After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Stats? Projections? F$%k that noise. Numbers can’t guarantee wins, but being a badass sure helps. As the 2018 NFL Season enters its second week and fantasy football fans continue to debate the stats, the veterans at We Are The Mighty are taking a different approach to finding the best players across the league.

This past week, our team of self-declared fair-weather fans scouted the NFL to find the players worthy of serving on one the military’s most elite units: the Army Special Forces — Operational Detachment Alpha, known exclusively as the “A-Team.”


A Special Forces team is full of quiet professionals, each of whom has a set of unique, special skills, ranging from demolitions to weapons to communications. Earning your place on a Special Forces team takes training, time, and a little luck, but it ultimately comes down to one simple question: Can you perform under pressure?

This results-based mentality is exactly the same approach used by NFL players across the league and, in the season’s opening week, five players have distinguished themselves worthy of making the inaugural “A Team Report.” Some earned this distinguished honor by breaking records while others made the list via sheer, viking-level badassery. Either way, all the players on this week’s A-Team Report stepped up when it mattered.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Safety Shawn Williams ejected for unnecessary roughness.

Shawn Williams — Cincinnati Bengals

There’s always one member of the team that’s willing to run into the fatal funnel without fear of the consequences. Normally, this is a job reserved for the A-Team member with too many deployments under their belt or just loves war way too much.

This craving for violence is exactly the motivation that safety Shawn Williams of the Cincinnati Bengals channeled against Andrew Luck and his Indianapolis Colts. Williams tried to take Andrew Luck’s head off in a tackle that would make even the most battle-hardened Green Berets squirm. Williams succeeded in stopping Luck, but not before he was ejected for unnecessary roughness. Williams is the first player to be ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit this year and may be subject to a fine.

We can’t wait to see what other destruction Williams will bring once he’s allowed back on the field next week.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s beard is a weapon.

Ryan Fitzpatrick — Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As the 2018 season opened, Ryan Fitzpatrick, a backup quarterback who has been in the league for over decade (13 seasons, to be exact), was fully expected to spend this season on the sidelines. When the Buccaneers first-string quarterback was suspended, Fitzpatrick stepped up.

When Fitzpatrick comes to play, he brings with him a beard that would make even the most seasoned Delta Force operator jealous. The power of the beard is undeniable. It was solely responsible for Fitzpatrick throwing three touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ 48-40 win over the New Orleans Saints. Next week, Fitzpatrick, his beard, and the Buccs will take on the Super-Bowl Champs, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Let’s hope Fitzpatrick doesn’t do anything stupid, like shave.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Adam Vinatieri uses his old-man strength to nail a 57-yard pre-season kick.

Adam Vinatieri — Indianapolis Colts

There is something to be said about old-man strength and, at 45 years and 23 seasons deep, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri performed like a true warrant officer in his season opener against the Bengals.

Within the Special Forces community, warrant officers are the brunt of numerous old-age jokes, but their experience is often invaluable. Simply, warrants know how to get sh*t done — and so does Vinatieri. Despite the Colt’s 23-34 loss, Vinatieri hit 3 of 4 field goal attempts.

Like all warrants, Vinatieri proved that, sometimes, you just have to shut up and kick sh*t.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Tyreek Hill’s 91 yard punt return, complete with peace offering.

Tyreek Hill — Kansas City Chiefs

While age brings experience, youth delivers speed and violence of action, which are the hallmarks of any A-Team member. This week, Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receiver/Return Specialist Tyreek Hill certainly brought the speed during a 91-yard kickoff return against the Chargers.

Hill lived up to his nickname, “Cheetah,” during the run, but just had to make sure the Chargers defense knew they’d been beat by throwing up a peace sign as he coasted into the endzone. Hill brings a speed and ego to the Chiefs that literally can’t be stopped.

What can we say? When you’re good, you’re good.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Rookie Roquan Smith sacks QB DeShone Kizer during his first play in the NFL

Roquan Smith — Chicago Bears

Rookie Linebacker Roquan Smith came to play in the Bears season opener against the Green Bay Packers, achieving something that should make any fan proud: In literally the first play of his NFL career, Smith sacked Green Bay Quarterback DeShone Kizer, proving that super bowl rings and cheese hats can’t stop a motivated linebacker.

We’re keeping our eye on Smith this season to see if his actions are a one-time fluke or if he can continue to bring the pain.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Aging bomber may have to switch up the way it flies

The B-1B Lancer bomber, a plane designed with the ability to fly fast and low to the Earth in order to avoid enemy radars, might find itself operating at higher altitudes for the rest of its days in service, as officials weigh options to extend its lifespan.

The move is one of several being considered to keep the aircraft flying for years to come because low-altitude missions increase the wear and tear on the aircraft’s structure, Military.com has learned.

“We’re closely working with aircrews, maintenance, industry engineers and combatant commands to identify and determine what, if any, changes may be made as we balance operational necessity today with the longevity of the B-1 airframe for the future,” said Air Force Global Strike Command spokesman Lt. Col. David Faggard.


Specifically, officials are weighing whether to tell pilots to stop using the B-1’s low-altitude terrain-following capability, known as TERFLW mode, during training. The mode is operated by a basic switch on the plane’s avionics.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

A B-1B Lancer bomber.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brian Ferguson)

“The B-1 and our airmen have consistently and professionally provided close-air support in the counterterror fight for decades, a mission the aircraft was never designed to fly,” Faggard said. The B-1 was designed for a range of activities, most notably its TERFLW capability, but instead has been used for years in Middle East conflicts — a role for which it was not designed.

“We’re building a viable transition plan to get us from the bomber force we have now to the bomber force of the future. We can change tactics — altering, bringing back or avoiding any tactics or procedures as necessary on any bomber at any time in the future,” Faggard said Friday.

TERFLW, which allows the plane to operate at low altitudes like a jet ski skimming water, was created to allow the B-1 “to sneak in low below enemy radars into Russia during the Cold War, employ nuclear weapons, and get out,” said Maj. Charles “Astro” Kilchrist, then-chief of training for the 9th Bomb Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in a 2017 interview.

Kilchrist, also a pilot, showed off the maneuver when Military.com visited the base that year.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Four B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger)

Fatigue testing on the bomber has shown that low-altitude training may put additional stress on the airframe, according to two Air Force sources familiar with the discussions. Thus, the argument to limit TERFLW flights in future.

It’s not uncommon for bombers to switch up how they fly.

For example, B-52 Stratofortress pilots already tend to avoid low-altitude flights because of the additional stress on the venerable bomber’s airframe, according to Alan Williams, the B-52 deputy program element monitor at Global Strike Command. Williams has been involved in the B-52 community since 1975.

“When I first started flying in the B-52, we went down to 300 to 500 feet above the ground,” he said in an interview in August. “Two o’clock in the morning, we’d fly over western Wyoming and we’d pop out four hours later over eastern Wyoming. That was hard on the aircraft.”

He continued, “Low-level is hard on aircraft. There’s a lot of forces — atmosphere, turbulence, all those things. [But] over the last 30 years, the B-52 has returned to what it was designed to be: a high-altitude bomber.”

Officials haven’t totally forbidden B-52 crews to fly low, especially if they’re testing new weapons, according to a bomber weapons system officer, who asked not to be identified due to not being authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

A B-52H Stratofortress.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele)

While the B-52 is sticking around into the 2050s, keeping the B-1 viable until its 2036 sunset date has been a priority for Air Force Global Strike Command.

Gen. Tim Ray, head of the command, announced in September that the Air Force had proved it can modify the Lancer to hold more ordnance — a step that may pave the way to future hypersonic weapons payloads as the bomber seeks new missions.

In tests with the 419th Flight Test Squadron, teams at Edwards Air Force Base, California, demonstrated how crews could fasten new racks onto the external hardpoints of the B-1, and reconfigure its internal bomb bays to hold heavier weapons.

“The conversation we’re having now is how we take that bomb bay [and] put four, potentially eight, large hypersonic weapons on there,” Ray said during the annual Air Force Association Air Space and Cyber conference.

“Certainly, the ability to put more JASSM-ER [Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range] or LRASM [Long Range Anti-Ship Missile] externally on the hardpoints as we open those up,” he said, as reported by Defense News. “There’s a lot more we can do.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Pride Month: celebrating all who served

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. Both women Veterans and Veterans with LGBT and related identities underuse VA care. That makes now an important time to bring attention to the unique needs of Veterans with LGBT and related identities.

VA proudly welcomes all Veterans. VA’s Women’s Health Services and the LGBT Health Program offer resources that can help.

There are more than two million women Veterans and an estimated one million lesbian, gay and bisexual Veterans in the United States.


Veterans with LGBT and related identities are less likely to seek out routine health care, largely due to fear of discrimination. This can lead to long-term health problems. Examples include a higher risk for mental health issues and suicidal thoughts than their non-LGBT peers.

VA is working to create an environment where Veterans with LGBT or related identities feel comfortable talking openly with providers about sexual orientation, gender identity, and mental and physical health challenges.

Safe to share your information

VA’s health care professionals have been trained to keep your information confidential. It is always safe to share your sexual orientation and gender identity with your provider. This is true, even if you have not come out to family or friends.

Being open with your provider about your identity helps VA offer you the best care possible.

If you are not comfortable speaking with your provider about sexual orientation or gender identity, or you think your provider is uncomfortable with these topics, there are ways VA can help.

Each VA facility has an LGBT Veterans care coordinator (VCC) and Women Veterans Program manager who can help you find a provider to fit your needs. To find your local LGBT VCC or see what support and resources your facility offers, visit https://www.patientcare.va.gov/LGBT/VAFacilities.asp.

Services available

Other VA health care services that may help Veterans with LGBT and related identities include:

  • Hormone treatment
  • Substance use/alcohol treatment
  • Tobacco use treatment
  • Treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections/PrEP
  • Intimate partner violence reduction and treatment
  • Heart health
  • Cancer screening, prevention and treatment
  • Help with infertility or family planning

All Veterans should have access to a safe and welcoming environment that takes your unique needs into account. This June and throughout the year, we celebrate and support all who have served.

To learn about health risks and why you should talk to your provider about your sexual orientation identity, birth sex, and self-identified gender identity, visit the fact sheets below:

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Gainey Cup is the Army’s annual cavalry competition and yes, it includes a final charge

As a showcase for the fourth biennial Gainey Cup International Best Scout Squad Competition, the U.S. Army Armor School hosted the Scouts in Action demonstration, April 29, 2019, at Red Cloud Range.

The Gainey Cup determines the best six-soldier scout squad in the Army and internationally by testing squads on their scout and cavalry skills, their physical stamina, and their cohesion as a team.


After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

(Photo by Mr. Markeith Horace)

The Scouts in Action demonstration was an opportunity for the Armor School to tell the history of the U.S. Cavalry and to show the public what scout squads do for their units, according to Capt. Tim Sweeney, Cavalry Leaders Course instructor.

“Part of what we do in the cavalry is really in the shadows and really hidden from the world to see, because that’s the nature of our business,” said Sweeney. “[Scouts in Action] was a demonstration of the different weapons platforms that we have and how they can be used to execute missions on the battlefield. So we’re just bringing what the Cav does to light.”

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, right, the namesake of the biennial Gainey Cup, speaks to competitors before the Recon Run.

(Photo by Mr. Patrick Albright)

During the historical portion of Scouts in Action, the spectators, which included soldiers, civilians and Family members, saw scouts as they would have appeared in period uniforms as they would have ridden or driven period conveyances. They rode horses as Army scouts would have during the Civil War and drove jeeps as Army scouts would have during World War II. Then they drove the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, the Bradley fighting vehicle and the Stryker armored vehicle, all from the latter part of the 20th century.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

(Photo by Mr. Markeith Horace)

As part of the demonstration of scout skills for the audience, a scout squad performed aerial reconnaissance using a drone. After a notional enemy fired upon the scouts the scouts fired back. Their HMMWV got several rounds off in a one-second burst. Then a Bradley fighting vehicle joined the aciton. Then scouts in Abrams tanks fired at the enemy, each concussive thud knocking up dust.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

(Photo by Mr. Markeith Horace)

“So today was the demonstration of the firepower they have,” said Sweeney. “Then over the next three days, they’ll use that firepower and use their dismounted capabilities to execute the missions and really achieve their commander’s end state.”

When the demonstration concluded, the spectators had the opportunity to get refreshments, talk with soldiers and explore some of the vehicles they had just seen in action. The demonstration served as a public entry point to the competition already in progress.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

(Photo by Mr. Patrick Albright)

The scout squads arrived the week before and took part in knowledge tests, vehicle identification, a call for fire, a gunnery skills test and a land navigation course.

Units participating this year include the 1st Armored Division; 1st Cavalry Division; 1st, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 25th Infantry Divisions; 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team; 10th Mountain Division; 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions; 2nd, 3rd and 134th Cavalry Regiments; 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment; U.S. Army Alaska; 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment; and the Canadian, Great Britain, Netherlands and German armies.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

(Photo by Mr. Markeith Horace)

The squads began the second week of competition with an early morning reconnaissance run at Brave Rifles Field at Harmony Church. During the reconnaissance run, the six-person scout squads must run in uniform and with gear over a set course they do not know the distance to. The course is complete once every member of a squad crosses the finish line back at Brave Rifles Field.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

(Photo by Mr. Patrick Albright)

Over three days, the squads will perform exercises that synthesize skills they were evaluated on during the first week. A scout squad proficiency exercise requires the scout squads to orient on a reconnaissance objective while performing reconnaissance on 20 kilometers of terrain occupied by enemy forces. During the scout skills event, the squads must maneuver within their vehicle while collecting and reporting information. As part of a lethality exercise, the squads must conduct a tactical mission under live fire, and then they receive a grade according to their ability to report and engage the enemy force.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

(Photo by Mr. Patrick Albright)

Besides drawing focus to the scout mission operational specialty, the competition also serves as a training event for the U.S. Armor School and the units the scout squads represent.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

(Photo by Mr. Patrick Albright)

“This competition does a very good job of highlighting the capabilities and limitations that Cavalry scouts encounter, so it’s a way that units can continue to build their training plan, and the Army can look at training and figure out how we can become more and more lethal,” he said.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

(Photo by Mr. Patrick Albright)


The final event of the competition is the Final Charge scheduled for 8 a.m. May 3, 2019, at Brave Rifles Field. After the final charge, the awards ceremony is scheduled to begin.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Virginia dairy farm that used to hold Army spies is now a winery

Fauquier County, Virginia, might not be the place you think of when you imagine covert ops training, but that’s exactly what’s happened at an isolated farmhouse and working dairy.

In use since 1803, “Vint Hill,” as it was initially known, had several owners before the Army purchased it in 1942 – just in time to train a group of service members in the fine art of espionage. Reframed and repurposed throughout the years, Vint Hill has served as one of the most essential intel-gathering sites you’ve probably never heard of.


History

Vint Hill is situated near the Signal Intelligence Service headquarters in Arlington but was far away enough from the city that its location and its purpose remained a secret. It was here that the Army housed its Monitoring Station No. 1, a covert spy base.

Established by the Army’s Signal Intelligence Service, the 701-acre farm was built in part because the Army needed a secure location near the SIS and a cryptography school.

The geography of Vint Hill was key in the Army’s decision to train there. Not only did it boast a quiet countryside vibe where trainees could really get into their coursework, but it also provided “quiet electromagnetic geology,” which made it the perfect place for intercepting radio signals. During WWII, that’s exactly what service members stationed at Vint Hill did.

Perhaps the most famous is the interception of a message from a Japanese ambassador to Germany. That message, sent in 1943, described German fortifications, contingency plans, and troop strength information.

Once the message was decoded, the information was instrumental in planning the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.

The NSA recently released documents that further detail the influence that Vint Hill had on WWII planning. It was a crucial intelligence-gathering station throughout all of WWII and beyond.

After WWII

After WWII, Vint Hill became the first field station of the Army Security Agency, an arm of the NSA. The facility conducted signals intelligence operations.

Declassified Army intelligence lists Vint Hill as one of the largest intercept facilities in the world.

Not only did it serve as an intercept facility, but Vint Hill was also a signal school, signal training center, and a refitting station for selected signal units returning from or heading to deployments.

During and following the Korean War, the station’s footprint was expanded significantly, making it a major intelligence hub during the Cold War. Vint Hill personnel intercepted key Soviet diplomatic and military communication sent over teleprints that helped form and shape America’s military posture.

In 1961, the Army Electronic Material Readiness Activity moved to Vint Hill and took over the management of signals intelligence and electronic warfare maintenance for the Army Security Agency.

By 1973 however, Vint Hill’s mission had changed to research. Its main goal was to aid and assist in the development and support of intel and electronic warfare info gathering for the Army, DoD, and our partner allies. The EPA took over operations of Vint Hill’s photographic interpretation center from the DIA, and Vint Hill was renamed as the Environmental Photographic Interpretation Center.

However, that didn’t last long. By the late 1979s, Vint Hill was on the list of installations to be closed, and all projects on site were halted. A change in policy in 1981 reversed that decision, and Vint Hill remained open.

Serving as the “giant ear” of the NSA was the core focus of Vint Hill in the early 1980s and eventually became a development and testing site for signal equipment for the CIA and FBI. IN 1993, Vint Hill was once again on the chopping block. This time, the closure stuck. Most personnel were reassigned to Fort Monmouth and Fort Belvoir.

Vint Hill closed officially on September 30, 1997. Now, the site hosts several engineering and tech companies, including the FAAs Air Traffic Control System Command Center. There’s a Cold War museum open on-site, but most notably, the former intel-gathering installation is home to the Vint Hill Craft Winery and the Old Bust Head Brewery. There’s even a dance school and a gymnastics school run on the property. Talk about reinvention after time in service.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army veteran-owned natural food company champions Navy for good cause

Feltman’s of Coney Island announced a historic commitment to give 100 percent of their online sales from now until the Army v. Navy game on December 12, 2020 to the Travis Manion Foundation. 

Almost 150 years after Charles Feltman introduced the first Frankfurter hot dog to New York, two Brooklyn brothers reintroduced it to the world in 2015. Chief Executive Officer and Army Veteran Captain Joe Quinn and his brother Michael revived Feltman’s in honor of their brother Jimmy, who lost his life in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. 

Since 2015, the Quinn brothers worked hard to make Feltman’s one of the fastest growing natural food companies in the United States. Feltman’s of Coney Island is now a veteran-owned and operated Gold Star family business, made up of almost all Army and West Point Academy graduates. Despite the heavy ‘Go Army’ company environment, the team is stepping forward to support the Navy in a big way.

“As a West Point graduate that runs a company that’s heavily on the Army side, we like to talk a lot of smack when it comes to the Army/Navy rivalry, but at the end of the day we’re all on the same Team,” Joe Quinn said. “I feel that’s captured by a West Point/Army company [Feltman’s] supporting a foundation and the memory of legendary Annapolis/Navy graduate 1stLt Travis Manion. Travis is what this game and this country is all about and we are proud to support the foundation that’s in his name…Beat Navy.”

“We all have a strong connection to the military; three of us having gone to West Point,” Quinn explained. He shared that the company remains dedicated to serving nonprofits and especially those that benefit veterans. “Travis was a Naval Academy grad and we know his sister Ryan. We’ve always wanted to partner with the Travis Manion Foundation.”

Not only is the CEO Army, so is the rest of the executive team. Executive Chairman Nick Loudon and Chief Marketing Officer Rob Boeckmann are both West Point graduates (classes of 2004, 2012, respectively), and Chief Operating Officer Greg Syvertson is a former Army intel NCO.

“The West Point connection in our company and brand is strong” Rob Boeckmann explained. When asked about his role, Boeckmann, who grew up in Germany, said “I never really ate hot dogs until I joined the Feltman’s Team. My first language is actually German, and being born and raised over there, I have to admit I never really liked hot dogs. But when I tried these all natural hot dogs, I knew it was a good fit because they are very good. They’re exactly what I want my friends and family to eat. Feltman’s hot dogs turned me, a non-hot dog eater, into a believer. And as a marketer, it’s great to represent and work for a brand with a story beginning with an immigrant. Charles Feltman immigrated from northern Germany, where my own family has its roots. Feltman’s in the early 20th Century was the biggest restaurant in the world, a global destination in New York City. And we are trying to bring that back. And it’s great to get to do this job with fellow academy grads and Army veterans. 

Feltman’s will not only be giving 100 percent of their online sales to the Travis Manion Foundation, it will also be offering 10 percent off with the promo code of BeatArmy or BeatNavy. This was an especially fun experiment that the team created to see which fanbase loves America more. 

One of the things that sets Feltman’s apart from other competitors is their commitment to all natural products that are 100 percent beef and made without nitrates. The hotdogs are uncured and Feltman’s is known for its spice and smokey blend. Add that in with their commitment to the military community and deep love of country, it’s a recipe for success – pun intended. 

To learn more about Feltman’s or to place an order for hot dogs that will benefit the Travis Manion Foundation, click here. Don’t forget to use your BeatArmy or BeatNavy coupon code! 

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new Cold War has nothing to do with Russia – it’s all China

The Cold War was the ultimate worldwide, geopolitical game, pitting two disparate ideologies against one another. The battle lines were drawn — and they were clear. In one corner, you had the global Communist bloc and its allies, some perfidious, willing to pit the two superpowers against each other for their own gain. In the other was the West and its allies, defenders of capitalism and democracy (or… at least… they were just not Communists).

For nearly 50 years, this game dominated the world order. It became so ingrained in our brains that, today, it’s still difficult to think of Russia as anything but the Soviet Union, a democracy in name only, just waiting to turn back the clock and surprise us. So we must always be on guard.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week
Of course the Simpsons predicted it first.


After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

Pictured: Chinese foreign policy.

The problem with American foreign policy makers is that they don’t really know if Russia is truly their main adversary these days. Recently, a top CIA Asia expert told the Aspen Security Forum that China was definitely enemy number one, but does not want a direct conflict. China is much more insidious than that. Where the Soviets Russians prefer to openly troll Americans and blatantly defy American objectives, China is subtly undermining American power in strategic locations all over the world. And it has nothing to do with trade disputes.

FBI Director Christopher Wray says China poses the most significant threat to U.S. national security.

“The volume of it. The pervasiveness of it. The significance of it is something that I think this country cannot underestimate,” Wray said. It was a sentiment echoed by many security experts in Aspen — China is ready to replace Russia as a global U.S. competitor and to supplant the U.S. as the economic powerhouse.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

“The future is now, old man.”

Related: The FBI says Chinese spies in the US are the biggest threat right now

China has the second-largest defense budget in the world, the largest standing army in terms of ground forces, the third-largest air force, and a navy of 300 ships and more than 60 submarines — all in the process of modernizing and upgrading. The Chinese are also far ahead of the United States in developing hypersonic weapons.

They’re ready for the United States in a way that Russia hasn’t been prepared for in a long, long time.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week

“I’m sorry Xi, I misheard you. The future is what?”

And this isn’t exactly a new development. While the United States (and now Russia) were engaged in costly wars and interventions all over the world, China has slowly been expanding its worldwide economic footprint and partnerships. Russia has been harassing its neighbors since 2008 in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, China began its Belt and Road Initiative, investing billions in infrastructure to link China with markets from Central Asia to Europe.

While no one was watching, Chinese investment dollars have filled coffers all over the world, bringing once-forgotten economic backwaters into the Chinese sphere of influence at the cost of American prestige. Chinese raw materials will build these developing marketplaces and the Yuan may soon even be the currency of choice. If the Belt and Road Forum takes off, it could even cut Chinese reliance on American markets.

Russia seems more threatening because that’s exactly what the Russians are good at. Vladimir Putin is no fan of the West or NATO and it seems like he takes real delight in NATO’s failures, especially in Ukraine. While hypersonic weapons, an increased nuclear weapons capacity, and a deeper relationship with Bashar al-Assad’s Syria seem like a significant threat (and may well be), the reality is those hypersonic weapons aren’t quite perfect and Syria isn’t going as well as planned.

Meanwhile, China is quietly preparing for the future.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is why the A-10 (and other combat planes) aren’t flown by the Army

No one is debating the effectiveness of the AH-64 Apache. It’s one of the deadliest combat aircraft ever fielded. In Afghanistan, its mere presence in the sky is enough to deter enemy fighters from even thinking about taking a shot on troops on the ground. However, there’s something to be said for close air support provided by fixed-wing aircraft. Of course, everyone is familiar with the legendary A-10 Thunderbolt II and its ability to deliver huge volumes of precision fire on ground targets.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week
The Air Force won’t get rid of the A-10 because they don’t want the Army to get it (U.S. Air Force)

In WWII, the Army Air Corps tore into German supply convoys with the P-47 Thunderbolt at low altitude. In Korea and Vietnam, the Navy and Marine Corps utilized the A-1/AD-4 Skyraider with great efficiency to support ground troops. Today, the Marine Corps still integrates its infantry with close air support through the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. By combining these two crucial components, the MAGTF is able to organically conduct combat operations with increased efficiency. Marines on the ground are supported by Marines in the air and everyone speaks the same language and knows what the other needs to do their job. So, why doesn’t the Army do this?

After the creation of the Air Force in 1947, the military needed to clearly define its purpose amongst the established branches. In 1948, Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal held a meeting with the service chiefs in Key West, Florida to do just that. Due to the location of the meeting, the policy paper that resulted is commonly referred to as the Key West Agreement. Broadly, the agreement gave the Air Force control of everything in the sky. The Air Force’s functions included air superiority, strategic air warfare, close combat and logistical air support, aerial intelligence gathering, strategic airlift, and even maritime operations like antisubmarine warfare and aerial mine-laying. However, the agreement did provide for the Navy to retain its combat air arm “to conduct air operations as necessary for the accomplishment of objectives in a naval campaign.” The Army, on the other hand, made out like a bad divorce. Army aviation assets were reduced to solely reconnaissance and medical evacuation purposes.

The Key West Agreement was built upon with the Pace-Finletter Memorandum of Understanding of 1952. Secretary of the Army Frank Pace and Secretary of the Air Force Thomas K. Finletter came together to expand the Army’s allowed aviation capabilities. In an effort to restrict the Army’s use of combat aircraft, the Key West Agreement limited the weight of Army rotary-wing aircraft. With the Pace-Finletter MOU, this weight restriction was removed, paving the way for combat helicopters like the UH-1 Huey gunship, AH-1 Cobra, and AH-64 Apache. However, it did place an arbitrary weight restriction of 5,000 pounds on Army fixed-wing aircraft. Although this restriction was later modified, it set the precedent to make the Army reliant on the Air Force for close air support and airlift.

After Action Report #1: A Special Forces vet picks his NFL performers of the week
The Army CV-7 Buffalo (U.S. Army)

If the previous agreements weren’t enough, the Johnson-McConnell Agreement of 1966 was one more blow to Army fixed-wing aviation. In Vietnam, mountainous terrain made resupply by airlift difficult with the Air Force’s primary cargo planes like the C-123 Provider which required 1,750 feet of runway to take off. To address this problem, the Army employed the CV-2 Caribou and planned to acquire the CV-7 Buffalo airplanes. Both planes could perform short takeoffs and landings while carrying more cargo than the Army and Air Force’s helicopters could lift in and out. This didn’t sit well with the Air Force and private negotiations were held between Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson and Air Force Chief of Staff General John P. McConnell. The resulting agreement forced the Army to relinquish control of the CV-2 and CV-7 to the Air Force. However, the Air Force did relinquish its sweeping control over rotary-wing aircraft. This expanded the Army’s ability to field helicopters and resulted in the diverse fleet that the Army Aviation Branch fields today.

While the Army doesn’t fly CAS airplanes like the A-10 and is still technically restricted from acquiring new CAS airplanes like the A-29 Super Tucano, it’s worth noting that the Army does have some fixed-wing aircraft. The Army flies nealy 200 turboprop R/C-12 Hurons for light transport and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. Something that will further surprise most people is that the Army does fly jet aircraft for VIP transport. The UC-35 is based on a Cessna business jet and the C-37 and C-20H are based on Gulfstreams.

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The C-12 is the one airplane that active duty Army aviators can select out of flight school (U.S. Army)

Though these 20th century agreements prevent the Army from flying combat airplanes, advancements in rotary-wing technology have led to high-speed helicopters like the S-97 Raider and large tiltrotor aircraft like the V-280 Valor. Aircraft like these will carry Army Aviation into a new age of aircraft and allow soldiers in the sky to retain the advantage on the battlefield.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How the Air Force delivers Army helicopters

Among members of the Air Force, there’s a tendency to be interested in aircraft. More than just aircraft, though, aircraft in aircraft is the type of idea that has the potential to harken back to the science fiction imaginings of many early childhoods. But true to form, science fiction in the military scarcely stays fiction for long.

From Jan. 11 to 13, 2019, it was the job of the C-5M Super Galaxy aircrew and aerial port specialists at Travis Air Force, California to join in efforts with the Army to transport four UH-60 Black Hawks from California to the helicopters’ home base at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.


“Accomplishing the feat took no small measure of cooperation between the two sister services,” said Staff Sgt. Bradley Chase, 60th Aerial Port Squadron special handling supervisor. “You figure some of the C-5M aircrew who are transporting the Black Hawks have never even seen one before,” Chase said. “It’s because of that, having the Army here and participating in this training with us is so important. Coming together with our own expertise on our respective aircraft is what’s vital to the success of a mission like this.”

Chase went on to explain that in a deployed environment, Black Hawks are usually ferried around on C-17 Globemaster IIIs because of their tactical versatility.

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US Air Force C-17A Globemaster III.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey)

Which is great, he said, but in respect to total force readiness, sometimes a C-5M is the better choice for airlift.

“Our job as a military isn’t only to practice the tried and true formula — it’s to also blaze and refine new trails in the event we ever need to,” he said. “By allowing us to train on mobilizing these Black Hawks, the Army is giving us the opportunity to utilize not only the C-17s in our fleet, but also our C-5Ms. As it pertains to our base’s mission, that difference can mean everything.”

The difference Chase speaks of is one of 18 aircraft — over five million more pounds of cargo weight in addition to the 2,221,700 afforded to Travis AFB’s mission by the C-17. In terms of “rapidly projecting American power anytime, anywhere,” those numbers are not insignificant.

The Army, likewise, used the training as an opportunity to reinforce its own mission set.

“The decision to come to Travis mostly had to do with our needing a (strategic air) asset to facilitate our own deployment readiness exercise to Elmendorf,” said Capt. Scott Amarucci, 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion, C Company platoon leader. “Travis was the first base to offer up their C-5M to get the job done, so that’s where we went.”

Amarucci’s seven-man team supervised the Travis AFB C-5M personnel in safe loading techniques as well as educated the aircrew on the Black Hawks’ basic functionality to ensure the load-up and transport was as seamless as possible.

Amid all the technical training and shoring up of various workplace competencies, the joint operation allowed for an unexpected, though welcomed, benefit: cross-culture interactions.

“It’s definitely been interesting being on such an aviation-centric base,” said Private 1st Class Donald Randall, 2-158th AHB, 15 T Black Hawk repair. “Experiencing the Air Force mission

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Airmen and soldiers offload a UH-60 Black Hawk from a C-5 Galaxy at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

(U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Henry Chan)

definitely lends to the understanding of what everyone’s specialties and capabilities are when we’re deployed.”

“Plus, the Air Force’s food is better,” he laughed.

Chase also acknowledged the push to bring the Air Force and Army’s similar, yet subtly different cultures to a broader mutual understanding during the times socializing was possible, an admittedly infrequent opportunity, he said.

“Outside of theater, there aren’t too many opportunities to hang out with members from other branches,” he said. “So when the chance to do so kind of falls into your lap, there’s this urge to make the most out of it. A lot of the differences between branches are very nuanced, like how the Army likes to be called by their full rank and stuff like that, but knowing them and making an effort to be sensitive to those differences can pay huge dividends when it comes time to rely on them during deployments.”

Along with finding room in our demeanors to give space for cross-cultural interactions, Chase also underscored the importance of a positive mindset to ensure successful interoperability.

“It’s the idea of taking an opportunity like this that was very sudden and probably pretty inconvenient for a few people’s weekend plans and asking, ‘Well, I’m here, so how can I help — what lessons can I learn to help benefit my team and take what I’m doing to new heights?'”

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China warns the US against putting new missiles on its ‘doorstep’

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Aug. 3, 2019, that he wants to put ground-based intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the Pacific to confront regional threats, a move that is antagonizing rivals China and Russia.

“We would like to deploy the capability sooner rather than later,” he said Aug. 3, 2019, just one day after the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the US and Russia officially expired. “I would prefer months. I just don’t have the latest state of play on timelines.”

He did not identify where the missiles would be located in Asia, suggesting that the US would develop the weapons and then sort out placement later. He has said it could be “years” before these weapons are fielded in the region.


The 1987 INF Treaty prohibited the development and deployment of conventional and nuclear ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, but the treaty has ended, giving the US new options as it confronts China’s growing might in the Asia-Pacific region.

Following the end of the treaty, Esper said in a statement Aug. 2, 2019, that the “Department of Defense will fully pursue the development of these ground-launched conventional missiles,” calling these moves a “prudent response to Russia’s actions.” But, the Defense Department is also clearly looking at China. “Eighty percent plus of their [missile] inventory is intermediate-range systems,” Esper told reporters Aug. 3, 2019. It “shouldn’t surprise [China] that we would want to have a like capability.”

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Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

In his previous role as the secretary of the Army, Esper made long-range precision fires a top priority, regularly arguing that the US needs long-range, stand-off weaponry if it is to maintain its competitive advantage in a time of renewed great power competition.

Both Russia and China have expressed opposition to the possibility of US missiles in the Pacific.

“If the deployment of new US systems begins specifically in Asia, then the corresponding steps to balance these actions will be taken by us in the direction of parrying these threats,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Aug. 5, 2019.

“If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Asia-Pacific, especially around China, the aim will apparently be offensive. If the US insists on doing so, the international and regional security will inevitably be severely undermined,” China Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Aug. 5, 2019.

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An M270 multiple launch rocket system maneuvers through a training area prior to conducting their live fire exercise at Rocket Valley, South Korea, Sep. 14, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michelle U. Blesam, 210th FA Bde PAO)

“China will not just sit idly by and watch our interests being compromised. What’s more, we will not allow any country to stir up troubles at our doorstep. We will take all necessary measures to safeguard national security interests,” she added.

Her rhetoric mimicked Esper’s criticisms of China over the weekend, when he spoke of a “disturbing pattern of aggressive” behavior and warned that the US will not “stand by idly while any one nation attempts to reshape the region to its favor at the expense of others.”

While some observers are concerned US missile deployments may ignite an escalated arms race between great power rivals, Tom Karako, a missile defense expert at CSIS, argues that this is an evolution rather than a radical change in US defensive posturing in the region, an adaptation to Russian and Chinese developments.

“We want China’s leadership to wake up every morning and think this is not a good day to pick a fight with the United States or its allies,” Karako told INSIDER.

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An M270 multiple launch rocket system fires during a live fire exercise at Rocket Valley, South Korea, Sep. 15, 2017.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michelle U. Blesam, 210th FA Bde PAO)


Mobile land-based missile systems complicate surveillance and targeting. “The point is not to consolidate and put everything in one spot so it can be targeted but to move things around and make it so that the adversary doesn’t know where these things are at any given time.”

“I would not minimize the potential advantages of this kind of posture,” Karako added.

Should the US pursue this course, China’s response is unlikely to be friendly, experts in China warn. “If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Asia, China will certainly carry out countermeasures and augment its own missile forces in response, so as to effectively deter the US,” Li Haidong, a professor in the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University told the Global Times.

For now, the US has not made any moves to deploy missiles to the Pacific; however, the US is looking at testing a handful of new ground-based systems.

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

Articles

4 things you may not know about USS Constitution

The sailing frigate USS Constitution (ex-IX 21) was re-floated on July 23 in an event overshadowed by the commissioning of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).


The ship has been around for 220 years. But here are a few things you may not have known about this ship.

1. Paul Revere provided some crucial materials for the ship’s construction

According to the Copper Development Association, Paul Revere, best known for his midnight ride prior to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, provided a number of copper bolts and a copper bell for USS Constitution.

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2. The Constitution had a hull number

In 1941, the Constitution was given the hull number IX 21, along with a number of other vessels. According to Samuel Eliot Morison’s History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, the list included the prize USS Reina Mercedes (IX 25), the sloop USS Constellation (IX 20), the cruiser USS Olympia (IX 40), and the training carriers USS Wolverine (IX 64) and USS Sable (IX 81).

The hull number was rescinded in 1975 at the suggestion of the ship’s commanding officer, Tyrone G. Martin, who instituted a number of traditions that carry on to this day.

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3. She is the only survivor of her class

Of the first six frigates, the Constitution is the only survivor. Sister ship USS Constellation was thought to have been converted to a sloop and preserved in Baltimore, but later research determined the Navy had scrapped the original vessel. The frigates USS Chesapeake and USS President were captured by the British. USS United States was captured by the Confederates, but eventually scuttled and scrapped.

USS Congress was scrapped in 1834.

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4. She was the battlecruiser of her era

The Constitution and her sisters were designed to be able to outgun enemy frigates and to out-run enemy ships of the line. She had a mix of 24-pound cannons and 32-pound cannons, compared to the 18-pound cannons used on the British Leda-class frigates, built around the same time as Constitution and her sisters.

In fact, late in the war of 1812, British frigate captains were ordered to avoid combat with the Constitution and her sisters.


Articles

These 9 weapons are banned from modern warfare

The idea of limiting warfare and its effects on soldiers and civilians have roots that can be traced back to the American Civil War. Shortly before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Lieber Code. Named for a Prussian professor from South Carolina, Lieber was a former Prussian soldier in the Napoleonic Wars, wounded at the Battle of Waterloo. He aimed to convince the Union to adjust its battlefield conduct to bring a sharper end to the war, and thus, slavery.


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It shouldn’t really suprise anyone that an infantryman wanted to limit the horrible ways he could have died.

On April 24, 1863, President Lincoln issued the finished code as Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field, General Order No. 100. The code featured 157 articles in 10 sections and covered everything from martial law to the treatment of deserters, women, prisoners of war, partisans, scouts, spies and captured messengers.

Prisoner exchanges, flags of truce, battlefield looting, and assassinations were also covered. Most importantly, the code governed the treatment of POWs, treatment of rebels, and the respect for human life (especially those of slaves and former slaves fighting for the Union).

The Lieber Code was the foundation text for the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. Although many of the provisions of the Hague Conventions were subsequently violated during World War I, the conventions still stand as the standard for modern day arms limitation and battlefield conduct agreements.

Subsequent arms agreements include the Geneva Conventions of 1925 and 1949, The 1979 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, the 1997 Ottawa Treaty, and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, to name a few.

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Now guess how many we’re actually party to.

After more than 150 years of arms control treaties, countries have invented, used, and then banned weapons designed to choke, maim, and otherwise kill warfighters in an inhumane fashion (as ironic as that sounds).

1. Poisonous Gases

There are five types of chemical agent banned for use in warfare. Blood agents are toxic and fast acting. They’re absorbed into the blood (hence the name) and cause a long, violent death, usually from respiratory failure. Phosegene Gas and Hydrogen Cyanide are two kinds of blood agent. Next are blister agents that cause severe chemical burns on the skin and eyes. Blister agents like Mustard Gas can be fatal if ingested or inhaled.

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Nerve agents like VX and Sarin gases break down the neurotransmitters that make organs function. They can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Victims slowly lose control of their bodily functions, their limbs start jerking involuntarily, and death comes from respiratory failure. A choking agent impedes the victim’s ability to breathe, causing a buildup of fluid in the lungs, and eventually death by drowning. Phosgene gas can also be considered a choking agent. A final type in nettle agents. Nettle agents irritate the skin, but do not cause blisters.

2. Non-Detectable Fragments

The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons bans the use of non-metallic fragment in war because they can’t be found by using X-rays. The fragments are said to cause unnecessary suffering. Surgeons have to go through the body by hand looking for these fragments

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Yes, Tony Stark is technically a war criminal.

While plastic itself isn’t prohibited in weapons production, using plastic as the primary effect is.

3. Land Mines

The failure of a total ban of anti-personnel mines in the 1979 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons led to the Ottawa Treaty, which did. This treaty doesn’t cover anti-tank mines, booby traps, and remote mines.

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Say goodbye to everyone’s Goldeneye N64 fun.

Previous treaties have demanded the anti-personnel mines be able to be remotely deactivated, to shut down after a certain time period, or to be removed by the implementing party once the conflict ends.

4. Incendiary Weapons

The use of weapons designed just to burn or set fire to large areas which may be full of civilians are also prohibited. The ban covers actual flame, heat or chemical reactions, so this limits the use of flamethrowers, napalm, and white phosphorus. You can still use a flamethrower, you just can’t use it near civilians, which, on today’s battlefield, might be a tall order.

Napalm is that the substance itself isn’t banned as a weapon, but using it on anything other than a concentrated area where the enemy is using foliage as concealment is banned.

5. Blinding Laser Weapons

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Laser Weapons also ruin the shooter’s peripheral vision. Apparently.

This covers any laser designed to cause permanent blindness, but it does say that if the laser in question just happens to cause blindness, you can’t be held responsible for that.

6. “Expanding” Ordnance

Technically, this covers “bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body,” which were developed by the British in India at the time of the Hague Convention in 1899. The delegates to the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868 wanted to limit warfare to only the combatants. They reasoned that if weapons were deadlier, there would be less suffering. Since exploding bullets under 400 grams would only kill one man and that ordinary bullets would do, why create exploding ones?

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Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

Today, this prohibition covers hollow-point bullets, which are designed to remain in the body and limit collateral damage.

7. Poisoned Bullets

In the earliest known arms agreement, the Holy Roman Empire and France agreed not to use poisoned bullets on each other. At the time, troops stored bullets in unclean planes, like corpses. It would be another 100+ years before the idea of germs spreading disease caught on in the medical world, so the infections caused by these bullets were a serious hazard to injured troops.

8. Cluster Bombs

A cluster bomb releases a number of projectiles on impact to injure or damage personnel and vehicles. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions banned these for two reasons. First, they have wide area effects and are unable to distinguish between civilians and combatants. Second, cluster munitions leave behind large numbers of dangerous unexploded ordnance.

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This double whammy carries clusters of Sarin Gas.

 9. Biological Weapons

The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention was the first treaty to completely ban a whole class of weapons. It prohibits the development, production, and stockpiling of biological and toxin weapons, though has no governing body to enforce compliance.

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That’s how this happened.

Biological weapons are some of the oldest weapons of mass destruction known to have been used by man. The Mongols tossed rotting bodies over the city walls at the 1343 Siege of Caffa, spreading disease and infection throughout the city.

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Now enjoy these blankets.

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French special forces emerge from the shadows in this stunning video

France has been looking for some new recruits for its Commandement des Opérations Spéciales, and it’s turning to YouTube to drum up some interest.


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Members of France’s special forces fire their HK416 rifles. (Youtube screenshot)

According to a report by the London Daily Mail, the video is titled, “A very special video” (gee, did they draw their inspiration from promos for the TV show “Blossom” when they were talking titles?), and shows French commandos in the type of scenes you’d see in a Hollywood blockbuster.

This includes insertions by parachute, minisub, and with scuba gear.

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A Eurocopter Tigre escorts a transport helicopter. (Youtube Screenshot)

The French Commandement des Opérations Spéciales was founded in 1992 to control the special operations forces across the entire French military. This includes the 1st Régiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine and the 13th Régiment de Dragons Parachutistes from the French army, the Force Maritime des Fusiliers Marins et Commandos from the French navy, and the Division des Opérations Spéciales from the French air force.

The famous Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale — known for a number of hostage rescues and counter-terrorism missions — can be called on by the COS for reinforcement, along with other units across all the French armed forces.

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A C-160 Transall comes in for a landing. (Youtube Screenshot)

One notable piece of gear that is featured in the video is the Transall C-160, a Franco-German twin-engine cargo plane that can hold up to 88 paratroopers and which has a top speed of 368 miles per hour and a range of 1,151 miles. France had 75 of these planes in service.

Also seen are helicopters like the AC532 Cougar, the AS332 Super Puma, and the AS330 Puma, Tigre gunships, and assault rifles like the HK416 and FAMAS. You can see the entire trailer below.