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Poor Vladmir. The Russian dictator had such big legacy plans. First, he would charge into defenseless Ukraine, sweeping aside its puny army, and capture the Capital in a matter of days. Second, he thought he could divide NATO and intimidate other nations into not joining the alliance. Then he would move on to absorb other east European countries into his resurrected old Soviet-style block, all part of his recent compact of territorial expansion with China.
It isn’t working out that way. It turns out the world’s pesky individuals do so dearly love their freedom and sovereignty.
Instead, it is the Russian Army that appears puny, losing over ONE-THIRD of its soldiers since the invasion began according to British Intelligence. It appears the Russians are retreating after suffering grievous casualties, losing hundreds of tanks, and dozens of aircraft.
Read more: The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men… Tend to Go Astray.
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KENTUKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD, 123rd SPECIAL TACTICS SQUADRON, LOUISVILLE, KY. - MAY 2, 2022 - One of the Air Force’s most specialized warriors is the Combat Controller (CCT) Specialist, a one-person attachment to other Special Forces Units, whose job is to establish air traffic control in remote, often hostile environments.
Part of the Air Force’s Special Warfare Program, these CCT’s are FAA certified Air Traffic Controllers who accompany special operators on dangerous missions to establish control of the skies in a battle zone. Each CCT must be a jack of all trades, able to parachute, scuba dive and even snowmobile their way to desolate locations to quickly establishing air traffic control to support highly dangerous special operations missions.
Read more: AIR FORCE COMBAT CONTROLLERS ARE THE FIRST ONES IN
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MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER (MUTC), Butlerville, Indiana - MAY 3, 2022 - A building has collapsed. Smoke from burning debris adds to the chaotic scene as rescuers race to find survivors.
This was no earthquake or terrorist attack, but a simulated disaster in a replicated urban environment where no one lives. Welcome to Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC), Indiana, a fabricated city with over 1,000 acres containing 190 brick and mortar buildings, 1.8 miles of subterranean tunnels and more than nine miles of roads.
In this photo by Sergeant 1st Class Brent C. Powell, a soldier from the 409th Engineer Company, based in Aurora, Colorado, stands on a pile of rubble while directing fellow soldiers where to look for “survivors” in a simulated building collapse.
Read more: MUTC SIMULATED URBAN ENVIRONMENT OFFERS INCREDIBLE REALISM
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SITKA, ALASKA - APRIL 29, 2022 - Is there anything more terrifying than being caught in a violent storm at sea, tossed by angry waves as your vessel is slowly sinking? Fortunately for American mariners, there is always someone to turn to in such a predicament, the United States Coast Guard.
Officially designated “Aviation Survival Technicians or AST’s,” these “Rescue Swimmers” undergo the most grueling training imaginable, and their graduation rate hovers around 50 percent. The most elite unit in the Coast Guard, AST’s must pass a rigorous 18 weeks of relentless conditioning and psychological training to accomplish daring sea extractions under horrendous weather conditions.
A typical day for recruits starts on land with endurance training, push-ups, rope climbing, kettle bell workouts and long runs to increase stamina followed by water-based drills including 2000-yard laps, swimming with weights and treading water exercises.
Next comes “water confidence” drills ranging from practice saving downed pilots to instructors playing victims thrashing madly against their rescuers. Only the calmest, most focused AST’s are capable of saving frightened, drowning people in the maelstrom of a violent storm.
Read more: “DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE THE LOVE OF GOD GOES, WHEN THE WAVES TURN THE MINUTES TO HOURS?”
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SOUTH CHINA SEA - MAY 2, 2022 - Deep in the heart of the South China Sea lies a series of tiny atoll, dubbed the “Spratly Islands”, that are claimed by China, and to a lesser extent, Vietnam and Taiwan who are mostly concerned about fishing rights in the area. It is China, however, that has decided to militarize these islets by constructing naval bases and airfields and demanding their exclusive use in violation of international law.
Under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the Spratly Islands and their vicinity are “International Waters”, open to all nations, including their warships, and they enjoy the right to “innocent” passage through these territorial waters unmolested. Unfortunately, some nations assert bogus maritime claims to these waters, even attempting to impose “restrictions” on navigators such as requiring “permission” to pass through the straits.
While these tactics may be intimidating to local anglers, not so to the United States Navy.
Read more: FOR THE AMERICAN NAVY, SOMETIMES JUST “BEING THERE” SAYS IT ALL.
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FT. HAMILTON, N.Y. - MAY 4, 2022 - My last active-duty station was Ft. Hamilton, a tiny, mostly ceremonial base in the heart of New York City. This obscure post was the “face” of the Army to millions in the Big Apple, staffed mostly by administrative types. Which is why I found it surprising to spot highly decorated infantry soldiers, even a few sporting Ranger tabs, milling about the chow hall.
What were these elite combat soldiers doing at sleepy Ft. Hamilton?
I soon learned they were part of the base “Ceremonial Platoon”, whose job it was to bury people, sometimes conducting a dozen funerals a day, rendering final honors to fallen or retired military. I watched them at their work, all spit and polish, displaying total professionalism and compassion to each grieving family as they convey this sad message, “On behalf of the President of the United States, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.” Every funeral was, of course, heartbreaking, emotions gushing from tearful relatives in anguish at the loss of their loved one.
“What a terrible emotional toll this must take,” I thought, “on these young Color Guards as they render final honors to those who served.”