Tag Archives: Military

Direct Action: Chapter Ten (part one)

Nikita

Chapter Ten:

Deckard launched himself off the ramp of the airplane and into the darkness. He still had trouble stabilizing as he exited the aircraft and rocked from side to side for a few moments as he rode the hill of air down through the sky, his body riding along with the forward throw the the plane on exit. Seconds seemed to stretch on to forever but he finally got stable in the air and assumed a position that would be called a high lift track position in normal parachuting, that is, with his arms extended but swept back and his legs extended all the way out.

Unlike a HALO jump in the military, he was wearing a wing suit which would provide additional lift, and therefore, more forward glide during free fall. The sheets of material stretched between his legs and out from his arms. An ancient dream was now achievable: human flight.

Turning his head slightly, he could make out the sleek forms of four other Liquid Sky members flying behind him in the moonlit night.

Pivoting his hips and shifting his legs, Deckard was able to steer by using the wing suit like a giant rudder. Splotches of gold floated beneath him as he soared over the city. Manila.

He got on azimuth, heading West, over the city and pointed towards the ocean beyond. He was dumping altitude, dropping a meter for every couple of meters that he traveled forward. The wind howled in his ears as the cityscape below him shot by.

Angling himself downward, he picked up speed as he flew towards his target. Through the wind goggles he wore, Deckard could now make out the outline of the Aquino building. He was moving at nearly a hundred and twenty miles and hour and the rooftop was the smallest dropzone he had ever had to hit in his career.

It was coming up fast.

The other Liquid Sky members floated alongside him, each maneuvering slightly away from each other to clear their airspace. In the night they looked like giant flying squirrels in their wing suits. One operator dropped his hips to try to adjust his trajectory. At this point they were all trying to make small adjustments to get on the right track before deploying their parachutes.

To his right, one of the wingsuit parachutists peeled away from the formation. He was too far off the required fight path and was having trouble getting stable. He would have to deploy his parachute and land safely at a secondary landing zone on the ground. Deckard didn’t noticed, he was completely fixated on his target.

The leading edge of the target building was coming up. Deckard reached back and deployed his pilot chute. The drogue caught in the air and yanked out his main parachute. Everything was a blur of motion as Deckard’s world swayed, his parachute opening above him. He was looking down into the lights inside the rooftop swimming pool.

He was too low.

Deckard reached up to grab his toggles to try to steer while he still had some space to maneuver. Below him, he saw another jumper slam right into the side of the building and through the plate glass windows. His parachute never had a chance to deploy at all.

Deckard reached out but the edge of the roof was still a good ten feet away. He sunk beneath the lip of the roof and was staring at his reflection in the windows. His heart was in his throat as he made impact.

The scene froze in front of his eyes.

Feeling his boots make contact with the floor, he stood up. The harness had lowered on its pulley system at the end of the scenario. The blinking word RESET flashed in his goggles. He flipped the visor up on his forehead and looked across the dark room. Everyone was quiet. It was their tenth time through the same scenario and none of them were getting any better.

He squinted as the lights came back on.

“Not a single person made it on to the roof top,” Bill scolded them. “Take it from the top.”

Deckard stretched his neck and then his arms and legs as he was still secured in his parachute harness and couldn’t start walking around while tethered into the metal frame.

Each of them wore a parachute and black S-Bird wing suits made by TonySuit. Following the Special Operations adage, train as you fight, they used the same gear in the simulator that they would use on target. The S-Bird wing suit would allow them the forward glide they needed to jump from an airplane, fly into the restricted airspace over the city of Manila, and then land on their objective. This model wing suit also came equipped with escape sleeves. Normally the wings of the suit had to be unzipped manually after the jumper deployed his parachute so that he could reach up and grab the toggles on his parachute in order to steer it. There would be no time for that on this gig, they would be right on top of the objective by the time they got silk over their heads.

Later, they would add their combat equipment to their rigs. At the moment the kit loadout was still being finalized as Ramon collected intelligence on the target in the Philippines. As it stood, it didn’t really matter what kit they carried on objective if none of them could even get there in the first place.

A gray haired technician sat in the corner of the warehouse. He was behind a computer, clicking away with his mouse as he began to reset the training scenario.

The simulator and the software were created by a company called ParaSim. The scaffolding structures were lined up next to each other, five in a row for the Liquid Sky operators. Nadeesha was working intel and logistics for them at their staging area and would not be going on target.

At the top of the scaffolding was a series of electronic pulleys and servos that moved the suspension lines that each parachutist hung from during the simulation. The suspension lines would reel themselves in and out and reposition the jumper’s body based on what was going on in the simulator. It would even release and drop the jumper down to the floor when he landed on the ground in the simulation.

Sensors were hooked up to the parachute ripchord and toggles so that the jumpers actually used his gear in physical reality, and got real time feed back inside the virtual reality simulator. A modified night vision goggles headset was worn by each jumper with a flip down virtual reality screen. The simulator could replicate all sorts of different scenarios based on the inputs added by the technician behind the computer.

Windspeed, jump altitude, weather conditions, and much more could be adjusted on the software side to give the most realistic experience possible. In this case they had the sub-contractor, where they were now located in Australia that ran the staging site, program the exact scenario they had in mind for their mission. It was constantly being updated based on the feedback sent from Ramon who was already watching the objective.

They were still working out what their jump altitude should be, what their pull altitude should be, and what their angle of attack should be as they came in on the objective building. Beyond that, they were all still having trouble controlling their wing suits.

“Come up five hundred feet on the jump altitude,” Bill told the technician.

“Got it, resetting now,” the technician announced.

Deckard flipped down his VR goggles as the suspension lines began to retract and pull him up into a free fall position.

“Don’t fuck it up,” he heard Bill say, his voice echoing in the warehouse.

Then they were jumping out of the back of an airplane over Manila and blasting over the city again. Deckard overshot the target and slammed into another building.

Everybody else died too.

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“Worrisome Veteran Video” AKA Why Penn State Can Kiss My Irish Ass!

*Update: Youtube took down the video…so here it is again.

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Should roll bars be a requirement for new combat vehicles?

Read it over at Kit Up!

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Modified BDU/DCU uniform shirts for hot weather

Myself on the right wearing the Tru-Spec combat shirt and a team mate, center, wearing the Army combat shirt.

Right: Tru-Spec Combat Shirt  Center: Custom made BDU top  Left: Custom made DCU top

Today I will review customized uniform tops I had made and give some tips and ideas on how you can do the same.  These types of fatigue shirts first made their appearance with Crye Precision.  The idea is that they wear better and more comfortably in hot weather, especially when wearing heavy body armor.  Typically called “combat shirts”, Crye’s first attempt was good but expensive, and most regular army troops could not where Multicam patterned uniforms.  To rectify this problem, the Army jumped all over the idea and made it’s own version.  Most soldiers thought it was a good concept…aside from the huge logo on the chest that said:  ARMY STRONG.   There was one other reason why the Army combat shirt drew fire, it wasn’t flattering to some of our troops:

*Sigh*  Damn Marines embarrassing us again.  Let’s get back on topic.

This top is the first generation combat shirt is sold by Tru-Spec, a well known uniform manufacturer.  Following in Crye Precision’s footsteps, Tru-Spec made their own combat shirt and sold it at a reduced price.  In some regards I think it shows.  For one thing the sleeves are too short.  Most soldiers tend to roll them up anyway, so this may or may not matter to you.  Secondly, I didn’t like the material that the soft portion of the shirt is made of.  It feels to much like a cotton t-shirt to me, not the kind of thing you want to wear in the desert.

Notice that the fabric spans across the shoulders on the back of the shirt.  As I found out later when attempting to have my own shirt made, there is a very good reason for this.  Another point is the turtle neck collar.  It’s uncomfortable, but it also prevents the straps on your kit from chaffing your neck, another important point that was initially lost on me when I had my own shirt made.

My first attempt.  Most of the guys on my team went over to the Turkish guy who worked in a nearby sew shop in Iraq and requested that he make these tops for us.  Eventually, he got to the point that he knew exactly what we wanted as soon as we came walking through his door.  He actually did a very good job.  He moved the pockets up onto the sleeves, attached the velcro for call sign patches, and sewed an Under Armor shirt into the DCU shirt sleeves.  It’s very comfortable, but with one big flaw.

Tru-Spec knew one thing I didn’t.  Without that span of fabric across the back, the shirt stretches, as the Under Armor t-shirt is made to do, creating a sagging effect.  The shirt can now bunch up or pull out from under the straps of whatever chest rig or body armor you are wearing.  Generally though, if you pulled the shirt under the straps of your body armor, the weight alone would keep everything in place.  These shirts were a life saver when working in Iraq during the summer.

Here you can see why that collar is so important

Sun burned and with the strap of my body armor digging into my neck.  Not cool.

I had this one done by a sew shop outside Ft. Campbell when I got back from deployment.  She kept the t-shirt without cutting it, literally just sewing it into the shirt sleeves of the BDU top.  Not the preferred method, but it does work pretty well.This time I was smart enough to have that strip across the back left in place, however, I should have had the collar left as well.  I found that while doing kit runs that my gear would ride up and chaff my neck without a collar there.  Other than that, it is very functional.  At the time, taking a t-shirt and fatigue top and paying a sew shop 20 bucks to make one of these for you was ideal as opposed to paying hundreds of dollars to one of the many companies making combat shirts.  However, I did a quick search and found that the Tru-Spec shirts are going for a very reasonable 60 dollars so that might be the way to go.

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Vietnam/SOG reenactments

In conducting research for the first short in a series I am writing (more about that later) I came across this website: ModernForces.com

I have to confess that I never really “got” reenactments before.  I had heard stories about Civil War reenactors starving themselves and spooning with each other in their confederate war camps in the name of authenticity.  I had a SERE instructor who was a great guy, but his descriptions of the Rev War reenactments he participated in, namely sleeping in a lean to’s  in January, sounded pretty nutty.

Studies and Observations Group, or SOG, was highly classified during the Vietnam War.  In fact, not much information about them was available at all until the 1990’s.  Reading between the lines, I suspect that there is still a fair amount of activity that SOG was involved in that has not been made publicly available.  There are a couple of books out and some grainy photos released, but the Modern Forces website really brings history to life.

The attention to detail is pretty amazing and I’m sure the people involved spent a lot of time putting together the uniforms and equipment to such a high degree of historical accuracy.  The full color images and close in shots of the equipment used really gives an idea of how SOG operated, a perspective you don’t really get from the older 1960’s era photography.  When you have the chance I highly recommend taking a look at the pictorials in the SOG section of the website.  A few Vietnam veterans who served in SOG have also contacted the website and provided exclusive photographs and interviews, a must read for anyone researching Special Forces units and missions during the Vietnam War.

Take a look at Modern Forces: MACV-SOG

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Firing some Taliban guns in Afghanistan

In 2004 my Task Force rounded up a former (current?) member of the Taliban who was up to no good.  I won’t mention his name here for OPSEC reasons, but I will say that we were forced to release the jackass a few weeks later due to lack of evidence.  In the meantime we shot the guns we confiscated from him out at the range.  It’s the least we could do, I did have to carry crates of his ammunition down the side of the mountain he lived on.

The PPSh-41 is a Soviet WWII era Sub-Machine Gun that was designed for close in fighting in urban and forested areas.  Like other drum-fed machine guns, I found this one was very prone to Failure to Feed malfunctions.  On the other hand it could be that this specific gun was as old as Uncle Joe Stalin and had been kept in a Taliban cache for god knows how long.

Firing a .303 Lee Enfield rifle.  Strong recoil but a nice rifle to shoot.  I’d love to know the back story of how some of these weapons found their way to Afghanistan.  Among other confiscated items we had laying around was what looked like a Rhodesian web gear harness…I can only imagine.  One thing I found notable about the .303 was that the sights can be adjusted out to 1000 meters.  A friend told me that in the old days the British were prone to sending volleys of fire.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Gear, Pictures, Weapons and Tactics

Ranger School Graduation

News flash: Ranger School sucks.  Especially in January.  It isn’t that you don’t receive important tactical training, its just a painful experience.  More so if you are a Strong Ranger rather than a Smart Ranger.  At twenty years old, I was definitely a Strong Ranger.  My class number was 04-04, after recycling Darby Phase of course…

The much dreaded Charlie Company.  I’m in there somewhere, probably sleeping on my feet, an essential Ranger skill.

After the graduation ceremony those of us who came from the Ranger Regiment got a congratulations/warning speech from the Regimental Commander and Sergeant Major.  The gist was this: go out and get a DUI tonight and we’ll crush your balls, then kick you out of the Regiment.

Later that day, at the Ranger Memorial on Main Post at Ft. Benning.  In a blatant act of defiance, those of us from Ranger battalions wore our Ranger scrolls pinned on our uniforms next to our newly acquired Ranger Tabs.  Ranger School is required in order to hold a leadership position in the Regiment, but is still looked down upon as being beneath us “real Rangers.”

Also at the Ranger memorial.  Note the WWII commando dagger in the background.  On each pillar is written the Ranger Creed and Robert Rodgers standing orders.

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