This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle - We Are The Mighty
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This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

The battle for Shal Mountain, named Operation Rugged Sarak, went from October 8-15, 2011. Shal Mountain sat above Shal Valley and controlled two important supply routes, one vital to coalition forces for resupply and one critical to insurgent smuggling between Pakistan and Afghanistan.


The insurgents controlled the mountain for years, but the men of Bastard Company, 2-27th Infantry Regiment, decided to finally take it from them after the insurgents used it to attack two convoys, killing one Bravo soldier in each of the attacks. The battle for the summit would rage for eight days.

Spc. Jeffrey A. Conn was the medic that responded to the second convoy attack as well as the medic on top of Shal Mountain during the fight for the summit. On the mountaintop, he would earn a Silver Star for saving the lives of at least nine U.S. and Afghan soldiers while also taking the lives of many insurgents — at least 12 in a single attack.

October 11

Conn began the climb up the mountain on Oct. 8 with the rest of first platoon. While a dozen men ran up the mountain carrying minimal gear to begin constructing an outpost that morning, Conn and the bulk of the American platoon arrived on Oct. 11 after fighting up the mountain with the platoon’s heavy weapons and special equipment. Americans on the mountaintop still only numbered 23.

The enemy had made multiple attempts to take the summit before the rest of the platoon arrived, but on the night of Oct. 11 they attacked hard to try and keep the new arrivals from digging in. Using the terrain to sneak up in the dark, insurgents closed to within five meters of the perimeter and began an attack that opened with 12 machine guns firing into the small base. RPGs and recoilless rifle rounds pelted the defenders as they took cover and attempted to return fire.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
A 101st Airborne Division medic engages targets in the Shal Valley in 2010. Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell

Conn climbed a Hesco barrier on the southern flank and began throwing grenades at enemy positions before initiating claymores positioned around the base. The platoon was ordered to collapse the perimeter. As Conn fell back, he saw RPGs striking the platoon’s Mk-19 fighting position, so he rushed to it and looked for wounded before moving to cover. Conn’s actions are credited with preventing the southern flank from collapsing and saving the lives of 30 Afghan and American defenders.

October 12

Enemy fire throughout the day had harassed the American forces, but the main effort to push the Americans from the mountaintop began in the late evening. Conn was nearly taken out in the opening salvo as RPGs and machine gun fire impacted within inches of him, according to his Silver Star citation. Conn moved first to the command and control position when he saw that the platoon’s radio was unmanned. He sent reports to the headquarters so they could coordinate the battle until he saw enemy fighters maneuvering their way into the outpost. Conn moved to a nearby 60mm mortar tube, put it in direct fire mode, and began engaging the fighters. He killed 12 of them.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
A 101st Airborne Division medic scans his sector in the Shal Valley in 2010. Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell

On this day, another U.S. soldier struck two insurgents with a TOW missile, killing both of them. One was an Afghan commander whose death would become a rallying cry for the insurgents.

October 13

The following afternoon, the enemy launched its strongest attack of the battle after a funeral for the dead commander. Enemy elements managed to stage a base 100 meters from the OP, hiding in dips in the terrain. Enemy mortar and machine gun fire rained down onto the base. Two 82mm mortar rounds struck a fighting position on the northern flank, severely wounding five U.S. and three Afghan soldiers.

Conn rushed to the position from the opposite side of the OP, exposed to fire the entire way. He quickly stabilized the worst Afghan casualty. As the enemy focused on the new weak point in the flank and sniper fire pelted the ground near him, Conn engaged the assaulting forces with grenades before throwing smoke and pulling the casualties back to the casualty collection point. The casualty collection point gave little cover to the medic, but he stabilized his nine patients, the eight from the northern flank and another from elsewhere on the OP. All nine patients survived and Conn’s actions were again credited with preventing the collapse of a flank, saving the OP.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
A 101st Airborne Division medic escorts a casualty off of a hilltop in the Shal Valley in 2010. Photo: Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell

Late that evening, amid accurate sniper fire from a nearby mountain, an air ambulance tried to evacuate some of the wounded. The flight medic, Staff Sgt. Robert B. Cowdrey, approached the helicopter from the front while bringing the casualties to the bird and was struck by a rotor blade. Conn arrived on site first, stabilizing the other medic and recovering the five other wounded on the flight line. The helicopter had left the landing zone amid enemy fire, and Conn kept the injured soldier alive for thirty minutes while waiting for another Medevac. Staff Sgt. Cowdrey later died of his wounds.

After the fierce attacks of that day, every member of the platoon showed signs of traumatic brain injury.

October 14

On Oct. 14, first platoon was finally being relieved of their duties on the mountain, but the enemy wasn’t ready to let them go. While the platoon sergeant was supervising the removal of equipment down the mountain, the insurgents sent ten suicide bombers under machine gun and sniper cover fire against the OP.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
A 101st Airborne Division medic engages targets in the Shal Valley in 2010. Photo: US Army Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell

Conn took fire inside his firing position, but still further exposed himself by climbing out of it to check on other members of the platoon. After making a circuit to treat the wounded in their positions, he moved to the mortar pit and assisted in firing 60mm rounds against enemy positions while fully exposed to the continuing sniper fire. When the enemy came within range, he again threw fragmentation grenades into the advancing forces.

Combined with M4 fire from the platoon sergeant, this effort killed the suicide bombers before they could breach the OP. The enemy survivors soon began retreating into Pakistan.

In total during the Battle of Shal Mountain, 115 enemy fighters were confirmed killed and the U.S. lost two soldiers: the flight medic from the mountaintop and a wolfhound operator who was working near the middle of the mountain.

(h/t to Matt Millham of Stars and Stripes who wrote about this battle from the point of view of Staff Sgt. Anthony Fuentes, platoon sergeant for Spc. Conn. Staff Sgt. Fuentes also received the Silver Star for his leadership during the battle.)

NOW: 10 incredible Post-9/11 combat medics who risked their lives to save others

OR: 7 things you didn’t know about the First Battle of Fallujah

Articles

Trump’s CIA pick: Russia ‘threatening Europe,’ failing to destroy ISIS

WASHINGTON — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to run the CIA says he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is likely satisfied with the political furor in the United States over what U.S. intelligence calls a Russian hacking campaign to meddle in the presidential election.


Representative Mike Pompeo (Republican-Kansas) said during the January 12 confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee that it would not be surprising if Russia’s leadership sees the uproar “as something that might well rebound to their benefit.”

Also read: The 5 biggest takeaways from General Mattis’ confirmation hearing

“I have no doubt that the discourse that’s been taking place is something that Vladimir Putin would look at and say: ‘Wow, that was among the objectives that I had, to sow doubt among the American political community, to suggest somehow that American democracy was not unique,'” Pompeo said.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
U.S. Congresman Mike Pompeo speaking at the 2011 Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. | Creative Commons photo by Gage Skidmore

Trump has publicly questioned the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions about Russian involvement, though a day earlier he acknowledged that Moscow was likely behind the cyberattacks targeting the campaign of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Trump insists, however, that the meddling had no impact on the outcome of the election.

Pompeo was responding to a question by Senator Marco Rubio (Republican-Florida) about the hacking campaign, in which Russia denies its involvement, and unsubstantiated claims that surfaced recently alleging that Russia possesses compromising information on Trump.

Pompeo said he accepts the assessment by U.S. intelligence that Russia was behind the cyberattacks.

Pompeo told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he attended last week’s meeting at which top U.S. officials briefed Trump on the matter.

“Everything I’ve seen suggests to me that the report has an analytical product that is sound,” Pompeo said.

Russia denies it was behind the cyberattacks.

Pompeo also said he believes Russia is “threatening Europe” while “doing nearly nothing” to destroy Islamic State (IS) militants.

“Russia has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction of ISIS,” Pompeo said in his written testimony submitted to the committee, using an alternate acronym for IS.

Trump has said he wants better relations with Russia, including greater bilateral cooperation in fighting IS militants in Syria.

Pompeo also said he would drop his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal if confirmed for the post and focus on “aggressive” verification that Tehran is complying with the terms of the accord.

A fierce critic of the deal between Iran and world powers during his time in Congress, Pompeo said in his confirmation hearing that he would have a different role if the Senate confirms his nomination.

“While I opposed the Iran deal as a member of Congress, if confirmed, my role would change — I’ll lead the [Central Intelligence] Agency to aggressively pursue collection operations and ensure analysts have the time, political space, and resources to make objective and sound judgments,” Pompeo said.

Trump has previously said he could scrap or renegotiate the deal.

Pompeo has said that the CIA must be “rigorously fair and objective” in assessing the accord.

In his testimony, he called Iran “the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror” and said the Islamic republic “has become an even more emboldened and disruptive player in the Middle East.”

Watch a video from the hearing below:

MIGHTY HISTORY

Watch the first of these never-before-seen D-Day videos in stunning 4K

While 4K video was far from the technology of the day, the people over at AARP pulled out all the stops to get the legendary footage of history’s largest amphibious landing into the viewing technology of today. Narrated by acclaimed actor Bryan Cranston, the video series presents the personal letters and feelings of the men who landed on the beaches of Occupied France that day.


The first in the series, “Landing on Omaha Beach,” is the story of the landing through the eyes of Pfc. Dominick Bart, a 32-year-old infantryman who landed on the beach during the first wave. Cranston brings Bart’s experiences alive as he reads about the Private First Class’ experience on the beaches in Bart’s letter to his wife, Mildred.

Omaha was just one of five Allied sectors invaded that day, and one of two that would fall to the American invasion forces. Omaha’s principal challenge was the 150-foot cliffs overlooking the beach, from which Nazi guards rained death on the invaders.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

Some 43,000 men assaulted Omaha Beach alone that day, and by 7:30 in the morning had managed to get through the beach to the cliffs. A half hour later, 900 American GIs were at the tops of the bluffs and assaulting the entrenched enemy positions. By 9:00 a.m., U.S. troops had cleared the beach and began moving inland. An estimated 2,000 – 5,000 men were killed and wounded in the assault on Omaha Beach alone, not to mention the four other sectors engaged by British and Canadian troops.

For the Americans, it was their finest hour.

MIGHTY TRENDING

An Air Force Thunderbirds pilot died in an F-16 crash

A US Air Force F-16 assigned to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada crashed outside of Las Vegas on the morning of April 4, 2018, in the third aircraft crash in two days.

The pilot was killed in the crash, the Air Force confirmed in a statement. He was a member of the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration squadron.


The F-16 crashed around 10:30 a.m. during a “routine aerial demonstration training flight,” and the cause of the crash is under investigation, according to the Air Force statement.

On the afternoon of April 3, 2018, a Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed around El Centro, California, during a routine training mission. Four crew members aboard the helicopter were killed.

Additionally, a Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jet crashed during a training exercise in Djibouti, east Africa on April 3, 2018. The pilot ejected and was being treated at a hospital.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
An AV-8B Harrier jet.

Congress and the military have come under scrutiny amid the spate of aircraft crashes. Military leaders have long argued for an increased budget to combat a “readiness crisis” as foreign adversaries have gained momentum in other areas of the world.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, the Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, said in November 2017, that although pilot and aircraft readiness was steadily improving, the Corps was still dealing with the effects of “the minimum requirement for tactical proficiency.”

“Newly winged aviators … [are] the foundation of the future of aviation,” a prepared statement from Rudder said, according to Military.com. “When I compare these 2017 ‘graduates’ of their first fleet tour to the 2007 ‘class,’ those pilots today have averaged 20% less flight hours over their three-year tour than the same group in 2007.”
Articles

New petition aims to honor alleged USS Fitzgerald hero

An ongoing petition on Change.org is seeking at least 15,000 signatures to convince Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley to name DDG 127, an as-yet unnamed destroyer, after Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary L. Rehm, Jr., who allegedly gave up his own life while attempting to rescue six sailors in a flooding compartment on the USS Fitzgerald.


According to the family, they were told the story of Rehm’s death by the Navy, which also told them that the sailor successfully helped 20 other sailors escape before perishing while attempting to save the last six men in the compartment.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Burghart)

The Fitzgerald was struck by the ACX Crystal, a Philippine container ship, on June 17. The much larger Crystal impacted the Fitzgerald almost squarely on the sleeping berths, causing massive damage to the area where a number of sailors were resting.

The Navy has not yet completed its investigation of the incident, but Rehm is thought to have gone into action right after the collision. The fire controlman helped get the first 20 sailors out and, despite knowing that the hatch may be closed to save the ship if the flooding continued, returned to the compartment to search for six sailors still trapped inside.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
(Photo U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kryzentia Weiermann)

As the water rushed in, the rest of the crew was forced to close the hatches while Rehm was still inside.

DDG 127, the ship which petitioners hope will be named after Rehm, is an Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer like the Fitzgerald. The guided-missile destroyers can fire a variety of missiles against everything from land targets to aircraft to submarines to other ships and even missiles in flight.

Other Arleigh-Burke vessels have been named after everything from politicians, such as the USS Winston Churchill, to a group of five brothers killed in a single battle in World War II (USS The Sullivans), to other sailors who gave their lives to save others.

The Fitzgerald is named for Lt. William C. Fitzgerald, an officer who began his career as an enlisted sailor before graduating from the Naval Academy. He later gave his life to cover the retreat of civilians and other sailors under attack by the Viet Cong on Aug. 7, 1967. The ship’s motto is “Protect Your People.”

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio. Rehm was one of seven Sailors killed when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal. The incident is under investigation. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Rehm’s actions, if proven during the Navy’s investigation, surely upheld the ship’s traditions and motto.

Readers can learn more about the petition and add their signature here. It had 11,149 of a necessary 15,000 at the time this article was written.

The other six sailors who died in the June 17 crash were Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25; Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25; Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23; and Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24.

The remains of all seven sailors killed in the crash were recovered from the flooded berthing compartment.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

How medically-discharged vets can get a disability rating boost

Hardeep Grewal was a 29-year-old Air Force computer operations specialist suffering a mild case of pneumonia when he deployed to Saudi Arabia and a series of other Southwest Asian countries in 2003.

The staff sergeant stayed ill and returned to the United States “looking like a scare crow,” he said. He was diagnosed with asthma, which would require two medications daily for the rest of his life. By December 2004, Grewal was medically discharged with a 10 percent disability rating and a small severance payment.


The Air Force physical evaluation board “lowballed me,” he recalled in a phone conversation on April 25, 2018, from his Northern Virginia home. “They were trying to get rid of people” from a specialty that, after offering an attractive reenlistment bonus, quickly became overmanned.

Grewal promptly applied to the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability compensation and his initial VA rating was set at 30 percent. Full VA payments were delayed until Grewal’s Air Force severance was recouped.

Twelve years later, in August 2016, he got a letter inviting him to have his military disability rating reviewed by a special board Congress created solely to determine whether veterans like him, discharged for conditions rated 20 percent disabling or less from Sept. 11, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2009, were treated fairly.

“I waited like almost two months to apply because I didn’t know if somebody was pulling my leg,” Grewal said. “I talked to a lot of people, including a friend at Langley Air Force Base, to find out if it was legit. He said other service members he knew who had gotten out were saying, ‘Yeah, it’s legit. You can look it up.’ “

Grewal had to wait 18 months but he received his decision letter from the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) in April 2018. It recommends to the Air Force Secretary that Grewal’s discharge with severance pay be recharacterized to permanent disability retirement, effective the date of his prior medical separation.

If, as expected, the Air Force approves a revised disability rating to 30 percent back to December 2004, Grewal will receive retroactive disability retirement, become eligible for TRICARE health insurance and begin to enjoy other privileges of “retiree” status including access to discount shopping on base.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

Congress ordered that the PDBR established as part of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act after a mountain of evidence surfaced that service branches had been low-balling disability ratings given to thousands of service members medically separated over a nine-year period through recent wars.

The PDBR began accepting applications in January 2009. So far only 19,000 veterans have applied from pool of 71,000 known to be eligible for at least a disability rating review. All of them were medically-discharged with disability ratings of 20 percent or less sometime during the qualifying period.

A bump in rating to 30 percent or higher bestows retiree status including a tax-free disability retirement and TRICARE eligibility. And yet only 27 percent of veterans believed eligible for a rating review have applied. Indeed, applications to the PDBR have slowed to a trickle of 40 to 50 per month.

For this column, Greg Johnson, director of the PDRB, provided written responses to two dozen questions on the board’s operations. Overall, he explained, 42 percent of applicants receive a recommendation that their original rating be upgraded. Their service branch has the final say on whether a recommendation is approved but in almost every instance they have been.

To date, 47 percent of Army veterans who applied got a recommendation for upgrade, and 18 percent saw their rating increased to at least 30 percent to qualify for disability retirement.

For the Navy Department, which includes Sailors and Marines, 34 percent of applicants received upgrade recommendations and 17 percent gained retiree status. For Air Force applicants the approval rate also has been 34 percent, but 21 percent airmen got a revised rating high enough to qualify for disability retirement.

The top three medical conditions triggering favorable recommendations are mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress, back ailments and arthritis.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

As Grewal learned, decisions are not made quickly. The current wait, on average, is eight to 12 months, Johnson said. But that is faster than the 18-to-24-month wait that was routine in earlier years.

Also, veterans need not fear that a new review will result in a rating downgrade. The law establishing the PDBR doesn’t allow for it.

Once received, applications are scanned into the PDBR data base and the board requests from the service branch a copy of their physical evaluation board case file. Also, PDBR retrieves from VA the veteran’s treatment records and all documents associated with a VA disability rating decision.

After paperwork is gathered, a PDBR panel of one medical officer and two non-medical officers, military or civilian, reviews the original rating decision. All panelists are the rank of colonel or lieutenant colonel (for Navy, captain or commander) or their civilian equivalents. The board has 34 voting members plus support staff, which is more than PDBR had in its early years, Johnson said.

The wait for a decision is long because of the time it takes to retrieve records, the thoroughness of the review and the complexity of the cases, Johnson said.

About 70 percent of applicants have been Army, 20 percent Navy or Marine Corps veterans, 10 percent Air Force and less than one percent Coast Guard.

PDBR notification letters have been sent to eligible veterans at last-known addresses at least twice and include applications and pre-stamped return envelopes. Grewal said he had moved four times since leaving service which might be why he never heard of the board before the notification letter reach him in 2016.

At some point Congress could set a deadline for the board to cease operations but it hasn’t yet. The board advises veterans, however, to apply as soon as they can. The longer they wait, it notes on its website, “the more difficult it may be to gather required medical evidence from your VA rating process, your service treatment record or other in-service sources [needed] to assess your claim.”

If an eligible veteran is incapacitated or deceased, a surviving spouse, next of kin or legal representative also can request the PDBR review.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

10 odd jobs of World War II

Today’s military has some jobs that might surprise you — for example, did you know the Army and Marine Corps have instrument repair technicians? These troops repair musical instruments for the military bands.

But during World War II, there were a lot of jobs that would seem strange in today’s technologically focused military. Over the course of the war, technological advances reduced or eliminated the need for many manual occupations. This transition is captured in the War Department’s list of military jobs from 1944, where entries like ”horse artillery driver” appear just a page away from ”remote control turret repairman.”


This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

1. Blacksmith

During World War II, blacksmiths still made many of the items needed to repair equipment and machinery. They would make metal tools and parts, by hand, in coal or coke forges. They also made shoes for some of the tens of thousands of horses and mules that saw service during the war.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

2. Meat Cutter

Does what it says on the label: cuts meat. These troops were responsible for preparing whole carcassas, such as beef and lamb, for distribution to various units around the world.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

3. Horsebreaker

Horsebreakers would train horses and mules so they could be issued to mounted units. They also trained them to carry packs and to be hitched to wagons and carts.

Although they weren’t used in World War II to the extent they were used in the First World War, troops still relied on horses and mules to cross terrain impassable to mechanized units. For example, the 5332nd Brigade, a long range patrol group created for service in the mountains of Burma, was largely self-sufficient due to the 3,000 mules assigned to it — all shipped from the United States.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

4. Artist and Animation Artist

Today’s military has jobs for skilled multimedia illustrators, but in World War II, military artists and animation artists created paintings, illustrations, films, charts and maps by hand. A number of successful artists served in World War II, including Bill Maudlin, who drew Willie and Joe, archetypes for infantrymen on the front line; and Bill Keane, who went on to draw Family Circus after his military service ended.

The military’s animation artists were quite busy during World War II. The Army even stationed soldiers at Walt Disney’s studios for the duration of the war to make patriotic films for the public and instructional or training films for service members.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

5. Crystal Grinder

During World War II, many radios still required crystals to operate, usually galena. Crystal grinders would grind and calibrate these crystals to pick up specific frequencies.

Personal radios were forbidden on the front lines, but crystal radio sets lacked external power sources, so they couldn’t be detected by the enemy. For this reason, troops often improvised crystal radios from a variety of materials — including pencils and razor blades — in order to listen to music and news. These contraband radio sets were dubbed ”foxhole radios.”

6. Cooper

Troops who worked as coopers built and repaired the wooden buckets, barrels, casks and kegs used to pack, store and ship supplies and equipment. They used hand tools to plug holes with wood and salvage damaged barrels.

Wood was used to package a wide range of goods for transport all the way through World War II, but improvements in metal and cardboard packaging technology marked the beginning of the end for wooden barrels and crates.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

7. Model Maker

Military model makers were charged with creating scale models of military equipment, terrain and other objects to be used in movies, as training aids and for operational planning. The models built by these troops were used in what was perhaps one of the greatest examples of wartime deception, Operation Fortitude.

Operation Fortitude was aimed at convincing the Germans that Allied troops heading to France for the D-Day invasion would land in Pas de Calais in July, rather than Normandy in June. Dummy buildings, aircraft and landing craft were constructed by model makers and positioned near Dover, England, in a camp built for the fictitious First U.S. Army Group. The deception was so complete that Hitler held troops in reserve for two weeks after D-Day because he believed another invasion was coming via the Dover Strait.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

8. Pigeoneer

Pigeoneers were responsible for all aspects of their birds’ lives. They would breed, train and care for pigeons that were used to deliver messages. Some birds would be trained specifically for night flying, while others learned that food could be found at one location and water at another. According to the U.S. Army Communications Electronics Museum, more than 90% of the messages carried by pigeons were successfully delivered.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

9. Field Artillery Sound Recorder

These troops had the sickest beats. Until the development of radar, sound ranging was one of the most effective ways to locate enemy artillery, mortars and rockets. The process was first developed in World War I, and continued to be used in combat through the Korean War.

From a forward operating post, a field artillery sound recorder would monitor an oscillograph and recorder connected to several microphones. When the sound of an enemy gun reached a microphone, the information would be recorded on sound film and the data from several microphones could be analyzed to locate the enemy gun. The technology is still in use today by many countries, which often use sound ranging in concert with radar.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

10. Airplane Woodworker

Although wood was largely phased out in favor of tubular steel in aircraft construction by the time World War II started, there was still a need for airplane woodworkers to repair and maintain existing aircraft — especially gliders and some training aircraft.

Wooden gliders like the Waco CG-4A — the most widely used American troop/cargo military glider of World War II — played critical parts in the war. The CG-4A was first used in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. They most commonly flew airborne troops into battle, most famously for the D-Day assault on France on June 6, 1944, and Operation Market Garden in September 1944. They were also used in the China-Burma-India Theater.

This article originally appeared on Department of Defense.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

A box of gear from Alpha Outpost for the tactical vet in your life

‘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 a gift of gear that keeps on giving:

~ The tactical subscription service designed by the guy behind Grunt Style ~

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

“If you’re not selling, you’re not in business. You’re just busy.”

Daniel Alarik, Cigars and Sea Stories Podcast

 

As we’ve reported, thoroughly, from previous fun encounters with Grunt Style founder, Daniel Alarik, the man is a force in the vetrepreneurial sector.

After all, he created one of the premier purveyors of patriotic apparel, standing tall in an extremely crowded field. Alarik and his team didn’t stop at clothing design, however.

Alarik ventured directly into another competitive field: the tactical monthly subscription box sector. His offering: Alpha Outpost.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

Now, we’re not sure how familiar you are with the bizarre and extensive youTube subculture of subscription box unboxing videos, but believe us when we tell you, folks out there are effing intense about the quality, uniqueness, and overall wow-factor of the various, competing tactical gift boxes they receive in the mail every month.  Suffice to say, the average subscription box customer is a difficult dude to please.

Alpha Outpost must be doing something right. They made over $8 million dollars in revenue in their first year of operation.

The skills Alarik acquired and the systems he perfected through the hard years of launching Grunt Style certainly account for some of Alpha Outpost’s success. But a greater share is surely due to the sheer thoughtfulness evident in each of their monthly offerings.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

Every month’s box has a theme and that theme poses a problem. The tools in the box make up part of the solution. The other part comes as a result of the skills you build by putting those tools to use as you work through specific challenges Alpha Outpost poses.

They’re not just sending you gear. They’re trying to make you better.

Knowing Alarik’s trajectory, it makes perfect sense that self-improvement lies at the heart of any gift you receive from his his company.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

As the CEO of two multi-million dollar, veteran-oriented companies, Alarik views kicking ass as a skill that anyone with the right tools can build. In his view, military experience isn’t a magic bullet for veteran success, but it provides a damn fine head start.

Check out the full Cigars and Sea Stories interview with Daniel Alarik and tell us you can’t think of someone who’d love to get a new box of ass-kicking tools every month from Alpha Outpost.

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

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

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

Articles

Why the only woman training to be a Navy SEAL dropped out

The only woman in the Navy SEAL training pipeline has dropped out, a Navy special warfare official confirmed Aug. 11.


The female midshipman voluntarily decided to not continue participating in a summer course that’s required of officers who want to be selected for SEAL training, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walton, a Naval special warfare spokesman, told The Associated Press. The Navy has not released the woman’s name, part of a policy against publicly identifying SEALs or candidates for the force.

No other woman has started the long process required to become a Navy SEAL, Walton said.

Another woman has set her sights on becoming a Special Warfare Combatant Crewman, another job that recently opened to women. They often support the SEALs but also conduct missions of their own using state-of-the art, high-performance boats. She has started the various evaluations and standard Navy training.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
U.S. Navy SEAL candidates from class 284 participate in Hell Week at the Naval Special Warfare Center at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego, California. (U.S. Navy photo)

Officials have said it would be premature to speculate when the Navy will see its first female SEAL or Special Warfare Combatant Crewman.

The entry of women in one of the military’s most elite fighting forces is part of ongoing efforts to comply with then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s directive in December 2015 to open all military jobs to women, including the most dangerous commando posts.

That decision was formal recognition of the thousands of female servicewomen who fought in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in recent years, including those who were killed or wounded.

The woman dropped out of the SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection program. It is open to Naval academy and Navy ROTC midshipmen and cadets during the summer before their senior year.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
A Navy SEAL instructor assists students from BUD/S class 245 with learning the importance of listening during a Hell Week surf drill evolution. (ENS Bashon Mann, Public Affairs Officer Naval Special Warfare Center.)

The three-week-long program in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego, tests participants’ physical and psychological strength along with water competency and leadership skills. The program is the first in-person evaluation of a candidate who desires to become a Navy SEAL officer, and it allows sailors to compete against peers in an equitable training environment.

All sailors must go through the program before being selected to take part in SEAL basic training, a six-month program so grueling that 75 percent of candidates drop out by the end of the first month.

The services have been slowly integrating women into previously male-only roles. Those in special operations are among the most demanding jobs in the military. Two women in 2015 graduated from the Army’s grueling Ranger course.

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The 7 enlisted jobs with awesome entry-level salaries

Serving in the military can be very rewarding personally and professionally, but a lot of potential recruits want to know which jobs make the most cash. The military pay tables are here, but in the meantime, here are seven of the most lucrative military jobs for new enlistees:


1. Army Military Working Dog Handler

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Photo by Pierre Courtejoie

Military working dog handlers train and work with dogs that specialize in finding explosives, drugs, or other potential threats to military personnel or law and order. They train for 18 weeks after the Army’s 10-week basic combat training.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits.

2. Air Force Histopathology Specialist

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. David Miller

Histopathology specialists in the U.S. Air Force prepare diseased tissue samples for microscopic examination, aiding doctors in the diagnosis of dangerous diseases.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

3. Marine Corps Engineer

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. John McCall

Engineering Marines build and repair buildings, roads, and power supplies and assist the infantry by breaching enemy obstacles. There are different schools for different engineering specialties including Basic Combat Engineer Course, the Engineer Equipment Operator Course, and the Basic Metal Workers Course.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

4. Navy Mass Communications Specialist

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Kamaile Chan

Mass Communications Specialists tell the Navy story through photography, writing, illustration, and graphic design. They educate the public and document the Navy’s achievements.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

5. Army Paralegal Specialist

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Photo: US Army Sgt. Darryl L. Montgomery

Paralegal Specialists assist lawyers and unit command teams by advising on criminal law, international law, civil/administrative law, contract law, and fiscal law. The are experts in legal terminology, the preparation of legal documents, and the judicial process.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

6. Air Force Firefighter

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Photo: US Air Force Airman 1st Class Kathrine McDowell

Firefighters in the Air Force have to combat everything from building fires to burning jets to forest fires. They operate primarily on Air Force bases but may also be stationed at other branches installations or be called on to assist civilian fire departments.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

7. Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle Crewman

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Photo: US Navy Geoffrey Patrick

Light armored vehicles support the Marine Corps mission by carrying communications equipment, Marines, and mobile electronic warfare platforms. The heart of the LAV mission is the LAV crewman, who drives, maintains, and operates these awesome vehicles.

Starting annual salary: $18,561.96 plus benefits

MIGHTY TRENDING

Turkey captures ISIS leader al-Baghdadi’s sister in Syria raid

Turkish forces have captured the older sister of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a raid in northwestern Syria, officials announced, about 50 miles from where he died by suicide vest in a US raid ten days ago.

Rasmiya Awad, 65, was detained in a raid near Azaz on Monday evening, the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters reported, citing unnamed Turkish officials.

She was captured alongside her husband and daughter-in-law in a raid in a trailer they had been living in near Azaz, the AP reported. Five children were with them during the raid, Reuters reported.


Azaz is a Turkish-controlled Syrian town near the two countries’ border. Al-Baghdadi, 48, died after detonating a suicide vest when he was chased into a tunnel complex by a US military dog in Barisha village, which is located around 50 miles southwest.

Turkish forces officially gained control over Azaz after it struck a deal with Russia to consolidate power in northwestern Syria October 2019. The agreement came after Turkey invaded Syria after President Donald Trump pulled troops out of the country in early October 2019.

Rasmiya Awad (sister of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) caught (Syria) – BBC News – 4th November 2019

www.youtube.com

Awad, her husband, and her daughter-in-law are now being questioned by Turkish officials.

“We hope to gather a trove intelligence from Baghdadi’s sister on the inner workings of ISIS,” the Turkish source told Reuters.

The AP also cited its source, also a Turkish official, as calling the capture “a gold mine.”

“What she knows about [ISIS] can significantly expand our understanding of the group and help us catch more bad guys,” they said.

Colin P. Clarke, a senior fellow at the Soufan Center think tank, told The New York Times that the phrase “‘gold mine’ might be overstating the issue,” but said that depending on what she knows about her brother’s activities, her capture could provide insight into how ISIS makes decisions.

Al-Baghdadi was known for being highly suspicious of everyone around him, and only trusted his immediate family and a close circle of associates, The Times reported, citing separate interviews with former ISIS prisoners, aides, and Iraq’s director-general of intelligence.

The ISIS leader used to conduct strategy meetings in moving buses filled with vegetables to avoid detection, Reuters reported, citing a former top aide.

He had five brothers and several sisters, but it’s not clear how many of them are still alive, The Times said.

ISIS announced its new leader, Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi, last week.

ISIS Names New Leader In The Wake Of Al-Baghdadi’s Death | NBC Nightly News

www.youtube.com

Turkey, meanwhile, has already hailed Awad’s capture as a counter-terrorism victory.

“Turkey’s fight against terror regardless of its ideology or origin continues unabated,” tweeted Fahrettin Altun, the communications director of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, early Tuesday morning.

“The arrest of al-Baghdadi’s sister is yet another example of the success of our counter-terrorism operations.”

He also claimed “much dark propaganda against Turkey [that had] been circulating to raise doubts about our resolve against Daesh,” referring to a pejorative name for ISIS.

It’s not entirely clear what he meant, but there had been multiple reports noting that the Turkish incursion into Syria allowed hundreds of ISIS prisoners to escape.

Turkey could use Monday’s capture to justify further violence against the People’s Protection Units, a Kurdish-led militia force based in Syria that previously allied with the US to fight ISIS in Syria. Turkey sees its militants as terrorists, and have vowed not to leave Syria until they’re eliminated.

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

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9 times when cartoons were used to spread military propaganda

Propaganda cartoons play a big role in war by educating service members, encouraging the purchase of war bonds, and rallying the home front. The heyday of American propaganda cartoons was easily World War II, and a motley assortment of characters have been used to win the wars.


As a note, many of the war cartoons were deliberately racist towards the people of enemy nations, so expect some offensive imagery when viewing.

1. Private Snafu and his cigar-smoking Army fairy

Snafu was a young Army private who constantly got himself into trouble by complaining, shirking duty, or avoiding medicine and immunizations. In “Three Brothers,” Snafu wishes he had one his brothers’ jobs, and the cigar smoking fairy shows up to show Snafu what his brothers, Pvt. Tarfu and Pvt. Fubar, are doing for the war effort. Snafu was voiced by Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny.

2. Willie and Joe

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Me future is settled, Willie. I’m gonna be a perfessor on types o’ European soil.

Drawn by Army Sgt. Bill Mauldin, Willie and Joe were characters Mauldin used often to show the rigors in the field. Originally assigned to the 45th Infantry Division, Mauldin was soon assigned to the Stars and Stripes for which he drew six cartoons a week. His cartoons got him in serious trouble with Gen. George S. Patton, but the troops loved his work, especially the war weary Willie and Joe.

3. Superman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7eT-23id7k

The Man of Steel did his part in World War II. Superman was generally depicted as a newspaperman in the States, fighting spies and saboteurs. But, he did take the fight to the enemy a few times, like in “The Eleventh Hour” when he began sabotaging Japanese industrial efforts.

4. Donald Duck and the Disney crew

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWY-Nn0rDmA

Most of the Disney crew joined the war effort in different ways. Donald Duck famously took the fight to the enemy though. Oddly, the duck famous for his sailor uniform was typically depicted as being in the Army. Donald was even airborne. He makes his first jumps in “Sky Trooper” above, and eventually conducted a solo combat jump into Japan.

5. Annie Awful – The killer, sexy mosquito

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle
Photo: US Government Printing Office

Awful Annie, and mosquitoes like her, were depicted as waiting on cots for service members who neglected to hang anti-mosquito nets. The mosquitos, and the malaria they carried, were some of the deadliest killers in the war.

6. The Axis leaders

Of course, real world characters were recreated in the cartoon world, and the depictions of Axis leaders were not very flattering. In “The Ducktators,” Hirohito, Mussolini, and Hitler get depicted as zealous ducks. Other Nazi leaders were ridiculed beside Hitler in “Education for Death.”

7. Looney Tunes and the Gremlins

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jljAMQNbl4Y

Like the Disney characters, Looney Tunes characters joined the war. In “Falling Hare,” Bugs Bunny goes up against gremlins that are trying to damage Allied aviation equipment.

8. Popeye

Popeye the sailor man joined the military in World War II. Predictably, he joined the Navy. He appeared in a lot of cartoons including “Many Tanks,” and “Seeing Red, White, and Blue.” In the above video, “A Jolly Good Furlough,” he gets to visit his nephews and see the jobs they do in home defense.

9. Mr. Hook

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voYVK2ftMyk

Mr. Hook was part of a short-running series that began in 1943 where a vet of World War II looked back at his time in the conflict and described his exploits to his son. The dad would tell his son the importance of war bonds to America’s eventual victory and then celebrate all the money they made off the bonds when they finally matured.

NOW: Watch this Iraq War veteran’s tragic story told through the lens of a cartoon

OR: This powerful film tells how Marine fought ‘One Day of Hell’ in Fallujah

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia threatens to cancel satellite internet project

It’s been a bright spot for Russia’s wobbly space industry:

A contract, estimated at $1 billion, to launch 21 Soyuz rockets over the next two years carrying “micro-satellites” — part of a U.S.-based company’s plans to offer broadband Internet access over remote territories of the globe, including parts of Siberia.

For the company, OneWeb, the effort was seen as a critical step in building out its “constellation of small satellites” and validation for investors who have put up nearly $2 billion. For Russia’s space agency, Roskosmos, the contract was both a crucial source of private revenue, and a foothold in the burgeoning global market for small-scale satellite launches.


Now, just months before the planned maiden launch, it appears that the Federal Security Service (FSB) may put a stop to it entirely.

The daily newspaper Kommersant reported on Nov. 13, 2018, that the FSB, Russia’s primary security and intelligence agency, has serious misgivings about the micro-satellite venture. Citing unnamed government officials, the paper said the FSB feared that having an Internet provider whose signals would be transmitted via satellite would keep the agency from being able to filter and monitor Internet traffic.

Spying concerns

Moreover, sources told the newspaper, security officials feared the satellites might be used to spy on sensitive Russian military sites.

The Kommersant report echoed a similar report by Reuters, on Oct. 24, 2018, that quoted an FSB official voicing precise concerns about satellite spying.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

Russia’s workhorse rocket, the Soyuz, is launched primarily from Baikonur and Vostochny.

(NASA photo)

Adding further to the questions about whether the launch will go forward, the Interfax news agency reported that the chief executive of the Roskosmos division that handles foreign commercial contracts, including the agreement with OneWeb, had been forced to resign after Roskosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin ordered an inspection of the division.

E-mails sent to both OneWeb, and its launch provider, the European aerospace giant Arianespace, were not immediately answered.

Founded by Greg Wyler, a former executive at Google, OneWeb aims to put hundreds of satellites in low orbit over the Earth to provide data communication in remote locations. The company is one of several making the effort, but it’s attracted the largest amount of private financing, had started building assembly factories, and was the closest to actually getting its satellites off the ground.

Key to the effort was contracting with Arianespace to arrange for the launches, using Russia’s workhorse rocket, the Soyuz, launched primarily from Russian facilities at Baikonur and Vostochny, and several from the European Space Agency-owned site at Kourou, in French Guiana.

At the time the contract was signed in 2015, the then-head of Roskosmos hailed it as “proof of Russia’s competitiveness.” The first launch, of a Soyuz rocket carrying 10 micro-satellites, was set for May 2018 from Kourou, but was then pushed back until year’s end. It’s now set for February 2019.

Two years later, OneWeb set up a 60-40 percent joint venture with a Russian subsidiary of Roskosmos called Gonets that would handle Internet service within Russia.

In 2018, Wyler told the industry publication Space News that the network of satellites would in fact have ground stations, through which Internet traffic would be channeled. But his comments suggested that there wouldn’t necessarily be ground stations in every country where the Internet service was offered.

“What we hear from regulators is they want to know the physical path of their traffic and they want to make sure it lands in a place where they have control and management of that data, just like every other Internet service provider in their country,” Wyler was quoted as saying. “This doesn’t mean the gateway needs to be in their country, but it means they need to know exactly which gateway their traffic will land at and they need the legal ability to control the router at the entry point into their national network. From a regulatory perspective inter-satellite links have been highlighted as a major concern.”

Stricter control

In recent years, Russia has steadily tightened control and surveillance of the country’s once wholly unfettered Internet. Part of that effort has involved policing editorial content and, for example, prosecuting people for sharing on social media material deemed to be extremist under the country’s broad anti-extremism laws.

But Russian regulators have also moved to tighten technical controls, requiring major technology and Internet companies like Google or Facebook to physically house servers within Russia, giving Russian law enforcement a way to access them. That also includes use of a system known as SORM, which is essentially a filter — a black box the size of an old video recorder — that allows Russian security agencies to intercept or eavesdrop on Internet traffic.

This Army medic killed over a dozen insurgents with grenades and mortars during an 8-day battle

Roskosmos’s contract with OneWeb was believed to have given it a foothold in the burgeoning global market for small-scale satellite launches.

(Roskosmos photo)

As recently as Oct. 26, 2018, Rogozin held discussions in Moscow with Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel about OneWeb, according to a statement on Roskosmos’s website.

The meeting came two days after the Reuters report on the Russian objections. The report said that OneWeb and Gonets has restructured their stakes in the joint venture to make Gonets the majority shareholder.

For observers of the global commercial-satellite industry, the uncertainty hanging over such a high-profile, well-funded project like OneWeb tarnishes Roskosmos’s ability to be a competitive player for space flight in general.

Recent mishap

One of Roskosmos’s other lucrative sources of revenue is its contract with the U.S. space agency NASA to shuttle astronauts to and from the International Space Station. But the recent mishap involving a Soyuz rocket raised questions about the Russian technology, which has been around for decades and had been considered reliable.

Kazakhstan, where Russia’s storied Baikonur cosmodrome is located, recently said it had hired the private U.S. company SpaceX to launch several of its own science satellites.

The uncertainty with OneWeb, said Carissa Christensen, founder and CEO of Bryce Space and Technology, a Virginia-based research group focusing the commercial space industry, may push customers away from Roskosmos.

“This just disconnects Russia some of the most active commercial space activity going on today, and it hands over potentially very desirable launch customers to other small launch providers,” she said.

In an opinion column published on Nov. 15, 2018, for the Russian business newspaper Vedomosti, contributor Valery Kodachigov poked fun at the apparent FSB concerns that the OneWeb satellites could be used for spying within Russia. But he also pooh-poohed the idea that OneWeb would be singularly able to bring Internet service to the further reaches of Siberia or the Russian Arctic.

“The interference by Russian bureaucrats and security officials in the plans of eminent investors gives OneWeb’s history in Russia both scale and tragedy. But is it really all so scary for OneWeb and the Russian users who may be left without satellite Internet? For now, one thing is clear: the residents of Russia will not remain without mobile access to the Internet,” he wrote.

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