'Stripes' Showed America That Bill Murray Is An Urban Warfare Visionary


Thanks to growing populations and accelerating technological innovation, urban combat is slated to become the future of warfare. West Point knows it. National Defense University knows it. Even DARPA knows it.

But if there's one institution that can shape how the Pentagon approaches urban warfare, it's Stripes. Bill Murray's Cold War exploits in eastern Europe in the classic comedy accidentally provided a wise-cracking case study on maneuvering in hostile urban environments.

The key to surmounting the challenges of urban conflict arguably revolves around the seamless meld between man and machine, in a sense. Warfighters need to maintain constant situational awareness; for example, infrared sensors allow warfighters to detect threats like hidden weapons emplacements and fighters in ambush positions. In contrast to the open ranges of, say, Afghanistan, potential tragedy lurks behind every corner.

But, like any other combat situation, better tech is worthless on its own: good leadership utilizes these advantages to save lives and accomplish objectives. In Stripes, Murray's John Winger effectively combined the prowess of the EM-50 urban assault vehicle with his innate leadership potential, honed through trials of military training, to successfully recover isolated personnel from a large military base.

This young private was a army of one before the Army had more capable special operations.

Ironically, Winger's training for this kind of special operation began before he even set foot at Fort Arnold. He uses his expert knowledge of New York City to cause a massive traffic shutdown by expertly placing his taxi as a impromptu road block. His Army recruiter must have seen the talent potential of a streetwise wunderkind that just reeked of special operations. He even managed to convince his technically competent and military-skeptical friend, Russell Ziskey, to follow him into the U.S. Army.

Like any good leader, Winger's charisma allowed him to use other's skills to make up for his own shortcomings and knowledge gaps. During the daring rescue mission into Czechoslovakia, the Wisconsin of eastern Europe, he minimized collateral damage, suppressed enemy efforts to surround and destroy his unit of irregulars, and escaped with all U.S. prisoners of war.  

Given that Joint Special Operations Command has increased operations tempo and lethality by leaps and bounds since 1981, Bill Murray may have been the Wild Bill Donovan of urban special operations. And although he did not reenlist, it's entirely possible that he ended up in some sort of Operation Treadstone scenario: after all, there was a Bill Murray in the CIA around the same time period.

Left, Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay; right, Spc. Joseph P. Collette (U.S. Army/Facebook)

The Department of Defense on Saturday identified the two soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan's Kunduz Province on Friday as an explosive ordnance disposal tech and a Green Beret.

Read More Show Less
(Facebook/Justin Vames)

Two employees of a Colorado Springs hotel have been fired after making a sign critical of military personnel and displaying the sign at a military ball, hotel officials said.

Read More Show Less

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs failed to modify its electronic systems and lacked an accountable official to oversee implementation of the "Forever GI Bill," resulting in a bungled rollout last year that affected thousands of college students, a new report from the agency's Inspector General says.

Read More Show Less
Riley Schultz (Facebook)

In the early morning hours of March 15, Riley Schultz, a 19-year-old Marine from Longmont, California, was found at his guard post in Camp Pendleton, San Diego with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. Less than 30 minutes later he was pronounced dead.

Read More Show Less
Ricardo Delano Whitehead, third from left, was honored by Live Oak officials and the Sutter County Sheriff's Office at Wednesday's City Council meeting for intervening in an attack last month. (Courtesy Sutter County Sheriff's Office)

Ricardo Delano Whitehead isn't your average 69-year-old. Despite being just a few weeks shy of 70, the U.S. Army veteran still practices martial arts. In his younger years, he even taught it to an Army battalion at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

On Feb. 13, Whitehead happened upon a man he saw tackle a woman before repeatedly punching her in the doorway of a Live Oak, California business. Whitehead yelled at the suspect to leave the woman alone, at which point the other man turned his attention on the veteran.

Read More Show Less