The U.S. Army’s Ranger School is beyond tough. Sixty percent of those who start the course fail within the first four days. One third of all soldiers “recycle” one of the three phases.
In Part 3 of this amazing series by Army veteran Rebecca Murga, Maj. Lisa Jaster continues her quest to make history by being among the first females to complete Ranger School and earn the right to wear the tab. Nineteen females started the course; 3 remain. Lisa has already recycled the Darby phase (phase one). Will she make it to the end?
Watch ‘Earning the Tab – Pt. 1’ here. Watch Pt. 2 here.
In 1831, King Louis Philippe of France expanded his country’s military by establishing a service branch made up of mostly foreigners: the French Foreign Legion. Immediately after its creation, the Foreign Legion recruited fighters from Switzerland, Germany, and other countries to protect and expand the French colonial empire. Despite the Foreign Legion’s involvement in most of France’s wars since being established, the French don’t get too bummed about their losses. Let’s just say it’s complicated.
You’ve probably followed the reports of how Iranian speedboats have harassedU.S. Navyvessels. Frustrating, aren’t they? Well, think about it this way… we’ve been “showing restraint.”
The thing is, those speedboats are not really Iranian Navy. Instead, they belong to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. These speedboats, which are often equipped with heavy machine guns, rockets, and other weapons, got a reputation for attacking merchant traffic in the Iran-Iraq War. Back then, they were called “Boghammars” after the Swedish company that built the first boats used by the Iranians.
Today, their primary threat to an American warship could be as a suicide craft. That said, American ships have options to address these craft. Two of the most prominent are the Mk 38 Mod 2 Bushmaster and the M2 heavy machine gun. The M2 is a legend. It’s been used on everything from tanks to aircraft to ships, and against just about every target you can imagine.
Now, the Mk 38 Mod 2 Bushmaster is not as well-known. That said, it’s been in quite common use. It got its start on the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, where the Army calls it the M242.
It needs a lot of luck to kill a tank, but it can bust up other infantry fighting vehicles, trucks, groups of infantry, even helicopters and aircraft. The Bushmaster made its way to the Marine Corps LAV-25.
The Navy put the Bushmaster on ships, and it comprises the main armament of the Cyclone-class patrol craft. Each Cyclone has two of these guns, one of which is paired with a Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher. The guns are also used on other surface combatants as well. The guns can do a lot of damage.
You can see the Mk 38 and the M2 go to work on a speedboat in the video below. One almost an imagine that the Iranian speedboat crews may be asking themselves the question that Harry Callahan told a bank robber to ask himself: “Do I feel lucky?”
As tensions with North Korea escalate in the wake of that country’s sixth nuclear test, the United States is also flexing its military muscle.
One of the primary systems being spun up is the B-1B Lancer.
This Cold War-era bomber is a very powerful system – it carries 84 500-pound bombs internally, and also could carry another 44 externally. Should Russia try to take the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the Lancer is very likely to take out their ground forces with weapons like the CBU-97.
That sort of deadly precision can also apply to Kim Jong Un’s massed artillery. The preferred weapon in this case would be more along the lines of the GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition. Each B-1 can carry up to 24 of these weapons, enabling it to knock out hardened artillery bunkers. The B-1B can also use smaller GBU-38 JDAMs, based on the Mk 82 bomb, to hit other positions.
According to an Air Force fact sheet, the B-1B Lancer entered service in 1986. It has a top speed of Mach 1.2 at sea level, and “intercontinental” range. Among the other weapons it can carry are the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. A Navy release noted that the B-1B recently tested an anti-ship version of the JASSM.
You can see the B-1B carry out one of its recent training missions over Korea in the video below. Note the heavy F-15 escort. These are valuable bombers – and only 66 are in the active Air Force inventory.
After Action Report | World of Tanks from WATM on Vimeo.
World of Tanks” has a simple premise: Get into a tank and go kill stuff. And yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.
The game starts off with a tutorial level that gives the absolute basics of tank driving in World of Tanks before allowing players to fight bots for practice. After that, players are thrown into the deep end with other players.
And that’s when it gets really fun. After all, “World of Tanks” is a multiplayer game, and the best parts happen when fighting in the massive 15-on-15 tank battles. Playing in random groups gives you the chance to drop right into the action. But players can set up platoons with friends so that they can go into the battle and fight as a team.
Fighting as a team is very valuable considering the game has 120 million players worldwide, some of whom have been gaining experience since the game launched five years ago.
These teams are built around a mix of tank types. Players can drive light, medium, and heavy tanks as well as tank destroyers and self-propelled guns.
No matter which tank type you try driving, you get the feeling that you’re moving out in a true, multi-ton weapon of war, driving over trees and through buildings in battle.
But, you learn that the enemy is just as strong as you the first time a medium or heavy tank starts pounding on your hull with anti-tank rounds or an SPG hits you with artillery through your soft top armor.
Each kind of tank has its own strengths and weaknesses, and “World of Tanks” does a good job making them feel unique while teaching players how to tactically use each tank on its own and in a platoon.
Tactics are very important in “World of Tanks.” The game’s physics discourage firing from slopes down onto the enemy, a big no-no in real tank combat as well.
Each vehicle has specific weak points that players learn to protect. Players also have to quickly learn to fire from behind cover and to use concealment when maneuvering.
Juggling all of this can be hectic but is exciting in matches, especially when the enemy missteps and you’re able to blast them away with a shot in the rear armor.
To make your mission a little easier, the game lets you recruit and train crew members, allowing for faster reloads or better tank handling in combat. Players can also upgrade their tanks. Researching a new gun may give a semi-automatic capability or buying a new engine will get a tank around the battlefield faster. The eight research trees are split by nationality and each country’s armor strategy feels unique.
With all eight tech trees combined, the game features 450 tanks complete with their own handling, armor, and weapons characteristics as well as notes about their history and development.
Historical accuracy is important to “World of Tanks,” and the tanks and weapons are carefully created to match their real-world counterparts. The game does take some liberties with the historical accuracy, though, tweaking some weapons and stats to keep the game balanced and fun.
Basically, everything is kept true to history unless one tank starts being able to run roughshod over everyone else. When that happens, the designers make a few small changes to rebalance the game.
While 15-on-15 tank battles are the default, the game does have other modes like Clan Stronghold or Global Map, where clans of tankers fight each other for resources.
Wargaming.net is even bringing Football Mode back for a short time to celebrate Euro 2016. Basically, it’s soccer with tanks:
The game is free to play, but the premium version allows players to more quickly upgrade their tanks. Players can also opt to buy awesome, premium tanks in one-time transactions.
The beginning of November saw three important organizations come together for the Heroes Work Here initiative. Easter Seals, Disney, and USAA held a conference to compel the leaders of Midwest-based companies to improve their veteran hiring programs and teach them how to integrate and celebrate veterans in their work forces.
J.R. Martinez, an Army veteran attended the event and spoke with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the President and CEO of Easter Seals, the Director of the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs, the Director of Veterans Initiatives for the Walt Disney Company, the founder of the Easter Seals Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, the Program Manager of Veteran Hiring Initiatives for Sears Holding Company, and Military Affairs Relationship Director of the USAA.
Travis Mills, also an Army veteran and author of Tough As They Come, is a quadruple amputee who joined the major players, devoting time and effort to bring American companies into the Heroes Work Here fold. He lent his voice to the conference as a guest speaker to advocate on behalf of Easter Seals.
“Easter Seals is really leading the way with Walt Disney, USAA, and Sears, and all these other great companies here in support of this event,” Mills said.
United States Secretary of Veteran Affairs Robert A. McDonald was the keynote speaker at the event.
“This is a national challenge to all of us,” McDonald said. “[We need] to make sure we take care of the quarter of a million veterans who are coming out of the service, making sure their transitions into their communities is seamless, and that they have jobs.”
After the end of the Cold War, many of the countries that had been coerced into joining the Warsaw Pact sought to join NATO. One of those countries was Romania, which joined the alliance in 2004.
Since the end of the Cold War, Romania has seen a major drawdown of its forces. The country used to field eight mechanized infantry and two tank divisions patterned after those of the Soviet Union. Today, it fields two mechanized infantry divisions and a separate brigade. Much of their equipment is based off of Russian designs.
An M1A2 Abrams Tank belonging to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division prepares to fire during tank gunnery qualification at Presidential Range in Swietoszow, Poland, January 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke)
Perhaps the most notable of these is the TR-85 main battle tank. This is not a version of the T-72, but rather the much older T-55 main battle tank. We’re talking vintage stuff here — and while vintage is cool for fashion, it can be a killer for armored vehicles. The T-55 design was good in its day, but it was unable to defeat the Israelis in several wars in the Middle East — evidence that the tank has past its prime. Fortunately, the TR-85 has seen some upgrades.
Like the T-55, the TR-85 has a 100mm main gun. The tank has 41 rounds for that gun. It also has a 12.7mm DShK machine gun and a pair of PKM 7.62mm machine guns. Improvements since the end of the Cold War were born from collaboration between French and Romanian companies.
Presently, Romanian and American units train together as the Russian threat has returned a quarter-century after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the video below, you’ll see some American M1A2 Abrams tanks from the 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) carrying out a live-fire exercise alongside Romanian TR-85s.
WATM hosted groups of veterans to answer several questions about their time in the military. The vets kept it real when responding to topics ranging from relationships to recruiters, to annoying stereotypes.
In this episode, our group of veterans discusses the various military stereotypes they’ve encountered from civilians over the years.
Editor’s note: If you have ideas for questions that you’d like to see a group of veterans answer, please leave a comment below.
That satisfying “Ping!” of bullets on target is as regular as a metronome when former Green Beret sniper, Aaron Barruga, is running tactical marksmanship drills on his home turf in Santa Clarita, CA. With his company, Guerrilla Approach, Barruga trains civilians, military, and law enforcement in proper and effective tactical firearm deployment.
The man does not miss.
“Oscar Mike” host Ryan Curtis paid a visit to Barruga’s training facility to bone up on his sharpshooting and found himself in good hands, drilling shoulder to shoulder with this veteran entrepreneurial success story. Barruga’s advice?
“I would definitely say that, if they have the opportunity, use that G.I. Bill. Get that piece of paper that says, “I’m smart and employable.” And just grind away, basically. You gotta hustle.”
As the day progresses, the sweat beading on Ryan’s brow is a testament to his hustle, if not his dead shot accuracy. And when he challenges Barruga to an Old West-style duel, our host quickly learns what high noon looks like at the Less-than-OK Corral.
Watch as Barruga makes plinking targets look easy, and Curtis proves his monkey is definitely the drunkest, in the video embedded at the top.
The upcoming OA-X fly-off features the Textron Scorpion as one of the major contenders. This plane has been the subject of some hype since it first flew in 2013. However, if it wins the OA-X flyoff, it won’t be the first Scorpion to have flown for the United States.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States was looking to acquire interceptors to stop a horde of Soviet bombers. The big problem — the guns were just not packing enough punch. One answer to this was the F-89 Scorpion from Northrop.
The first definitive version of the Scorpion to achieve widespread service, the F-89D, addressed that problem by using air-to-air “Mighty Mouse” rockets. The Scorpions carried 104 of them, and had the option of firing all of them at once, or in up to three salvos. The F-89 Scorpion also had a lethal ground-attack capability, being able to carry 16 five-inch rockets and up to 3,200 pounds of bombs.
But the “Mighty Mouse” rockets proved to be more mouse than mighty, and the Scorpion’s armament was soon the subject of an upgrade. The F-89J was a F-89D modified to carry the AIR-2 Genie rocket — which carried a small nuclear warhead. The plane could also carry four AIM-4 Falcon missiles. The Genie had a warhead equivalent to 250 tons of TNT, and it had a range of six miles and a top speed of Mach 3. Early versions of the AIM-4 had a range of six miles, but later versions could go 7 miles. Most Falcons were heat-seekers, but some were radar-guided missiles.
The F-89 was eventually retired in favor of faster interceptors with more modern radars and missiles, but for most of two decades, it helped guard America’s airspace from Soviet aggression. Below is a video put out by the Air Force’s Air Defense Command about this plane.
What brought this to their attention was the medal count between Audie Murphy – long regarded as the most decorated U.S. soldier ever – and a little-known WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient named Matt Urban, whose medal count matched Murphy’s.
But no one knew that Urban had matched the well-known Murphy until 36 years after the end of WWII because Urban’s recommendation and supporting paperwork were lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.
He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Merit but never knew until his military records were reviewed to award his Medal of Honor.