategy and thwart any adversary who would try to do us harm,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the committee’s ranking Democrat, called the bill an “important step” toward wise investment for the future.

“Mindful of new risks, as well as unfolding and unprecedented unemployment and budget challenges, Congress must wisely invest every defense dollar in a cost-effective and forward-looking manner,” he said.

The bill would create a commission to study removing Confederate names from Defense Department assets within three years — a measure that will need to be sorted out when the House and Senate meet to develop the final version of the bill that will go to President Donald Trump for a signature.

The House bill would force the military to take action to change the names of bases and facilities named after Confederates within a year. The Senate version of the bill incorporates similar provisions to remove Confederate names from bases over three years.

Trump has threatened to veto any measure to remove the name of Confederate leaders from Army installations. On Tuesday, the White House released a statement listing the items Trump finds objectionable in the House’s bill, saying it is “part of a sustained effort to erase from the history of the nation those who do not meet an ever-shifting standard of conduct.”

Other items that pertain to personnel policy in the bill include:

  • Mandating that DoD develop and field body armor that properly fits female soldiers
  • Providing additional ways for service members to report sexual assault
  • Requiring DoD to better track and respond to incidents of child abuse on military installations.

The vote was 86-14. The two chambers will next name a committee of members to develop a compromise bill. The House approved its version of the fiscal 2021 authorization bill Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here’s footage of John Wayne visiting troops in Vietnam

Hollywood legend John Wayne never served in World War II, partially due to the machinations of Republic Pictures. He tried, though. He put in an application to work with the Office of Strategic Services. Although he was accepted, the letter notifying him so was sent to his estranged wife and never reached him. According to one biography, Wayne’s failure to serve in one of history’s most important wars stung him for the rest of his life.


Wayne did, however, visit troops during World War II and The Vietnam War. One such visit was in 1966 to the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He wasn’t simply there fulfilling an obligation, either. In addition to being a legendary figure in war movies and westerns, John Wayne was known for being a staunch anti-communist, so much so that Josef Stalin ordered his assassination.

John Wayne starred in many war movies, like Warner Brothers’ ‘Operation Pacific,’ but missed World War II, much to his chagrin.

(Warner Brothers)

Wayne’s visit came after elements of the 101st Airborne had taken part in Operation Hawthorne with elements of the 1st Cavalry Division. The troops’ objective was to relieve the Army of the Republic of Vietnam’s 42nd Regiment, which had been under siege by North Vietnamese Army forces.

www.youtube.com

During that operation, Capt. Bill Carpenter, who commanded a company of the 101st that was nearly overrun, called in a napalm strike on his own position. He survived and earned the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. The Air Force eventually sent B-52s to carpet bomb the suspected North Vietnamese positions.

U.S. Army troops assault a North Vietnamese position during Operation Hawthorne.

(U.S. Army)

The Screaming Eagles suffered 48 dead and 239 wounded during the three-week operation. The South Vietnamese unit was rescued after suffering the loss of 10 and another 42 wounded. The Americans and South Vietnamese, though, killed at least 688 of the enemy and captured another 21.

Watch the video below to see Hollywood legend John Wayne sign autographs for the Screaming Eagles after their costly mission. As a bonus, you’ll get to see The Duke heft an M60 machine gun!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2QfMuGwuKU

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Articles

11 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘Saving Private Ryan’

In 1998 the epic film “Saving Private Ryan” captured the courage, sacrifice, and horror of World War II in a way that Hollywood had either missed or avoided with previous efforts.


The story of a Ranger squad’s mission to find a soldier who is the only surviving service member of four brothers — based on Father Francis Simpson’s book Look Out Below! — grossed over $100 million (the first Dreamworks movie to surpass that mark) and earned five Oscars.

Director Steven Spielberg’s battle scenes were so grisly and realistic that many World War II veterans had to walk out of showings and the VA had to create a special 800 number to deal with a surge in veterans dealing with post traumatic stress triggered by the movie. Here are 11 other things you (probably) didn’t know about one of the greatest war movies ever made:

1. The movie was shot in chronological order, which is unusual for a film. Spielberg chose that method so that the actors would feel like they were going through the experience, including losing fellow soldiers along the way. This also helped them portray their resentment towards Private Ryan, who doesn’t share the journey with them.

2. The opening sequences of the Normandy invasion on D-Day were actually shot in Ireland not France. The French government would not give permission to the producers to shoot on Normandy’s beaches.

3. The unarmed men who are shot during the opening scene are not speaking German. They are speaking Czech. Parts of the Normandy coast were defended by Ost (East) battalions — pressed into service in the Wermacht — made up of men from places like Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan, and Armenia.

4. Billy Bob Thornton was offered the role of Technical Sergeant Mike Horvath (ultimately played by Tom Sizemore) but turned it down because he has a fear of water and didn’t want to shoot the landing scenes. Spielberg was hesitant to use Sizemore because he was battling a drug addiction at the time of filming. The director had Sizemore undergo daily drug tests and threatened to boot him from the set and re-shoot every scene if he tested positive.

5. Spielberg originally thought Matt Damon was too skinny to play Private James Ryan but changed his mind after a meeting between them facilitated by the legendary comic Robin Williams.

6. The story that Private Ryan tells about his brothers in the barn with Alice Jardin was not in the script. Matt Damon ad-libbed it and Spielberg decided to use it.

7. During the scene in which Pvt. Stanley Mellish is being stabbed slowly by an enemy soldier, his assailant whispers in German: “Give up. You have got no chance. This way is much more easy for you. Much easier.”

8. Bryan Cranston (now famous for his role in the AMC series “Breaking Bad”), who plays Colonel I.W. Bryce, is the only person in the movie who has an amputation on screen that isn’t really an amputee.

9. Spielberg had to cut around 5 minutes of war violence from the film or it would have received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA.

10. Hanks’ played a 41-year-old Army captain. In actuality, an infantry captain in World War II would have been around the age of 26.

11. The town of Ramelle, France where the final battle takes place is the only fictional town in the movie. The other locations depicted are real and were actual objectives during the invasion. Ramelle, including the river, was created from scratch in a studio in England. That same set was used during the filming of the “Band of Brothers” series.

(H/T Movie Mistakes and Movie Fanfare)