“[Directing has] been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember,” shared Tyler Grey, who self-declares on Instagram as “a geeky kid trapped in the body of a nerdy adult.” For those who know his story, however, he’s got a pretty respectable warrior side, too.
A former Delta Force operator and sniper-qualified Army Ranger, Grey’s military career came to an end when he was “blown up in Sadr City” (his words, not mine), resulting in a medical retirement. His right arm still bears the scars from that attack — but he hasn’t let it keep him from actively supporting the military community.
For the past few years, that has meant portraying Trent Sawyer in front of the camera on SEAL Team while helping to produce and act as a military consultant behind the scenes. With Unbecoming an Officer (Season 3 Episode 10), he finally puts on a very coveted hat: director.
[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B5vyuZ1n41t/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “So the episode I directed airs next Wednesday 12/11! Here is a promo for it and excuse me right now for the fact that I will post about it…”
Most veterans agree that watching shows and films about military service can feel frustrating. It’s hard to get the nuances of military culture right — especially when storytellers are focused on either placing heroes on a pedestal or exposing their trauma.
SEAL Team has been a show actively committed to getting it right by hiring veterans as architects for the story. Grey is not the only service member CBS has brought on board. In a particularly poignant Season 2 episode, the show explored veteran suicide, a tragic issue that hits the military community at too-high a rate. The episode was written by former frogman Mark Semos.
[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B56ANDwngdU/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “He is another clip from tomorrow nights episode. Sadly it won’t let me post more than a minute but you get the idea. The guy at the…”
Grey’s leadership qualities are clear even from a distance. He’s quick to give his team credit for successes (and quick to accept blame for any shortcomings — even in jest).
He’s also great at balancing the line between Hollywood and reality.
“95% of the time if there is something technically wrong on the show there is a TV or dramatic reason for it,” he clarified in advance of the, I’m sure, flood of comments about unused NODS in an episode.
[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B3skAiRn-hP/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “Episode 3 airing tonight at 9/8c. So one thing I’ll mention here that I get asked a lot about in reference to the show is why things aren’t…”
To be clear, directing for television is a highly competitive gig. Throw in stunts, battle scenes, smoke, and special effects and you’ve got a major learning curve for a first-timer.
This is where military training really does bring excellence to the surface. A good leader knows who to turn to for guidance (the NCO or SNCO, always…), how to identify and utilize the strengths of the team, when to be definitive, and when to ask for help.
“On a serious note I hope those who watch it enjoy — a lot of people worked really hard to help this come together,” he shared.
[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B50yidLHIrc/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “No idea what I was talking about looking at this picture but I probably didn’t know then either.. Thanks again to the crew, the cast and…”
It’s great to see a huge network recognizing the capabilities of veterans in the filmmaking industry — especially in military terrain. Service members give up years of their creative careers while their civilian colleagues build resumes. During that time, however, vets rack up some marketable skills and experiences that benefit a set.
SEAL Team is one show that is really paving the way for veterans to show what they’re made of. It’s an opportunity, not a right, and the professionals know it. When they do step up, however, it makes the series stronger.
Grey isn’t the only veteran who has directed for the show. U.S. Marine Michael Watkins, who has an impressive television resume that includes The Blacklist, Quantum Leap, and Prison Break, has also taken the helm.
[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B5Y6jdAnTGg/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “Tonight’s episode directed by Marine Veteran Michael Watkins. So this one was rough as we lost our location that all the action was based…”
From its consultants to its writers and directors to its cast and, yes, even down to its three-line co-stars, SEAL Team gives members of the military community the opportunity to excel after service.
[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B4vYabMHtdo/ expand=1]Tyler Grey on Instagram: “Define irony: Working on a military show, as a veteran, on Veterans Day. Just kidding I appreciate the opportunity and truly love this…”
The Navy just took delivery of the world’s most advanced aircraft carrier on Wednesday, the service said in a news release.
The future USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) finished acceptance trials under the shipbuilder, Newport News Shipbuilding, on May 26. Soon after those trials, which tested and verified the ship’s basic motor functions, the Navy officially picked up the ship from the builder, representing the first newly-designed aircraft carrier for the service since 1975.
The Navy plans to officially commission the Ford into the fleet sometime this summer.
The Ford is packed with plenty of new technology and upgrades, like a beefier nuclear power plant that can handle lasers and railguns. It also has a larger flight deck with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system, which can handle more wear and tear from launching jets off the deck than older steam-powered systems.
“Over the last several years, thousands of people have had a hand in delivering Ford to the Navy — designing, building and testing the Navy’s newest, most capable, most advanced warship,” Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, program executive officer for aircraft carriers, said in a statement. “Without a doubt, we would not be here without the hard work and dedication of those from the program office, our engineering teams and those who performed and oversaw construction of this incredible warship. It is because of them that Ford performed so well during acceptance trials, as noted by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey.”
Besides being the most advanced ship ever built, it’s also the most expensive: The final tally to build it came just shy of $13 billion. Still, with it’s high-tech gear, the Navy expects to save about $4 billion on this ship over its lifetime since it has more automation and better systems.
Correction: A previous version of this article said the Ford was the first new carrier for the Navy since 1975. It is the first newly-designed carrier.
Through the Tickets for Troops Program, the Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix for short) teams up with major sports teams, leagues, promoters, organizations, and venues to provide free and discounted tickets to active duty military and veterans. Their Hero’s Wish initiative takes it even further, creating once in a lifetime experiences for wounded warriors and families of men and women killed in action.
Vet Tix recognizes that awesome events reduce stress, strengthen family bonds, and encourage community building for veterans. Helping with these kinds of experiences is their way of honoring the troops.
In addition to ticket donations, Live Nation strives to support veterans in a number of ways. Since 2017 the company has been an official partner of the veterans’ hiring organization Got Your 6, whose mission is to bridge the civilian-military divide by spreading awareness and fostering understanding about the contributions of our nation’s veterans. As a part of the partnership, Live Nation helped spearhead a fellowship program designed to help military alums build careers in the entertainment industry. Additionally, Live Nation recently launched Hero Nation, an internal program for veteran employees. This employee resource group is dedicated to fostering a supportive and progressive environment for the company’s U.S. military veteran employees and their families by focusing on education, networking, and career development opportunities.
Here’s an example of how one veteran was able to use the program to make her daughter’s birthday special:
“My sincerest thanks for the opportunity to see this concert (fallout boy) in Tucson. Being a disabled combat veteran and living on a fixed income, there is not always funds to do extra big things. My daughter celebrated her sweet 16 last week and this concert was top on her list and all she talked about for months. I was not able to gift her this on her birthday. On a whim I checked Vet Tix just 2 days ago and as a result was able to make my daughter’s birthday wish a reality!! (Along with your help of course) Thank you again!! Jennifer and Kayde, Tucson, AZ”
There are a lot of great ways America supports the troops — and this is one of them. It’s difficult to measure the hardship that military service places on veterans and their families. Frequently moving to new places and missing special occasions takes its toll on its own; factor in deployment tempos, injuries, and fatalities, and it’s easy to see why mental health is a major concern for our military.
For the patriotic civilians out there, you can also donate to Vet Tix and help veterans and their families make positive memories.
Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt in Alien. Photo credit IMDB.com.
You may know Tom Skerritt for his iconic roles (Viper in Top Gun, anyone?) or his tell-tale mustache. But did you know he is an Air Force veteran? WATM had the opportunity to sit down with this Hollywood legend to learn more about his childhood, his work ethic and his time in service. Here are 10 questions with the unbeatable Tom Skerritt:
Can you share about your family and your life growing up?
My parents suffered through the Depression and lost quite a bit through it. I was born toward the end of the Depression and we had hard times and lived in Detroit. Detroit was a depression ridden city; I didn’t know the differences as a kid. I thought it was how life is. My school had creative programs where we were in public schools growing up. We had dance, shop, painting and similar programs. One Saturday morning a month, a school bus would take us to creative venues and I remember getting off the bus in front of the Detroit Institute of Arts. The first thing I see is Rodin’s The Thinker in front of the museum. I was about 7 or 8 years old then and am thinking, “naked guy, sitting on the toilet without the sports section.” We go into the museum and see a bronze plaque with a Shakespeare phrase, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” It stands as a distinct memory because the teacher had us write these things down, so it sticks with me. I then remember seeing a painting at the museum by Diego Rivera that was just so powerful. I had not seen anything like that so full of opinion, feeling, talent and genius.
The next time was a Saturday morning where they took us to a rehearsal for a concert to be done that night. We were setting in the hall and out comes this guest conductor. He was Arturo Toscanini, who was a great conductor of the 20th century. He was very old and physically in bad shape. He was dressed in white and his hair was shooting off in every direction like Albert Einstein. He looked like a white angel. He raised the baton and physically he became thirty years old. He straightened out and came alive like a ballerina conducting this orchestra. The sound of it was unbelievable and he was yelling at them in Italian throughout the rehearsal. These two moments compelled me by knowing there was another world out there beyond the common neighborhood I grew up in. It stayed with me — to know there is something more to this life than the Depression.
What made you want to join the Air Force and what was your experience like?
My father instructed me to get a trade after high school and nothing really registered to me, so I enlisted in the Air Force. I knew I needed direction and discipline. I needed something to accept as progress. I thought I could learn to fly… what did I know at 17? My older brother was a P-51 Mustang pilot in WWII so there was a dream there to do something bigger. I was very proud of my older brother where he was more like a father than my father could be. The Air Force gave me a purpose. I learned so much about the country by just being in the Air Force. It is a wonderful frame of reference that informs my intelligence and how I look at life.
The Air Force was about me taking in where I was. My duty station was the Bergstrom Air Force Base, which is now closed. I got a lot out of living close to Austin, Texas. They offered me a promotion if I re-enlisted where I decided I needed an education and should use the GI Bill. The military made me feel like I needed to have that college education. I didn’t get to fly, but I sure tried. I didn’t know the math or anything towards flying. I didn’t have a frame of reference of what was required to be a pilot.
After service for four years in the Air Force I used the GI Bill to go to UCLA. At that time UCLA was affordable where it was about $150 a year to study there. The GI Bill basically helped me pay the rent. I could go over to the West LA VA center for anything else I needed. LA in the 1960’s was laid back, easy and was nice then. I look back at LA with a great favor and what it gave me from going to school, learning to write, act and direct and the career I have. It makes me so damn appreciative of all it. The military was good for me and hope I was good for it.
I went to the university and studied English. The previous experiences with creative endeavors pushed more towards doing something creative. My other older brother used to play music for me as well when we were growing up, especially when our parents were out. My brother introduced me to classical music and jazz like Charlie Parker and Billie Holliday. The exuberance my brother exhibited when listening to the music and speaking of it left an indelible impression on me. I saw Citizen Kane growing up and was so impressed with it I decided I am going to write and direct that movie. I set the bar high.
I thought of having to understand writing and how it is to be an actor. So, I decided to take courses in acting and it would help me get through my shy phase. I was doing some local theater outside of UCLA to work with professional actors. Everything was about the challenge and going after it. After I got hired on a small film, I came out wanting to know how it was all put together, the sets, the actors and the writing. During this time, two people I became friends with were Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack.
I found the quotes on leadership by John Wooden, a UCLA coach and professor at the time, to be so life giving, especially with how he influenced the players. He gave his guys a way of looking at things that they wouldn’t consider as athletes. I think the small things that your brain picks up across life sticks with you, which he taught the players. Wooden had a great philosophy approach to doing what you got to do. Whether it was passing a ball to another player where you just pass the damn thing or bigger in life. Wooden would instruct in such a way that was a lot more than just passing a ball.
While at UCLA, I became friends with a neighbor who was a TV director where he hired me to do a couple acting jobs and TV work. I was mentored by him in film making, editing them and how he looked at the business. One day he calls up and says, ‘I have a movie to direct’. That movie turned out to be M*A*S*H and the director was Robert Altman. The studio initially hated the film where they weren’t going to release it. Altman got the critics to review it and they went berserk. Mentorship was a day to day thing from those in the industry where it was very important to me and my career.
When I had completed M*A*S*H, an up and coming director named Hal Ashby connected with me. I started mentoring with him for about three years, so I was being mentored by Ashby and Altman at the same time. These guys invited me to see their work and wanted to be friends. I was then hired to do movies in Italy for over four years.
What are you most proud of from your service in the USAF?
My service in the Air Force… I was a classification specialist at Bergstrom. If there was a motor vehicle airman in some air base in Italy, I would have to select them to be sent to Korea or wherever off the base. It was not what I wanted to have, but it was okay.
What values have you carried over from the Air Force back into the civilian world?
Focus and discipline with a better sense of who I was.
What was one of the toughest lessons to learn coming from the service to Hollywood?
I don’t have one other than a lesson from childhood — an old man told us young kids to “just keep moving.” Every day I am writing, and people ask me why I work so hard. I am busy working on Triple Squirrels where we are collecting a lot of documentaries that have been on shelves for years. All of this stuff is still related to film. We are covering artists doing unique things in the Pacific North West from great fishing rivers from Idaho to the Pacific Ocean or some guy who claims he saw the sasquatch which is a legendary character in the forest. The man filmed it and it looks like a moose and not the sasquatch where the man was so serious about the event. Five guys up in Bellingham all had that common purpose, let’s put a motorcycle together that can break the land speed record. Unfortunately, the motor blew out on the motorcycle while running it at the salt flats before it could break the record.
It is all wonderful, entertaining stuff such as glass workers like Dale Chihuly, one of the great glass artists in the world lives up here. It’s guys doing imaginative stuff. I keep going back to that and the imagination is such a gift to us human beings and sets us apart from all the other animals. It makes us curious and gives us the highs and lows that we have emotionally. It gives us the questions we have where it is all driven by our imaginative experience. The Air Force is the same thing with imagining to fly and being able to fly. I had a little bit of that experience in Top Gun, which made me feel like I was the real thing.
All of these things of being an actor and writer and director where I look back on all of it and say, “Holy shit man, did you really cover some territory where you have some advantages that you could employ to give to other people?” There is one thing from the service such as having the back of the other person and you are looking out for them. That was one of the big things I loved about the military. In the military, you have the training to be aware of other people for their benefit and your own. Not always the same in the civilian world
What are your most favorite projects to have worked on?
I was fortunate to have worked with Ashby, Altman and then into The Turning Point which starred Mikhail Baryshnikov, Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine. All of these extraordinary people that I worked with where how could I pick out one favorite from M*A*S*H to Alien with Ridley Scott? Alton, Ashby and Ridley Scott were new when I worked with them. I met Tony Scott on the set of Alien, which led me to being involved in Top Gun. Being in films with just wonderful people from craft and how they approached life itself and how they applied it to the work they did. M*A*S*H was the best time I ever had in anything where I knew we had something and no one else did except, Altman and I. I just knew he was going to do something remarkable with all of the shooting he was doing. Alien was done about seven to eight years after M*A*S*H where those two films are in the top twenty-five films of the 20th century. So, I wanted to work to the level of Citizen Kane…*Tom laughs.
My getting close to Citizen Kane is being in two of the top films of the 20th century and then Top Gun and A River Runs Through It. All quite different with different approaches as an actor to each one of them. Doing interesting real people in every one of them where you had to make it real. It is hard to pick one out.
You bring all your past experiences into the roles you do in the future. My whole sense about life itself its how much of the good and not so good that you ingest and reject. All of it is there. This goes back to the Shakespeare quote from earlier, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” The creative process I began and later on understood what that meant. You have to have thinking processes based on what your imagination has to draw upon. I understand this through writing and looking back. I understand that everything leads to the next day, everything I got from life, the military, which has given me this discipline to write every day, it has given me a sense that words have value. That is not something you are conscious of, it is just who you are and part of who you are.
For me having been in a situation to the military and bringing it to a role, you’re damn right it is still with me. I appreciate it and still do. I still have my gig line and can remember my serial number 16401805! Why would I remember these things if they didn’t have something meaningful for me? You know about your posture as well from the military.
Doing “Picket Fences” in the 90s for four years and getting sixteen Emmys over four years for best show, actor, writer and that sort of stuff. To be in that environment, especially high end, you get spoiled in it and I admit that. It is an unusual career for a person that wants to be a writer and director. I did some directing on David E. Kelly’s TV shows such as “Picket Fences” and “Big Little Lies”. Kelley was another mentor of mine which he makes about the best TV can get.
What I am trying to give people through Triple Squirrels is the enjoyment of their own imagination. I ought to try and fish, or try to mess around with some glass, or get some scrap metal and make a motorcycle. You feel better about yourself when you feel there is something you might be able to do that makes you feel good. Life is largely a stew with salt, pepper and onions where you come up with this extraordinary stew of life.
I am trying to share a lot about life where I have been working with young filmmakers to get in touch with themselves. They want to make a movie like someone else where you make your own movie based on who you are and what comes out of that.
Can you share about some of your experiences working on “Gunsmoke”, “The FBI”, “Bonanza”, “The Virginian”, “Combat!”, “12 O’Clock High”, “Pickett Fences” and then on M*A*S*H, Alien, The Dead Zone, Top Gun, A River Runs Through It, Tears of the Sun and the like?
A great sense of gratitude and appreciation and good fortune to be able to do all of that. I don’t think many people in the business I am in have not had that overreaching of two or three decades of extraordinary projects. Stage acting is quite different than TV and motion pictures. Each one has a different approach to it. TV is always geared for twelve-minute segments before going to commercial. You have an unreal behavioral pattern in TV more so than film or stage or real life. In TV you have to get the answers real quick, respond real quick and draw that gun and shoot a guy. In film you want to resolve the issue more without the shooting. Let’s get down to see what we really want to work out here. On stage it becomes never getting around to shoot each other it is about getting to understand each other. Your honest engagement of that story in resolving our difference of opinion in theater, film is different and in TV you are working towards a commercial. TV lacks the grace of film and the courage stage has.
For Top Gun I read the script where I didn’t know who the director was at the time. I thought it was really solid and then heard that Tony Scott was going to direct it. I heard about the film like having heard about Ridley doing Alien. I read the Alien script and thought it was solid where they had only been to me, so Ridley was not attached to it that early on. Top Gun was already going to be done with the budget and good producers. I knew nothing else and then found out Tony was going to direct. It came together and then met Tom Cruise in the office to meet with Tony and with the producers. Tom was out in the waiting area with me. I had seen Tom act in Risky Business and thought he was a good young actor. I said to him, “you are a pretty good actor, where did you come up with that juice?” Tom responded, “By watching guys like you, Sir.” I thought, “Wow, a young gentleman that appreciated his opportunity in Top Gun.” He was not egomaniacal the way some actors can be in the movie business where it is all about me. For me I am always learning so I never felt that way where Top Gun is that type of thing where Tony is teaching me as well.
I get it from Ridley on Alien and then from Tony where they were both similar. They were both soccer players and believe in getting into rhythms as athletes and musicians do. All of these rhythms come into what we do. I felt very strong about Tony and for one of the few times really pushed to get into the film. Some of the producers felt I was too lethargic or casual and not military enough. I had been in the military so I could pull that one off going back with the gig line on and pack into that presence you had when you were in the service.
Once I got the role, I met the actual Top Gun commander. I used him as he was a thoughtful guy. I think the producers wanted someone who would be barking at the guys and getting on them all the time. I didn’t think the officer had to be someone shouting at other people. You just look them in the eye and say, “Why would do such a dumb thing as that? What accounts for that behavior you pulled off out there because you didn’t pull it off that’s why you are in this office right now?”
The reality of our life informs us in how we perform and that’s really all I could do in getting that role. To work with Tony, that script and then Tom Cruise pulled it all together. I was very sure about that film being very successful before I got into it. The instincts come back to me from going back into the Air Force where they never leave you. It becomes all things if you are conscious of them or not. They do lead our behavior patterns and how we pursue our life we have to live. I am delighted to have the life I have even with all of the not so good.
What leadership lessons in life and from the USAF have helped you most in your career?
Self worth and the will to do more. I don’t feel all that I need to do and all that I can do. There is a lot to learn still. When you have that in your life it is a big purpose.
When I started hearing about veterans coming home from the Middle East with severe PTSD during the 2000s, I felt responsibility for them. I was not in a position to do it for them when it pulled on me. I was able to level out through setting up a writing program for them. In some way this is all a gift where you just fully appreciate the best you can give. We, through the Red Badge Program, took veterans down to Ft. Lewis-McChord AFB to teach those guys coming back how to utilize PTSD experience in terms of telling a story. Usually the bad stuff of what happened took place when under extreme stress. We had teachers come in to teach them how to tell their story and the best way they possibly can. It has to do with these dealing with their own feelings and being able to express that.
The best way for me to relate to veterans is from some of my own PTS experiences. During the 60s and 70s as a young father and husband I had to deal with some intense family issues, many times dealing with the safety of my children. I was on 24/7 surveillance and did not always know when and who to trust. It was a tough time for me personally, but a good time for me professionally where acting was this cathartic release for me. Things did get better for me and my family thankfully.
We had musicians come in to play music for them so they could write lyrics to the music. The veterans came out of their feeling so much better about themselves. I had veterans come up to me and tell me, “I was ready to do myself in. You saved my life.” We had it for about seven or eight years where it was a hot news item with so many veterans committing suicide. We had to teach the veterans off base at the University of Washington-Tacoma branch because the military was not consistent with us since we were some soft, fluffy thing. The military was keeping veterans from coming at times, which stood in the way of what we were doing. We were able to set up a community away from the military where they can feel comfortable in that environment without being evaluated. I gave the veterans my stories and they gave me theirs where we could trust each other. That’s really what they got. Most often they said, “I could trust myself; I got a trust of people and I felt like I could be true.” That sounds simple, but it’s not simple.
How do we get more veteran stories told in the Hollywood arena?
The Hollywood arena has changed so much where I don’t know how it works anymore. Most of the films I was involved had a good story line. It was always about the story first. Hollywood has gotten so much into nine-digit budget films in the summer being a financial resource. Once you get to there its like saying, “I know it all.” They would make their own audience, age 17-39, from the early 90s on with every generation that came along they would replicate the same special effects, same story line just realigned to where they lost touch with the good stories they could tell. The screenplays became soft from then on and once they are soft there is nothing shocking about it. When you make films that have a lot to do with shooting and killing, some of it may be comedy, but it is the most influential of mediums, so you must be responsible. We have a responsibility to do the best we possibly can for the audience. It’s not the right approach to have aggressive, hostile and angry films like how to blow some up. Whatever it may be, and it does influence impressionable young minds. It does influence some kids in high schools killing other students. It does influence people.
The concern with studios and blockbuster ran out about six summers ago. All of those films had a sense of darkness and fear in them. We are running downhill where people are not reacting the same way they used to be scared. It is the same in so many ways that you have seen before. Once the reaction is gone you don’t return to the movies where less tickets have been sold the last six summers. Studios realized how in debt they were and always relied on big blockbusters to bring revenue back to the studios. When the revenue falls out you still have a lot of bills to pay. We are in a pit now in the lion’s den with movies. Hollywood will make some crafty films but will not be making as many as before.
What are you most proud of in life and your career?
I don’t think that way, where I am just grateful to have done so many projects. It has been extraordinary where working in Europe and Italy for three or four years and seeing ruins of great civilizations and the Renaissance buildings. Finding that only culture can come from conflict and resolution. We are in the deepest conflict here in America right now. We should be concerned about where we are going. What am I most proud of? I don’t know how to answer that because I have had a lot of good fortune. I am proud of what I can say to you and proud to have the capabilities and the wife I have and the children that I have. I know what they have had to go through with me, and they are still with me and we have that love. I have this wonderful woman, Julia where we have been together for 25 years. I have to tell you I appreciate her beyond words in a way that I could not if I hadn’t had all of these other life experiences, I related to you. That is the first time I ever said that. I have this woman I have now. I am also proud to have been in the US military.
Defense Secretary James Mattis put out his first all-hands message to everyone in the Department of Defense on Friday, and it tells you everything you need to know about how he intends to lead.
Mattis, a retired Marine general revered by his troops, probably made a good first impression among the roughly three million men and women who make up the active duty, reserve, and civilian force. That’s due to the notable language he used in his first sentence (emphasis added):
“It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.”
As many who served under him can attest, Mattis has always been a humble warrior who led Marines from the front — not from an air conditioned bunker. And the language that he used — serve alongside you, as opposed to lead, or manage you — shows that Mattis will likely bring his beloved leadership style of the Marines with him into the civilian post.
“He’s a leader by example,” retired Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent told Business Insider in December. “He’s not the type that’s ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ He’s out there doing it.”
Mattis kept his message short and sweet, praising the people who make up the DoD, calling America a “beacon of hope,” and pledging that he would do his best as Defense Secretary.
Here’s the full letter:
It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.
Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.
Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.
I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your Secretary.
Russia is preparing to mount what could be one of its biggest military exercises since the Cold War, a display of power that will be watched warily by NATO against a backdrop of east-west tensions.
Western officials and analysts estimate up to 100,000 military personnel and logistical support troops could participate in the Zapad (West) 17 exercise, which will take place next month in Belarus, Kaliningrad, and Russia itself. Moscow puts the number significantly lower.
The exercise, to be held from Sept. 14-20, comes against a backdrop of strained relations between Russia and the US. Congress recently imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Moscow in response to allegations of interference in the 2016 US election.
The first of the Russian troops are scheduled to arrive in Belarus in mid-August.
Moscow has portrayed Zapad 17 as a regular exercise, held every four years, planned long ago and not a reaction to the latest round of sanctions.
NATO headquarters in Brussels said it had no plans to respond to the maneuvers by deploying more troops along the Russian border.
A NATO official said: “NATO will closely monitor exercise Zapad 17, but we are not planning any large exercises during Zapad 17. Our exercises are planned long in advance and are not related to the Russian exercise.”
The US vice-president, Mike Pence, discussed Zapad 17 during a visit to Estonia in July and raised the possibility of deploying the US Patriot missile defense system in the country. The US may deploy extra troops to eastern Europe during the course of the exercise and delay the planned rotation of others.
The commander of US Army Europe, Lt Gen Ben Hodges, told a press conference in Hungary in July: “Everybody that lives close to the western military district is a little bit worried because they hear about the size of the exercise.”
The Russian armed forces have undergone rapid modernisation over the last decade and Zapad offers them a chance to train en masse.
Moscow blames growing west-east tensions on the expansion of NATO eastwards and in recent years the deployment of more NATO forces in countries bordering Russia. NATO says the increased deployments are in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2013.
Russia has not said how many troops will participate in Zapad 17, but the Russian ambassador to NATO , Aleksander Grushko, said it was not envisioned that any of the maneuvers would involve more than 13,000 troops, the limit at which Russia – under an international agreement – would be obliged to allow military from other countries to observe the exercise.
Russia could, theoretically, divide the exercise into separate parts in order to keep below the 13,000 limit. Western analysts said the last Zapad exercise in 2013 involved an estimated 70,000 military and support personnel, even though Russia informed NATO in the run-up it would not exceed 13,000.
Igor Sutyagin, co-author of Russia’s New Ground Forces, to be officially published on September 20 said, “unfortunately, you can’t trust what the Russians say.” He said, “one hundred thousand is probably exaggerated, but 18,000 is absolutely realistic.”
He did not envisage an attack on the Baltic states, given they are members of NATO . “Well, there are easier ways to commit suicide,” he said. But Putin is a master at doing the unexpected, he said, and Russia could take action elsewhere, such as taking more land in Georgia.
In a joint paper published in May, Col Tomasz Kowalik, a former special assistant to the chairman of NATO’s military committee and a director at the Polish ministry of national defense, and Dominik Jankowski, a senior official at the Polish ministry of foreign affairs, wrote that Russia had ordered 4,000 rail cars to transport its troops to Belarus and estimated that could amount to 30,000 military personnel.
Adding in troops already in place in Belarus and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad as well as troops arriving by air, it might be the largest Russian exercise since 1991.
NATO said its biggest exercise this year, Trident Javelin 17, running from Nov. 8-17, would involve only 3,000 troops. Trident Javelin 17 is to prepare for next year’s bigger exercise, Trident Juncture 2018, which will involve an estimated 35,000 troops.
The NATO official added: “We have increased our military presence in the eastern part of the alliance in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its military buildup in the region. We have four multinational NATO battle-groups in place in the Baltic states and Poland, a concrete reminder that an attack on one ally is an an attack on all. However, NATO’s force posture is not in reaction to Zapad 17.”
During the Cold War, Zapad was the biggest training exercise of the Soviet Union and involved an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 personnel. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was resurrected in 1999 and has been held every four years since.
Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) and Seawolf-class fast attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) both surfaced in the Arctic Circle March 10, 2018, during the multinational maritime Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018 in the Arctic Circle north of Alaska.
Both fast-attack submarines, as well the UK Royal Navy submarine HMS Trenchant (S91), are participating in the biennial exercise in the Arctic to train and validate the warfighting capabilities of submarines in extreme cold-water conditions.
“From a military, geographic, and scientific perspective, the Arctic Ocean is truly unique, and remains one of the most challenging ocean environments on earth,” said Rear Admiral James Pitts, commander, Undersea Warfighting Development Center (UWDC).
ICEX provides the U.S. Submarine Force and partners from the Royal Navy an opportunity to test combat and weapons systems, sonar systems, communications, and navigation systems in a challenging operational environment. The unique acoustic undersea environment is further compounded by the presence of a contoured, reflective ice canopy when submerged.
According to Pitts, operating in the Arctic ice alters methods and practices by which submarines operate, communicate and navigate.
“We must constantly train together with our submarine units and partners to remain proficient in this hemisphere,” Pitts said. “Having both submarines on the surface is clear demonstration of our proficiency in the Arctic.”
In recent years, the Arctic has been used as a transit route for submarines. The most recent ICEX was conducted in 2016 with USS Hampton (SSN 767) and USS Hartford (SSN 768).
The first Arctic under-ice operations by submarines were done in 1947-49. On Aug. 1, 1947, the diesel submarine USS Boarfish (SS-327), with Arctic Submarine Laboratory’s founder, Dr. Waldo Lyon, onboard serving as an Ice Pilot, conducted the first under-ice transit of an ice floe in the Chukchi Sea.
In 1958, the nuclear-powered USS Nautilus made the first crossing of the Arctic Ocean beneath the pack ice. The first Arctic surfacing was done by USS Skate (SSN 578) in March 1959. USS Sargo was the first submarine to conduct a winter Bering Strait transit in 1960.
The units participating in the exercise are supported by a temporary ice camp on a moving ice floe approximately 150 miles off the coast of the northern slope of Alaska in international waters. The ice camp, administered by the Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL), is a remote Arctic drifting ice station, built on multi-year sea-ice especially for ICEX that is logistically supported with contract aircraft from Deadhorse, Alaska. The ice camp will be de-established once the exercise is over.
The strike on Shayrat Air Base was intended to take out a number of targets, but one plane in particular was top of the list: The Su-22 Fitter.
According to Scramble.nl, two squadrons of this plane were based at the Shayrat air base that absorbed 59 T-LAMs. But why was this plane the primary target, as opposed to the squadron of MiG-23 Floggers? The answer is that the versions of the MiG-23 that were reportedly based there were primarily in the air-to-air role. The MiG-23MLD is known as the “Flogger K” by NATO. The two squadrons of Su-22 Fitters, though, specialized in the ground attack mission.
According to militaryfactory.com, the Su-22 is one of two export versions of the Su-17, which first entered service in 1969. Since then, it has received progressive improvements, and was widely exported to not only Warsaw Pact countries but to Soviet allies in the Middle East and to Peru. The Russians and French teamed up to modernize many of the Fitters still in service – and over 2,600 of these planes were built.
According to the Encyclopaedia of Modern Aircraft Armament, the Su-17/Su-20/Su-22 Fitter has eight hardpoints capable of carrying up to 11,000 pounds of munitions. It also has a pair of MR-30 30mm cannon. It is capable of a top speed of 624 knots, according to militaryfactory.com.
The Fitter has seen a fair bit of combat action, including during the Iran-Iraq War, the Yom Kippur War, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and the Russian wars in Chechnya.
Recently, it saw action in the Libyan Civil War as well as the Syrian Civil War.
While it has performed well in ground-attack missions, it was famously misused by then-Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi to challenge U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats over the Gulf of Sidra in 1981. Both Fitters were shot down after an ineffectual attack on the Tomcats.
During Desert Storm, the Iraqi Air Force lost two Su-22s, then two more during Operation Provide Comfort.
The Fitter did get one moment in the cinematic sun, though. In the Vin Diesel action movie “XXX,” two Czech air force Fitters made a cameo during the climactic sequence.
It was after 6 p.m. in the small Midwestern town as people began to end their day.
The warm colors of the mid-August afternoon sky started slipping into the evening. That’s when a handful of Army drill sergeants were inadvertently called into action, and saved a family from a burning vehicle.
Shortly before, people were driving home from work, running errands or just passing through Sparta, Wisconsin, on Highway 21.
Among those driving was David Turner, 62, a retired maintenance worker, who on Aug. 15, 2019, was in his silver SUV with his granddaughters — Delilah, 4, and London, 2 — on an evening cruise along the highway that connects Sparta to his hometown, Tomah, Wisconsin, roughly 17 miles away.
Meanwhile, several drill sergeants with the Army Reserve were also among the passersby.
They had finished a day’s work at Fort McCoy, a nearby Army base located between Sparta and Tomah, and were driving back to their hotels, said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Juhl, a drill sergeant with the 95th Training Division.
The soldiers were on orders, training other Army Reserve drill sergeants vying for U.S. Army Drill Sergeant of the Year later that month.
The right place, at the right time
The drive was cut short after the soldiers had pulled off the road into a nearby parking lot, tending to their first of two unexpected incidents.
The drill sergeants were parked outside of a local flower shop, and had their heads under the hood of a car, trying to pinpoint engine failure in one of the vehicles — but, they weren’t having much luck.
That’s when Sgt. Roger Williams, owner of the inoperable car, and who admits he’s “not a car guy,” called his non-commissioned officer in charge, Sgt. 1st Class Justin McCarthy — who owns a car shop in Charlotte, North Carolina — for back up. Always willing to help, McCarthy arrived shortly after and identified the problem; a serpentine belt had snapped.
Williams, a Beloit, Wisconsin native, opted to drive his personal vehicle to Fort McCoy. The other soldiers, from various parts of the country, were driving rentals.
“We were meant to be there,” said Sgt. Daniel McElroy, a drill sergeant attached to the 108th Training Command, believing by serendipitous chance they were “at the right place, at the right time” to save lives.
As the men finished checking Williams’ car, Turner, the grandfather in a silver SUV, raced by them. Unbeknownst to the soldiers, Turner was suffering from a medical condition at the time, rendering him unconscious. Yet his foot remained pressed on the vehicle’s accelerator.
“I noticed his vehicle going really fast before hitting a median,” said McElroy, adding that the sound of the engine racing initially caught his attention. They were stopped along a residential area, facing a four-way intersection, where vehicles typically drive slowly.
Within a fragment of a moment, the SUV smashed directly into a utility pole on the other side of the intersection, at full speed, splintering the tree-like column on impact and causing power outages in the area.
A “massive, fiery blue explosion” erupted, McElroy said, and was accompanied with multiple energy blasts shooting from the fractured utility pole. The mangled SUV caught fire.
Answering the call
Although the men were bewildered, working together came naturally. So, without a word or moment of hesitation, all four sprinted toward the burning vehicle. They felt their Army training kick in.
McCarthy, a 25-year service veteran, had experienced a similar situation during a 2007 deployment in Iraq, when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. He also has a civilian background with energy, and verified no live wires were touching the vehicle.
However, its motor was in flames, fluid had puddled onto the road around it, and black smoke from the engine poured into the air vents and filled the inside of the vehicle with smoke. It seemed the family was on borrowed time.
“The first person we checked was the driver,” Juhl said, after rushing to the vehicle, adding that Turner was conscious, but “out of it” at the time.
Turner, who suffered a fractured vertebrae among other injuries, was pinned in the driver’s seat. He woke up to the smell of air bag powder blended with engine smoke, he said, and immediately thought about his granddaughters in the back.
When the collision happened, the pole pretzeled the framework of his vehicle as easy as a soda can being crushed. The steering wheel immediately locked Turner into place. The soldiers tried opening the driver’s side door, but it was useless.
Like Turner, the door was pinned in. However, it was bent enough for the soldiers to fold the frame like a banana from the top, McCarthy said. They worked on the door until the glass from the driver’s side window shattered, causing black smoke to roll out from inside.
They could reach Turner with their hands, but were still unable to move him. All Turner could repeat was, “How are the girls?” in a dazed tone.
“I tried getting out on my own,” Turner later said. “The pain was so intense all I could say was ‘get the girls, leave me alone, if I die, I die.'”
At the time, the soldiers were unaware of any passengers. Due to the smoke-filled interior, deployed side airbag curtains, and dark tinted windows of the SUV — their vision was clouded, McCarthy said. In addition, he didn’t hear any crying.
McCarthy “didn’t know what to expect” when he opened the back door, he said, and his “heart sank thinking of the children’s conditions.” He and Juhl rushed to opposite sides of the vehicle to check the children.
McCarthy was greeted by the 2-year-old, London, and he asked “is it okay if I get you out of your chair?” London, safely in her car seat, replied, “I’m 2,” ignoring the question, raising her index and middle fingers. He didn’t see injuries on the girl.
Meanwhile, Juhl checked on Delilah, who also had no visible injuries. They removed the girls without any issues.
The soldiers “relied on their Army training in a civilian environment,” McCarthy said, adding, although it wasn’t a tactical vehicle, and they’ve “never trained with child seats,” it was comparable to “a gunner in a turret,” or similar training scenario.
Around this time, McElroy pulled Turner from the vehicle from the front passenger side door. After ensuring the victims were okay, and local responders arrived, the soldiers slipped into the crowd and left. It wasn’t until the Turner family searched for the men that their story was able to be shared.
The drill sergeants credit readiness training for their actions.
“The Army has done an outstanding job training individual soldiers,” McCarthy said, adding, “Things like combat lifesaving skills prepared me adequately, and without the Army’s training, I don’t know if I would have responded as effectively.”
“Those men were humble; they responded and went home,” Turner said, who is expected to make a full recovery. “But, the word ‘hero’ doesn’t touch who they are. Anybody who is in the military, if they are going through any training, should emulate the people who saved my life.”
China’s rapidly growing fleet of electric buses could be the biggest existential threat to oil demand in the future as more and more vehicles shun fossil fuels.
A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests that China’s electric-bus revolution could kill off oil demand in the future with 6.4 million barrels a day displaced by electric vehicles by 2040.
By the end of 2019, a cumulative 270,000 barrels a day of diesel demand, predominantly from China, will be removed from the market. China’s revolution in electric vehicles has been astonishing and looks set to continue into the future. For example, in the growing mega city of Shenzen, the entire 16,000 strong fleet of buses run on electric engines and taxis will soon follow suit.
Bloomberg estimates that electric buses and cars collectively account for 3% of global oil demand growth since 2011. The market is still small, making up around 0.3% of current consumption, but is set to expand rapidly in the coming years.
Global energy demand is still growing despite the boom in electric vehicles, with the US set to become the world’s largest oil exporter in the coming years.
A number of American cities and universities, such as the University of Utah, have unveiled electric-bus fleets in recent years. And in 2017, 12 major global cities agreed to buy only all-electric buses starting in 2025, according to Electrek.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The US Army wants the F-35 to support its ground troops.
It’s that simple. We hear volumes of information about the Marine Corps vertical-take-off-and-landing F-35B, Navy carrier-launched F-35C, and Air Force F-35A — but what does the Army think of the emerging Joint Strike Fighter?
Does the Army think the 5th-Gen stealth fighter would bring substantial value to targeting and attacking enemy ground forces in close proximity to advancing infantry? What kind of Close Air Support could it bring to high-risk, high-casualty ground war?
“When you are in a firefight, the first thing infantry wants to do it get on that radio to adjust fire for mortars and locate targets with close air support with planes or helicopters. You want fires. The F-35 has increased survivability and it will play a decisive role in the support of ground combat,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told reporters at the Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium.
Gen. Milley’s comments are quite significant, given the historic value of close air support when it comes to ground war. His remarks also bear great relevance regarding the ongoing Pentagon evaluation assessing the F-35 and A-10 Warthog in close air support scenarios.
Over the years, close-air-support to Army ground war has of course often made the difference between life and death — victory or defeat. The Army, Milley said, wants next-generation close-air-support for potential future warfare.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
(US Army photo)
“We fight with the Navy, Marines and Air Force. Our soldiers have never heard an Air Force pilot say ‘I can’t fly into that low-altitude area,’ These guys take incredible risk. If there are troops on the ground, they are rolling in hot,” Milley said.
While Milley of course did not specifically compare the A-10 to the F-35 or say the Army prefers one aircraft over another, he did say the F-35 would be of great value in a high-stakes, force-on-force ground war.
Long-revered by ground troops as a “flying-tank,” the combat proven A-10 has been indispensable to ground-war victory. Its titanium hull, 30mm cannon, durability, built-in redundancy and weapons range has enabled the aircraft to sustain large amounts of small arms fire and combat damage — and keep flying.
At the same time, as newer threats emerge and the high-tech F-35 matures into combat, many US military weapons developers and combatant commanders believe the JSF can bring an improved, new-generation of CAS support to ground troops. Thus, the ongoing Office of the Secretary of Defense comparison.
Accordingly, the Pentagon-led F-35/A-10 assessment is nearing its next phase of evaluation, following an initial “first wave” of tests in July 2018 Vice Adm. Mat Winter, Program Executive Officer, F-35 program, recently told a group of reporters.
“Mission performance is under evaluation,” Winter said.
Pre- Initial Operational Test Evaluation test phases, are currently underway at Edwards AFB and Naval Air Station China Lake, officials said.
“Mission performance is being evaluated in the presence of a robust set of ground threats and, to ensure a fair and comparable evaluation of each system’s performance, both aircraft are allowed to configure their best weapons loadouts and employ their best tactics for the mission scenario” a statement from the Director, Operational Test Evaluation said.
Upon initial examination, some might regard a stealthy, 5th-Gen F-35 as ill-equipped or at least not-suited for close air support. However, a closer look does seem to uncover a handful of advantages — speaking to the point Milley mentioned about survivability.
Long-range, computer-enabled F-35 sensors could enable the aircraft to see and destroy enemy ground targets with precision from much higher altitudes and much farther ranges than an A-10 could; the speed of an F-35, when compared to an A-10, would potentially make it better able to maneuver, elude enemy fire and get into position for attack; like the A-10s 30mm gun, the F-35 has its own 25mm cannon mounted on its left wing which could attack ground forces; given its sensor configuration, with things like a 360-degree Distributed Aperture System with cameras, the F-35 brings a drone-like ISR component to air-ground war. This could help targeting, terrain analysis and much-needed precision attacks as US soldiers fight up close with maneuvering enemy ground forces.
Two A-10C Thunderbolt IIs.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter)
An F-35 might be better positioned to respond quickly to enemy force movement; in the event that enemy air threats emerge in a firefight, an F-35 could address them in a way an A-10 could not, obviously; an F-35 would be much better positioned to locate enemy long-range fires points of combat significance and destroy hostile artillery, mortar or long-range-fires launching points. Finally, while the A-10 has a surprising wide envelope of weapons, an F-35 could travel with a wider range of air-ground attack weapons — armed with advanced targeting technology.
Also, fighter-jet close air support is by no means unprecedented. F-22s were used against ISIS, F-15s were used against insurgents in Iraq — and the F-35 recently had its combat debut in Afghanistan.
There are, however, some unknowns likely to be informing the current analysis. How much small arms fire could an F-35 withstand? Could it draw upon its “hovering” technology to loiter near high-value target areas? To what extent could it keep flying in the event that major components, such as engines or fuselage components, were destroyed in war? How much could A-10 weapons and targeting technology be upgraded?
Regardless of the conclusions arrived upon by the ongoing assessment, it is likely both the A-10 and F-35 will perform CAS missions in the immediate years ahead.
When it comes to the Army and the F-35, one can clearly envision warfare scenarios wherein Army soldiers could be supported by the Marine Corps F-35B, Navy F-35C or Air Force F-35A.
“We don’t fight as an Army, we fight as a joint force. What makes us different is the synergistic effect we get from combining various forces in time and space,” Milley said.
This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.
The results of the last presidential election have brought national attention to a secessionist movement in California otherwise known as “Calexit.” Activists upset with the outcome are gathering signatures to place a secession referendum on the ballot in 2019.
While the probability of California seceding from the Union is remote, it is technically possible.
What if the movement ultimately gained enough traction to foment a rebellion in one of California’s most important and iconic cities? Here’s how the United States might try to take back the city and how insurgents might defend it.
Assuming the rebellion had broad-based popular support, the California National Guard would begin concentrating several units in and near San Francisco, where they would have the best chance of facing U.S. forces in the dense urban environment. In response, the Pentagon might deploy storied units like the 101st Airborne and 25th Infantry Divisions to San Francisco to seize and secure the city.
When U.S. forces make their push on the city, the 101st Airborne might conduct air assaults across the South Bay to seize and secure Highways 280 and 101, cutting off San Francisco’s southern supply route. Elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment would launch a raid on the San Francisco airport, safeguarding it for follow-on forces.
Simultaneously, Delta Force commandos would secure nuclear material in the East Bay at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, likely encountering stiff resistance from local forces. Rogue hackers might us the attack to initiate a propaganda campaign, hinting at a possible radiation leak. The news of such a disaster would spur a flood of refugees to flee inland from Berkeley and Oakland, inundating follow-on U.S. forces and overwhelming hastily constructed refugee camps.
Further west, a SEAL team would work to disarm explosive charges set by Chinese frogmen on the foundations of both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, before the 25th Infantry Division’s lightly armored Strykers could cross over.
Columns of Strykers surging across the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, would turn northwest from the Bay Bridge. Streaming along the Embarcadaro, they would race to seize the high ground at Telegraph Hill, where Coit Tower offers a commanding view of the city. To the northwest, forces crossing the Golden Gate would quickly occupy the Presidio, establishing a tactical operations center there.
National Guard units would lie in wait until U.S. forces became channelized in the city. Then, they would attack, firing small arms and RPGs from office buildings and high rises, and detonating IEDs hidden beneath concrete along the main streets. National Guard M1A1 Abrams tanks, hiding in parking structures would ambush Strykers, littering the streets with mangled and twisted metal. When beleaguered American units call for air support, Longbow Apache helicopters would stumble into massive arrays of balloons released just before they passed over the city. The balloons would tangle in the helicopters’ rotors and cause the aircraft to sputter and crash.
While the insurgents would have the element of surprise, American forces would recover quickly, rapidly seizing key communications nodes and power stations to deny rebels a link to the outside world. As American forces extend their control deeper into the city, they would hit a wall of resistance in the Tenderloin as meth-fueled gangs ambush them from every conceivable alley and window with AK-47s, Molotov cocktails, and car bombs.
To counter the chaos, U.S. forces would partition particularly restive parts of the city, walling them off with twelve-foot high, portable, steel-reinforced concrete blast walls or T-walls. At the same time, another battle would rage beneath the streets throughout the 28 subway miles of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system.
Within three weeks, the U.S. military would control two-thirds of the city, but dwindling food supplies would leave the civilian population increasingly desperate. Overflowing sewage and a swelling rat infestation would only make matters worse. This horrific environment would inspire a highly effective insurgent propaganda campaign, with hackers smuggling micro SD cards containing footage of alleged U.S. military atrocities and deteriorating conditions out of the city.
Soon, the U.S. military would be overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of refugees, frantic to leave San Francisco. To prevent known criminals and insurgents from escaping the increasingly tightening cordon, soldiers would use tools like the Biometric Automated Toolset (BATS) to perform thumb and eye scans on every refugee. They would also confiscate all electronic devices to prevent insurgents from passing on critical intelligence information to other cells.
Yet some micro SD cards would make it through the U.S. military’s security checkpoints and end up on CNN. Terrifying images of rail-thin San Franciscans, bullet-riddled corpses of children, and rats the size of small dogs festering in refuse-strewn alleys would carpet-bomb the media circuit, making it increasingly difficult for U.S. forces to maintain a long-term occupation of the city.
While the U.S. victory over San Francisco would ultimately be assured, it would be a Pyrrhic one that would sully the U.S. military’s reputation. More importantly, it might have the unintentional impact of bolstering the resistance in the foothills and mountains to the east.
Three of Australia’s warships were “challenged” by the Chinese navy in the South China Sea early April, 2018, according to an ABC report.
Defense sources told ABC that Australia’s navy was en route to Vietnam when it encountered polite but “robust” challenges from the People’s Liberation Army, but the specific nature of the challenges is not described. HMAS Toowoomba had departed from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, while HMAS Anzac and HMAS Success travelled through the South China Sea after leaving the Philippines.
It’s believed the interaction happened around the same time China was conducting its largest-ever naval parade on April 12, 2018. The massive show of force involved 10,000 naval officers, 48 naval vessels, submarines, the country’s only aircraft carrier.
During the event President Xi Jinping was on board one of the destroyers, overseeing the parade.
When questioned about the incident, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wouldn’t reveal any details.
“All I can say to you is we maintain and practice the right of freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the world,” Turnbull said. “In this context, you’re talking about naval vessels on the world’s oceans including the South China Sea, as is our perfect right in accordance with international law.”
Numerous countries — including China, Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines — have territorial claims, making the South China Sea one of the most disputed places on the planet. For its part, China has been criticized for building artificial islands in the region and militarizing them with missile sites and air bases.
This isn’t the only problem Turnbull has faced with China of late.