Officials released new guidance May 15, 2018, on the Army’s Selective Retention Bonus Program, which includes first-ever bonuses up to $52,000 for those who reenlist for critical Security Forces Assistance Brigade positions.
SRB “kickers” that incentivize Soldiers who reenlist early will also go into effect at the end of May 2018. Details are included in Military Personnel Message 18-156.
Kickers will now only be available to those eligible to reenlist on a long-term basis between 10 and 15 months from their contractual ETS date. A $3,000 kicker will be for a five-year reenlistment, and there is a $6,000 kicker for a six-year enlistment.
Soldiers who reenlist under the NCO Career Status Program must also meet the term length requirement for the corresponding kicker amount.
Soldiers with less than 10 months from their ETS date can still take advantage of a kicker before May 31, 2018, when the new policy rolls out.
“I highly encourage Soldiers and command teams to seek out their servicing Career Counselor to understand how this bonus message change will affect their unit and their Soldiers,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Thompson, the Senior Army Career Counselor.
Some Soldiers stationed at Fort Bliss will also be eligible for an SRB bonus to remain at the Texas installation. The stabilization bonus will be the Army’s first one in years for a specific location, Thompson said.
Based off critical shortages in the military occupational specialties of 11B, 13B and 88M at Fort Bliss, those Soldiers could receive a bonus.
“The Army has a cost savings for not having to move somebody if they reenlist for stabilization,” he said. “So we’re passing on that cost savings to the bonus even if it’s not the same pot of money, but that’s the mentality behind it.”
The message also includes bonuses for Soldiers who possess critical skills. For example, a 12R interior electrician who has a parachutist badge may qualify for more money to reenlist.
(Photo by Pfc. Melissa Parrish)
“If they are not Airborne qualified in an Airborne position, or reenlisting to move into an Airborne position they don’t get a bonus,” Thompson said. “If they are, they do.”
Bonuses are also on the way for Soldiers interested in joining SFAB units. These will be on top of the $5,000 assignment incentive pay already in place for those who volunteer to go into the Army’s new train, advise and assist units.
“The bonus is for those very critical MOSs that the Army needs,” the sergeant major said.
Those MOSs include 25L/S, 92Y, 35F/M/N/P as well as positions in the 11, 12 and 13 career field series.
Many of those jobs will be able to receive Tier 8 bonuses. A staff sergeant or sergeant first class eligible for a Tier 8 bonus, for instance, could earn $46,000 to reenlist for five or more years. A potential $6,000 kicker would then leave that Soldier with $52,000 in hand, on top of the $5,000 assignment incentive pay.
The money spent on bonuses helps the Army get a return on its investment for the time spent on molding well-trained Soldiers, Thompson said.
“If they are in an MOS that the Army deems as critical, we want them to stay in longer,” he said.
Lawmakers want Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to submit a report to Congress on whether the U.S. military services have the equipment and training they need to survive in cold-weather combat.
The proposal appeared in the House Armed Services Committee’s latest version of the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.”
(U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher)
Conferees want Mattis to submit a report to the congressional defense committees “not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act on current cold weather capabilities and readiness of the United States Armed Forces,” the document states.
The report should include:
A description of current cold weather capabilities and training to support United States military operations in cold climates across the joint force;
A description of anticipated requirements for United States military operations in cold and extreme cold weather in the Arctic, Northeast Asia, and Northern and Eastern Europe;
A description of the current cold weather readiness of the joint force, the ability to increase cold weather training across the joint force, and any equipment, infrastructure, personnel, or resource limitations or gaps that may exist;
An analysis of potential opportunities to expand cold weather training for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marine Corps and the resources or infrastructure required for such expansion;
An analysis of potential partnerships with state, local, tribal, and private entities to maximize training potential and to utilize local expertise, including traditional indigenous knowledge.
If the proposal makes it to President Donald Trump for approval, it could lead to improvements in cold-weather equipment and training U.S. troops receive.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
One of the most magical feelings in the military is that moment you finally get back to the tent or barracks and can finally shed your Kevlar helmet and IOTV. That moment, when you can finally breathe and realize just how sweaty you were, is just plain glorious.
As much of a slight pain in the ass (figuratively speaking, of course. Literally, it’s a pain in the lower back and knees) as today’s armor is, it’s come a long way. Take, for instance, the first effective ballistic armor developed by the United States Army for WWI.
I present you to the unsightly behemoth known as the “Brewster Body Shield.”
For an eccentric inventor and scientist, that dude had some massive friggin’ biceps.
(San Francisco Call)
When America made its entry into the first World War, it was an eye opener. War had changed drastically in only a few short years. Now, cavalry on horseback were useless against a machine gun nest, poison gas was filling the trenches, and fixed-wing, motor-driven airplanes were being used for war just twelve years after the Wright Brothers made their historic flight at Kitty Hawk.
The Italians had started fielding their own updated version of knights’ armor for use by the Arditi, but it had more of a symbolic meaning than any practical use. The Germans began giving their sappers protective armor that could take a few bullets along with protecting its wearer’s vital organs from the shock of explosives. America thought they could outdo them all with their own, suped-up version.
America wanted some sort of protection for its infantrymen if they ever dared to cross the barrage of bullets that flew across No-Man’s Land and they needed it as fast as they could. The U.S. Government turned to a man who created armor intended for boxing training, Dr. Guy Otis Brewster.
Dr. Brewster began creating a suit of armor that was made out of 0.21 inch chrome nickle steel — enough to withstand .303 British bullets at 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s). It was also given a V-shaped design to minimize the direct impact of any oncoming bullets. The whole thing came in two pieces and weighed a total of 110 lbs.
Then came time for the field test. Dr. Brewster invited Army officers and representatives from the steel mills and rubber companies to come witness. Being the insane scientist that he was, he donned the armor himself and stood in the firing line for the test.
His assistant swung at him with a hammer and a sledgehammer before eventually moving on to being shot by a Springfield rifle. He said that being shot it the suit was “only about one-tenth the shock as being struck by a sledgehammer.”
You can watch the recording below.
Despite its protective capabilities, it was deemed too heavy, too clumsy, and way too large to ever be fielded. Dr. Brewster didn’t take that news lightly and wanted to prove its worth. He tested it again and was reportedly able to withstand a hail of bullets from a Lewis Machine Gun — with him inside the suit, obviously.
In the end, he never managed to get the Body Shield approved by the U.S. government — seeing as it was impossibly immobile and occluded visibility almost entirely. He would, however, later make a steel-scaled waistcoat that resembles more modern flak vests.
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland (Photo: Duncan Hunter)
Late Thursday night, Martland won the fight against the Army’s Qualitative Management Program, which gives the boot to soldiers with black marks on their records. The Army Board for Correction of Military Records reviewed the Green Beret’s performance history and pulled his name from the QMP list.
Martland admitted that Capt. Dan Quinn and he assaulted the Afghan official during his 2011 deployment to Afghanistan’s Kunduz Province. The commander was engaging in “bacha bazi,” or “boy play” — an Afghan practice where young boys in sexual slavery are often dressed up as women and forced to dance and serve tea. The practice was forbidden under the Taliban, but experienced a rebirth after the Taliban’s ouster by NATO forces and U.S. troops were ordered by their commanders not to intervene. When the Afghan confessed to raping the boy and beating the child’s mother for telling local authorities, Quinn “picked him up and threw him,” Martland said in his official statement. “I [proceeded to] body slam him multiple times.”
The line removed from his Army record read: “Demonstrated poor judgment, resulting in a physical altercation with a corrupt ALP member. Judgment and situational awareness was lacking during an isolated instance.”
Hundreds of veterans and other concerned citizens wrote letters and started petition drives in Martland’s defense. Even actor and Marine veteran Harvey Keitel got involved and urged California Congressman Duncan Hunter to intervene.
Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran and San Diego-area congressman, immediately came to Martland’s defense, calling the Army’s actions “totally insane and wrong,” and adding that Martland’s case “exemplifies the problems with the Army.”
An Army spokesman confirmed to Fox News that Martland will no longer be forced out.
“In SFC Martland’s case, the Army Board for Correction of Military Records determination modified a portion of one of SFC Martland’s evaluation reports and removed him from the QMP list, which will allow him to remain in the Army,” Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk said.
Quinn, now a civilian, said, “Charles makes every soldier he comes in contact with better and the Army is undoubtedly a better organization with SFC Martland still in its ranks.”
“I am real thankful for being able to continue to serve,” Martland told Fox News. “I appreciate everything Congressman Duncan Hunter and his Chief of Staff, Joe Kasper, did for me.”
From working at McDonalds, to attending Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), to serving more than 18 years each in the U.S. Army Reserve — identical twin master sergeants are mobilized together for the third time.
Master Sgt. Bryant Howard and his identical twin brother, Master Sgt. Joseph Howard, motor transport operators, 450th Movement Control Battalion (MCB), are currently deployed together to Kuwait — marking the third time they have deployed together.
Bryant decided to join first.
“I was in high school, (and) I was also working at McDonalds, and my mom called me lazy.” he said. “I figured I wasn’t, so I was going to get her mad and join the Army.”
For Joseph, the decision to join the Army was much easier after he found out that his brother was joining.
“I tried joining the National Guard. The recruiter didn’t take me seriously.” Joseph said. “I was going to back out, then I found out my brother was joining the Reserve, so I went ahead and joined too.”
From left to right — Master Sgt. Joseph Howard, S-3 (operations) noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC), 450th Movement Control Battalion (MCB), and Master Sgt. Bryant Howard, Trans-Arabian Network (TAN) NCOIC, 450th MCB, stand back to back at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Oct. 24, 2019.
(Photo by Spc. Dakota Vanidestine)
Once their decision to join was finalized, Bryant and Joseph needed to pass through Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) before leaving for basic training.
“We were still in high school, just turned 18. We were trying to get on the battle buddy system, but something happened at MEPS and Bryant wasn’t able to join the same time I did.” Joseph said. “He had to go back four months later. Because of that, they couldn’t get us to Basic (Training) together, even though we went at the same time. I went to Fort Jackson; he went to Fort Sill.”
Although the buddy system was not possible for Basic Training, the brothers were reunited at Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
“We did go to AIT together at Fort Leonard Wood though. It took the drill sergeants a month to realize there was twins in the unit. They threw a fit because they thought we were just one super high-speed person” Joseph said.
Confusion on the brothers’ identities, like at AIT, has allowed them to play pranks all of their life.
“Our last day of high school, we switched classes.” Bryant said. “We had a different style uniforms in school — I had a pullover, and he had a button up shirt. Joseph’s teacher could tell us apart, even though she didn’t know me — but my teacher didn’t recognize him.”
After high school, the military was not the only time that Bryant and Joseph’s paths have crossed.
“We both worked at one time at Direct TV” Joseph said. “Also, we both had some sort of experience in law enforcement. I became a police officer, he worked in a jail — he was a corrections officer. The weird part about that was if I dropped somebody off at jail, they might run into him and think he was me. We don’t necessarily try to follow each other – that’s just the way things happen. It really is a small world.”
Even today their civilian careers have brought them not only to the same state, but the same location.
“Now were both mill-techs. Joseph works in the RPAC (Reserve Personnel Action Center) and I work for a unit” Bryant said.
From left to right, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Howard, Sgt. Michael Howard, motor transport operators, 498th Transportation Company, and Sgt. 1st Class Bryant Howard, motor transport operator, 850th Transportation Company, pose for a photo as Bryant prepares to redeploy back to the U.S. at Kandahar Airfield, April. 28, 2014.
“We actually work in the same building — two different units. I work for the 88th Readiness Division, he works for the 383rd Military Intelligence Battalion” Joseph added.
When Bryant and Joseph heard about an opportunity to deploy together with the 450th MCB, they took full advantage.
“We deployed together in 2003 and 2009 to Iraq” Bryant said.
“He deployed to Afghanistan at the end of 2013, and I deployed there in the beginning of 2014 — so we were actually at the same place” Joseph added. “Our older brother actually deployed with me.”
Currently, Bryant is the Trans Arabian Network Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC).
“I am the NCOIC over all the movement within Kuwait, Jordan, Oman, and the surrounding locations.” Bryant said.
While Joseph serves as the S-3 (operations) NCOIC by taking care of “the personnel, administrative, and operational aspects.”
Once this deployment is complete, the brothers may finally part ways. Joseph is considering retirement from the Reserve.
“I do want to hit my 20 year mark.” Joseph said. “It’s really hard to keep up with the changing Army — the trends and everything. Depending on what happens when I get to the States, I may stick it out longer, or I may get out.”
“I’m just going to stay in until I can’t stand it anymore” Bryant added.
Together, Bryant and Joseph have dedicated over 37 years of service to the U.S. Army Reserve — both wearing the rank of master sergeant and have seven combined deployments to show for it.
The B-1B Lancer is perhaps America’s most underrated heavy bomber.
For some perspective, let’s look at the specs. The Lancer can carry 84 Mk 82 500-pound bombs internally — that’s more than the B-52 or the B-2. It can carry a bunch of other weapons as well – from the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile to the CBU-97 cluster bomb.
And the B-1 may be the one thing holding back Russia from an all-out invasion of the Baltics.
But did you know that a B-1 even foiled a plan to bring over 1,000 pounds of cocaine into the country? Here’s how that happened:
According to an Air Force Times report from last year, the B-1 had been on a routine training mission off the Florida coast in March when the crew noticed something suspicious. When they went to check it out they saw a speed boat with drug smugglers and a fresh load of cocaine.
The smugglers had no idea that they were followed until they looked up and saw the humongous bomber coming right at them. They did what just about anyone would do in that situation: They panicked.
The B-1 crew caught them on tape dumping an estimated 500 kilos of cocaine overboard. According to an Oct. 2016 report by Business Insider, each kilo was worth up to $150,000 on the street – meaning that some drug lord took a $75 million hit to his bottom line.
Now that’s a good thing.
You might think the crew of that B-1B got into trouble for violating the Posse Comitatus Act. Guess again – in fact, this incident inspired then-Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James to see if other training missions could be used to help in the War on Drugs. This past September, DodBuzz.com reported that a five-day training exercise last August was used to assist in a counter-drug operation that seized over 6,000 kilos of cocaine.
At the start of the new millennium, the United States military was a very different organization. But then, so too was the United States as a country. In the past 20 years, the military has experienced an incredible shift in not only demographics, but also in the way it is formed. This trend will only continue.
A Pew Research Center study of the Department of Defense analyzed all of the data released by the U.S. military on its demographic makeup and found some key facts about how the U.S. military and the men and women who served in it has changed.
The Army is still the biggest, and the other branches are shrinking
In 2015, the Army was more than a third of the total active-duty force of the United States military. The Air Force and Navy were about a quarter of the force each, with the Marines and Coast Guard comprising 14 percent and 3 percent, respectively. These days, the Navy and Air Force have seen a sizable shrinkage in terms of how big they are in comparison to Big Army. The Marine Corps has also shrunk, although not to the same extent.
The Coast Guard, however, has grown.
The profile of the American veteran will shift significantly
Right now, 91 percent of veterans are male, but by 2045, the share of female veterans is expected to double while the actual number of female veterans will increase to more than 2.2 million. The number of male veterans is predicted to drop by half, to 9.8 million in 2045. These groups will also become more ethnically diverse as the older generations of veterans die. The share of Hispanic vets is expected to double, and the expected share of African-American veterans will increase to 16 percent.
Fewer Americans are veterans and that number will only drop
As of 2015, seven percent of the American population were veterans, down from 18 percent in 1980. With it came a drop in the number of active-duty military personnel, and the numbers keep on dropping. In 2045, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates the number of veterans will drop by 40 percent of its current population, as Gulf War vets become the dominant era, and Vietnam veterans start to die off.
More women are joining – and more are in command
The number of women in the U.S. military is rapidly changing. According to the Defense Department, women now make up 20 percent of the Air Force, 19 percent of the Navy, 15 percent of the Army, and almost 9 percent of the Marine Corps. More than one in five commissioned officers were women in 2017, a number that is projected to rise, a far cry from women being just five percent of officers in 1975.
The U.S. military is getting smaller – troops are seeing more action
One in five veterans today served after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. As a result of being a smaller force than the U.S. military of the Cold War Era, which includes the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts of the time, Members of the post-9/11 military generation were more likely to have deployed and served in combat. They are also more likely to have experienced some kind of traumatic incident.
Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency says its officers have arrested at least 26 suspected members of the extremist group Islamic State (IS), accusing them of plotting attacks on members of the Shi’ite minority.
The militants, including an alleged IS leader, were detained in separate operations in Kabul, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said on Sept. 18, 2018.
A statement said they planned to target Shi’a during this week’s commemoration of Ashura, the holiest celebration in the Shi’ite religious calendar.
The IS affiliate in Afghanistan has stepped up attacks on minority Shi’a across Afghanistan.
The group claimed responsibility for a Sept. 9, 2018 twin bomb attack at a wrestling club in a predominately Shi’ite neighborhood of Kabul that killed more than 20 people.
IS militants assert that Shi’a are apostates who deserve death.
Afghan forces have struggled to combat the Taliban and IS since the United States and NATO formally ended their combat mission in the country in 2014.
In the northern province of Balkh, a local official said on Sept. 18, 2018, that nine members of the Afghan police force were killed when another officer shot them at a checkpoint.
An Afghan National Police officer stops a vehicle for a random inspection at one of the inner city checkpoints on June 5, 2010, in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Mohammadudin Khanjer, a police official in the district of Char Boldak, said one officer was wounded and three others were missing after the shooting late on Sept. 17, 2018.
The attacker was a policeman from another checkpoint in the same district who fled the scene after seizing all weapons from the checkpoint, apparently to join the Taliban, Khanjer said.
The Taliban did not immediately comment on the attack but the militants are active in the area.
Insider attacks, in which members of Afghan security forces or assailants dressed in Afghan uniforms fire on coalition troops, have become less common in recent years but remain a persistent worry.
The U.S. military said one of its servicemen was killed and another was wounded in eastern Afghanistan on Sept. 3, 2018, in an attack carried out by a member of the Afghan National Police.
It came nearly two months after a member of a U.S. Army training unit was shot dead by an Afghan soldier in the southern province of Oruzgan.
Featured image: The militants, including an alleged Islamic State leader, were detained in separate operations in Kabul.
Almost exactly 75 years ago, on Aug. 18, 1943, the USS Abner Read was rocked by a severe explosion.
The blast — which most historians say was likely a Japanese mine — tore the 75-foot stern section of the ship clean off. The stern plummeted to the depths of the ocean, taking the lives of 71 US sailors with it, while other US ships rushed to the rescue.
Though the rest of the USS Abner Read was miraculously saved and towed into port, the original stern was thought to be lost forever — until now.
A North American B-25 Mitchell Glides over an American destroyer after taking off from Unmak Island for a raid on the Japanese base at Kiska.
USS Abner Read (DD 526) as seen in Hunters Point, California on June 13, 1943.
The 474-feet long Japanese transport ship Nisan Maru sunk in Kiska Harbor after it was stuck by bombs dropped by the US 11th Air force on June 18, 1942. Two other Japanese ships are visible in the harbor nearby.
USS Abner Read (DD 526) afire and sinking in Leyte Gulf, Nov. 1, 1944, after being hit by a kamikaze. A second Japanese suicide plane (circled) is attempting to crash another ship; however, this one was shot down short of its target.
(U.S. Navy Photo)
After the stern section of the Abner Read sunk on Aug. 18, 1943, it remained lost on the bottom of the sea for almost 75 years. The ship was eventually repaired and re-entered active service.
In 1944, the Abner Read was sunk off the coast of the Philippines by a Japanese dive bomber, as seen in the image above.
US soldiers inspect Japanese midget subs left behind after the US retook Kiska Island.
Team members launch one of the project’s four REMUS 100 autonomous underwater vehicles from R/V Norseman II for a survey of the seafloor.
The expedition was part of Project Recover, a collaborative partnership between the University of Delaware, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, Bent Prop, a nonprofit, and US Navy partners to find and document the underwater resting places of American soldiers from World War II.
“The 17 hours of daylight that now occur at this high latitude were both a godsend and a curse as there was ample time to work, but little time to sleep,” Eric Terrill, an oceanographer and the leader of the expedition, said in a mission log.
“We take our responsibility to protect these wrecks seriously,” Samuel Cox, the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command said. The USS Abner Read is the “last resting place of American sailors,” he added.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
To hike on a battlefield is to hike through history. The artillery pieces used for bombardments are silent now, either used as decoration or removed entirely. In many places, in fact, the signs of the bygone conflict are hard to see.
Hiking is a physical activity, but it can also be a relaxing and contemplative walk through beautiful scenery. A battlefield hike is that, too, but it’s also a somber reminder that people died on these fields, in these ditches and trenches.
If you’re looking for a way to experience history that’s a little off the beaten path (no pun intended), here are some of the most scenic battlefield hikes out there.
The bronze likeness of an Irish wolfhound, representing loyalty, lies atop the monument honoring the New York regiments of the “Irish Brigade” at Gettysburg.
(Photo courtesy of the National Parks Service)
In July 1863, Union and Confederate armies clashed at the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. Over the course of three days, the Rebels tried to seize command of the high ground just outside of town. Robert E. Lee’s Southern army failed spectacularly and retreated to Virginia.
When you visit Gettysburg today, the hills remain, but instead of lines of infantry and artillery, there is simply a cemetery. The Soldiers’ National Cemetery was dedicated by President Abraham Lincoln in November 1863 — at which time he gave his famous address — to commemorate the battle and honor the dead.
Try to time your visit with some living history reenactments for maximum effect — it’s worth the effort.
Gettysburg National Battlefield is a somber place, especially with the cemetery at center stage. The hiking there is picturesque and calm in the quiet Pennsylvania countryside, a sharp contrast to those three brutal days in 1863.
2. Cochise Stronghold
Tucked away in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona, the Cochise Stronghold is a foreboding outcrop once manned by Chiricahua Apache fighters in their long struggle against the United States.
Throughout the 1860s and into the 1870s, the Chiricahua Chief Cochise and his band of approximately 1,000 lived in these high redoubts, well out of reach of the U.S. Cavalry. Cochise was never defeated, though he was captured and escaped multiple times. He died of natural causes in 1874.
For modern hikers or horseback riders, the terrain here is as rough and forbidding as it was to the U.S. Cavalrymen who tried to pursue the Chiricahua Apache into the mountains. Thin trails offer routes up into the stronghold itself, where a visitor can gain an understanding of just how the Apache hid and survived
The main “Cochise Indian Trail” is a difficult 5-mile loop, but there are easier hiking trails as well. Just make sure to pack plenty of water and keep your eyes open for snakes. For rock climbers, the Cochise area is actually an impressive and challenging climbing destination, too.
Preserved battlefield of Fort of Douaumont.
3. Fort Douaumont
In late winter of 1916, Imperial German forces tried to seize the strategic French city of Verdun. Only four days into the massive assault, the Germans took Fort Douaumont, an obsolete but still important fort in the defense of the city.
For the next eight months, fighting raged in the vicinity of this fort. French forces finally recaptured Douaumont in October 1916. Modern visitors can tour what’s left of the fort. Heavy artillery pounded the place into oblivion, and now concrete bastions lie torn apart, as if smashed by angry giants.
Visit antique gun turrets meant for tremendous 155mm howitzers to lighter 75mm guns. Feel the claustrophobia of the soldiers who fought and died in the tight tunnels. Imagine the deafening roar of small arms and artillery when fired in such close quarters.
There are also places to pay your respects to the memorials of the dead, including the German Necropolis, or City of the Dead, where around 600 men lie interred.
Modern Americans often make unfair jokes about French military prowess, but at Verdun and Douaumont, French soldiers died in swathes to repel a major German offensive — and the French won. So if you’re in Alsace, visit Fort Douaumont and maybe even the less successful Maginot Line as well.
Courtesy of the Fort Ticonderoga Facebook page.
4. Fort Ticonderoga
Tucked away in upstate New York, Fort Ticonderoga sits amidst some of the best scenery in the American East. Seized in a surprise attack by Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys in 1775, the artillery taken from Ticonderoga served a pivotal role in George Washington’s 1776 Siege of Boston.
The well-preserved fort offers excellent views of Lake Champlain, and a trail network spans the area. There’s also plenty of living history if reenacting is your cup of tea. Fort Ticonderoga is even available for wedding receptions!
The scenery of Upstate New York is some of the most beautiful in the country, and hikers can enjoy everything from Colonial-style gardens to the rugged Adirondack Mountains.
A Peace Memorial sits atop Engineer Hill at Attu Island, Alaska. The memorial is in honor of all those who sacrificed their lives in the islands and seas of the North Pacific during World War II.
(Photo courtesy U.S. Army)
5. Attu Island
In June 1942, Japanese forces struck north at Alaska. Specifically, the Japanese tried to neutralize the Aleutian Islands, and to do so, they seized the westernmost island, Attu. The Second World War raged from Egyptian deserts to Soviet steppes, from the skies over Britain to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, but on Attu, the war reached a new extreme.
Today, Attu is still a remote island, and unexploded ordnance remains a threat. Such are the scars of war. There are no trees on the island, so expect desolate, windblown tundra. The Native Alaskan village of Attu was never resettled after the war, and the island today is part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
If you think mere access to this area is difficult, try the hiking. There are no trails on the island, and there has been no permanent population since the Japanese deported them and the U.S. refused to bring the natives back. Hikers can travel wherever they please, though checking with the U.S. Coast Guard first about exactly where those unexploded shells are can literally save your limbs — or your life.
The story of Attu is a tragedy, both for the natives who were stripped of their homes and for the soldiers who fought and died for distant empires on a small island in the Bering Sea. When taken in proportion with the number of troops engaged, the 1943 Battle of Attu was the second deadliest of the Pacific War, surpassed only by Iwo Jima.
A bronze artilleryman stands watch over the guns of Hampton’s Battery F, Pennsylvania Light Artillery in the famous Peach Orchard at Gettysburg.
(Photo courtesy of National Park System)
Hiking a battlefield can bring history from the realm of dusty textbooks to real life. Seeing the location firsthand elevates the reality of an event in a way that pictures cannot.
From rural France to remote areas of Alaska, war has ravaged almost every corner of our world. Few people or nations have been spared. We preserve and visit old battlefields so that we remember why those people fought, and how we can try to avoid those fights in the future.
The combination of a beautiful backdrop and a brutal past only reinforces the horror of battle — and the historical memory that goes along with it.
During testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on March 29, Votel said U.S. forces may need to increase “all-weather fire support” — military terminology for artillery support.
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces militia coalition, made up mostly of Kurdish and Arab fighters, is leading the ground offensive to capture Raqqa away from the control of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, ISIS and Daesh, with the help of the U.S.-led international coalition.
“We have recognized that as we continue to pursue our military objectives in Syria, we are going to need more direct all-weather fire support capability for our Syrian Democratic Force partners,” Votel told the committee. “We have not taken our eye off what our principle mission is, which is to advise and assist and enable our partners. Help our partners fight, but not fight for them.”
There are about 1,000 U.S. special operations forces, Marines, and U.S. Army Rangers in northern Syria helping train and support local militias as they work to surround and isolate Raqqa before launching the offensive to take the city.
“The Syrian Democratic Forces have almost completed the isolation phase of Raqqa operations and will, in the coming months, begin operations to seize Raqqa, dismantling a key node in ISIS’ external operations network,” Votel told the Committee.
The U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State on March 30 said the Islamic State’s annual revenue decreased from an estimated $1.9 billion in 2014 to $870 million last year.
The SDF on March 26 captured the Tabqa airbase as they approach to seize the Tabqa dam, the largest dam in Syria which is a key source of electricity for the region.
In the summer of 2011, Marine Gunnery Sgt. David Smith was out riding his motorcycle about a block away from his home in San Diego when something absolutely terrible happened — he was viciously rear-ended by an SUV. Witnesses report that a Chevrolet Blazer hit the Marine and quickly fled the scene.
The horrible crash left Smith with extensive damage to his spinal cord and deadly internal bleeding. When the paramedics arrived at the scene, the Marine was unresponsive, so they initiated spinal-damage protocol and effectively stabilized his neck and provided him with oxygen.
(Photo by Vanessa Potts)
He was rushed to the hospital where a team of medical professionals, led by Dr. David Cloyd, put Smith through several tests to better identify his exact injuries. An MRI showed that Smith had suffered from an internal spinal decapitation. Once the results were confirmed, the medical staff devised proper treatment for the Marine, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Their goal was to stabilize Smith’s delicate vertebrae, working extremely carefully to avoid doing any additional damage to the spinal cord. Doctors were unsure if Smith would ever walk again.
Approximately 10 days later, Smith was rolled into surgery where highly-trained doctors and nurses fused three of his cervical vertebrae back together — a very complicated procedure.
(Photo by Marine Lance Cpl. Crystal Druery)
Courageously, just two days later, Smith managed to generate enough strength to take his first steps since the horrible crash. This compelled the strong Marine to begin his pain-filled physical therapy process, through which he hoped to regain his old strength.
After three short weeks, Smith walked out of the Palomar Medical Center and straight into the medical history books as one of the very few, lucky individuals to have recovered from internal spinal decapitation.
The drunk driver who fled the scene was found and sentenced to four years and four months in prison.
If you mess up just one glorious time in the U.S. military, your friends and peers will never let you forget it. It’s always been this way, even in World War II. From November 1943 until she was lost in 1945, the destroyer USS William D. Porter was greeted by home ports and other U.S. Navy ships with: “Don’t shoot, we’re Republicans!” That’s what happens when you almost assassinate the President.
Yes, that President.
In 1943, the USS Iowa was ferrying President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, along with the top brass of the entire United States military in the middle of the biggest, most dangerous war ever. It was a very special, important mission. They were on their way to meet their Allied counterparts in Cairo and Tehran, including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.
The whole thing was almost derailed by one torpedo fired at the Iowa, by a destroyer in the Iowa’s own convoy, the William D. Porter. And it was a fast-running, powerful 500-pound torpedo.
The Porter was a hard-luck ship that hadn’t even seen combat yet. As she left Norfolk, she scraped the side of her sister ship, almost tearing her apart. While on convoy duty crossing the Atlantic, one of her depth charges slipped out of its hold and detonated, sending the convoy into a tizzy. Later, a large wave washed everything on the destroyer’s deck into the ocean, including a sailor that was never found. Once things calmed down a bit, the crews settled in for some target practice as the President watched on.
The Iowa launched target balloons, which the ships fired at in turn, including the Porter. Next, the skipper of the Porter ordered torpedo practice with Iowa as the target. But when the simulated order to fire a torpedo accidentally launched an armed torpedo, the bridge understandably flipped out.
Yes, that USS Iowa.
Under strict radio silence to avoid attracting German u-boats, the crew of the Porter began to furiously signal Iowa. Unfortunately, in their haste, they mentioned nothing about a torpedo, instead telling the battleship that the destroyer was backing up at full speed. Eventually, they radioed the Iowa anyway. After a brief disagreement about radio procedures, the huge battleship moved out of the way of the oncoming torpedo, which exploded in the wake of the battleship, with President Roosevelt aware of the torpedo and watching it come.
The guns of the battleship turned on the William D. Porter. The ship was ordered to make its way to Bermuda, its entire ship’s company under arrest. It was surrounded by U.S. Marines when it arrived in Bermuda. The crew was dismissed to landward assignments, and its skipper was sentenced to 14 years in prison – a sentence President Roosevelt commuted to no punishment because he considered it an averted accident.
The “WIllie Dee” sinks in the Pacific, June 1945.
The destroyer itself would go on fighting the war while continuing its hard luck, accidentally shooting down American planes and strafing her sister ship with gunfire. In June 1945, a Japanese kamikaze pilot who missed his initial target sank into the sea next to the Porter. It exploded directly underneath the ship, however, and sent her to the bottom.