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After joining an airborne infantry unit in late 2003, Pvt. Mike Connolly found out that one company of infantry in the Maryland Guard would be heading to Iraq. The unit selected was not his, but was instead the one containing 1st Sgt. Don Connolly, Mike's father.
After finagling a transfer to the deploying unit, Connolly spent the first of two tours deployed to Anbar province, from May 2005 to May 2006. He then deployed again as part of the Surge from May 2007 to May 2008.
While the U.S. military lost 844 service members in 2005 alone, Connolly's unit managed to get through the tour without any killed in combat operations, though one soldier, Pfc. Carlton Newman, was killed in a training accident in the pre-mobilization phase. Connolly’s father survived both tours as well. This is the unit’s story through the eyes of Pvt. Connolly.
Summer 2005. Spc. Butler and I in front of our unit's compound in Saba al-Bor. This compound was quickly named The Alamo, due to its isolated nature and the fate we were expecting as inhabitants.
Summer 2005. My dad, on the left, likely staring in disapproval at some sort of soldier-created fuckery. Our unit's company commander is on the right, Capt. Borakove.
Fall 2005. This is me and my dad on patrol during a cordon and search operation. This is one of the few company-sized operations we did where we were close together.
Fall 2005. Members of my platoon and I exhausted after a long foot patrol in Saba al-Bor, Iraq. Our unit lived in an isolated compound in an Iraqi city for close to six months.
Fall 2005. A member of my platoon, Spc. Clayton, standing in a hole created by an IED our unit was hit by. We were less concerned about secondary IEDs than we probably should have been.
Fall 2005. The aftermath of one of our unit's vehicles, after having been hit with a vehicle-borne IED. All occupants of our vehicle inexplicably survived the attack.
Fall 2005. Me, looking like a smug idiot on the way to another cordon and search operation. Air assault missions were by far my favorite, as they were a good change of pace from the constant vehicle and foot patrols.
Fall 2005. My squad leader, Staff Sgt. May, and I on an early morning cordon and search mission. We were excited to have lumbered into the area and searched the house behind us without waking the family asleep on the grass.
Spring 2006. A vehicle from my platoon on rear security for our convoy, after having destroyed another fuel tanker. Single-handedly doing our part as an infantry unit to accelerate climate change.
Spring 2006. This is me, happily having played a small role in destroying a fuel tanker that had broken down on a convoy. We did this so the insurgents couldn't steal the fuel. For the last six months of this tour, we were escorting hundreds of tankers back and forth to and from Jordan to make sure they weren't ambushed.
13 Marines at Camp Pendleton charged with crimes related to smuggling of undocumented immigrants from Mexico
Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.
The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.
The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."
That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.
When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.
"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.
According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.
"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."
Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."
Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."
The Army thinks China will surpass Russia by 2028. Here is how the service is planning to take them on.
If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.
The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.
But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.
In leaked documents, Army family reports waiting weeks to have gas line and roof leaks fixed in on-base housing
As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.
And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.