These drones are fighting the massive fires in California - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

Five years after a proof-of-concept mission, the MQ-9 Reaper drone has developed into a key asset in California’s fight against wildfires, including the Carr and Mendocino Complex Fires, which are currently burning in Northern California.


“It’s a technology I never thought I’d see,” said Jeremy Salizzoni, a fire technical specialist with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection who was embedded with the California Air National Guard’s 163rd Attack Wing at March Air Reserve Base, California, during 2013’s devastating Rim Fire.

More than 250,000 acres burned in August 2013 as the Rim Fire raged in Tuolumne County, California. At the time, it was the state’s third largest wildfire on record. More than 100 structures were lost in the blaze, which took nine weeks to fully contain.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

An aircrew from the California Air National Guard’s 163rd Attack Wing flies an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft during a mission to support state agencies fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California, Aug. 4, 2018. The aircrew conducted fire perimeter scans and spot checks on the blaze, which encompasses the Ranch and River fires.

(California Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

Game-Changing Technology

Eleven days after the Rim Fire started, the wing launched a first-of-its kind mission to overfly the fire with an MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted reconnaissance aircraft and beam back real-time video footage of the fire to Salizzoni and wing intelligence analysts working in an operations facility at March.

Through the Predator’s footage, Salizzoni, who was used to driving for hours through rugged terrain to access overlook points and put eyes on the leading edge of a fire, could see any area of the fire he wanted, in real time and without ever leaving the operations facility.

The remotely piloted aircraft’s thermal imaging camera provided a view of the fire unlike anything he’d ever seen. Traditional aerial assets are important, but encounter limitations due to smoke, fuel, altitude and field of view, he said.

“It was such a dramatic change from anything I’d seen in my career,” Salizzoni said. “It was like being blind and then having vision in the blink of an eye.”

He and his colleagues knew they had a new tool in their firefighting toolbox.

“We saw things over the course of that fire that you couldn’t have made up,” Salizzoni said. “I don’t think there’s a better intel resource at our disposal right now.”

During its eight-day emergency activation for the Rim Fire, the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing — the unit’s name at the time — logged more than 150 hours of fire support and was credited with helping firefighters expedite containment.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

MQ-9 Reaper RPA

Domestic Response

In the five years since, the 163rd Attack Wing has changed its name and the kind of airplane it flies, but one thing hasn’t changed: the wing’s dedication to domestic disaster response missions right here at home.

RPAs are no longer just trying to prove their worth, said Air Force Maj. Mike Baird, the senior intelligence officer at the 163rd Attack Wing. The wing’s MQ-9 Reaper RPAs — a big-brother to the recently-retired Predators — are an in-demand incident awareness and assessment asset preferred by California’s civil authorities when disaster strikes.

The wing has supported more than 20 wildfires since 2013, but it takes more than just airplanes, Baird said. Keeping California safe takes a wing-wide effort.

“What we’ve been doing behind the scenes from maintenance and communications to refining our deployment and personnel processes has led up to our ability to provide an unprecedented level of MQ-9 support,” Baird said.

The wing provided real-time full motion video support over a number of fires in 2017, including California’s most destructive fire on record and also its largest fire to date. More than 5,600 structures were damaged and 22 lives were lost during the Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County in October. Two months later, in December, the Thomas Fire ravaged Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to become the state’s largest fire on record with more than 280,000 acres burned.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class James Thompson)

Innovation on the Fly

The wing works to refine its techniques and procedures, and works to expand the detailed real-time incident awareness and assessment data it provides to incident commanders. Innovation on the fly is the name of the game.

An investment by James G. Clark, director of Air Force innovation, and Air Force Col. Chris McDonald from the disruptive innovation division in Clark’s office, helped the wing’s Hap Arnold Innovation Center develop a specialized network to push and pull data from RPAs and other data-generating assets from civilian and military organizations.

The network’s customizable data sets — coupled with the RPAs’ real-time thermal imagery — provide incident commanders and first responders a common operating picture they can access from anywhere, anytime.

RPAs proved “an opportunity for people to make tactical and objective based decisions on real time information,” Salizzoni said.

As the Rim Fire nears its fifth anniversary, RPAs are once again in the sky, flying through smoke to deliver data and protect Californians as wildfires ravage the state.

By July 31, the 163rd was on its fifth fire of the summer.

Throughout July, the wing flew nearly 350 hours to support civil authorities working the County, Klamathon, Ferguson, Carr, Mendocino Complex and Eel fires, and is credited with helping to protect thousands of structures in the process. The MQ-9 provided near real-time full motion video and frequent fire-line updates to decision makers determining where to build up future containment lines.

It’s a marathon pace, but the wing’s airmen up for it, said Air Force 1st Lt. Frank Cruz, officer in charge of the 163rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, whose unit provides direct support for the MQ-9’s around-the-clock fire operations to aid civil authorities.

“Everyone is 100 percent on board,” Cruz said. “They’re all-in.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why the returned Korean War troops were draped in a UN flag

This past week, the 65th anniversary of the Korean Armistice Agreement, saw the return of 55 troops’ remains by the North Koreans to the United States. A U.S. Air Force C-17 flew into Wonsan, North Korea, to pick up the remains before returning them to Osan Air Base, South Korea.

The troops who received the remains wore white gloves and dress uniforms. The remains of the deceased were placed in boxes and each box was draped in the United Nations’ flag — not Old Glory. Now, before you get up in arms about it, know that there’s a good reason for using the UN flag.


These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

And so began the first of many wars between Capitalism and Communism.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. P. McDonald)

The Korean War began on June 25th, 1950, when the North sent troops south of the 38th parallel. Shortly after the invasion, the newly-formed United Nations unanimously opposed the actions of North Korea.

The Soviet Union would’ve cast a dissenting vote if they hadn’t been boycotting participation in the United Nations for allowing the Republic of China (otherwise known as Taiwan) into the security council instead of the People’s Republic of China (communist mainland China). Instead, the Soviets and the communist Chinese backed the fledgling communist North Korea against the United Nations-backed South Korea.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

The South Korean loss of life totaled 227,800 — quadruple every other nation combined.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brian Gibbons)

Historically speaking, the United States was not alone in fighting the communists. Nearly every UN signatory nation gave troops to the cause. While America had sent in 302,483, the United Kingdom sent 14,198, Canada sent 6,146, Australia sent 2,282, Ethiopia sent 1,271, Colombia sent 1,068 — the list continues.

South Korea contributed almost doubled the amount of every other nation combined at 602,902, which doesn’t include the unknown number of resistance fighters who participated but weren’t enlisted. These numbers are astounding for conflict often called “the Forgotten War.”

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

Since then, nothing has really changed except the regimes.

United Nations troops fought en masse against the communist aggressors. The North had pushed the South to the brink, reaching the southern coastal city of Pusan by late August 1950. When United Nations forces entered the conflict at the battle of Inchon, the tides shifted. By late October, the battle lines had moved past Pyongyang, North Korea, and neared the Chinese border in the northwest.

It wasn’t until Chinese reinforcements showed up that the war was pushed back to where it all started — near the 38th parallel. These massive shifts in held territory meant that the dead from both sides of the conflict were scattered across the Korean Peninsula by the time the armistice was signed on July 27th, 1953.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

North Korea hasn’t been much help as even they don’t always know which battle the remains were from. Which, you know, could have at least been a start.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelsey Tucker)

The first repatriation of remains happened directly after the war, on September 1st, 1954, in what was called Operation Glory. Each side agreed to search far and wide for remains until the operation’s end, nearly two months later, on October 30th. 13,528 North Korean dead were returned and the United Nations received 4,167 — but these numbers were only a portion of the unaccounted-for lives. America alone is still missing over 5,300 troops. South Koreans and UN allies are missing even more.

Over the years, many more remains were found and repatriated. Throughout the process, South Korea was fairly accurate in the labeling and categorizing of remains. North Korea, however, was not. To date, one of the only written record of Allied lives lost behind enemy lines comes from a secret list, penned by Private First Class Johnnie Johnson.

His list — a list he risked his life to create while imprisoned — identified 496 American troops who had died in a North Korean prisoner-of-war camp. Though this list has been the basis for some identifications, it accounts for just one-fourteenth of American missing fallen.

Today, the names, nationalities, and service records of a still-unknown number of fallen troops have been lost to time.

Of the 55 remains transferred this week at Wonsan, none have been identified. There is no way of knowing who that troop was, which country they were from, or, to some degree, if they were even enlisted at all. Until they are properly identified, they will be covered by the United Nations’ flag to show respect, regardless of which nation they served.

Humor

The 13 funniest memes for the week of April 13th

There’s no reason to be afraid on Friday the 13th. It’s not like anything terrible has ever happened in the military on Friday the 13th. Oh? There has? Like, a lot of times?

Well, just sit back, relax, and enjoy these memes. After all, it’s not like WWIII will suddenly commence over a few Tweets. Oh? It might? Well, that sucks.


On the bright side, our normally arbitrary number of memes released on Fridays is instead kind of festive today. So, there’s that.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

We’ve been preparing for war with Russia ever since the ’40s and it’s about to go down because of a Tweet?

Cool.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via Air Force Nation)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via /r/Military)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via Military Memes)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via /r/Military)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via /r/Army)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme by WATM)

Fun Fact: Jason’s stalking sound is actually “ki-ki-ki, ma-ma-ma” and not “chi-chi-chi, ah-ah-ah.”

Here’s a source right here to prove it.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via Grunt Style)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

Tell everyone you’re just trying to motivate the stragglers in the back.

For some reason, people still believe that.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via /r/military)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Montenegro responded to Trump and Tucker Carlson

The government of Montenegro has defended its contribution to peace in response to a comment from the U.S. President Donald Trump, who said in July 2018 that the tiny Balkan state’s “aggressive” people were capable of triggering “World War III.”

In a July 19, 2018 statement, the Montenegrin government said, “We are proud of our history, our friendship and alliance with USA is strong and permanent.”


“[Montenegro] was the first [country] in Europe to resist fascism, and today as a new NATO member and a candidate for EU membership it contributes to peace and stability not only on the European continent but worldwide, and along with U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan,” the statement said.

The statement also stressed that while building friendly relations with other countries, Montenegro was ready “to boldly and defensively protect and defend our own national interests.”

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

U.S. President Donald Trump

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“In today’s world, it does not matter how big or small you are, but to what extent you cherish the values of freedom, solidarity, and democracy. Therefore, the friendship and the alliance of Montenegro and the United States of America is strong and permanent,” the statement concluded.

In his interview to Fox News television aired on July 17, 2018, Trump said Montenegrins were strong, “very aggressive” people and suggested he feared NATO’s newest member could drag the alliance into World War III.

Trump then acknowledged that under Article 5, which enshrines the principal of collective defense, NATO would have to defend Montenegro if it is attacked because “that’s the way it was set up.”

Montenegro became NATO’s 29th member in June 2017, marking a historic geopolitical turn toward the transatlantic alliance amid opposition from Russia.

Russia has long opposed any further NATO enlargement and has bitterly criticized Podgorica’s accession to the alliance.

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

popular

This is why soldiers wear unit patches

Each branch of the military has a different way to show their unit pride. U.S. Army soldiers wear easily identifiable patches (a shoulder sleeve insignia) on the left shoulder of their combat uniform.

The SSI shows the current duty station that the soldier is attached to. If the soldier has deployed to a designated combat zone, they can also slap that unit patch onto the right shoulder to wear for the rest of their career.

This leads to a little game soldiers play, reminiscent of kids playing with trading cards, where they trade unit patches with one another or leave one with the Bangor Troop Greeters.

Depending on the unit, this may be for regiment, brigade, or division — with the patch being from the highest distinct echelon (so if you were in the 101st Airborne, you would wear the 101st patch and not the XVIII Airborne Corps patch).

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

The patch was conceived to inspire unit pride and to identify other soldiers in the unit. The first to adopt a shoulder patch was the 81st Infantry Division in 1918. When they deployed to France shortly after adopting it, their patch drew much disdain from other units in the American Expeditionary Force.

Also read: 13 of the best military morale patches

The “Wildcat” Division’s unit patch was brought to the attention of Gen. John J. “Blackjack” Pershing by a fellow officer because it was unbecoming of the uniform. After some consideration, the only American to be promoted to General of the Armies in his lifetime decided that the 81st should keep their unit patch and suggested other divisions to follow suit. The patch became officially recognized on Oct. 19, 1918, and many more followed shortly after.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California
We can only assume he made his mind up fast because he had much bigger things to worry about than someone adding a patch to their uniform. (Image via Wikicommons)

Ever since then, soldiers have a treasured relationship with their unit patches (and even more if they deployed with them.)  Through their patch, they stand tall among their brothers in arms of the past — adding to their legacy.

Related: 13 more of the best military morale patches

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marines will get a new rifle and a bunch of other gear

More than a year after announcing it was experimenting with a rifle for infantrymen, the Marine Corps has said it will distribute the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle to more Marines, including those outside of the infantry squad.


The M27 is currently carried by just one member of the fire team, the automatic rifleman. But Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Military.com in December that the service plans to field the rifle more widely.

Each member of the rifle squad will receive the $3,000 rifle, as will others outside the squad, though the exact number has not been finalized.

“I don’t think mortars and javelin guys need the M27,” Neller told Military.com, but artillery forward observers, fire-support team members, and engineers might get them. “I’m going to wait and see,” Neller said. “It’s not that much [money].”

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment fire the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during a live-fire weapons exercise at range F-18 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017. The M27 has been introduced to different units throughout the Marine Corps within the last six months. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory)

The M27 was introduced in 2010, initially meant to replace the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines carried out pre-deployment exercises with the M27 in late 2016 to evaluate it for wider use in infantry units.

Neller — who has said he thinks a “big-ass fight” is on the horizon — suggested in April he was considering providing all riflemen with M27s, which have a slightly longer effective range than the M4 used by other members of the squad.

M27s also have a free-floating barrel, which reduces the effects of rifle movement during firing on accuracy, as well as a proprietary gas-piston system that makes it more reliable and reduces wear. The rifle’s cost and the possibility its higher rate of fire could lead to more ammunition use were two potential drawbacks Marine Corps officials examined in late 2016.

A request for information issued by the Marines in February asked for 11,000 M27s, which would be sufficient to equip every squad. A pre-solicitation issued in August requested up to 50,800 of the rifle — a move by the Marines to make sure that gunmaker Heckler Koch was able to supply an order that big, according to Military.com.

‘I’m ready to say yes’

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the weapons officer for 2nd Marine Division, told Military.com that competition and larger orders had helped bring down the price the service would pay for new M27s, making it comparable to what the Corps paid for M4s.

Also Read: The Marine Corps is looking for suppressed weapons, flexible body armor and all these other goodies

Marines may be getting a plethora of new gear in the near future. A 13-man infantry squad that Wade called the “Über Squad” was outfitted this summer with a range of equipment for an 18- to 20-month experiment, with plans for the squad to take their new kit on a full training and deployment cycle in Europe.

Squad members were given an M27 with a suppressor and Ops-Core helmets with built-in hearing protection systems to muffle loud noises while enhancing other sounds a Marine may need to hear in combat. The squad was also outfitted with 60-round Magpul polymer drum magazines as well as light body armor used by Marine Special Operations Command and advanced night-vision goggles.

Late last year, Marines were spotted doing live-fire drills with the M38 Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, which carried a more advanced scope than the M27 as well as a suppressor. The Corps plans to designate one infantry squad member as “marksman” and equip them with the M38, allowing them to engage targets at 300 to 600 meters.

The Marines have tested new ammo for the M27, looking to switch from M855 5.56 mm rounds to the M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round used by the Army.

Marine officials have said the M855A1 round causes reliability and durability issues with the M27, but lawmakers have complained that maintaining two types of rifle round leads to waste.

The Marine Corps has also been looking at outfitting entire infantry battalions — from M4s to .50-caliber machine guns — with suppressors.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California
U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion 8th Marine Regiment fire the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle during a live-fire weapons exercise at range F-18 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 8, 2017. The M27 has been introduced to different units throughout the Marine Corps within the last six months. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Michaela R. Gregory)

Wade said in late 2016 that three companies were using suppressors on all their rifles, including their M27s. Bravo company of 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines was the first of those units to deploy, arriving in Norway in May 2017. That unit’s members heralded the new ease of communications allowed by the suppressors.

The Corps is also considering testing a new kind of optic. Wade told Military.com he hopes to test different scopes with different infantry squads to build a case for more powerful gear. The Marines are planning to outfit infantry squads with new rifle-mounted laser range-finders, allowing squad leaders to call in airstrikes and artillery.

All the gear being tested may not end up with Marine units, and more equipment may be rolled out in the future. And Neller downplayed the expense, indicating he could sign off on new gear soon.

“The money to buy all that other stuff, the suppressors, the ear protection enhancement, the different helmets, it’s not a lot of money in the aggregate,” he told Military.com. “So I’m just waiting for them to come back, and I’m ready to say yes.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Air Force just put on a show, and the photos are dazzling

Malmstrom Air Force Base opened its gates to the public in mid-July 2019, welcoming approximately 13,000 members of Great Falls and surrounding communities to the 2019 “Mission Over Malmstrom” Open House held on July 13 and 14, 2019.

The two-day event featured aerial acts, exhibits and guided tours which offered experiences highlighting the mission of Malmstrom AFB and the capabilities of the US armed forces.


These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

A US Army parachutist with the Golden Knights parachute team approaches his landing at the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Devin Doskey)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

A B-2 Spirit performs a flyover during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Devin Doskey)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

A child tours an armored vehicle during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

A family participates in a cockpit experience during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

US Air Force Maj. Paul Lopez, F-22 Demo Team commander, performers aerial maneuvers during the Mission Over Malmstrom open-house event on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 14, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Devin Doskey)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

US Air Force Maj. Paul Lopez, F-22 Demo Team commander, performers aerial maneuvers at the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 14, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

The Shetterly Squadron aerial group performs stunts during the Mission Over Malmstrom open-house event on Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

A UH-1N helicopter performs flight maneuvers during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Devin Doskey)

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

MiG Fury Fighters perform a flyover during the Mission Over Malmstrom open house event at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, July 13, 2019.

(US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesde)

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China’s ‘Mother of All Bombs’ is a pretty sweet ripoff

China’s got a new bomb, and it’s a really big one.

A major Chinese defense industry corporation has, according to Chinese media, developed a deadly new weapon for China’s bombers.

Referred to it as the “Chinese version of the ‘Mother of All Bombs,'” this massive aerial bomb is reportedly China’s largest non-nuclear bomb, the Global Times explained Jan. 3, 2019, citing a report from the state-run Xinhua News Agency.


The weapon, said to weigh several tons, was developed by China North Industries Group Corporation Limited. A recent promotional video showed the weapon in action. The video, which was apparently released at the end of December 2018, marked the first public display of this particular weapon.

Carried by the Chinese Xi’an H-6K bombers, which is a version of the older Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 bombers, the weapon almost completely fills the bomb bay, which would make it roughly five to six meters in length.

These drones are fighting the massive fires in California

The US military’s GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), the “Mother of All Bombs.”

Chinese military analysts and observers argue that China’s large bomb could eliminate fortified targets, clear out landing areas, and terrify enemy combatants.

Indeed, massive airdropped bombs with tremendous destructive power play an undeniable role in psychological warfare, and not just through seismic shock. During the Gulf War, two US MC-130E Combat Talons dropped a pair of BLU-82 Daisy Cutters, the largest conventional bombs in the US arsenal at that time. A British SAS commando about one hundred miles away reportedly radioed to headquarters, “Sir! The blokes have just nuked Kuwait!”

The next day, a US aircraft dropped leaflets that read: “You have just experienced the most powerful conventional bomb dropped in the war … You will be bombed again soon … You cannot hide. Flee and live, or stay and die.”

In 2018, while waging war against militants in Afghanistan, the US military dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) weapon, more commonly known as the “Mother of All Bombs,” on the Islamic State.

Although China is using the same nickname for its bomb, the Chinese weapon is smaller and lighter than its American counterpart. Chinese media speculated that the size restrictions may have been intentional, ensuring the weapon could be dropped from a bomber.

The 11-ton US bomb is delivered by a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Brains vs brawns: A Green Beret and a Ranger meet

Green Berets rely on their problem-solving abilities to survive in combat. Much of SF selection seeks to assess this talent. The Special Forces qualification course itself develops and improves creativity. Many times, military problems must be solved with the application of force. Green Berets are not afraid to get their hands dirty, but they understand the power of working with and through others.

There is a story that has been told in the SOF community for years. I don’t believe it is factual, but there is a lot of truth in it. The story goes like this:

The new Secretary of Defense had been confirmed and was touring the Pentagon, taking briefings on the capabilities of his forces. He had a well-deserved reputation as a no-nonsense guy. After a briefing on Special Operations Forces, he was escorted to lunch by a Green Beret officer.


The Secretary’s confused look did not bode well as they walked through the E ring. “I understand how SOF is different from conventional forces, but the Rangers and Green Berets seem just alike to me. You have a Special Forces Tab and a Ranger Tab. What’s the difference?”

“The units are very different, sir. While both units are composed of very capable soldiers, selected for intelligence and fitness, Rangers attack the enemy directly, while Special Forces work by, with, and through indigenous forces to accomplish tasks far beyond their numbers.” The Green Beret secretly hoped he would not be pulled into the eternal Ranger versus SF discussion for the 10,000th time. He prided himself in his teaching abilities, but this guy was being obtuse.

“They dress just alike, they are both ARSOF units, and they both have direct-action capabilities. How are they so different?” It seemed the Secretary was going to force this. The next four years of Special Forces missions hinged on the new Secretary’s understanding. As they walked through an area of temporary construction, the Green Beret had a flash of inspiration.

“Sir, humor me here; let’s do a little demonstration. Rangers are highly aggressive. They pride themselves on their toughness and discipline. They follow orders without question. Do you see that huge soldier with a tan beret? He is a Ranger.”

As the Ranger approached, the Green Beret called out, “Hey, Ranger! Come here.”

The Ranger moved toward them, sprang to attention, and saluted. “Rangers lead the way, sir. How may I be of assistance?”

“Can you help us here for a moment? This is the new Secretary of Defense. He wants to know more about the Rangers. Will you help me educate him?”

Pointing to a new section of hallway, the Green Beret officer said, “Ranger, I need you to break through that wall.”

“Hooah, sir. Would you like a breach or complete destruction?”

“A man-sized breach would be fine.”

With that, the Ranger removed his beret and assumed a three-point stance six feet from the wall. With a grunt, he launched himself into the wall, punching his head and shoulders right through the drywall. Hitting a 2×4 on the way through, he was a little stunned, but he continued to work, smashing a hole wide enough for a fully kitted Ranger to pass through. Staggering to his feet with a trickle of blood running down his face, he appeared a little disoriented.

“Thank you, Ranger. Great job. You are a credit to the Regiment. You need to go to the aid station and get someone to look at that cut.”

The Secretary was incredulous. He had never seen such a display of pure discipline and strength. “That was astounding. What could Special Forces possibly do to match that?”

The Green Beret was also impressed, but not surprised. “The Rangers are highly disciplined sir, but Special Forces selection and training also produce strong, disciplined soldiers. We deploy older, more mature soldiers in very small numbers. They understand that they are a valuable strategic resource, and are selected for their advanced problem-solving abilities.”

The secretary seemed displeased. “Frankly, that sounds like bullshit. It seems that these Rangers are the finest soldiers in the Army. What could Special Forces do that the Rangers cannot?”

As he spoke, a Green Beret Staff Sergeant walked by. Not as young or lean as the Ranger, he had a commanding presence and a serious look filled with confidence. The Green Beret officer called him over.

“Hey Mike, can you help us here for a moment? This is the new Secretary of Defense. He wants to know more about the Special Forces; will you help me educate him?”

The staff sergeant shook the secretary’s hand and introduced himself. “How can I help you, sir?”

Pointing to an undamaged section of the hallway, the Green Beret officer said, “Mike, I need you to break through that wall.”

“No problem. Would you like a breach or complete destruction?”

“A man-sized breach would be fine.”

The staff sergeant removed his beret and stood for a moment in silent thought six feet from the wall. He scanned the area and smiled broadly as he found the perfect tool for the job. “Hey Ranger,” he said, “Come here.”

Know your abilities, learn your environment, and use your resources deliberately. Green Berets know that finding just the right tool can be the most important part of the job. The Ranger in the story can take down a wall. The Green Beret can take out walls until he runs out of Rangers, and then one more.

As a force multiplier in the real world, the Green Berets can enlist large units with local knowledge to fight beside them. A single 12-man A-Team can train and employ a 500-man infantry battalion. That is a significant return on investment for the taxpayer.

Value yourself, and use your rapport skills to build partnerships. Many hands make light work; don’t do everything yourself. Green Berets know that there is no limit to what one can do if other people are doing the work.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.

Military Life

6 reasons why no one likes the most ‘moto’ guy in the platoon

Being “the best” in the military is a weird paradox. Of course, you should always strive to be the best at whatever you do. But, at the same time, you can’t put others down or set yourself to such a high bar that it screws over everyone else. There is a fine line between giving Uncle Sam the best version of yourself and stepping into “Blue Falcon” territory.


You can be an outstanding troop without brown-nosing. You can be a great leader without throwing your troops under the bus. You can be highly motivated without overdoing it — but it’s a tricky balance to strike.

1. They integrate their military gear into their civilian attire

Ask anyone who’s ever rucked more than 24 miles in a single march: The best feeling ever in the military is, after finishing a grueling ruck, taking your gear off and throwing it across the room as hard as you can. Why in the hell would someone willingly wear their uniform after work hours for any reason outside of sheer laziness?

There are only two types of people who wear combat boots with civilian clothes: FNGs who haven’t had a chance to buy civilian shoes and the overly-hooah.

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Hell, no one wants to wear boots while in uniform. (Photo by Sgt. Audrey Hayes)

2. They force everyone to do more PT

Morning PT means its just another day in the military. It’s not designed as much for personal improvement as it is for camaraderie-building and sustainment. If you want to improve, the gym is open after work hours.

Do not get this twisted: Everyone should be sweating with everyone else. But remember, there’s a fine line. When you’re overzealousness legitimately breaks your comrade and they’re now on profile, you’re an ass.

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3. They always ask for more work

The one phrase every NCO loves hearing from their troops is, “what else should we do?” It’s also, coincidentally, the last phrase lower enlisted want to hear right before close of business.

If the mission is complete, that’s it — shut up and move on.

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There’s always more work to do. If you ask, you’ll find yourself being the only one not completely pissed off. (Photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

4. They step on others to get to promotion points

This applies to boards, schools, certifications, medals, badges, etc. They are all in limited supply and can’t be handed out like candy. Remember, it’s not a competition and your battle-buddies are not your enemies.

These things should go to the best and most deserving — not to the person who made everyone else look like sh*t.

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A key part of leadership is knowing how well those people you f*cked over will help you when the time comes. Remember that. (U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)

5. They parrot NCO sayings unironically

It’s a little bit funny when it’s coming down outside and an NCO turns to their troops and says, jokingly, “if it’s not raining, we’re not training. Am I right?” When a staff officer peaks their head out from behind their PowerPoint presentation and says it to troops who are soaking wet… not so much.

You need the rank and position to make those kinds of jokes. Otherwise, you’ll be glared at with disdain.

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6. They have flaws and overcompensate for them

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes or slip up. Regular troops take the hit on the chin, learn from mistakes, and move on. Ultimately, nobody cares if the mistake doesn’t involve the UCMJ.

You don’t need to lose your mind because you accidentally saluted with the wrong hand. The officer will probably laugh at you for your stupid mistake and forget about it. You don’t need to stand outside their office all day to prove you can salute properly.

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Just take your licks like a big kid and move on. (Photo by Sgt. Takoune Norasingh)

MIGHTY HISTORY

How Japan was suckered into revealing Midway was a target

The Battle of Midway is remembered as one of the greatest naval victories in American history. The big moments — whether it was the heroic sacrifice of Torpedo Squadron 8 or dive bombers catching three Japanese carriers exposed and vulnerable — are well known. But those moments wouldn’t have happened without a single undersea cable and a brilliant idea.


In the weeks before the Battle of Midway, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was fighting his own battle — and it wasn’t with the Japanese. Instead, it was against bureaucrats in Washington who were proving to be the bane of Nimitz’s existence. With the attack on Pearl Harbor still fresh on everyone’s mind, a fierce debate raged over a single question: Where will the Japanese strike next?

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Wilfred J. Holmes (call him “Jasper”) was the man responsible for the gambit that led Japan to reveal Midway as their target.

Nimitz needed to know the answer to this question for two reasons: One, the Pacific Fleet was outnumbered — big time. Two, he wanted the bureaucrats in Washington off his back. If he followed their advice and things went wrong (as in losing Midway and/or the carriers), he knew who’d take the heat — and it wasn’t gonna be the folks in Washington. It was then that an intelligence officer, Jasper Holmes, came up with a plan.

Long before World War II, America laid an undersea cable to send messages across the ocean. Nimitz used this line to broadcast an unencrypted message, saying that the fresh-water condensers on the atoll were broken and they needed a shipment of H2O.

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The Battle of Midway, where Japan lost the heavy cruiser Mikuma and four carriers, was one of America’s greatest victories.

(US Navy)

The hope was that the Japanese would pick that message up and pass it on. They did — and the Americans were listening in. Surprisingly, the Japanese didn’t give pause as to why such an operational vulnerability would be revealed via radio broadcast. Nimitz had the proof he needed that Midway was, indeed, the next Japanese objective.

The rest was history. One of America’s greatest victories had come about because an American commander got the enemy to help him get Washington off his back.

MIGHTY CULTURE

It’s time to get together for Wreaths Across America

The United States has a number of holidays meant to honor those members of the armed forces who are serving, who have served, and who have given their last true measure of devotion on the battlefield. There’s an organization now that seeks to make sure we remember everyone in uniform through its mission to “Remember, Honor, and Teach.” And it all starts one day in December, decorating for one of America’s biggest holidays.


Men and women in the U.S. military are putting their lives on the line for Americans back home every day of the year, says Wreaths Across America. The group aims to remember and honor those warfighters while teaching future generations to do the same. Their mission restarts every year on the third Saturday in December (this year, it’s December 15), when volunteers around the United States place a wreath on a veteran’s grave, say their name aloud, and thank them for their courage and sacrifice.

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Wreaths Across America began with Morrill Worcester of Harrington, Maine, the owner of Worcester Wreath Company. As a young boy, he was sent on a trip to Washington, D.C. where he saw Arlington National Cemetery for the first time. The experience never left him and, after he became a successful entrepreneur, he decide to give back to the men and women who died so that he could make his fortune.

In 1992, the company saw a surplus in its product and he decided to use them in the older areas of Arlington National Cemetery, the ones that were receiving fewer and fewer visitors every year. When other companies got wind of the plan, they joined in. The local trucking company provided transportation to DC. Members of the local VFW and American Legion posts decorated the wreaths with red bows, all tied by hand.

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Volunteers from Maine and in the nation’s capital helped lay the wreaths on the graves in Arlington. It even included a special ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For 13 years, Worcester quietly and solemnly did the honored dead this service without advertising or announcement.

In 2005, at the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, someone noticed the wreaths on the grave markers in Arlington and posted a photo of its snow-covered majesty on the internet. It quickly went viral and those who couldn’t make the trip to DC wanted to do versions of the same in their own hometowns.

Since the company couldn’t possibly make enough wreaths to give to every grave in every state, they instead send seven wreaths to each state, one for every branch of the military and one for prisoners of war and the missing in action.

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The Clarion, Pennsylvania Civil Air Patrol has partnered with Wreaths Across America.

Since Wreaths Across America began in 2006, 150 sites across the United States hold simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies. By 2008, that number doubled and wreath ceremonies were held in Puerto Rico and 24 cemeteries overseas. In 2014, the number grew to 700,000 memorial wreaths at more than 1,000 sites, including Pearl Harbor, Bunker Hill, and the September 11th sites.

Their volunteers managed to cover every grave in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Representatives of each branch of military service salute behind wreaths in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Ivy Green Cemetery in Bremerton during the Wreaths Across America ceremony.

(U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Gaddis)

Now the ceremonies are held on the third Saturday in December, and the movement of the wreaths bound for Arlington from Harrington, Maine is the world’s largest veteran’s parade. The annual wreath laying goals are surpassed now by education programs and partnership programs with local-level veterans organizations.

To learn more about Wreaths Across America, donate, or volunteer to lay wreaths, visit their website.

Articles

9 things you should know before becoming a Marine infantry officer

We’ve all seen Marine officer recruiting videos either on TV, on our mobile devices, or posted on a billboard next to the highway. For many, the video’s imagery, music, and testimonials cause young minds to consider joining the Corps — for one reason or another.


The video states what you’re going to learn and what awesome prospects lay ahead. Those who attend and complete the training can move on and serve in the Marine Infantry if that’s the path the individual has set for himself.

But what the training book doesn’t teach you is the role outside of the technical. Life in the Marines as an officer is a proud one, but it’s also stressful.

We sat down with our resident Marine infantry officer Chase Millsap and discussed what you should know before taking on the vital leadership role.

1. Your primary weapon is the field radio

It’s your job as a leader to organize your Marines while taking contact. Knowing how to use your radio to instruct your Marines and coordinate supporting arms is paramount.

Not that type of radio Jean-Claude. (Image via Giphy)

2. You will always eat last

In the Marines, enlisted Leathernecks get to eat their chow before anyone else, which means officers are always at the end of the line.

It’s tradition. (Images via Giphy)

3. You will almost always be the least experienced person starting day one

Everyone has to start out somewhere (unless you’re prior enlisted). Listen and learn as quickly as you can.

No doubt you’ll be motivated the first day though. (Images via Giphy)

4. Physical fitness isn’t optional

The minimum PT score is 300 — just saying. And you’d better never, ever let that squad leader beat you on a unit run.

None of those count, sir. (Images via Giphy)

5. Pony up the big bucks to take care of your grunts

We’re not suggesting you buy everyone in your platoon houses — that’s crazy talk. We mean forking out cash for cigarettes, rip its and dip. It will boost your unit’s morale.

Goodbye hard earned cash. (Images via Giphy)

6. You don’t have to be nice.

But you do need to be fair.

That’s hilarious but it’s so mean. (Images via Giphy)

7. You better know why you’re giving those orders

Having the power to give a Marine an order is a big deal. So you need to be sure that it’s well thought out ahead of time.

Sounds serious. (Images via Giphy)

8. Read these three books

Attacks” by Erwin Rommel, “Fields of fire” by Jim Webb, and “One Bullet Away” by Nate Fick. That is all.

Highlight everything. (Images via Giphy)

9. Most importantly: it’s not about you

It’s about taking care of your Marines.

That look you give when you’re told something you don’t want to hear. (Images via Giphy)

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