The US military is using 'isolation in motion' to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus - We Are The Mighty
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The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus

A 60-day stop-movement order from the Pentagon in late March, meant to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, threw the lives of many US military personnel into uncertainty, keeping them from leaving for or returning from deployment or from traveling to new duty stations.

But the military remains a vital to the US government’s response to the pandemic, of which its mobility element, the air component in particular, has been a major part.


“There are critical missions that cannot stop,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, the service’s top uniformed officer, said last week. “I don’t believe that we’re going to get any relief, nor should we expect any relief, on the global mobility [mission].”

Transportation Command, which manages that mobility mission, has seen “a reduction in movements” because of that order, Army Gen. Stephen Lyons, head of Transcom, told reporters on March 31. “But we are also seeing a necessity to continue to operate for mission-essential tasks and operations.”

Transcom is focused on protecting the force against the outbreak, maintaining mission readiness, and remaining ready to support the FEMA and other interagency efforts to counter the outbreak, Lyons said.

Operations by Air Mobility Command, Transcom’s air component, are “consistent” with the those priorities, Lt. Gen. Jon Thomas, AMC’s deputy commander, told reporters on April 3.

Below, you can see what Transcom and AMC are doing to safeguard their aircrews as they carry out that response.

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Air Force Lt. Gen. Jon T. Thomas, deputy commander of Air Mobility Command, briefs the media via telephone at the Pentagon, April 3, 2020.

The Air Force has given local commanders authority to act to stay ahead of the threat and is encouraging airmen to follow CDC guidelines, Thomas said.

“We’ve implemented staggered shifts, exercised telework options, and employed Health Protection Condition Charlie measures at all our installations to promote physical distancing” to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, Thomas said.

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87th Medical Group members screen patients outside as a preventative measure to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, March 30, 2020.

To maintain operational capability, Thomas said, “we’re doing things like medical screening, temperature checks, and other measures for aircrew and passengers transiting areas of COVID-19 risk.”

“As necessary, for certain locations, we’re also taking measures to ensure that AMC forces that are moving globally from one location to another do not pose undue risk for the host units as we transit those locations,” Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon.

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1st Lt. Bryan Burns and 1st Lt. James Conlan shut down their C-17 at the Memphis Air National Guard Base after delivering COVID-19 test kits from Aviano, Italy, April 2, 2020.

“Obviously when you’re in the cockpit, there’s no way to get 6 foot apart,” Lyons said when asked about social distancing in aircraft. “The way that we’re managing our flight crews is unique in many ways, and we’re trying to create an isolated system of systems, if you would, even in motion.”

“Where we billet them is controlled. Where they eat from, their food is delivered. So we’re trying to create a very concerted cocoon, if you would, over our entire flight crew apparatus,” Lyons told reporters at the Pentagon.

“And knock on wood, that seems to be working to date. It allows us to continue mission and protect the force at the same time,” Lyons said. But “you can’t telework and fly a plane,” he added, “so there are exceptions that we’re working through.”

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437th Maintenance Group instructors teach squadron flying crew chiefs how to disinfect the interior of a C-17 at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, April 2, 2020.

Lyons said Transcom was working to keep aircrews “very, very isolated” to avoid picking up the disease. “You might characterize it as isolation in motion.”

Those crews go “straight from the aircraft into billets” upon arriving in another country, Lyons said. “They don’t go out for food. They don’t leave the billet until their next mission, and it’s a very, very controlled environment.

“That’s how we mitigate moving from a country that might be a level-three country,” a designation that covers much of Europe, Lyons added. “They never actually leave that base. And even inside that base, they’re very, very controlled.”

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Dane Coward, left, 436th Aerial Port Squadron ramp supervisor, marshals a Humvee off a C-5M Super Galaxy, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, March 26, 2020.

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US Air Force aircrew unload COVID-19 testing swabs at the Memphis Air National Guard Base, March 19, 2020.

Transcom and AMC continue to support the coronavirus response by moving supplies and equipment across the country and around the world.

Air Mobility Command C-130s have moved equipment and personnel to help set up Army field hospitals in New York and Washington state, Thomas said.

“We’ve got Air Mobility liaison officers that are helping to coordinate those movements as well as commercial air movements totaling nine missions, transporting 7.8 tons of cargo and hundreds of personnel to those locations,” Thomas added.

Since mid-March, Air Force C-17s have also delivered 3.5 million swabs for coronavirus test kits from Italy to Memphis, Tennessee, for distribution in the US.

The seventh shipment arrived on April 2, when a C-17 landed in Memphis with about 972,000 swabs, Thomas said on April 3, adding that the eighth mission was to arrive that day and the ninth was scheduled to arrive this week.

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A 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief prepares to simulate disinfecting a C-17 at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, April 2, 2020.

Transcom and AMC have also moved COVID-19 patients, which poses a different set of challenges.

“We did move a COVID-positive patient this past weekend AFRICOM, specifically from Djibouti, up to Landstuhl in Germany to get the level of support that particular patient needed,” Lyons said March 31.

“We are also working, candidly, to increase our capacity to be able to meet these kind of requirements because we know they’re increasing.”

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A US Air Force C-17 is prepped to transport a Transportation Isolation System during a training exercise, March 6, 2019.

“Our approach to patient movement for COVID, particularly for highly contagious patients, is to move them in an isolation system,” either via air ambulance or with the Transportation Isolation System developed during the Ebola crisis, Lyons said.

“We’re working with scientists around the Air Force and Defense Threat Reduction and NASA and some others to really study the aircraft circulation flow and implications of the movement of those particulates and potential impacts on crews, so that we can indeed move COVID-positive patients and passengers without an isolation unit adequately protecting the crew,” Lyons added.

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A simulated Ebola patient in an isolation pod is put in an ambulance at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland during an Air Mobility Command exercise, August 16, 2016.

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Flight nurses and critical-care air-transport team members prepare a Transport Isolation System for simulated Ebola patients during an exercise at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, October 23, 2019.

The TIS allows in-flight treatment of infected patients without exposing the aircraft’s crew. Thomas said Friday that his command hadn’t gotten specific requests to move a patient in that system and that AMC had “not conducted any evacuations of a COVID-19-infected patient to date.”

“But the combination of transporting large volumes of patients with a highly infectious disease — the transmission of which we still don’t completely understand — on a pressurized aircraft within which the air constantly circulates, and potentially making these movements from remote and austere locations over intercontinental distance, all while protecting the flight and medical crew from infection so that they remain available for future missions is a challenging task even for the Air Mobility Command,” Thomas said.

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An airman picks up lunch at the Patterson Dining Facility at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, March 30, 2020. The tables in front of the counter are meant to help enforce social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

AMC has interim COVID patient movement capability on alert in several places around the planet, Thomas said, adding that “in the event increased volume of patient flow is required, AMC will be prepared to increase throughput using other means.”

Asked about coronavirus outbreaks within AMC, Thomas avoided specifics, saying there had been “manifestations of COVID-19 on our military installations” but no manifestation “on our installations that would suggest that we’ll have any difficulty executing our missions at this point.”

“The extent of it, I don’t think I want to get into a significant amount of detail on,” Thomas said. “It is something that we have to be cognizant [of] and constantly watching.”

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A C-17 on the flight line during an Air Mobility Command exercise at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, August 16, 2016.

Lyons also declined to discuss specifics when asked how many Transcom personnel had tested positive for COVID-19. But he said his command’s positive rates were “very, very low — single digits across the entire mobility enterprise.”

“That will change over time. I acknowledge that,” Lyons added. “Every day we’re making a concerted effort to understand how do we protect the force and maintain a level of resiliency to operate this global mobility enterprise for the department.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

A leaked recording shows Iran knew from the start it had shot down a passenger jet, Ukraine says

Iranian officials knew their military had shot down a passenger jet and lied about it for days, Ukraine said Sunday, citing a leaked audio recording of an Iranian pilot communicating with air-traffic control in the capital Tehran.


In the leaked audio recording — said to be from the night in January when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down — a pilot for Iran Aseman Airlines radioed the air-traffic control tower to say he saw the “light of a missile,” Reuters reports.

The control tower can reportedly be heard trying, unsuccessfully, to reach the Ukrainian passenger aircraft on the radio as the Iranian pilot says he saw “an explosion.”

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Aseman Flight 3768 was close enough to the airport in Tehran to see the blast, the Associated Press reported, citing publicly available flight-tracking data.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a television interview that the recording “proves that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane had been hit by a missile.”

Ukraine International Airlines said, according to Reuters, that the audio was “yet more proof that the UIA airplane was shot down with a missile, and there were no restrictions or warnings from dispatchers of any risk to flights of civilian aircraft in the vicinity of the airport.”

UIA Flight 752 was flying from Tehran to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on January 8 when it was shot down shortly after takeoff, killing all 176 people on board. The incident happened just hours after Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles at US forces in Iraq in retaliation for a US drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and the country’s air-defense systems were on high alert.

Iran initially said the aircraft crashed as the result of a mechanical error, but reports quickly began surfacing in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe that intelligence suggested the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. Iran vehemently denied the accusations.

On January 11, however, Iran acknowledged that it accidentally shot down the commercial airliner.

Though it blamed “human error,” Iran also sought to cast responsibility with the US, arguing that the killing of Soleimani had led to a dangerous spike in tensions that resulted in the accident. Still, Iranian citizens and international observers questioned why Iran didn’t ground civilian air traffic after its missile attack on US-occupied bases in Iraq.

Iran said it mistook the airliner for an enemy missile. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the incident a “grave tragedy” and an “unforgivable mistake.”

Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization is in charge of investigating aviation incidents, with one official saying Ukraine’s decision to release the confidential recording, which aired on Ukrainian television, had “led to us not sharing any more information with them.”

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

MIGHTY FIT

Former Marine smashes new USMC PFT Plank

MARADMIN 330/19 just blasted the Marine Corps in the face with a major change to the PFT. The crazy part is that it has nothing to do with pull-ups for once.

On Jan. 1, 2020 Marines will now have the option to do a plank instead of crunches for the “ab portion” of the PFT.

I already know what you’re wondering. How do you get 100 points?


The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus

4:20

I guess SgtMaj Cheech came up with that.

I’ll be the first to tell you, that time is no joke. I decided to take a whack at the new test based on the parameters. Check out how it went below.

Michael Gregory on Instagram: “I attempted to get to the 4:20 max time for the new plank portion of the Marine Corps PFT. Watch how it went!”

www.instagram.com

The attempt

Is a 4:20 plank doable? Yes.

Is it preferable? Probably not.

The real question you need to ask yourself is, do you conduct the PFT to actually show how combat-ready you are or do you conduct the PFT to get a 300 and hopefully put yourself “in zone” for promotion?

I think we all know the answer to that.

I do foresee some commanders making this portion of the test “highly encouraged” if not blatantly recommended.

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus

Peep that date. I’m like the Nostradamus of PT tests or something.

(Credit goes to me, for seeing the future.)

The actual test

At the beginning of this year I wrote Those ‘core’ exercises in military PT tests don’t actually prove anything about your fitness.

It seems like either my timing was perfect or someone was listening.

Apparently, all of the services are revamping their fitness standards. I’m a fan. I don’t even care about all the haters that think the Army is going to go bankrupt buying equipment for the new ACFT and treating low back injuries from sh*tty deadlift form.

Soldiers, just read 5 Steps to Deadlift Perfection and you’ll be fine. Also, don’t listen to any senior enlisted that all of the sudden became deadlift experts after a two-day course. There are thousands of people who have been teaching the deadlifts for decades. Talk to them please.
The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus

Thanks Dwight.

(media.giphy.com)

Back to the plank!

If the actual purpose of the ab portion of the test is to test overall core strength, the plank does a much better job than the hip-flexor fatiguing crunch.

I like it. Of course, I’m wondering how Marines will figure out how to cheat this portion. But, that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

The RKC Plank

youtu.be

How to train for it

Perform the plank by flexing and “holding your weight” in various muscle groups. I went calves, quads, abs, shoulders and seemed to hold form relatively well.

The best way to prep for this exercise is obviously to do it. Finish your workouts with a few submax planks.

Take it a step further by performing the RKC plank like shown in the above video. Suffice it to say that if the test was to perform the RKC plank for 4:20, no one would get 100 points. Check it out.

By the way, RKC stands for “Russian Kettlebell Club.” Obviously, that isn’t okay so if anyone asks it now stands for the “Roosevelt Kennedy Coolidge” plank. America!

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus
MIGHTY CULTURE

5 things to have in your home when you live off base

When a newlywed troop moves off base and bids a bittersweet farewell to the debauchery of barracks life, there are changes to the day-to-day routine. While one must still fulfill the responsibilities of their rank, there are other challenges a married troop will have to tackle.


The more obvious ones are waking up earlier to fight traffic, no more access to a meal card, and administrating bills that didn’t exist before. To make your transition to a quasi-civilian life easier, there are a few essential items to have in your home that will help you focus more on mission accomplishment, enjoy quality time with your sweetheart, and maintain peace of mind while in the field or deployed.

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus

‘Rah

A pull-up bar and dumbbells

There are plenty of pull-up bars on base and you’ll more than likely have an opportunity to hit the gym because you’re two hours early to formation to avoid a UA or AWOL charge because of bad traffic. However, you may not have the opportunity to work out in the mornings because of a hot-ticket task that requires the use of your otherwise-scheduled workout time. It’ll devolve into a vicious cycle, resulting in no PT and the consequences that come with it.

You’ll most likely be cut from work when rush hour hits and you’ll have to make a decision: work out or work on your marriage. Luckily, if you have a pull-up bar at home, you can PT when you get there and do both. Dumbbells are another staple to have at home for a complete workout.

Package thief caught by bad ass neighbor

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Security cameras with network capabilities 

Although the majority of troops have a properly calibrated moral compass, it doesn’t mean your civilian neighbors share your altruistic ideals. Security cameras are a good investment because you can check on your home from your mobile device at work or, if you have internet access, in the field. Peace of mind is expensive, but your odds of bringing a thief to justice increase exponentially with video footage.

Smart lightbulbs 

Imagine you’re sitting there on your pack waiting for the trucks to pick you up on base when you suddenly have a realization: I left the lights on. If you have smart lightbulbs installed, you can turn them off using your phone remotely. I highly advise doing your brand research before you buy these bulbs because not all brands are safe to connect to your network at home. To put it simply, some companies do not want to invest in cybersecurity software for their products, and this can leave your network vulnerable to attack.

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Robot vacuum cleaners

Replacing good, old-fashioned cleaning with technology is not immediately viable, but it’s getting closer by the day. A robot vacuum cleaner can be set on a schedule to sweep up dust and light debris and will buy you some more precious time to prioritize on another task. You’ll be able to give your home a thorough cleaning when you deem necessary. They work best on floors without carpet, but they can also operate well on short-length, fiber carpets.

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Jody doesn’t have sh*t on this.

Pexels

A formal civilian wardrobe

We warriors love our comfortable clothing when we don’t have to wear the uniform of the day. Your favorite shirt and jeans may cut it for most occasions because who cares what other people think? You’re paying for the price of freedom and, dammit, you want to enjoy some of it from time to time.

While this line of thinking is admirable in most circles, there is a time and a place for everything. You don’t necessarily have to have a closet full of suits, but a few slacks, button-up shirts, a sports coat, and a pair of dress shoes will go a long way for when you have to be somewhere important. Your wife will appreciate you taking the time to look nice when you have to be at an event that’s important to her. Think about it, at your formal events, she always does her best to look her best — return the sentiment.

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The people have spoken

Honorable mention: Stockpiled alcohol

The last time I made an article like this, I received some constructive criticism. I am a man who believes in giving the people what they want. So, here ya go.

Articles

Meet the female Peshmerga fighters battling ISIS

The Kurdish Peshmerga has been battling the ISIS terror group since it swept through much of Iraq and Syria in 2014, and one of its most unique aspects has been the use of female fighters on the front lines.


Unlike most other militaries, the Peshmerga not only allows women within its ranks, but they also serve shoulder-to-shoulder with men in combat. According to Zach Bazzi, Middle East project manager for Spirit of America, there are about 1,700 women serving in combat roles within the Peshmerga.

“We are not meant to sit at home, doing housework,” says Zehra, a commander who has served for 8 years. “We are on the frontlines, fighting to defeat ISIS.”

Related: 6 female military units you don’t want to mess with

In partnership with The Kurdish Project, Spirit of America recently profiled female fighters serving on the front lines with the Peshmerga — a Kurdish word for “those who face death.” The video interviews were published on a new website called “Females on the Frontline.”

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Photo: flickr/free kurdistan

“From what I have observed, these women are patriots fighting to defend their families and their homelands from the threat of ISIS,” Bazzi told Business Insider. “But there is no doubt that they also want to send an unmistakable message, that, as women, they have a prominent and equal role to play in their society.

Bazzi told Business Insider that it depends on the policies of individual Peshmerga units for the mixing of male and female fighters. Still, he said, most women are accepted and fully integrated into the ranks.

“As a matter of fact, people in the region view it as a point of pride that these women share an equal burden in defense of the homeland,” he said.

Also read: Former sex slaves are getting payback on the ISIS sleazebags who held them

The Females on the Frontline site features short interviews with Sozan, Nishtiman, Kurdistan, and Zehra, four Peshmerga soldiers who have served in different roles and in varying lengths of duty.

“On our team, we women are fighting along with the men shoulder to shoulder on the front lines,” says Nishtiman, a 26-year old unit commander who has served for four years in the Peshmerga. She fights alongside her alongside her husband and brother, according to the site.

You can check out the full website here.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Tim Kennedy and Tom Clancy’s The Division 2: A collab made in Valhalla

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is the follow-up to the uber-successful third-person shooter, Tom Clancy’s The Division. In a recent promo for the game, Tim Kennedy takes us on a stroll through about 5 minutes of absolute carnage that is so downright exciting that, after watching, gun nuts are gonna have to wait for the blood to return to their head before standing.


The Real Endgame Weapons Of The Division 2

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For those of you who don’t know, Tim Kennedy is a Ranger-qualified Special Forces sniper. Oh, and he has a bronze star with V device. Oh, and he was an accomplished UFC fighter. In short, he’s a certified American badass, the kind that the boogeyman checks his closet for before going to bed.

As badass as the whole video is (a cave literally f**king explodes), the part that really lures you in is seeing how emphatically Tim Kennedy talks about guns. You can tell the dude just loves shooting — it’s infectious to watch. I mean, he talks about a bolt action as passionately as Shakespeare talked about love or, like, a Danish kingdom…. And it’s much easier to watch Tim Kennedy blow s**t up for 5 minutes than it is to watch a prince whine about his daddy problems for 3 hours of a 5-act play. But hey, to each their own.

Thank god there’s no VR component yet for The Division 2 because if it got any closer to real life, I don’t think many would last long in a match with a dude who is so metal that he admittedly shoots guns as a way to quiet his mind.

Tim Kennedy showcases three separate weapons: the Macmillan Tac-50 sniper rifle, the M32A1 grenade launcher, and “the crossbow” (which happens to have a bolt with a little surprise attached).

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The Macmillan Tac-50

This rifle was, as Tim Kennedy puts it, “originally made to shoot down enemy airplanes.” In real life, the lethality of one round can reach out to over a mile. In The Division 2, it seems like it could easily pin down an entire team behind cover while your teammates close in to finish them off with some CQB. Or, for all the sniper mains out there, it could be a deadly accurate way to eliminate an unsuspecting enemy from across the map.

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The M32A1 grenade launcher

This thing functions as an explosive revolver. It carries 6 high-explosive grenades, and it’s perfect for a demolitionist build. A perfect gun for taking out clumps of enemies who stick in close proximity which, in the first Division, was of great tactical advantage. Maybe not anymore… Oh, and apparently Tim Kennedy makes the same sound we do when fake-firing an explosive weapon, Doogah doogah, doogh dooghhh!”

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The crossbow

This crossbow isn’t your run-of-the-mill crossbow. Even Tim Kennedy said he wouldn’t ever really bring one of these into a legitimate combat situation. But it’s a video game, and it’s fun, so… Why the hell not? Attached to the end of the bolt (don’t call it an arrow around Sergeant Kennedy) is a high-octane explosive. This weapon seems like the perfect thing to shake things up in a game and lay some destruction from high range — with high accuracy….

Oh, and did we mention Tim Kennedy blows up a van with it?

Get your hands on Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 for PS4, Xbox One, or PC on March 15th.

popular

9 awesome military movie scenes no soldier actually gets to do

Military movies are a lot of fun, and the Department of Defense loves how they prime plenty of young folks to join the service. But while military service and military movies are both great, there’s a huge gap between how military life is portrayed and how it actually works. So, here are nine scenes from military movies that are fun to watch but few troops ever get the chance to do:


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This poor man hasn’t had a peaceful cup of coffee since the ’90s. (YouTube/ Paramount Pictures)

 

Buzzing the deck or tower

Yeah! “Top Gun!” And not the beach scene that makes our sisters act weird for 20 minutes afterward! But if you’re thinking about joining naval aviation in order to fly super fast past control towers on ship and shore, you should probably know that the beach scene is more likely to happen (but much less sexy) than “buzzing the tower” against orders.

See, F-14 Tomcats cost about $38 million each. So, pilots taking dangerous risks with their birds weren’t told off by an angry commander, they were investigated and had their wings taken away. And “Top Gun” is a school, and the commander definitely should’ve had some pilots ready to go to school besides the one who keeps taking unnecessary gambles with aircraft.

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Do not let this sexy archaeologist select your cup. She chooses poorly. (YouTube/ Universal Pictures)

 

Hunt for lost technology with sexy archaeologists

In “The Mummy,” another awesome Tom Cruise flick, the hero is an elite soldier who, after a series of illegal mishaps, finds himself searching a tomb with a sexy archaeologist. The Nazi soldiers in “Indiana Jones” also spend a lot of time in ruins with sexy archaeologists (I’m talking about Dr. Elsa Schneider, but if you’re into Dr. René Emile Belloq, go for it).

But actually, modern military weapons typically come from laboratories, not ancient ruins. And the number of entombed monsters the Air Force is sent to re-secure like in “The Mummy” is also shockingly low. You’ll spend much more time in smelly port-a-johns with a smartphone than you will in Egypt with models.

Tell off scientists for being too science-y

But about that weapons-coming-out-of-labs thing from the last paragraph — plenty of movies also show soldiers running into academics and being all superior because the soldiers are brave and covered in muscles and the scientists are pencil necks. For those of you lucky enough to have forgotten the 1998 “Godzilla,” the military ignores about 30 warnings that Godzilla may have laid eggs.

But scientists aren’t actually assigned to combat units very often. And the few scientists who do end up with military units aren’t typically biologists tracking the local zombie outbreaks that you can laugh off until you get bit. They’re usually anthropologists telling you that the local Afghans don’t like you much, mostly because of all the shooting. Thanks, scientists!

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Alien invasions aren’t real. And if they ever are, pray the aliens don’t have miles-wide aircraft carriers. (YouTube/ 20th Century Fox)

 

Fight aliens 

We loved “Independence Day” and hated “Battlefield: LA” as much as the next guy but, and brace yourselves here, aliens have never invaded Earth, and that’s not what the Space Force is for. Offensive wars against aliens don’t happen much either. We won’t be mining unobtanium from Pandora.

I know, big shocker. You might get to work against the “immigrant” form of aliens, but that’s mostly putting up barbed wire and providing medical aid while you sit in the middle of the desert during Christmas. So, I guess what we’re saying is: weigh your options.

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Pictured: Coolest way to kill a giant bug. (TriStar Pictures)

 

Slaughtering bug armies

The best kinds of armies, alien or otherwise, to kill are easily bug armies and zombies. So much killing, so much gore, so little moral squeamishness. No one worries much about the bugs in “Starship Troopers,” even when heroes are climbing on top of them, shooting a hole through their exoskeletons, and then throwing a grenade inside of them.

(So cool.)

Sigh. Unfortunately for die-hard action fans, American forces actually spend most of their time fighting other humans. While this is often necessary (looking at you, Hitler), it also means a lot of real people just swept up in the currents of their times are killed (looking at you, all of the Wehrmacht who weren’t dedicated Nazis). Not nearly as much fun as killing the bugs.

Survive bomb after bomb, grenade after grenade

Also, you’re not nearly as survivable in future combat as movies and video games would have you think. Bombs, artillery fire, grenades, and even bullets can kill you very easily. You’re basically a big bag of soup with a little brain pushing it around the world, and wars are filled with all sorts of flying metal that can shred your bag.

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus
When the enemy shows up with massive walker tanks, they probably have a dozen weaknesses. Aim for those before you count on the common cold taking them out. (Alvim Correa, from 1906 War of the Worlds)

 

Defeat the enemy thanks to their one critical weakness

Luckily, your enemies will usually have the same weakness. Unfortunately, they won’t also have one big weakness that can be exploited by some savvy Jeff Goldblum type saying, “I gave it a cold. I gave it a virus, a computer virus.” Instead, when the British start rolling the first tanks against your lines, you just have to hit them with artillery and hope they get caught in the mud.

And you press every weapon in your arsenal against the new threat. Turns out, machine guns could break off rivets inside early tanks and injure or kill the crew. High-powered rifles would split the armor and send shards into the crew. Incendiary devices could set off gas and force the crew to evacuate. So, German soldiers used all of these things.

Retrain in four jobs before the final credits roll

Remember when Jake Sully in “Avatar” took over his brother’s job as a scientist and pseudo-alien, then became a spy for the human military, then became a pilot for the alien resistance, then a small strike team leader? Those are all still different jobs, right?

In reality, most soldiers spend weeks or months learning their first job, and they can only switch jobs with more weeks or months of training. Any movie realistically showing them moving from job to job would need to be a biopic with a story spanning years of the soldier’s life.

 

Underwater fighting

Fun fact: There’s only been one documented underwater submarine battle in history. And that was an exchange between two submarines in World War II. But that hasn’t stopped movie after movie that showed submarines hitting each other or even divers fighting to the death under the waves.

It is exciting, exciting stuff — I’m partial to the underwater spear gunfight in “Thunderball” — but actual underwater fighting is super rare since almost no military forces specialize in it or want to fight in the water. Even SEALs generally fight above the waves.

MIGHTY CULTURE

4 ways to help your kids through deployment

Training away from home is part of the military way. Schools, deployments, overnight sessions — all of these and more are a regular occurrence for military members. And then, on the other side of things, are their families, left to hold down the fort at home.


Over time it’s a schedule that everyone becomes used to … that is, until young kids are involved. While older kids can certainly understand the logistics of a parent being away (even if they don’t like it), with toddlers or babies, it’s another story. They simply aren’t old enough to grasp what’s taking place. They cry, they act out, and they’re confused as to why mom or dad disappears for days, weeks, or even months at a time.

Teaching these training schedules to kids is certainly hard, but it’s also one that can leave them better emotionally equipped in years to come.

Talk about it

When parents are away at training, it’s ok to tell your kids — in fact, you should tell your kids that, “Daddy’s at work” or “Mommy had to go on a work trip.” These explanations might not make sense in the status quo, but they will teach them that sometimes parents are gone, but it’s nothing to worry about. We know they will come back, and in the meantime, it’s ok to miss them and talk about what they’re doing.

Adjust the conversation in a way that’s age-appropriate, so your kids can still remain informed without being confused or overwhelmed with military training schedules.

Keep it busy

When a parent is in the field, it’s a good time to bring out the fun distractions. Not only will this make it easier for the parent at home, but the kids will have an easier time with the transition. This is true for kids of all ages, not just the littles! Check out local family-friendly events. Get out the “messy” or “outside only” toys and share some new family fun. Make crafts, cook together, or try something new. It’ll give the kids something to talk about once the other parent comes home, and it will speed up everything else in the meantime.

Did we mention this helps the time go faster?

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Learn about the process

What’s mom or dad off doing, anyway? Sounds like the perfect time for a lesson. Use this time to talk about what’s being accomplished during this time away. Talk about the history of the armed forces, look into camping gear to talk about field stays, and help your kids find your spouse’s location on a globe or map. When at a school, discuss new jobs and how the training will help mom or dad learn.

Sure, the kids might get bored (and probably will), but keeping this info handy will help them become smarter individuals.

Have them help

Technically, this takes place before your loved one ever leaves. Allow your kids to be involved in the getting-ready-to-leave process. Plan and wash laundry, fold clothes, get out the suitcase and start packing. Older kids can be in charge of a checklist and ensure everything has been added to the luggage.

No one likes training schedules or time away, but making your children a part of the process can ease their fears about mom or dad being away. Help your little ones add this coping mechanism to their toolbox of growing emotions.

When it’s time for travel or days away for your military member, don’t worry about the kids! They are smarter and more adaptable than we realize. Talking about what’s ahead and staying busy in the meantime will help the time pass in a way that’s healthy rather than taboo.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why some people have a problem with Lincoln’s quote as the VA motto

An annual membership survey from the organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) showed that less than half of surveyed members support a more gender-neutral version of the Department of Veterans Affairs‘ iconic motto: “To care for him care who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”

The survey of about 4,600 IAVA members showed that 46 percent either “strongly” or “somewhat” supported changing the motto taken from Abraham Lincoln’s majestic Second Inaugural Address.


About 30 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” opposed changing the motto, while 24 percent were neutral on the issue.

In October 2018, the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, backed by IAVA, the Service Women’s Action Network, and the NYC Veterans Alliance, petitioned the VA to change the motto.

“The current VA motto is gendered and exclusionary, relegating women veterans to the fringes of veteran communities,” the petition stated.

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“The time to act is now,” Paul Rieckhoff, founder and chief executive officer of IAVA, said in a statement when the petition was filed.

Changing the motto would make “a powerful commitment to creating a culture that acknowledges and respects the service and sacrifices of women veterans,” Rieckhoff said.

November 2018, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, and Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-New York, introduced a bill that would change the motto to read: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.”

Another replacement motto suggested by advocacy groups would read: “To care for those who shall have borne the battle and their families and survivors.”

A VA spokesman has repeatedly said that the petition will be reviewed, but there are no current plans to change the motto.

Lincoln delivered his Second Inaugural on the steps of the Capitol on March 4, 1865, in the waning days of the Civil War and about a month before he was assassinated. John Wilkes Booth, his assassin, was in the audience.

Lincoln’s closing words were: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

‘Twins Study’ reveals what happens to human genes in space

Results from NASA’s landmark Twins Study, which took place from 2015-2016, were published April 11, 2019, in Science. The integrated paper — encompassing work from 10 research teams — reveals some interesting, surprising and reassuring data about how one human body adapted to — and recovered from — the extreme environment of space.

The Twins Study provides the first integrated biomolecular view into how the human body responds to the spaceflight environment, and serves as a genomic stepping stone to better understand how to maintain crew health during human expeditions to the Moon and Mars.

Retired NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and his identical twin brother Mark, participated in the investigation, conducted by NASA’s Human Research Program. Mark provided a baseline for observation on Earth, and Scott provided a comparable test case during the 340 days he spent in space aboard the International Space Station for Expeditions 43, 44, 45 and 46. Scott Kelly became the first American astronaut to spend nearly a year in space.


“The Twins Study has been an important step toward understanding epigenetics and gene expression in human spaceflight,” said J.D. Polk, chief Health and Medical Officer at NASA Headquarters. “Thanks to the twin brothers and a cadre of investigators who worked tirelessly together, the valuable data gathered from the Twins Study has helped inform the need for personalized medicine and its role in keeping astronauts healthy during deep space exploration, as NASA goes forward to the Moon and journeys onward to Mars.”

Living and Working in Space: Twins Study

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Key results from the NASA Twins Study include findings related to gene expression changes, immune system response, and telomere dynamics. Other changes noted in the integrated paper include broken chromosomes rearranging themselves in chromosomal inversions, and a change in cognitive function. Many of the findings are consistent with data collected in previous studies, and other research in progress.

The telomeres in Scott’s white blood cells, which are biomarkers of aging at the end of chromosomes, were unexpectedly longer in space then shorter after his return to Earth with average telomere length returning to normal six months later. In contrast, his brother’s telomeres remained stable throughout the entire period. Because telomeres are important for cellular genomic stability, additional studies on telomere dynamics are planned for future one-year missions to see whether results are repeatable for long-duration missions.

A second key finding is that Scott’s immune system responded appropriately in space. For example, the flu vaccine administered in space worked exactly as it does on Earth. A fully functioning immune system during long-duration space missions is critical to protecting astronaut health from opportunistic microbes in the spacecraft environment.

A third significant finding is the variability in gene expression, which reflects how a body reacts to its environment and will help inform how gene expression is related to health risks associated with spaceflight. While in space, researchers observed changes in the expression of Scott’s genes, with the majority returning to normal after six months on Earth. However, a small percentage of genes related to the immune system and DNA repair did not return to baseline after his return to Earth. Further, the results identified key genes to target for use in monitoring the health of future astronauts and potentially developing personalized countermeasures.

“A number of physiological and cellular changes take place during spaceflight,” said Jennifer Fogarty, chief scientist of the Human Research Program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We have only scratched the surface of knowledge about the body in space. The Twins Study gave us the first integrated molecular view into genetic changes, and demonstrated how a human body adapts and remains robust and resilient even after spending nearly a year aboard the International Space Station. The data captured from integrated investigations like the NASA Twins Study will be explored for years to come.”

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International Space Station.

(NASA)

Part of the record-setting one-year mission, the NASA Twins Study incorporated 10 investigations to advance NASA’s mission and benefit all of humanity. Scott participated in a number of biomedical studies, including research into how the human body adjusts to known hazards, such as weightlessness and space radiation. Meanwhile, Mark participated in parallel studies on Earth to help scientists compare the effects of space on a body down to the cellular level. The findings represent 27 months of data collection.

The Twins Study helped establish a framework of collaborative research that serves as a model for future biomedical research. Principal investigators at NASA and at research universities across the nation initiated an unprecedented sharing of data and discovery. Supported by 84 researchers at 12 locations across eight states, the data from this complex study was channeled into one inclusive study, providing the most comprehensive and integrated molecular view to date of how a human responds to the spaceflight environment. While significant, it is difficult to draw conclusions for all humans or future astronauts from a single test subject in the spaceflight environment.

“To our knowledge, this team of teams has conducted a study unprecedented in its scope across levels of human biology: from molecular analyses of human cells and the microbiome to human physiology to cognition,” said Craig Kundrot, director, Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Application Division at NASA Headquarters. “This paper is the first report of this highly integrated study that began five years ago when the investigators first gathered. We look forward to the publication of additional analyses and follow-up studies with future crew members as we continue to improve our ability to live and work in space and venture forward to the Moon and on to Mars.”

The unique aspects of the Twins Study created the opportunity for innovative genomics research, propelling NASA into an area of space travel research involving a field of study known as “omics,” which integrates multiple biological disciplines. Long-term effects of research, such as the ongoing telomeres investigation, will continue to be studied.

NASA has a rigorous training process to prepare astronauts for their missions, including a thoroughly planned lifestyle and work regime while in space, and an excellent rehabilitation and reconditioning program when they return to Earth. Thanks to these measures and the astronauts who tenaciously accomplish them, the human body remains robust and resilient even after spending a year in space.

For more information about the NASA Twins Study, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/twins-study

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Taran Butler is more than the man who made John Wick

Taran Butler is a better shot than you. Sure, there are people who may be better at very specialized skills within shooting, or who shoot better with a particular style of firearm under certain conditions or at a specific range of distances. But Butler, who runs Taran Tactical Innovations and trains both Hollywood stars and military/law enforcement clients at his facility in Southern California, is often regarded as the best all-around shooter alive.

If his name eludes you, here’s what you’re missing. Butler is a multiple United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) 3-Gun National and World Champion; he’s the man who helped turned Keanu Reeves into John Wick; and he can shoot six, 8-inch plates set 30 feet away with one hand while drawing from the hip in well under two seconds. If you’re not impressed, you should be.


Grand Master Taran Butler Hip Shooting 6 plates 1.98sec. Broke his personal record.

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Grand Master Taran Butler Hip Shooting 6 plates 1.98sec. Broke his personal record.

Butler said that he was a natural shooter from the start, but his competitive career officially began in 1995. He attended his first match with a Glock 21 pistol — which had a lower capacity than the pistols of the other competitors and required an additional reload. Butler still finished 7th in a field of 118, and that’s when he realized that he had a future in competitive shooting.

The next year he won the Southwest Pistol League’s Limited Division, and from there he went on to win the SPL’s Unlimited Division and a handful of Glock Shooting Sports Foundation matches. After that initial 7th place finish, Butler won every match he entered for the next two years, which were all pistol-shooting competitions. It wasn’t until the following year that he would jump into the world of 3-Gun, an arena he considered “kinda lame” before trying it out.

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Photo courtesy of Taran Butler

In 1997, Butler competed in his first 3-Gun match, the Five Dogs Winter Classic, despite the fact that he didn’t yet have his Benelli shotgun tricked out for 3-Gun — and none of the ways he was taught to load a shotgun were practical for competition. He borrowed two shotguns for the weekend and described those stages as an “absolute disaster because the shotguns didn’t function properly … [it] was a box-office fiasco on every level.”

Butler, who had gotten used to winning, was livid, but he pressed on. He noticed that most of the competitors were going into the prone position to shoot the farthest rifle targets, a distance Butler estimated to be about 100 yards. Figuring that he had nothing to lose after the shotgun stages, Butler shot standing. The second place time for that stage was 25 seconds — Butler finished in 16. On the pistol stages, since that’s Butler’s expertise, he “went dog nuts and absolutely shredded the pistol stages into the ground.” Even though he came in near the bottom for the shotgun stages, his incredible performances during the pistol and rifle stages propelled him to the top, winning the entire match overall. It was the first of many wins, but also some heartbreaking losses.

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Photo courtesy of Taran Butler

Butler’s first trip to the 3-Gun Nationals was in 1999. He was leading by a large margin (about 200 points) after 14 stages, but there were still two to go. The 15th stage required each competitor to rest their rifle on the roof of a car while shooting. Butler’s rifle didn’t have a free-floating handguard, so the contact with the car interfered with the vibration of the barrel, causing the gun to shoot extremely high at 100 yards. The bullets were impacting the torso target at the top of the head when Butlet was aiming for the A zone. He suffered eight penalty misses, ultimately losing the match by five points — which he equates to about half a second. At his next 3-Gun Nationals appearance, the cross pin holding the trigger group in his shotgun broke during the final stage, and the entire trigger group fell out of his gun. He ended up losing by a few points. These losses taught Butler the importance of having high-quality gear and knowing the gear that you have.

In 2003, Butler finally broke through. At the time, Bennie Cooley was the reigning 3-Gun champion. He was unstoppable with a long-range rifle, and Butler was unstoppable with a pistol, so the shotgun stage was where they met in the middle. First up was the pistol stages, and Cooley shot first. He was slower but had no penalties. Butler shot three or four seconds faster but suffered penalties — the pressure had gotten to him, and he was upset with himself. Great, throwing away the Nationals again, he thought. On the next stage, Butler again beat Cooley on time — but, also again, he shot a hostage. At that point, Butler had to shake off the pressure and focus solely on the shooting. The next pistol stages were left-hand, right-hand, and Butler shot them clean. He went on to shoot the long-range rifle and close-range hunting rifle stages, and then shotgun.

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Taran Butler, left, with Halle Berry and Keanu Reeves.

Photo courtesy of Taran Butler

Butler dominated the stages and ultimately won the 2003 3-Gun Nationals in the Limited Division. That was the beginning of a long winning streak and a record-breaking career. The following year, Butler became the first shooter to win the 3-Gun Nationals’ Tactical Division. In 2012, he won the Open Division, making him the USPSA’s first-ever Multigun Triple Crown Champion, having won Nationals in each of the three divisions.

“It’s kind of like winning a championship belt in three different weight classes in the UFC,” Butler said of his accomplishment.

Another defining moment in his career was in 2007 at the Fort Benning Multigun Challenge. Butler was unaware of a rule change in his division that limited shotgun magazine tubes to eight rounds. His shotgun held nine, so he was automatically moved into the unlimited division where he was shooting against competitors with 16-round mag tubes on their shotguns — and in one case, a 32-round drum mag. They also had 30-round pistols, and their firearms were tricked out with the best upgrades available. Butler said it “is the equivalent to showing up in a bicycle at a motocross competition.”

Keanu shredding with Taran Butler

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Keanu shredding with Taran Butler

Against all odds, Butler won. Legendary shooter Jerry Miculek, who Butler described as “a man of few words and one of the greatest shooters that ever walked the earth,” was also competing that day. After the match, he approached Butler and said, “Taran, you’re a fuckin’ animal” — and then walked away. Butler said it’s one of the best compliments he’s ever received from a peer. After the Fort Benning match was televised, Butler’s sponsorship opportunities quadrupled. Despite this massive success, Butler had his sights set on accomplishments outside of the competitive shooting world.

The next step for Butler was appearing as the go-to firearms expert on the hit TV series “TopShot” for five seasons. From there, things took off for his career as a firearms trainer. He was hired to work with Hollywood stars such as Keanu Reeves and Khloe Kardashian. When one of Butler’s videos with Keanu Reeves went viral, his popularity in Hollywood exploded.

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus

Keanu Reeves honing his shotgun skills at Taran Butler’s shooting range in California.

Photo courtesy of Taran Butler

If you enjoy watching current films with actors who actually look like they’ve held a gun before — and don’t utilize a 1970s-style teacup-and-saucer grip — you can thank Butler for helping to establish a higher standard for gunplay in movies and television. He has consulted on numerous films and has trained A-list Hollywood celebrities, including training Michael B. Jordan for his role as Killmonger in “Black Panther” and Halle Berry for her role alongside Keanu Reeves in the most recent “John Wick” movie. He also trained director Ang Lee and star Will Smith for “Gemini Man.” The film features a young Will Smith shooting a Glock 41 modified by Butler’s company, Taran Tactical Innovations (TTI), against an older Will Smith shooting a Gucci’d-out TTI Combat Master Glock.

Butler also mentioned several projects that have yet been released, including his work with “How I Met Your Mother” star Cobie Smulders for her new ABC show “Stumptown,” an adaptation of a popular graphic novel. He has also trained John Cho for Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop”; Josh Lucas for the upcoming “Purge” film; Charlize Theron and KiKi Layne for “The Old Guard”; and Robert Pattinson, John David Washington, and Aaron Taylor Johnson for an unnamed upcoming film.

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus

Halle Berry training with at Taran Butler’s range in Southern California.

Photo courtesy of Taran Butler

Butler also trains military and law enforcement groups whose jobs and lives rely on the skilled handling of weapons. “Three-Gunners are the deadliest weapons handlers on the planet,” Butler said, pointing to the fact that grueling matches that last three to four days are frequently won and lost by fractions of a second. So world-champion 3-Gun shooters like Butler spend countless hours “training their asses off.” He acknowledged that military and law enforcement groups are more proficient with combat tactics, but they frequently come to people like Butler for firearms operation and manipulation training.

While training military and LEO groups, Butler said he noticed that those who also compete in 3-Gun “annihilate” their non-competition-shooting counterparts. He encourages everyone he trains to also compete in multi-gun or USPSA competitions to hone their skills. While he sometimes works with celebrities for months, Butler usually has only a day or two with tactical groups, so training them is more about tweaking small habits and incorporating 3-Gun fundamentals into their tactics.

In his impressive career, Taran Butler has learned from some of the highest highs and lowest lows in the shooting sports. Few, if any, will ever be able to match his accomplishments in that realm. But he used it as a springboard into an adjacent career that helps shine a light on others as well. Butler’s work with military and law enforcement demonstrates the value of his 3-Gun training and has the potential to save lives. His work with Hollywood stars has raised the standard across the board, even in media he doesn’t touch, when it comes to the realism we see on screen. So, yeah, he may be a better shot than you — but he earned it.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the only Medal of Honor action ever caught on video

The video is a grainy, far-off view of the battlefield of Takur Ghar, Afghanistan. It came from the ISR feed of a nearby Predator drone monitoring the 2002 operation designed to surround and destroy a large al-Qaeda force in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan, called Anaconda. At Takur Ghar, things did not go well for the combined Coalition force of seven Navy SEALs, 20 Army Rangers, and three Air Force Airmen. In what is best described as a pyrrhic win, the battle cost the lives of three Rangers, a SEAL, a pararescueman, a special forces aviator, and a combat controller, Tech. Sgt. John Chapman.

It was after a special ops team was inserted via Chinook that Chapman’s heroism was captured by the drone.


During the initial insertion into the area, one of the Chinooks was hit by a massive barrage of enemy machine gun and RPG fire, forcing it to leave the area immediately. During its expedite escape, Navy SEAL PO1 Neil Roberts fell out of the open hatch of the helicopter, falling 10 feet into the snow below. Razor 04 (one of the Chinook helicopters) returned to the peak with its team of special operators to rescue Roberts. It too was forced away from the area, but not before the operators could get off the helicopter.

In the video above, you can see one of the disembarking troops split off from the main group. That’s Tech. Sgt. Chapman running straight into al-Qaeda machine gun positions in the dark. The operators have split up into two-man bounding teams, and Chapman is wounded while advancing on one of the enemy positions to protect their movement. Chapman is stopped only temporarily and starts fighting again almost immediately.

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus

By this time, the operators have called for a quick reaction force from the 75th Ranger Regiment at Bagram Air Base, and two of the SEALs are also wounded. The teams call for extraction and another Chinook, Razor 01, is inbound before getting lit up again by enemy RPG fire. Chapman attempts to protect the helicopter and his fellow operators but is killed in action. But the story doesn’t end there. The operator force and the two QRF teams of Rangers had their own ordeal in getting to the battlefield (which is another story in itself). All told, the battle lasted until the Americans were extracted at 2000 that evening, some 18 hours after their first contact with the enemy.

Chapman was awarded the Air Force Cross in 2003 for the action depicted in the video, which was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2018. Whether Chapman was still alive when the SEALs departed the area has come under dispute due to evidence found by investigators during the Medal of Honor investigation. The airman’s mother believes everything on the ridge that night went as Chapman would have wanted – his teammates escaping the line of fire to fight another day, even if it cost him his own life.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Navy plane is designed to Take Charge and Move Out on Doomsday

The E-6 Mercury is arguably the deadliest aircraft in the arsenal of the United States Navy. Its lethality is extreme, even though it doesn’t carry any weapons. Sounds odd? Well, when you look at what the E-6 does, then seeing it as the Navy’s deadliest plane isn’t a stretch.


According to a Navy fact sheet, the E-6 is a “communications relay and strategic airborne command post aircraft” that is tasked with providing “survivable, reliable, and endurable airborne command, control, and communications between the National Command Authority (NCA) and U.S. strategic and non-strategic forces.” The nickname they have is TACAMO – or TAke Charge And Move Out.

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus
U.S. Navy E-6B Mercury at the Mojave Airport. (Wikimedia Commons)

When the plane first entered service in 1989 as the E-6A, it was designed solely for the communications replay role. This meant it passed on messages from the President and Secretary of Defense to the force of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. The 14 Ohio-class submarines can each carry 24 UGM-133 Trident II missiles – and each of those have the ability to carry up to 14 warheads, either a 100-kiloton W76 or a 475-kiloton W88.

That said, in the 1990s, the DOD was dealing with a cold, hard fact: Their force of EC-135C Looking Glass airborne command posts were getting old. However, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the “peace dividend,” new airframes were out of the question.

The US military is using ‘isolation in motion’ to protect crews on its biggest planes from the coronavirus
An E-6B Mercury is being moved into a Hanger at the Boeing Aerospace Support Center, Cecil Field Fla., to be retrofitted with a new cockpit and an advanced communications package in April 2003. (US Navy photo)

The E-6As soon were upgraded to add the “Looking Glass” mission to their TACAMO role, and were re-designated as E-6Bs. This now made them capable of running America’s strategic nuclear deterrence in the event of Doomsday. The Navy has two squadrons with this plane VQ-3 and VQ-4, both of which are based at Tinker Air Force Base.

So that is why the E-6B Mercury, a plane with no weapons of its own, and which may never leave American airspace, is the deadliest plane in the Navy’s arsenal.

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