How to make it through Special Forces selection - We Are The Mighty
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How to make it through Special Forces selection

Wondering what it takes to cut the mustard in Special Forces selection?

The time of my first (just) two-year enlistment in the Army was coming to an end. I originally enlisted for the shortest amount of time in the Army in the event that if I really hated it too much I only ever had two years to endure. There were two things that I was positively certain of:

  1. I really DID want to stay in the Army
  2. I really did NOT want to stay right where I was in the Army

    It wasn’t a matter of being so fervent about wanting to excel into the ranks of Special Forces soldiers at that time; rather, it was the matter of getting away — far away — from the attitudes and caliber of persons I was serving with at the time in the peace- time Army as it was. I understood, so I thought, that the way to ensure I could distance myself from the regular army aura was to go into Special Forces, namely the Green Berets.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (Special Forces Regimental insignia)

    That was a great path forward, but with a near insurmountable obstacle — you had to be a paratrooper! Jumping from an airplane in flight was fine by me, the problem associated with that was that most airplanes had to be really high up before you jumped out of them. I was then as I am still horrendously terrified of heights — woe is me! My fear of altitudes was keeping me from going to Airborne Jump School and stuck in my current morass of resolve.

    Well, just two short years in the regular “go nowhere, do nothing” Army and I was ready to jump out of high-in-the-sky airplanes parachute or no parachute. I was ready to jump ship!

    Jump School was indeed terrifying despite the small number of jumps, just five, that we were required to make. All of the jumps were in the daytime though mine were all night jumps. All that is required to qualify as a night jump is to simply close one’s eyes. I did. I figured there was nothing so pressing to see while falling and waiting for the intense tug of the opening of the parachute, so I just closed my eyes.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (Every jump can potentially be a night jump, so says I — Wikipedia commons)

    There were 25 of us paratroops headed to the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) upon graduation from Jump School. I was the highest ranking man even as an E-4 in the group, so I was designated the person in charge of the charter bus ride from Jump School to Ft. Bragg, NC for the course — of course! I imagined that duty would not entail much on a bus ride of just a few hours. I was shocked when approached by two men from my group who wished to terminate their status as Green Beret candidates.

    Well, the course certainly MUST be hard if men are quitting already on the bus ride to the course.

    “Sure fellows, but can you at least wait until we get to Bragg to quit?” I pleaded.

    Once at Ft. Bragg, it was our understanding that we were on a two-week wait for our SFQC class to begin. Our first week we tooled about doing essentially nothing but dodging work details like cutting grass and picking up pine cones. The second week was an event that the instructors called “Pre-Phase,” a term that I didn’t like the sound of and braced for impact.

    “Pre-Phase,” in my (humble) opinion, was a pointless and disorganized suck-athon. It was a non-stop hazing with back-breaking, butt-kicking, physical events determined to crush the weak and eliminate the faint of heart. In the end we had a fraction of the number of candidates that we started with. I noted that of the 25 men I brought over from Jump School, only me and one other very reserved soldier survived. We nodded at each other and shook hands at the culmination of the mysterious Pre-Phase.

    “Good job, brother-man!” I praised him.

    “Thank you; my name is Gabrial, you can call me Gabe,” he introduced.

    “Great job, Gabe — George is my name — please, call me Geo!” I invited.

    The documented entry-level criteria included the ability to pass the standard Army Physical Readiness Fitness Test (APRFT) in a lofty percentile, though one I am loath to admit I do not remember. There was also a swim test that was required of us to perform wearing combat fatigues, combat boots, and carrying an M-16 assault rifle.

    We did it in the post swimming pool. It was a bit of a challenge but by no means a threat to my status as a candidate. I was nonetheless dismayed at several men who were not able to pass it after having gone through all they had. It was sad.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (Special Forces have a charter for conducting surface and subsurface water operations — Wikipedia commons)

    The first month of the SFQC was very impressive to me as a young man barely 20 years old. It was all conducted at a remote camp in the woods where we lived in structures made of wood frames and tar paper — barely a departure at all from the outdoor environment. We endured many (MANY) surprise forced marches of unknown distance, very heavy loads, and extreme speed that were hardly distinguishable from a full run.

    Aside from the more didactic classroom environment learning skills of every sort, there were the constant largely physical strength and endurance events like hand-to-hand combat training, combat patrolling, rope bridge construction with river crossings, obstacle course negotiating, living and operating in heavily wooded environments. We learned to kill and prepare wild game for meals: rabbits, squirrels, goats, and snakes. Hence the age-old term for Special Forces soldiers — “Snake Eaters,” a moniker I bore with proud distinction.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (Survival skills are essential in Special Forces — Wikipedia Commons)

    We all had to endure a survival exercise of several days alone. There were dozens of tasks associated with that exercise that we had to accomplish in those days: building shelter, starting and maintaining a fire for heat and cooking, building snares and traps to catch animals for food, and building an apparatus to determine time of day and cardinal directions.

    Since the same land was used time after time by the survival training, it was understood by the cadre that the land was pretty much hunted out, leaving no animals to speak of for food. Therefore there was a set day and time that a truck was scheduled to drive by each candidate’s camp to throw an animal off of the back. When the animal hit the ground it became stunned and disoriented. We had just seconds to profit from the animal’s stupor to spring in and catch it before it ran away… or go hungry for the duration.

    Hence the sundial I built and my track of the days, to have myself in position to capture my animal when the time came. The time and the truck came. I crouched along the side of the terrain road. The cadre slung a thing that was white from the truck. It hit the ground and was stunned. I pounced on what turned out to be a white bunny rabbit.

    “Oh… my God!” I lamented earnestly in my weakened physical and mental capacity, “I’ve stumbled into Alice in Wonderland’s enchanted forest… I can’t eat the White Rabbit!”

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (He’s late, he’s late, for a very important date — Wikipedia Commons)

    Some men were unfortunately unable to capture their rabbits in time before they ran away. One man was overcome by grief at the prospect of killing his rabbit — his only source of companionship. He rather built a cage for it and graced it with a share of the paltry source of food that he had. Me, I was a loner and swung my Cheshire rabbit by the hind legs head-first into a tree. I ate that night in solace and in the company of just myself.

    Men who could no longer continue sat on the roadside each morning and waited for a truck, one that I referred to in disdain as the hearse, to be picked up and removed from the course. One of them was carrying a cage lovingly constructed from sticks and vines in which sat therein a nibbling white rabbit. The man was washed out of the course for failing tasks, backed up by quitting. There was no potential for a man to return for a second time if he had quit on his first try — quitting was not an option.

    The event that cut the greatest swath through the candidate numbers was the individual land navigation event. It lasted a week or so with some hands-on cadre-lead instruction, some time for individual practice, culminating in a period of several days and nights of individual tests. The movements were long, the terrain difficult, the stress level very high. Every leg of the navigation course was measured on time and accuracy — we had to be totally accurate on every move, and within the speed standard.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (SF troop candidate during Land Navigation Phase of SFQC moves quickly with heavy loads — DVIDS)

    I recall a particular night when all of us lay in our pup tents waiting for our release time to begin our night movements. Just as the hour was on us a monumental torrent of rain began to gush down. The men scrambled and clambered back to their tents like wet alley cats. I performed a simple mathematical equation in my head:

    • time equals distance
    • hiding in a tent for an undetermined period equals zero time
    • zero time equals zero distance
    • choosing one’s personal comfort over time equals failure

    I had a Grandma Whipple’s rum-soaked cigar clenched tightly in my teeth; it was lit before the rain but no more, and I assure you most fervently that it was never in any way Cuban! Plowing through the vegetation for many minutes I came to a modest clearing that I came to be very familiar with over the days. It told me that I was thankfully on course for the moment. The rain was tapering off generously and I felt a leg up on the navigation for the night.

    I reached for my cigar but there was none there save the mere butt that remained clenched in my teach. To my disgust the waterlogged cigar had collapsed under its weight and lay in a mushy black track down my chin and neck edging glacially toward my chest. There would be no comfort of the smoke, nor deterrence of mosquitoes by the smoke of the Grandma Whipple’s rum-soaked positively non-cuban cigar that night.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    More than five months later I sat on my rucksack (backpack) of some 50 lbs just having completed a timed 12-mile forced ruck march, nothing any longer between me and graduation from the SFQC course. There were plenty of things to think of that had happened or did not happen to me over the nearly half-year, though I somehow chose the bus ride from Jump School to Ft. Bragg to ponder. How rowdy and arrogant the crowd had been, all pompously sporting green berets that they hadn’t even earned yet. Me, I had chosen to wear my Army garrison cap — nothing fancy.

    I filtered through the events that had taken each man who had not already quit from that arduous bus ride from Jump School. I remember how they had all failed or quit one by one except that one brother whose hand I shook at the end of pre-phase.

    Buses pulled up to move us back to some nice barracks for the night, some barrack at least 12 miles away by my calculation. Usually everyone snatched up his own rucksack by his damned self, but on this occasion the brother next to me pulled up my rucksack to shoulder height for me in a congratulatory gesture of kindness.

    I in turn grabbed his rucksack in the same manner though with a deep admiration and respect for the man who had come all the way with me from Jump School through the SFQC fueled by reserved professionalism. His name was Gabriel, but I just called him Gabe.

    By Almighty God and with honor, geo sends

    This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.


    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Watch how the US Army sinks ships

    It’s been decades since the United States Army attacked a ship on the high seas. The last time it happened was when an AH-6 “Little Bird” with what eventually became the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (better known as “the Nightstalkers”) caught an Iranian vessel, the Iran Ajr, laying mines in the Persian Gulf in 1987.

    Well, the Army has now sunk another vessel — with an assist from the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. This took place during RIMPAC 2018, when both forces fired ground-based, anti-ship missiles during a SINKEX, an exercise in which a decommissioned ship is towed to a designated location and then hit by live anti-ship missiles, gunfire, and torpedoes.


    In February, 2018, the Army announced their plans to use a truck-mounted version of Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile, also known as the NSM, during these exercises. A few months later, in June, the United States Navy selected the NSM as its new beyond-visual-range, anti-ship missile.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    The Army fired a truck-mounted version of the Kongsberg NSM.

    (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary D. Bell)

    Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force has also been using truck-mounted, anti-ship missiles for a while. Their mainstay in this department is the Type 88, also known as the SSM-1. A slightly modified version of this missile is widely used by Japanese ships, called the Type 90.

    The Type 88 has a range of just under 112 miles. The Type 90’s range is a little over 93 miles. The service is soon introducing the new Type 12 truck-launched missile, which will replace both the Type 88 and the Type 90 and has a range of 124 miles.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    Japan’s latest truck-mounted anti-ship missile is the Type 12, with a range of 124 miles.

    (Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force)

    During RIMPAC 2018, these militaries tested their missiles on a decommissioned Newport-class tank-landing ship. Their target, the USS Racine (LST 1191), could carry 29 tanks and 400 troops, was 522 feet long, and displaced almost 8,800 tons. A total of 20 Newport-class ships were built, all of which served at least 20 years with the United States Navy.

    Watch the U.S. Army and the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force launch their missiles in the video below!

    Articles

    These new muzzle devices make us hot and bothered

    The last few weeks have seen several new muzzle devices make their way into the marketplace. Comps, brakes, flash hiders — we’ve seen quite an array of ’em. Here are three that caught our eye.


    A gear porn bulletin from WATM friends The Mad Duo of BreachBangClear.com.

    Remember: at the risk of sounding orgulous, we must remind you that this is just a “be advised” — a public service if you will — letting you know these things exist and might be of interest. It’s no more a review, endorsement, or denunciation than it is an episiotomy.

    Grunts: Orgulous.

    1. Faxon MuzzLok

    There are actually two of these: the GUNNER, a 3-port muzzle brake, and the FLAME, a triple prong flash hider. The two new devices follow in the footsteps of Faxon’s Loudmouth single-port brake.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    Faxon Flame Muzzle Device.

    The FLAME is described as being capable of “virtually eliminating” secondary ignition at the mouth of the muzzle, thus making muzzle flash nearly non-existent (their claim — we haven’t tested to verify).

    The GUNNER, for its part, is designed to reduce recoil by 50%, making it ideal for competitive shooters. Both are designed to function with 5.56mm and .223 Rem. platforms. Both feature concentric 1/2 x 28 TPI threads, and both retail for $59.99.

    Nathaniel Schueth, the Faxon Director of Sales and Product Development, had this to say:

    “We are thrilled to be expanding the MuzzLok line of products with the GUNNER and FLAME devices. Both meet shooters’ objectives for versatility and recoil or flash reduction. The GUNNER and FLAME for 5.56 are just the first of many more devices to come using MuzzLok technology.”

    GUNNER 3 Port Muzzle Brake:

    Material: Gun Barrel Quality Steel

    Finish: QPQ Salt Bath Nitride

    Thread: 1/2″-28 TPI

    Weight: 2.9 ounces w/ MuzzLok Nut

    Length: 2.4 inches w/ MuzzLok Nut

    Diameter: 0.9″

    Caliber: .223/5.56

    FLAME Tri Prong Flash Hider:

    Material: Gun Barrel Quality Steel

    Finish:  QPQ Salt Bath Nitride

    Thread:  1/2″-28 TPI

    Weight:  3.36 ounces w/ MuzzLok Nut

    Length:  2.6 inches w/ MuzzLok Nut

    Diameter:  0.9″

    Caliber:  .223/5.56

    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    Faxon Gunner Muzzle Device.

    2. LANTAC Dragon 

    The Dragon muzzle brake (officially the “Dragon DGN556B-QM”) shouldn’t be confused with their Drakon or other Dragon models. This one is manufactured to be GemTech QM compatible, making it their first to be designed for use with silencers.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    LANTAC Dragon.

    This muzzle device is threaded in 1/2 x 28 for 5.56mm, but we’re reliably informed they’ll be building 7.62 and other versions soon. Unfortunately, despite putting out word of the Dragon over a month ago, it has yet to show up on their website, so we can’t give you an MSRP or any additional details.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    LANTAC Down Range Photography.

    All we can do is suggest you check ’em out online or follow their social media for updates (on Instagram @lantac_usa).

    3. VLTOR Narwhal

    The VLTOR Narwhal is described as a “mix of a brake and a flash suppressor [that] directs blast forward.” It uses an expansion chamber rather than a blast chamber, and as you can see is available from Rainier in a limited edition Stickman version.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    VLTOR Narwhal Muzzle Brake.

    Says VLTOR,

    “The VLTOR Weapon Systems VC-NRWL muzzle device gives a unique spin on utilizing gas and blast to help rifles function reliably as well as many other features. The muzzle device directs blast and sound forward and away from the shooter by pushing blast out in one direction. This makes the weapon more controllable and helps eliminate muzzle rise to keep the forend of the weapon on a level sight view.

    While being an excellent muzzle device for any 5.56/.223 rifle, the VC-NRWL stands out in short barrel applications by allowing backpressure to be utilized for cycling as well as in situations of weak ammunition.”

    Some other things to know – it comes with a crush washer, can be installed and clocked with a 1 in. open end wrench, is 3.04 in. long, weighs 5.4 oz. and is Made in the USA.

    If you wanna know more than that, you gotta go look for yourself.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    VLTOR Narwhal Muzzle Brake.

    About the Author: We Are The Mighty contributor Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore comes to us from our partners at BreachBangClear.com (@breachbangclear). He is one half of the most storied celebrity action figure team in the world. He believes in American Exceptionalism, holding the door for any woman, and the idea that you should be held accountable for every word that comes out of your mouth. He may also be one of two nom de plumes for a veritable farrago of CAGs and FAGs (Current Action Guys and Former Action Guys). You can learn more about Swingin’ Dick right here.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    This small country has become key to Pacific struggles

    China’s growing presence in the Pacific and Indian oceans has its neighbors on guard, and their competition for influence has recently kept Sri Lanka’s capital and port city of Colombo busy.

    On Oct. 1, 2018, a day after Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier Kaga, the country’s largest warship, and destroyer Inazuma sailed into Colombo, the ships’ commanding officers and the commander of Japan’s escort flotilla four, Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda, met with the head of the Sri Lankan navy, sharing “views on matters of bilateral importance.”


    “Japan’s government is promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific and this deployment in the Asia Pacific is a component of that strategy,” Fukuda told Reuters as his ships sailed to Sri Lanka. Japanese naval vessels have stopped in Sri Lanka 50 times over the past five years, he said.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    Sri Lanka navy personnel welcome Japanese navy ships Kaga and Inazuma in Colombo, Sept. 30, 2018.

    (Sri Lanka navy photo)

    On Oct. 4, 2018, the same day the JMSDF ships departed, Chinese navy ship Hai Yangdao arrived for a four-day “goodwill visit,” according to Sri Lanka’s navy, which said the Chinese ship’s skipper and the commander of Sri Lanka’s western naval area “held a cordial discussion on matters of mutual interest.”

    Sri Lanka sits not far from shipping lines through the Indian Ocean that carry much of the world’s container traffic and the majority of China’s energy imports. Its location has made it an area of interest for countries throughout the region.

    Chinese assistance to the country has grown over the past decade, after the US ended direct military aid over Sri Lanka’s poor human-rights record. Earlier this year, China said it would give Sri Lanka a naval frigate as a gift.

    That relationship has become more of a concern for India, Japan, and others in recent years, especially after Sri Lanka granted China control of the port of Hambantota for 99 years in 2017.

    India in particular is worried Beijing will use the port for military purposes — China and Sri Lanka both deny that will happen — and to augment the presence it has elsewhere in the region, including at a port in Pakistan and a military outpost in Djibouti.

    New Delhi has watched warily as Chinese submarines and other warships have passed through the area over the past several years. India’s security posture has undergone what has been called “a tectonic shift” toward the country’s southern approaches in recent years.

    On Oct. 6, 2018, Sri Lankan navy ships SLNS Sagara, an offshore patrol ship, and SLNS Suranimala, a missile ship, both left Colombo on their way to India for a four-day goodwill visit that was to include training exercises.

    Japan has also sought a larger role in the Indian Ocean region. Tokyo has expanded security partnerships and plans to spend hundreds of billions on infrastructure projects there — ambitions that rival China’s.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Kaga helicopter carrier.

    The arrival of Kaga was purportedly meant as a sign to Sri Lanka that Japan was willing to deploy major military assets to an area of the world where China’s influence is growing.

    After the Kaga’s departure, Japan’s navy was to begin four days of joint exercises with Sri Lanka’s navy in the Indian Ocean meant to strengthen cooperation between the two forces. Sources told The Japan Times that it was also meant as a message to China, though a MSDF said no specific country as being targeted.

    As a part of the exercise, Sri Lankan officers will board the Kaga to observe Japanese training and to exchange information on humanitarian operations. (Officers from the US Navy’s 7th Fleet are also on hand.)

    “It’s rare for the MSDF to allow military officials of other countries to board any of its vessels during an exercise at sea,” a public-relations official of the Defense Ministry’s Maritime Staff Office told The Japan Times.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    Sri Lanka navy personnel welcome the US Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy, April 25, 2018.

    (Sri Lanka navy photo)

    Since the 2015 electoral defeat of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who presided over a number of questionable deals with China, the US has also looked for ways to rebuild ties with Colombo.

    Washington, along with Tokyo and New Delhi, has reportedly taken an interest in the port of Trincomalee on Sri Lanka’s eastern coast as a way to counter China’s presence at Hambantota and around the region.

    Trincomalee saw a visit by the US Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy in April 2018, and in August 2018 — a few weeks after Sri Lanka took part in the US-led Rim of the Pacific military exercise for the first time — the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage pulled into Trincomalee with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit for a security cooperation exercise. (Such exercises have been done before.)

    August 2018 also saw a visit to Sri Lanka by Japan’s defense minister, who stopped in Trincomalee and Hambantota. That visit came a few months after the Japanese foreign minister visited for the first time in 16 years.

    “The message to China is that Japan, with India and the United States and of course Sri Lanka, has the capacity to engage militarily,” Nozomu Yoshitomi, a professor at Nihon University and a former Ground Self Defence Force major general who advised the Japanese cabinet, told Reuters in October 2018.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    The F-35 in Japan is still losing dogfights to F-15s

    The most expensive weapons system in history, the US’s F-35 Lightning II, is still sometimes losing to the 1970s F-15 in dogfights during training scenarios in Japan.

    US Air Force F-15 pilot Capt. Brock McGehee, when asked by Defense News if the F-35s at Kadena Air Force base in Japan still sometimes lost to the Cold War-era fighters, said “I mean, sometimes.”


    The F-35 has long been plagued by reports of that it can’t dogfight as well as older, much cheaper jets, despite being in development for nearly two decades and claiming to revolutionize air combat.

    In 2015, War is Boring published a report from a test pilot that said the F-35 couldn’t turn or climb fast enough to keep up with older jets, and F-16s lugging heavy fuel tanks under wing still routinely trounced it.

    But a lot has changed since 2015. The F-35 has had its software upgraded and the tactics refined.

    Why the Cold War jets can still pull a win out — for now

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    Retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke previously told Business Insider that the older jets benefited from decades of development and training, whereby new pilots today have established best practices. As the F-35 is still in its early days, Berke said the best is yet to come.

    In 2017, the F-35 dominated older jets with a ratio of 15 kills to one death.

    “The biggest limitation for the F-35 is that pilots are not familiar with how to fly it. They try to fly the F-35 like their old airplane,” Berke said.

    But the pilots at Kadena dogfighting against F-15s may be a cut above, according to Berke, who said that because they have never flown a legacy jet before, they won’t bring the bad habits with them, and will instead learn how to fly the F-35 like the unique plane it is. “They’re going to be your best, most effective tacticians,” Berke said.

    F-35s at a major disadvantage to any legacy jet in a dogfight

    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    (U.S. Air Force photo)

    “The F-35 cannot out dogfight a Typhoon (or a Su-35), never in a million years,” Justin Bronk, a combat aircraft expert at the Royal United Services Institute, previously told Business Insider.

    The reason why, according to Bronk and other experts on the F-35, is that the F-35 just isn’t a dogfighter. The F-35’s stealth design put heavy demands on the shape of the aircraft, which restricted it in some dimensions. As a result, it’s not the most dynamic jet the US could have possibly built, but it doesn’t have to be.

    Instead, the F-35 relies on stealth. F-35s, employed correctly in battle, would score most of their kills with long range missiles fired from beyond visual range.

    “If you get into a dogfight with the F-35, somebody made a mistake. It’s like having a knife fight in a telephone booth,” civilian F-16 pilot Adam Alpert of the Vermont Air National Guard wrote in 2016 after training on F-35 simulators.

    A Top Gun pilot says dogfighting is dead anyway

    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    (Photo courtesy of Dave Berke)

    Berke, an alumnus of the US Navy’s famous Top Gun school, echoed Alpert’s assessment, but warned that the common perception of dogfighting was “way off,” and something US jets haven’t done in 40 years. Berke disagreed with Bronk’s “never in a million years” assertion, but maintained that the dogfighting issue was basically irrelevant.

    The bottom line is that in training, all jets lose “sometimes.” That the F-35 can hold its own and beat a jet refined over four decades to excel exclusively at air-to-air combat — when the F-35 has been designed to fight, bomb, spy, and sneak — shows its tremendous range and potential.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    How the Marines would stomp the Russians in the Arctic

    About 90 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune carried out a mock air assault in Iceland in October 2018 as part of the initial phase of NATO’s largest war games since the end of the Cold War.

    The NATO war games, called Trident Juncture 2018, will begin on Oct. 25, 2018, in Norway and include more than 50,000 troops from 31 countries.

    According to NATO, the purpose of Trident Juncture is “to ensure that NATO forces are trained, able to operate together, and ready to respond to any threat from any direction.”


    But the war games are also largely seen, by the East and West, as de facto training for a fight with Russia.

    Along with the carrier USS Harry S. Truman, the US has sent about 14,000 troops to the games, and the initial mock air assault was to help prepare Marines for a large-scale amphibious assault to be carried later in Norway.

    But that’s not all the Marines did.

    Here’s how they trained in Iceland for a potential cold-weather fight with Russia.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    Marines load onto a CH-53E Sea Stallion aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) while conducting an air assault in Icelandic terrain on Oct. 17, 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    The 90 US Marines aboard the USS Iwo Jima were first loaded onto MV-22 Ospreys and CH-53 Sea Stallions.

    Source: US Marine Corps

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    A V-22 Osprey departs from USS Iwo Jima for an air assault in Icelandic terrain on Oct. 17, 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    A US Marine posts security at Keflavik Air Base in Iceland on Oct. 17, 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    Where they set up a security post.

    Source: US Marine Corps

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    US Marines post security at Keflavik Air Base in Iceland on Oct. 17, 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    “During the air assault we landed on an airfield and immediately set up security which allowed for the aircraft to leave safely,” Cpl. Mitchell Edds said.

    Source: US Marine Corps

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    A US Marine aims his weapon while posting security during a mock air assault in Iceland.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    “We then conducted a movement to a compound where Marines set up security to allow U.S and Icelandic coordination,” Edds said.

    Source: US Marine Corps

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    US Marines hike to a cold-weather training site in Iceland on Oct. 19, 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    A Marine adjusts a fellow Marine’s gear as they prepare to move for a cold-weather training hike in Iceland on Oct. 19, 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    Cold-weather insulated boots used by US Marines in Iceland on Oct. 19, 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    In fact, they appear to have tried out their new cold-weather boots, which were just issued by the Corps.

    Source: US Marines

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    US Marines overlook a training area from a hill in Iceland on Oct. 19, 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    US Marines set up camp during cold-weather training in Iceland in October 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    Where they began setting up camp.

    Source: US Marine Corps

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    US Marines set up tents in Iceland in October 2018.

    (Photo by US Marine Corps)

    “We’re just getting the gear out — the tents, stoves and stuff like that, making sure we know how to use it … and making sure we know how to use it before we get to Norway,” one US Marine said.

    Business Insider contacted the US Marine Corps to find out more about the cold-weather training they conducted, but the Corps did not immediately respond.

    Source: US Marine Corps

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


    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (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.”

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    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.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (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.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (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.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (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.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (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.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (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.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (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.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (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.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    (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 CULTURE

    How this soldier is finding his dream job through the US Army

    Sit across the table from Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili for just a few seconds and you’ll see a basic outline emerge fairly quickly. His manners and easy smile, the way he leans forward when he talks, and — not least of all, of course — his affection for Starbucks Doubleshot energy drinks make him the typical — almost archetypal — 30-year-old soldier; busy, eager, and always ready for the next task, the next challenge. But dig a little deeper and you will see, quite clearly, the details that color the world inside that simple sketch. To map the entire terrain, however, you’ll need to travel some 15,000 miles.

    “I always wanted to be a soldier,” says Dzamashvili, sitting in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade on a warm September morning. “When I was a kid that was always something I thought would be cool, being a soldier for the American Army.”


    Those words, and indeed his affinity for the Army and America as a whole, are repeated so often and with such calm conviction that he could almost double as a motivational speaker; one specializing, perhaps, in writing simple daily mantras for busy professionals to read on their daily commutes. Instead, Dzamashvili is a board-certified medical doctor who enlisted in the Army just last year, in early 2018. It’s a commitment, he says, that doubles as a gift to the country that gave him opportunities he never would have had in his native Georgia — a tiny, still-emerging country located at the intersection of Western Asia and Eastern Europe.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili speaks with a coworker at his desk located in the offices of the 21st Signal Brigade.

    (Photo by Mr. Ramin A. Khalili)

    “Honestly,” says Dzamashvili, “the reason I wanted to become an American soldier is because America has given my family everything.”

    The first 5,000 miles

    “When I was born in Georgia,” says Dzamashvili, reaching back to the late 1980s, “it was still part of the U.S.S.R. This was just before the U.S.S.R. split up, and so there was instability and there was upheaval … there was an ongoing fight for power.”

    It was that atmosphere of decline that Dzamashvili’s father, Konstantin, sought to flee when he reached out to a friend living in Chicago for help in the early 1990s. Political and cultural strife in the country of — at the time — barely more than four million people had led to the breakdown of living conditions and, in some cases, the basic application of law. And so Konstantin, a neurologist by trade, was hoping America could provide safety for his wife, son, and young twin daughters.

    “My father was waiting in breadlines for hours just to feed the family,” says Dzamashvili. “So when he came here, it was for a better life.”

    But that opportunity came with a catch. In order to pay for his family’s move to America, Konstantin had to travel to the U.S. alone first in order to save up enough money. He wound up bunking with that same buddy in Chicago for a year —eventually re-starting his medical career at 40-years old — before bringing the rest of the family to Illinois.

    Says Dzamashvili of his father, “He was out there for a year, alone, while we were still in Georgia, until he had passed all his boards and started his residency program, which would then fund us coming over here.”

    And so at age five, Sergo was finally in the place he wanted to be all along … for a little while, at least.

    Return to Georgia

    For Sergo, it all started with his grandfather — his father’s father. He was the catalyst, the inception point. He passed away when Konstantin was in his late teens and so Sergo never got a chance to meet him, but he did have pictures — volumes of mementos from Georgia.

    “I would always hear stories about his bravery,” says Sergo, “about what kind of man he was. From early on, I was always intrigued — the way he was standing there in his [military] uniform with all these medals.”

    Those pictures, coupled with Sergo’s newfound affinity for the United States, stuck with him during his formative years and carried through to his entrance into medical school — which he ultimately chose to attend at David Tvildiani Medical University back in Georgia.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili (foreground, right) conducts Army Warrior Tasks (AWT) drills during the 21st Signal Brigade Best Warrior Competition 2019.

    (US Army photo by Sgt. Raul Pacheco)

    The decision to both leave home (to leave again, in a manner of speaking) and reconnect with family roots was daunting to say the least, as Georgia had been rife with the same political instability from Dzamashvili’s youth up until pro-democratic forces rose to power in the mid-2000s. The tiny, burgeoning country was still — much like Sergo at the time — moving through its adolescent years.

    There was contrasting comfort, however, in the medical training itself. Turns out Dzamashvili’s chosen university not only came highly recommended from family friends practicing medicine in Chicago, it was designed specifically to cater to regional students who wanted to ultimately enter U.S.-based medical professions. To that end, all university textbooks were written in English and, further, the overall cost of schooling was substantially less than a U.S.-based medical education — all perks unavailable to his father just a decade-or-so earlier. Ironically, Georgia would eventually, in 2014, become home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate-Georgia, a subordinate command of the USAMRDC’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

    “Going back to Georgia really brought me that perspective,” says Dzamashvili. “There was a long time where my family wouldn’t go back, even though we had a chance to go back in the 90s.”

    Just twelve years after touching down in America’s Heartland — and just a few years after becoming an American citizen — Sergo was back on a plane at age 17 for a new and different journey.

    Homecoming, part II

    When you ask him how Georgians speak — ask about the language they use, the way they talk, the casual slang terms they use, even — Dzamashvili is quick to make it clear that Georgia is a singular and unique entity; a hard-fought identity that he clearly still respects.

    “Georgians have their own language,” he says quickly, almost as a sly-but-gentle rebuke to those who think the country may still be hindered by its turbulent past in any way. “They have their own alphabet, everything — and so I had to re-learn how to read and write, essentially, when I went back for school.”

    Dzamashvili’s university stay would last for six years until his graduation in 2013; at which point he’d not only navigated the rigors of initial medical training, but had reached a poignant understanding of the country of his birth (“people there are very hospitable,” he says), gained a greater understanding of the government’s democratic efforts (“I see hope,” he says), and, with regards to cultural differences, had also determined that Georgia had substantial culinary shortcomings as compared to the U.S. (“I did miss burritos over there,” he says).

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    U.S. Army Spc. Sergo Dzamashvili assigned to HHC, 21st Signal Brigade, conducts M9 weapons qualification as part of the 21st Signal Brigade Best Warrior Competition 2019.

    (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Raul Pacheco)

    Touching back down in Illinois, Dzamashvili eventually passed his medical board examinations, shadowed professional doctors, and even performed clinical research at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. But when it came time for residency training, instead of waiting a year to attend either Loyola University of Chicago or the University of Illinois at Chicago, he opted for a different path: the U.S. Army.

    “Screw waiting,” says Dzamashvili of his mindset at the time. “I’m going to join the Army. I was always told the fastest way to get into the Army was to just go and enlist anyways, so that didn’t bother me to go enlist for a couple of years as long as I got into the medical field.”

    Desire, meet destiny

    Now, after thirty years and medical training efforts on two different continents, Sergo Dzamashvili is both a medical doctor and a member of the U.S. Army; his first assignment is here at Fort Detrick. His unique qualifications have bred an understandable eagerness to move forward — a chomping at the bit, of sorts — as, indeed, he’s already started the process of entering the Army’s medical occupation; taking the steps required to become a physician. But if you think the man who’s waited nearly three decades to realize his dream is put off by a little time in the waiting room, then you don’t know Sergo.

    “My ultimate goal is to practice medicine in the Army,” says Dzamashvili. “That’s what I want, to give back. I’d like to serve for at least eight years, to give back that entire time in service.”

    Just how long it will take to reach that goal is yet to be seen, though it should come as no surprise that Dzamashvili has already attempted to plot the arc of his military medical career even before his training has been completed. Even now, serving as a Human Resources Specialist in the S-1 Office until his next assignment, he finds in each day’s shift what so many others would gladly welcome into their own lives: a sense of purpose, the feeling of belonging, and the satisfaction of a job that truly has meaning.

    In the end — if these kinds of stories can have an end — the service career of Sergo Dzamashvili is, in reality, just beginning. It would be an exaggeration, perhaps, to say that Dzamashvili has already lived multiple lives; though it wouldn’t be such a stretch to say that’s the truth, either. In any capacity, his life’s work as currently constructed already stands as an impressive feat; a soldier coupling the desire to serve America with the talent required to make a lasting impact.

    Not too bad for a typical 30-year-old.

    Says Dzamashvili, “If there’s nothing else I do in my life, I can always say I was a soldier. That’s the way I look at it. If there’s nothing else that I accomplish, I will always know that I served my country.”

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

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    US and Canadian Air Force resupply northernmost inhabited place in the world

    Airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing delivered more than 100,000 pounds of cargo to the most northern permanently inhabited place in the world, Sept. 26 to Oct. 4, 2019, as part of a joint operation with the Canadian Armed Forces.

    Twenty airmen from the 109th, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York, flew seven missions to Canadian Forces Station Alert as part of the twice a year effort to supply the station.

    The resupply mission is known as Operation Boxtop and takes place in the spring and fall.

    “The US Air Force’s New York Air National Guard is uniquely qualified to help us apply practical lessons from decades of successful Antarctic operations to the Arctic environment,” said US Air Force Brig. Gen. Edward Vaughan, the deputy commander for the Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command Region.


    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    New York Air National Guard airmen from the 109th Airlift Wing and Royal Canadian Air Force airmen from 8 Wing, who teamed up to resupply Canadian Forces Station Alert as part of Operation Boxtop, in front of a New York Air National Guard C-130 at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Oct. 3, 2019.

    (Canadian armed forces/Leading Seaman Paul Green, 8 Wing Imaging)

    The station, located on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut — 490 miles south of the North Pole — is home to around 55 Canadian Forces military and civilian personnel year-round.

    Canadian Forces Station Alert, built in 1956, maintains signals intelligence facilities to support Canadian military operations, hosts researchers for Environment and Climate Change Canada, and plays a key role in projecting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    A C-130 assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing with cargo at Thule Air Base, Greenland prior to being flown to Canadian Forces Station Alert on Ellsmere Island, Nunavut, September 30, 2019.

    (Canadian armed forces/Leading Seaman Paul Green, 8 Wing Imaging)

    The wing, which flies the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world, teamed up with the Canadian Armed Force’s 8 Wing, based in Trenton, Ontario to conduct the mission. 8 Wing is the higher headquarters for the Alert station.

    The Canadian Forces asked specifically for funded the 109th’s participation in accomplishing the resupply mission as part of broader bi-national Arctic Force Package initiatives, according to Vaughan.

    “Beyond operating the amazing LC-130 aircraft, the men and women of the 109th Airlift Wing are polar execution experts,” Vaughan added.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    David Jacobson, US ambassador to Canada at the time, in front of the CFS Alert welcome sign, April 19, 2010.

    (US Embassy Canada/Flickr)

    The mission profile called for one C-130 from the 109th to fly to Thule Air Base in Greenland, the northernmost installation operation by the US military, and then fly cargo from there to Alert. The 109th personnel included two full crews of six airmen, for a total of twelve, and eight maintenance personnel.

    The 109th Airlift Wing carried bulk cargo which allowed the Canadian Armed Forces, which employed a C-130J and C-17 cargo plane, to focus on carrying fuel for generators and heating, explained New York Air National Guard Major Jacob Papp, an aircraft commander.

    The three aircraft flew missions around the clock to supply the Alert outpost.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    A south-facing view of Canadian Forces Station Alert, May 30, 2016.

    (Kevin Rawlings/Wikimedia Commons)

    The conditions in the Arctic this time of year can be less than ideal, Papp said. The crews experience freezing fog, low visibility and high winds, making approaches and landing difficult at times. Despite the weather, the 109th Airlift Wing crews were able to complete 37.4 hours of flying for the operation, he added.

    “It was great to get out there and use the skills that we train for all the time, to land on a really short strip given the conditions and unimproved surface.” Papp said. “We look forward to working with them (Canadian Forces) again.”

    The 109th Airlift Wing has a long history of operating in the Arctic in support of American and Canadian operations. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, the 109th Airlift Wing participated in Operation NUNALIVUT, an annual Arctic operations exercise.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    A C-130 flown by airmen from the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing takes off from Canadian Forces Station Alert on Ellsmere Island, Nunavut, after dropping off supplies on Sept. 30, 2019.

    (Canadian armed forces/Leading Seaman Paul Green, 8 Wing Imaging)

    “Operating in the polar regions has been a 109th Airlift Wing core competency for the better part of 50 years, so assisting in this year’s Operation Boxtop is most definitely in the 109th wheelhouse,” said Major Gen. Timothy LaBarge, the commander of the New York Air National Guard.

    “As we continue to demonstrate our collective abilities and competencies in the polar regions, I believe this effort by the 109th tangibly illustrates our ability to operate and project power in the High North,” La Barge said.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    A CC-130J Hercules aircraft prepares to depart Canadian Forces Station Alert in Nunavut to bring more fuel to the station while another CC-130J Hercules approaches its parking spot to deliver fuel during Operation Boxtop, April 21, 2015.

    (Canadian armed forces/Cpl Raymond Haack)

    This historic resupply mission was conducted relatively late in the fall to help prove that science, logistics and other objectives in the Arctic can be met, according to Vaughan.

    “This late season resupply of Canadian Forces Station Alert, the most northern military outpost on Earth, further demonstrates US-Canadian resolve in protecting the Arctic environment,” Vaughan said.

    The Canadian NORAD Region works with the Continental United States NORAD Region to provide airspace surveillance and control for both countries.

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Air Force One may soon get its first new paint job since the Kennedy years — here’s what it was like on JFK’s version of the presidential airliner

    The Pentagon’s latest budget request, released on Monday, revealed a new paint scheme for Air Force One, which some observers say looks a lot like President Donald Trump’s own private jet.


    The new red, white, and blue paint job would be a change from the light blue color scheme designed by President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, in the 1960s and which has appeared on every presidential aircraft since.

    On October 19, 1962, Boeing delivered a highly modified version of the civilian 707-320B airliner with the serial number 62-26000. It would be tasked with Special Air Missions and get the call sign “SAM Two-six-thousand.”

    It was the first jet aircraft built specifically for the US president, and when he was on board the call sign changed to “Air Force One,” which was adopted in 1953 for use by planes carrying the president.

    The SAM 26000 would carry eight presidents in its 36-year career — Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton — as well as countless heads of state, diplomats, and dignitaries.

    Below, you can take a tour of the SAM 26000, which is now on display at the National Museum of the Air Force and which one Air Force historian said could justifiably be called “the most important historical airplane in the world.”

    [rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5af8aedd47ac5928008b4939%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=139&h=816ec45ed8ff37899387035c56d435e1e6b9ff4b4e6af04da462c4c5cd4d8bf6&size=980x&c=196607411 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5af8aedd47ac5928008b4939%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D139%26h%3D816ec45ed8ff37899387035c56d435e1e6b9ff4b4e6af04da462c4c5cd4d8bf6%26size%3D980x%26c%3D196607411%22%7D” expand=1]

    The forward aircraft entrance on the Boeing VC-137C.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

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    Looking forward from the flight deck.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    At Kennedy’s request, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and industrial designer Raymond Loewy developed a new paint scheme for the plane.

    Source: US Air Force

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    Looking forward from the pilot’s seat.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    In addition to the blue and white colors they picked, the words “United States of America” were painted along the fuselage, and a US flag was painted on the tail. Kennedy reportedly chose the font because it resembled the lettering on an early version of the Constitution.

    Source: US Air Force, Michael Beschloss

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    Looking forward from the copilot’s seat.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    In June 1963, the plane flew Kennedy to Berlin, where he delivered his “Ich bin ein Berliner,” or “I am a Berliner,” speech.

    During the flight into Berlin, “The Russians put MiGs (fighter planes) up on both our wings so we would stay in the corridor over East Germany to West Berlin. They didn’t want us to spy,” said Col. John Swindal, who became commander of Air Force One at the start of Kennedy’s presidency.

    Source: US Air Force

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    Looking at the copilot’s station from the pilot’s seat.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

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    Looking back into the cockpit from the copilot’s seat.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    That afternoon, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson helped staffers pull the the casket into the rear of the plane, where seats had been removed to make space. Johnson was sworn in as president on the plane prior to takeoff.

    Retired Air Force Master Sgt. John Hames, who worked as a steward on Air Force One between 1960 and 1975, was one of the crew members who helped remove seats to make room for the casket.

    “We served a lot of beverages (Scotch) on the way back,” Hames said in 1998. “It was a long ride back to Washington. Nobody wanted to eat. Mrs. Kennedy was in shock. She still had on the blood-stained clothes.”

    Source: CNN, The New York Times

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    Looking back into the cockpit from the pilot’s seat.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    “You can stand on that spot where President Kennedy’s casket came in — you think about the horror of what was going on and the shock of what happened,” Underwood said. “You can look forward toward the nose of the aircraft and know that’s where the transfer of power took place, and you can see where Mrs. Kennedy sat near the body of her slain husband.”

    Source: CNN

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    The starboard side of the flight deck.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    After takeoff at 2:47 p.m., Swindal, Air Force One’s pilot at the time, took the plane up to the unusually high altitude of 41,000 feet, which was the aircraft’s ceiling.

    Source: The New York Times, US Air Force

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    The port from the flight deck.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    “He didn’t have any idea whether this was part of a large conspiracy,” Swindal’s son said after his death in 2006. “He wasn’t going to take any chances with a new president in the plane.”

    Source: The New York Times

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    Looking aft from the flight deck into the cabin.

    National Museum of the US Air Force

    The SAM 26000 played a prominent role in the presidencies after Kennedy as well.

    In 1998, retired Air Force Master Sgt. John Hames, a steward on Air Force One between 1960 and 1975, said the SAM 26000 “was so much faster that we had less time to prepare meals, but we got the job done.”

    Kennedy was a “great person for soup. It was a comfort food for him,” Hames told The Cincinnati Enquirer in 1998. “President Johnson was kind of different. He told me that any beef prepared aboard Air Force One had to be well done. He didn’t care for rare beef the way the group from New England did.”

    Nixon “ate fairly light … cottage cheese,” Hames said. “President Ford ate almost anything, but he was in such a short time.”

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    The left-hand section of the forward galley.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    In 1964, Johnson invited reporter Frank Cormier and two colleagues into the plane’s bedroom for an improvised press conference. Johnson, who had just given a speech under the hot sun, “removed his shirt and trousers,” while answering their questions and then “shucked off his underwear” and kept talking while “standing buck naked and waving his towel for emphasis.”

    Source: CNN

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    The right-hand section of the forward galley.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    In 1970, the plane shuttled Henry Kissinger, then Nixon’s national security adviser, on 13 separate trips to secret peace talks with the North Vietnamese in Paris.

    Source: US Air Force

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    Looking into the communications station.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    In February 1972, the SAM 26000 flew Nixon to the People’s Republic of China for his “Journey for Peace,” making him the first US president to establish ties with the Communist-run country.

    Source: US Air Force

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    The communications station.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    As Nixon exited the plane in China, a “burly” aide “blocked the aisle” to keep staffers from following Nixon, Kissinger said later. Nixon didn’t want anyone messing up his photo with the Chinese premier.

    Source: CNN

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    The communications and forward seating, seen from the forward galley.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    Three months after ferrying him to China, the SAM 26000 took Nixon on an unprecedented visit to the Soviet Union.

    Unsuccessful presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey was reportedly given a ride on the plane by President Richard Nixon, according to retired Chief Master Sgt. Stan Goodwin. During the trip between Washington and Minnesota, Humphrey made 150 phone calls to tell people he’d finally made it aboard Air Force One.

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    The president’s private suite.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    During a week of meetings with Soviet leaders, Nixon reached a number of agreements. One set the framework for a joint space flight in 1975. Another was the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT), which contained a number of measures to limit the manufacture of strategic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

    Source: Encyclopedia Britannica, US Air Force

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    The other half of the president’s private suite, with the door to the lavatory.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    In December 1972, the plane was relegated to backup duty after the Air Force got another Boeing VC-137C with the serial number 72-7000.

    Source: US Air Force

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    The president’s private lavatory.

    National Museum of the Air Force

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    The sink and countertop in the president’s private lavatory, with a stow-away seat.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    In October 1981, it took former presidents Carter, Nixon, and Ford on an uneasy trip to Egypt for the funeral of President Mohammed Anwar Sadat, who had been assassinated a few days before. Then-President Ronald Reagan did not attend because of security concerns.

    Source: UPI

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    A seat in the back of the president’s private lavatory.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    Secretary of State Alexander Haig, as Reagan’s official representative, took the stateroom, leaving other officials with regular seats. The former presidents were “somewhat ill at ease,” Carter said later.

    Source: CNN

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    The state room aboard the VC-137C SAM 26000.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    “It was one and only time that I’d seen three presidents and two secretaries of state standing in line to go to the men’s room,” said retired Chief Master Sgt. Stan Goodwin, who manned the radio on the flight. Things were also tense among staffers on the trip. They reportedly bickered over who got bigger cuts of steak at dinner.

    Source: Ronald Kessler, CNN

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    Seating in the state room.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    But it was Nixon, whose resignation in 1974 led to Ford taking office, who “surprisingly eased the tension” with “courtesy, eloquence, and charm,” Carter wrote later. Carter and Nixon’s interaction on the plane led to them developing a friendship.

    Source: Douglas Brinkley

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    The state room aboard the VC-137C SAM 26000.

    National Museum of the Air Force

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    The presidential staff area aboard the VC-137C SAM 26000.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    It left the presidential fleet in 1990, but continued to carry government officials on official trips.

    Source: US Air Force

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    Seating in the presidential staff area.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    Before the Gulf War started in 1991, it took Secretary of State James Baker to talks with Iraqi leaders about the invasion of Kuwait.

    Source: US Air Force

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    Seating and office equipment in the presidential staff area.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern who became embroiled in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, flew on the plane during a trip to Europe with Defense Secretary William Cohen.

    Source: CNN

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    VIP seating.

    National Museum of the Air Force

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    VIP seating.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    The Boeing 707 that was acting as Air Force One got stuck in the mud at Willard Airport in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. The SAM 26000, waiting nearby as an alternate, was called in to pick up the president.

    Source: CNN, CNN

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    The sink, countertop, and storage space in the presidential galley, located at the rear of the plane.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    The SAM 26000 was officially retired in March 1998, after logging more than 13,000 flying hours and covering more than 5 million miles. While it made more 200 trips in 1997 alone, the lack of parts for the plane as well as its high exhaust and noise levels led to its retirement.

    Source: CNN, The Cincinnati Enquirer

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    The oven and stovetop in the presidential galley.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    Then-Vice President Al Gore took the plane’s final flight, traveling from Washington to Columbia, South Carolina. “If history itself had wings, it probably would be this very aircraft,” Gore said after the trip.

    Source: CNN, The Cincinnati Enquirer

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    Crew seating, located next to the aft aircraft entrance at the rear of the plane.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    In May 1998, the plane arrived at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. In a nationally televised event, the Air Force retired the plane and turned it over to the National Museum of the Air Force.

    Source: US Air Force

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    Lavatories at the rear of the airplane, both vacant.

    National Museum of the Air Force

    In 2013, with the imposition of mandatory budget cuts called sequestration, the Air Force ordered the museum to save money, which led the museum to shut down the buses that took visitors to the plane.

    Source: CNN

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    The aft aircraft entrance

    National Museum of the Air Force

    By 2016, however, the plane had become a centerpiece at the museum, with a prime location in a million hangar that opened that summer.

    Source: NPR

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

    MIGHTY TRENDING

    Russia’s longing for former Soviet Union hits 14-year high

    More Russians regret the breakup of the Soviet Union than at any other time since 2004, an opinion poll shows.

    In a survey whose results were published on Dec. 19, 2018, two-thirds — or 66 percent — of respondents answered “yes” when asked whether they regret the 1991 Soviet collapse.

    That is up from 58 percent a year earlier and is the highest proportion since 2004, the last year of President Vladimir Putin’s first term, Levada said.


    One-quarter of respondents said they do not regret the Soviet breakup, the lowest proportion since 2005, and 9 percent said they could not answer.

    Putin, president from 2000-08 and 2012 to the present, has often played up the achievements of the Soviet Union while playing down some of its darkest chapters.

    In 2005, Putin called the Soviet breakup the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century, citing the large numbers of Russians it left outside Russia.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    In March 2018, when asked what event in the country’s history he would like to have been able to change, he named the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    But Levada said that Russians’ concerns about their economic security today were among the main reasons for the increase in the number voicing regret.

    A highly unpopular plan to raise the retirement age by five years has stoked antigovernment sentiment and pushed Putin’s own approval ratings down in 2018.

    The peak of regret over the Soviet collapse came in 2000, when 75 percent of Russian polled by Levada answered “yes” to the same question.

    In 2018, Levada surveyed 1,600 people nationwide in the Nov. 22-28, 2018 poll.

    The pollster said that 52 percent of respondents named the collapse of the Soviet Union’s “single economic system” as the main thing they regretted.

    Worries about their current economic situation and prospects were a major factor for many of those respondents, Levada said.

    At the same time, 36 percent said they miss the “feeling of belonging to a great power,” and 31 percent lamented mistrust and cruelty in society.

    This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    Ruck ‘N’ Run honors those who served

    When was the last time you sat around the campfire with civilians who support the military, current military personnel serving in our armed forces as well as our veteran community to share like-minded stories, help support each other and bring honor to those who served? Well, if you said never, then now is your chance. Ruck ‘N’ Run®, created by Army Drill Sergeant George Fuller, wants you to know that if your interest is in uniting with those who stand behind veterans, raise money for those in need and reduce the over-commercialization of current military holidays that may have lost some of their message, you can now be a part of providing help. “We all race together and then celebrate our hard work together around the fire pit,” Fuller said. “It’s a big part of our logo and very unique to our events.”

    Ruck ‘N’ Run was born out of a desire to Honor, Build and Connect, or HBC for short. “We honor those who served, build camaraderie and connect the community and do so through challenges, events and gatherings that help to support a good cause.” Those who participate in either the annual event or the monthly challenges that take place both physically and virtually, have the ability to complete challenges, earn awards, and most importantly, become connected with those who support the mission.


    “Our annual boot camp inspired walk/run allows the general public to interact with those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces,” Fuller explained. “This is our original and main event held on the Saturday before Veterans Day, on location in Republic, MO.” Our Shadow (virtual) events allow the world to participate”. Honor, Build and Connect, was created to bring those in the military a reminder of why we serve, but also to our veterans the ability to further connect with those both in and outside of the military as well as connect the communities in a way not seen before in other events. “We connect the community through fun, motivating, yet challenging events,” Fuller said. “We also connect the community for a greater purpose and one that is in need now more than ever.”

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    Raising funds for the “In Their Honor” fund helps to provide assistance to families of U.S. service members that pass away. This can help offset the cost of food, lodging, transportation and other unforeseen, incurred expenses. This is different than any other form of military assistance or aid provided today and one that sets Ruck ‘N’ Run as a front runner in aiding veterans in need. While the worldwide pandemic looms on, there are still those who serve and need our help. “As we continue to support our nation abroad, there are those who make the ultimate sacrifice and we need to help the families get back on their feet during these times.”

    While we are able to raise money to help and bring about more focus to this need, the ability to gather has diminished greatly and we need to be aware that these needs still exist. With the expansion and growth of our monthly virtual offerings and shadow events to include new team based challenges, we have been able to raise considerably more money and awareness but there is always more help that is needed. “As more and more people seek online ways to help, the ability to join a Ruck ‘N’ Run event and be able to Honor, Build and Connect has become even easier as we have expanded our offerings of challenges which will not only help to honor those who served, but raise funds to help families for the ‘In Their Honor’ fund. Most importantly, it offers a way to stay (and remain) connected to active military, veterans and civilians looking to build, help and support each other,” Fuller said. “Please consider joining our mission; we look forward to connecting with you”.

    If you are interested in joining an event with Ruck ‘N’ Run®, visit the website for more details.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    How to make it through Special Forces selection
    MIGHTY TACTICAL

    7 weapons could give Russia an edge in World War 3

    We’ve slammed the Russian defense industry for their failures before, but those mostly the result of bureaucratic missteps, when the Russian Ministry of Defense overreaches on requirements and underfunds budgets. Russian weapons designers are, however, perfectly capable and they can come up with some gems when given the money and time.

    Here are seven weapons to watch out for if a new war kicks off:


    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    The S-400 launch vehicle needs to be combined with a radar and a command vehicle to get the job done, but it’s absolutely lethal.

    (Vitaly Ragulin, CC BY-SA 3.0)

    S-400/S-300 surface-to-air missile systems

    The S-300 was a game-changer in the Cold War, allowing the Soviets to drive a few trucks that could detect enemy planes, track multiple targets, and guide multiple missiles to multiple targets at once. They can carry two types of missiles at once, a long-range missile and a short range one — it’s like having anti-aircraft rifles and shotguns in one package. Decades of upgrades have kept the system fully capable.

    But while the S-300 is still potent, its descendant, the S-400, is better. It retains all of the S-300’s power while being capable of carrying four missile types. To continue the comparison above, it adds a submachine gun and a SAW to the mix as it targets American jets. And while it isn’t certain that it can detect and track F-22s or F-35s, it is possible. Upcoming missiles could extend its range out to 250 miles.

    In a war, things could turn into a quick-draw competition between jets and air defense crews to find and kill each other first, but Russia can build and export missiles faster and more effectively than we can make jets.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    The Saint Petersburg, a Lada-class diesel-electric attack submarine in 2011.

    (Mike1979 Russia, CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Diesel submarines

    It’s generally accepted that top-of-the-line diesel submarines are quieter than their nuclear counterparts, and Russia has the best. While diesel’s drawbacks in range make them a poor choice for offensive warfare, their greater stealth is valuable when you’re defending your own waters.

    The Kilo- and Lada-class diesel attack submarines are fast, stealthy, and well-armed with torpedoes and missiles. Luckily for the U.S., their sensors often aren’t top notch and nuclear attack submarines have a huge advantage over traditional diesels in a protracted fight: the nukes can stay underwater indefinitely, even while maneuvering and fighting, while diesels need to surface for air after a few hours.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    The Kirov-class nuclear-powered Frunze underway in the 1980s. These ships were specifically designed to down American aircraft carrier.

    (Defense Intelligence Agency)

    Kirov-Class battlecruiser

    The Kirov Class is a nuclear-powered Cold War weapon that doesn’t get discussed as often as it should. While there are only four of them and they are aged, they were specifically designed to take out American aircraft carriers while defending themselves with anti-aircraft missiles — and they are still capable of that today.

    The Kirov-Class ships can find U.S. targets with satellite feeds, an onboard helicopter, or their own systems, and then can engage them with 20 supersonic missiles carrying 1,653-pound warheads up to 300 miles. And, sure, American jets can fly further than that, but the Kirovs carry the same anti-air missiles as are on the S-300 as well as shorter range anti-air, making attacks against them risky.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    Russia’s Krasukha-4 is a potent electronic warfare platform.

    (Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

    Krasukha-4

    It may seem odd to see an electronics warfare platform on a list like this, but cutting the enemy’s lines of communications is always valuable, especially in modern warfare. It gives you the ability to blind ISR platforms and cutoff forces in the field from their headquarters and other assets.

    And that’s what the Krasukha-4 does: drives around the battlefield and allows commanders a quick option to suppress communications and networked capabilities as well as radars. Not sexy, but it can tip battles if the enemy commander isn’t prepared.

    How to make it through Special Forces selection

    A Russian Ka-52 attack helicopter flies in an air show.

    (Sergey Vladimirov, CC BY 2.0)

    Ka-52 Alligator

    While it’s sometimes billed as the fastest military helicopter or fastest attack helicopter in the world, it’s actually neither of those things, but it’s still quick at 186 mph (the Chinook is faster). And it’s a tank buster, carrying a 30mm gun that’s similar to that on America’s Apaches, 80mm unguided rockets that are larger than Apaches, and anti-tank missiles.

    Since the Army hasn’t had armored anti-air defense since the Linebacker was retired, that means it would have to rely on Patriot and Stinger missiles to defend formations. A less-than-ideal solution against enemy attack helicopters.

    2S35 Koalitsiya-SV 152mm self propelled tracked howitzer Russia Russian army rehearsal Victory Day

    www.youtube.com

    Koalitsiya 152 mm Self-Propelled Howitzer

    The Koalitsiya 152mm self-propelled howitzer is a powerful weapon that, like the T-14 Armata, Russia won’t be able to buy in significant numbers as long as sanctions and mid-range oil prices remain the norm. But it does boast a huge range — 43 miles compared to America’s Paladin firing 18 miles and Britain’s Braveheart, which only fires 24.

    Its automated turret can pump out rounds, reportedly firing up to 15-20 per minute. Paladins top out at 8 rounds per minute and have to drop to one round per three minutes during a sustained fight. That gives the Koalitsiya a massive advantage in a battery vs. battery duel.

    Hypersonic anti-ship missiles

    These would be ranked higher, but the entire hypersonic missile vs. ship threat is still theoretical and Russia has a recent history of lying about these and other bleeding-edge missiles. So, take any Russian military claims with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to these missiles. But Russia has multiple promising contenders in development like an upgraded Brahmos, the Kinzhal, and the Zircon.

    If any of them do become operational, they’re game-changers, flying so fast that many anti-missile defenses can’t hit them, and punching with enough power that even missiles with small warheads can do insane damage. But successful deployments of the missiles are likely years away.

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