Tag Archives: photography

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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60mm and 81mm Mortars in Afghanistan

In this picture our mortar section is conducting some cross training with the rest of the Task Force.  This was a pretty good introduction to mortar systems before I went to the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant course years later…I was never that great running the Fire Direction Center (FDC) but running mechanical mortars and hanging some rounds is always a great time.  Here is myself a second after dropping a 60mm HE round down the tube.

Here is a cool picture where I am firing the 60mm hand held, also called shooting from the hip.  Using your left hand you aim the tube with your thumb.  Looking down, you use the level above the trigger mechanism to cant the tube at the proper angle for the desired range.  With that done, you squeeze the trigger and a firing pin fires the round.  Watching Red Phosphorous burn at night is cool as hell!  We also fired some “shake and bake” fire missions which consists of a couple HE rounds followed by a RP round.

Here is the real deal.  A couple guys from our mortar section set up this mortar pit out in Indian Country to provide fire support for our maneuver element.  This one is actually a 81mm mortar system, giving the gun team some much needed range for call for fire missions.  Also, note the 81mm rounds on standby next to the gun.  The Phosphorous rounds are stored nose up, otherwise the jelly inside sticks to one side, drastically altering the trajectory of the round.

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Day to day living conditions in Afghanistan

In a past post I showed some pictures of our compound in Iraq in 2010, where we lived in CHU’s.  CHU’s are Compartmentalized Housing Units imported to Iraq from Italy.  Basically they are micro-trailer homes, or a really high end whack shack, depending on your point of view.  Still, that is pretty good living compared to Afghanistan in 2004 where as a dozen troops, we were crammed into a GP Medium tent.  In this picture you can see my bunk, with the jumbo sized duffle bag sitting underneath (jumbo sized for transporting dead hookers of course!), and my SR-25 sniper rifle laid out on my shooting mat.

Okay, okay, let me explain the crucifixes…  We built those to sling our combat gear over.  The shoulder straps of your body armor rest on the lateral portion and your helmet sits up on the vertical piece at the top.  This way your gear is always ready to go at a moments notice.

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Hyperstealth reveals SMARTCAMO, the first adaptive “chameleon” camouflage uniform

Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp. recently revealed that they have developed the first true chameleon type camo uniform, which changes colors to blend in with whatever environment the soldier is in.  Needless to say this is a major development in the industry and represents a holy grail in the field and science of military camouflage.

Myself on the right wearing a Hyperstealth uniform in Iraq.  This is just an example of their product being used in theater and is NOT SMARTCAMO.  Currently, no pictures of SMARTCAMO have been publicly released.

Guy Cramer, the mad scientist behind Hyperstealth, has said that the technology itself is a “composite” (presumably of different systems and techniques) but does not involve nanotechnology, ruling out, I would think, some sort of Phased Array Optics of the variety that actually bend light, in line with the kind of technology seen in the “Predator” movies.  In this case were are not talking about the user becoming invisible, but changing color to match the immediate surroundings.

According to military.com, Cramer has also confirmed that the technology uses power and logic, meaning that it runs on a battery and utilizes some sort of on board computer.  What form this takes is unknown.  A small plastic power pack velcroed the uniform, or slid inside a pocket?  Embedded into the uniform fabric itself?

I’m on the left wearing the “Desert Dune” pattern uniform offered by Hyperstealth.

Another feature of SMARTCAMO is that it also adapts to the IR spectrum, allowing the soldier to blend in better when viewed through night vision devices.  This is speculation on my part, but I wonder if this allows it to also defeat thermal systems.  I’m not an expert, but I believe that thermals work by detecting the infrared light produced by a heat source.  If this uniform can manipulate the IR levels put off by the uniform to blend in with the background temperature, can is also mask the user from thermal imaging?

Cramer even commented that the uniform feels and wears like any other military uniform and can even be used for maritime operations.  The only drawback at the moment is that the SMARTCAMO uniform costs about 1,000 USD to produce, putting it out side the budgets of all but the most well funded Special Operations units.

Reportedly, DoD and USSOCOM are very interested in this technology and have asked Hyperstealth to remove the video demonstration of their SMARTCAMO uniform from their website.  Keep an eye on SMARTCAMO, if any mention of the technology dissapears from Hyperstealth’s website and they refuse to comment on it further, than you can bet that it got swept up by some Tier One Special Operations outfit and was classified as Operational Security (OPSEC).

Sources:

HyperStealth.com

Military.com Chameleon Camo is Here

Soldier Systems on SMARTCAMO

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Afghanistan Pictures (Barret .50 Cal)

My printer/scanner came in the mail today so I began scanning all my old pictures from Afghanistan.  I’ve got some pretty good ones, I think, so keep an eye out for them over the next month or two.  Here is a preview, me shooting the .50 caliber Barret Anti-Material rifle.

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The Iraqi Air Force

One of the more interesting experiences I had on my last rotation in Iraq was working with the Iraqi Air Force.  Through a complicated series of events we managed to set up a training mission with Iraqi pilots, flying the older US-made Huey helicopters, followed by an actual combat operation.

During the training mission, I was the only American on the aircraft…a hair raising experience to say the least.  As it turned out the pilot knew his stuff and my fears were unfounded.  He had been flying for decades, all the way back to the Iran-Iraq war where he had been a fighter pilot.  In this picture we (a small group of US Special Forces troops with a Iraqi SWAT contingent) are inbound to our objective area.

One of the boys.

A picture I took, looking down, as we sped a hundred feet or so above the desert.

Twin Iraqi Huey’s coming in for exfil.

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Iraqi sandstorm

Here are some pictures of our compound in northern Iraq when a sandstorm blew through one sunny afternoon.  It looks like the surface of mars but this was about 2:30pm on a otherwise beautiful day.

We watched the sandstorm, also called a haboob in some regions of the Middle East, blow in from miles away.  It was a huge wall of brown you could see coming over the horizon.

I saw another picture like this on the net that someone had taken in Western China.  Most of the comments under the photo said things like, “This is obviously photoshopped”!

Sand storms like this usually last about six hours or so in my experience but sometimes they can go on for days, nearly shutting down operations, or at least making them very difficult.

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Views from Iraq in night vision and thermal.

A few shots of the city through PVS-14 night vision goggles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few through the thermal sight on a Remote Weapon System (RWS) mounted to the stop of a Stryker.

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Something like this:

Super rough draft, but the mock up gives you the basic idea.  What do you think?

Like this one better?

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Cover shot: take one

 

Comments?

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