This Looks Very Cold

German Armed Forces

(What Is Left of Them After Savage Budget Cuts)

Perform Arctic Training




11 March 2014

16,000 soldiers from 16 nations practice combat operations in a multinational framework under arctic conditions. Pictured: A light transport helicopter Bell UH-1D of the transport helicopter regiment 30 lands as part of a training flight in the fjords on a snow surface. The whirling snow (White Out) is feared because he takes the point of view of the crew. (Photo courtesy of © Bundeswehr / Vennemann)





NATO exercise: COLD RESPONSE 9 March 2014

16,000 soldiers from 16 nations practice combat operations in a multinational framework under arctic conditions. Pictured: A Fernspäher  (elite long distance recon and surveillance commando) equipped with LUCIE, G36, AG 36, secures his comrades during the pre-training in northern Norway.
(Photo courtesy of © Bundeswehr / Burow )




NATO exercise: COLD RESPONSE 11 March 2014

German Alpine Troops, descended from the famous Gebirgsjaeger  of World War Two, from put on their Winter kit.  (Photo courtesy of © Bundeswehr / Burow)


NATO exercise: COLD RESPONSE 9 March 2014

German Alpine Troops, descended from the famous Gebirgsjaeger  of World War Two, prepare to “mount up” on their snowmobiles.  (Photo courtesy of © Bundeswehr / Burow)

Courage and the NYPD (Part 2 of 2)

New York City Police Chief Raymond Kelly and the five members of the helicopter crew who were honored at Police Headquarters in New York, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. From left are Kelly Police Officer Browning, Detective Sileo, Detective Almeida, Detective Condon, and Detective Stevens.

They rescued the two cadets. One of the paramedics got out of the helicopter with a “horse collar”. That device wraps around one’s chest and one doesn’t have to hold on. The medics used that method instead of easier, less dangerous ones, because they thought the two cadets were too weak from hypothermia to hold onto anything.

The helo was about 80 feet above the cadets. So the paramedic who got out of the perfectly good helicopter at six hundred feet off the ground, got lowered by the helo crew to the small ledge where the cadets had tied themselves. He fastened the “horse collar” about one of the cadets. The helo lifted that cadet off, reeled him in, and flew away. Not far. To the West Point parade ground where they landed momentarily to hand him over to an emergency medical team. Then the helo went back for the other two. They lifted the second cadet off with a “horse collar”. Then dropped it to the medic and reeled him in.

You can read the details of the rescue here.

Did these men experience fear? Of course. I don’t know them but fear is a normal human reaction to a dangerous situation. Fear is one of our ancient survival mechanisms. When we feel it, our body automatically prepares us to fight or flee. Our pulse rate leaps and our blood pressure goes up to force blood to our brain, limbs, muscles.

When we feel fear, most blood vessels in our body constrict. But those that carry blood to our muscles dilate and take the extra blood. Why? Because our body automatically dumps fat and glucose into the blood stream to provide extra power to our muscles and the extra blood delivers it. We start taking in more oxygen. Our eyes dilate so we can see better. Our senses become more attuned. And our survival instinct tells us to get the hell out of that situation.

This is when courage comes to the fore. Only a fool is fearless. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s acting in spite of one’s fear. Are these men well trained? Yes. Experienced? Yes. But that isn’t enough. Do these men have courage? You’re damn right they do.

If I asked each of these men if he were a hero, I imagine his answer would be, “I was just doing my job.” We often think only of heroes as being courageous men and women on a battlefield far away. Yet we have plenty of heroes right here at home. These five men are testimony to that.

There names are:

Officer Steven Browning, pilot
Detective Fernando Almeida
Detective Christopher Condon
Detective Michael Sileo
Detective William Stevens

West Point should give each of these men a medal. Or a new car. Or something.

[Image courtesy of]

Courage and the NYPD (Part 1 of 2)

On 20 February 2011, the crew of an NYPD helicopter rescued two West Point cadets. Off a mountainside. At night. In a storm. To effect the rescue, the helo had to close the cadets until its rotors were twenty feet from the rock face. Twenty feet. That’s the length of a New York City taxicab.

A traditional New York City taxi, the long-wheelbase Crown Victoria.

The cadets had climbed up to the top of the 1300 foot Storm King mountain, adjacent to West Point, then rappelled down. But something went wrong and they got stuck on a rock ledge all of 18 inches wide, five hundred feet above the ground. Local fire departments could not reach them. Neither could the New York State police. At this point the cadets had been on the ledge for 8 hours. They were lightly dressed. The temperature had dropped into the 20s without adding the wind chill. Would they survive the night? Maybe.

At midnight the NYPD helo unit got the call. Could they rescue the cadets? West Point is 50 miles north of the city. Hardly their jurisdiction. They could have said, ‘no.’ But this is the NYPD we’re talking about. Three air crew and two paramedics boarded the helo and took off.

When they got close enough for the pilot to see the mountain through his night vision goggles, he realized how difficult this mission was going to be. As they crept closer, the helo was buffeted by very strong winds coming from each side of the mountain as well as off the top. The pilot told the other four men aboard that if only one of them didn’t want to chance it, he would scrub the mission. No takers. So what happened? That’s in part two.

NYPD Air Sea Rescue Bell 412EP Helicopter

[Images courtesy of and Wikimedia.]