Air commandos wrecking cars and saving lives - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Air commandos wrecking cars and saving lives

Jaws of life. Hooligan tools. Chainsaws. Hammers.

Awkward names for things that could save lives on the battlefield as well as on the streets of America. But these and other tools can be found in the search and rescue and personnel recovery arsenal of the elite Air Commandos.


Earlier in October, Pararescuemen and Combat Control operators from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron refreshed their extrication skills, showcasing along the way the importance of a little known but important skillset.

Utilizing old vehicles, the Air Commandos simulated the extrication of troops or civilians from wrecked vehicles with a variety of methods tools. However, it’s important to remember that the Air Commandos will often have to carry the tools on them, so the equipment must be effective yet portable.

An operator from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron uses a chainsaw during extrication training at Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, Ore., Oct. 8, 2020, to simulate removing trapped personnel from a vehicle or aircraft. The members may use these techniques in combat environments or humanitarian assistance and disaster response zones. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Valerie R. Seelye)

“By using non-salvageable vehicles, we are able to develop a scenario in which all procedures and tools are utilized, enhancing proficiency in this specific Tactic, Technique, and Procedure,” said the 125th Special Tactics Squadron flight commander in a press release. “The non-salvageable vehicles provide the most realistic training possible.”

The advent of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has made extrication capabilities that much more important. If a vehicle, regardless if it’s armored or not, triggers an IED, chances are that it will suffer significant, if not catastrophic, damage. But if the explosive charge in the IED isn’t sufficient to destroy the vehicle altogether, the crew might survive, probably trapped inside the wreck. That’s why the extrication capability becomes important. But the skillset is also important in domestic or humanitarian scenarios, especially considering that this particular unit is part of the National Guard and might be called on to help civilians in distress as it has been doing in the past months.

“We also use this equipment during state emergency response operations or humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations to establish landing zones,” added the officer. “Or in the case of hurricanes, we’d possibly cut holes in the tops of houses to evacuate personnel by helicopter. These procedures were also utilized by Special Tactics Pararescuemen during the earthquake response in Haiti in 2010.”

Break it down, boys (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Valerie R. Seelye).

Part of the Oregon Air National Guard, the 125th Special Tactics Squadron is based in Portland.

Pararescue is the only career field in the whole Department of Defense (DoD) that is specially trained and equipped to conduct combat search and rescue and personnel recovery.

Back in 1993 and the Battle of Mogadishu, the Air Commandos’ extrication training proved crucial. When the first MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed during the “Black Hawk Down” incident, several of the crew members were trapped inside the twisted metals of the battered machine.

The moment the two pilots are finally extricated in the very realistic movie Black Hawk Down (Sony Pictures).

Even though the two Night Stalkers pilots who had been killed, the rest of Task Force Dagger resolved to not leave them behind. But only specialized equipped and trained men could extricate them. So, the burden fell on the Pararescuemen of the elite 24th Special Tactics Squadron. In the end, and after another day and night of fighting, the rescue force managed to extricate the two pilots.

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


MIGHTY TRENDING

One of our biggest wartime advantages is now in the hands of the enemy

Developed by the Germans as early as 1939, night-vision goggles, or NVGs, have been a massive staple in the allied forces’ arsenal, enabling troops to conduct vital missions in the dead of night.


The optic devices produce exceptional images from very low-lit environments by identifying decreased levels of light and amplifying them through a specific set of lenses.

For years, the U.S. has used this sensitive technology to capture and kill enemies after the sun goes down. But, in recent events, Afghan officials have reported that Taliban insurgents have sacked three different checkpoints during a series of nighttime raids in the western province of Farah, killing approximately 20 police officers.

Related: This is how piracy became totally legal during wartime

A German soldier holding a “Zielgerät 1229” night-vision scope, attached to his rifle.

Afghan officials have stated that the night-vision goggles the Taliban have been using appear to have Russian markings on them, but that theory has yet to be confirmed. This “evidence” has led Afghan authorities to believe that Russian officials have been arming the Taliban — an accusation the Russians deny.

Although implicated, Russia isn’t the only possible source for the NVGs. Since the Taliban regularly trade through Pakistan, the night-vision goggles may have been obtained there via the black market.

An inside look through a pair of night-vision goggles. (Screenshot from NightVisionGuys YouTube)

Multiple companies sell NVGs to civilians via hunting stores and, in some former Soviet countries, they’re available online. In fact, members of the Taliban terrorist network have been seen, on occasion, using U.S.-manufactured tactical equipment.

Also Read: 4 things you immediately learn after treating a Taliban fighter

Although this isn’t enough information to implicate the Russians in aiding the Taliban, it’s not too far-fetched. Political analysts in Moscow revealed that the Russian government has lost their confidence in the U.S.’s approach to balancing the ongoing Taliban threat. This lack of uncertainty has caused the nation to reach out on its own to other various factions, which may include the Taliban.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Troops supporting pandemic response should get hazard pay, Senator says

Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a retired member of the Iowa National Guard and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, has proposed that service members deployed for COVID-19 response get hazardous duty pay.

Ernst plans to introduce legislation this week that would provide a tax-free stipend for all active-duty, Reserve and National Guard members fighting the pandemic. If enacted, it would provide a monthly bonus as well as back pay to the initial date of deployment for thousands of service members.


The senator, who served in Kuwait and Iraq from 2003 to 2004, said those on the front lines potentially exposing themselves to illness deserve the support.

“Whether it’s delivering personal protective equipment, food, or medical supplies, our National Guardsmen and women have answered the call to help during COVID-19,” Ernst said in a statement released Tuesday. “As a former Iowa Army National Guardsmen, I could not be more proud of their tireless and selfless efforts.”

According to the Pentagon, more than 62,800 service members, including 46,800 National Guard members, are supporting COVID-19 response. The troops are treating patients, conducting coronavirus testing, distributing food and personal protective equipment and helping at hotels housing homeless persons who have tested positive for the virus.

As of Tuesday, 889 members of the National Guard Bureau had tested positive for COVID-19. A Guardsman, Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, was the first service member to die of the virus, although he had not been mobilized for COVID-19 response.

Nearly 5,000 additional U.S. service members have contracted COVID-19, 100 have been hospitalized and two have died: Hickok and Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker, who was assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and died April 13.

Nationwide, cases of COVID-19 reached nearly 2 million on Tuesday, with 70,646 American deaths.

For most members of the U.S. military, hazardous duty incentive pay totals 0 a month.

Military advocates, including the National Guard Association of the United States and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States threw their support behind Ernst’s legislation Tuesday.

“By definition, hazardous duty incentive pay is a monetary incentive for volunteers who perform hazardous duty based upon the inherent dangers of that duty and the risks of physical injury. EANGUS agrees with Sen. Joni Ernst that the duty our National Guard members are performing embodies that risk, and should receive hazardous duty incentive pay for COVID-19 response duty,” said retired Sgt. Maj. Frank Yoakum, EANGUS executive director.

Ernst’s proposed legislation follows a similar request last month from the American Federation of Government Employees, which is seeking hazardous duty pay for Department of Veterans Affairs workers caring for patients at VA facilities.

“I … implore Congress to pass legislation to provide hazardous duty pay to all front-line federal employees not already covered by existing laws like our nurses in federal prisons, and health care workers at the VA who provide direct patient care to our nation’s veterans,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said in a statement.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Yabba Dabba Doo: Did you know the Army owned dinosaurs?

It turns out a massive flood control project is an excellent way to unearth dinosaurs. At least, that’s what happened back in 1993 in Coralville, Iowa.

In 1993, Coralville, Iowa, experienced 28 days of rain. More than 17,000 cubic feet of water flowed over a spillway, wiping out the state’s yearly crop of soybeans and corn. Roads were obliterated, people’s lives were in jeopardy, and the city was literally drowning.


The Coralville Dam was built in the 1950s by the US Army Corps of Engineers to help provide flood protection for the Iowa River Valley to the south. It was named after the city, which had weirdly received its name from the ancient fossilized reefs that stud the river’s limestone.

Once the rains stopped and the citizens of the city could step outside without being swept away, the Corps returned to the site to assess the damage and explore the choices for reconstructing the dam. What they discovered shocked everyone.

The Corps discovered that the floods eroded five feet of limestone from the edge of the spillway. This created a gorge and unearthed several fossil beds, most of which were about 375 million years old. The fossils were mainly marine creatures that had once lived in the sea that used to cover Iowa. Because the Corps discovered them, all the sea creatures immediately became the property of the US Army.

That’s not to say that the Army will be opening a theme park filled with these fossils any time soon, but it’s pretty exciting to think that the Army has done its part to help advance the field of paleontology.

The survey archaeologist for the Corps, Nancy Brighton, said that the collection spans the entire paleontological record. So anything relating to animals and the natural world that existed before humans are included in that.

Because the Corps of Engineers manages more than 8 million acres of land across the United States, finds like the one in Iowa aren’t super uncommon. In fact, the Corps asl owns one of the most intact T. rex skeletons ever found. More on that later.

All thanks in part to the Flood Control Act, signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936 that decreed the need for dams, levees, and dikes all across the country. But before construction could begin on those early-iteration dams, the Corps had to complete a thorough survey. Those surveys almost always exposed ancient fossil beds.

In fact, it’s assumed that most of what American archeologists have discovered are thanks in part to the efforts of the Corps. All of the hydropower and flood control projects that started back in the 1950s certainly paved the way for new discoveries.

The greatest of all of these discoveries didn’t happen way back, though. It was just a few decades ago, in 1988, on Labor Day. That morning, Kathy Wankel, a hiker, and amateur fossil collector, was trekking through Montana’s Fort Peck Reservoir when something caught her eye.

At first, she thought it was a shoulder blade pushing up through the rocky soil. The lighting was perfect, according to Wankel, which allowed her to see the webby pattern of bone marrow, and that’s when she knew she’d discovered something big.

And by big, of course, we mean enormous. Wankel and her husband had stumbled on the remains of a T. rex thought to have roamed the Montana area some 66 million years ago. The discovery that Wankel and her husband made was one of just eight at the time. Since then, about 50 other skeletons have been discovered.

It took nearly a year to figure out who owned the land where the skeleton was found. At long last, the Corps began to dig. It took several years and a large team to unearth the 38-foot skeleton weighing in at nearly six tons. The most astonishing part? It was almost one hundred percent complete, making it the first specimen to be discovered with small lower arm bones fully intact.

Since 2017, the T. rex has called the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History home. The Corps of Engineers has agreed to a 50-year loan to ensure that all Americans have a chance to see it – when the world’s not locked down with COVID, at least.

MIGHTY TRENDING

An insider explains why today’s Navy is actually stronger than ever

As most of you are aware, in the last several months the US Navy has suffered two collisions at sea. On 17 June the USS Fitzgerald lost 7 Sailors and on 21 August, the USS McCain lost 10 Sailors. The Surface Warfare community has not experienced such a loss in nearly 30 years since the explosion on the USS Iowa that killed 47 sailors.


After the collisions, I have quietly tried to make sense of what happened. I have just recently returned to the Surface Warfare community after spending the majority of my career working in the world of Naval Special Warfare. At this point, I am an outsider looking in and trying to learn about my new environment, and to make sure I am pulling more than my weight of the work load.

While trying to understand what happened, I have made the mistake of reading comments posted on Social Media of what people think happened. Comments from people from all walks of life and most who seem to have never served a day in their life in the Navy or on a Warship. One comment has particularly bothered me. After the Navy announced the firing of several Admirals, including a Command Master Chief, one podcaster stated the collisions happened because the “Navy has gone soft.”

I want to assure anyone reading this: The United States Navy has never been stronger than it is today.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Krystina Coffey

I know it’s hard for most of us to remember a time that the US has not been engaged in war. We have been in Afghanistan for 16 years and Iraq for 13 years. No one knows that better than pre 9/11 service members, especially given there are very few of us still on Active Duty. But before Operation Enduring and Operation Iraqi Freedom, during the time that most Army units were running training evolutions, the Navy was steadily deploying around the world to carry the Big Stick. Before Bosnia, before the Gulf War, before Panama, before Vietnam, before the Korean War….The Navy has quietly and steadily deployed during War Time and during Peace time since its inception 241 years ago.

No one does it better than we do.

As I have stepped back into the Surface Navy, I have done so with very little experience and official Surface Warfare qualifications. So I have started at the bottom of the training pipeline with 18 and 19 year old Seaman and brand new Junior Officers.

Classes are typically taught by senior 1st Class Petty Officers and Chiefs, and some are taught by trusted 2nd Class Petty Officers. Most of the training has been done “in house” and the instructors still have a day job. Some of the Instructors are Gunners Mates and are responsible for any and all aspects of ammunition on board the ship, whether its 9mm rounds, 5 inch rounds, or highly precise, multimillion dollar missiles.

The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones launches a Standard Missile 6 during a live-fire test of the ship’s aegis weapons system. Photo from US Navy.

In addition to teaching, managing their daily tasks and subordinates, most of the instructors are also balancing Duty. Duty is not their day job. It’s the 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job of ensuring proper security is being maintained on the ship and making sure the ship is ready to start to get underway if needed. Duty is broken down into sections and each Sailor essentially works for 24 hours a day once or twice a week. A sailor may work a normal work day and then stand watch in the middle of the night, and is expected to work a full day the next work day, only running on a few hours of sleep and lots of caffeine.

The overwhelming amount of hours spent working on the ship each week is more than anything I have seen during my time in NSW. Like most jobs in the military, it’s a thankless job that most Sailors never truly see the results of their labors. And to my astonishment over the last few months, the Sailors don’t complain about the work on the ship. They complain about the food. They complain when the coffee grounds run low. The Junior Enlisted complain about the Junior Officers. The Junior Officers quietly complain about the Senior Officers, And the Chiefs complain about everyone.

But when the bells ring, everyone is beside each other backing up the other one so the ship can get the attention it needs. They are a family. And like any family, there are of course some dysfunctional members, but as a whole, it’s an amazing thing watching these crews breathing life into Warships.

USN photo

I can’t speak to high level policy decisions that happen in the beltway, or even administrative orders from Millington, but I can speak to the level of dedication at the lower levels. Sailors are hardworking. They are unruly at times, but will back each other up when its time. They are professional, and know their jobs because that’s what Sailors do. They work long hours, more than most will ever know, and they do it when Wars end and people forget ships are still required at Sea. At times, they work in terrible conditions covered in grease and smelling of Jet fuel and only a few hours of sleep, and often for weeks or months with no days off.

They are the hardest Sailors in the world.

While recent events are heartbreaking, I want to assure everyone that the United States Navy is still the strongest Naval force this earth has ever seen. Horrendous mistakes were made on the USS Fitzgerald and the USS McCain, but these ships were good ships and had good crews. These were also extremely hard worked ships ported in foreign piers.

And as of right now, the Navy has acknowledged that training in specific areas fell short. With that in mind, remember the Navy has kept ships out to Sea for 241 years. Even as you read this, there are 10’s of thousands of Sailors somewhere in the world, fiercely carrying the Navy’s Honor wherever they go. The Navy will correct the course and continue to provide diplomacy wherever is needed.

MIGHTY TRENDING

South Korea scrambles to intercept Chinese fighters

South Korea scrambled fighter jets after five Chinese military aircraft entered the country’s Air Defense Identification Zone, or KADIZ, on Dec. 18.


The deployment of two Chinese bombers, two fighters jets, and a reconnaissance plane follows South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

A South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official said the Chinese planes entered Korea-claimed airspace from the southwest — and also flew into Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, or JADIZ, South Korean newspaper Maeil Business reported.

An armed Chinese fighter jet flies near a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft over the South China Sea about 135 miles east of Hainan Island in international airspace. (U.S. Navy Photo)

“After our military noticed the aircraft approaching the KADIZ from the west, we used a hotline with the Chinese military to confirm whether or not it was Chinese military aircraft, and to take countermeasures,” the South Korean official said.

South Korea scrambled F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets in response to the incoming flights — two Chinese H-6 fighter jets, two J-11 fighters, and one TU-154 reconnaissance aircraft.

Chinese aircraft last flew in Korea-claimed airspace on Jan. 9, when they deployed six H-6K bombers, a KJ-200, a propeller airborne early warning and control aircraft, and a Y-9 reconnaissance plane.

Also Read: China’s version of the F-15 Strike Eagle is a huge ripoff

The Chinese flights came as Beijing’s foreign ministry said the summit between Xi and Moon was a “success,” South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the two sides agreed to “improve and develop the relationship” and to “respect the interests of our neighbors.”

The summit in Beijing was eclipsed by brutal beatings of South Korean photojournalists, which were met with protests in Seoul.

“Chinese security guards kicked Korean journalists in the face and engaged in a group attack,” protesters said Dec. 15. “It is a barbarous act, and it is hard to believe it could happen in a civilized country.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy’s pilots will get huge bonuses for staying in

Hey, want to make an extra $175,000? Well, if you’re a Navy fighter pilot and you’re willing to spend another five years in the service, that pile of cash can be yours! Now that we have the big-ass headline and the promise of a lot of moolah out of the way, let’s get down to the fine print.


E-2C pilots are among those eligible for up to $175,000 in bonuses under the Aviation Department Head Retention Bonus. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Langholf)

According to a Navy release, the active-duty component is offering big cash in the form of Aviation Department Head Retention Bonuses and Aviation Command Retention Bonuses. The aim here is to keep talented, hardworking pilots on active duty. The Navy, essentially, is looking to avoid ending up in the same dire straits as the Air Force in terms of personnel shortages.

Pilots of multi-role fighters, like this F-35, are eligible for big bonuses. (U.S. Navy photo by Dane Wiedmann)

Here’s how the bonuses will work, according to NAVADMIN 065/18. The Aviation Department Head Retention Bonus is open to any aviator selected for promotion to lieutenant commander. Pilots have the option of signing a contract of either three years or five years. Those who sign five-year deals prior to ADHSB selection results going public can get a bonus of up to $35,000. Your best bet for getting the big money is to fly F/A-18C Hornets, F-35 Lightnings, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, or E-2C Hawkeyes. MH-53E Sea Dragon pilots, a minesweeping version of the CH-53E Super Stallion, are also eligible to for big bonuses.

Pilots of the MH-53E Sea Dragon are also eligible for the $175,000 over five years – the only rotary-wing pilots who get the big money. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Carlisle)

Those who sign up for the Aviation Command Retention Bonus can get $100,000 over three years ($34,000 for the first year, $33,000 for the other two). Eligibility is limited to those officers who hold the rank of commander and who have been screened for becoming the commanding officer of an eligible operational, operational training, or special mission command. They agree to stay on for three years, which will include a tour after their squadron command. The obligation ends at the end of that post-command assignment or 22 years of active service, whichever comes later.

EA-18G Growler pilots can get up to $175,000 bonuses. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex Perlman)

Aviation duty incentive pay (better known as flight pay) is also getting a boost, especially for those who are in administrative milestone billets. That only could net you a cool $1,000 in cash per month!

Those interested in the opportunity to earn big-money bonuses should get more details on the Navy’s website.

Articles

‘Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’ is a funny war memoir that will make you want more

“She’s Kim Baker, I’m Kim Barker,” Kim Barker tells me. She’s the New York Times metro reporter and author of The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, on which the new Paramount Pictures film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based. Barker is referring to Tina Fey and her performance as Barker’s embedded journalist in Afghanistan.


“I think she did a really good job,” Barker says. “I’ve seen a lot of her performances. Obviously I saw 30 Rock, and this is, I think, the most nuanced performance that she’s ever given. And I’m not just saying it because it’s supposed to be me.”

In Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Fey is a television news copywriter living an ordinary life when her network opts to send a correspondent to Afghanistan. An executive gathers potential reporters fitting a certain profile – those with little to lose – to offer them the position. Fey’s Kim Baker accepts and is quickly in country learning the ropes. She’s green, doesn’t speak any foreign languages, and has no knowledge of Afghan customs.  

There she meets photographer Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman), fellow reporter Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie), and her restrained, cautious guide Fahim (Christopher Abbott). Baker quickly learns the ropes about reporting on an “embed” (embedding with a military unit) and life in the “kabbuble” (a play on words describing how life for foreign civilians in Kabul is life in a bubble). She also meets Afghan power broker Ali Massoud Sadiq (Alfred Molina) who takes an immediate liking to Fey’s Kim Baker.

Though there are some combat sequences when Baker embeds with U.S. Marines (led by a Marine officer played by Billy Bob Thornton), Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF for short) is not a war movie. The movie is a dramatization of the book, but still remains true to Kim Barker’s wartime experiences. Fans of Barker’s book will find plenty to love in the film.

“They make Tina Fey way braver than I ever was,” Barker says. She adds that adequately recreating the book would be unnecessarily difficult. The narrative arcs are the same. Her interaction with supporting characters are the same. Robert Carlock, a regular 30 Rock writer, and WTF screenwriter, did a lot of independent research on top of Barker’s book.

“All the events depicted in the film happened to me or to someone I know,” Barker says. “I think the movie is a great representation and that’s what I care about most. I want people to see the movie, enjoy the movie, and then think about what the real story behind it was.”

The choice to depict Fey’s Baker as a broadcast journalist — as opposed to Kim Barker’s print reporting for the Chicago Tribune — is an apt choice. The movie tells the broad story of a reporter’s time in Afghanistan, hitting all the significant events, influential characters, and memorable moments in a quick retelling of the real Barker’s experience. The book is written by a print journalist, full of detail, nuance, and explanation, a great primer for truly understanding the tribes and conflicts in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a funny, sharp, yet glossy look at the life of a war reporter covering a very real conflict. It depicts the troubles women have as war reporters and the inequalities women face in the region. The movie shows a journalist’s first ever encounter with U.S. Marines and touches on moments that are at times funny and at times trying, just like many war zone experiences. Viewers may leave the theater wanting something more, and they will be able to get that something from the Barker’s book, which the reporter wanted all along.  

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines combine Osprey speed and JPADS precision for optimal training

As the wind swept through the tall green grass in an open field on the Ie Shima coast line, a group of Marines stood in anticipation as they watched a bundle soar across the bright sky. Guided by the Joint Precision Air Drop System, the package piloted itself onto the drop zone.

U.S. Marines with Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, 3rd Transportation Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, conducted air delivery operations with JPADS on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan June 6, 2019.

“Today we are conducting air delivery training using the Joint Precision Air Drop System,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Mulvey, the battalion commander of 3rd TSB. “What’s unique about our training today is that we coupled with the MV-22 Osprey. We are using the speed and distance of the Osprey with the precision air drop capability of the JPADS to really offer the warfighter sustainment.”


The JPADS is an airdrop system that uses prepared geographic coordinates programmed into a computer system to guide the parachute to the ground within 100 meters of the drop zone.

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dustin Murphy, left, and Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Bird, right, conduct military free fall operations June 6, 2019 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Harvey)

“The JPADS use a GPS to basically do what a free fall parachutist would do,” said Mulvey, a Cherryville, North Carolina native. “It understands the altitude and wind speed and it drives the parachute like a free fall parachutist would, the only difference is that it’s delivering cargo to Marines on the deck.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sheldon Ford prepares for a static line jump June 6, 2019 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Harvey)


The JPADS allow 3rd TSB to drop cargo away from the enemy threats and guide it to the Marines on the ground not only making it more accurate, but also allowing Marines to recover the cargo faster.

U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, land at a drop zone on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan June 6, 2019.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Mark Fike)

Mulvey said the training was a big step forward for III Marine Expeditionary Force because it wasIE SHIMA, Okinawa, Japan — As the wind swept through the tall green grass in an open field on the Ie Shima coast line, a group of Marines stood in anticipation as they watched a bundle soar across the bright sky. Guided by the Joint Precision Air Drop System, the package piloted itself onto the drop zone.

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Paul Konicki returns to an MV-22 Osprey after a military free fall training June 6, 2019 on Ie Shima, Okinawa, Japan.

(U.S Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ryan Harvey)

“This mission is not possible without the help of the entire Marine Air-Ground Task Force with the professional pilots and the crew of the Air Combat Element,” said Mulvey. “I’m very happy from the performance of the air delivery specialists of LS Co., the roughriders are great, I’d jump with them any day.” the first time they had dropped cargo utilizing the JPADS from an MV-22 Osprey.

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is an actual Army report on witches in the Republic of the Congo

Please spare some sympathy for the member of the Special Operations Research Office who, in 1964, was ordered to take a good, hard look at the impact of “witchcraft, sorcery, magic, and other psychological phenomena” during the civil war in the Republic of the Congo.

Yup. This poor soul was actually tasked with investigating the burning question of, “Are we losing because of the witches?

The surprising answer was, to paraphrase, ‘At least partially.’


In fact, the 1964 paper even analyzed the viability of U.S. forces and their allies adopting magic for their own purposes. Oh yeah, if you wanted to be a U.S. Army witch doctor, this was the time to do it.

Except, of course, the U.S. didn’t actually believe magic was affecting the physical world. Instead, it was studying how the belief in magic affected the morale of troops fighting on each side of the conflict, and then it had to decide whether to engage in some play-acting; doing fake magic in order to affect the enemy’s perceptions.

A Swedish soldier with U.N. forces on duty in Congo during the crisis.

(Pressens Bild, public domain)

This wouldn’t be the Army’s only flirtation with the supernatural at the time. In 1950, a U.S. Army colonel helped fake a vampire attack to terrify communists in the Philippines, and psychological operations soldiers pulled a similar (but less effective) trick in Vietnam when they played ghost sounds over enemy troop concentrations.

The magical beliefs in the Congo revolved around two supposed classes of powers. There was sorcery, a system of magic that relied on rituals that were usually performed while mixing ingredients for a traditional medicine or preparing a charm. And there was witchcraft, a method of doing magic that relied on an innate ability that some people had from birth. These witches could simply wish for certain things to happen and, for some inexplicable reason, they would.

This magical belief was deep-seated in the Congolese. It had survived and even flourished despite nearly 100 years of economic and religious colonization. What missionaries and Belgian representatives sent to the country always found was that when push-came-to-shove, the bulk of the Congolese people would only incorporate European beliefs and power structures into their belief in magic. European beliefs were never able to replace traditional, magical ones.

A Shona witch doctor in Zimbabwe.

(Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 3.0)

When Belgium finally began relaxing its stranglehold in 1957 over what was then the Belgian Congo, this struggle had resulted in a deep rift between the Congolese who embraced European education and methods and those who were more dedicated to tribal beliefs and power structures. But both sides held magical beliefs. The European-influenced évolués, as they were known, simply hid those beliefs.

The Belgian Congo collapsed in 1960 and U.N. forces were eventually sent in to try and keep a tentative peace after repeated fighting and clashes. The stakes there were high. Certain parts of the Congo were quite resource-rich, including one of the breakaway zones. It also had Uranium that would be quite valuable to either the Soviet Union or the U.S., depending on who tied the emerging but troubled Republic of the Congo to their sphere of influence.

Hence U.S. military planners debating on twisting magical beliefs to their own ends. The rebellious forces often had the sorcerers (and the occasional witch) prepare magical defenses that were supposed to stop harm from European weapons.

Swedish soldiers from the U.N. man a fighting position near a road in Niemba.

(Pressens Bild, public domain)

Upon deeper study, though, the 1964 paper recommended against weaponizing these beliefs against the Congolese rebels. There were a couple of major concerns. One was that these évolués were the ones most likely to be Congolese leaders that the U.S. would work with. Since they still believed in magic, they would probably balk at a U.S. mockery of it.

But they would balk even harder if their forces or their Western allies began dabbling in magic. Their entire political brand was built on not being superstitious and backwards like their peers (even though they did believe in the same magic).

Even more troublesome, though, was that while the belief in magic was near universal across the country, the exact details of the belief varied wildly between tribes and, sometimes, even between sub-tribes. As the paper described it, “Literally, one man’s charm might be another man’s potion.”

So, if a psychological operations unit were sent to capitalize on these beliefs, they would have to surreptitiously gather data on every targeted tribe and keep detailed records of it. Then, when crafting their messaging or other plots, they would have to adjust it for each tribe and then take care to keep the messages from sabotaging each other.

Irish forces on duty in Congo during the Crisis.

(Irish Defence Forces)

But the most awesome concern with the program was the author’s worry that, if the U.S., Western, and government forces began openly engaging in magical operations against tribal leaders and insurgent witch-doctors, and the witch-doctors engaged in open counters, then the one near-guaranteed result would be an increased belief in magic.

In the post-war Congo, that would grant a ton of power to tribal leaders and witch-doctors, potentially necessitating power sharing that the évolués and their Western backers wouldn’t necessarily want. And, while there were government-friendly tribes, nearly all the insurgents were part of traditional tribal structures, so potentially strengthening the belief in magic would be a long-term problem for the West whether they won or lost.

Instead, the paper recommended overturning magical beliefs by showing them to be false. The biggest magical claim that witch-doctors made was that they could make troops invulnerable to Western weapons. So, every enemy soldier killed with a Western weapon weakened belief in magic. As the paper states it:

In the Congo, as elsewhere in black Africa, there is every reason to believe that disciplined troops, proficient in marksmanship, and led by competent officers, can handily dispel most notions of magical invulnerability.

In the end, it appears that no magical campaign was launched. But that hasn’t prevented decades of rebellions, coups, and other violence.

This unrest has unfortunately continued to this day — literally. On the day this article was written, accusations of recent murder by police, election violence by the state, and other human rights abuses were in the news.

Almost makes you wish the magic was real. Would be a perfect time to whip up a few charms to protect the population.

MIGHTY MOVIES

U.S. Marine Rob Riggle’s new mini-golf show is so extra it’s perfect

Maybe it’s because I recently went head-to-head in a heated eighteen holes of mini golf with a Navy SEAL, or maybe it’s because Rob Riggle’s humor is so goofy and delightful, but I am really enjoying ABC’s new show Holey Moley.

“Last week billions watched as mini-golf swept the nation. Diseases were cured, families reunited, ABC executives promoted. The world came together in arms and wept in joy for the only sport that matters on earth: mini golf,” Riggle announced, and he would never lie.

Riggle joins Joe Tessitore as on-camera commentators while Jeannie Mai reports from the course, which includes holes like the “Slip ‘n’ Putt” (where one contestant literally fell on his face — like, right on his face, guys; he started bleeding) and “The Distractor” where golfers must try to get a hole-in-one while something, or someone, distracts the hell out of them.

Enter Sergeant Putton.


Putton may be wearing the Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern, but his branch is 100% “Drill Sgt.”

(ABC/Eric McCandless)

In an episode titled “The Thunderdome of Mini Golf,” the “Distractor” as Sgt. Putton, whose only objective was to distract the golfer enough to miss the shot.

“He’s pushing buttons. The drill instructor is pushing buttons…because that’s what they do,” observed Riggle, who would know.

Also read: 23 photos of drill instructors terrifying the hell out of Marine recruits

Played by Travis Joe Dixon, Sgt. Putton proved to be loud, forceful, and a crowd favorite — much like real drill instructors, who are absolutely hilarious…as long as you’re not their target.

“My guess is ‘Jimmy Tropicana’ doesn’t respond well to authority figures. No doubt Sgt. Putton is equally repulsed by Jimmy’s civilian tracksuit,” declared Riggle with a jaunty commentator voice.

“Get out of the shadow,” ordered Jimmy, elevating my fear response. You don’t tell the drill instructor what to do, Jimmy! You never tell the drill instructor what to do!!!

Jimmy Ruiz proves he’s got balls in that tracksuit.

(ABC/Eric McCandless)

Putton agreed, marching over to get in Jimmy’s face again. “You do not tell me what to do. You and your hair gel.”

Imagine if someone wore hair gel to basic training…

Related: Should you wear your cowboy hat to basic training?

“The gallery’s simply loving this drill instructor,” laughed Riggle.

In the end, Jimmy finally survived Sgt. Putton and advanced to the next round and the ,000 cash prize.

Rob Riggle Is Golfing For Veterans

www.youtube.com

Rob Riggle Is Golfing For Veterans

Riggle’s been golfing for over twenty years and, in addition to hosting his new show, he produces an annual InVETational golf classic, raising money for Semper Fi Fund, a veteran non-profit that helps critically wounded service members and their families.

Holey Moley is on ABC Thursday nights at 8PM, sorry, 2000 hours — or you can find it on Hulu right now. Check it out and discover for yourself how satisfying it can be to watch people struggle succeed.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Who would win in a fight between F-35 and cheaper Gripen?

The Lockheed F-35 Lightning has been drawing a lot of press – and orders from across the world. According to a Lockheed website, 14 countries either have orders in or are looking at buying the Lightning. But another cheaper jet is making waves.


A group of USAF F-35As in formation near Hill AFB, Utah (Photo U.S. Air Force)

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is part of a long line of Swedish jets, to include the Draken and Viggen. According to MilitaryFactory.com, the Gripen has a top speed of 1,370 miles per hour, and a maximum range of 1,988 miles. The plane is armed with a 27mm cannon and can carry a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface ordnance. It is a very advanced fourth-generation fighter (arguably falling in the Generation 4.5 category with the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale).

A JAS 39 Gripen with a combat payload (Photo Saab Group)

The F-35, on the other hand, offers stealth technology and very advanced avionics, making it a fifth-generation fighter. MilitaryFactory.com reports it has a top speed of 1,199 miles per hour and a maximum range of 1,379 miles. It also has a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface ordnance, and comes with a GAU-22 25mm cannon.

The F-35B Lightning II is a fifth-generation fighter, which is the world’s first operational supersonic short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. The F-35B brings strategic agility, operational flexibility and tactical supremacy to III MEF with a mission radius greater than that of the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II in support of the U.S. – Japan alliance. (USMC photo)

So, why would a country want the Gripen? Two words: Math and money. The F-35 comes in at anywhere from $94 million to $122 million, depending on the variant, according to Lockheed. Now, this price may go down, but it’s still pretty steep. According to GlobalSecurity.org, South Africa paid roughly $1.5 billion for 28 Gripen, which comes to about $53.5 million per jet. That’s a $40 million savings, and you get everything the F-35 can do but stealth.

The F-35C Lightning II — a next generation single-seat, single-engine strike fighter that incorporates stealth technologies, defensive avionics, internal and external weapons, and a revolutionary sensor fusion capability — is designed as the U.S. Navy’s first-day-of-war, survivable strike fighter. (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe)

But which plane can win in a fight? The Gripen has high performance, but the F-35 can see it easily. The F-35, on the other hand, is much harder for the Gripen to see. Fighter pilots have a saying, “Lose the sight, lose the fight.” That means the Gripen, as impressive as it is, would come out second-best in a fight with the F-35.

Still, it’s better than relying on a MiG or Sukhoi.

Articles

Here’s a look at the likely finalists for the new XM17 modular handgun

For over a year, the U.S. military has been looking at options for replacing the decades-old Beretta M9 handgun. As with most DoD programs, the so-called “Modular Handgun System” program is a sprawling, multi-million dollar plan to find a new pistol that takes advantage of innovations in the current firearms market and delivers a sidearm that works well for a variety of missions and troops.


Listen to the WATM podcast to hear the author and our veteran hosts discuss what the XM17 modular handgun program means to the military:

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The M9 is a solid performer and is still popular among many in the U.S. military. But over the last 20 years, handgun technology — especially the use of polymers in handgun construction — has advanced well beyond the all-metal, one-size-fits-all frame of the flagship Beretta sidearm.

Both the Army and Air Force are running the search for an M9 replacement, dubbed the XM17, and have called for a do-all pistol that will fit in the hands of a wide range of troops, be more accurate and reliable than the Beretta and, most importantly, be configurable for different missions.

An ambitious goal to be sure, and some high-ranking officials in the Pentagon have argued it’s one that’ll wind up being too expensive and take too long to field, with the Army estimating it’ll take $17 million and 2 years to test the final version of the XM17.

“We’re not exactly redesigning how to go to the moon. This is a pistol,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in March. “You give me $17 million on a credit card, and I’ll call Cabela’s tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine with a pistol for $17 million. And I’ll get a discount on a bulk buy.”

Despite Milley’s frustration, the program is set for a so-called “downselect” next month to three competitor designs to move into field testing. The safe money is that the Army will settle on options from Sig Sauer, Glock and a team composed of General Dynamics and Smith Wesson.

So what do each of these companies bring to the table for a modular handgun?

Glock

By far the most popular handgun among law enforcement, military special operations and a huge swath of civilian shooters, the Glock series of polymer-framed pistols has been considered the gold standard of modern handguns since its introduction in the 1980s.

In fact, the Glock 19 is the standard-issue handgun for Army special operations troops, Air Force special operations Airmen and has recently been chosen to replace Naval Special Warfare Sig Sauer P226 pistols. Sources say the company submitted versions of its G17 (a 5-inch barreled, 9mm handgun) and the G22 (a 4.5-inch barreled, .40 caliber handgun) to the MHS program.

A Special Forces soldier fires a Glock 19 pistol at a range during joint training with Hungarian special operations forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tyler Placie)

While Glock doesn’t have a so-called “modular” gun, the pistol uses so few parts that swapping a barrel or switching the backstrap of the grip for smaller-handed shooters takes no time. Glock offers several handguns that look and operate the same as the G17 and G22 — namely the G19, G43 and G21 — that are more compact or are optimized for different shooting situations.

Smith Wesson

Long a close second to the Glock family of polymer pistols, Smith Wesson’s MP series of handguns have made serious inroads in the law enforcement and civilian markets.

Check out the utility belt of a local cop or stroll down the shooting bays of your local range, and you’re bound to see a bunch of MP 9s in holsters or on the bench. Similar to the Glock, the MP pistol is simple to operate, has few parts and fits a wide range of shooters with replaceable backstraps on its grip.

Smith  Wesson has teamed with General Dynamics to compete for the Army XM17 Modular Handgun System program. Smith Wesson MP 9. (Photo from Smith Wesson)

And, like Glock, Smith Wesson doesn’t have a truly modular handgun system. But the company makes a longer barrel MP in a variety of calibers and the wildly popular MP Shield for concealed carry. All are based on the same design as the MP 9 and have the same ergonomics — so troops shifting from the 5-inch MP 5-inch CORE on one mission to the MP Shield on another won’t have to deal with a learning curve.

Sig Sauer

Sig Sauer has been most widely known for its double action handguns (ones that have hammers instead of strikers), and the P226 is perhaps the most famous gun the company makes since it’s been the go-to pistol for Naval Special Warfare’s sailors for years.

That changed this year when the SEAL community let slip that it would be replacing its inventory of P226s with Glock 19s — in line with other special operations units in the U.S. military. In 2014, Sig announced its newest handgun, dubbed the “P320,” which uses a similar polymer frame and striker fire system as the Glock and MP.

But what makes the P320 unique among its closest competitors is that it is truly modular. Buy a stock P320 and a shooter can purchase new frames and barrels in different sizes and calibers; you can literally change the P320 from a 4.7-inch combat handgun into a 3.6-inch subcompact concealed carry gun in about a minute with a new frame, slide and barrel.

Photo from Sig Sauer

You can even switch out a 9mm to a .40 with ease. The only common part of the Sig P320 is the “fire control group” which includes the trigger and internal safety module.

And it’s this off-the-shelf modularity that leads many to believe the P320 is the odds-on favorite to win the XM17 handgun program.

Will it happen?

The problem is the Army (and other services) don’t have a great track record of making solid decisions on new weapons that take advantage of modern technology.

For several years in the early 2000s, the Army spent a lot of time and money looking into a replacement for the M4 carbine — a rifle that derives from a pre-Vietnam design. Despite test reports that showed other options performed better than the M4, the Army decided it wasn’t enough of an improvement over the existing rifle, and the service shelved the program.

Likewise, the Mk-16 and Mk-17 SOCOM Combat Assault Rifle — or SCAR — program was originally billed as a modular rifle program, one that would eventually see a combat rifle capable of switching from, say, a short-barreled entry gun into a longer-barreled one for more distant engagements. That program was also shelved, with special ops forces mostly using the .308 caliber Mk-17 on some missions as a battle rifle.

It’s still unclear whether the XM17 program will suffer a similar fate. But it’s there’s no argument that the Beretta M9 is facing an age problem and is increasingly causing armorers headaches.

So whether it’s a Glock 19 from Cabela’s or a futuristic, modular pistol, U.S. troops should see some kind of new handgun in their armory within a few years.

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