The War in Iraq: The True Costs

The Iraq War began with the initial invasion spear-headed by the United States in the year 2003. A long, bloody conflict the war dragged on for years, but was officially declared over in December 2011. The eight years spent in Iraq exacted a huge toll though, and it’s one that is only now beginning to truly see the light of day.

The Financial Costs of The Iraq War

The Iraq War was fraught with problems that led to a massive bill. The expenditures on changing equipment for the army, the huge sums paid out to civilian contractors (many of which over-charged the government egregiously for their services), and the general costs of soldiers, gear, and upkeep was also adding up on top of everything else. President Bush originally predicted the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion dollars when he pitched the idea to Congress, and that cost was ridiculed as being overblown by some in the government at the time.

The final bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been added up to over $6 trillion, $2 trillion of which was borrowed in large part from foreign lenders. This was responsible for 20 percent of the increase in the U.S.’s debt between 2001 and 2012, and since that time the U.S. has paid over $260 billion in interest on those loans. This is a far cry from the president’s statements at the time that oil revenues would pay for the war effort, and then some. [Read more...]

World War II – Why America Won

file000990625508The suggestion that America won World War 2 has several flaws, though from an American perspective this is the reality. While it is true that American forces played a key role in the victories, what has to first be acknowledged is that America won two wars. The war against the Germans in Europe was the result of the participation of a number of other countries: Britain, France and Russia. However, in the war against the Japanese, America fought alone.

On the European theatre, Germany was a juggernaut, particularly in the air. The coordination of air and ground forces left opposing militaries virtually helpless. The United States, uninvolved in the War until its later stages, had established centralized government planning and strategic offices that would play a key role in the primary reason for its success. The establishment of the Industrial War College in the 1920′s laid the foundation for the development of military technology that would prove decisive in winning the war. [Read more...]

World War I–How It Started

The beginning of the First World War marked a drastic change from the way people perceived battle, glory and the meaning of heroism. Until this point in history, men had headed into the battlefield with high-minded notions of making a name for themselves through battle, even if it meant death. “The Great War” changed all that. The nationalism and mechanized units of war made people question the underlying meaning of conflict and duty.

A History of Conflict

file3291282401419Over the previous centuries, Europe had been in a relatively constant state of warfare. Regional divisions and alliances stretched back hundreds, even thousands, of years. One such schism had built up in the Austro-Hungarian Empire holding of Serbia. Serbian nationalists had long antagonized the empire and sought a separate Slavic state. Serb nationalists assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the 28th of June, 1914. This assassination would set off a chain of events throughout Europe and, eventually, the world.

Falling Dominoes

The initial Austro-Hungarian reaction was to deal directly with the Serbs, which brought Serbia’s Slavic brothers, the Russians, into the mix. Arguably, the first domino to fall was Germany, which sided with the Austro-Hungarians. The French declined to remain neutral in a conflict between Russia and Germany. [Read more...]

Education Opportunities For Soldiers Post War: Law Enforcement & Paralegals

After returning home from a war, one of the toughest adjustments you may have to make is finding new employment. One way to utilize your personal experience in fighting to make the world a better place is to pursue a career in law enforcement or as a paralegal. The Role of a Paralegal A paralegal requires either a certification or an associate’s degree. Most commonly, they work for law firms, government organizations, law libraries, and corporate legal departments. A paralegal’s primary job is to support attorneys in their daily tasks, by performing the following jobs:

  • Maintaining files
  • Organizing files
  • Conducting legal research
  • Drafting important legal documents

Required Paralegal Skills According to the The Paralegal People Blog, the most important quality that someone entering the profession can possess is the ability to be efficient. Your overall goal of making sure that an attorney’s time is never wasted will require you to also possess the following skills as required by the Paralegal Job Description:

  • Communication: As a paralegal, you will need to possess written and verbal communication skills.
  • Patience: You will be spending long hours working in research libraries in order to do research, and the ability to persevere even when the job is being monotonous is essential.
  • Computer skills: As a paralegal, you will be spending a lot of time preparing documents on the computer, and skills related to spreadsheets and Internet searches are vital.
  • Multitasking: When working for a lawyer, you will be required to perform multiple tasks within an hour, and you will need to possess the ability to juggle these demands.

SwatWhy Choose a Job in Law Enforcement? While you were fighting a war, you had the ability to fight back against injustice. Part of your adjustment in coming home to a civilian life typically involves getting used to no longer having that ability, despite the fact that you are still living in an unjust society. However, by choosing a law enforcement career, you will again have the ability to fight against injustice. Types of Law Enforcement Careers If you are interested in a federal law enforcement career, you can pursue a career as an U.S. Marshall, customs agent, secret service agent, or FBI agent, especially if your military career included information technology or language specialties. At the state or local level, you can pursue careers as a police officer, forensic scientist, state trooper, or security guard.  Joining the Swat Team is also a great idea.  The types of law enforcement careers that you are eligible to pursue depend upon the amount of education that you have or are willing to obtain. By choosing a career that allows you to utilize your strengths, you will once again feel a sense of purpose. Whether working as a paralegal or as a law enforcement officer, you will have the opportunity to protect others, just as you did while serving your country.

Great Economic Expectations for Wives of WWII Vets Who Served

Air_show_2_FictionA popular adage posits, “Behind every strong man stands a woman just as strong.” Fortunately, Uncle Sam fully subscribes to that philosophy. Even better news is that old Unc never stops at mere lip service. Instead, he puts his money where his mouth is by providing many great benefits for wives of United States soldiers who served World War II combat duty.

eBenefits offers excellent online military benefits lifeline:

eBenefits is a joint venture of the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration that provides easy access to valuable resources for vet and their dependants via a secure internet portal. eBenefits members may apply for military benefits and delinquent mortgage assistance, review pending claims and application status, enroll in direct deposit and access official service records.

Basic eligibility requirements for military benefit recipients:

Usully VA assistance is “means based,” which means that applicants must exhibit genuine economic need. Moreover, benefit payments are based on personal assets, income and financial need.

Non-exempt income and assets that exceed applicable limits may not be automatically disqualifying, depending on your age and monthly healthcare benefit. Thus, even if your situation seems to be borderline, apply anyway, since eligibility determinations are essentially case-by-case. [Read more...]

Riverboats Used In Warfare Today

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen most people picture riverboats, they think of idyllic fishing kayaks floating lazily while sappy music plays. Not so for those soldiers who’ve seen the destructive power of military riverboats in action. Riverine warfare, or use of so-called “Brown Water Navy,” has been a part of combat doctrine for decades, and is still considered a critical part of naval engagements in many parts of the world. In this article, we’ll be going over modern day Brown Water Navies from all over the world, and the diverse array of combat boats that they make use of.

•Iraq: The Small Unit Riverine Craft

Today, the rivers of Iraq are awash in military river boats. Made for transporting small but highly elite units of marines, Small Unit Riverine Crafts (SURCs) are the United States and Philippine Navies’ primary method of river warfare today. SURCs are fairly lightweight, but capable of carrying a full-sized compliment of marines and their weapons. While the boats contain mounts for heavy machine guns and smoke launchers, they rarely need them: 16 Marines is usually more than sufficient to take on whatever challenges the Euphrates presents. For more on SURCs, see this article.  These are not your average fishing kayaks.

•Vietnam: The Assault Support Patrol Boat

After the Vietnam War, United States forces left many of their military river boats with South Vietnamese forces, where they were subsequently captured and pressed into service by the Viet Cong. Although primarily used for minesweeping now, with some even being reoutfitted as fishing trawlers, these boats have since served the test of time and are still considered a critical part of Vietnam’s Brown Water Navy. With multiple heavy machine gun emplacements, a massive 36.5 ton frame, and options for heavy weapons placement, it’s not hard to see why. For more on the various classes of patrol boats in the Vietnam War, see here.

•South America: The Mk 1 Piranha Assault Boat

Used by South American River Navies from Bolivia to Uruguay, the Piranha Assault Boat combines speed with ruthless power and efficiency. With a full crew of four and multiple weapon emplacements, the craft can still achieve a speed of 40 knots under full load conditions. This speed and maneuverability means that, in addition to police functions (mostly deterring smuggling via rivers and lakes), the craft is often used for search and rescue missions, where it can respond to threats faster than virtually any other craft. In a full-on engagement the Piranha doesn’t disappoint, as its treated aluminum frame (commonly seen in Tandem Kayaks like these here) is highly resistant to both bullets and explosions.

• India: L&T Fast Interceptor Craft

One of the world’s most state of the art military river boats, the L&T’s design philosophy is all about speed. Ditching heavy weapons to improve manoeuvrability, India’s premiere patrol boat is meant to chase down smugglers to let its crew aggressively board their vessels. The L&T carries a crew, massive for its size, of 12 well-trained soldiers in the service of the Indian Coast Guard.

The Rifle Scopes Used In World War II – The Best Options They Had

M1 GarandSniper rifle technology was still relatively primitive during World War II. Despite the obvious technological advances war inevitably gives rise to, the scopes of the day appear hopelessly antiquated compared to modern sniper optics. However, for the time these scopes were considered to be the cutting edge of individual warfare and contributed to the kill rates of legendary snipers such as Lyudmila Pavlichenko of the Soviet Union, who retains the world record among female snipers to this day and Matthäus Hetzenauer of Austria. In this article we will discuss the overall technology of WWII-era scopes and how they were employed in combat.  Many of these scope designs have not changed today, and are used in some of the best optics available in today’s modern combat situations.

Basic Scope Design

Despite “tweaks” and refinements by opticians such as Zeiss, Bausch and Lomb, and Weaver, basic scope design had not changed a great deal since the Chapman-James telescopic sights invented between 1835 and 1840 by two men in New York. Most early reticule sights were constructed of hair, spiderweb or even human hair. While this posed certain advantages, it also made scopes prone to damage from moisture, impact and environmental factors such as aridity. Because of this, certain high-end scopes adopted etched-glass reticules, but this was largely avoided in the standard field-issue scopes because of expense.

While the standard infantry carried variable-sight scopes which allowed for changes of windage, elevation and magnification, snipers largely set their own standards for scopes based upon personal preference and advanced knowledge of sharpshooting techniques. Many snipers disdained variable-sight scopes for fixed scopes with 4x or 8x magnification. The most common reason for this choice was that snipers dared not risk their scopes being knocked out of alignment while lining up a crucial shot or while getting into or out of firing position.

Types of Scopes

Most scopes were “purpose-built,” intended for various battlefield roles such as sniping and infantry shooting. These scopes were designed to work with one or two varieties of weapon, but were largely useless otherwise. While this was not generally a problem in the field because of standardized weapon issue, specialized combat roles such as scouts and snipers which required weapons tuned beyond standard military specification often encountered difficulty when trying to field-requisition functioning scopes.

For general military use, like many of the AR 15 variable-sight scopes used today, they were the most popular option, allowing for greater range and flexibility in a variety of hostile situations. Among snipers and their ilk, fixed-sight scopes tended to be far more popular because of the reduced likelihood of sight slippage. Some sharpshooters, such as the legendary Simo Häyhä of Finland, eschewed scopes altogether, preferring to stick with traditional iron sights with spectacular results.

As a result of the lessons learned in WWII and since, scope design has been refined many times. New and cheaper manufacturing methods have allowed regular soldiers to have engraved-reticule scopes, a lavish extravagance for most regular infantry in WWII. Before one dismisses the scopes used during WWII as hopelessly archaic or useless, however, bear in mind WWII snipers put up body counts that have not been bested in combat since.

The Military & Firearm Safety – Gun Safe Reviews For Soldiers

Gun SafeUnbeknownst to many, the U.S. Military oftentimes uses small, commercial-style gun safes to keep their firearms locked up. Many bases, but especially smaller ones abroad, are at constant risk of theft, but can’t afford or are prohibited from owning the massive, bank vault-like safes you sometimes see on television. Instead, they use a select number of the highest quality gun safes on the market, decided upon by the safety they allow their firearms. This article will discuss some of the security features the military looks for in their safes, and which consumer gun safes best epitomize the military standard. For more on standard features of gun safes, see here.  When we did our research, we also checked out a few different sites while looking for a way to find the best gun safe reviews and information.

External Hinges

The military nigh-upon exclusively uses safes with external hinges to store their firearms. That’s because potential thieves tend to be distracted by external engines, and waste time trying to cut through them. With internal hinges, however, thieves tend to attack critical elements of the safe, such as the lock.

Mechanical Locks

While electronic locks are certainly attractive, soldiers care more about reliability. Mechanical locks always work, regardless of power or software issues, and are generally only slightly less quick to open. Plus, purchasing a mechanical lock safe will usually be less expensive than a similar electronic lock safe although I’m not sure it will function as easily as some of the smaller electronic locking bedside gun safes typically do.

Dehumidify

Especially for older bases and forts, it’s critical to avoid humidity damage to firearms. This goes double for safes intended for ammunition (on a similar note: always store ammunition separately from your guns. Storing guns and ammo in the same safe dramatically increases the chance that your firearms will sustain damage.) There are different ways to handle this, but the best is an actual dehumidifier within the safe. Alternatively, composite clad fire safes seldom require dehumidifiers due to their layered construction.

Go Heavy

For secure safes, the military always goes for solid steel. Some safe manufacturers cut costs by using non-fireproof, easily penetrated sheet metal in the construction of their safes. That means that the best way to insure that you are purchasing a quality, military-grade safe is to look at weight: the heavier the better. Heavier safes are usually more resistant tot fire as well, as they contain high-weight, fireproof concrete amalgamate.

Recommendations

When it comes to safes that meet all of these military-grade requirements, a number of names jump out. The Sportsman Steel Iron American is one of the most secure safes on the market, and stores up to 100 guns of varying sizes. Due to it’s steel and amalgamate construction, it’s rated fireproof at up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, while its external hinges can withstand even powerful burglary tools. Those looking for a smaller capacity, yet military-grade safe might prefer any model from the Brown Safe line of gun safes. These safes come in a variety of sizes and, while priced for consumers, are made with military specifications in mind, and include external hinges, excellent locks, and durable construction sufficient to make any soldier proud.

PTSD: Causes In America’s Military

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) is an incapacitating disorder that occurs when a person witnesses or experiences a traumatic event. This is an event that initiates overwhelming anxiety; it is outside the person’s frame of reference, and usually involves either a threat of personal injury or death. Such events often occur in combat.

DSC_5782The mind is sometimes severely impacted by traumatic experiences, and upon facing overwhelming trauma- an extraordinary event that can cause serious injury, harm or death; usually a terrifying event, such as intentional violence and/or witnessing violence. It is an overwhelming situation that leaves a person unable to cope. It threatens your safety and causes you to feel powerless.  Unpleasant or dangerous events are most likely to cause PTSD when they involve an extreme threat to a person’s life.

The more serious the threat and the longer it endures, the higher the chance of developing PTSD. The extent to which the occurrence was sudden, uncontrollable, and inescapable is also a factor.  In combat, the most likely scenarios are being under enemy fire for a prolonged time, being captured and/or tortured by an enemy, being shot or shot at, having to shoot or shoot at another person, or watching a friend die. [Read more...]

How Soldiers Prepare For Battle In The Desert

Troops prepare for desert combat in many ways. When possible, soldiers acclimatize before arriving in the area of operations. Some individuals acclimatize more easily than others. In order to survive in desert operations, troops must fully understand the desert environment. To accomplish this, soldiers train under conditions that are similar to the conditions that exist in the intended area of operations. In order to become accustomed to hardship the troops’ exposure to outside influences should be kept to a minimum.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMuch preparation is necessary for operations in a desert environment. Adaptation to the new environment depends upon the individual training skills of the troops. Units trained in the U.S. will have mastered the fundamental technical and tactical skills necessary for warfare in the desert. For those whose skills are below par, no amount of desert survival tactics will correct the situation. [Read more...]