The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock - We Are The Mighty
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The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock


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Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock is a Marine Corps legend and one of the most lethal snipers in history. His incredible true-life war stories are the stuff Hollywood movies are made of. In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast we talk about his sniper duels, that time he crawled two miles to kill a Vietnamese general, and more. Don’t miss this episode of a real American badass.

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Transition advice from a top tier special operations veteran


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In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast Army special operations veteran and subject of “That Which I Love Destroys Me” documentary Tyler Grey shares his experience and wisdom for transitioning out of the military. Grey left the military at the height of his career due to injuries he sustained while serving in Iraq. Today, Grey spends his time as a technical advisor in Hollywood and mentoring veterans. Recently, he worked on the set of the DC Comics supervillain movie “Suicide Squad.”

Related: These vets share challenges they faced transitioning back to civilian life

Grey’s advice is valuable for any transition, not just the military. Whether you’re switching careers, going through a rough personal patch, or approaching the next chapter in your life, these words of wisdom will prepare you for those trying moments.

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“That Which I Love Destroys Me” movie trailer featuring Tyler Grey

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These are the Hollywood actors who train our troops for combat


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Role players are an essential element for troops preparing to travel overseas and face-off with the enemy. They provide a cultural boost by immersing troops in the violent world they’re about to deploy to.

They submerge themselves into training scenarios like mock firefights, ambushes, and suicide bombings — all for the benefit of troops heading to combat.

Some role players themselves are refugees turned Hollywood actors.

The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock
A Marine subdues a role player while practicing search procedures.

Related: This is how drunken shenanigans influence pilot callsigns

In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake talks with Kelvin Garvanne about his life as an Arabic/Iraqi role player for U.S. ground troops heading into combat.

For the last nine years, Garvanne has provided Islamic culture and language training to military and civilian personnel deploying overseas.

“A role player is basically there to interact with the battalion’s training,” Garvanne explains. “There are different levels on how you can interact. We were all characterized as ‘meat puppets’ which were basically folks who were just there to do whatever was told of us to do. “

The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock
These role players have a friendly interaction with a U.S. Marine.

These mock firefights consist of loud gunfire (blanks), firework explosions and a Hollywood makeup team to create realistic blood and guts.

The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock
Cpl. Adam N. Meier, a role player, beaten and taken hostage during anti-terrorism training exercise. (Source II MEF)

Also Read: Dale Dye wants to make this epic World War II movie with veterans

 

Guest: Kelvin Garvanne, Consultant Human Factor Analysis

Kelvin Garvanne attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He is an Emmy award creative artist who is fascinated by the world and enjoys investigating the context of national and world events.

Mr. Garvanne is a native New Yorker who has lived in Washington D.C., Bogota, Colombia, Madrid, Spain, and Los Angeles, CA. He has traveled through several countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Panama, Mexico, and Haiti. For the last nine years, he provided Islamic culture and Iraqi and Pashto language training to military and civilian personnel deploying overseas.

Mr. Garvanne continues to develop opportunities to advise and train military and civilians positioned in careers involving global service. He also develops creative projects to expose the human condition.

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That time Sen. Mitch McConnell was fooled by ‘Duffel Blog’

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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.


What Duffel Blog is, on its face, is a satirical news website that covers the military. At the very least, we all laugh. We laugh at the brave Airman who sent his steak back at the DFAC and the Army wife who re-enlisted her husband indefinitely using a general power of attorney. We laugh because the stories’ absurdities are grounded in the reality of military culture.

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.

The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock
Szoldra speaks the the Got Your 6 Storytellers event in Los Angeles, Calif.
(Television Academy)

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.

The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock
Szoldra as a Marine in Afghanistan
(Paul Szoldra)

“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 insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock
Szoldra and Max Uriarte record their podcast.
(After Action with Max and Paul)

If you liked Szoldra on the show, read his work on Task & Purpose, give After Action with Max and Paul a listen, and get the latest from Duffel Blog. If you aren’t interested in the latest and just want the greatest, pick up Mission Accomplished: The Very Best of Duffel Blog, Volume One at Amazon.

And for a (potentially) limited time, you can get the Duffel Blog party game “WTF, Over? The Duffel Box” by donating to the game’s Kickstarter campaign.

Resources Mentioned

3 Key Points

  • The very best of Duffel Blog
  • The times Duffel Blog articles were mistaken for real news
  • Duffel Blog’s new party game

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  • 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.

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Sebastian Junger talks war, vet reintegration, and what’s wrong with America


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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.

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The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock

Selected links and show notes from the episode

  • Sebastian Junger’s new book “Tribe” is nothing short of a lesson for all Americans
  • [00:40] Sebastian Junger’s motivations for writing TRIBE.
  • [02:05] Why humans are drawn to communal living and tribal affiliation.
  • [04:15] Examples of tribalism in modern communities.
  • [06:05] How do we live in a modern society and retain some of the cohesion that comes from hardship and adversity.
  • [07:15] How mandatory national service could unify America.
  • [09:00] How Bowe Bergdahl and the financiers who caused the great recession harmed America.
  • [11:05] The difference between war trauma and personal alienation for troops reintegrating into society.
  • [14:00] The dangers of over valorization.
  • [16:20] Why no one else could have written this book other than Sebastian Junger.
  • [20:00] Sebastian Junger clarifies the use of “tribe” as used in his book.
  • [23:15] The feelings associated with coming home and leaving for deployment.
  • [25:25] What it takes to be accepted into a tribe.
  • [26:15] Sebastian Junger’s thought about practicing tribalism.
  • This celebrated war correspondent nails the reasons why soldiers miss combat
  • Sebastian Junger nails the reason why young men want to go to war

The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock

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The reason Russia says it wants to nuke Norway over a deployment of 330 Marines


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Norway recently invited 330 U.S. Marines to its country for winter warfare exercises and Russia went all nuclear over it.

Frants Klintsevitsj, the deputy chairman of Russia’s defense and security committee, said on national TV that a nuclear strike was on the table over the Devil Dog deployment.

But how much damage can 330 U.S. Marines and their personal gear do? We did a little research, and it turns out Russia’s response might have been spot on.

Join us for an entertaining discussion of Marine Corps history and learn about its fearsome reputation.

Related: 15 quotes from Gen. ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, slayer of bodies

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5 Air Force legends with incredible stories you need to know about


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Hundreds of heroes have emerged through the ranks of all service branches with remarkable stories of courage and selflessness.

And while some stories are well known, the ones we talk about in this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast are seldom told. You’d think these stories are made up, like the tale of airman “Snuffy,” or propaganda ploys to recruit more troops. Either way, every service member should know about these Air Force legends and their badassery.

Also read: 10 legendary heroes of the US Air Force

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Here’s a brief description of our heroes for reference:

1. Col. Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., the Tuskegee airman who almost shot Muammar Qaddafi. Chappie was already a legend before calling out Qaddafi in 1968, having served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

2. Sgt. Maynard “Snuffy” Smith, the original airman Snuffy. Despite being an undisciplined slacker avoided by everyone, Snuffy rose to the challenge in the face of certain death to save his crew.

3. Douglas W. Morrell, the combat cameraman who lived the entire history of the Air Force.

5. Eddie Rickenbacker, the race car driver-turned airman who broke all of the Air Force’s records.

6. Charlie Brown, the B-17 Flying Fortress pilot who was spared by German ace fighter pilot Oberleutnant Franz Stigler. These two rivals became close friends after meeting in 1990.

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Listen as Rob Riggle tells us his most awesome Marine Corps sea stories


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Marine Corps veteran Rob Riggle joins us for a hilarious conversation about his transition to acting, what he thinks about celebrities at the Marine Corps Ball, and how he advocates for veterans.

Guest: Rob Riggle

Rob retired from the Marine Corps in 2013 after 23 years of service, departing as a lieutenant colonel, but was recently promoted to full-bird colonel by virtue of his role as Colonel Sanders in the KFC commercials. (See what we did there?)

Outside of his movie roles — “The Hangover”, “The Other Guys”, and the “Jump Street” movies, to name a few — as well as appearances on Fox NFL Sunday — Rob is best-known from his time on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

The Rob Riggle InVETational Golf Classic:

The veteran-celebrity golf tournament will raise money and awareness for Semper Fi Fund, one of our nation’s most respected veteran nonprofit organizations, in support of wounded, critically ill and injured service members and their families.

The tournament will take place at the world-class Valencia Country Club in Los Angeles on Dec. 5, 2016. During this exclusive golf tourney, veteran and celebrity teams contend for the lowest scores and most laughs to raise funds and awareness for the renowned Semper Fi Fund. Semper Fi Fund provides immediate and lifetime support to post-911 wounded, critically ill and injured service members from all branches of the military. Since inception, Semper Fi Fund has assisted over 16,800 service members and their families totaling more than $133 million in assistance to veterans and their families. Semper Fi (“always faithful”) is the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps. Semper Fi Fund’s goal is to always be there faithfully helping Heroes in need.

Hosted by:

• Logan Nye: Army veteran and Associate Editor

• Tracy Woodward: Benevolent smartass and Social Media coordinator

• Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Related: How some famous military celebrities spent their time in service

Selected links and show notes from the episode:

  • [01:50] 20 different ways Rob Riggle can kill everyone on “The Daily Show.”
  • [03:00] How Rob Riggle spent his time in the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • [08:00] Rob Riggle’s roots in improv comedy.
  • [11:00] That time Rob Riggle was an Iraq corespondent for “The Daily Show.”
  • [17:00] How the Navy Blue Angels made Rob Riggle pass out during his “Top Gun 2” audition video.
  • [21:00] It turns out that Rob Riggle had his pilot’s license before he joined the Marine Corps.
  • [23:30] How Rob Riggle’s InVETational Golf Classic helps veterans.
  • [29:50] Rob Riggle’s advice for inviting a celebrity to the Marine Corps Ball.
  • [36:55] Rob Riggle sets the record straight about being a pilot.

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Combat poetry reveals what life is like on the Afghan front lines

Justin Eggen had some things stuck in his head for a long time during — but especially after — his two deployments to Afghanistan. These thoughts became poems and short stories that reflected his feelings and personal experience as a Marine in Marjah and in Afghanistan’s Sangin Valley. Like so many writing combat poetry, they are Eggen’s way of handling the overwhelming series of emotions from and memories of his time there.


In this episode of Mandatory Fun, We Are The Mighty’s Blake Stilwell talks to Justin Eggen on what it was like to write poetry as a Marine Corps combat veteran — and why every U.S. troop needs some creative outlet for thoughts and feelings like his.

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“When I was younger I wrote a bit of poetry,” Eggen says. “And I realized this is a good outlet for releasing a lot of pent up memories and aggression.”

That was then, this is now.

Eggen wrote up a few poems for “shits and giggles” after he returned from his deployments with the Corps, but the response was better than he ever imagined. He sent it to people who said he needed to share his combat poetry with the world.

Initially, however, he wasn’t apt to publish his works and share them with the world. At first, it was just a way to release the mental anguish. Eggen didn’t really take poetry or writing seriously, especially as a way to cope with what he describes as his mind “still living over in Afghanistan.”

“Ten years ago, I didn’t even think I would deploy to Afghanistan,” Eggen says, describing the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan while he was entering the Marine Corps. “When I joined, Afghanistan wasn’t even in people’s minds. Our Drill instructor said if we’re lucky, we’d go to Iraq.”

But don’t expect Justin Eggen’s combat poetry to look like anything a stereotypical beret-wearing beatnik might write. Eggen was a .50-cal machine gunner on a route clearance platoon, searching for IEDs in the roads around his area of responsibility.

 

The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock
Eggen at PB Alcatraz, Sangin 2011.

 

The enemy was like a ghost: They were very good at making IEDs that were hard to detect because they were composed of very few metal elements. His second book, which is currently being written, will be about fighting such a ghostly enemy.

His first book is about the struggle of having your mind stuck back over there.

“A huge part of being home after the Marine Corps is trying to face what happened,” he says. “You get blown up and you’re never the same, regardless of if you’re in a vehicle or on foot. You hit an IED and that rattles you to an extent and you’re changed for the rest of your life. I have friends who are not the same. I am not the same person.”

For Eggen, writing down a lot of what happened, especially as combat poetry, is a powerful thing. Not just for him but for anyone who is struggling emotionally or mentally from a traumatic experience in their life.

He enjoys his work a lot and even enjoys reading them. Each one tells its own little tale. While the longer stories and poems are deeper to him, he also revives the ancient art of the warrior writing haiku. They’re just as deep, but short and sweet and he loves the challenge of writing them.

“You get 17 syllables to portray a story,” he explains. “if you can build something that makes people think in 17 syllables, that’s a huge challenge. That’s what Japanese warriors used to do after battle, write haikus. That was the first version of “combat poetry.” That’s how they dealt with a battle. So that’s what I did for three weeks straight, counting syllables on my fingers.” 

For more of Justin Eggen, catch the rest of the show and then check out his book of poetry and short stories, Outside the Wire: A U.S. Marine’s Collection of Combat Poems and Short Stories on Amazon.

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How the Gurkha warriors of Nepal became so feared


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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.”

Don’t miss this episode about Gurkha badassery!

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What you need to know about the Navy SEAL Trump picked for his cabinet


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New York Times best-selling author of “American SniperScott McEwen joined us to discuss Ryan Zinke, the co-author, and subject of his latest book “American Commander.”

McEwen teamed with Zinke — a former SEAL Team Six Commander and the only US Navy SEAL in Congress — to write a book about the now-politician’s life.

Zinke is also Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Interior.

Zinke’s military career began in 1985 when he graduated from Officer Candidate School and attended SEAL training (BUDS class 136). He was first assigned to SEAL Team One in Coronado, California, then was later selected for SEAL Team Six where he was a Team Leader and a commander.

As McEwen tells it, after a decade of service, Zinke was assigned as Deputy and Acting Commander of Combined Joint Special Operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom where he led a force of over 3,500 Special Operations personnel. In 2006 he was awarded two Bronze Stars.

An author experienced in telling the stories of high-level special operators, McEwen goes on to explain how Zinke retired from active duty 2008 after serving 23 years as a Navy SEAL. Zinke later ran for Congress and was sworn into the House of Representatives on January 6, 2015, and became the first Navy SEAL in the House.

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Selected links and show notes from the episode:

  • [04:40] The general who wanted special operators to find out how many dogs were neutered before carrying out an operation.
  • [07:35] What the process for clearing a book through the Department of Defense is like.
  • [09:25] Why the book does not say “SEAL Team Six” even though it is referring to SEAL Team Six.
  • [11:50] Military family sacrifice.
  • [15:30] Common threads of special operators.
  • [17:30] The differences in Navy SEAL operators.
  • [19:30] Zinke and Gen. Mattis.
  • [25:35] What military veterans —like Zinke and Mattis— bring to U.S. politics.
  • [30:15] Defining Zinke through his relationship with his family.
  • [36:10] That time Navy SEALs were chastised by upper leadership for nabbing a bad guy.

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MIGHTY HISTORY

The story of the slave who survived the Alamo

The attack on the Alamo in 1836 was not a 13-day siege and slaughter as often portrayed in film and television. Don’t get me wrong – the defenders of the mission-turned-fortress were killed en masse as Mexican troops stormed the structure. It’s just that not everyone inside the Alamo died that day.

The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock
Maybe standing in the open wearing the brightest clothes isn’t the best idea.

That’s how we came to know of Joe — just Joe, any other names he had are lost to history now. Joe was the slave of William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo during Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s siege of the Texian fort. But no one knows exactly how Joe got there. No matter how he ended up there, he was one of many slaves and free blacks who fought or died at the Alamo.

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Joe was a stalwart defender alongside Travis and other Texians. When the din of the fighting died down and the Mexicans firmly controlled the fort, Joe was shot and bayoneted, only to be saved by a Mexican field officer. Because Joe could speak Spanish, he was able to be interrogated afterward.


All that is known about Joe after the Alamo is that he was questioned by Santa Anna and then later questioned by the Texas Cabinet. A little more than a year later, Joe escaped to Mexico on two stolen horses.

The insane Vietnam War adventures of legendary sniper Carlos Hathcock
One supposed photo of Joe, the slave and survivor of the Alamo.

That’s where attorney-turned-author Lewis Cook picked up the story. His first book, called Joe’s Alamo: Unsung, is a fiction-based-on-history account of what came next, after the Alamo, and after Joe escaped.

Cook was waiting to go to medical school when he discovered Joe’s story and was compelled to write about the Alamo. Cook discovered the Alamo was more than a bunch of white, male landowners fighting for Texas. The fort was full of women, minorities of many color, and followers of many religions. So, he set out to tell the story of the Alamo, a story that, he believes, belongs to all of us through the diversity of its defenders.

In his book, Cook tells a different story from what is commonly told in textbooks, film, and TV shows. It includes recently discovered facts about William Travis, Susana Dickinson, Davy Crockett, and Joe himself.

Resources Mentioned

Sponsor

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.

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What we learned from working with Iraq and Afghan locals


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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.

Related: How Navy corpsmen and Army medics work together on deployments

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.

Hosted by:

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

  • Twitter: @tkirk35

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

  • Twitter/Instagram: @orvelinvalle

Guests:

Chase Millsap: Army and Marine Corps infantry veteran turned Director of Impact Strategy at We Are The Mighty

  • Twitter/Instagram: @cmillsap05

August Dannehl: Navy veteran, Chef, and show producer

  • Twitter: @ChefAugust37

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