HOW ABOUT SOME INSPIRATION TO START THE DAY

 

Dog Company

Rangers. That is what is for breakfast this morning. Actually,  I realized this morning, it has been a while since I have posted something. I also realized I am sick and tired of reading and hearing negative BS 24/7. Everyone is so overcome by hate and discontent. People are pissed about President Trump, the border issue, who eats in their restaurant, why they didn’t get a trophy for finishing last, or which of the now 63 genders they want to be called today. Call me old school, but I thought their were two. Let’s not over complicate things.

Below is article I read this morning and I thought it was well worth posting. It is a story of heroism, unmatched bravery and determination. How about something positive for a change. Long forgotten is a time when our country pulled together for a common cause. Apparently, now is a time of ‘me, myself and I’ even at the risk of bettering our Nation.

So, here is something uplifting, amazing, patriotic and inspiring. Hope you all can take a few minutes to read it and remember The Greatest Generation.

A new television series, Hitler’s Last Stand, on the National Geographic Channel captures one of the great unknown battles of WWII, the epic stand of the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Hill 400.

“Fix bayonets!” barked a hulking Ranger officer.

In a scene reminiscent of a World War I battle, Germans and Americans stared at each other across a vast no man’s land. Lt. Leonard Lomell and his fellow Rangers gazed across the icy, flat expanse. They realized it made an ideal killing field and wondered if they would live long enough to cross the field and make it up the hill. The Rangers were huddled behind an embankment. In bunkers and foxholes on the other side of the field, Germans held their fingers poised on the triggers of their machine guns, which boasted a rate of fire of up to 1,500 rounds per minute. The gunners stood ready to tear the Rangers’ bodies to pieces.

At that moment, a newbie Ranger officer barked out a ridiculous order: “Send out a scout!”

“F*** you!” several veteran Rangers yelled back.

But the officer persisted until one of the privates obediently stood and started walking across the field. In stunned silence, the men watched the private collapse, taking a rifle shot to the belly after no more than four steps. “This was the fuse that ignited the explosion of the Ranger charge.”

The full story is captured in my best-selling book Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc–the Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day’s Toughest Mission and Led the Way across Europe. It follows the Rangers of D Company from their training through D-Day and throughout the war.

Along the Ranger line, the men could hear the deafening sound of heavy artillery.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

Like a tightly wound coiled spring, tension within the Rangers’ ranks reached a breaking point. A creeping artillery barrage and mortars slowly closed in on the 2nd Ranger’s Dog Company.

Suddenly, a Ranger stood up, raised his tommy gun above his head, and screamed: “Let’s go get the bastards!”

The Rangers fired a tremendous volley into the German positions facing them. In unison, they stood and let loose a blood-curdling Rebel yell as they charged across the open field.

“Wa-woo-woohoo! Wa-woo-woohoo! Wa-woo-woohoo!”

“We stood up just like in a movie,” one Ranger later remembered. “It was like seeing a wave at the football field. … We went over the field as one. With bayonets shining, hip-firing, and yelling a battle cry that probably goes back into the eons of time, we charged into the jaws of death.”

The Rangers shot, blasted and bayoneted their way up the hill. Sustaining massive casualties, Dog (or D) Company of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, along with its sister unit, Fox Company, seized Hill 400.

But the Battle of Hill 400 was far from the first time Dog Company had an impact on war.

D-Day

Six months earlier, on June 6, 1944, the men of Dog Company and other elements of the Second Ranger Battalion took on what was arguably D-Day’s toughest mission. They scaled the 90-foot cliffs of Pointe du Hoc under direct machine-gun and artillery fire while German soldiers threw grenades down upon them. Using ropes and their bare hands, the men of Dog Company scaled the precipice.

One of those Rangers was Leonard Lomell, Dog Company’s inspiring first sergeant, who continued to climb, even after being wounded in the side by a bullet from a machine gun.

Patrick K. O’Donnell and Len Lomell
Source: Author photo

Once on top, Dog Company fought its way through a Guns of Navarone–like labyrinth of bunkers, tunnels, machine-gun nests, and tens of thousands of mines. Somehow, Lomell and his close friend Jack Kuhn found the guns that hundreds of Allied bombers and thousands of Naval shells failed to destroy. Because the big guns could reach Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, and the Allied armada in the English Channel, taking them out was a top priority. They had to be neutralized at all costs. Lomell disabled the guns with thermite grenades.

For two days, Lomell and the rest of Dog Company sustained tremendous casualties, endured relentless German counterattacks, and — somehow — held the line against overwhelming numbers.

The Rangers’ accomplishments at Pointe du Hoc were nothing short of awe-inspiring. Yet somewhat surprisingly, the soldiers involved didn’t consider it their most difficult battle. I interviewed all the survivors in the 1990s, and to a man, the Rangers of Dog Company all said one thing to me: “Patrick, our longest day was not D-day but Hill 400, in the Hürtgen Forest.”

The Ranger’s Longest Day

In the first week of December 1944, the Allies made one of their deepest penetrations into the Third Reich at Bergstein, Germany. Looming behind the town of Bergstein was one of the most important hills in the Hürtgen Forest, the scene of one of the U.S. Army’s longest and most costly battles in Europe. On a clear day, one could see from Hill 400, as the Allies called it, into one of Germany’s greatest secrets of the war — the preparations for the Battle of the Bulge.

The Germans wanted to retain control of Hill 400 at all costs.

The Americans sent nearly an entire tank regiment to seize Bergstein and Hill 400. The Germans viciously counterattacked, nearly destroying the unit.

Hand-to-hand fighting raged in Bergstein. The scene resembled a miniature Stalingrad: The fighting was house-to-house, and dozens of Sherman tanks were destroyed by German grenadiers and anti-tank guns.

After two days of intense fighting, the GIs in Bergstein barely hung on. One remembered: “Had daylight arrived 15 minutes later, we would never have been able to hold Bergstein.”

That’s when the men of the Second Ranger Battalion received orders to reinforce the town and seize Hill 400.

The Rangers’ arrival immediately changed the course of the operation. One GI recalled that several Ranger officers appeared near the German hamlet. “They asked for the enemy positions and the road to take. They said that they were ready to go.”

The officers then turned to the other Rangers in their group and said, “Let’s go, men.”

“We heard the tommy guns click,” the GI remembered. “Without saying a word, the Rangers moved out. Our morale went up in a hurry.”

The Rangers passed by dozens of burning or burned-out Sherman tanks. Gored in its attempt to take Bergstein and Hill 400, the doomed regiment had been reduced to the equivalent of a company. “It was a haunting feeling,” recalled one Ranger. “We saw hulks of destroyed American tanks … The sight of GIs whose bodies were charred and blackened in the tanks … the smell of blood.”

Armed only with their tommy guns and assorted small arms, the men of the Second Ranger Battalion embarked on a suicide mission, just as they had on Pointe du Hoc, and waged a frontal assault to clear the town of Bergstein and capture the hill.

After the daring bayonet charge across the ice-covered field, which took the lives of many Rangers, small groups of men from Dog and Fox Companies seized the hill, taking out scores of German positions along the way.

Within an hour, the Germans counterattacked with hundreds of troops, outnumbering the Rangers many times over.

The hill shook as 18 battalions of German artillery initially allocated for the Battle of the Bulge plastered 400. Len Lomell recalled the scene: “The artillery fell like rain. Have you ever been in a torrential rainstorm? Now picture yourself trying to hide from those raindrops. Instead of rain, it’s falling shrapnel, deadly shrapnel rain.”

The shells kept coming down as if they were “belt-fed” — like machine-gun fire. With only a couple dozen men, the Rangers held off hundreds of enemy troops. Moving their tiny forces from one position on the hill to another, they stopped each German counterattack.

Sergeant Edward Secor from D Company single-handedly halted one attack. As hundreds of elite German paratroopers rushed his foxhole, his Browning automatic rifle was hit by a bullet, rendering it useless. In a scene reminiscent of Where Eagles Dare, Secor picked up two MP-40 machine pistols from dead German soldiers whose bodies lay only feet in front of his foxhole, and madly charged into the oncoming counterattack. “With a captured machine pistol under each arm, he stood up to turn twin streams of demoralizing fire on the close-in enemy.”

The Rangers continually requested reinforcements to support their dwindling numbers. None were available. They were told flatly, “Hold the hill at all costs.” As the fighting continued, dead and wounded Rangers piled up inside the troop shelter atop 400.

By this time, the Rangers were down to fewer than 20 men, and many of the survivors were wounded — some several times over. But even the severely wounded manned fighting positions. One of Lomell’s fingers was dangling from a tendon, “half dropping off.” A fellow Ranger recalled Lomell’s presence on the hill: “I can still see Len walking on the top of that hill, his blood coming from his hand, and carrying his tommy gun. A leader like that we would do anything for.”

The Germans desperately wanted to retake Hill 400. They sent an elite parachute battalion against the Rangers and even offered German soldiers the Iron Cross and two weeks of furlough if they recaptured the hill. The Reich wanted the hill because it provided high ground for artillery. What is more important, they wanted it because it provided observation into the assembly areas in which they were assembling for the Battle of the Bulge, an operation cloaked in secrecy. The capture of the hill could have unraveled Hitler’s last great counteroffensive.

Miraculously, the men of Dog Company and Fox Company continued to fend off German attacks and held the hill until December 8, when an infantry unit finally arrived.

The GIs who relieved the Rangers later reported a “considerable moving of troops in the enemy’s rear.” But no one in the chain of command connected the dots. On December 16, the Battle of the Bulge began in a furious assault on Allied lines, with the sort of total surprise the Americans had not experienced since Pearl Harbor.

Patrick K. O’Donnell is the main expert participant in Episode 3 of “Hitler’s Last Stand: Forest of Death,” which tells the dramatic story of the Rangers on Hill 400 and is drawn from his book Dog Company. The program premiers Monday, June 25 at 10 p.m. ET on The National Geographic Channel.

O’Donnell is a bestselling, critically acclaimed military historian and an expert on elite units. He is the main expert participant in Episode 3 of “Hitler’s Last Stand: Forest of Death,” which is drawn from his book Dog Company and premiers Monday, June 25 at 10 p.m. ET on The National Geographic Channel. He is the author of eleven books. The Unknowns: The Untold Story of America’s Unknown Soldier and WWI’s Most Decorated Heroes Who Brought Him Home is his newest, and it is featured in Barnes & Noble stores. O’Donnell served as a combat historian in a Marine rifle platoon during the Battle of Fallujah and speaks often on espionage, special operations, and counterinsurgency. He has provided historical consulting for DreamWorks’ award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers and for documentaries produced by the BBC, the History Channel, and National Geographic. @combathistorian

Using Fast Form 1306 At A Training Jump

Andrew and I were excited to be a part of the monthly admin jump at the 6th Ranger Training Battalion  this week. For those who don’t know, the 6RTB is where the third and final phase of Ranger School is conducted. It is what’s known as the Jungle Phase and is at Eglin AFB in the Florida panhandle. Jungle Phase is often considered the most difficult mental phase – and they are all difficult.

Ranger School
Henry at Camp James E. Rudder

The guys there were excellent hosts as they tested our FastForm 1306  product for creating jump manifests. We’ll have a follow-up blog post with some background photos and videos of the jump, for those who’ve never had the opportunity to be around something like this, or if you have jumped at Camp Rudder and would like a little nostalgia.

This post is about the nuts and bolts of using FastForm 1306 and how it can make a difference for jump masters and jump administrators like the SSG and MSG we worked with at 6RTB. Our SSG contact spent a few hours earlier in the week putting together, like he always does, a draft of the 1306 using the best info he had available – which is always incomplete.

Then, as the jump gets closer, he has to update it by hand and then go back and forth with new print-outs. I took a photo of one of the last versions, just before the jump, and you can see the changes even up to the last minute.
Jump Manifest
Because they hadn’t used our FastForm 1306 system before, our 6RTB contacts asked us to be there the day before when they would have a walk-through of who was jumping.

We set up the software for the jump zone, aircraft, and jumping organizations in about 10 minutes (which won’t have to be done again) and swiped in all the jumpers – about 5 to 10 seconds each – in less than 10 minutes. We printed out 1306’s from the wireless printer – enough that we ended up blowing through all our ink.

The next day, we returned with the tablets and were able to update all changes quickly in the software. The final result was a very clean, ready to submit, DD Form 1306 and a .csv file for any other purposes.

The old-fashioned way: at least a couple of hours spent on the days prior to the jump, an hour on jump day with handwritten changes on soggy paper, and an hour after the jump to straighten it out and make copies. No CSV file, no PDF ready to send to the PJs, AJs, flight crew, etc. Rinse and repeat.

The 21st Century way: swipe the jumpers as they show up for prep (10 minutes per 100 jumpers), put them in the chalks as desired (20 minutes), and make digital changes until jump time (10 minutes). Get a crystal clear 1306 PDF and a CSV file with accurate name, grade, DOD ID, unit, and jump type. Spend time on something other than paperwork!

A big thanks to our partners at 4K Solutions for setting this up.
The United States Army | Fort Benning

Coming Soon. Smart Device For Every Soldier

Smart device for every soldier

The following Army Times article reveals how far and how quickly the ideology of technology and soldier usage has come. When we started Kopis Mobile four and half years ago, there were very few early advocates let alone adopters of a smart device in the hands of every soldier.

In fact, if you were to ask someone in the Department of Defense  at that time if smart devices would ever become prevalent;  80% said “No”,  10%  said “they are in use to a certain degree” and the final 10% said, “The use of mobile devices and mobile apps within DoD is happening and will only grow.” We gambled and started the company on that final 10%.

Fast-forward four and a half years and our gamble is no longer a “gamble” per say, but more a confirmation of what we knew to be true back then.  Below is an excerpt from an article in the Army Times.

Meghann Myers is a senior reporter at Army Times

Between the hours soldiers have to spend online for professional military education and the possibilities a handheld, touchscreen device could hold downrange, the Army is taking a step toward developing a standard-issue device for every soldier.

The team at PEO Soldier has come up with a prototype that they recently presented to the Army’s top enlisted soldier, Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey said Tuesday.

“I’m an advocate of, every soldier has a device,” Dailey said.

 The prototype is a large tablet-like device, he added.
 

“Operationally, they can use it while they’re on the battlefield,” Dailey said. “It could have a number of apps that would assist them in their capabilities with land navigation, communication, [and] … I asked for the capability to extend that resource to be able to use it for institutional reasons as well.”

That would include being able to do professional military education courses and tests on the device with a Common Access Card reader.

“That’s how civilian education works,” Command Sgt. Maj. Dave Davenport, the senior enlisted soldier at Training and Doctrine Command, added. “These young people are all on smart phones and tablets.”

Details on if and when to issue a device will have to be hammered out, but Davenport said that some pilots have already taken place, with soldiers bringing in their own hardware.

Keeping a small business running is always tough. Coupled with the government space we are in and dealing with those who had the 80% mind set, it is even tougher. All of that aside, we are super proud to be ranked 384 on this year’s Inc. 5000 list.

We achieved this honor by listening to soldier and first responder problems. We then quickly acknowledged and devised solutions to those problems with simple to use, mobile solutions. So here’s to many more years of Kopis Mobile’s listening, forward thinking and more than a touch of tenacity.

 

 

Army Tests New Tactical Vehicles For Future Conflicts

The Hunter (right) and Killer vehicles drive up a road toward the experimentation area of the Maneuver Fires Integrated Exercise (MFIX), April 3, at Fort Sill. (Photo by Monica K. Guthrie)

Although we don’t do much with vehicles, we do like to post information on cool stuff. Polaris manufactures some really great vehicles. We bump into some of their guys at various trade shows from time to time. This is an article from Autoblog.

Two dune buggies crest a hill at Fort Sill, Okla. These aren’t recreational 4x4s, but military prototypes with a definite job: to help the U.S. Army develop a next-generation fighting vehicle. They are Polaris MRZRs, outfitted with radar domes, electronic jamming equipment, video monitors and various sizes and styles of antennae that sprout from the grille, rear bumper and seatbacks.

As befitting such cutting-edge military machines, the Army testers have dubbed these “Hunter” and the other “Killer.” They are being put through the paces at an Army exercise called the Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX), held last spring.

The 10-day event involves scores of real-world tests of new technologies that the Army says it needs to keep up with the modernizing militaries of China, Iran and Russia.

Hunter and Killer provide a glimpse into what future battles might look like, and what combat vehicles will be asked to do. The lessons learned now will be applied to vehicles the Army hopes to field in 2020, Army officials tell Autoblog.

The first thing that becomes obvious when examining these machines is that the Army is not counting on infantry troops to be able to drop close to their mission targets. “We’ve all grown used to an environment where we’ve enjoyed air superiority,” says Maj. Andrew Forney, branch chief of the Maneuver, Aviation, Soldier Division, Army Capabilities Integration Center at Fort Sill. “We’re having a lot of discussions on what we do if we can’t rely on that.”

Modern antiaircraft missiles made by Russia and China have increasingly long ranges, so infantry parachuting into combat will have to travel farther to get to the fight. That means small off-road vehicles will have to be dropped with them, to help ferry the soldiers and the 80 pounds of gear they each carry closer to the action.

It’s no coincidence that Polaris ATVs are being used for this test. They have a pedigree within the military because of their use by Special Operations forces. The company even has a division called Polaris Defense to focus on this market. Special Operations forces also use the General Dynamics’ Flyer as an off-road vehicle of choice.

New tactical vehicle

However familiar, the Army cannot just adopt these militarized dune buggies since Special Operations Command has some specific uses and requirements for their ATVs that the Army doesn’t share.

SpecOps vehicles carry six soldiers, not the nine needed to transport an entire squad of infantry. SpecOps also demands a vehicle that the troops (called operators) can use as a fighting platform, so they have weapons mounts.

They carry extra, secret communications equipment. And while some Army helicopters can carry these vehicles, the versions fielded today aren’t designed to be dropped from airplanes.

Neither Hunter nor Killer are the final design that will appear in the field in 2020. A large-scale acquisition program will settle that in the future. But the gear that the vehicle has to carry, and the rules that govern how frontline soldiers use it, are being developed now.

Let’s get back to that hypothetical airdrop. The Army troops have landed, stowed their parachutes and loaded up their 4x4s. They are now ready to move toward the enemy’s position. To get there unnoticed — and to be “noticed” means being targeted by lethal barrages of enemy artillery — requires air defenses targeted at enemy drones.

Russia used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to spot Ukrainian forces during their recent conflict, a grim lesson that U.S. military planners took to heart. Knocking down UAVs is now a cottage industry, and more than a dozen drone-killing systems tested at MIFIX 2017 proved this interest is still strong.

The system that got the most attention was a 5-kilowatt laser mounted on a Stryker vehicle, which officials say torched more than 12 drones during the exercises. A 10-kW version is to be tested in November.

But the laser is too big for the buggies needed to drop into combat with airborne forces. For scale, the Army says Hunter/Killer has a maximum load of 1,500 pounds — compare that to the Army’s current Stryker vehicle weighing almost 20 tons. So these small vehicles need something else to counter snooping unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Killer vehicle has specialized radar and a laser range finder that soldiers can use to detect and track drones as they get close. Some of these systems have been adapted from equipment developed to track incoming mortar rounds.

The system is largely automated. When the drone is spotted, the soldiers can jam the communications between a UAV and its operator, a bit of electronic warfare pushed out to the front line of a battle.

Giving a commander the tools in hand to make a quick decision could be the key to victory, or even survival. “What we’re excited about is that these platforms allow these capabilities to be pushed down to the tactical level,” says Michael Murray, battle operations software suite team program lead for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.

The main mission of these light, air-dropped forces is to find the enemy and direct long-range attacks against their air defenses. That could mean missions such as disabling GPS signal jamming, directing long-range cruise missile attacks against command centers, seizing airports or crippling antiaircraft missile batteries. These actions will open up the skies to warplanes, friendly drones and closer airdrops of reinforcements or supplies.

This is the art of what the military calls “precision fires.” Army troops need to be able to direct long-distance attacks from their own branch, or from the Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. At MFIX 2017, the Hunter vehicle was kitted out with an automated system that can ease the process of asking for this support.

The soldiers in the vehicle also had a live video feed showing them what U.S. drones were seeing. This kind of tech is already standard at headquarters and is becoming standard in many large vehicles, but is also needed by those close to the action — airborne divisions.

“After previous exercises, we heard, ‘We love these capabilities, but it’d be great if they were on a vehicle that is suited for a light division,” says Murray. “We want to arm that young leader with things that let him operate decentralized, with all the tools and situational awareness he needs to make decisions in real time, at the tactical edge and not at divisional HQ.”