New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators - We Are The Mighty
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New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

A new documentary, “National Bird,” exposes the secret drone war being carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere from the ground level of the strike and from the perspective of three military operators who used to pull the trigger.


“When you watch someone in those dying moments, what their reaction is, how they’re reacting and what they’re doing,” Heather Linebaugh, a former drone imagery analyst, says in the film. “It’s so primitive. It’s really raw, stripped down, death.”

Also read: Osprey crash shows how dangerous Marine aviation can be

Though unmanned systems have been used for many years to carry out surveillance, it wasn’t until after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks — on February 4, 2002 — that a drone was armed and used for targeted killing. That 2002 strike apparently killed three civilians mistaken for Osama bin Laden and his confidantes, a theme that went on to play out again and again.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
US Air Force photo

Armed drones have operated since in Afghanistan and many other countries in which the U.S. is not at war, including Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. They have been used to strike militants and terror leaders over the years — a program accelerated under the Obama administration — but it has come at a deadly cost, with thousands of innocent civilians killed, to include hundreds of children.

“I can say the drone program is wrong because I don’t know how many people I’ve killed,” Linebaugh says.

Linebaugh and two others, introduced only by their first names Daniel and Lisa, tell equally compelling stories from their time in the military’s drone program. The film gives them a chance to shine a light on what is a highly secretive program, which officials often describe as offering near-surgical precision against terrorists that may someday do harm to U.S. interests.

Instead, the three offer pointed critiques to that narrative, sharing poignant details of deaths they witnessed through their sophisticated cameras and sensors. The most disturbing thing about being involved with the drone program, Daniel said, was the lack of clarity about whom he killed and whether they were civilians.

“There’s no way of knowing,” he says.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Screenshot via www.liveleak.com

Though the testimony of the three operators is compelling, the documentary’s most important moments come from a visit to Afghanistan, where the documentary showcases a family that was wrongly targeted by a strike. It was on February 21, 2010, when three vehicles carrying more than two-dozen civilians were hit by an Air Force drone crew.

“That’s when we heard the sound of a plane but we couldn’t see it,” one victim says.

Filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck mixes witness statements with a reenactment of overhead imagery and voices reading from the transcript prior to the strike. A later investigation found that the operators of the Predator drone offered “inaccurate and unprofessional” reporting of what they saw.

During the incident, the drone operators reported seeing “at least five dudes so far.” Eventually, they reported 21 “military-age males,” no females, and two possible children, which they said were approximately 12 years old.

“Twelve, 13 years old with a weapon is just as dangerous,” one drone operator says. The operators never got positive identification of the people below having weapons.

That’s because the group consisted only of innocent men, women, and children, according to the documentary. Twenty-three Afghan civilians were killed, including two children aged seven and four.

“We thought they would stop when they saw women, but they just kept bombing us,” the mother of the children says.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of U.S. forces in the country, apologized for the strike. Four officers involved were disciplined.

The documentary cuts through the defense of drones as a “surgical” weapon that only kills the bad guys. As many reports have made clear, the US often doesn’t know exactly who it is killing in a drone strike, instead hazarding an “imperfect guess,” according to The New York Times, which is sometimes based merely on a location or suspicious behavior.

That imperfect guess has often resulted in the death of innocent locals — or, as was the case in 2015, the death of two men, an American, and an Italian, who were being held hostage by militants.

As Daniel points out in the documentary, the presence of drones on the battlefield has only emboldened commanders, who no longer have to risk military personnel in raids and can fire a missile instead. That viewpoint only seems to be growing, as the technology gets better and drones continue to proliferate around the world.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen | US Air Force

The drone may continue to be the “national bird” of the U.S. military for a long time, but perhaps the documentary can start a conversation around their use and whether they create more terrorists, as has been argued, than they are able to take out.

“Not everybody is a freakin’ terrorist. We need to just get out of that mindset,” says Lisa, a former Air Force technical sergeant, in the documentary. “Imagine if this was happening to us. Imagine if our children were walking outside of their door and it was a sunny day, and they were afraid because they didn’t know if today was the day that something was going to fall out of the sky and kill someone close to them. How would we feel?”

Articles

This is how the Navy’s air-to-air kill of that Syrian MiG went down

New details have emerged from the downing of a Russian-made Su-22 by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet over Syria.


The Pentagon said that after Syrian jets had bombed US-backed forces fighting ISIS in Syria and ground forces headed their way with artillery and armored vehicles, US jets made a strafing run at the vehicles to stop their advance.

But then a Syrian Su-22 popped up laden with bombs.

“They saw the Su-22 approaching,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on June 21st, as CNN notes. “It again had dirty wings; it was carrying ordnance. They did everything they could to try to warn it away. They did a head-butt maneuver, they launched flares, but ultimately the Su-22 went into a dive and it was observed dropping munitions and was subsequently shot down.”

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nicolas C. Lopez

A US F/A-18E off the USS George H.W. Bush in the Mediterranean then fired an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile at the Syrian jet, but the Su-22 had deployed flares causing the missile to miss. The US jet followed up with an AIM-120 medium range air-to-air missile which struck its target, US officials told CNN.

The pilot ejected over ISIS territory, and Syrian forces declared him missing in action.

The focus of the US’s airpower in recent years has turned to providing air support against insurgencies or forces that do not have fighter jets of their own. Before the Su-22, the US had not shot down a manned enemy aircraft since 1999.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
A Polish Su-22 Fitter at the 2010 Royal International Air Tattoo. (Photo from Wikimedia commons)

Since the downing of the Syrian jet, Russia has threatened to target US and US-led coalition jets flying over Syria west of the Euphrates river.

Both Syria’s Su-22 and the US’s F/A-18E Super Hornet are updated versions of 1970s aircraft, but Russia and the US both have much more advanced systems to bring to bear. Fortunately, an air war seems unlikely between major powers in Syria.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These veterans spent two months running an American flag across the country

Team Red, White and Blue’s Old Glory Relay involved 59 teams of runners moving an American flag across the country in a 3,450 mile journey that started in San Francisco on September 11 and ended in Washington D.C on November 8.


Team Red, White and Blue is a nonprofit organization based in Tampa, Florida with a mission to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. The Old Glory Relay is a one of Team RWB’s signature fundraising events, and it does much to support the mission.

This year’s Old Glory Relay was made up of 1,170 athletes and raised $436,000. The route passed through 13 states, and during the relay runners faced all kinds of terrain and weather conditions.

“This event could not have taken place without the Eagle Fire of our participants and fundraisers, the dedication of our Team RWB staff on the course, the engagement of numerous volunteers across the country…and the unwavering support of our sponsors,” said Dan Brostek, Team RWB’s marketing and communications director. “A heartfelt thanks to our presenting sponsor, Microsoft. A special thanks as well to the Schultz Family Foundation, NoGii, Zignal LabsRDB Running and the Bob Woodruff Foundation for making this experience a memory to last a lifetime.”

Articles

The 5 biggest stories around the military right now (July 10 edition)

TGIF! Here are the headlines you need to know about going into the weekend (also known around the military as “two working days until Monday”):


Now check this out: 5 insane military projects that almost happened

MIGHTY TRENDING

Surprise, surprise — UN says Iran is playing by the rules of nuclear deal

In April, US President Trump ordered a review of the suspension of sanctions on Iran related to the nuclear deal.


The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Sept. 11 Iran was playing by the rules set out in a nuclear accord it signed with six world powers in 2015, after Washington suggested it was not adhering to the deal.

The State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran’s compliance with the deal. The next deadline is October, and President Donald Trump has said he thinks, by then, the United States will declare Iran non-compliant.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Iran had not broken any promises and was not receiving special treatment.

“The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the [deal] are being implemented,” he said in the text of a speech to a quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors.

Most sanctions on Iran were lifted 18 months ago under the deal and, despite overstepping a limit on its stocks of one chemical, it has adhered to the key limitations imposed on it.

In April, Trump ordered a review of whether a suspension of sanctions on Iran related to the nuclear deal, negotiated under President Barack Obama, was in the US national security interest. He has called it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, traveled to Vienna last month to speak with Amano about Iran and asked if the IAEA planned to inspect Iranian military sites, something she has called for.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Nikki Haley. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Iran dismissed the US demand as “merely a dream.”

Iran has been applying an Additional Protocol, which is in force in dozens of nations and gives the IAEA access to sites, including military locations, to clarify questions or inconsistencies that may arise.

“We will continue to implement the Additional Protocol in Iran… as we do in other countries,” Amano said.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Inspectors and other IAEA staff prepare for the resumption of inspections in Iraq 18 Nov, 2002. (Photo Credit: Mark Gwozdecky / IAEA)

In addition, the IAEA can request access to Iranian sites including military ones if it has concerns about activities or materials there that would violate the agreement, but it must show Iran the basis for those concerns.

That means new and credible information pointing to such a violation is required first, officials from the agency and major powers say. There is no indication that Washington has presented such information.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Marine Corps’ new heavy-lift helicopter is bigger and badder than ever

The U.S. Marine Corps air and ground attack operations will be fortified by a new high-tech, heavy-lift helicopter designed to triple the payload of previous models, maneuver faster and perform a wider range of missions by the early 2020s, a Pentagon announcement said.


The Navy and Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky will now build the first two CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopters as part of a new $300 million Low-Rate-Initial-Production deal.

CH-53 helicopters, currently operating from Navy amphibious assault ships, are central to maritime and land assault, re-supply, cargo and other kinds of heavy-lift missions.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Stanley Moy

The new “K” model CH-53 helicopter is engineered to lift 27,000 pounds, travel 110 nautical miles, before staying 30 minutes on station and then be able to return under high hot conditions. The existing “E” model CH-53 can only carry 9,000 pounds.

“This contract will benefit our Marine Corps’ ‘heavy lifters’ for decades to come. Future Marines, not even born yet, will be flying this helicopter well into the future,” U.S. Marine Corps. Col. Hank Vanderborght, Naval Air Systems Command program manager for Heavy Lift Helicopters program said in service statement.

The idea with the helicopter is to engineer a new aircraft with much greater performance compared to the existing CH-53 E or “Echo” model aircraft designed in the 80s.

Higher temperatures and higher altitudes create a circumstance wherein the decreased air-pressure makes it more difficult for helicopters to fly and carry payloads. “High-Hot” conditions are described as being able to operate at more than 6,000 ft at temperatures greater than 90-degrees Fahrenheit.

An on-board refueling system is engineered into the helicopter to extend mission range in high-risk areas too dangerous for a C-130 to operate, developers said.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven Martinez, left, a corpsman, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Quintanilla, a platoon sergeant, both with 3rd Marine Regiment, brace as a CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 366 takes off after inserting the company into a landing zone aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California. | U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt.Owen Kimbrel

The requirement for the “K” model CH-53 emerged out of a Marine Corps study which looked at the combat aviation elements of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, or MAGTF.

Engineers with the “K” program are using a handful of new technologies to achieve greater lift, speed and performance with the helicopter, including the integration of a new, more powerful GE 38 turboshaft engine for the aircraft.

“Fuel consumption of the engine is 25-percent improved. On a pure technology level it is about a 25-percent improvement in fuel efficiency,” Dr. Michael Torok, Sikorsky’s CH-53K program vice president, told Scout Warrior in a previous interview.

The helicopter is also being built with lighter-weight composite materials for the airframe and the rotorblades, materials able to equal or exceed the performance of traditional metals at a much lighter weight, said Torok.

“Technology allowed us to design a largely all-composite skinned airframe. There are some primary frames titanium and aluminum. Beam structure and all the skins are all composite. Fourth generation rotorblades are a combination of new airfoils, taper and a modification of the tip deflection of the blade. It is an integrated cuff and the tip geometries are modified to get additional performance,” Torok added.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary M. Ford

The helicopter will also be configured with Directional Infrared Countermeasures, or DIRCM, a high-tech laser-jammer designed to throw incoming missiles off course. DIRCM uses sensor technology to identify and thwart fast-approaching enemy fire such as shoulder-fired weapons.

The CH-53 K uses a split-torque transmission design that transfers high-power, high-speed engine output to lower-speed, high-torque rotor drive in a weight efficient manner.

“With the split torque you take the high-speed inputs from the engine and you divide it up into multiple pieces with multiple gear sets that run in parallel,” Torok said.

The K model will be a “fly by wire” capable helicopter and also use the latest in what’s called conditioned-based maintenance, a method wherein diagnostic sensors are put in place to monitor systems on the aircraft in order to better predict and avert points of mechanical failure.

MIGHTY CULTURE

New bill would cover cost of service dogs for veterans with PTSD

Lawmakers and veterans advocacy groups are ready for change after waiting nearly a decade for the Department of Veterans Affairs to change its policy on not reimbursing service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, Act would require the VA to offer $25,000 vouchers to veterans suffering with PTSD for use at qualifying nonprofits. Currently, the VA only supports service dogs for use in mobility issues, not in cases that only involve mental health conditions.


In 2010, Congress mandated the VA study the use of service dogs for PTSD and other mental health problems. But the pilot was suspended twice when two service dogs bit children and some dogs experienced health issues. The department has since started the study back up, but the results won’t be published until next year.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

K9s for Warriors is the nation’s largest nonprofit connecting veterans to service dogs. Its program trains rescue dogs to be service dogs for post-9/11 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma.

(K9s for Warriors)

Now with an estimated 20 veterans committing suicide a day, bill authors Rep. John Rutherford, R-Florida, and Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, are hoping service dogs help reduce the tragic numbers.

“Veterans with PTSD may have left the battlefield, but they are still in a tough fight,” Fischer said in a news release. “Service dogs can provide support, peace, and joy to these Americans as they confront the invisible scars of war.”

These grants would help expand the reach of nonprofits currently training and connecting service dogs to veterans with a mental illness, often for free.

The act so far has a bipartisan group of 37 cosponsors. But a similar bill introduced three years ago didn’t get out of committee.

For Rory Diamond, CEO of one of the K9 for Warriors, one of the largest nonprofits that would be affected by this legislation, it’s taken the VA too long to change its policy that “there is not enough research to know if dogs help treat PTSD and its symptoms.”

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

K9s for Warriors is the nation’s largest nonprofit connecting veterans to service dogs. Its program trains rescue dogs to be service dogs for post-9/11 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma.

(K9s for Warriors)

“People are always asking me what is it the dogs actually do,” Diamond said. “The genius of the dog, or the magic, is it gets the warrior out the front door. You have a reason to get up in the morning because the dog needs to be fed and walked.”

The service dog can also help a veteran feel secure in a crowd, he added, and help them get a better night’s sleep by waking them up at the first sign of a nightmare.

Dogs alone do not necessarily cure veterans, but recent studies from the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine and the National Institutes of Health showed service dogs have had a positive effect.

“Now we have a growing body of research that says the VA needs to do this. That the dogs are working,” said Diamond, whose organization helped with one of the studies. “We did rigorous studies on our warriors, and it was published in a prestigious journal, peer reviewed. It’s not made-up monkey science. It’s just real science.”

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

K9s for Warriors is the nation’s largest nonprofit connecting veterans to service dogs. Its program trains rescue dogs to be service dogs for post-9/11 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma.

(K9s for Warriors)

A VA spokesman said via email the department does not take positions on research done by groups outside of their purview.

“We strive to complete research at VA according to the highest ethical and scientific standards with a focus on the safety of Veterans and their families,” the official said.

The VA’s first report will be released early summer 2020 and will address whether service dogs or emotional support dogs helped veterans with PTSD. The second part, to be released about six months later, will report whether the kind of dog factored into “health economics savings,” which would be factors like reduced hospital stays and reduced reliance on medication.

The VA has not yet taken a position on the PAWS Act.

“The need is so high,” Diamond said, “and these dogs are saving lives in the face of a veteran suicide crisis.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Delta Force Marine earned the Navy Cross in Benghazi

Minutes after Tate Jolly arrived at the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, a mortar hit the compound where an ambassador and another American had been killed and dozens more were trapped.

The Marine gunnery sergeant was one of only two U.S. troops with a small task force that rushed to respond to what quickly became clear was a coordinated attack on the U.S. State Department facility.

It was a remarkable mission. The closest military backup was hours away, which later led to fierce debate about how U.S. troops should be postured to protect Americans and diplomatic posts overseas.


“There was no one even remotely close to being able to go and get them in North Africa,” a source familiar with the operation planning said. “The nearest airplanes were hours away and the nearest ground troops a day away or further.”

The source spoke under the condition of anonymity to talk freely about the Sept. 11, 2012, incident, which remains a topic of controversy in Washington seven years later.

The scene was chaotic when the team arrived, and they quickly tried to restore order. There were nearly 30 panicked people who needed to be evacuated quickly, but the compound was under fire from multiple sides.

“Unfortunately, it was not a whole lot of offense; it was a whole lot of just holding guys off as long as they could to try and get out,” the person familiar with the mission said.

Jolly, who declined a request for an interview, would ultimately be awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism there. The soldier with him, Master Sgt. David Halbruner, received the Army‘s Distinguished Service Cross. The valor awards are exceeded only by the Medal of Honor.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

Navy Cross.


Little has been known about the Jolly’s actions in Benghazi. There was no public ceremony when he received his valor award and, until recently, his name has not been publicly tied to the mission in media reports.

His hometown paper in North Carolina, the Wilkes Journal-Patriot, recently reported that the 36-year-old who’d graduated from high school about 90 miles north of Charlotte was the Marine who’d gone above and beyond to save other Americans. Jolly recently retired as a master sergeant.

According to testimony, public documents and the person familiar with his actions, Jolly was calm in the face of deadly chaos. He and Halbruner are credited with saving numerous lives that day.

With a rifle strapped to his back amid an onslaught of mortars and machine-gun fire, Jolly tended to the wounded, at one point throwing a man onto his back and shuffling him down a ladder amid a barrage of enemy fire. He helped some get back into the fight and provided vital care to others with life-threatening injuries.

Here’s how then-Gunnery Sgt. Jolly helped get other Americans to safety during a situation that caused a years-long political firestorm thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C.

A Delta Force Marine

Jolly, an infantry assault Marine, was assigned to a Delta Force detachment in Libya at the time of the Benghazi attack. It’s rare, though not unheard of, for Marines to join the elite Army special-operations teams.

The Marine had deployed to Iraq twice before joining the secretive counterterrorism force, spending about five years carrying out clandestine missions before the Benghazi attack and another five after, according to information about his career obtained by Military.com.

He racked up more than a dozen total deployments with Delta Force.

The Navy Cross Jolly received for his actions in Benghazi was his fourth valor award. He has two Bronze Stars with combat “V” devices — one of which he earned for undisclosed reasons during his time with Delta Force, and a second from a 2004-2005 deployment to Ramadi, Iraq.

Jolly also earned a Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device and a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during that deployment.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

Purple Heart.

(Senior Airman Dennis Sloan)

According to his award citations, Jolly repeatedly braved enemy fire in Ramadi to help take out an enemy sniper who had ambushed a government center. He received the Navy Commendation Medal for risking his life to destroy roadside bombs when an explosive ordnance disposal team couldn’t reach his unit.

On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Jolly was about 600 miles away from Benghazi in Tripoli — roughly the same distance between Chicago and Washington, D.C. Since Jolly and Halbruner were some of the only troops in-country, the operation was coordinated not by U.S. Africa Command, but the CIA.

Team Tripoli, made up of Jolly, Halbruner and five others, arrived in Benghazi at about 1:30 a.m. That was about four hours after the attack began, and two since Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens had last been seen alive.

The team was led by Glen Doherty, a Global Response Staff (GRS) security officer and former Navy SEAL, who was later killed. He was Team Tripoli’s medic.

The plan, according to the person familiar with the mission, was to leave the airport and head to the hospital, where they believed Stevens was being treated. When they found out Stevens had died, the first ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979, the team headed to the consulate to bolster the diplomatic security personnel and GRS, a group of private military contractors who were fending off the attackers.

“It could’ve gone really, really bad,” said the source familiar with the mission. “It could’ve become 30 American hostages in North Africa. There were seven shooters going in to protect people who don’t shoot for a living.”

By the time they arrived, Sean Smith, a State Department foreign service officer, had also died. It was still dark, just after 5 a.m., according to a congressional timeline of the attack. Within minutes, the first mortar hit.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

Sean Smith.

The attacks continued, with one witness estimating there were as many as 100 insurgents spotted surrounding their location in 20- or 30-man groups. It was a skilled enemy, one of the troops there later told members of Congress.

“It’s not easy … to shoot inside the city and get something on the target within two shots — that’s difficult,” the witness testified. “I would say they were definitely a trained mortar team or had been trained to do something similar to that.

“I was kind of surprised,” the service member added. “… It was unusual.”

They were there a matter of hours, but at times witnesses said the team feared they wouldn’t make it out alive. It began to “rain down on us,” one of them told lawmakers.

”I really believe that this attack was planned,” the witness said. “The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries.”

In total, six 81-millimeter mortars assaulted the annex within a minute and 13 seconds, a congressional report on the attack states. Doherty and Tyrone Woods, another former SEAL with the GRS, didn’t survive.

Dave Ubben, a State Department security agent, and Mark “Oz” Geist, another GRS member, were badly hurt. The men were defending the compound from the rooftop, determined to make it look like they had a lot more firepower than they actually did.

“There was a lot of shooting, a lot of indirect fire and explosions,” the source with knowledge of the response said. “It was just guys being really aggressive and doing a good job at making it seem like their element was bigger than it was, like they were less hurt than they were.”

Ubben — who’d testified before a federal court in 2017 that he took shrapnel to his head, nearly lost his leg, and had a grapefruit-sized piece of his arm taken off — was losing blood fast. Geist also had a serious arm injury that needed immediate attention.

Jolly and Halbruner were determined to save them. Amid the fight, they were tying tourniquets to the men’s bodies.

Ubben is alive because Jolly helped move him from the rooftop to a building where diplomatic personnel were hunkered down. Gregory Hicks, who became the acting chief of mission after Stevens died, later described how the gunny did it during a congressional hearing.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens.

“One guy … full of combat gear climbed up [to the roof], strapped David Ubben, who is a large man, to his back and carried him down the ladder, saved him,” Hicks said.

Jolly and Halbruner also went back out to the rooftop to recover the bodies of the fallen.

“They didn’t know whether any more mortars were going to come in. The accuracy was terribly precise,” Hicks said. “… They climbed up on the roof, and they carried Glen’s body and Tyrone’s body down.”

It was for Jolly’s “valorous actions, dedication to duty and willingness to place himself in harm’s way” to save numerous unarmed Americans’ lives that he earned the Navy Cross, according to his citation.

Bracing for the worst

That attack was traumatic for many of the civilians trapped inside one of the buildings, according to the person with knowledge of the operation. They’d lost their ambassador and another colleague, and they had no experience being caught in a life-and-death combat situation.

Once Jolly and Halbruner brought the injured men in from off the rooftop, the diplomatic staff helped treat their wounds, according to the source familiar with the situation. It gave them a mission as the onslaught continued outside.

As the sun came up, the remaining team members worried that terrorists would overtake the facility. First believed to be the work of the Benghazi-based Ansar al-Sharia group, the attack was coordinated by several networks in the region, including al-Qaida affiliates.

Throughout the night, the Americans had the advantage of night vision, the person familiar with the mission said. In the daylight, it could quickly become an even playing field.

Surprisingly though, it got quieter. They gathered inside one of the buildings and formed an evacuation plan to move the diplomatic staff to the airport and eventually out of Benghazi.

“[They had to talk about] things like, ‘What happens if they came under attack on the way out? Do you know where to go if you are separated from the group or are being shot at?'” according to the person familiar with the plans.

They prepared for the worst: that as the convoy left the compound, they’d be ambushed, everyone would panic, and the terrorists would take hostages. But they made it to the airport without issue and, by 7:31 a.m., the first plane with survivors took off for Tripoli.

“Who would’ve thought seven people could go into Benghazi and get more than 25 people out? Especially without traditional military support?” the person familiar with the mission said. “… But you can do a lot if you’re determined and have no other choice.”

The Defense Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later faced a host of criticism over their response to the attack. Critics called it too slow — a congressional investigation finding that despite President Barack Obama and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta clearly ordering the military to deploy response forces, none were sent until almost eight hours after the attacks began.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

President Obama and Secretary Clinton honor the Benghazi attack victims at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base on Sept. 14, 2012.

(State Department photo)

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey was asked to explain why he hadn’t dispatched F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets from Italy. He told lawmakers it would’ve been “the wrong tool for the job.”

The Marine Corps, the nation’s go-to crisis-response force, has been particularly responsive in the aftermath of the attack. Since there aren’t enough amphibious ships to stage Marines everywhere they’d like to be at sea, they’ve set up land-based crisis-response forces built to respond to emergencies quickly. Those units include up to 2,200 personnel, along with aircraft and logistics capabilities.

Those units are now based in Europe, the Middle East and Central America. Those assigned to Africa and the Middle East have fielded several State Department requests to evacuate embassy personnel or shore up security when intelligence has indicated a high risk for attack.

The Marine Corps and State Department have also bolstered the number of embassy guards placed at diplomatic posts around the world, standing up dozens of new detachments that previously did not have military personnel.

It was a tragedy to see a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed in Benghazi but, sadly, it sometimes takes an awful situation to get the attention of those in charge of policy, the person familiar with the response said.

“It was a bad situation, but a lot of priorities changed after this tragedy that would otherwise never have gotten fixed.”

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

Humor

The 14 funniest memes for the week of Jan. 26

We started with a shutdown, some of us went to furlough, but we were all once again volunteers.


Now there’s nothing to worry about…

…except nuclear armageddon, an unending war, and Chelsea Manning running for Senate.

Cheer yourself up with some memes. These memes.

1. Before you get offended, we were all sh*t bags at some point.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Just relax. Breathe — as long as your profile says it’s okay.

2. We can’t have the world blowing up our phone.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
But a LOT of them will try. Along with our houses.

3. I got you, fam.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
As long as the mountains are blue.

Check out: What it’s like having a submarine crash into your ship

4. Must promote.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
If you’ve ever had MIDRATS, you know that 58-minute rice is a little crunchy.

5. Gonna fly now. (via Inkfidel)

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Don’t miss the chance to be a contender.

6. “No one will take care of you like the Corps.”

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Now polish the floors, boot.

Now read: 6 ways for a POG to be accepted by grunts

7. When you don’t give a sh*t about the Air Force in WWI. (via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Also, you had a few drinks to relax the night before.

8. “Here’s your in-processing checklist”

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Seriously though, the checklist explains everything.

9. Everything after basic training is a little fuzzy. (via Pop Smoke)

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
I also didn’t drink during PT. Before, maybe, but not during.

Also: 4 ways to have fun with that Russian spy ship off the coast

10. The truth hurts pretty darn good.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Don’t forget where you came from.

11. What a joke.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
No one’s getting this medal.

12. No one kneels during this guitar riff.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Also, it’d take a lot more than the Royal Navy to capture the Hulkster.

13. The ultimate “do as I say, not as I do.” (via Decelerate Your Life)

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Let them fight the war in Afghanistan, then. That sh*t will end in a hurry.

Of interest: 5 reasons you should know about the hardcore Selous Scouts

14. Prepare for zero likes. (via Why I’m Not Re-Enlisting)

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Just f*ck me and tell me why you’re f*cking me, alright?

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Army official tests out smart combat glasses

The U.S. Army’s new boss recently got a chance do shoot-house training with the latest Microsoft-based, smart soldier glasses.

Ryan McCarthy, who is now serving as acting secretary of the Army, and incoming Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville traveled to Fort Pickett, Virginia earlier this spring to try out early prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS.

The Army awarded a $480 million contract to Microsoft in November 2018 to develop IVAS — a high-tech device that relies on augmented reality to create a synthetic training environment for soldiers. The experience is reportedly similar to first-person shooter video games. The system is being designed to also be worn in combat, projecting the operator’s weapon sight reticle into the glasses.


“He and I literally put them on, and we went through a shoot house together,” McCarthy told Military.com on a flight to Fort Knox, Kentucky.

“Here’s the thing — they are empty rooms, because we had the synthetic feed.”

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

The Army’s new Integrated Visual Augmentation system is a single platform that uses augmented reality where soldiers and Marines can fight, rehearse, and train.

McCarthy then described how the IVAS device presented targets that resembled enemy fighters from terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“I literally came in a room … and they looked like Taliban targets and ISIS guys with black turbans,” he said. “They had one where they had a guy holding a civilian. It looked like a very good video game.”

IVAS is part of the Army’s effort to create a synthetic training world so soldiers can run through many repetitions of combat scenarios, such as clearing urban areas and engaging enemy forces, without having to leave home station and travel to training facilities.

Leaders can view the data compiled by IVAS during the training to show soldiers where they need improvement.

McCarthy and McConville were joined by Army and Marine Corps sergeants who also took a turn with IVAS.

“We had a bunch of NCOs from the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 1st Marine Division, and they did the shoot house and reminded me that I have been out for a while,” McCarthy chuckled, referring to the days when he served in the Ranger Regiment. McCarthy served in the Army from 1997-2002.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy.

McCarthy acknowledged that these were early prototypes of IVAS that need further development.

“You would do it for a little bit, and they would go out and [engineers] had to make a tweak and they would get the screen back up,” McCarthy said.

Rangers and Marines liked the technology, he said.

“The one thing that they all really liked about it was the greater depth perception,” he said.

“It was like a pair of glasses … and literally when you are walking through a room and seeing the target, I had depth perception to my left and right, so I could see down the hallway.”

IVAS replaces the service’s Heads-Up Display 3.0 effort to develop a sophisticated situational awareness tool soldiers can use to view key tactical information before their eyes.

Officials hope to complete the prototyping phase on IVAS by 2020; when the system might be fielded to soldiers is still unclear.

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

Articles

11 military propaganda posters that are surprisingly convincing

Rifles, grenades, and heavy machinery are the weapons of war, but there’s another, subtle and powerful form of warfare. Images, words, films, and even songs engage the hearts and minds of citizens to support wars.


The following posters are examples of persuasion used in the past to sway public opinion and sustain war efforts.

1. Fear is a powerful motivator. After all, it’s either them or us.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

2. Nothing like a woman and child in imminent danger to jump-start our natural protective instincts.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

3. This poster draws on the similarity of a child’s college fund.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

4. Events like the massacre at Lidice gave Nazis a reputation for their brutality. This poster is a reminder of the atrocities that await should they invade American cities.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

5. Posters like the one below alerted citizens to the presence of enemy spies lurking in everyday society. These posters reminded well-meaning citizens of the consequences careless talk may cause, such as compromising national security and troop safety.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

6. “Uncle Sam” was extensively used during World War II. He was a fighter, a laborer, a recruiter and more.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

7. “Avenge Pearl Harbor” was a popular cry after the surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

8. Posters like the one below encouraged continued support for the war.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

9. Humor was also used in propaganda posters.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

10. But direct and emotional messages were more effective.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

11. World War II took place during the golden era of comic books, which lasted from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. This poster made in the popular comic book style was a sure fire way to promote a message.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators

NOW: The 8 most famous US military recruiting posters of World War II

OR: Watch 5 Hollywood directors who served and filmed real wars:

 

Articles

Watch Russian marines playfight on the beach

We’ll admit it. Russian marines are pretty badass. Like, that’s not sarcastic. Recent reports show them fighting in Aleppo, Syria, and they have a pretty decent combat record dating back to 1705.


But that’s part of what makes it so great that they made a combatives video where they telegraph their punches like they’re the Russian bad guys in a Steven Seagal movie.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
(GIF: YouTube/Max Kalinin)

But you can kind of forgive a military unit for rehearsing the combat moves and telling their dudes to lean in when it includes a legit drop kick:

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
Yeah, there’s no way to stage a drop kick to the chest where it doesn’t hurt. (GIF: YouTube/Max Kalinin)

Plus, you pretty much have to stage the combat once you start letting guys swing entrenching tools at one another:

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
He flipped that dude hard enough that the E-tool gets airtime. (GIF: YouTube/ Max Kalinin)

For more Russian Kung Foo action, check out the full video below:

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force just ordered more Massive Ordnance Penetrators

The Air Force has given Boeing a $20.9 million contract to procure the GBU-57 massive ordnance penetrator — a bomb designed to destroy hardened underground targets like those found in North Korea or Iran.


The announcement does not disclose how many bombs were ordered, but it did say the work is expected to be done by July 31, 2020. Boeing is to get the total amount of the contract at the time of award.

The 30,000-pound GBU-57 is the US’s largest nonnuclear bomb. A GPS-guided bunker-buster, it is “designed to accomplish a difficult, complicated mission of reaching and destroying our adversaries’ weapons of mass destruction located in well-protected facilities,” the Air Force fact sheet for the weapon states.

Also read: This bomb is heavier than the MOAB

That includes fortified positions and underground targets, like bunkers or tunnels. It is designed for operational use by the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, which can carry two at a time, but hasn’t been used in combat, and its deployments, if any, are not known.

‘Hard and deeply buried targets’

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency Massive Ordnance Penetrator conventional bomb being off-loaded at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, March 2007. (Image from Defense Threat Reduction Agency)

Under a 2011 contract cited by The Drive, the Air Force paid Boeing $28 million for eight of the bombs, as well as for additional parts and for a redesign of the B-2’s bomb bay. But the latest order comes after the Pentagon successfully tested and deployed an upgraded version, the GBU-57D/B, which may have a different unit cost than previous models.

The latest upgrade, the fourth for the bomb, “improved the performance against hard and deeply buried targets,” an Air Force spokeswoman told Bloomberg in January 2018. The spokeswoman said the upgrade had been completed and the current inventory was being retrofitted.

Related: How the B-2’s stealth technology beats ground radar

Few details about the upgrade have been released, but, according to The Drive, it likely includes a modified fuse, which is responsible for detonating the weapon. The fuse is a complicated component that needs to function with precision after a fall from high altitude and the shock of burrowing through earth or other barriers.

The Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation said in its fiscal year 2017 report, that the GBU-57 had successfully completed several tests at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico over the past year, dropped from B-2s on “representative targets” that “demonstrated effectiveness of the Enhanced Threat Response (ETR)-IV weapon modifications.”

A weapon that ‘boggles the mind’

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
(Image from Boeing)

The GBU-57 is 20.5 feet long, 31.5 inches in diameter, and carries more than 5,300 pounds of explosives. Much of the remaining weight is a high-performance steel casing that, along with its narrow diameter, is meant to help the weapon burrow into the ground. Some estimate it could penetrate up to 200 feet of earth before detonating.

“What is exciting is when we release our 30,000-pound MOP, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator,” B-2 pilot Lt. Col. Justin “Vapor” Grieve told The Kansas City Star. “When you release that, you can feel it. The plane will actually raise up about 100 feet, and then it’ll settle back down. It’s pretty cool. It’s fun.”

A former Pentagon official who saw footage of GBU-57 tests during 2014 and 2015 told Politico in 2015 that the weapon “boggles the mind.”

Those tests came amid a period of heightened tension with Iran, which developed an extensive underground network of labs and other facilities involved in nuclear-weapons development.

New stunning documentary shows the reality of the drone war through the eyes of the operators
A US B-52 bomber dropping the GBU-57 during a test. (Photo from DoD)

More recently, US tensions with North Korea — which has an extensive network of underground tunnels, command-and-control bunkers, and missile and nuclear facilities — have again raised the possibility the GBU-57 could used over a battlefield.

In fall 2017, B-2 bombers and other aircraft were heard during an exercise over Missouri that appeared to simulate airstrikes on airports in the state, according to a recording obtained by The Aviationist.

More: The Air Force wants to fly the B-2 Bomber into the 2050s

During one night of the exercises, an aircraft involved radioed a message about a “possible DPRK leadership relocation site,” whose coordinates pointed to a Jefferson City airport hanger. It’s not clear whether the use of unsecured radio channels was a mistake or done on purpose.

Three B-2 bombers arrived in Guam in January 2018 in what the Air Force called a planned deployment.

Iran and North Korea are not the only countries that have developed extensive underground infrastructure. China’s strategic missile forces have a 3,100-mile network of tunnels under mountains in the northern part of the country. According to a 2009 Jamestown Foundation report, Chinese state media refer to the complex as an “underground Great Wall.”

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