These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight - We Are The Mighty
Tactical

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight

History has taught that dogfighting is a perishable skill. The United States found that out the hard way during the Vietnam War, when the decision to not preserve that skill in favor of a reliance on missiles like the AIM-7 Sparrow.


It didn’t work out well, and a number of Air Force and Navy pilots paid a dear price for that lack of training.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
A-4 Skyhawk (Photo: US Navy Lt. j.g. Nelson)

In the late stages of the Vietnam War, the Navy founded what became known as “Top Gun” to teach its pilots the art of the dogfight.

The Air Force set up its own aggressors as well. Planes like the McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger, and the Northrop T-38 Talon were among the first used as adversaries, later joined by the Israeli F-21 Kfir, the Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon, and Boeing F/A-18 Hornets.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
A Spanish Air Force Dassault Mirage F1. (Wikimedia Commons)

But the constant flying can be hard on those airframes. As a result, the Air Force has been turning to contractors to help them train the next generation of aces.

One of the contractors that could get the call is Draken International. The name should sound familiar – the company is named for the Saab J 35 Draken, the first plane the company bought, according to a representative manning the company’s booth at the AirSpaceCyber expo in National Harbor, Maryland.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Aermacchi MB-339 (Wikimedia Commons)

Today, the company has a large fleet of planes. Some are familiar ones that have done aggressor duty, like the A-4 Skyhawk, of which Draken has 13 on hand. The company also has 27 MiG-21 Fishbed fighters – meaning an old adversary is now used as an aggressor.

According to handout obtained by WATM, the company also has at least 20 Dassault Mirage F1s, 21 L-159 Honey Badger advanced trainers, nine Aermacchi MB-339CB trainers, and five L-39 Albatros trainers.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
A civilian-owned L-39 Albatros (Wikimedia Commons)

The company currently provides support the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Lockheed’s F-35 test program, the French Navy, and the Air National Guard, among other entities. It not only provides dogfighting training, they also help training the crews of surface ships, including simulating missiles.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
The Aero L-159, known as the Honey Badger. (Wikimedia Commons)

In short, these flying dragons are helping military personnel be ready for a dogfight. While not many of those have happened lately, one can never tell when those skills will be needed.

Tactical

Could the answer to Army marksmanship woes be found in the Corps?

Evidently, the US Army has a marksmanship problem. The problem being, roughly, soldiers can’t hit the broadside of a barn with their rifles. My good friend Kevin Wilson recently wrote an article and pointed out that just giving soldiers a better rifle isn’t going to get them to shoot better. So, what’s to be done?


There’s really no question the Marine Corps puts an emphasis on marksmanship. And, yeah, a Marine making jokes about shitty Army marksmanship is pretty low-hanging fruit. So, instead of jokes, here are some thoughts my Army friends might want to take to heart when considering how to improve marksmanship.

What sets Marine Corps marksmanship apart is simple, marksmanship is a fundamental part of Marine Corps culture. The other differences between Marine Corps and Army rifle training, and there are some real differences, are a product of that culture.  Things like shooting at greater distances than the Army, shooting from more positions than the Army, and ensuring all Marines (including POGs) go through basic infantry instruction, are all a result of a mindset that every Marine must be ready to face combat, regardless of their MOS. Due to this mentality, good marksmanship is both socially mandated and required by regulation.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Staff Sgt. Shawn Coleman, assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducts a Table 3 live-fire exercise. USMC photo by Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels.

Marksmanship is an essential part of our identity, beginning with Marines’ role acting as marksmen on sailing ships, sniping the enemy from high up in the riggings. Marines like to say every Marine is a rifleman. Obviously, this isn’t entirely true, there are plenty of crappy shots in the Corps. But, unlike in the Army, being a crappy shot is something to be truly embarrassed by. As much as being a fat-body. Or, a sailor not knowing how to swim. Or, an Air Force officer not knowing how to play golf. Being intimately familiar with your rifle starts in bootcamp; in fact, the rifle a Marine recruit is issued at the beginning of bootcamp is the same rifle that recruit uses to qualify on later. And it goes further. We all know that scene in Full Metal Jacket where the recruits march around in their underwear in the squad bay singing, “This is my rifle, this is my gun,” right? Yeah, that (or something similar) actually happens sometimes in bootcamp. My Drill Instructor even encouraged us to name the rifles we were issued at the beginning of bootcamp, life imitating art, perhaps, but an excellent example of the emphasis the Marine Corps places on making handling the rifle second nature.

Every Marine recruit is drilled with the basics of marksmanship. Right from the very beginning of a Marine’s enlistment recruits are taught things like sight alignment/sight picture, proper cheek/stock weld, natural point of aim, breath/trigger control. Now, I’m not saying the Army doesn’t teach the fundamentals, I’m just saying it’s a matter of real study for Marines. A Marine is expected to know how to read the wind strength and be able to adjust the dope on his/her rifle accordingly, no Kentucky windage allowed. Recruits literally spend dozens of hours simply practicing dry firing and practicing their aim on barrels before they even get to the range.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
A Marine with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion performs rifle drills during a combat marksmanship program. USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Justin Bowles.

But it isn’t just an issue of not wanting to be embarrassed by having to wear a badge below Expert. Unlike in the other branches, marksmanship matters in terms of professional advancement. A Marine literally can’t get promoted if they don’t have a rifle score in the system every year, and they can’t get a rifle score unless they achieve a minimum qualification on the range. Qualifying Expert isn’t just a matter of bragging rights or having a cooler badge to put on your uniform, not qualifying at all means a Marine could get kicked out of the Marine Corps, same as if they can’t make weight, pass the swim qual, or pass the Physical Fitness Test.

Making being a basic rifleman a part of the Marine Corps culture isn’t limited to just the Known Distance range, though. POG Marines spend an extra month after bootcamp learning basic infantry skills. Patrolling, fire team rushes, squad-level attacks, platoon-level assaults on an objective. MOUT. Learning how to set up fields of fire for a defensive position, proper channeling techniques. All Marines become familiar with basic infantry weapons like the AT-4, the MK-19 grenade launcher, the M2 50 cal, the M-240 Golf medium machine gun, and the SAW.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
A reconnaissance Marine serving with Alpha Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, fires the AT-4 antitank rocket at an enemy machine gun bunker during a raid exercise. Photo by Lance Cpl. Corey Dabney.

Now, do Marine POGs become experts on any of these systems? Of course not. The training isn’t intended to make admin clerks into infantry, it’s intended to make sure that if the shit really goes down in combat, any and all Marines have real training to fall back on. It’s intended to give every Marine a rifleman’s mentality, regardless of what MOS they’re in. These are the basic standards that ALL Marines are expected to meet.

If the Army wants to improve the marksmanship capability of its soldiers, and thus increase their survivability in combat, it doesn’t need a new rifle. The Army needs to raise the bar. Make the fundamentals of marksmanship a part of Army culture, and watch how the quality of soldier improves across the board.

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10 tips for succeeding at BUD/S, according to a Navy SEAL

When sailors hit the Navy SEAL training grinder, they’ll undergo what’s considered the hardest military training on earth in attempts to earn the Trident. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training uses the sandy beaches of Coronado, California, to push candidates beyond their mental and physical limits to see if they can endure and be welcomed into the Special Warfare community.

Roughly 75 percent of all BUD/S candidates drop out of training, leaving many to wonder what, exactly, it takes to survive the program and graduate. Well, former Navy SEAL Jeff Nichols is here to break it down and give you a few tips for finding success at BUD/S.


These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight

SEAL candidates cover themselves in sand during surf passage on Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California.

(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Russell)

Diversify your training

According to Nichols, the ability to sustain yourself through various types of physical training will only help your odds of succeeding at BUD/S. Incorporate various exercise types, variable rest periods, and a wide array of resistances into your training regimen.

Get massages

When candidates aren’t in training, it’s crucial that they heal themselves up. Massages improve the body’s circulation and can cut down recovery time. That being said, avoid deep-tissue massages. That type of intense treatment can actually extend your healing time.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight

Vice President Joe Biden places a hand on the shoulder of one of the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) candidates while speaking to them on the beach at Naval Special Warfare Center during his visit to San Diego, Calif.

(Photo by MC2 Dominique M. Lasco)

Find sleep wherever possible

If you can avoid staying up late, you should. Nichols encourages candidates to take naps whenever possible. Even if its only a quick, 20-minute snooze, get that rest in as often as possible.

Stay away from smoking and drinking alcohol

Both substances can prevent a candidate from performing at their best during their time at BUD/S. Smoking limits personal endurance. Alcohol dehydrates — which is especially harmful in an environment where every drop of clean water counts.

Know that nobody gives a sh*t

Ultimately, the BUD/S instructors don’t care if you make it through the training. Don’t think anyone will hold your hand as the intensity ramps up.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight

Sailors enrolled in the BUD/S course approach the shore during an over-the-beach exercise at San Clemente Island, California.

(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle D. Gahlau)

Surround yourself with good people

It’s easy to quit BUD/S and it’s challenging to push yourself onward. Surrounding yourself with good people who are in training for the right reasons will help you through the darkest moments.

Take advantage of your days off

Although you only have roughly 2 days of rest time, take advantage of them to the fullest and heal up as much as you can. Eat healthily and clear your mind by getting off-base as much as possible.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight

A Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL instructor is about to show a member of BUD/S Class 244 just how hard it can be to rescue a drowning victim when the “victim” comes at you with a vengeance during lifesaving training at the Naval Special Warfare Center.

(Photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class John DeCoursey)

Trust the BUD/S process

According to Nichols, the BUD/S process doesn’t fail. Listen to the instructors as they tell you how to properly negotiate individual training obstacles as a team. They all have proven experience, you just need to listen.

Don’t take anything personal

The instructors will slowly chip away at your self-confidence with the aim of getting you to quit. Brush off those remarks. Remember, this is part of the test.

BUD/S is considered a fair environment

Nichols believes that the program is a fair method of getting only the strongest candidates through the training and onto SEAL teams. It’s up to the SEAL instructors to put out the best possible product.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsnXb4xAcWw

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4 medical remedies you should know how to make in the field

Every day, troops of all ages head off into the field and sustain all types of injuries, from simple bruises and scratches to fractures and open abrasions. You can train to fight the enemy, but the terrain will always change, bringing unique advantages and challenges with it.

That said, some of the most common types of injuries we sustain can be temporarily fixed using a little ingenuity and knowledge of your surroundings. The solution to your painful aliment could be right under your feet.


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Splinting a bone fracture

Troops fall over and take hits while they’re out in the field. In some cases, bones get bruised or even fractured. Once this happens, it’s important to seek medical attention quickly as surgery may be needed. But, first things first, you’re going to have to splint the injured limb.

Creating a rudimentary splint in the field requires finding some sturdy pieces of wood (or any hard, flat object), placing them alongside the fractured extremity, and tying it down to prevent bends and movement — both above and below the joint. It doesn’t have to be red-carpet quality; we just want to prevent further injury.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight

It’s also great on lattes.

Nature’s tastiest medicine

Since cinnamon is a common, delicious condiment here in the States that tastes terrific on a roll with a sugary glaze, we don’t realize the many health benefits it provides.

Cinnamon bark comes from a tree called the Cinnamomum verum. The spice is known to alleviate an upset stomach, diarrhea, and gas from eating too many MREs. It’s also been used to treat infections caused by various bacteria, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), and even stimulate your appetite.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight

A sting reliever

When you’re in the field, there are plenty of wasps, bees, and scorpions hiding about who would love to sting the sh*t out of you if provoked. Although it sucks to get stung, there’s a plant that can quickly soothe the pain — the plantain.

This small plant can be identified by its rubbery texture and the parallel veins that run along the leaves. In order to use the plant as a venom neutralizer, crush the leaves into a paste and apply it to the affected area for quick relief.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2-Mp6MfgPo

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Hemorrhage control

This tip can be applied to bleeds, from the most minor cuts to the freakin’ major gashes. Having an open-skin abrasion isn’t the best thing while you’re out in the field. Mother Nature is filled with nasty, infectious bacteria and animals that can sniff out blood in the air.

In the event that you cut yourself open, apply pressure to the wound. Then, instead of worrying about getting stitches, consider applying a layer of super glue to close the wound.

It works pretty freakin’ well in a pinch.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Analysis: The Army has a range problem, but it’s not because of the 5.56 round

Back in May, the Army Times ran a piece announcing that the Army was officially looking to replace the M16 family of weapons and the 5.56mm cartridge with a weapon system that is both more reliable, and has greater range.


As the article states, they’re taking a hard look at “intermediate rounds,” or rounds with diameters between 6.5 and 7mm, that have greater range and ballistics than either the 5.56 x 45 or the 7.62 x 51, both of which are old and outdated compared to the crop of rounds that have sprung up in the last decade or so. The thinking is, with these newer rounds, you can easily match the superior stopping power of the 7.62 without sacrificing the magazine capacity afforded by the tiny 5.56 cartridge, while still giving troops better range and accuracy.

Coupled with a more reliable platform, preferably one that doesn’t jam up if you so much as think about sand getting in it, this could potentially be a game changer for the US Army.

Now, me personally, I think this is great. I’ve had a chance to play around with a couple of these intermediate calibers, and I quickly fell in love. I’m not one of those guys who despises the 5.56, because, for what it is, it’s not a bad little round. It’s got decent ballistics out to a decent range, and you can carry a lot of them. But, when you compare it to something like the 6.5 Creedmore, one of the rounds reportedly being considered as a replacement, it’s like comparing a Mazda Miata to a Lamborghini Aventador.

And hey, a new rifle would be pretty great, too. The M16 platform has been around for ages, and while its modular nature means that it’s endlessly adaptable, the direct gas impingement operating system is a right pain in the ass. Advances in firearm technology over the past half century have given us plenty of options, and it’s high time we took a look at them.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Qujuan Baptiste uses smoke as concealment during a stress shoot at the 2017 Army Materiel Command’s Best Warrior Competition July 18, 2017, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Teddy Wade)

But giving soldiers a more reliable weapon with greater range is kinda pointless if we don’t address one of the Army’s most persistent and glaring faults: its marksmanship program sucks. There’s no one part of the thing we can point to as being problematic. It’s not just the BRM taught at Basic, or the qualification tables. The whole thing, from start to finish, really, really, sucks.

What’s the point of giving soldiers a shiny, new rifle if they can’t hit the broadside of a barn with the one they’ve got?

Now, before you break out the pitchforks and your Expert qualification badges, sit down and think about what I’m saying. Unless your MOS directly involves shooting things in the face, when was the last time you went to the range during the workday for something other than qualification? When was the last time you broke out the rifles for anything other than to qualify, or to clean them for inspection?

For most of you, that answer will be either the last time you deployed, or never. And that’s a huge problem.

Over the last ten-and-a-half years in the North Carolina Army National Guard, I’ve spent more time being told not to kill myself or rape people than how to shoot. I don’t have a problem with qualification myself; I can reliably shoot high sharpshooter to low expert. But I also make a point to shoot recreationally whenever I can. Not everyone has that option, and plenty of folks who do don’t take advantage of it.

For most folks, the entirety of their marksmanship training will consist of three weeks in Basic, the few days out of the year when they go qualify, and maybe a few days or even a week or two of extra training when they mobilize. And that simply isn’t enough.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Qujuan Baptiste uses a vehicle as a barricade and fires at multiple targets during a stress shoot scenario at the 2017 Army Materiel Command’s Best Warrior Competition July 18, 2017, at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Teddy Wade)

Nevermind that the Army’s qualification system is stupid and outdated. Shooting static popup targets at ranges between 50-300 meters is a good start, but to rely on that as the sole measure of a soldier’s ability to engage the enemy is insane. According to the Army Times article linked up at the top, one of the driving forces behind looking for a new round is the fact that something like half of all firefights occurred at ranges greater than 300 meters. Meanwhile, your average soldier doesn’t even bother shooting at the 300 meter targets, because they know they can’t hit the damn things.

If the Army’s quest for a new sidearm is any indication, the search for a new rifle will take at least a decade, untold millions of dollars, a half-dozen Congressional inquiries and investigations, and probably a few lawsuits before they settle on the final product. Which means there’s plenty of time to teach soldiers how to shoot before the new gear ever starts filtering its way through the system.

As a starting point, come up with a comprehensive training plan that utilizes Basic Rifle Marksmanship, then build on that foundation throughout the soldier’s career. Get soldiers to the range more often. Update the qualification tables to more accurately represent the threat they’re expected to face. Enforce qualification standards like PT standards, and offer regular remedial training for folks who fail to meet those standards.

Or just carry on before and put a shiny new rifle in the hands of a kid who barely knows which end goes bang. I watched a guy from out battalion’s Forward Support Company shoot a 6 this year. That’s good enough, right?

Tactical

This is how a guitar pick can keep you warm out in the field

A crackling fire, some good music, and a heap of roasted marshmallows are just a few of the classics that campers enjoy when spending a day or two out under the stars.

However, in some cases, things don’t go as planned and disaster strikes at the worst times. That’s why it’s important to always be prepared for when the weather gets nasty. If you’re not ready to face Mother Nature’s wrath, you might pay the ultimate price.


In the event that you need to spend an extra night outside for some reason, you’re going to need to stay warm. For the unprepared, there’s one small piece of unassumingly useful gear that the musician of the group might have brought along with them — a guitar pick.

 

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
A normal guitar pick. (Black Scout Survival)

This small strumming tool might be exactly what you need to start a fire and stay toasty.

Guitar picks are made out of a very flammable material called celluloid — the same stuff used in film. This makes picks extremely handy tools for starting fires.

First, find yourself some wood and carve out a small divot. Next, cut a slit down the centerline, starting about an inch or so from the top.

 

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Slice the wood down the centerline (Black Scout Survival)

Scratch the flammable celluloid off the surface of the pick and collect the shavings in the freshly carved divot. Don’t be cheap with the shavings; you’ll want to slice off around a quarter of the guitar pick’s surface. We’ll use the rest later.

Now, place the rest of the guitar pick in the slit you cut down the wood’s centerline, above the divot.Now, add heat to the small pile of collected celluloid shavings by either rubbing a sturdy stick against the wood like Tom Hanks did in Castaway — or you can use a ferrocerium rod if you have one.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Fire! (Black Scout Survival)

 

Once you get the shavings lit, add a small amount of kindling (the drier the better) and let the flame breathe and grow.

Note: All fires should be built safely and cared for responsibly. We wouldn’t want an already sh*tty situation to get worse.

Check out Black Scout Survival‘s video below to see how this little tool can start the perfect fire in mere seconds.

Tactical

Some amazing changes are in the works for US infantry

On Feb. 8, Defense Secretary James Mattis, probably everyone’s favorite human Marine, sent a memo (below) to top Department of Defense officials regarding the establishment of a Close Combat Lethality Task Force, which will improve “the combat preparedness, lethality, survivability, and resiliency of our Nation’s ground close-combat formations.”


These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
It’s been called the ‘Top Gun’ for grunts, which is a movie I would definitely watch.

Mattis makes the compelling point that these close-combat formations — AKA grunts — make up 90% of our casualties, and therefore deserve to be modernized, better equipped, and expertly prepared.

His task force is the solution — or at least a solution, and potentially an awesome one.

Breaking Defense points out that the task force will concentrate on training, personnel, and policy. Infantry will mirror special operations in its elite training tactics and its selection process.

Also read: 6 ways the infantry prepares you to be in special ops

“We know from experience…that intelligent soldiers are far more effective and far less likely to become casualties,” said Bob Scales, a leading infantry advisor for Mattis.

It’s still early in the stages of making effective change (per Mattis’ memo, the first step the task force will have taken is to identify existing problems to address and lay out the roles and responsibilities of those involved in solving said problems. But there are plenty of suggestions from the military community (no surprise there).

Training with drones, improved close-quarter and subterranean tactics, and arming troops with advanced technology (think robots and self-breathing apparatuses) are a few topics of speculation. Dialogue about personnel policy changes include everything from over-manning squads (grimly, to anticipate casualties) and better collaboration between branches.

Related: How Mattis is the stabilizing force of the Trump White House

Ultimately, the fact that SECDEF is focusing his attention on the selection, training, and deployment of our infantrymen is a strong indication of his determination to improve the way the United States fights its wars and his commitment to improving America’s global reach — but equally important is the emphasis on human life in the equation of warfighting.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The designer of the most popular rifle in the world just got his own statue in Moscow

With a sprinkle of holy water and a protester condemning the late Mikhail Kalashnikov as a “manufacturer of death,” Russian authorities have unveiled a monument to the designer of the widely used AK-47 assault rifle.


Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and the head of state-run military-industrial conglomerate Rostec were on hand for the dedication of the monument to Kalashnikov on the Garden Ring road in central Moscow on September 19.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
AK-47 | Public Domain photo

The statue — not far from monuments to renowned poets Vladimir Mayakovsky and Aleksandr Pushkin — was unveiled by Kalashnikov’s daughter, Yelena Kalashnikova.

Minutes before the ceremony began, a man unfurled a sign saying, “the manufacturer of weapons is a manufacturer of death.” He was quickly detained by police and taken away from the site.

The weapon Kalashnikov invented is the most widely used assault rifle in the world and has been fired in nearly every conflict around the globe for the last 50 years.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Hungarian rebels carrying captured AK-47s. Public domain photo.

There are estimated to be as many as 200 million Kalashnikov rifles around the world.

“Mikhail Kalashnikov is an embodiment of the best features of a Russian person — extraordinary natural giftedness, simplicity, honesty, organizational talent,” Medinsky said, adding that “the Kalashnikov assault rifle is truly…a cultural brand of Russia.”

The head of Russia’s Udmurtia region, Aleksandr Brechalov, spoke at the ceremony, praising Kalashnikov for his contribution to “Russia’s glory and defense.”

Kalashnikov lived and worked for many years in the capital of Udmurtia, Izhevsk, where Kalashnikov assault rifles are still made.

A Russian Orthodox priest then prayed for Kalashnikov and sprinkled the monument with water sanctified by the church.

But Kalashnikov — who was born into a peasant family during the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution and died in 2013 at the age of 94 — voiced mixed feelings about his achievements and his legacy late in life.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
US Marines test firing AK-47 rifles. The AK-47 is the most popular assault rifle in the world. (Photo US Marine Corps)

Several months before his death, he wrote a letter to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in which he said: “The pain in my soul is unbearable.

“I keep asking myself the same unsolvable question: If my assault rifle took people’s lives that means that I…am responsible for people’s deaths.”

Medinsky presented plans to Putin for the Kalashnikov statue in September 2016 during a tour of the Kalashnikov Group’s headquarters in Izhevsk.

The project was backed by the Russian Military-Historical Society — which is chaired by Medinsky — and by Rostec, whose CEO is Putin ally Sergei Chemezov. Rostec is the majority owner of Kalashnikov.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/U.S. Marine Corps

The monument was unveiled on a state-mandated professional holiday honoring Russian arms makers going back to tsarist times.

Kremlin critics say that Putin, who has involved Russia in wars in Syria and Ukraine and touts Soviet and imperial-era battlefield achievements to promote patriotism, focuses on military affairs to draw attention away from domestic troubles.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army ditches search for 7.62 battle rifle — for now

Multiple sources are reporting that the Army has put on hold its search for a new battle rifle to field to troops in overseas operations that fires a heavier round than the service’s current weapon.


The Army has been facing pressure from Congress and some in the service to field a larger caliber rifle to troops fighting ISIS and other militants who use Russian-made weapons and body armor. Defense officials have said the American M4 carbine and its variants fire a 5.56mm round that cannot penetrate new Russian-designed armor and that the answer was to field an immediate supply of rifles chambered in 7.62mm.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
The M110 SASS is the Army’s current 7.62 compact sniper rifle. Some service leaders pushed a version of this rifle for more deployed troops to penetrate Russian-made body armor. (U.S. Air Force photo/Justin Connaher)

“We recognize the 5.56mm round, there is a type of body armor it doesn’t penetrate. … Adversarial states are selling it for $250,” Army chief Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers in May. “There’s a need, an operational need [for a 7.62 rifle]. We think we can do it relatively quickly.”

But less than two months after the Army issued a request from industry to provide up to 50,000 7.62 battle rifles, sources say the service has pulled the plug on the program, citing internal disagreements on the true need for the rifle and cost savings. The shelving comes as the Pentagon is finalizing a broad-based report on the military’s small arms ammunition and what the future needs of the services are given the existing threats.

Some insiders say the service is leaning toward a rifle chambered in an entirely new caliber that has better penetration and fires more accurately at longer distances, and that pursuing an “interim” solution is a waste of time and resources.

“There are systems out there today, on the shelf, that with some very minor modifications could be adapted to munitions that we’re developing at Fort Benning that could be used to penetrate these SAPI plates that our adversaries are developing,” Milley said in May. “It’s not necessarily an either or proposition on that one. I think there’s weapons out there that we can get, in the right caliber, that can enhance the capability of the infantry soldier.”

Other experts say most hard body armor can withstand multiple hits from both 5.56 rounds and 7.62 ones, so spending limited funds on a new rifle in a caliber that current body armor can already resist is simply spending good money after bad.

So for now, it looks like the Army is going to stick with its M4 for now. But with the service holding off on buying an interim 7.62 rifle, it could be that soldiers might be looking at a whole new rifle platform a lot sooner than they thought.

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The Navy’s amphibious assault ships can be emergency carriers

How many carriers does the United States Navy have? Well, between the ten Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and the freshly commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the first of her class, you might think the answer is 11 — but you’d be underestimating. There are nine other ships in the fleet that can serve as carriers in a pinch.


These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
While USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) may be what people imagine when they think of aircraft carriers, USS America (LHA 6) would be no slouch in an emergency. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano)

Those are the eight Wasp-class amphibious assault ships and the single America-class vessel in service. Their primary role, currently, is to carry about a battalion’s worth of Marines and attachments, usually in conjunction with an amphibious transport dock, like USS San Antonio (LPD 17), and a landing ship dock, like USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41). But these massive ships are actually much more versatile.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Take a look at the United States Navy’s greatest warship of World War II, USS Enterprise (CV 6). What modern ship does she look like? (US Navy photo)

Just look at a ship like USS America. What does she look like? Well, there’s a flat deck all the way down the ship and an island on the right. In fact, if you were to take a look at perhaps the greatest U.S. Navy ship of World War II, the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV 6), you may notice a striking similarity.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
The AV-8B Harrier is a key part of the Air Combat Element of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, but never forget it is a V/STOL multi-role fighter. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Vance Hand)

Today, USS America, as well as her Wasp-class predecessors, haul around the Air Combat Element of a Marine Expeditionary Unit. In Tom Clancy’s 1996 book, Marine: A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was equipped with six AV-8B Harriers, twelve CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, eight CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters, eight AH-1W Cobras, and three UH-1N Hueys for a deployment. That is a total of 37 aircraft.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Looking at USS Essex (LHD 2) from behind, her resemblance to World War II aircraft carriers is undeniable. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan M. Breeden)

But imagine for a moment that you were able to mess around with the numbers a little. First, let’s offload all of the helicopters. Instead, let’s put an entire squadron of 15 Harriers on board, or offload the six Harriers in favor of a squadron of 16 F-35B Lightnings. Next, let’s add about a dozen of the Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. And presto, you now have an air group on board that is outclassed only by the air groups on the French Charles de Gaulle and the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz- and Ford-classes of carriers.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
The F-35Bs lined up for takeoff on USS Wasp (LHD 1) are potent. Imagine if Wasp was hauling a full squadron of them. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker)

Because the America and the Wasp were designed to haul Marines around, they’re not going to perform as well as a full-scale carrier. They’ll also have a much more limited capacity than their larger counterparts. But they could fill in somewhere in a pinch. In essence, they are “backup carriers” and you never know when having those backups might save America’s butt.

Tactical

Check out this tiny Navy SEAL team survival kit

If there’s one group in the military that’s trained to survive in the most horrible conditions known to man, it’s the U.S. Navy SEALs. From the icy Arctic to humid jungles, SEALs are prepared for any kind of fight against the enemy at a moment’s notice. Sometimes, missions don’t go as planned, so troops need to ready for anything and expect the unexpected while outside of the wire. To that end, troops should carry a survival kit filled with everything they need to endure the night in a harsh, potentially hostile environment.


But no ordinary survival kit will do. The SEAL Team Six survival kit puts all the essentials into one, easy-to-carry pack.

Related: 5 of the best ways to get drinkable water while in the field

 

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
The contents of the SEAL Team Six Survival Kit.

Although the kit doesn’t contain much food (SEALs can fend for themselves), it’s packed to the brim with the items necessary to keep you alive in an emergency.

This unique system contains over 25 different life-saving tools that can fit snuggly inside of your cargo pocket. Housed in a SUMA Container, the kit comes with an emergency blanket, leatherman, steel wire, button compass, and a signal mirror.

Also read: 5 kid toys troops will reuse for tactical reasons

The container’s anodized finish makes cooking small meals over a campfire possible. The larger kit covers eight different survival essentials, like water purification, temporary shelter construction, and fire starting.

The kit was specially designed to be taken into rough areas and functions as a durable piece of gear for any warfighter or backpacker looking to explore the unknown.

Check out Black Scout Survival’s video below to watch a complete breakdown of the SEAL Team Six survival kit for yourself.

popular

The civilian’s guide to military Force Protection Conditions

The Army in Europe relies on five Force Protection Condition (FPCON) levels — Normal, A, B, C and D — or as the Army says, Normal, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta. The levels increase from lowest condition at Normal to the highest and most protective at Delta.

The U.S. Army Europe commander delegates responsibility to general officers for force protection, known as the GOFPs. The commander of 7th Army Training Command headquartered out of Grafenwoehr is the GOFP for USAG Bavaria and USAG Ansbach.

The GOFP is the lowest level of command within U.S. Army Europe authorized to change local FPCONs. Garrison commanders immediately begin implementing FPCON changes upon receipt of notification to change.

What is an FPCON?

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight

The Force Protection Condition, or FPCON, does two things to counter terrorists or other hostile adversaries:

1. It sets the FPCON level at Normal, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie or Delta.

– Normal: Occurs when a general global threat of possible terrorist activity is possible. The minimum FPCON for U.S. Army commands is normal.

– Alpha: Occurs when there is an increased general threat of possible terrorist activity against personnel or facilities, the nature and extent of the threat are unpredictable.

– Bravo: Applies when an increased or more predictable threat of terrorist activity exists.

– Charlie: Applies when an incident occurs or intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action or targeting against personnel or facilities is likely. 100% ID card check required.



– Delta: Applies in the immediate area where a terrorist attack has occurred or when intelligence has been received that terrorist action against a specific location or person is imminent. 100% ID card check required.

2. When an FPCON level is set, certain force protection measures are implemented. For example, if an Army garrison elevates to FPCON Charlie, you might see increased security measures at the gates, or even gate closures and the presence of additional security forces.

When are FPCON levels raised?

The FPCON levels are raised as a threat increases or if an attack has occurred.

How do I know the FPCON?

The Force Protection Condition level is posted at each gate entrance and all entrances to garrison facilities. It is also located on the homepage at www.bavaria.army.mil.

How will I know what measures are implemented as the FPCON increases or decreases?

While specific FPCON measures are not releasable in the interest of security, there are some key tips to keep in mind:

– The FPCON level has been set at Bravo or higher since 2001.

– FPCON Charlie — which indicates that a threat is likely — sets into motion curtailment plans for nonessential personnel. If you are unsure if you are essential or nonessential personnel, contact your supervisor.

– FPCON Delta, the highest and most protective level, limits installation access to mission-essential personnel and other personnel as determined by the commander.

– What if you need to get on-post during FPCON Charlie or Delta? If you’re off-post and you live on-post, have children at school or need to get to the clinic, for example, and the Force Protection Condition has elevated to Charlie or Delta, stand by for further directions. Contact your supervisor or unit leadership for guidance. Connect to the USAG Bavaria Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USAGBavaria and ensure you’re registered in AtHoc — the Army’s mass-warning notification system.

– No matter what the FPCON is, always carry two forms of photo ID when entering U.S. military installations, according to the Army in Europe regulation on installation access control.

– Increased force protection measures do not necessarily indicate an increase in an FPCON. Army garrisons in Europe also implement random antiterrorism measures known as RAM.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

Tactical

7 valuable tips on how to pass Marine Scout Swimmers course

The Basic Scout Swimmers Course is a three-week evaluation with the mission of providing Marines with the ability to launch boat raids from land, sea, or air.


A scout swimmer’s primary duty is to swim ahead, secure a beach landing site, and signal for follow-on forces. They can also be used as a reconnaissance force should the need arise.

These are some well-trained Marines and the course is not to be taken lightly.

Related: 7 things you didn’t know about the Marine Jungle Warfare Training Center

1. Be able to swim… obviously.

More specifically, be able to fin. First class swim qualifications are required, but having the endurance to fin as long and as far as possible is invaluable during the course.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Just keep swimming. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Abbey Perria)

2. Lean with it or get rocked by it.

Coxswain, the guys who drive zodiacs (low-profile rubber boats), are generally a thrill-seeking breed and they are encouraged to push the limits of speed during swimmer insertions. They will absolutely try to sling you off their boat during the course, so hang on and learn to anticipate the turns or swim much further to the beach landing site, or BLS.

3. Get used to being wet and sandy.

One of the first things you’ll do when you hit the BLS is the “sugar cookie.” The “sugar cookie” is when you roll around and toss sand all over your wet body, it sticks to you, and it becomes your camouflage. It’s strikingly similar to what happens to cat sh*t in a litter box.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Thanks, bro! (Photo by Erik S. Brooks Jr)

4. Buy some black Converse.

Swimmers will use fins to swim to shore but, once there, you will need to remove your fins and secure the beach. Black Converse are a more practical footwear for running compared to fin booties. The Marines with green converse have endured the ocean for a long time.

5. Dummy chords are not for dummies.

Don’t bring anything into the ocean that you want to keep. If you cannot avoid bringing something important, dummy chord it. Dummy chording is a method of securing items to one’s body using 550-chord. This doesn’t guarantee the item won’t be lost at sea, but it certainly helps.

6 Be a team player.

Securing a beach is a team effort and it is a pass-or-fail scenario. So, do your best to enhance your interpersonal skills… or, basically, don’t be a dick.

These dragons help teach pilots how to dogfight
Teamwork with my friends. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. R. Logan Kyle)

Also Read: How to make the best steak ever, according to a Marine chef

7. Do not quit.

This seems obvious, but people do it. Those people are not Scout Swimmers. Finish strong, my friend.

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