Battle Rattle

We made the mistake of asking readers who would play Mattis in a movie. The response was swift and decisive

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Given that Brad Pitt has been cast as the Army’s Gen. Stanley McChrystal in a movie, we felt inclined to ask our readers on Facebook who could possibly play the role of Mad Dog, were he a character to be cast in a blockbuster film (certainly only a matter of time, right)?

In completely unscientific fashion, the results are in:

#1. James Mattis as … James Mattis james-mattis

The thread was pretty clear and near unanimous: only Mattis can play Mattis. But, clearly there were other candidates who deserved the spotlight as well.

#2. Clint Eastwood

Eastwood is certainly Hollywood’s gun toting, hard a**. Who could forget Gunny Highway. Although there was at least some indication that Eastwood may not be young enough to star as Mattis in a film. In which case …

#3. R. Lee Ermey Lee_Ermey

Seems an obvious choice. Ermey is among a handful of Marines to get promoted – to Gunny of all ranks – after ending his service. He’s also played a pretty famous role as Gunny Hartman, and he’s considerably obsessed with arms and munitions of various caliber, not unlike, one would suspect, James Mattis.

Honorable Mentions:

We heard names like Liam Neeson, James Cromwell, and Jack Nicholson. Notably, Robert John Burke (famous for playing a drunken, muscle-bound priest on the show Rescue Me) has actually already played Mattis, in HBO’s “Generation Kill.”

Rounding out the bottom of the list were these guys:

Kevin Bacon got a few shout outs, as did Jim Carrey. Chuck Norris, obviously. Bruce Willis, also pretty obvious. Any mention of George Clooney immediately met with harsh comment-section rebuke. There was a Channing Tatum shout out, hilariously enough. And finally someone needs to remind the crowd that Jason Statham, though imminently awesome, is also totally British, and thus arbitrarily not a front runner.

NOW READ: A epic piece by Marine Corps Times alum Dan Lamothe on “The Man. The Myth. The Mattis” >

 

Four key graphics show the future face of Marine Corps operations

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The Marine Corps released a new graphic at the recent Sea Air Space expo that highlighted the way it will respond to future crises around the world.

I picked up a copy of this poster at the Sea-Air-Space exposition last week, where several generals discussed how Expeditionary Force 21 will work. The graphic diagrams a Marine expeditionary brigade that is forward deployed and can be scaled to whatever size needed to respond to various crises.

(Marine Corps)

(Marine Corps)

The first slide shows a crisis breaking out on land, but not too far from the shore. Expeditionary Force 21 points out that most of the world’s population lives near coasts, making it likely that Marines will respond to contingencies in these heavily populated areas.

(Marine Corps)

(Marine Corps)

In the second slide, we see that first responses will likely be handled with a company of about 200 Marines. Read more about how small teams of Marines will responding smarter with new technology here.

(Marine Corps)

(Marine Corps)

The third slide shows how different units in the region can aggregate within 14 days in order to “seize the initiative,” which could be anything from an embassy to an entire beachhead or series of forward operating bases.

(Marine Corps)

(Marine Corps)

Finally, we see how planners envision how Marines in the region can continue growing units up to a heavy MEB level that can conduct a forcible entry within 25 days.

(Marine Corps)

(Marine Corps)

You can read more about how this plan will likely change pre-deployment training for Marines here. And for all the details on Expeditionary Force 21, check out last week’s cover story here:

1010227_10152277266827383_3947959736329301919_n (1)

Read the Bronze Star citation of this year’s Leftwich Trophy recipient

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Before Capt. Christopher Ashinhurst was selected for the Leftwich Trophy, honoring the Marines’ top ground forces captain, he was awarded a Bronze Star with combat valor device for heroism leading his company during a grueling five-day battle against insurgents, and later rallying to the aid of coalition troops at Combat Outpost Shir Ghazay following a suicide car bombing that left seven Georgian soldiers dead.

Capt. Christopher Ashinhurst, speaks with the Marines of his company after receiving a Bronze Star Medal with combat-distinguishing device at the unit’s tank ramp Jan. 21, 2013. Ashinhurst stands in the formation with three other award recipients. Photo: Cpl. D.J. Wu/Marines

The commander of Delta Company, 1st Tanks Battalion, Ashinhurst proved calm under fire, assessing casualties and directing Marines even after being hit on the head with a wooden divider after a blast destroyed his company office. Following the attack, he ran toward enemy forces breaching the outpost without protective gear and armed with the only weapon he could find: a Georgian rifle that had been left behind.

The summary of action from this incident is remarkable: it’s worth reading the whole portion reproduced below.

On 15 May 2013, a Suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (SVBIED) detonated in the entry control
point (ECP) at Combat Outpost (COP) Shir Ghazay. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) estimated the car was
carrying 200lbs of bulk explosive. The effect of the blast wave on the interior of the COP was tremendous.

Captain Ashinhurst and his company staff were in their office, approximately 100 yards from the blast. The blast
wave immediately destroyed the company office. Interior walls, air conditioning units, and pieces of the ceiling
were thrown through the air. Captain Ashinhurst was struck in the side of the head by a wooden divider in the
officer, but immediately ordered his Marines to get to the Indirect-fire (IDF) bunker and then after clearing the
debris off himself, pushed his men out the door of the office. As Captain Ashinhurst left the office building, he
checked each of the rooms in the buildings for casualties left behind and recovered a Georgian rifle left behind in
one of the offices. As he came outside and into the IDF bunker, he took a quick head count of his staff and then
moved past the Georgian living areas directly to the site of the explosion.

The SVBIED blew a gap in the perimeter wall several meters across. Approximately two minutes after the blast,
four enemy fighters armed with AK-47s, UGLs and RPGs dressed in military uniforms, stormed the COP through
the hold made by the SVBIED. Firing through the gap in the wall and over the COP with their AK-47s the enemy
forces shot at Georgian casualties lying in the rubble and soldiers running to assist.

At the same time, Captain Ashinhurst, Georgian Liaison Team Officer-in-Charge, and the Georgian battalion
commander, already heading for the site, accelerated their movement, bounding between MRAPS parked in a lot
between them and the blast site. Without Personal Protective Equipment, and using a rifle he had found in one
of the offices, Captain Ashinhurst unhesitatingly assaulted towards the enemy forces breaching the COP.

When Captain Ashinhurst reached the blast site, he identified casualties among the rubble and after ensuring
that the enemy forces were dead, and soldiers were covering the breach point, he began treating one Georgian
soldier with open fractures to his legs, a mangled hand, and a penetrating chest wound. Capt Ashinhurst applied
a tourniquet to the soldier and directed other Marines to get a stretcher to transport the casualty to the FAS.

Captain Ashinhurst, recognizing a stretcher was unavailable, prepared the soldier to be lifted on to his shoulders
and taken the 200 yards in a firemans carry. As Captain Ashinhurst began the carry a stretcher arrived and he
then transferred the soldier to the stretcher. A moment later, Captain Ashinhurst recognized that some of the
downed enemy fighters were wearing possible suicide vests. He alerted the Georgians securing the scene and
then notified the GLT chain of command so they could get EOD to check the enemy bodies.

After Captain Ashinhurst assisted a few more soldiers and Marines with the evacuation of casualties he located
his company 1stSgt to ensure all his Marines were accounted for. Recalling a tank in from outside the base,
Captain Ashinhurst took the company executive officers tank and crew back outside the COP to command the
defense of Shir Ghazay during the medical evacuation of casualties and the reconstruction of the perimeter. His
fearlessness in the face of the enemy and boldness of action inspired his men and those around him. His
unhesitating reaction assisted in breaking up the enemy follow-on attack, saved the life of at least one Georgian
soldier, and secured the COP from follow on attacks.

And here’s Ashinhurst’s medal citation:

Citation

 

Read more about the May 13 attack on Shir Ghazay and the heroism of Marines who ran to the rescue here.

 

Congressman defends Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. after controversial comments

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In the wake of a wave of controversy spurred by comments Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett made at a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing, a congressman who served in the Marine Corps is coming to his defense.

At a hearings of SASC’s subcommittee on personnel last week, Barrett said Marines were more interested in equipment modernization and readiness than they were in benefits and entitlements, and said a lower pay raise and cuts to certain benefits in the coming year would improve their spending discipline.

Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett testifies April 9 on Capitol Hill. Listening to his right are Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael D. Stevens and Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler. (Sgt. Marionne T. Mangrum/Marine Corps)

“I truly believe it will raise discipline,” he told the lawmakers. “You’ll have better spending habits. You won’t be so wasteful.”

Barrett later penned a letter to all Marines to clarify his remarks, and sat down for an interview with Marine Corps Times in which he expanded on his viewpoint and said that “nobody wants less,” but that the Marine Corps needed to remain a warfighting organization, rather than an entitlements-based one.

Now, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is also coming to Barrett’s defense.

In a letter send to Barrett today, Hunter called Barrett’s remarks to the subcommittee “candid and straightforward” and said he and other lawmakers would not construe them as an invitation to give the Marine Corps less funding in the future. Read the whole letter below:

Hunter Barrett Letter

 

Commandant gives preview of the global Marine Corps in 2020

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Water scarcity, regional conflict zones, and the “youth bulge:” these are all problems that may become the Marine Corps’ business in the near future.

That was the message from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos this week when he gave an audience at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space expo a glimpse into what’s ahead for the Corps. By 2020, he said, expect two new crisis Marine Corps crisis response forces positioned near potential conflict zones and a rotational force established in Guam like the one already conducting training deployments in Australia.

Amos also indicated that the future of the Corps will focus significantly on the African continent, home to massive resources, but also poverty, instability, and conflict.

Amos at SEAIRSPACE

In a briefing slide depicting potential future crises, Amos showed a map depicting likely causes of conflict and instability. Some global stressors, such as nuclear armed states and areas of terrorist activity, were self-explanatory; others, such as water stress, and the “youth bulge,” were less intuitive.

Regarding water stress, highlighted in much of Africa, Amos said this factor is important to watch because it drove behavior.

Amos slide 1 (3)

Screenshot from DoD video

“In those areas especially in the African continent, a gallon or a liter of clear fresh water, potable water, is worth more than a liter of petrol,” Amos said.

The youth bulge, also covering most of Africa and a portion of the Middle East, referred to regions where the population was increasing, in some places exponentially, Amos said.

With factors such as hunger, water stress, and joblessness, Amos said, “you throw in an increase on youth. Disaffected youth. unemployed youth. Youth that wander across borders. And then you look the areas where our fuel and our oil reserves are, and then you take a look at where nuclear weapons are, and you get a sense of just how dangerous the world is going to be.”

Amos slide 2 Marines in 2020 (4)

A  map showing the Marine Corps in 2020 overlays global conflict and crisis zones with forward-deployed Marine units. The continent of Africa will be surrounded on three sides by Marine Corps crisis response units as Special Purpose-Marine Air Ground Task Force Crisis Response finds a forward-staged location in the Gulf of Guinea, in addition to its current location in Europe, and is joined by SP-MAGTF Cent, covering U.S. Central Command.

Meanwhile, another crisis response force, SP-MAGTF South, will give U.S. Southern Command additional power to combat drug-related crime in central and South America.

And by 2020, the long-promised Marine Rotational Force-Guam will also be established, Amos said.

All this will give the Marine Corps greater presence in the Pacific, but also expand its crisis response presence around the larger land masses to the west, where burgeoning conflict zones have been identified.

“We’re in the Pacific,” Amos said. “It’s our backyard and we’re very comfortable in that neck of the woods again.”

 

Video: Marines team with women’s basketball coaches to teach good leadership

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Drill instructors got in the faces of women’s basketball coaches this week during an annual conference to teach them how to promote leadership and unit cohesion through physical fitness.

Drill instructors yell at Beth Bass, chief executive officer of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, during their annual conference.

Drill instructors yell at Beth Bass, chief executive officer of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, during their annual conference.

Members of the Marine Corps Recruiting Command attended the 2014 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association National Convention in Nashville, Tenn., from Saturday through Tuesday. Drill instructors led a morning workout with coaches from high schools to collegiate programs of all divisions, according to a Marine Corps news release.

The association gathers to network with established leaders, like those in the Marine Corps, while continuing to enhance and develop their athletic skills. During the on-court demonstration and coaches workout, the Marines and athletes were able to nurture traits they both share, according to the release.

Last year, one coach was especially motivated by the Marines at the conference.

After attending the 2013 conference, Nikki Caldwell head coach of the Lady Tigers basketball team at Louisiana State University — a perennial Division I power — called local Marine recruiters to hold physical training sessions with her team.

Caldwell said the Marines related their ethos as warriors to what the basketball players do on the court. The Marines want to win the nation’s battles, and her team wants to win on the court. And just as the Corps seeks to create quality citizens, LSU wants to make quality student athletes, she said.

Marines work with the LSU women's basketball team, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and leadership to success on the court — and off. (Steve Franz / LSU)

Marines work with the LSU women’s basketball team, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and leadership to success on the court — and off. (Steve Franz / LSU)

“When they started showing us the parallels between the two entities, I think it was very moving for our team to see that,” she said.

Watch this video for more on how MCRC is motivating the athletic community.

Navy Blue Angels pilot makes Rob Riggle squeal and then pass out for this ‘Top Gun 2 audition tape’

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Comedian and retired Marine Reserve officer Rob Riggle takes to the skies in this “Top Gun 2 audition tape” skit for popular comedy website Funny Or Die.

In it, Riggle posits that he’s a dead ringer for the supporting actor post beside the famed character Maverick. When he mounts up and begins to practice his lines, the Blue Angels pilot goes full throttle.

Spoiler alert: Riggle lets out some kind of squeal, and then passes out.

Watch:

In addition to his career as a comedian featured in movies including The Hangover, The Other Guys and Step Brothers, Riggle served 23 years in the Marine Corps Reserve rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel before announcing his retirement on Jan. 1, 2013.

Viral video shows Magnificent Bastards lined up for miles, saluting Gold Star families during Ramadi 10th memorial ceremony

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A recent video posted to Facebook captures a touching gesture of respect and honor. In it, members of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, line miles of road to salute the families of fallen Marines on their way to an April 6 memorial aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., that marked the 10th anniversary of the battle of Ramadi.

In the video shot from inside a passing vehicle, hundreds of Magnificent Bastards — as the unit is known — snap to attention and salute.

The ceremony at the Camp San Mateo Memorial garden commemorated members of the unit lost during the 2004 battle that was among the Iraq War’s hardest fought. It resulted in the death of 34 Marines and one sailor.

A series of coordinated ambushes on April 6 of that year sparked the battle that would also result in the death of an estimated 250 insurgents over five days. It was a pivotal fight in the capital of Al Anbar province where Marine would continue to engage an entrenched insurgency for the remainder of the war.

 

Former Force Recon Travis Haley recounts harrowing fight in Najaf, combat valor of Marine ‘Defense Messaging Administrator’

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Celebrity firearms trainer Travis Haley, who served in Iraq with 2nd Force Reconnaissance Battalion and returned to the country as a Blackwater contractor protecting ambassador Paul Bremer, recently released a riveting first-hand account of a battle in Najaf that occurred ten years ago today.

Haley gained notoriety for a viral YouTube video of him engaging members of the Mahdi Army from a rooftop just days after four Blackwater contractors were killed and hung from a bridge in Fallujah. The infamous killings of the four contractors eventually precipitated Operation Phantom Fury — the Marine Corps’ most pitched battle of the Iraq war.

During the fight in Najaf to repel several hundred insurgents threatening to overrun the U.S.-lead Coalition Provisional Authority building, Haley and other contractors fought alongside Marines, one of whom was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for his actions. During the fight, Haley credits Cpl. Lonnie Young with repeatedly carrying wounded off a rooftop, down four flights of stairs and retrieving ammunition before finally being shot himself. Haley would fly Young in a Blackwater helicopter on a medical evacuation run, before returning to the fight in Najaf.

Here is a video in which Haley recounts those harrowing events and reflects on lessons learned.

Haley also recounts the battle in an exclusive article for OAF Nation:

Something that strikes me today, is despite being totally surrounded and under constant fire, there was no panic. We killed them like clockwork. One after the other, until each attack broke and scattered. Time had little meaning. At one point … “

Read the rest of the story here >>>

Below is Haley in Najaf on April 4, 2004.

Former SEAL after getting shot in the gut: ‘Must catch people.’

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This post is from our friends at Navy Times

By MEGHANN MYERS

Former SO1 Chris Heben in his hospital bed after a March 28 parking lot shooting. (Photo via Facebook)

Former SO1 Chris Heben in his hospital bed after a March 28 parking lot shooting. (Photo via Facebook)

Former Special Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Chris Heben was headed to buy his mom a birthday gift March 28 when, following an altercation, he was shot in the parking lot of a Bath Township, Ohio, shopping center. The bullet pierced Heben’s lower abdomen.

Rather than call for help, Heben, 44, hopped in his truck and tried to chase down his assailant while holding a finger in his bullet wound. Within minutes, he was seeing stars, he told Navy Times, so he decided to pull over at a police station and get some medical attention.

It all started when a gray, low-profile sports car nearly backed up into him in the parking lot. Heben said they exchanged strong words, but no one was yelling.

“You almost ran me over,” he recalled saying. “If I wasn’t paying attention, I’d be under your car right now.”

Thinking the situation was over, he headed for the Mustard Seed Market & Cafe. But then the car came back and Heben got shot.

Navy Times spoke to Heben over the phone April 3, following his discharge from the hospital.

Q. What happened when the car pulled up?

A. I’m going toward the store and he comes up next to me and shoots me through the door, basically. He said, “you got a real big mouth and you need to learn some respect. Where I come from we have to earn respect. I’d be willing to help you with that right now,” or something like that.

And then he looked at his buddy, turned back and looked at me, and that’s when I felt like I got mule-kicked in the gut. I never saw a gun.

I had a gun in my car at that time, a Glock. If I would have had the gun on me, I still think, legally, I couldn’t have shot because I didn’t see a gun.

Q. Did you see the plate?

A. No, but that’s why I gave chase. I’m all amped up. You know, I’m a SEAL — I’m not thinking 911, I’m thinking, ‘must catch people.’

Q. How long did you follow the car?

A. I could never get more than 75 yards from them because I have a truck, they have a souped up little car. At some point in time, I’m like, I can’t follow these guys anymore. There’s a police station literally right here, I’m going to pull in there and get some help.

I went from seeing stars to like, looking through a kaleidoscope into a lava lamp. Everything was kind of blue.

I would just guess it was less than five minutes. My belly was on fire. I got shot about five inches below my belly button and about an inch over from that.

It was burning, my heart’s racing, I’m sweating, my eyes aren’t working. And I’m thinking, what’s the end game here? If you catch up to them, and you probably won’t, what are you going to do?

You’re going to pit maneuver them, and spin them out, and hope you can get out with your gun? And you still haven’t seen a gun, and now you’re pursuing people, which is outside of the concealed carry statutes. Dude, just get help.

Q. Had you ever been shot in combat?

A. I was never shot in combat, no. I’ve been fragged, you know, from nearby explosions, [rocket-propelled grenades], things like that. Maybe a bullet hitting a wall and getting metal fragments.

It’s funny, because the doctor comes out, and my parents are in the room. And he goes, “I just have to tell you, you have a lot of other metal in you.” He’s pointing at my body, going, “You have it here, you have it here, you have it here.”

And my mom looks at my dad, and she’s glaring at me, and she’s like, “So you’ve been hurt before, and you never said anything?!”

Apparently this penetrated a few inches into my abdomen and the doctor said he had to repair a few holes in my small intestine. They pulled it out, but I don’t know what it is, what caliber it is.

Then-SO2 Chris Heben during a post-9/11 deployment to Pakistan.

Then-SO2 Chris Heben during a post-9/11 deployment to Pakistan.

Q. Do the police have any leads?

A. No, I think they’re kind of at a loss. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t keep anyone in the loop. They just kind of do their thing, you know, and that’s understandable.

Heben served from 1996 to 2006 with SEAL Team 8, with deployments to  Iraq, Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Later he became a close quarters combat and urban operations instructor with Naval Special Warfare Group 2. Since his discharge, he’s served as a special operations contractor overseas and been featured on numerous television specials, in addition to expert panels on CNN and FOX News.

For more information on his work, check out www.chrisheben.com.