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The Punisher And Spartans Are Apparently Too Threatening For One Powerful Army
If you’ve got a thing for the Punisher, the Spartans of old, or the Grim Reaper as part of your warfighting gear, the Australian army has a message for you: pack your shit and go.
A new directive from Australia's Chief of Army Lt. Gen. Angus Campbell, circulated internally before spreading to social media on April 17, chastised combat troops for their affection for “‘death’ symbolism/iconography” in informal patches and badges, symbols that include “the pirate Skull and Crossbones (maritime outlaws and murderers), the Phantom or Punisher symbols (vigilantes), Spartans (extreme militarism) or the Grim Reaper (bringer of death).”
“Such symbology is never presented as ill-intentioned and plays to much of modern popular culture,” Campbell wrote in his memo, first posted to Facebook page Pineapple Express on April 17, “but it is always ill-considered and implicitly encourages the inculcation of an arrogant hubris and general disregard for the most serious responsibility of our profession; the legitimate and discriminate taking of life.”
The efficacy of Campbell’s directive is debatable. While some symbols hold a vaguely problematic position in military cultures (see: the tacticool obsession with the strategically-moronic Spartans), others have a more complicated relationship with the combat troops who embrace them. Consider the long relationship between the Punisher and the U.S. military, a symbol that extends far beyond the shallow spray-and-pray of Frank Castle’s post-service vigilantism.
“The Punisher as a character is a bit of a Rorschach test in that as time has passed since his creation, we’ve gone through different cultural eras and through each of those the character has been reinterpreted to reflect the concerns of society,” as Punisher creator Gerry Conway told Task & Purpose in March 2016. “If society feels what we are doing is justifiable, the respect for the military is high, if the society feels guilty or shamed in what we’re doing, we project that onto the military … They are the recipients of our collective Id.”
“Veterans were being abused when they would come home, they weren’t being greeted with ticker tape parades,” Conway added, referring to the treatment of Vietnam veterans upon their return home. “Someone like the Punisher has already been alienated from society and doesn’t feel like he’s part of society, so when society lets him down when his family is killed he doesn’t feel a tremendous obligation to following the rules.”
But even with the deeper symbolism of just “hey I kill things for a living,” these patches are probably not the best idea for operational purposes, if under certain circumstances. Consider the idiot French soldier who caused a major uproar in January 2013 after he was photographed in Mali rocking a skeleton banner torn straight from Call of Duty.
It was a silly little flipout, sure, but French Colonel Thierry Burkhard’s argument that the symbol "not representative of the action that brought France to Mali to help" hints at a potentially reasonable objection to such symbols: if you see a foreign soldier rolling up in your hometown with a skull and crossbones mask, you’re probably not going to think of them as friendly — and that poses problems for cultural engagement on the ground that are essential to building stable security regimes around the world.
What’s your reaction? Do you agree or disagree with the Australian army’s logic here? Sound off in the comments — you know you want to.
The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.
President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.
"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"
This 400-pound feral hog is one of more than 1,200 that have invaded a Texas Air Force base since 2016
At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.
A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.
In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."
A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.
In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.
Constant deployments broke the Air Force's B-1 fleet. Now the service is facing a major bomber shortfall
On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.
In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.
A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.
The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.