The Swiss Guard, the Pope’s elite security force, had humble beginnings 500 years ago as infantrymen defending their lands against cavalry. In medieval times, the Swiss perfected the use of the pike in battlefield formations, and quickly became known as one of the greatest fighting forces of their time.
Serving in the Marine Corps infantry is one of the most taxing occupations the military has to offer. Whether you’re out patrolling in a hot zone, calling in mortars on an enemy position or just humping hundreds of pounds of gear, it’s tough.
For one former Marine, military service fuels his music and reflects his experiences in the Corps.
“So you’re the newest PFC? Well, welcome to the infantry. Around here we like to do things a little differently. I know your drill instructor taught you those morals and ethics, but you got to put that to the side to kill more efficiently. ”
These are the opening lyrics of “Welcome to the Infantry” performed by Marine rapper, Fitzy Mess, and they couldn’t be more truthful.
Check out Fitzy Mess‘ video below for his cathartic rap song about life in the Marine infantry. And turn your sound up!(Fitzy Mess, YouTube)
Airborne forces face a problem whenever they have to jump behind enemy lines — whether it’s to seize an enemy airfield or to take and hold territory.
The paratroopers can’t bring their own armor support, because America doesn’t currently have an airborne-certified tank or large armored vehicle. (The Stryker and the Light Armored Vehicle have undergone successful airdrop tests, but neither has been certified).
But it wasn’t always this way. During the Cold War, Airborne forces relied on the M551 Sheridan, an Airborne-capable light tank first fielded in 1969.
The Sheridan was a replacement for the World War II-era Mk. VII Tetrarch tank and the M22 Locust Airborne tank. The Tetrarch was a British glider-capable light tank and the M22 was an American tank custom-built for glider insertion.
The M551, unlike its predecessors, was airdrop-capable, meaning it could be inserted using parachutes instead of gliders. The tank was also used with the Low-Altitude Parachute Extraction System, an airdrop system that allowed the U.S. to drop the tanks from a few feet to a few dozen feet off the ground.
The Sheridan was crewed by four people and weighed 16 tons, light enough that it could actually swim through the water. It was powered by a 300-hp diesel engine and could hit approximately 45 mph. It could travel 373 miles between fill-ups.
The tank used an experimental 152mm gun that could fire missiles or tank rounds. Even its tank rounds were experimental, though — they used a combustible casing instead of the standard brass casings.
The Sheridan served well in Vietnam and Panama. During Operation Just Cause, it was even airdropped into combat, allowing paratroopers to bring their own fire support to the battlefield.
The tank’s main gun could inflict serious damage at distances of up to 2,000 feet, allowing it to punch out enemy bunkers from outside the range of many enemy guns.
Unfortunately, the light armor of the Sheridan posed serious issues. Some Sheridans were pierced by enemy infantry’s heavy machine guns, meaning crews had to be careful even when there was no enemy armor or anti-armor on the field. Worse, the main gun started to develop a reputation as being unreliable.
Firing the main gun knocked out the electronics for the longer-range missile, meaning that a tank firing on bunkers or enemy armor at close range would usually lose their ability to punch targets at long range. And there was no way to avoid this issue as the Shillelagh missile couldn’t hit targets at less than 2,400 feet.
The only way for an M551 to punch at close range was to give up its capability at long ranges.
By 1980, most cavalry units were moving to the M60 Patton Main Battle Tank, which was actually introduced before the Sheridan. The Patton featured heavier armor, more power, and a more reliable gun. It had also just been upgraded with new “Reliability Improved Selected Equipment,” or “RISE.”
According to an Army history pamphlet, one cavalryman told the Stars and Stripes, “We can get the job done with the Sheridan, but most cavalrymen would rather have the tank.”
The airborne forces would keep the Sheridan through 1996, partially because they had no other options. A number of potential replacements were canceled and modern airborne forces just make do without true armored support.
The Army is, once again, looking at new light tanks or heavy-armored vehicles to support paratroopers. The new solution could be another custom-built tank, like the Sheridan. But as of summer 2016, its specifications were up in the air. It just has to be capable of an airdrop, and it has to get the job done.
Keeping the troops well fed is a big part of how the military works, and Navy veteran and pop-up chef August Dannehl knows this better than most. In the WATM series “Thank You For Your Service” Augie cooks a four-course meal for his fellow vets, and each course is inspired by a veteran story from his or her time in uniform.
In this episode David Burnell remembers the times when he was a Marine, and he learned to enjoy a self-made concoction of mac and cheese using the jalapeño cheese packet and spaghetti noodle pack from the MRE. Here’s the recipe that chef August cooked together for David:
Habanero Mac and Cheese w/ Truffle, Leek and 3 Cheeses
Inspired by MRE Jalapeño Cheese Packet and Spaghetti Noodles
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 Tsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter
1/4 Cup AP Flour
2 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Half Half
1 Tsp. Sweet Paprika
1 lb. Conchiglie (or shell pasta)
1 Cup Shredded Gruyère Cheese
1 Cup Shredded English White Cheddar(sharpest available)
1 Cup Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
2 Tsp. Truffle Puree Preserves (or oil)
1 Large Leek
1 Large Habanero
2 Tbls. of Green Onion (for garnish)
Prepare the leek by splitting down lengthwise and soaking in cold water for 20 mins. Then shake out all silt from the leaves, discard the top, dark-green part and chop the rest.
Boil pasta in large saucepan of salted water until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain and transfer to large bowl and dress with olive oil.
Seed and stem Habanero then julienne into tiny slices. Place into bowl of hot water and let steep for 1 hr (this removes some of the heat from the chili).
Make the cheese sauce by bringing a large saucepan to medium-high heat and melt 4 Tbs. butter. Add leaks and habanero and sweat for 5 mins.
Add flour and paprika and cook until no visible flour remains, about 2-3 mins. Whisk in milk and half half and large pinch of salt and bring to boil then simmer whisking out any lumps, about 4 minutes.
Add truffle puree and all cheeses and stir until smooth.
Once smooth, add pasta to sauce and mix until incorporated.
Add salt and pepper to taste and let stand 5 minutes before service.
Add pinch of sliced green onions for garnish and serve.
Don’t believe me? Have you heard that band Dos Gringos? They rock, but those two Viper drivers also touch upon the intra-service hating in “I Wish I had a Gun Just Like the A-10.” You can listen to it as we hate on their mount – the F-16 Fighting Falcon.Don’t take all the hating as license to go after them. They may enjoy razzing each other — saying mean things about the other mounts. But they will all come after you if you try to pick on one of them.
Why making fun of the F-16 is easy
Where do we start? It’s a single-engine plane. Not much range. Offensive payload? Probably the lowest among air force combat jets. In fact, really, if you ask any A-10, F-15, F-15E, F-22, or F-35 jock, the fact older F-16s are becoming target drones is appropriate somehow.
The A-10, of course, laughs at the notion the F-16 can do close-air support. With that 20mm popgun, how do they expect to blow up a tank?
Why you should actually hate it
Because it got to play parts in “Iron Eagle” and three sequels. Because that Doug Masters kid made flying it look easy – and even rigged a sound system.
Because being single-engine means that if something goes bad, the pilot goes sky-diving. Like that poor Jordanian guy who got captured by ISIS. Oh, and that short range, means it has some kind of drinking problem. It’s always hogging the tankers.
Not to mention, they’re everywhere. It seems like every country gets its hands on these planes.
Why you ought to love the F-16
This is one versatile fighter. You need to scramble up to say hello to a prowling Russian? F-16s can do that. Want to blast the hell out of enemy forces in close contact with friendlies? The “Viper” variant can do that. Dogfight with MiGs? The F-16 can do that, too. Hit an enemy installation? Can do.
There’s a lot of them. Many NATO allies have them. So do American allies in the Far East and Middle East. It’s even had growth potential. Japan’s F-2, the Israeli F-16I, and the F-16E/F for the UAE all have proven themselves. When China wanted a new multi-role fighter for the PLAAF, they had to knock off the Israeli knock-off of the F-16.
It’s also around a lot. You see, the U.S. didn’t buy that many F-22s. The F-35 is just coming on line. The A-10 needs new wings, or a lot will retire. They just chopped up a bunch of perfectly good B-52s. But the F-16s are around and there are a lot of them – over 1,000 of them on inventory. And that doesn’t count what is in the boneyard.
And with what we saw with the F-4 Phantom, the F-16 will be around for a long time. In fact, the last Viper driver has probably not even been born yet.
Check out our top 10 comedic military TV shows that have ever been on the air!
Dubbed the “widow-maker” in some aviation circles, the AV-8 Harrier is as dangerous to America’s enemies as it is to the pilots who commandeer it.
From its commissioning to as recent as 2013, there have been about 110 fighters involved in Class A mishaps — accidents causing death, permanent injury or at least $1 million in losses.
“Measured by its major accident rate per 100,000 flight hours, which is the military standard, the Harrier is the most dangerous plane in the U.S. military,” said Los Angeles Times reporter Alan C. Miller in the video below. “Overall the Marines have lost more than one-third of the entire Harrier fleet to accidents.”
The first Harrier model, the AV-8A had a Class A mishap rate of 31.77 accidents per 100,000 flight hours. The Marines improved the rate to 11.44 per 100,000 hours with the introduction of the AV-8B in the mid-1980s, according to Miller.
By contrast, the Harrier has more than twice the accident rate of the F-16, more than three times the rate of the F/A-18, and about five times the rate of A-10.
Despite its astronomical accident rate, the fighter is beloved and remains in service more than 40 years since its introduction in 1971.
“One Marine general who flew the plane early on described it as an answer to a prayer,” Miller said.
The Corps’ need for an aircraft with a vertical landing and short takeoff capability can be traced to the 1942 Battle of Guadalcanal. The Marines lost over 1,000 men during that fight and felt abandoned by the Navy to fend for themselves.
“Since then, the precept that the Marines in the air should protect the Marines on the ground has been an essential part of the Corps’ ethos,” Miller said.
This History Channel video shows how the Harrier supports the Marine Corps’ mission to fight anywhere, anytime regardless of the risks:
Engineering Channel, YouTube
Mike Ergo enlisted with the Marine Corps Band but then decided to go Infantry and wound up engaged in heavy urban fighting in the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004.
One of Ergo’s defining tattoos from the war is an image on his left forearm of St. Michael holding a scale of justice and a foot on the face of a dead Iraqi he came across in a combat.
“For a long time I was seeing this person’s face every single day, sometimes every single hour of the day,” said Ergo. “My thinking was if I had to see his face, everyone else had to see it as well. It was a tattoo I got out of anger.”
“Vietnam vets talk about their experiences coming back and the big gulf that happened between the veterans and civilians,” continues Ergo. “This is an opportunity for our generation to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Ergo’s story is part of War Ink: 11 for 11, a video series presented by We Are The Mighty. The series features 11 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan using tattoos to tell their stories on and off the battlefield. Each week for the next 11 weeks, a different tattooed veteran will share his or her story.
Do you have a tattoo that tells the story of your war experiences? Post a photo of it at We Are The Mighty’s Facebook page with the hashtag #WeAreTheMightyInk. WATM will be teeing up the coolest and most intense ones through Veteran’s Day.
Video Credit: Rebecca Murga and Karen Kraft
In Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”, the actors were mentored by the type of warfighters they portray in the film in order to accurately depict their abilities and experiences. Each of these men was a member of an elite group called the Global Response Staff, which draws from the full suite of special operations units.
We Are The Mighty partnered with “13 Hours” to bring together spec ops vets of each branch to discuss the differences between Army Rangers and Green Berets, Air Force Pararescuemen, Navy SEALs, and Marine Recon.
Their explanations are specific and nuanced and explained as only those who’ve “been there and done that” can.
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.
After watching this compilation of crooks-meet-vets, it’s easy to see why veterans are the last people you want to mess with.
(And learn more from the article here.)
On October 13th, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized construction of the first American naval force. Since that day the United States Navy, along with the Marine Corps, has protected America from attack, and preserved safety, security, and stability throughout the world.
Happy 241st birthday, U.S. Navy!
During boot camp, Marine recruits must endure and complete a 54-hour training event under intense mental and physical distress known as the “Crucible”.
This training event includes marching over 45-miles and negotiating several obstacles that require problem-solving strategies that usher in the concept of teamwork to complete each combat-related mission.
Every moment of the training event is highly structured and preplanned in advanced while under strict Marine drill instructor supervision.
“The Crucible means being sleep deprived, hungry, and digging deep to push forward,” Marine veteran Bryant Tomayo recalls. “[After the completion] it’s the proudest moment for all recruits. It symbolizes the transformation from civilian to Marine.”
Recruits are only allowed eight total hours of sleep during the 54-hour event and two-and-a-half MREs — which they are expected to ration themselves.
Since chowtime is continuous in the field, food management becomes essential; each Marine must space out their meal intake for added energy to push forward when the time is needed.
After the Crucible comes to a close, the recruits will exit from the field at 0400 and proudly march back to their training grounds where they will receive the beloved Eagle, Globe, and Anchor in a ceremony from the same drill instructors that made their lives hell for the past three months.
This is the moment where the drill instructors finally call the recruits a Marine for the first time.
Check out the Marines‘ video below to see the craziness that is the “Crucible” for yourself.
Marines, YoutubeWhat are some of your Crucible stories? Comment below.