How Jesse Ventra and “Predator” Innovated U.S. Combat Operations

Ideally the movie “Predator” would inspire us all in our everyday lives.

The story of an expendable soldier, left for dead, fighting against not just the elements, but the most dangerous creature to ever set foot on the planet, as well as an internal struggle to maintain his own humanity, remains to this day one of the most poignant and heartbreaking tales ever told on the big screen. Its political allegories, deep characterization, and a neorealism sense of perspective remain beacons of creative guidance for all young filmmakers. Truly, its throwaway lone Oscar nomination for visual effects is the greatest crime in the history of the Academy Awards.

At least that’s how I always saw it. To most I guess it really is just the story of Arnold Schwarzenegger showing off his 80’s physique while a group of action film bad assess proceed to destroy the better part of a rain forest. The truth is the average viewer sees it as nothing more than a simple, albeit classic, relic of the over the top action movie era where nothing was in any way realistic.

However, there is at least one other person that didn’t view the movie like that, and his name is Staff Sargent Vincent Winkowski. He looked at the movie and saw a true potential military innovation.

Specifically, it was in relation to former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura’s character in the movie, Blain. In the movie, Blain toted a usually mounted size mini gun around with him, that was fed a seemingly infinite amount of ammunition from a backpack he wore. Single handedly, he was able to mow down waves of enemies with ease, despite the incredible weight and bulk of his weapon. It was one of those ideas that made it such a beautifully absurd film, and led to one of the most iconic movie weapons of all time.

Only Sargent Winkowski didn’t think it was so absurd. After all, the usual method for using a similar heavy weapon in the real field of combat involves a three man team, each with an individual task, to make such a gun work. Having three men assigned to one weapon proved very difficult in combat scenarios, when the chaos of the moment can often make it difficult for three soldiers to maintain the rigid tactics required to operate a heavy machine gun.

Following a conversation about the movie “Predator” with fellow soldiers, Winkowski began to wonder why there really wasn’t a device like the backpack that Ventura wore that would allow for one man to operate a heavy machine gun. He started creating such a device and, though heavily jerry rigged, eventually came up with a design very similar to the one in the movie. He passed it off for testing to some specialists on the subject (IE: bad asses) and they concluded that even in its early stage, it was still superior to the old method. One of them even took it into a heavy combat zone, and not only reported back alive, but also that it indeed worked as intended.

That was in 2011, and from there the prototype was passed on to a military development team who, with the help of input from soldiers and its original creators, have been working on a fully functional production model. Now, as being reported by core77.com, military memos from earlier in the year have this once pipe dream film prop looking for a manufacturer for field use.

They’re calling it the large capacity ammunition carriage system (wait, our military is taking advice from “Predator” and that’s the best they got?), and it’s essentially a backpack carrying an ammo crate with protruding belts that feed into the weapon. It allows for more mobility, less personnel required, more ammunition availability, and (ideally) less jamming, meaning it could actually re-imagine how the military uses this type of soldier. Not bad for a few guys who saw “Predator” a few too many times.

Although, considering that two of the actors in “Predator” went on to become governors, you would think there would have been enough political pull available to get some of this tech released sooner.

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