It came right down to the wire, but as expected, one of the competitors for the Army’s $580 million program to replace the 1980s-era Beretta M9 handgun has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office.
Austrian handgun maker Glock — one of the finalists in the XM17 Modular Handgun System program — filed its protest over the selection of Sig Sauer Feb. 24, according to the GAO. No details were released with the protest filing.
The protest was first reported by the Army Times.
It is not uncommon for finalists in a program of this scale to file a protest, experts say. And with the Army forecasted to purchase up to 290,000 handguns — not to mention buys from other services following on the Army’s heels — the XM17 program is one of the most high-profile weapons buys in the past decade.
But it’s surely a disappointing blow to New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer, who submitted a version of its P320 modular handgun and was tapped as the winner in mid-January. As is typical in these types of high-stakes contracts, Sig was tight lipped when asked for comment on the protest.
“Sig Sauer looks forward to providing our U.S. service members the very best tools to ensure mission accomplishment, but we have no comment related to the MHS contract at this time,” said Sig Sauer marketing director Jordan Hunter in an email statement to We Are The Mighty.
According to the GAO, government auditors have until June 5 to issue a ruling on whether the award complied with government contract law. The program is suspended until the GAO makes its ruling, officials say.
While Sig Sauer has offered the commercially-available P320 modular handgun since 2014, few have seen Glock’s submission. Glock has no commercially-available modular handgun that can change caliber and frame size using different parts.
But Glock handguns are increasingly popular among U.S. service members, with most special operations troops being issued Glock 19s and the Marine Corps phasing out its MARSOC 1911 pistols in favor of Glocks.
For years, SEALs carried Sig Sauer P226 handguns, but even that community is moving toward issuing Glocks.
In March 2016, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned against the service executing a costly, time-consuming program like the XM17 for something as simple as a new handgun.
“We’re not exactly redesigning how to go to the moon. This is a pistol,” Milley said. “You give me $17 million on a credit card, and I’ll call Cabela’s tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine with a pistol for $17 million. And I’ll get a discount on a bulk buy.”
On the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, U.S. diplomatic facilities in a newly Qaddafi-free Libya were hit by a coordinated assault by an Islamic militant group. The attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and two special operations veterans who responded to the attack as part of a volunteer CIA quick reaction force. The special operations community got their revenge, capturing ringleader Ahmed Abu Khattala in Libya in 2014.
Khattala was accused of being the leader of an extremist militia and directing the Benghazi attacks. Prosecutors alleged Khattala was responsible for the deaths of the four Americans, but could not find any evidence of the extremist leader actually holding a weapon.
He was caught on camera driving fighters to the attack site and his mobile phone records proved he was communicating with the attackers. Among the witnesses testifying against him were the FBI plant who got close to Khattala and helped the FBI arrange his capture by U.S. Army Special Forces.
The attack on the compound that killed Ambassador Stevens was the first that resulted in the death of such a high-profile diplomat since the 1979 killing of U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs during a botched kidnapping attempt in 1979. Also killed was State Department Information Officer Sean Patrick Smith, along with former Navy SEALs Glen “Bub” Doherty and Tyrone “Rone” Woods, who both served with valor in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After CIA contractors who responded to an attack on the consulate compound removed Smith’s body and aided survivors (they were unable to find the ambassador), the attacking forces moved on to the CIA’s annex, where the defenders took cover. Doherty and Woods died in defense of the annex.
Though there have been many investigations in the events surrounding the Benghazi attacks and an exact timeline isn’t clear to this day, what is clear is that it was a coordinated assault by members of the militant group Ansar al-Sharia, a group formed to fight the government forces of Muammar Qaddafi – and the Abu Khattala was involved.
Khattala was convicted on four charges, including providing material support for terrorism, but was cleared of 14 others including the four deaths of Americans on the ground in Benghazi that night.
A regular deployment for our troops down here on Earth gets pretty boring while you’re off-mission. It becomes challenging to find new ways to fill your downtime. Maybe you’ll swing by the MWR and play some video games. Maybe you’ll watch a movie or two — that is until you’ve watched everything on the deployment hard drive twice.
Realistically speaking, the life of a astronaut in space is probably similar. Even the whole zero-G’s thing and watching the Big Blue Marble has got to get boring after a while…
Thankfully, through the power of social media, astronauts can record themselves and upload their shenanigans to the internet for the world (and beyond) to see. No judgment here; whatever takes the edge off while being stuck in the same, tight confinements for nine months at a time…
The great musicians here on Earth have written countless tunes about space and astronauts. These songs are then copied and repeated ad nauseam by that one guy at the party who thinks he can play.
But when David Bowie’s Space Oddity is played by someone who’s actually in space… It doesn’t matter if he’s not on the level of the late, great Ziggy Stardust — it’s awesome on its own level.
Play with toys
There was a challenge a few years back for gifted children to design toys usable in space. The constraints were simple: It had to be fun and not involve plenty of lose pieces that could float around and potentially cause a Homer-Simpson-level disaster.
Since astronauts are generally pretty stand-up people, we can assume they actually accepted the toys and used them instead of letting the kids’ efforts go to waste.
Exercising in zero gravity
As awesome as it is to live in weightlessness for an extended period of time, it can wreak havoc on your body. Your bones will deteriorate and your muscle mass will shrink.
To make sure that their bodies aren’t completely crushed by an inevitable return to normal gravity, astronauts need to exercise a minimum of two hours per day. That’s when things get interesting since they can’t just hop on a normal treadmill or grab some free weights.
Fun experiments (for science, of course)
Although space tourism has expanded in recent years, for the most part, astronauts who were sent up by their respective countries are there to do science. They’ll plan objectives for years, like maintaining the Hubble Telescope in case of emergency or documenting the effects of micro-gravity on an extremely fast spacecraft.
But, sometimes, astronauts get bored writing the same equations and the same formulas only to yield nearly identical outcomes. Sometimes, they just want to see how many zero-G backflips they can do before throwing up. I mean, who could resist a few childish experiments if you spent all those years dreaming of going to space?
For the most part, you have to be pretty nerdy to make it far in NASA’s space program. And there’s nothing nerds love more than some nerdy pop culture.
Astronauts watch everything from Gravity (which I assume they critique like soldiers did The Hurt Locker) to The Simpsons to even Star Wars.
During a private meeting with President Donald Trump in March 2018, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven explained that while his country was not a member of NATO, it regularly partnered with the defense alliance.
Trump, who has clashed with NATO leaders since taking office, responded by saying that was the kind of relationship with NATO that the US should consider, a European diplomat told Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin.
A senior administration official told Rogin that the remark was a joke, but the comment is one of many before and since that hint at disinterest, and, in some cases, hostility from the US president toward the trans-Atlantic alliance of which the US was a founder and is the largest member.
The US is the most powerful military in the 29-member alliance, and US withdrawal would dramatically reduce NATO’s power to deter potential adversaries like Russia at a time when Russian President Vladimir Putin is using cyberattacks and his military to threaten European neighbors.
Trump’s criticisms have centered around financing, and he has often rebuked NATO members for falling short of the 2%-of-GDP defense-spending level to which alliance members have agreed.
He reiterated that criticism in letters sent to some of the NATO members that fell short of that spending threshold in the weeks ahead of the organization’s summit on July 11 and July 12, 2018.
The only one to be made public was sent to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. The June 19, 2018 letter, published by Norwegian newspaper VG, said Norway was “the only NATO Ally sharing a border with Russia that lacks a credible plan to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense.”
In the letter, Trump said he “understand[s] domestic political pressures,” having faced them in the US, but it would “become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries continue to fail to meet our shared collective security commitments.”
The letter followed a general template, tailored with language specific to the recipient country, US and foreign officials told Foreign Policy. The officials said the letter sent to Germany contained some of the harshest language —Trump himself has directed some of his most withering scorn at German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Concerns about Trump’s commitment to the alliance have grown during his second year in office, especially as he continues to criticize NATO leaders and pursue rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Many of the Trump administration officials who tried to reassure NATO allies have departed.
NATO officials are also worried by what seems to be the increasing isolation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who is regarded as one of the administration’s steadier hands and a vocal NATO proponent.
Julianne Smith, director of the Trans-Atlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told The New York Times that Trump questioned other leaders about their opinions of Mattis during the G7 meeting in Canada in May 2018.
Smith, who was deputy national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, said the exchange was “awkward” for those leaders, who felt praise “might be the kiss of death” for Mattis. “So they said deliberately that he is being so tough on us on 2% defense spending, to try to save the guy.”
“There’s overwhelming anxiety, and it’s been punctuated with very specific concerns. That has a profound impact on what our Europeans friends think he thinks about them,” Biden told Rogin. “The consequence is disastrous for our national security and economic interests.”
The US continues to back NATO and its initiatives, particularly the alliance’s efforts to counter Russia.
The bloc also recently agreed to the NATO Readiness Initiative, a plan pushed by Mattis requiring NATO to have 30 land battalions, 30 fighter aircraft squadrons, and 30 warships ready to deploy within 30 days of being put on alert.
But continued cooperation doesn’t mean the ties established between North America and Europe since the end of World War II will endure, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in June 2018.
“It is not written in stone that the trans-Atlantic bond will survive forever,” Stoltenberg said in London. “But I believe we will preserve it.”
“We may have seen the weakening” of some of those bonds, Stoltenberg said. He added that differences had been overcome in the past and said maintaining the partnership “is in our strategic interests.”
“We must continue to protect our multilateral institutions like NATO, and we must continue to stand up for the international rules-based order,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Over the years, the military has developed Transition Assistance Programs in order to help service members make the change from active duty to civilian life. Everyone goes through the program eventually, learning about benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, how to write a resume (and how to make it understandable to civilians), and even how to dress in something other than a uniform.
Yet, despite the best efforts of instructors and facilitators, there are some things the classes don’t cover — including simply how to actually get out. Here are a few lessons about the separation process.
5. Your DD-214 is worth getting right.
Everyone’s heard of the DD form 214. It represents the accomplishments of your time in the military. For the rest of your life, it’s how you’ll prove you’re a veteran. So, as excited as you might be for a new chapter in life, you’ll want to devote time and effort to getting it right.
You may not think the awards section, for example, matters much. However, listing the Afghanistan or Iraq Campaign Medals establish that you’re a combat veteran, which makes a difference for certain VA benefits and can get you hiring preference for certain federal jobs. The good news is, even if not all of your past units were meticulous in documenting awards, it’s easy to correct. Producing a citation is the easiest way to have an award added. In the case of unit or campaign awards, any official document that proves you were part of a given unit for a certain deployment can prove you’ve earned it.
If the first working copy of your DD-214 isn’t accurate, don’t delay in asking your separations/retirement clerk how to fix it.
4. Copy your medical records!
Another important document is your medical record, so be sure to get a copy early. These days, some medical facilities will provide a digital copy on CD. Before you visit your local VA, be sure to ask whether they’ll work with that format. Either way, you’ll want to go through every page (paper or electronic) yourself before you take it to anyone else. You should flag anything that isn’t a physical or otherwise normal visit.
Be sure the copy you’re given is complete. Many members have been in since before the military switched to electronic records; when you ask for a copy of your record, you’re supposed to get both what’s in the electronic record and scans from your paper record. Be meticulous; if things are missing, go back to the records office and ask. Like your 214, your medical record is worth spending the time necessary to get right.
Once you’ve reviewed your complete copy, contact a veteran’s service organization. They have experts in the VA claims process who will go through your record with you and guide you through the next steps. You don’t even need to be a member of the organization.
3. Learn about the SBP.
Most TAP classes include a discussion about financial planning, and your transition office may ask you to show a budget. However, there isn’t always a discussion of the Survivor’s Benefit Plan, or SBP. This is an insurance plan retirees can pay into that will provide a beneficiary (usually spouse) an annuity to make up for lost retirement income once the retiree dies. And, while we don’t give financial advice, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. It’s worth taking a look at your personal insurance and investment situation to decide if it’s something you want.
2. You get house-hunting and job-hunting perks.
If you’re retiring or being involuntarily separated under honorable conditions, you get permissive temporary duty (free time off) to find a home and a job. Just how much time you get (10, 20, or 30 days) depends on if you’re being involuntarily separated or retired and whether you’re in the continental U.S. or not. That’s in addition to your terminal leave.
1. What is the Skillbridge Internship?
Not every TAP class mentions this program, so you may want to ask about it. This program allows service members to participate in civilian job training, including internships and apprenticeships, up to six months before separating. That means you can be learning your new job while still being paid by the military!
On the increasingly crowded battlefields of Afghanistan, a feared, commando-style Taliban unit is gaining attention for a series of deadly attacks on Afghan security forces.
Known as “Sara Kheta” — Red Unit or Danger Unit in Pashto — it is said to be the Taliban’s elite special-forces group. Unlike regular Taliban fighters, analysts say the outfit is better trained and armed and is sent on special operations targeting bases and posts of the Afghan National Army and police force.
The so-called Red Unit’s rise has raised concerns among government forces struggling to fend off the Taliban since the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014 and suffering record casualty rates on the battlefield.
When did it emerge?
The first mention of a Taliban “special-forces unit” was in June 2015, when Taliban fighterspublished photos on social media purportedly showing a training camp where recruits were being trained on heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft guns.
In December 2015, the Taliban said it was unleashing its special forces to eliminate fighters allied with the militant group Islamic State (IS) that had emerged in Afghanistan earlier that year.
In August 2016, Afghan military officials confirmed the existence of the Taliban’s Red Unit in the southern province of Helmand.
But the unit has fought its way to greater prominence in the past month or so. On Nov. 1, the Taliban uploaded photos of the unit on its official Telegram account. The photos show members of Red Unit in new uniforms and armed with the kind of tactical assault gear worn by soldiers and law enforcement teams around the world.
Weeks later, Afghan officials blamed it for a spate of attacks on Nov. 13 and 14 during whichdozens of Afghan security personnel were killed in the southern province of Kandahar and the western province of Farah.
On Dec. 3, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said the commander of the new unit, Mullah Shah Wali, also known Mullah Naser, waskilled in an air operation in Helmand Province the week before.
How is it different from other Taliban units?
“What distinguishes this force from other fighting units is its intensive and longer training, the degree of vetting, its tactics, weapons and equipment, and structure,” says Borhan Osman, senior Afghanistan analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG).
“The unit is mainly used for quick interventions, high-value targets, special operations, or offensives such as capturing a highly strategic area, breaking major sieges of regular Taliban forces, jailbreaks, and escorting important leaders,” Osman adds.
Military analysts estimate the size of the unit at anywhere from several hundred to up to 1,000 fighters.
Those tactics and capabilities were on show in the November attacks when Afghan officials said the unit, equipped with lasers and night-vision gear, attacked police checkpoints and army bases and rapidly left the scene to avoid NATO air strikes. On Nov. 14, the unit drove a pickup truck loaded with explosives into a police checkpoint point and then launched attacks on 14 nearby posts, killing over two dozen police officers.
In Farah Province the same day, Taliban units with night-vision scopes killed eight police officers in their beds early in the morning. Three police officers in the province were also killed in night attacks around the same time.
The U.S. military has equipped many Afghan soldiers with night-vision equipment, but police forces rarely possess them.
“The Red Unit and regular Taliban forces use the same types of weapons: small arms, RPGs, and machine guns,” says Bill Roggio, senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of the Long War Journal. “Typically, the Red Unit has newer weapons, and is occasionally seen with night-vision devices that have been seized from Afghan forces.”
The unit is believed to equipped with the Taliban’s most advanced weaponry, including 82-millimeter rockets, laser pointers, heavy machine guns, and U.S.-made M-4 assault rifles. They are also known to have used and possess dozens of armored Humvees and Ford Ranger pickup trucks stolen from Afghan forces.
Ahmad K. Majidyar, a South Asia and Middle East expert for the Washington-based Middle East Institute, says it is misleading to call the unit a special-forces outfit because it lacks elite commando capabilities of even the Afghan Special Forces, let alone advanced elite commando units such as the U.S. SEAL Team Six.
“The Red Team is more a heavily armed group used in surprise attacks against vulnerable Afghan security check posts,” he says. “It also has well-trained snipers that aid ordinary Taliban militants in their attack against the Afghan forces.”
The unit has also spread from southern Afghanistan, where it was established, and has expanded into eastern and western regions.
“The Red Unit poses a significant threat to Afghan forces,” Roggio says. “It has had great success on the battlefield when going head to head with Afghan units.”
Roggio says the unit operates like shock troops, often leading assaults on Afghan district centers, military bases, and outposts.
The NATO-led mission in Afghanistan has said it has not seen any evidence of the Taliban possessing advanced weaponry like night-vision equipment, which Afghan officials say the militants have purchased on the black market or have accumulated after overrunning Afghan army bases.
But Afghan military officials have confirmed the unit’s capabilities.
Kandahar’s powerful police chief, General Abdul Raziq, has said the Red Unit is part of the Taliban’s “new approach and new tactics,” adding that it was “well equipped and highly armed.”
Majidyar says he expects the Red Unit to come under increasing pressure if President Donald Trump relaxes U.S. rules of engagement.
“The Taliban will suffer more significant losses on the battlefield in the coming months,” he predicts.
It’s been said that Marine Corps infantry chief warrant officers have more weapons knowledge stored in their pinkie fingers than most people will learn in a lifetime. And our experience over the years hasn’t chipped away at that assumption one bit.
Dubbed “Gunners,” these limited duty officers hail from the enlisted ranks and spend the balance of their careers acting as infantry experts for a variety of ground-related commands, including divisions and schools.
Basically, if you have a question about a weapon or tactic for the grunts, the Gunner knows what’s best and how it works. And more than that, the Gunners are the ones who more often than not nudge the Marine Corps into new directions.
But apparently, some grunts think throwing a muffler on the end of their guns is going to make the iron less effective — slowing down the bullet, decreasing the stopping power and making it less accurate. Most firearms aficionados know cans make rifles better, but coming from a Gunner, the statement has more weight.
So that’s why 2nd Marine Division Gunner CWO 5 Christian Wade put together this video to prove to his fellow Marines that using suppressors make the rifle better.
Many Hollywood war movies focus on the action-packed set pieces that go into the film’s trailer, leaving out a lot of room for the character elements that elevate good stories.
When David Ayer’s “Fury” debuted in theaters, the film’s realistic and diverse characters like Gordo, Bible, and the seasoned Don “War Daddy” Collier made audiences feel the dangers of being a tanker in WWII.
Brad Pitt plays the German speaking tank commander War Daddy must to deploy his leadership skills to manage the different personalities that make up his crew.
No one said you can’t have feelings while you’re deployed in a combat zone, but leaders have to control their emotions to help maintain order. That’s exactly what War Daddy did after losing a crew member as he walked off for a moment of self-reflection.
War Daddy reminds us every great warrior needs a moment. (Images via Giphy)
2. Make your expectations clear
The Army quickly replaces the fallen crew member with an untrained boy named, Norman.
War Daddy gives the newly assigned tanker some sage advice for the hell he’s about to witness.
It sounds cold-hearted, but it’s realistic advice. (Images via Giphy)
3. Rank doesn’t always have its privileges
It not uncommon that war films feature both the war-hardened and the inexperienced “shot caller” tropes. But having a high-rank insignia on your collar or sleeve is only as good as the man wearing the shirt. Write that down.
True leaders get true reactions from their comrades. (Images via Giphy)
4. Live in the moment
Having fought the Germans for a good amount of time and seeing plenty of death, War Daddy knows the importance of embracing a special moment.
To feel alive in a time of death is priceless. (Images via Giphy)
5. Take care of each other
Even though their world is currently under a pile of sh*t, they still have their brotherhood and it’s stronger than ever.
Words only veterans can relate too. (Images via Giphy)
The best war movies are oft-told tales of heroes or of strange and surprising history. To revisit these scenes is to be reminded of these stories and the heroes that made them real.
But we all realize that many of these stories are exaggerated or changed slightly to be more dramatic – and we end up liking the new history better. And sometimes as we watch we are reminded that we haven’t properly honored those who starred in the real-world events. Other times, the movie makes us revisit what’s happening in our own lives.
1. ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ changes bedouin quality of life.
When Peter O’Toole was filming “Lawrence of Arabia,” his rear end was sore from his camel’s saddle. During the scene where T.E. Lawrence assists Arabs in capturing the Red Sea port city of Aqaba, O’Toole used a rubber sponge under his saddle to ease the pain.
To be fair, that looks terribly painful. So it’s totally understandable that the Bedouins hired as extras began using the sponge in their daily lives. #spongeworthy.
2. A film propels an actor into the annals of history.
The 1938 Russian movie “Alexander Nevsky” is about a Russian knight who defeated a superior Swedish army on the river Neva in 1240.
During WWII, the Soviet Union awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky to tens of thousands of Red Army officers for heroism. The medal features the image of Nevsky – except no one ever knew what Nevsky looked like.Instead, the image on the medal was that of Nikolai Cherkasov, who portrayed Nevsky in the movie.
3. Rhodes gets a colossal new name.
A bay on the Greek island of Rhodes is now named after American actor Anthony Quinn, after his stunning performance in “the Guns of Navarone.”
Quinn plays a Greek resistance fighter in WWII in the film, but he actually spent much of WWII in Albania – organizing resistance fighters.
4. The church of the 82nd Airborne is in France.
After “The Longest Day” hit theaters in 1962, the parishioners of the Sainte-Mère Église church featured in the film constructed an effigy of Pvt. John Steele hanging from the church tower. The real Steele (portrayed in the film by Red Buttons), actually landed on the church’s bell tower on D-Day.
5. “The Battle of Algiers” becomes a COIN training film.
In 2003, the American Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict screened the 1966 film to the U.S. military’s top commanders at the Pentagon.
The briefing was a called “how to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas.” A big jump for a film that was once banned in many places in the world.
6. Gunny Hartman gets Staff Sgt. Ermey a promotion.
Years after he retired from the Marine Corps, R. Lee Ermey was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant. The reason was his performance as Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” was so iconic, the Corps thought it only fitting to make the rank fit the man.
The first war film ever, D.W. Griffith’s silent picture, “The Fugitive” was made over a century ago. The intensity and drama of war films caught on quickly, and the best ones have been huge hits at the box office. As thrilling as they are, even movies portrayed as historically accurate rarely get the details of war just right. We can’t blame them entirely; war movies would be a lot less thrilling and suspenseful if they skipped all the theatrics. Here’s the scoop about what movie directors get wrong, and what war is really like.
The sound effects
In the movies, battles start with the sound of gunfire, before bullets come flying past. That’s not a thing. Rifles are actually supersonic, so the bullets arrive before the sound does. Soldiers do hear a whistling sound as the bullets pass by, but the actual sound of the gun firing arrives after the fact.
The actual sounds are pretty far off, too. The sound of mortars firing is something like the sound of a tennis ball launcher in most war films, but it’s infinitely louder in real life. The blast is so powerful it can be felt, shaking the ground and causing intense vibrations. That’s one reason veterans are prone to tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. It’s THAT loud.
Some movies do a better job of this than others, but more often than not, a detail or two of the dress code is missed. Military dress uniforms are incredibly precise, so anyone other than a veteran would be hard-pressed to get every nuance right. Untucked lapels on a Marine service alpha uniform is a small one, but some movies dress actors in the wrong uniforms entirely. Come on, directors. You can do better.
Ever seen a movie with soldiers all in one place, hashing it out in close combat? That’s rarely how it works. No one arranges a battle on a conveniently located open field where everyone meets up to shoot each other, with helicopters and planes joining in at random. In a real war, dispersing troops is critical. Distance is kept between military personnel to prevent the enemy from wiping out a massive chunk of your forces all at once.
How aerial attacks work
Most movies make it seem like planes swoop down nearly to the ground before attacking. It’s dramatic for sure, but it’s not realistic. Low-level flying is only used in specific scenarios. For the most part, planes fly as high as possible to maximize safety and ensure adequate maneuverability. More space, more chances to get out of there if necessary. Low-level flying does happen, but generally, pilots try to drop to low altitudes as briefly as possible.
While movie soldiers do wear camo, they rarely use it well. When used correctly, camouflage can make soldiers and even vehicles seemingly vanish. The movies just skip that part because it’s a lot less fun to watch a battlefield with nothing but sand and a few tumbleweeds on it.
In movies, the characters always know what’s going on. The details of the battle are clear. The enemy starts shooting, and the hero instantly knows where the gunfire is coming from, how large the enemy forces are, and how to retaliate. In a real battle, it’s much more confusing. No one is familiar with the area, so someone is studying a map while someone else is trying to figure out what’s happening and what to do next. It’s confusing! Radios aren’t usually as clear as they are in the movies, either. It might take four tries to hear the order coming in.
How much shooting actually occurs
A shot rings out in the night. There’s a moment of stillness, and then utter chaos breaks loose. Shots fly everywhere. It’s a gunfire free for all. There’s a cut and dry good side and a bad side, and they shoot at each other with abandon until one (usually the good side) reigns victorious.
Real battles are much more calculated. There’s rarely indiscriminate shooting. Most soldiers never fire their weapons, and if they do it’s usually under the direction of a senior ranking officer. Everyone’s heard the phrase “all is fair in love and war”, but that’s not quite the case. War has rules. You can’t just shoot whomever you want.
Ammo doesn’t last forever, so automatic fire doesn’t happen nearly as often as the movies would lead you to believe. Military rifles are more than capable of the task, but automatic fire is rarely used in real battles. That would be both expensive and unnecessary.
How bad it really gets
Movies hype up the drama but tone down the horror. They do show some blood, injuries and casualties, but they keep the gore in check to avoid completely scarring the audience. People go to the movies to be entertained, not legitimately traumatized. Real war can be much more horrific. The gore, suffering, and emotional trauma exceeds what the movie industry dares to sell.
The darkly peaceful aftermath
It’s a classic scene. The battle is over. The field is quiet and still, and dead men lie silently amongst weapons and shredded, muddied flags. That would be a more peaceful end than what really happens. The chaos isn’t over after the battle is won. The wounded are in severe pain as medics rush to treat them. Soldiers scramble to collect weapons and usable ammunition. The scattered flags? Not a thing. The victorious would never leave their own flags behind, and enemy flags are often kept as trophies.
That said, while the reality of war is pretty dark, let’s remember that many members of our armed forces never fight in combat, never fire their weapon and return home safely. To end on a lighter, helpful note, here’s a quick pro-tip: You know all those overpriced phone cases that claim to offer “military-grade protection?” Much like the glamourous battle scenes from Hollywood, it’s not real. There’s no official military-grade certification. It’s just a well-disguised excuse to jack up the price. But you won’t fall for it, because you know the real story.
On December 14, 1972 at 5:55pm ET, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt lifted off from the lunar surface in the ascent stage of their Lunar Module. They were the last people to set foot on the moon. However, NASA plans to return to the moon within the decade.
The Artemis Plan includes putting a woman on the moon (NASA)
NASA’s Artemis program is intended to establish a sustainable lunar base by 2028 that could serve as a stepping stone to Mars. The plan calls for the Space Launch System rocket to be paired with an Orion spacecraft. An unmanned test flight called Artemis I is scheduled for 2021. Artemis II is scheduled to be a manned flight to fully test Orion’s navigational abilities in 2023. Artemis III will lay the groundwork for lunar missions and extended surface exploration with the delivery supplies and scientific equipment to the lunar surface in 2024.
In order to facilitate sustained operations, the planned lunar base will feature an extensive infrastructure. Consider the evolution of Bagram from tent city on a dirt field in 2001 to the mega facility with Subway, Pizza Hut, and Green Beans that it is today. While we probably won’t see those establishments on the moon for quite some time, the luxury that most troops today consider to be the most important will be coming to the moon—cell service.
Putting a Pizza Hut on the moon should be a metric of success (U.S. Army)
NASA has made over 0 million in contract deals with several companies to support the planned lunar base. One of these companies is Nokia. The Finnish phone company will be building a 4G LTE network on the moon by late 2022. In addition to voice communication and data transmission, the mobile network could be used to power lunar navigation, stream the biometric data of astronauts, and wirelessly control robots and sensors on the moon.
Nokia plans to build the network using mostly off-the-shelf commercial technology like lightweight 4G base stations. According to Nokia, the lunar network will be “ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE.” The network will also be upgraded to 5G over time.
The prospect of a sustainable lunar base is an exciting one as NASA sets its sights on the moon and beyond. The promise of being able to binge-watch your favorite shows on the moon is arguably even more exciting to some people. Let’s just hope that the cell service is better and more reliable than some of the FOB Wi-Fi networks down range.
A 10th Mountain Division squad leader credited with saving the lives of three of his soldiers by throwing himself atop a suicide bomber in Iraq will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the White House announced March 12, 2019.
Staff Sgt. Travis W. Atkins went above and beyond the call of duty on June 1, 2007, while his unit — Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team — conducted route clearance southwest of Baghdad.
During the mission, Atkins, 31, of Bozeman, Montana, heard a report over the radio of suspected insurgents crossing an intersection in the Iraqi town of Abu Samak.
As the truck commander in his Humvee, Atkins ordered the driver to pull the vehicle up to the intersection so they could interdict the suspected insurgents. Once stopped, Atkins exited the vehicle and approached one of the men to check him for weapons while another soldier covered him.
When Atkins attempted to search him, the man resisted. Atkins then engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the insurgent, who was reaching for an explosive vest under his clothing, according to an award citation.
Atkins then grabbed the suicide bomber from behind with a bear hug and slammed him onto the ground, away from his soldiers. As he pinned the insurgent to the ground, the bomb detonated.
Atkins was mortally wounded by the blast. With complete disregard for his own safety, he had used his own body as a shield to protect his fellow soldiers from injury. They were only feet away.
Soon after, another insurgent was fatally shot by one of Atkins’ soldiers before he could detonate another suicide vest.
For his actions, Atkins was initially given the Army’s second-highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross. Now that award has been upgraded to a Medal of Honor.
President Donald J. Trump will present the medal to Atkins’ family on March 27, 2019.
Before he joined the Army, Atkins worked for concrete and painting contractors and as an engine mechanic in Montana. He enlisted into the infantry in 2000 and less than three years later he deployed to participate in the invasion of Iraq.
Then-Sgt. Travis Atkins poses with battle buddies in Iraq, 2007.
Atkins left the Army in late 2003, but rejoined two years later and was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division.
He deployed to Iraq again with the division in the summer of 2006 and became a staff sergeant in May 2007, a month before his death.
At Fort Drum, New York, the division honored Atkins by naming a fitness center after him in 2013.
During the dedication ceremony, then-Sgt. Aaron Hall, who was Atkins’ battle buddy, described the staff sergeant as a “quiet professional” who always had the respect of others.
“When my 4-year-old son Travis tells me his favorite superhero is Captain America and asks me who my favorite superhero is, my reply always has and will be Staff Sgt. Travis W. Atkins,” Hall said.
According to his obituary, Atkins was also known to hunt, fish, camp, and ride snowmobiles. His first love, though, was his son, Trevor Oliver, who was 11 years old at the time of his father’s death.
Atkins was buried June 12, 2007, in his hometown of Bozeman in south-central Montana. He is also survived by his parents, Jack and Elaine Atkins.