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Be Safe and Have Fun

Defense Journal: Staying Safe in Sochi

You’re going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and you’re going to be fine. Still, you should always reduce risk. The following tips minimize your exposure to terrorist activity and will also offer protection against criminal elements during your stay.

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Examining the World's Most Advanced Special Ops Training Facility

Defense Journal: Kings of a Special Ops Playground

The bigger the boys, the bigger the toys. The U.S. military in general, and U.S. Special Op folks in particular, work especially hard to remain atop the fighting force pyramid. They play just as hard, as any amount of time spent in the bars around Fort Bragg, Virginia Beach, and Coronado will reveal. It’s the best of both worlds when a training facility allows military guys to fully test their skills in an extremely competitive environment — and the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center, or KASOTC (it rhymes with “aquatic”) is such a place. We take a closer look at this extraordinary facility and its annual Warrior Competition.

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Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting?

Defense Journal | Military Combatives: A Case Study

There’s an assumption, fed by movies and a romanticized view of war, that every American military member is an e-lite hand-to-hand ninja, martial artist, and/or dynamo in the Octagon. While there are many men and women in the military with particular skill in close combat, that is a fact of prior interest, and rarely a result of training received in the military. It will strike many as odd, but the vast majority of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines possess no exceptional skill at close combat, despite Hollywood’s glamorized portrayals to the contrary.

The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have each struggled over the years to develop close range combative skills, both armed and unarmed, within their ranks. We’ll focus on the ground combat oriented services, specifically the Marine Corps, in our case study.

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Caffeinated Incursion

Combat Coffee: One Marine’s Tour of Caffeine

Despite being from Seattle, land of Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Tully and more than a handful of artisanal brewers, I didn’t come by my coffee habit honestly. The bitter drink didn’t cross my lips during college, despite the frequent all-night cram sessions wrought of a sporadic (home) work ethic. Coffee would have certainly improved the 12-mile bike commute in the cold Seattle drizzle at 0525, timed to maximize sleep, yet arrive before NROTC drill practice.

Officer Candidate School (OCS) introduced me to new depths of sleep deprivation — short sleep periods combined with intense physical activity turned us into zombies shuffling along. Military formations became an exercise in intense concentration, especially after I fell asleep standing up, only catching myself, and the platoon sergeant’s unfavorable attention, short of smashing my face into the parade deck. It never occurred to me to get a cup of Joe at the mess hall; the Bunn was situated directly in front of the area where the staff sat, a place to be avoided for danger of unwanted haranguing from the collective hyenas bent on finding your smallest flaw.

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An Embassy Guard Commander's nightmare, realized

Danger Abroad: An American Family Imperiled

Benghazi and the death of Ambassador Stevens with three other Americans reminded us that unstable frontiers are often dangerous places — places Americans live and work for years, many times accompanied by their families. The bombing of the Ankara embassy adds a fresh splash of cold water. Most tours pass without incident, and most years go by without foreign service casualties. Occasionally, the third world devolves into shit, and the thin veneer of safety and security is stripped away, leaving Americans exposed to the turmoil of internal strife or the targets or terrorism. Here, Gear Patrol offers you an account of threats faced by a Marine assigned to embassy duty in Africa, and the real costs paid by his family.

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Debating the film account of Osama bin Laden's demise

Zero Dark Thirty: Best or Worst Movie of 2012?

Is Zero Dark Thirty the year’s best movie or misleading sensationalism that advocates torture? The film’s recent Oscar snub has raised the debate. Now, GP’s own Scott Packard and Ben Bowers present intriguing discussion on morality in film, artistic license and “enhanced interrogation techniques”. Read on for point and counterpoint on these divisive issues.

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Riding a (blast) wave

Defense Journal: The MRAP

Warfare is often a battle against change, and the U.S. military is always attempting to stay ahead of, or at least on top of, the curve. A fairly new yet significant player in this struggle is the MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. From seemingly nowhere, the ubiquitous “Humvee” (High-Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle, or…

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Like a brick through a plate glass window

Defense Journal: Bond’s Gun, the Walther PPK

And so James Bond reluctantly retires his Beretta 418, in .25 ACP — and takes up the Walther Polizeipistole Kurz (police pistol, short) as his issued weapon, in both the original novel and the movie. Ian Fleming had Bond’s original Beretta catch in his holster in From Russia, With Love ; but in 1956 he…

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Droning On

Defense Journal: A God’s Eye View

Much has been made of the rising use of American drones — both as a weapon in the counter-terrorism fight abroad and in support of law enforcement and border integrity at home. References to science fiction-run-amok quickly come to mind (HAL 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the namesake Terminator, EDI of Stealth), and the…

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An exposition on the FAST Platoon

Defense Journal: FAST and Serious

Editor’s Note: Last year, the Department of Defense spent $707 billion in defense, over $1 trillion when accounting for other departments like FBI counter-terrorism, Energy, and NASA — not to mention interest. It’s a colossal sum, and an equally imposing topic to cover — we’ll leave it to you to pick a front-line news spin….