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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Special ops have earned their prestige. There is no denying that these men are absolute badasses; relentless warriors with no room for quit.
SOF teams are often described as surgical tools for the Department of Defense to use when a less overt maneuver is required. Conversely, America’s infantry is used when the U.S. wants to figuratively and literally kick down the enemies’ front door and punch them in the face.
But I digress. Here’s how infantry and special operations teams are alike.
Special operations are known for being extremely fit — the reputation is well deserved. However, the military, in general, is expected to maintain a high level of fitness and the infantry holds their personnel to an exceptional standard.
2. Attending advanced training
Infantry units are trained to excel in the most austere environments. All units send their troops to advanced schools and, depending on their upcoming area of operations, soldiers and Marines will receive advanced, specialized training to expand the capabilities of the unit as a whole.
3. Showcasing tactical prowess in combat
Locate, close with, and destroy the enemy using fire and maneuver.
No matter your status, the tactics for room clearing, close-quarters combat, fire, and maneuver are all about mastering the basics. There is no shortage of expertise among the U.S. infantry who are winning America’s battles.
Amphibious landings en masse? No problem. (Photo by Phan Shannon Garcia)
4. Utilizing inter-service augmentation
A major component of SOF’s arsenal comes from calling in accurate fire from Army/Marine artillery, Navy guns, and Air Force strikes.
Coincidentally, forward observers within infantry units possess the same radios and they use them for communicating with the artisans of mass destruction from all branches.
5. Possessing the ability to f*ck sh*t up
SOF surely kicks the enemy’s ass. Infantry does as well — with way more guys, munitions, and, when Congress allows it, they don’t leave until all enemies are either dead or have surrendered.
Knock, knock, knocking — soon you’ll be at heaven’s door. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall)
The mission is number one for everyone in the military, regardless of job. It’s the reason we are here.
Infantry, just like SOF, has cultivated a culture dedicated to defending America’s interests, the country itself, and, most importantly, its people. Regardless of how they do it, all servicemen and women understand the priority: doing the hard job that needs to be done.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the second camouflage uniform for the Navy in less than 10 years, and replaces the oft-mocked blue, black and grey “blueberries” deployed to the force in 2008 to the tune of $224 million.
The new Navy Type IIIs look pretty badass and come with all the whistles and bells of previous combat-style uniforms, including shoulder pockets, velcro tabs for all your merit badges and flags and a collar designed to protect against body armor chafing. The camo pattern is a lighter green version of the Marine Corps forest MARPAT and, if you look closely, the have the Navy Anchor, Constitution and Eagle, or “ACE,” embedded in the pattern.
There’s also a desert digital version that’ll be only for sailors operating in arid climes abroad. The new Navy Working Uniform Type III is set to be rolled out Navy wide Oct. 1 and will typically be worn by sailors at home stations.
While the new green digital Type IIIs look a darn sight better than the Type I “blueberries,” they trace their lineage to some of America’s most elite warriors. Now all sailors can have a little of the “operator” spring in their step thanks to their brother frogmen.
In the mid-2000s, as special operations forces were fighting pitched battles against al Qaeda terrorists worldwide, Naval Special Warfare operators were refining their kit to better suit the environments they were fighting in. About the time Army Special Forces and Rangers cast their gaze at Crye Precision’s MultiCam pattern, sailors in SEAL Team 6 were testing out a modified version of the Corps’ MARPAT.
What came out of the battlefield research were two patterns dubbed AOR1 and AOR2. AOR1 was a slightly darker version of the Corps’ desert digital pattern but ran more vertically than horizontal, and AOR2 was a brighter green-hued woodland MARPAT, perfect for SEAL operations in places like the Philippines where they were hunting al Qaeda affiliates.
The uniform was the exclusive province of Naval Special Warfare operators for several years, who wore tactical duds in those patterns manufactured by outside vendors like Beyond Clothing. They didn’t become standard Navy issue until 2010, when the service opted to field the AOR2-patterned uniforms to “expeditionary” sailors — typically Seabees, EOD technicians, riverine troops and others who operate closely with ground-based forces overseas.
Interestingly, at the time the Navy precluded sailors other than SEALs from wearing the desert AOR1 pattern, opting instead to keep sailors in the desert wearing the old tri-color analog pattern.
Fast forward to 2016 and the service announced it would field the DevGru-approved AOR2/Type III green-camo uniforms across the force, casting the cartoonish blue Type I patterned uniforms to the dustbin of history.
Guess now there’s another reason to buy that SEAL a drink.
To develop Sailors with character and professional competence, who possess integrity, accountability, initiative, and toughness, Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s only boot camp, administers a final exam that is designed to evaluate the proficiency of critical warfighting skills.
The final exam is called “Battle Stations-21.” It is a graded evolution held on board USS Trayer, a 210-ft replica of an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile Destroyer, in which recruits must earn the right to be called a “Sailor” and graduate basic training. They spend the night loading stores, getting underway, handling mooring lines, standing watches, responding to incoming attacks, manning general quarters stations, and combating shipboard fires and floods. It is as close to being underway as a recruit can get before reaching their first ship.
Facing sensory overload from compartments full of smoke, blaring alarms, periods of low visibility as well as disorienting flashes, recruits are required to overcome the stress, self-organize and tackle each scenario with little-to-no intervention from instructors. Their Battle Stations-21 grade is comprised of 75% individual proficiency and 25% team proficiency. Failure in either category, or an overall score below 80%, results in training remediation which impacts recruit graduation dates.
Part of the new hands-on learning curriculum, designed by RTC’s senior enlisted instructors to develop tough, more qualified Sailors through realistic training, the Battle Stations-21 grading requirements measure warfighting proficiency during the Sailor development process.
“Battle Stations-21 is the standard for testing the effectiveness of recruit training,” said Chief Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) Kevin Barrientos, one of the RTC instructors responsible for running USS Trayer. “Scenarios include ship replenishment, sea and anchor detail, firefighting, damage control, crew casualties and various deck, bridge, engineering and navigation watch stations.”
To prepare for Battle Stations-21, recruits conduct hands-on training that is focused on the critical warfighting skills of watch standing, seamanship, force protection, firefighting and damage control. In the classroom, applied labs and practical trainers, recruits conduct more than 30 hours of seamanship training and more than 40 hours of firefighting and damage control training before reaching their final exam.
Recruits also maintain an around-the-clock watch rotation, simulating various watch stations as they are manned in the Fleet. They also have the opportunity to earn their M9 Service Pistol qualification during small-arms familiarization training.
“Our hands-on learning curriculum enforces repetitive and deliberate practice of each skill,” Barrientos said. “This type of training motivates recruits to rise to the challenge at Battle Stations-21, and prepares them for service in the Fleet.”
Recruits fight all night long to keep USS Trayer operational and battle ready. If they embrace their training, they will pass their final exam, earn their Navy ball cap, and advance to graduation. Trayer is then reset for the next division of recruits who hope to become the Navy’s newest Sailors.
Recruit Training Command is approximately eight weeks long and all enlistees into the U.S. Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control along with lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. About 40,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.
When main battle tanks like the T-55, M48/M60 Patton, and Leopard 1 emerged, they usually had a crew of four: the tank commander, the gunner, the loader, and the driver. But all of that changed when the Soviet Union introduced the T-64 main battle tank.
The T-64 was designed with a mechanical device to put the shells in the gun — called an auto-loader — that effectively made the role of “loader” obsolete. Since then, every Soviet and Russian tank that has entered service has operated with a crew of three. Their main gun is now one giant semi-automatic – much like a M1911, only it fires a shell roughly five inches in diameter instead of a .45 ACP bullet. So, which crew arrangement works best? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Pros of a four-man crew
For starters, having a four-man crew spreads out basic maintenance tasks. Tanks, like any other piece of complex machinery, need care and attention to continue to operate smoothly. The extra crewman also helps the others get more rest by providing an extra pair of eyes for standing watch – a little extra shuteye can be a lifesaver. Third, a 19-year-old grunt is easier to take care of than a mechanical loading device. Finally, the loader, if needed, can bring an extra machine gun to the fight
Pros of a three-man crew
The biggest advantage of a three-man crew is that it enables you to build a somewhat smaller tank. A smaller tank is, theoretically, harder to hit. There are also some logistical benefits — the same number of rations can sustain a smaller crew longer. The bean-counters in the rear are also happy — auto-loaders do not need to be paid or equipped.
Cons of a four-man crew
As you can imagine, to operate with a crew of four, tanks will have to be larger. Also, as a human being, the loader is in need of food, water, and other necessities. In the unfortunate event that the loader is injured or killed, suddenly, a three-man crew must do a four-man job.
Cons of a three-man crew
Let’s lay this out here: If the mechanical loading device breaks, that tank is out of action. To make matters worse, a smaller crew has fewer hands to maintain a lot more stuff – including the auto-loader. If the loader malfunctions, someone with a critically important job is going to have to divert attention.
The tanks being compact also means that the entire thing goes sky-high with a single hit.
There is perhaps one test that can determine which system works best: actual combat experience. The T-72 main battle tank and variants — all operated by a driver, gunner, tank commander, and auto-loader — have seen a lot of action, often against Western, four-man-crew tank designs.
Typically, the T-72s lose out. Perhaps that has something to say about which approach is better.
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?
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.
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.
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.
First, you’ll need to cut a U-shape out of the two-liter bottle — this will be the mask’s face. Once you’ve cut out the shape, seal the edges with duct tape. The tape will also act as a buffer against cutting your face on the jagged plastic edges.
Next, hold the taped plastic in front of your face to make sure it’s a good size.
Carefully pop a few holes in the bottom of the aluminum can before cutting it in half. After that, place a single layer of cotton rounds inside the cut can. Then, pour in a layer of activated charcoal to cover the bottom. To make sure the activated charcoal remains secure, place another cotton round on top.
You’ve just built yourself a makeshift air filter.
Before duct taping the filter onto the bottle’s open spout, secure one last cotton round to the top of the can — acting as a lid. Pop a hole in that cotton and then stick the open spout of the two-liter bottle into the slot.
Next, tape the aluminum can to the modified bottle. You can use the rubber bands to help keep the mask on your face as you battle hordes of zombies.
Check out Black Scout Survival‘s video below to get a breakdown of how to put together this clever lifesaver.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In April 2004, a convoy of Marines came under small arms and RPG fire near Karabilah, Iraq. Marines from Camp Husaybah were dispatched to go in search of the attackers. While searching vehicles for weapons at a checkpoint, one Marine was assaulted by an unknown Iraqi holding a grenade. That Marine was Cpl. Jason Dunham.
The two fell to the ground. From the Iraqi’s hand came a live grenade. Dunham threw himself on top of it, covering the grenade with his kevlar helmet and his body. When it exploded, the grenade shredded his helmet and mortally wounded the 22-year-old Dunham. He died a few days later, on Apr. 22, 2004.
Jason Dunham did what he thought was the right thing to do: heroically throwing himself on a grenade to save others. The selfless act rightfully earned him the Medal of Honor, which was presented to his family by President George W. Bush in January 2007. A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer now bears his name (and his dress uniform, complete with Medal of Honor, on its quarterdeck).
Using the kevlar helmet did blunt the explosion, according to a Wall Street Journal reporter who followed Dunham’s story very closely. But the shrapnel pierced Dunham’s skull and he suffered heavy brain damage. No one else in the area received life-threatening injuries.
What makes the story even more remarkable is that Cpl. Dunham and his fellow Marines had been talking about the very same eventuality just a few days prior — what to do in case you have to respond to a grenade attack. One Marine advised kicking it away. Another said to drop and make yourself a small target for the fragments with your feet facing the grenade. Dunham’s response to the real-life situation was exactly what he said it should be: He covered it with his helmet.
Is that the best way to handle a grenade? No, but in the opinion of other infantry veterans, Dunham did the right thing. Anyone who covers a grenade with their kevlar is going to be severely wounded. And, chances are, Dunham would probably have been killed by the grenade regardless due to his proximity. But his helmet likely absorbed all of the grenade’s shrapnel and allowed his fellow Marines to come out relatively unscathed.
But what do you do if you don’t have a hero like a Jason Dunham to throw himself on a grenade and save you? Dan Rosenthal, an infantry veteran and three-time top Quora writer, has some advice for those who face a grenade without any cover to hide behind. First and foremost, don’t try to throw it back. You have about three to five seconds of reaction time, so running isn’t an option. Basically, expect to get hit – but minimize where and how much you’re hit to maximize your chances of survival.
If you didn’t dig your defensive fighting position with a grenade sump, the best thing you can do is get down on the ground with your kevlar pointed toward the blast. Helmets (and modern shoulder pads) were designed to protect from fragmentation.
Your second best bet is to put your feet toward the blast. This technique is most notable for civilians falling victim to a terrorist attack that uses grenades. Minimize exposure to the blast and make yourself a small target for the fragmentation.
Shooting games are loved across the military, whether it’s Battlefield, Call of Duty, or any other video game that breaks up the monotony of the hurry-up-and-wait lifestyle.
Open-world shooters make for some of the best games available on the market today. They give you full freedom to choose when and how you go about accomplishing each mission, offering fast-paced, frenetic gameplay without the linear monotony of yesterday’s titles. But along with this freedom of choice comes a hefty dose of challenge that’ll give any player a run for their money.
While most troops have the skills and knowledge they need to survive the digital battlefield just long enough to not feel compelled to throw a controller through the T.V., we’ve got some general tips to take you to the next level.
In the absence of cover, go prone and use concealment.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Trevor Rowett)
Stick to cover
If your goal is to stay alive (which it probably is), then cover is your best friend. And just to be clear: bushes are not cover, they’re concealment. Cover is solid and should be able to take a beating from incoming bullets.
Just remember, if you can see the enemy, they can see you. Your goal is always to make yourself the smallest target you can.
Only run when you absolutely must.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Antonia E. Mercado)
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. So, take your time. If you must cover a large area, sprint between pieces of cover, not in a straight line toward your objective. Plus, in most games, sprinting across an open area will cause your character to run out of stamina — making you a slow, exposed target.
This method counters the recoil and increases your overall accuracy.
(U.S Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick Osino)
Fire in controlled bursts
Automatic weapons are great but the recoil degrades your accuracy more the longer you hold the trigger down. This is one thing that video games get right — though it’s often exaggerated. The way to solve this issue in a video game is the same as it is in real life: fire 5-to-6-round bursts.
If you aren’t used to it, simply repeat the phrase, “run, fuzzy bunny, run” in your head. That’ll take about 6 rounds to say.
These bad boys are your worst enemy on the battlefield in Battlefield.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Livingston/Released)
Vehicles are priority targets
If you’ve played any iteration of Battlefield, then you know how irritating it is when other players only focus on enemy infantry and not the tanks or helicopters. This ought to be common sense, but let’s talk about it anyway: vehicles take priority over infantry.
They are your biggest enemies on the battlefield and they’ll inflict the largest amount of casualties. So, always go for helicopters, tanks, or any other vehicle that has a big gun attached to it.
Indirect fire is your best friend.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Pfc. Heather Atherton)
High-explosives win the day
Military commanders will preach this all day, and rightfully so. Explosives are your greatest asset on the battlefield and you ought to utilize them as much as possible. They allow you to eliminate large groups of enemies with minimal effort and destroy vehicles quickly, allowing infantry to work on individual targets.
That being said, don’t waste your grenades on one person. This might work in Halo or Call of Duty, where multiplayer matches are more like a series of duels, but in open-world shooters, you’ll want to wait until you’re fighting a large group dumb enough to cluster together.
Your muzzle goes where your eyes go.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austyn Saylor)
Aim with your eyes
It’s easy to look to different parts of the screen while playing a game to acquire targets but, just as you would in real life, move your weapon with your eyes so, when you find a target, you can engage immediately.
Don’t do this.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Pfc. Heather Atherton)
Avoid making a silhouette
If you need to look through a window, stick to the edges to avoid being seen by enemies outside.
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.
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.
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?