Being forward deployed means a few things — plenty time on post, patrolling through dangerous terrain and a whole lot of downtime to entertain yourself.
Let’s face it, life on a FOB is far from glamorous and music is king when it comes to entertainment during regular working hours – which is every day. Having fun in a war zone is an absolute must whenever and where ever you can fit it in.
Listening to the same song over and over again — even the hardest of the hard — will tap their feet, start lip syncing and some will eventually come up with their original dance moves. It’s time to break out the camera!
But even though the men who would respond to an incident involving the Pope have traded poofy pants for tactical gear, and bladed weapons for Sig SG 550 rifles, those razor-sharp halberds weren’t always just ceremonial. There was a time when the halberds, pikes, and swords carried by the ceremonial guards were the latest in military technology. The Swiss Guard are, after all, the oldest, continuous standing army in the world.
In 1527, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V had just beat down the French in Italy. the only problem was, he couldn’t afford to pay the massive army he used to do it. Understandably pissed, the 34,000-strong army began to march on Rome, believing the Papal States would be an easy target to sack and pillage. They were right… for the most part.
On May 6, 1527, that army broke through Rome’s defenders and looted and pillaged the city for 12 days.
But the city didn’t just roll over for the renegade army.
Defending Rome was a militia made up of 5,000 and 189 of the Pope’s Swiss Guard. Of those, around 40 or so escorted Pope Clement VII to safety – and they were the only survivors of the assault. The rest were slaughtered, choosing to hold their ground in the Vatican.
In the largest air strike of Desert Storm, 72 U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons took off from the Persian Gulf to refuel over northern Saudi Arabia. Their target was Baghdad and the Nuclear Power Plant at al-Tuwaitha.
One of the pilots, Maj. Emmett Tulia, would fight for his life in the skies above the Iraqi capital as missile after missile fly after him. In the cockpit video below, the SAM action starts at around 3:00.
Al-Tuwaitha was the main research facility for Saddam Hussein’s nuclear research program. Regional powerhouses Israel and Iran had both tried to destroy the facility but Desert Storm gave the Americans their chance to take a shot at it.
Although the air war of Desert Storm would last for more than 40 days and 40 nights, this attack came on the second day of the conflict, Jan. 19, 1991. The city had not yet been attacked by non-stealth fighters and much of its air defense systems were still in place.
It also means the Iraqis knew the F-16s were coming, but were unaware of their true target. Part of the formation broke off to strike the al-Tuwaitha facility while a smaller contingent moved to hit critical government buildings in downtown Baghdad, including the Republican Guard headquarters and the Headquarters building of the Iraqi Air Force.
The nuclear facility was well-protected by smoke, anti-aircraft guns, and surface-to-air missiles and are forced to withdraw from the area. The group that hit the military command buildings didn’t fare much better.
Emmett Tulia, callsign Stroke 3, was assigned to attack an oil refinery in the downtown area. As he dips below the cloud cover, his early warning systems alerts him to an incoming SAM. After a couple of maneuvers, he outflies the missile and it detonates.
He is alive but separated from his wingmen and his anti-missile flares (unbeknownst to him) weren’t operating. Still, he continues his attack run and drops his bombs. His part of the mission is a success.
As he heads back home, the cockpit alarms light up and he hears the voice of his wingman, Maj. Jeff Tice, telling him to break right. Three new SAMs were coming his way and following Tice’s instructions meant they all three flew right by him. His wingman saved his life.
Once again he turns to head home, but seconds later his cockpit lights up with another warning. Another SAM is coming at him. The G-forces caused by the constant need to outmaneuver these Vietnam-era SAM are starting to wear Maj. Tulia down but he manages to barely succeed. This was so close, he could hear it scream by.
Almost immediately, another SAM is coming his way. By now he’s been fighting G-forces and his plane for a full six minutes and is physically exhausted. His altitude is so low that he’s within range of the Iraqi anti-aircraft guns. But the sixth missile loses its lock on Tulia’s F-16 and falls away.
Tulia is able to rejoin the fleet of F-16s headed home, but his wingman, Maj. Tice, was shot down by the same kind of SAM that had targeted Tulia. Tice and another F-16 pilot who was downed in the action ejected, but were captured by the Iraqis.
Saddam’s nuclear facility was damaged in the raid, but it was not taken out. The air mission showed that F-16s weren’t as effective against Baghdad’s air defenses as B-2 bombing missions and F-117 Nighthawk fighters.
The cockpit footage from Tulia’s fighter is still used to train pilots 30 years later.
When Egypt bought the two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships that France declined to sell to Russia, one thing that didn’t come with those vessels was the armament.
According to the “16th Edition of Combat Fleets of the World,” Russia had planned to install a mix of SA-N-8 missiles and AK-630 Gatling guns on the vessels if France has sold them to the Kremlin. But no such luck for Egypt, which had two valuable vessels that were unarmed – or, in the vernacular, sitting ducks.
And then, all of a sudden, they weren’t unarmed anymore. A video released by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense celebrating the Cleopatra 2017 exercise with the French navy shows that the Egyptians have channeled MacGyver — the famed improviser most famously played by Richard Dean Anderson — to fix the problem.
Scenes from the video show at least two AN/TWQ-1 Avenger air-defense vehicles — better known as the M1097 — tied down securely on the deck of one of the vessels, which have been named after Egyptian leaders Gamel Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat. The Humvee-based vehicles carry up to eight FIM-92 Stinger anti-air missiles and also have a M3P .50-caliber machine gun capable of firing up to 1200 rounds a minute.
The Mistral-class ships in service with the French navy are typically equipped with the Simbad point-defense system. Ironically, the missile used in the Simbad is a man-portable SAM also called Mistral. The vessels displace 16,800 tons, have a top speed of 18.8 knots and can hold up to 16 helicopters and 900 troops.
You can see the Egyptian Ministry of Defense video below, showing the tied-down Avengers serving as air-defense assets for the Egyptian navy’s Mistrals.
Before the 24/7 news cycle and instant access courtesy of the Internet, the American public got a lot of its information from newsreels shown in cinemas across the country. Here is the story behind five of Hollywood’s most iconic film directors who made those productions happen.
When service members overseas make the ultimate sacrifice, a team of people goes to work to get them home and to rest with dignity. While each service provides personnel to escort their own fallen warriors home, the mortuary affairs airmen at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware receive the bodies and help ensure that they are buried with the full and proper honors.
These men and women opened their doors to Air Force journalists from Airman Magazine to show what it takes to do this important job that no one wants to have to do. From comforting children to preparing the final uniforms, these are stories of those who serve at Dover.
When Mariya Oktyabrskaya learned her husband Ilya was killed in action fighting the Nazis near Kiev, she didn’t get mad, she got a tank — a Red Army T-34 — and drove it to the Eastern Front to get even.
She named it “Fighting Girlfriend,” and drove it to the Eastern Front to exact revenge.
On the eve of the war, Oktyabrskaya worked in a cannery and as a telephone operator. She was also a proud military wife. She led the Military Wives Council and trained as a nurse, marksman, and driver – modern military skills she would need in the coming days.
When she learned of her husband’s death, she sold all her belongings and sent a message to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
My husband was killed in action defending the motherland. I want revenge on the fascist dogs for his death and for the death of Soviet people tortured by the fascist barbarians. For this purpose I’ve deposited all my personal savings – 50,000 rubles – to the National Bank in order to build a tank. I kindly ask to name the tank ‘Fighting Girlfriend’ and to send me to the frontline as a driver of said tank.
After the Luftwaffe lost the Battle of Britain in 1940, Hermann Goering ordered an ambitious new project he called the “3×1000” fighter. Goering wanted a plane that could deliver 1,000 kilograms of ordnance to a target 1,000 kilometers and fly 1,000 kilometers per hour.
Two brothers, Walter and Reimar Horten, proposed a design that not only would satisfy the ambitious concept, but that would also be the first stealth fighter.
The Horten 229 was the first blended-wing jet fighter ever built, but it only flew a handful of times in World War II. While its body looks similar to modern stealth planes like the B-2 Spirit, the 229 was never tested against radar.
The first prototype was destroyed in a crash during testing and the second was captured by the Allies who boxed it up and sent it to the U.S.
A team of Northrup Grumman model builders created a mockup of the 229 so that engineers could test the design against the types of radar used for the defense of Britain.
The results spelled probable doom for the British if the Horten had entered full production. Its reduced cross section could have allowed it to get closer to the coast before detection, and its speed might have gotten it to its target well before it could have been intercepted.
And, even if fighters or coastal artillery did reach the Horten before it destroyed the radar station and flew off, its speed and maneuverability would have made in nearly unstoppable in a fight.
See the full story of the engineers who rebuilt the Horten body and how the plane could have reshaped history in the National Geographic video below:
When U.S. Marine Raymond Lott, otherwise known as The Marine Rapper (or TMR for short), made a YouTube video to ask Betty White to the Marine Corps Ball, he had no idea that Linda Hamilton would be the one to snag the invite.
Yeah, Sarah Connor. Sarah. Effing. Conner.
In this hilarious episode of No Sh*t There I Was, TMR regales his story, and it has all the fixin’s for a perfect tale: pissed off higher-ups, a surprise twist, and a magical night at the ball.
It would almost be impossible to believe…except they’ve even included the original footage of Ms. Hamilton herself.
Netflix partnered up with huge modern directors to tell the story of five filmmakers who chose to put their careers on hold and serve in World War II.
Based on Mark Harris’ best-selling book, “Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War,”the new Netflix series “Five Came Back” is about five filmmakers (John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens) who served in the war, then returned to share what they learned with the world through their art.
With interviews by Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, Lawrence Kasdan, and Paul Greengrass, and narrated by Meryl Streep, “Five Came Back” explores the role filmmakers have during tumultuous times.
“Americans did not realize the extent of the threat Hitler posed,” narrates Streep.
The “five” created films that brought the reality of the war to the American people, and, in doing so, “changed the world.”
The Humvee (High-Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle) is a classic icon of today’s military, often seen wherever there is a war or a disaster. However, just as the Jeep proved to be not quite what would be needed for World War II, the Humvee proved to have some shortfalls during the War on Terror.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle from Oshkosh is intended to at least partially replace the Humvee. The Humvee will be sticking around – possibly until 2050 – in many of the support units, as opposed to fighting in front-line combat situations.
The big difference will be in the level of protection. Humvees, even when up-armored, couldn’t completely protect troops from the effects of roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices. The JLTV addresses that through providing MRAP-level protection in a lightweight package that can be hoisted by a helicopter like the CH-47F Chinook or a CH-53K King Stallion.
The first of the JLTVs will be delivered to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, followed by the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy. Both units are expected to receive their vehicles in 2019.
The JLTV has four variants in service, the M1278 Heavy Gun Carrier, the M1279 Utility vehicle, the M1280 General Purpose, and the M1281 Close Combat Weapons Vehicle.
Check the video below to see how the JLTV and the Humvee stack up against each other.
The AH-1 Apache attack helicopter is the big brother in the sky that grunts love to see, hear, and feel flying above them.
Its racks of Hellfire missiles are designed to destroy heavy tanks and light bunkers with ease, its rockets can eviscerate enemy formations, and its chain gun is perfect for mopping up any “squirters.”
The Stinger missile was originally designed as a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile. Operators aim the weapon, and it detects the heat signature of the target. When the missile is fired, it homes in on that signature for the kill.