Francis Horton is a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, and has stepped foot in a dozen countries to work public affairs for the military. When not trooping, he can be found raising a daughter, being a husband, fixing computers and chasing his dogs out of his garden beds.
A replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier is exploded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's speedboats during large-scale naval drills near the entrance of the Persian Gulf in February 2015. The Millennium Challenge 2002 U.S. military exercise resulted in a similar outcome, but at the hands of a retired Marine general. (Tasnim News Agency via Associated Press)
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Back in 2002, nestled in that year and a half when Afghanistan was in full swing yet Iraq was still a twinkle in Donald Rumsfeld's eye, the U.S. military held its most ambitious war game in recent memory.
Called Millennium Challenge 2002, the idea was simple: to develop and implement training and doctrine that could be changed quickly to utilize developing technology and adapt to varying enemy tactics. The Cold War tactics the U.S. military trained on for decades were out the window and a new war was on the horizon.
I am not a fan of war memoirs, especially for wars I’ve been involved in. Reading about someone’s experiences in Afghanistan in 2011 when I was fighting that same war in 2004 leaves me more depressed about the state of American foreign policy than inspired. It seems every Navy SEAL or general officer who ever sniffed a burn pit churns out a book or two after their deployments, filled with fluffy language about the greatest men they ever served with; then there are the books politicians write about the lessons they learned passing around bits of paper in the Tactical Operations Center for a year.
Every year July 4th comes around and, in between barbecues and emergency trips to the ER to get your fingers sewn back on, you must figure out how to fill in the long weekend. Sure, you can watch Forrest Gump for the 20th time, but this a day of celebrating freedom with massive explosions — and what has more explosions than a summer blockbuster from the 90s?
Since the first Revolutionary-era militias were born, the American troop has sought to be the best-equipped, best-trained, and most effective troop ever. Weapons, munitions, food, water: The average U.S. hero can pack most of it on their body for a day off the post, or a week rucking through the mountains.
Ah, the year 2000: When we all poked our heads out of our underground bunkers and found the Y2K bug hadn't crashed the World Bank or caused all of our AOL free internet CDs to spontaneously combust. It was a pre-war time, too — relatively speaking — and it was the year I joined the Army as a dumb 17-year-old.
The explosion of mobile technology, social media, and video has been baffling to me, a simple soldier. I was cool when it was just a bunch of kids Harlem-shaking and cinnamon-huffing their way into our hearts. But millennials aren’t the only ones creating weirdly specific viral content. There has been a new hot genre in the recent years spreading across YouTube, Facebook Live and Periscope — hot enough that I needed to investigate it further.