The Gurkha warriors of Nepal are fearless soldiers who famously serve in the British and Indian militaries. Their reputation for bravery, fighting ability, and heroism dates back to the Middle Ages.
Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw of the Indian Army, once said, “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.” A fitting statement for a force who’s motto is, “better to die than to be a coward.”
NOTE: O.V. was wrong about the bull decapitation being part of a Gurkha ceremony. The animal sacrifice video he was referencing during the podcast is part of the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyapu, Nepal. But, the Kukri knife IS used during the animal beheadings.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks once again with Jimmy Blackmon, the author of Pale Horse, a book about his time commanding an Army aviation task force with the 101st Airborne Division at the height of combat in the Afghan War.
The book is set in the very valleys where the 9/11 attacks were conceived and where 10 Medals of Honor were earned.
These are the stories of the pilots behind the lethal Apache helicopters who strike fear into the heart of their enemies as they work with medevac crews who risk their lives to save their fellow troops.
Jimmy was also in the area when Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl decided to go for a stroll in Afghanistan.
In this episode, we talk on a wide-range of topics including:
[1:45] Jimmy humorously explains why he decided to join the military.
[5:50] How growing up in Georgia prepared Jimmy for a career in the Army.
[7:55] This is how playing Cowboys and Indians as a child helps develop skills for combat operations.
[11:45] Jimmy compares his life as an enlisted soldier to growing up in Georgia.
[13:45] The difference between situational awareness and situational curiosity.
[15:05] The combat rules of flying vs. the combat rules on the ground.
[17:15] The most challenging aspect of war according to a pilot.
[24:30] How pilots develop skills to read the enemies’ intention from high above.
[27:50] How the enemy uses their terrain and weather to combat allied forces.
[30:10] Jimmy’s coolest memory from the battle at Observation Post Bari Alai.
[35:00] What Jimmy’s been doing since exiting the military.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and Chase speak with stand-up comedian Mitch Burrow about what simple luxuries we wished we had while on deployment.
Mitch is a Marine Corps veteran that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He then started a career in manufacturing before realizing that it sucked. Now, Mitch has found his true calling in acting silly on a stage in front of strangers on a nightly basis.
Being forward deployed without the amenities that service members are used to from back home can suck. While some military branches have chow halls with an all-you-can-eat menu, others are forced to eat highly-processed foods from heavy duty plastic bags — a.k.a. MREs.
Although we wish for the most part that our livelihood will remain the same while on deployment, it’s the simple things service members miss the most.
Historically, the military has relied on clearly defined boundaries of acceptable interaction between the officer and enlisted ranks to maintain good order and discipline.
It is a long-standing custom that dates back hundreds of years and has proven itself effective time after time. But not everyone feels it’s a custom worth holding on to.
“I think there should not be a difference between officer and enlisted ranks,” said former Air Force officer Shannon Corbeil. “I believe we should all reach rank based on experience and accomplishment.”
On the other hand, Chase Millsap — another former officer — believes the military should maintain its course because officers bring leadership experience accomplished through higher learning and training.
America’s relationship with Russia wasn’t always as bad as it is now (or was during the Cold War).
Thanks to help from Czarist Russia, for example, England had a tough time controlling the colonial rebellion during the Revolutionary War. And who can forget the alliance with Stalin during World War II?
In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast, our hosts explore the on-again, off-again relationship with the Ruskies.
Army medics and Navy corpsmen are a perfect example of service branch cooperation. When they work together, they save lives.
For this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we invited former Army medic Ruty Rutenberg to chat with our resident Corpsman about deployment responsibilities. Tune in to learn the differences between their jobs on the field and in garrison.
Disclaimer: Let’s be honest — we only work so well together because we’re secretly trying to outdo the other side.
New York Times bestselling author Sebastian Junger dropped by We Are The Mighty to discuss his latest book “Tribe.”
Here’s what the publisher says about the book:
Through combining history, psychology, and anthropology, “Tribe” explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that—for many veterans as well as civilians—war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. “Tribe” explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today’s divided world.
You might think that, somewhere along the way, someone in the staff of a senior senator from Kentucky would have figured out what Duffel Blog really was. Instead, in 2012, a concerned constituent actually had the Senator’s office send a formal letter to the Pentagon concerning Duffel Blog’s report of the VA extending benefits to Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Duffel Blog and its writers are more than brilliant. What it does at its best is play the role of court jester – delivering hard truths hidden inside jokes. In the case of Senator McConnell’s office sending a letter of concern to the Pentagon over a Duffel Blog piece, the site was hammering the VA, equating using its services to punishing accused terrorists in one of the most notorious prisons in the world.
We laugh, but they’re talking about the VA we all use – and we laugh because there’s truth to the premise.
Paul Szoldra is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Duffel Blog, former Military and Defense Editor at Business Insider, and was instrumental in the creation of We Are The Mighty. He’s now a columnist at Task & Purpose.
Speaking truth to power is not difficult for Szoldra, even when the power he speaks to is one that is so revered by the American people that it’s nearly untouchable by most other media. We live in an age where criticizing politicians is the order of the day, but criticizing the military can be a career-ending endeavor. You don’t have to be a veteran to criticize military leadership, but it helps.
“If you go back on the timeline far enough, you’ll find a lot of bullsh*t,” Szoldra says, referring specifically to comments made by generals about the now 17-year-old war in Afghanistan. “And I have no problem calling it out, highlighting it where need be.”
Szoldra doesn’t like that the top leadership of the U.S. military exists in what he calls a “bubble” and can get away with a lot because of American support for its fighting men and women — those fighting the war on the ground. Szoldra, who left the Marine Corps as a sergeant in 2010, was one of those lower-enlisted who fought the war. When he writes, he writes from that perspective.
“If we’re talking about sending troops into Syria… I wonder what does that feel like to the grunt on the ground,” Szoldra says. “I don’t really care too much about the general and how he’s going to deal with the strategy, I wonder about the 20-something lance corporal that I used to be trying to find IEDs with their feet.”
His work is thoughtful and, at times, intense, but always well-founded. Szoldra also does a semi-regular podcast with Terminal Lance creator, Max Uriarte, where they have honest discussion about similar topics. Those discussions often take more of a cultural turn and it feels more like you’re listening to Marine grunts wax on about the way things are changing – because that’s exactly what it is, with just as much honesty as you’d come to expect from Paul Szoldra and his ongoing body of work.
The times Duffel Blog articles were mistaken for real news
Duffel Blog’s new party game
Audible: For you, the listeners of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out some of the books and authors featured on Mandatory Fun. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/MandatoryFun.
Green on blue attacks — used to describe attacks by Afghan soldiers on Coalition forces — are one of the many dangers our troops in the Middle East face every day.
These deadly morale-sapping attacks are difficult to predict and leave lasting negative trust issues between the locals — and American forces. As many as 91 incidents resulted in 148 Coalition troops killed and as many 186 wounded between 2008 and 2015.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Marine infantry officer turned Army Green Beret Chase Millsap, and our Navy corpsman smartass Tim Kirkpatrick share their experiences working with the locals. Millsap with the Iraqi Police and Kirkpatrick with the Afghan National Army. As you’ll listen, their experiences differ.
There’s a lot of death in the military; that’s what happens in wars — people kill each other. Whether it’s by partaking in the fighting or as a result of collateral damage, it is inevitable.
According to popular myth — mostly what we’ve watched during all those Halloween specials — people become ghosts by suffering a violent or unfair death. By this reasoning, bases and battlefields are gold mines for spooky military ghost stories.
Join us for a ghostly episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast where we explore the lost souls and vengeful spirits roaming military bases and battlefields in the afterlife.
If you’ve ever moved to a new city or transitioned to a different school as a kid, you may have experienced culture shock. The ordeal could be disorienting, but it probably wasn’t long before you made new friends and adjusted to your environment.
Now amplify that times 100, that’s what it’s like for some troops visiting foreign countries for the first time.
In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast, we discuss why partying in the Middle East is so darn hard.
August Dannehl: Navy veteran, WATM show producer and chef – Augie is the host of our popular video series, “HURRY UP AND WATCH!” where he breaks down some of our favorite military movies in three minutes. He also cooks, hosts and produces “Meals Ready To Eat” a show that takes him around the world to bring people together with food. More about Augie:
Steven Briggs: Comedian, actor, and USO entertainer – Briggs is an LA-based comedian and performer having appeared on TV, clubs, and theaters across the US. He’s also a USO entertainer and has traveled abroad to deliver laughter and entertainment to the troops through the ‘Apocalaughs’ tour. Learn more about Steven:
Christian Lowe: Executive Editor at We Are The Mighty
Christian is a veteran reporter and digital editor with nearly 20 years of experience covering the U.S. military at home and abroad. He deployed six times to Iraq and Afghanistan as an embedded reporter and has covered all the services in the conflict zone, on base and in halls of Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. Christian worked previously at Army Times and Military.com as well as a stint in the firearms industry as Editor in Chief of Shooting Sports Retailer and Tactical Retailer magazines. He’s a competitor in IDPA, USPSA and 3-Gun Nation.