Category Archives: Pictures

An American Freedom Fighter in the Libyan Civil War: Part 1

As Americans, especially those in military and intelligence circles, we have an obsession with giving everything a name or acronym.  Everyone gets a label and category.  I asked Matthew VanDyke what he was doing in the middle of the Libyan Civil War.  Was he a mercenary, a private security contractor, or a foreign volunteer?  His answer was straight forward and to the point: he was a freedom fighter.

While the Huffington Post and others mistakenly reported that he was a journalist, Matt will tell you that he was anything but.  He was conducting a recon mission when he was captured by the Libyan military and imprisoned.  Once freed, he joined back up with the rebels and manned the unweildly Soviet DShK machine gun on a jeep that looked like something straight out of Mad Max, trading fire and getting into skirmishes with Gaddafi’s forces on the front lines of the war.

While the National Security Council was meeting in the situation room at the White House, no doubt dabbing beads of sweat from their collective brows with handkerchiefs, Matt crossed into Libya and went to work.  Surviving the war, Matt returned to the United States and in the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, he brought back an amazing boots on the ground account of the Libyan Civil War.

It all started when Matt was contacted by an old friend named Muiz who he had met during a motorbike tour across Northern Africa, “If I die, please tell your friends about me.  On the streets fighting…fighting with hands…but we have no guns…people dying for Libya.”  Matt’s friends were taking up arms against Gaddafi’s forces.  They were prepared to sacrifice their lives for freedom.

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ATACS-FG Preview


I’ve been hard at work on new content over at, I’ve got interviews and book excerpts coming with Green Berets who served in Vietnam and Afghanistan, news about goings-on in the SOF community, and I’ve also been working on gear reviews for The Load Out Room which will go live next month.  In the meantime, check out this preview of the kind of content to expect over at PredatorBDU!

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Who wants to go to Ranger School?

Ranger School


Yeah, a lot of that going around apparently.  According to Ft. Benning’s newspaper, The Bayonet, Ranger School is struggling to fill its openings for Army Sergeants.  This is surprising, as Ranger School was essentially established to train Army NCOs in infantry tactics and leadership before sending them back to mother Army.  In this way, their new skill sets would diffuse amongst soldiers throughout the entire military.

The Bayonet is now reporting that Ranger School is experiencing a deficit of over 80% for the number of NCO’s who should be attending, a number that is only expected to grow.



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Kicking Ass With Kifaru

Jack Murphy's Kifaru ZXR

I’m not going to try to pretend that I didn’t already love Kifaru before I linked up with them at SHOT this year.  I’d been enjoying my Kifaru ZXR rucksack since I took it on my last deployment to Iraq and got some good use out of it while out on patrol with a LRS unit.  These packs will set you back a few dollars but they are like the Rolls Royce of rucksacks and come with a lifetime warranty.  When I spoke with Mel from Kifaru he was more than happy to show me some of their latest offerings.


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PenCott, SOD, and Accuracy International at the SHOT show

SOD uniforms at SHOT 2012

Many of you may remember that I had a very favorable impression of  SOD’s uniform in Pencott’s “badlands” pattern that I reviewed last year, so it was great to meet the uniform’s creator at SHOT.  Max Valente told me that he is very excited about working with Pencott and that in Italy they are having some of the same issues that we are having with our camo patterns, and he is happy to offer his products to the Italian military since a lot of their issued items are not always up to standard.  Interestingly, he also said that what is publicly available on SOD’s websiteis perhaps 10% of the products that he has developed and sold.  The rest have gone to Italian Special Operations units, such as Folgore, and can’t be disclosed.  I could tell from talking to Max that he was really excited about the projects he had brewing behind the scenes and wanted to tell me more but simply couldn’t.  I’m hoping that some of these details will be revealed as the war in Afghanistan winds down but for now we can enjoy SOD’s work with Pencott, such as the “sandstorm” patterned uniform above.

Accuracy International was at SHOT this year showing off their new sniper rifles, including an updated modular chassis system with increased mounting options for slings and rail systems, newer models forgoing the classic thumb-through-the-stock grip that served us well with the .300 WinMag when I was a sniper.  The above rifle is AI’s new .338 long gun that accepts both 5 and 10-round magazines, without the need to lift the rifle off the ground while in the prone position due to a cut out on the side of the magazine well.

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Kit Up! gets the low down on the finalists for the new Army camo scheme

Hyperstealth's entry for the new Army camo pattern

Now that the US Army has announced that they have narrowed down their pool of camouflage schemes for potential replacement of the ACU pattern, we know that Hyperstealth’s entry is among the finalists.  I dropped by ADS (who is partnered with Hyperstealth) today at the SHOT show to talk to Guy Cramer about his entry.  He showed me what he called Version B, which is 99% the same as Version A, which is one of the four patterns currently being looked at by the Army.  In other words, most of us probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

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SHOT show 2012 range day!

Jack Murphy shooting the FNS-9

Read the full story about the new FNS-9 at Kit Up!

Breaching kit at SHOT

Designated Marksman rifle at SHOT

Solar powered weapons sight

More to come!


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How to Dropkick a Claymore Mine

Today I have a Do-It-Yourself guide on how to “dropkick” a Claymore Anti-Personnel mine for you guys.  This is a technique I learned in Ranger Battalion and was able to use later on when I was in Special Forces.  The term dropkick is of course just shorthand for a method of rigging the Claymore mine for a very fast employment when outnumbered and outgunned by the enemy.  Also known as the “red vapor mist machine” in some circles, the Claymore mine is typically used to protect soldiers in static positions such as patrol bases, or used to initiate an ambush against enemy troops.  The dropkick technique is different in that it is used by snipers, recce patrols, or other small SOF teams who are breaking contact with the enemy and attempting to escape and evade.

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Polish Commandos getting it done in Afghanistan

Here at Kit Up! we have been covering the Polish Special Forces units quite a bit and I’m happy to do it.  I’ve written in the past about Poland’s 1st Special Forces Regiment and David Reeder just had a cool article the other day about Polish SF training with the Indian military.  One of my sources recently came through with some information that has been vetted for OPSEC by those familiar with these operations, and as you can see, Polish SF is embracing the FID mission in Afghanistan.


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Tank Snipers!

With the US Army fielding an Urgent Needs Statement, a contract has already been signed for 126 additional Carl Gustaf weapons systems manufactured by Saab of Sweden.  The 84mm Recoiless Rifle replaced the obsolete, but functional, 90mm recoiless rifle in Ranger Battalion years ago where I started my Special Operations career.  My first duty position: Tank Sniper.

Admittedly, the M3 Carl Gustaf isn’t the sexiest of weapons among the 75th Ranger Regiment’s rather extensive arsenal.  This is especially true when you have to pack this giant metal tube into an AT4 jump pack with cardboard honeycomb and exit a C-17 during a Mass-Tactical airborne jump at night.  Getting hung up in a MH-60 with the Goose slung over your back while fast roping and dangling 50ft in the air ain’t sexy either.  Don’t ask me how I know that…
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