12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TACTICAL

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear Of Messed Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For you, The Mighty:

~ Our top picks for veteran-positive holiday giving ~

12. Combat Flip Flops

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For flip flops and sneakers handmade in international combat zones, talk to Combat Flip Flops. Everything they sell empowers local entrepreneurs seeking to resurrect their communities from the cycle of poverty-bred violence and extremism. Seems like a heavy burden for a humble thong sandal to bear, but founder Matthew Griffin has the humor and the heart to pull it off.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

11. Heroes Vodka

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For the most patriotic, pro-veteran martini you’ll ever have six of, you need a bottle of Heroes Vodka. Founder Travis McVey sought to make the clear spirit of America and hit it out of the park on his first try. A portion of his yearly profits goes directly to AMVETS. Try sipping. You’ll be shaken and stirred.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

10. Down The Road Beer Co.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For a 4 pack of the most artfully brewed craft beer ever to emerge from the 3rd Armored Cav, seek out Down the Road Beer Co. Founder and veteran brewmaster, Donovan Bailey, has a winning formula at work in his Greater Boston brewery and now you can sample every variety he makes at his brand new taproom.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

9. Alpha Outpost

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For a tactical subscription box of uncommon design and curation, check out Alpha Outpost. Every box has a theme and every theme gives rise to a new cache of gear that will inspire you to get out there and use your free time for kicking ass.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

8. Black Rifle Coffee Co.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For small batch, veteran-roasted coffee with three heaping teaspoons of patriotic sass, chase down a bag of Black Rifle Coffee Co. Their beans yield a cup of joe so black, a sip is like a sniper round to the dome. Lovely.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

7. Ranger Up

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For big-hearted, patriotic message tees and lighthearted youtube tomfoolery, look no further than Ranger Up. Founder Nick Palmisciano is a vocal advocate of remembering where you came from and the values for which you fought. And in his spare time, he dabbles in action cinema.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

6. Stella Valle

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For Modern Day Charm Jewelry made by and for #WomanWarriors, give Stella Valle a look. The Dellavalle sisters went to West Point, served tours in Afghanistan, and took Shark Tank by storm in their quest to forge a successful jewelry brand in their own image.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

5. Sword & Plough

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For fashionable bags made from military surplus by veteran manufacturers, check out Sword & Plough. The Nuñez sisters went to West Point, served with the 10th Special Forces Group, and took Kickstarter by storm in their quest to make an ethical, feminist, pro-veteran fashion accessories brand that gives back as much as it takes.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

4. stubble & ‘stache

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For the premium beard oils, mustache lotions and mutton chop tinctures favored by U.S. Special Forces, you need to track down stubble & ‘stache. Founder Nicholas Karnaze started the company in honor of a fallen brother and grooms a war beard for civilian application to this day.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

3. Uncharted Supply Co.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For the best designed, most soundly equipped bug out bag on the market, seek out Uncharted Supply Co. Their seventy2 survival bag gives you everything you need to ace the first 72 hours of an emergency, all in one seriously svelte package.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

2. Cappy’s Dry Rub

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For a tactical array of spices that will 10x your flame-grilling game, load up on Cappy’s Dry Rub. LA-based Vietnam vet, Gene “Cappy” Holmon takes his meat seriously and so should you, especially considering how much cooking you’re likely to be doing this holiday season.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

1. Propper

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For all the operationally-perfected tactical wear you could ever need for deployment or rugged homeland applications, pay a visit to Propper. They’ve been supplying the U.S. military since 1967, including garments, tac bags and body armor. Their spill-proof tactical pants are a godsend around the WATM offices…

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Bonus Round:

Bottle Breacher

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For the perfect, vet-sensitive stocking stuffer, optimize his beer with Bottle Breacher. Former Navy SEAL Eli Crane took his garage-mod ammo onto ABC’s Shark Tank and walked away with a deal. Almost two years later, there doesn’t appear to be a limit to Crane’s artistic inventiveness with the .50 caliber shell.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Fieldcraft Survival

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For a thorough schooling in the tactical skills and, more crucially, the head game of survival, enroll in a course at Fieldcraft Survival. Former Green Beret Mike Glover will guide you toward competence in the honorable art of self-reliance and you’ll probably only cry a little bit.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Sandboxx

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For a digital solution to the analog task of getting morale-boosting mail to your loved ones in the field, sign up for Sandboxx. The app-based communications platform transforms your 140 character missives and sentimental selfies into physical letters, and then sends them to servicemembers with a postage-paid, return envelope included.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

The Mission Continues

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

For renewed purpose and service-oriented deployment on the homefront, volunteer with The Mission Continues. They take your hard-won leadership skills and put them to good use in the many American communities badly in need of rebuilding.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Israel can tell you just how good the F-35 is in combat

Over the last 40 years, some classic American fighters have been sold to Israel. These jets, which include the F-15 Eagle and the F-16 Fighting Falcon, have been the backbone of the Israeli Air Force for a while. It seems that fighters sent to Israel are much more likely to be put through the crucible of combat.

That tradition has held true with the F-35 as well.


In May of this year, the Israelis used the F-35 in combat — marking the plane’s combat debut. Exactly which targets were hit has yet to be disclosed, but the Israeli Defense Forces did release a photo of the plane over Beirut during a conference for officers visiting from other Air Forces.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Major General Amikam Norkin

(Photo by Avneraf)

“I think that we are the first to attack with the F-35 in the Middle East,” Israeli Air Force commander, Major General Amikam Norkin, said during the conference. Norkin also noted that over 100 missiles had been fired at the Israeli planes, which suffered no losses.

While the F-15’s debut with Israel netted the plane’s first air-to-air kill, the F-35’s first bout of combat was against Syrian government forces, who are backed both by the radical Iranian regime and the Russian government. The latter has deployed a number of advanced systems, including the SA-21 Growler, the new MiG-29K carrier-based multirole fighter, the Su-34 Fullback, and the Su-35 Flanker. Russia even deployed their piece-of-crap carrier for a combat cruise in the area.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Israeli pilots were also the first to take the F-16 Fighting Falcon into combat. This plane has killmarks for six and a half enemy planes and one Iraqi reactor.

(Photo by Zachi Evenor)

The fighting between Israel and the Syrian regime also paved the way for the much-less-successful combat debut of the Russian-designed Pantsir missile system. In what also seems like tradition, Russian systems find a testing grounds in the Middle East — and fail miserably. In 1982, the Syrian military used T-72 main battle tanks in an effort to halt Israeli operations in Lebanon. The T-72s fared poorly in the battle, an initial indication that they would not live up to the hype.

The Israeli use of the F-15 and F-16, however, portended American success in Desert Storm. Could the F-35’s success be the same sort of harbinger as well? Hopefully, we’ll never find out.

Articles

Watch a US-led coalition airstrike destroy part of ISIS’ oil network near the Iraq-Syria border

While fighting in western Syria seems to have turned in favor of dictator Bashar Assad and his allies in Iran and Russia, US-led coalition strikes on ISIS continue in the eastern part of the country.


The terror group’s oil infrastructure remains a prime target, and a November 25 airstrike near Abu Kamal, close to the Iraqi border, went after several oil wellheads and a pump jack, an important piece of equipment for getting oil out of the ground.

Related: 7 coolest ways to blow up the enemy’s HQ

You can see a clip of the strike below.

The US-led coalition launched three strikes near Abu Kamal on November 25, destroying four oil wellheads and an oil pump jack.

That same day, slightly west of Abu Kamal in Dayr Az Zawr, two strikes reportedly destroyed three pieces of oil-refinement equipment, three oil-storage tanks, and an oil wellhead.

ISIS has relied heavily on oil revenue to finance its operations, and the US-led coalition has put special emphasis on attacking the infrastructure needed to get that oil out of the ground and to the market.

A few weeks after the November 25 airstrikes, coalition aircraft destroyed 168 oil-tanker trucks on the ground near Palmyra, in central Syria. That destruction cost the terrorist group about $2 million in revenue, according to Operation Inherent Resolve officials.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
Makeshift oil refinery in Syria. (Rozh Ahmad/YouTube screen grab)

While the coalition has been able to target ISIS’ oil infrastructure, fighting positions, and other resources from the air, progress against the group on the ground in eastern Syria has been somewhat halting.

While efforts by Kurdish militants and their Arab partners in Syria to recapture Raqqa, ISIS’ capital city, have been bogged down in recent weeks, the coalition announced on December 12 that Syrian Democratic Forces had liberated 700 square miles of ISIS-controlled territory, retaking dozens of villages around the city, and were starting the next phase of their operation to isolate Raqqa.

These developments come after Syrian government forces, backed by Iran and Russia, retook the northwestern city of Aleppo, parts of which had been held by rebels for years.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
Putin with president of Syria Bashar al-Assad. (Russian government photo)

That victory appears to have buoyed the outlook in Moscow, Tehran, and Damascus.

The recently reported outline of a deal being discussed by Russia, Iran, and Turkey would divide Syria into zones of influence for those countries, leaving Assad in power as president for at least a few years.

The purported deal appears after numerous fruitless attempts by the US and other western powers to broker a peace in Syria’s bloody, over five-year-long civil war — and may in part be inspired by Moscow’s desire to reassert itself on the world stage.

“It’s a very big prize for them if they can show they’re out there in front changing the world,” Sir Tony Brenton, Britain’s former ambassador to Moscow, told Reuters. “We’ve all grown used to the United States doing that and had rather forgotten that Russia used to play at the same level.”

Articles

This Green Beret survived an ambush after being shot three times

A distant, flashing image of blue sky, rolling mountains and snowy rivers visited itself upon an injured soldier flying away from a violent firefight on the ground below – just barely beyond view from the naked eye.


This vivid, yet paradoxical scene is what former Green Beret Dillon Behr recalls seeing when looking down in a weary, half-conscious state from a Black Hawk helicopter while being evacuated from a near-death combat encounter in the mountains of Afghanistan.

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

“I was able to look back in the valley below and see a lot of my teammates still there fighting. It was a beautiful scene from a distance, yet what had just happened down below was basically hell on earth,” Behr explained.

This violence, heroism and near death for Behr is now known as the famous battle of Shok Valley in Afghanistan, 2008; the mission on that April day was called “Operation Commando Wrath.”

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
Dillon Behr

Behr was part of a 12-man US Special Forces A-team tasked with taking out a high-value enemy target up in the mountains; his unit was joined by another supporting 12-man Green Beret A-team and about 100 Afghan Commandos. Behr was part of the 3rd Special Forces Group, ODA 3336.

While Green Berets are, among other things, experienced with helicopter rope drops and various kinds of airborne attack raids typically employed in assaults of this kind, Behr’s unit was forced to climb the side of a mountain and attack on foot, due to the rugged terrain and relative inexperience of supporting Afghan Commando partners.

Behr recalled the combat scene on the mountain, at an elevation of about 1,000 feet, as dreary with gray rocks, some small trees and not much vegetation. The uneven terrain was accompanied by some snow on the ground and a partially iced-over river. Concrete-like looking mud huts and small villages were scattered in rows and villages along ridges of the mountainside.

Having completed Special Forces training, selection, and preparation, Behr had spent years preparing for the life-and-death combat scenario he knew he was about to encounter.

He was a trained fighter, trainer and teacher working as part of a close-knit group focused on a specific attack mission. Behr was an intelligence and communications specialist, yet like all Green Berets, he was first and foremost a fighter, equipped and ready to respond to fast-evolving combat situations.

Insurgent Attack

“As we started climbing, we encountered insurgents… around 200 enemy combatants. They had the high ground and had us surrounded,” he recalled.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
Dillon Behr

During a subsequent, fast-ensuing firefight, Behr and his fellow Green Berets used what rocks, small trees and ditches they could find to both avert enemy gunfire and launch counterattacks.

“We had intelligence that a high value target was going to be there, someone traditionally hard to track down. We did not know there would be so many fighters and enemy forces there. We happened upon a much larger meeting of enemy combatants than we had expected,” he said.

At one point during the unfolding 7-hour firefight, Behr was abruptly thrown to the ground by a larger caliber bullet cutting through the side of his pelvis. The bullet blew out the ball and socket of his hip.

“It was like being struck by a car or baseball bat and being electrocuted at the same time,” he said.

This near-fatal strike, unfortunately, was only the beginning of Behr’s effort to stay alive. While fellow A-Team Green Beret intelligence specialist Luis Morales was tending to his injury, a second bullet ripped through Behr’s bicep and continued on to hit Morales in the thigh.

Behr described the painful sensation of feeling a bullet cut through the muscle in his bicep as minor compared to the initial hit to his pelvis… a scenario which can make it seemingly impossible to imaging the magnitude of pain he experienced upon first being shot.

As he fought to stay conscious and his teammates scrambled to stop the bleeding, Behr himself was focused on the survival and safety of his fellow Green Berets under attack.

“I have vivid memories of laying there almost helpless and being concerned about a building across the valley that had direct access to our team. If someone was to shoot from there, we were pretty exposed. I remember directing some people on the team and having them take that out with a large bomb,” he said.

US air support then arrived to destroy attacking insurgents; shrapnel from a bomb mistakenly struck Behr, perforating his intestines.

When confronting what he thought was certain death, Behr thought of his fellow Soldiers and family back home in Illinois.

“There was a point where I thought I was going to leave this world. At one point I thought I was not going to make it, so I said a prayer to myself and felt a calm come over me. Then, all of a sudden, Ron Shurer, the medic on our team, slapped me across the face and said ‘wake up you are not going to die today,'” he said.

The intensity of the firefight, volume of enemy bullets and massive scale of the attacks are still difficult for Behr to recall and describe, the sharpness of certain powerful and violent memories have found a permanent resting place in his mind.  Then, at the very moment Behr thought he might have an opportunity to live, the attacks worsened.

Just after telling Behr he would not die, Shurer himself took a bullet in the helmet right above his face. Fortunately, the bullet bounced off his helmet.

“It could have been much worse,” Behr said.

Four Americans were critically injured and MEDEVAC’ed to Landstuhl Army Medical Center and then Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Two Afghan Commandos were killed, including an interpreter.

In total, 11 Silver Stars and one Air Force Cross were awarded for the events of that day.

“The heroic part is what my team did and how they kept it together under heavy enemy gunfire. They risked their lives to get me and the other injured guys on the team off of that mountain. They were dragging and dropping me over the ledges and trying to catch me off of the ledges,” Behr explained.

Life After Near-Death in Combat

Despite this accumulation of combat trauma and near death experience, Behr has made an astounding recovery. Following medical treatment, Behr went on to earn a Masters degree in Security Studies at Georgetown University before starting a non-profit gym for injured Soldiers at Walter Reed.

When asked how he was able to go on after his combat experience, Behr said “I don’t know what else to do. We’re given abilities and skills and it is a shame to waste them.  Even after we leave the military, we have a responsibility to become leaders in our communities.”

These days, after working for a period as a cyber security threat intelligence analyst at Discover, Behr now works as a professional liability and cyber liability broker for Risk Placement Services, a Washington D.C.-area firm.

In a manner quite similar to his fellow Green Berets, known as “Quiet Professionals” often reluctant to discuss the perils of combat, Behr does not wish to highlight his war zone activities. He does, however, say the experience has changed him forever.

Behr is now married to a former Red Cross volunteer who helped him recover from his injuries.

“I value relationships more than I ever did previously,” Behr said.

Behr is also involved with the Green Beret Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping Green Berets and their families. You can visit the Green Beret Foundation website here.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Brothers carry on family legacy in aviation

Decades ago, a father took his two young sons to the aviation museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Although the father might have known it would be a great vacation for his family, he had no way of knowing the impact the trip would have on his sons’ future decision to join the Air Force.

“I remember that one of the airplanes we stopped at, our dad was like, ‘look it’s a Hercules,'” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Putnam, a 94th Maintenance Squadron jet engine mechanic here. “We were like that’s really cool and they let us in and we climbed around in it. I just remember it being so big! And then, lo and behold, later I’m an engine guy that works on them. We’ve always been around aircraft and drawn to it.”

Jeremy’s older brother, Joel Putnam, is a 94th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief at Dobbins Air Reserve Base. The Putnam brothers come from a family legacy of military aviators.


“Our dad was in the U.S. Army air cavalry and he worked on airplanes,” said Jeremy. “That was a big inspiration for both of us to work on airplanes. We come from a long line of military aviators. Our grandfather on our dad’s side was in the Air Force. On our mom’s side, our grandfather was a helicopter crew chief in the Marines and then Army.”

The brothers’ camaraderie growing up continued into their adult lives as they worked in the military. Joel and Jeremy deployed to Qatar and recently participated in Exercise Swift Response together. Exercise Swift Response is an annual U.S. Army Europe-led multinational exercise featuring high-readiness airborne forces from nine nations.

The brothers spoke about their unique experience of partnering with each other in real world scenarios of exercises and missions.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Tech. Sgt. Joel Putnam, a 94th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, left, and his brother, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Putnam, a 94th Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, pose for a photo in front of a C-130H3 Hercules at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Justin Clayvon)


“We were doing some reconfigurations for the Swift Response exercise, changing from one layout in the cargo department to another,” said Joel. “We were setting up seats for the Army paratroopers to jump out, and I look up and Jeremy is there helping me — tag teaming.”

“Yeah, I didn’t have anything engine related, so I jumped on the airplane to help him set up for the configuration,” Jeremy added.

Joel highlighted that between the two brothers they can take care of a whole plane. “We can go on TDY together and he can do the engine work and I can do the crew chief stuff,” said Joel.

“We can run the plane, we can get it serviced up, gassed and go, or handle any major issues,” added Jeremy.

Joel spoke about completing inspections at Dobbins ARB. When a plane comes in and is jacked up, as Jeremy works on the motor, Joel will be over in the flaps.

Jeremy works as an Air Reserve technician full time at Dobbins ARB. Joel serves as a traditional reservist, frequently working on orders at Dobbins ARB.

The bond between the brothers carries into their civilian life as well. The airmen live as roommates and even produce electronic music and disc jockey together. But their favorite experience is working together in the military.

“Going out and doing real world missions together is really cool,” Jeremy said. “When we grew up playing in the backyard together trying to accomplish something, or helping dad work on the cars, it was together, and now being on a much bigger scale, in a bigger family in the Air Force, still being and working together towards the mission is awesome.”

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This concept laser could give the H-60 a powerful drone zapper

Lasers have been a mainstay weapon of science fiction for years. In the real world, lasers haven’t quite reached the operational weapon stage, but have been used for range-finding and guiding weapons like the AGM-123 Skipper, AGM-114 Hellfire, and the Paveway laser-guided bombs. These weapons would home in on a target that was painted with the laser, and were able to hit within ten feet of their aimpoint routinely.


Well, laser weapons that do the damage themselves, as opposed to being mere guidance systems, are getting closer to reality. Earlier this year, the Army tested a laser weapon on the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. The Navy had a laser on the afloat staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15, ex-LPD 15), which was in the Persian Gulf. Lockheed’s ATHENA laser was tested last month on five MQM-170C drones. Now, Lockheed has a tactical concept to put a laser weapon system of the H-60 airframe.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research-sponsored Laser Weapon System. (Navy photo by John F. Williams.)

The concept system in question is the High Energy Fiber Laser. This is a self-contained pallet system that can make existing H-60s that could equip them with up to a 30-kilowatt laser. That’s the same level of firepower (or is laser-power the better word?) as the ATHENA. That sounds very impressive, and a big step forward. How is this done?

According to information Lockheed provided after a request made at the Association of the United States Army expo in Washington, D.C., the High Energy Fiber Laser is actually a self-contained pallet that can be installed or removed from a H-60 airframe. With the HEFL system on board, the H-60 could defensively counter small threats, including rockets, artillery, mortars, or small UAV.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
Lockheed Martin’s 30-kilowatt fiber laser weapon system successfully disabled the engine of a small truck during a recent field test. Imagine what it can do to those annoying Iranian speedboats that harass U.S. Navy ships. (Image Lockheed Martin)

The introduction of laser weapons on an operation scale is still years away, so for now, zapping annoying Iranian drones and speedboats that harass U.S. Navy forces is still in the realm of science fiction. But that science fiction is coming closer to being science fact.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Military medevacs are facing a hidden emergency

The role of the Dustoff is sacred, enshrined in both the relationship between medical personnel and their patients as well as treaties that underlie the Law of Armed Conflict, but the practical concerns of providing medical care to troops under fire will be sorely tested in a war with a modern foe.


12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

An Army air ambulance picks up a simulated Marine casualty during a 2018 exercise in Romania.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexander Sturdivant)

Currently, the U.S. and most of its allies — as well as many of its greatest rivals — enjoy nearly unquestioned air superiority in their areas of operations and responsibility. So, a commander of a modern military force, whether they’re Italian, French, Chinese, or American, can request a medical evacuation with near certainty that the wounded or sick person can be picked up quickly.

Even in active theaters of war like Afghanistan, wounded personnel can often be delivered to advanced medical care within the “Golden Hour,” the first hour after injury when medical intervention will make the biggest difference between life and death, recovery, and permanent disability.

In one recent case, military personnel in Africa were able to save an Italian woman’s life after she was injured in a car crash, thanks to collaboration between medical personnel from six nations, multiple ambulance services and air crews, and a doctor-turned-linguist.

But the advanced medical capabilities available across NATO and in Russian and Chinese forces rely on an evacuation infrastructure built for uncontested environments, where the worst threat to aircraft comes from IEDs and machine gun fire.

In a new paper from RAND Europe, defense analyst Marta Kepe dovetails recent speeches from military leaders, war game results, and scholarly work. They all point to a conflict wherein troops may have to wait days or longer for evacuation, meaning that providing care at the point of injury, possibly while still under threat of enemy attack, will be the only real chance for life-saving intervention.

Take the case of war with North Korea, a much “easier” hypothetical conflict than one with China or Russia. While North Korea lacks advanced air defense assets and electronic warfare assets, that simply means that they can’t jam all communications and they likely can’t shoot down fifth-generation fighters.

But medevacs rely on helicopters that, by and large, are susceptible to North Korean air defenses. Fly too high and they can be targeted and destroyed by nearly any surface-to air missile that North Korea has. Fly too low and infantrymen with RPGs and machine guns can potentially kill them.

North Korean weapons and aircraft, while outdated, are numerous — there are over 1,300 aircraft in the arsenal and widely deployed anti-air missile sites on the ground. It might take months to wipe them all out during an invasion, the same period of time when ground commanders would expect to take the most casualties.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

An M113 ambulance drives through the Kuwaiti desert during a demonstration.

(U.S. Army)

And that’s before the helicopters’ traditional escorts in Afghanistan and Iraq, AH-64 Apaches that’re armed to the teeth, are tasked for more urgent missions, like taking out air defense and artillery sites.

All this combines to form a battlefield where command teams will need to use ground ambulances and standard vehicles to get their wounded far from the front lines before they can be picked up, tying up assets needed for the advance, taxing supply lines that now have competing traffic, and extending the time between injury and treatment.

Some battlefields, meanwhile, might be underground where it’s nearly impossible to quickly communicate with the surface or with air assets. People wounded while fighting for control of cave networks or underground bunker systems would need to be carried out on foot, then evacuated in ground vehicles to pickup sites, and then flown to hospitals.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

The hospital ship USNS Mercy pulls into port.

(U.S. Military Sealift Command Sarah Buford)

And the closest hospitals might be ships far offshore since role 3 and 4 hospitals on land take time to construct and are vulnerable to attack. While deliberately targeting a hospital is illegal, there’s no guarantee that the treaties would be honored by enemy commanders (Remember, Russia’s annexations of South Ossetia and Crimea were violations of international law, as were China’s cyber attacks and territory seizures in the Pacific).

All of which means that a war with North Korea would see tens of thousands of injured troops die of wounds that wouldn’t have been fatal in a more permissive environment. A similar story exists in Iran.

But China and Russia would be worse since they have the assets necessary to shutdown American communication networks, making it impossible for ground commanders to call for medical aid. They’re also more likely to be able to pinpoint signal sources, making it risky for a platoon leader to call for medical aid for wounded troops.

And China and Russia’s air forces and air defenses, while not quite as large as America’s, are much more potent and well-trained that Iran or North Korea’s. They could likely hold out for months or years while inflicting heavy casualties to American air assets, preventing the establishment of a permissive medevac capability for even longer.

A 2016 analysis by RAND even postulated that China would be nearly impossible to conquer by 2025. The same weapon systems expected to protect China’s mainland from successful invasion would make it nearly impossible to evacuate all the personnel injured while trying to effect the invasion.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Air Force special operators render simulated medical aid during an exercise at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2017. The ability for non-medical personnel to render aid under fire is expected to become more important in the coming years.

(U.S. Army)

There is good news, though. The U.S. military has acknowledged these shortcomings and is trying to lay the framework for what a medical corps in a contested environment should look like.

The Army is expanding it’s “Tactical Combat Casualty Care,” or TC3, program where combat lifesavers are trained in military first aid. DARPA is working on autonomous or remotely piloted pods that can fly medical capsules with supplies in or casualty evacuation capsules out without risking flight crews. The Marine Corps already has an experimental autonomous helicopter for logistics.

Beyond that is re-building medical units to perform work closer to the front lines. This is a return to the old days to a certain extent. The only dentist to receive the Medal of Honor earned the award in World War II while acting as a surgeon in a hospital overrun by Japanese attackers.

They could also be more dispersed. Instead of building a few large hospitals with large staffs on easily targeted installations, surgical teams and other care providers could operate in small groups. That way, if one or two teams are destroyed or forced to retreat, there would still be a few groups providing medical care.

In addition to more dispersed and forward-positioned medical personnel, there’s room for expanding the medical capabilities of non-medical personnel.

In 2017, then-Maj. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, the deputy commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, suggested that the non-medical soldiers trained in first aid could be sent on rotations with civilian paramedics and other medical personnel that treat trauma victims, building up their understanding of medical care and their resilience.

LaCamera was promoted to lieutenant general and commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps in January, 2018, increasing the chances that his directions will result in actual policy changes. He’s also the commander of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where special operations medical personnel have been sent to local hospitals to train for years.

Historically, those types of rotations have been limited to medics and other specialized troops. Medical personnel, meanwhile, would see an increased number of rotations into civilian trauma centers in the U.S. and allied countries.

But the most important aspect of medical care under fire in tomorrow’s war will be the same as it is today: Achieve and maintain fire superiority. The best way to open a window to evacuate your own personnel is by killing everyone on the enemy side wounding your troops and trying to prevent it.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force is launching more secure, accurate GPS satellites

The U.S. Air Force is preparing to launch the first of a new generation of GPS satellites, with the goal of providing more accuracy and security in the face of jamming threats from adversaries, including Russia.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite is set to lift off on Dec. 18, 2018, from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.


It will be the first of 32 planned GPS III satellites that are designed to replace older ones currently in orbit and are being manufactured by Lockheed Martin. SpaceX won contracts to handle five of the first six GPS 3 launches.

Many of the leading features of the system will not be fully functional until at least 2022.

The cost of the system is estimated at billion to billion.

The Air Force controls a series of 31 GPS satellites from a high-security complex at an Air Force base near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The military says the GPS III satellites will have a stronger signal that will be more difficult to jam.

Norway accused Russia of disrupting GPS signals during a recent NATO military exercise.

Lockheed Martin says the new system will have three times greater accuracy and up to eight times more antijamming capabilities than the existing GPS satellites.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Bail denied for suspected Russian spy

A U.S. judge has denied a request by a Russian woman accused of working as a foreign agent who sought to be released on bail pending her next hearing.

Prosecutors have charged that Maria Butina had worked for years to cultivate relationships with U.S. political organizations and conservative activists.

They have charged that her work was directed by a former Russian lawmaker who allegedly has ties to Russian organized crime and who was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in early 2018.


Butina’s defense lawyers sought to persuade a Washington judge to release Butina to house arrest pending her November 2018 hearing.

But Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected that request, agreeing with prosecutors who said Butina might flee the country.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Maria Butina’s mugshot after being booked into the Alexandria detention center.

Federal prosecutors said in court filings that they had mistakenly accused Butina of trading sex for access. They said they misinterpreted one of Butina’s text-message exchanges but said there was other evidence supporting keeping her in custody.

Butina, 29, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.

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

Articles

Will this year’s massive military exercise finally provoke North Korea?

The United States military is preparing to launch a major military exercise with South Korea in coming days and faces a dangerous balancing act: How do you reassure allies in the region that you are ready for a war with North Korea without provoking an actual conflict in the process?


The annual Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise is scheduled for 10 days beginning August 21, and will include about 25,000 US troops and tens of thousands of South Koreans. The exercise focuses on defending South Korea against an attack from the North, and each year triggers threats and rebukes from North Korea. But it comes at an especially sensitive time now, following the exchange of a series of threats between President Donald Trump and North Korea.

US Forces Korea, the command that oversees some 28,500 American military personnel on the Korean Peninsula, has no current plans to change the size, format, or messaging for this year’s exercise, said Army Colonel Chad G. Carroll, a military spokesman in South Korea. The mission is planned well in advance, considered defensive in nature, and allows both military forces and civilian officials to strengthen their readiness for a crisis, he said.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2015. DoD Photo by Staff Sgt. Steven Schneider.

“Our job is provide our leadership with viable military options if called upon, and exercises like this hone our ability to do that,” Carroll said.

North Korea this week denounced the exercise, warning that even an accident in the midst of it could trigger a nuclear conflict. But the war game also has drawn scrutiny this year from Russia and China, which have suggested cancelling the operation to alleviate tensions. The US has rejected that option, saying the exercise is needed to deter North Korean aggression as Washington seeks peaceful means to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons development.

“This is why we have military capability that undergirds our diplomatic activities,” said Marine General Joseph F. Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during an appearance August 14 in Seoul. “These threats are serious to us, and thus we have to be prepared.”

On August 15, North Korea appeared to ease up on a threat to shoot missiles toward the US island territory of Guam. A state-run media outlet reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would watch the US “a little more” rather than responding quickly, but would “make an important decision, as it already declared”, if the “Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity.” The report came hours after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned that if North Korea hits the US island territory of Guam with a missile, it would be “game on”, meaning war.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2016. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ken Scar.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to respond directly to Kim’s decision to pull back from his threat to launch missiles toward Guam, but said the door to talks remains open.

“We continue to be interested in finding a way to get to a dialogue, but that’s up to him,” Tillerson said at the State Department.

Tillerson and Mattis jointly host their Japanese counterparts in Washington August 17, with North Korea at the top of the agenda.

Army Colonel Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US and South Korea have “made a lot of progress” in recent years to prepare against any North Korea threat. Ulchi-Freedom Guardian is a big part of that, with two other related exercises, Foal Eagle and Key Resolve.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2009. Photo courtesy of US Navy.

The US-South Korean military exercises have exacerbated tensions in the past. In March, the beginning of Foal Eagle prompted North Korea to test-fire four ballistic missiles, which in turn prompted the Pentagon to announce that it was assembling a missile defence system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) on the Korean Peninsula with approval of the Government in Seoul.

In 2015, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian came shortly after an August 4 attack in which two South Korean soldiers stepped on landmines in the heavily militarized border region with North Korea, known as the Demilitarized Zone. South Korea vowed to retaliate, and the two Koreas exchanged artillery and rocket fire over the border during Ulchi-Freedom Guardian after South Korea began broadcasting propaganda messages over the border and North Korea responded by turning on its own loudspeakers.

The exercise itself has changed several times, and dates back to 1968, when South Korea and the US created a war game called Focus Lens. That occurred after North Korea hijacked a US Navy intelligence ship, the USS Pueblo, and launched a bloody Special Operations raid on the Blue House, the centre of the South Korean government, with plans to kill South Korean President Park Chung Hee.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s why military working dogs are treated just like regular troops

Military working dogs are an essential part of many missions — even sensitive ones, like the raid on the compound of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Oct. 26, 2019. They’re so important, in fact, that they occasionally hold ranks themselves, although it’s merely formal and not official, and they’re always ranked one higher than their handlers.

That “seniority” honors the dog’s role and reminds the handler to be lenient when it has a bad day.

The dog who chased after Baghdadi, leading to his death by suicide, has become a celebrity — even though the dog’s name remains classified. A photo of the dog led to confirmation of its breed (a Belgian Malinois), but little else is known about the good boy (or girl). Disclosing the dog’s name and rank could lead to information about the dog’s affiliation with Delta Force, a classified unit, The Washington Post reports. That unit is still in the field, and revealing the dog’s name could put its handler at risk, although the dog’s possible name and sex have been reported, by Newsweek and the Washington Post, respectively.

Read more to learn more about military working dogs.


12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. William Chrisman, a combat tracking dog trainer, and Cpl. Ludjo, a military working dog, both with Third Law Enforcement Battalion, Third Marine Information Group, play tug of war at Camp Wilson, Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(Sgt. Stormy Mendez / US Marine Corps)

The bond between a military working dog and its handler is vitally important to completing missions.

A handler needs to be able to read shifts and subtleties in their canine partner’s behavior to gather information about their targets or environments, and even how the dog is feeling.

For example, if the dog doesn’t feel like working, or has deficiencies with some tasks, the handler needs to be able to pick up on this and give the dog the tools, training, and motivation it needs to complete the task.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

U.S. Marine Corps military working dog Allie waits inside a Humvee to go on a mission while being held by her handler, Lance Cpl. Ronnie Ramcharan at the Central Training Center, Okinawa, Japan on Aug. 25, 2019.

(Lance Cpl. Andrew R. Bray / US Marine Corps)

While the military working dog’s rank is a formality — not an official rank like human troops have — it’s meant to encourage handlers to treat their dogs with love and respect.

Handlers have to be able to communicate what their canine partners are “telling” them, and to know without a doubt that the dog will listen to him or her.

“There’s no doubt about my dog: Number one, he will protect me. Number two, he will find a bomb,” Sgt. 1st Class Regina Johnson told the Army in 2011.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Airman 1st Class Daniel Martinez, 355th Security Forces military working dog handler, participates in a simulated narcotic/bomb detection exercise with Darius, an MWD assigned to the 355 SFS, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Sept. 23, 2019.

(Airman 1st Class Kristine Legate / US Air Force)

Military working dogs whose units allow them to hold ranks are non-commissioned officers (NCOs).

By and large, military working dogs are treated as regular US troops would be.

Unfortunately, there was one period where military working dogs were left behind in a combat zone — in South Vietnam, during US troops’ hasty withdrawal there.

Prior to 2000, military working dogs were also euthanized after their service was finished. Military working dogs can now be adopted to civilians once their service is finished.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

A U.S. Army soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group and his military working dog jump off the ramp of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during water training over the Gulf of Mexico as part of exercise Emerald Warrior 2011 in this U.S. military handout image from March 1, 2011.

(Manuel J. Martinez/U.S. Air Force)

Cairo the dog, also a Belgian Malinois, earned accolades from former President Barack Obama for his role in killing al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Cairo secured the perimeter of bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, and, should the al Qaeda leader have proven difficult to find, Cairo would be sent in after him.

Upon hearing that Cairo was involved in the raid, former President Barack Obama said, “I want to meet that dog,” according to an account in The New Yorker.

“If you want to meet the dog, Mr. President, I advise you to bring treats,” one member of the SEAL team jokingly advised the president.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

(Department of Defense)

Military working dogs and their partners both require extensive training to keep up with the demands of their job.

Dogs and their trainers go through a 93-day training program to cement their skills and gain practice as a team in real-world scenarios, according to the Army.

Only about 50% of the dogs the military procures to become military working dogs are actually suitable for the job.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Cpl. Ramon Valenci, a dog handler with 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, orders his military working dog, Red, to search for improvised explosive devices during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 2-17, aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Jan. 19, 2017.

(Aaron S. Patterson / US Marine Corps)

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

100th Military Police Detachment, Military Working Dog (MWD) Money, conducts basic obedience drills, June 25, 2019, Panzer Kaserne, Germany. The MWDs and their handlers are trained to provide narcotics and explosives detection keeping the bases safe from threats.

(Photo by Yvonne Najera)

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Callie, a search and rescue dog for the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, rides in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter as part of her familiarization training at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., Nov. 29, 2018.

(Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton / US Air National Guard)

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Timo, 23d Security Forces Squadron (SFS) Military Working Dog (MWD), bites Joe Dukes, Lowndes County Sheriffs Office SWAT team lead, during a MWD capabilities demonstration, March 21, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Timo is trained to attack on or off leash with or without command.

(Senior Airman Janiqua P. Robinson / US Air Force)

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

(Kevin Hanrahan)

They’re more than man’s best friend. Military working dogs are an essential part of the mission.

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

Articles

Dying soldier’s organs save the lives of two other veterans

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season
(Whalen family photo)


“The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage nerves a thousand living men.” – Minot J. Savage

On Saturday December 19th Staff Sergeant Matthew James Whalen suffered a massive stroke from which doctors determined he would not recover. The family decided to remove the 35-year-old four-combat-tour veteran from life support once they knew that his organs could save the lives of others.

Later, they would find out that two recipients were veterans.

This video posted by friend Sean Hatton shows Honor Guard and former service members standing at attention in the halls of Plaza Fort Worth Medical Center as Whalen was wheeled past them en-route to his last heroic act. The emotional clip has been viewed over 10 million times and shared close to a quarter-million times.

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

Whalen is survived by his wife, Hannah and three children: Logan, Mattix, and Sadie. A GoFundMe page was set up by friends to help provide for them, and pay for Matt’s hospital bills. To date, over $78,000 has been raised. In an update to donors, Brandon Bledsoe, the campaign’s originator wrote: “You have done God’s work, you have shown compassion to the reaches that only the best of humanity can achieve. You have helped a family in need, whether you knew them or not.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Senator John McCain, Vietnam War hero, dies at 81

Republican Sen. John McCain, an internationally renowned Vietnam War hero who served for 30 years in the Senate representing Arizona, died Aug. 25, 2018, due to complications stemming from brain cancer.

His office said in a statement that his wife Cindy McCain and their family were alongside him when he died.

“At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for sixty years,” his office said.

McCain, 81, was a part of many of the past three decades’ most significant political moments. He was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee in a contest he lost to President Barack Obama. He also sought the presidency in 2000, mounting a primary campaign against President George W. Bush.


A graduate of the Naval Academy, the Arizona Republican followed both his father and grandfather, who were four-star admirals, into the US Navy, where he carried out airstrike missions.

During a 1967 bombing run over Hanoi, McCain’s plane was shot down, nearly killing him. He was captured by North Vietnamese forces and spent six years as a prisoner of war, suffering brutal beatings at the hands of his captors, which left him with lifelong physical ailments.

He quickly lost 50 pounds and saw his hair turn white. His captors did not treat his injuries from the plane crash.

Because his father was named commander of US forces in Vietnam that same year, the North Vietnamese offered to release McCain early. He refused unless every prisoner of war taken before him was also released. He was soon placed in solitary confinement, where he would remain for the next two years. He was not released until March of 1973.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

Photograph of John McCain after his release from captivity.

(National Archives photo)

Upon returning to the US, McCain was awarded a number of military medals, including two Purple Hearts. He soon set his sights on politics and ran for an Arizona congressional seat in 1982, winning a tough primary and subsequently the general election.

In 1986, he ran for the Senate seat vacated by longtime Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 1964. He won that election as well, and he has been reelected to the Senate for five additional terms — most recently in 2016.

Early in his Senate career, McCain became embroiled in the “Keating Five” scandal. McCain was one of five senators who received campaign contributions from Charles Keating Jr. and was later asked by Keating to prevent the government from seizing his Lincoln Savings and Loan Association.

McCain met twice with regulators to discuss the government investigation. He later returned the donations and admitted the appearance of it was wrong. The episode led McCain to become a leader on campaign finance reform, which included the passage of the McCain-Feingold Act.

During his 2000 campaign for president, the press became enthralled with the candidate who won over a reputation as a “maverick,” rebuffing his party’s conservative orthodoxy at the time. He famously traveled on a bus called the “Straight Talk Express” during his 2000 bid.

12 gifts to give veterans this holiday season

U.S. Sen. John McCain speaks to a group of Soldiers before re-enlisting them during an Independence Day celebration in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 4, 2013.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Dustin Payne)

In 2008, McCain fared far better. He won the Republican presidential nomination but ultimately was defeated by Obama in a year in which he faced defending an unpopular war in Iraq and a faltering economy under the Bush administration. McCain selected then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, a move criticized by some as having opened the floodgates for the Republican Party to be infiltrated by a number of far-right candidates who went on to be elected.

After the 2008 campaign, McCain returned to the Senate, his stature even more prominent, leading on national security and military issues.

He was diagnosed with brain cancer early in his sixth term. He battled through it, returning to Congress this past summer. In perhaps his last signature political moment, McCain cast a dramatic vote against his party to stop the repeal of Obamacare, coming to the floor in the middle of the vote before pausing and pointing his right thumb down. The moment highlighted a contentious relationship between the senator and President Donald Trump.

The type of brain tumor with which he was afflicted, glioblastoma, is particularly aggressive and difficult to treat. He had been receiving chemotherapy, but his family announced in August that he would no longer seek medical treatment.

McCain is survived by his seven children and his second wife, Cindy, whom he married in 1980 following a 15-year marriage to Carol Shepp.

Most famous among his children is Meghan, who is a prominent conservative pundit and cohost of ABC’s “The View.” During a December episode, former Vice President Joe Biden consoled her and said that if “anybody” could overcome that cancer, it was her father.

“Your dad is one of my best friends,” he said.

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


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