“Watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier ” by Foss Forward

Captain America is a throwback. At a time when comic book superheroes tend to be edgy and brooding, Captain America is cheerful and friendly, patriotic and loyal. He wants to do what is right.

He isn t consumed by self-doubt or tormented by the burden of being a hero. He s not Batman, or even the more serious Superman of last year s big comic reboot, Man of Steel. He s just an ordinary guy who believes in America, and has extraordinary physical powers.

I liked the first Captain America film well enough, and I was perfectly happy to see Captain America pop up in The Avengers. But it s tough to get too excited about him, mainly because he s such a square not nearly as fun or charismatic as Iron Man or even Thor. What makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier interesting is that it depicts Captain American s growing disillusionment with government secrecy and modern-day surveillance.

For the first time, he seems like a man who is capable of thinking for himself and taking matters into his own hands. The Marvel comic book movies have a lightness of tone that s really appealing, even during the big climatic fights, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier is no different. At times, the banter between Captain America, aka Steve Rogers, and the superspy Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff, sounds like something out of an old screwball comedy, which, come to think about it, is how much of The Avengers and Iron Man films sounds, too.

Like most comic book adaptations, the interactions between the main characters is the best thing about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, while the explosions, car chases and battles eventually grow tiresome. It s fun to watch Samuel L. Jackson return as Nick Fury, and it s a real kick to watch Robert Redford as the duplicitous Alexander Pierce.

And Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, is a nice addition to the cast. But it s the stars Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson who really carry this film. In most comic book films, the women are sidekicks.

But in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Widow emerges as an interesting character in her own right. She does more than her share of butt-kicking, saves the day on more than one occasion and has almost as much screen time as Captain America. In fact, a more accurate title for this film might be Captain America and Black Widow Defeat the Surveillance State.

Because Johansson is beautiful, people often dismiss her acting skills. But she s actually very talented, and she s terrific in this film equally adept at tossing off one-liners and battling bad guys. I have no idea whether she ll ever get to headline her own comic book film, but she really should.

And she isn t the only woman who distinguishes herself in Captain America: The Winter Soldier Cobie Smulders, as Maria Hill, and Emily VanCamp, as Sharon Carter, also have their moments. As for the plot, it was supposedly inspired by President Obama s kill list. Set two years after the apocalyptic New York City battle seen in The Avengers, the film depicts a world where a massive counter-terrorism system, called Project Insight, is in development: three giant aircrafts, linked to spy satellites, would be capable of pre-emptively eliminating terrorist threats anywhere on Earth.

The idea, of course, is to defeat the bad guys before they commit their evil deeds. But Captain America doesn t see it that way, and begins to question the secrecy and unchecked power of his superiors. If some of this sounds familiar, it s probably because Steven Spielberg toyed with similar ideas in his 2002 film Minority Report.

Captain America isn t perfect it s too long, and I could have done without the subplot about Steve Rogers childhood friend, Bucky but it is a film that s perfectly suited for a post-Edward Snowden America, where revelations about the breadth and scope of the NSA s spying apparatus have made many people very uneasy. By the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers has become one of the more interesting characters in the Marvel universe. He s not quite as interesting as Black Widow, but maybe he will be one day.

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“Watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier ” by Foss Forward

Reservists train with army rapid reaction force

50 paratroopers and medics from Army Reserve 1 units worked alongside their regular counterparts in 16 Air Assault Brigade, in the biggest military exercise in Europe. Earlier in the week we published a story about 16 Air Assault Brigade working with the Royal Navy and RAF 2 as part of Joint Warrior. Today we meet some of the reservists who were involved.

Private James Dytham, a mental health nurse from Bedlington in County Durham, has been in 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment (4 PARA) 3 for 2-and-a-half years. The 27-year-old said: Being a nurse and a paratrooper are poles apart, but I joined the Paras to challenge myself within one of the strongest infantry regiments in the world. Private James Dytham Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy, Crown copyright This is my first exercise with the regulars and it s been very different.

At 4 PARA we work at platoon level and cram a lot into a weekend training camp, whereas on a major exercise like this there s more time and resources to work on bigger and more complex tasks, he added. I really enjoyed and learnt a lot from the airfield assault. There s a massive adrenaline kick running into action off the back of a Hercules transport aircraft.

Time flies and before you know it you re 4 hours into an attack, but it only feels like 5 minutes! Reservist medics from 144 Parachute Medical Squadron have been working as combat medical technicians with the infantry and within treatment facilities set up by 16 Medical Regiment, their regular parent unit. Reservist medical officer Major Yuk Mo Kan Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy, Crown copyright Major Yuk Mo Kan, an anaesthetist at Southend University Hospital, is working as a medical officer.

The 39-year-old is in charge of triaging and treating casualties arriving at the military equivalent of a hospital s accident and emergency unit. Major Kan said: I joined up to challenge myself and use my clinical skills in a very different environment. This is the first brigade exercise I ve been on and I ve really appreciated the scale of the deployment.

As an individual, you are a cog within a cog, but everyone has to do their job for the whole machine to work. In the 4 years I ve been a reservist I ve seen a real change in culture and we are now fully integrated with regulars. This exercise has been a great opportunity to cement the working relationships we have already formed with 16 Medical Regiment.

Major Yuk Mo Kan assesses a casualty during Exercise Joint Warrior Picture: Corporal Andy Reddy, Crown copyright The 1,600-strong battle group deployed on Joint Warrior is built around the airborne infantry of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment 4 bolstered by artillery, engineers, medics, signallers and logisticians from 16 Air Assault Brigade 5 . The training is designed to prepare them to serve as the Air Assault Task Force, which is ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice to conduct the full range of military operations Lieutenant Colonel Dave Macauley, who is in charge of the brigade s reservists, said: The reserves within 16 Air Assault Brigade are fully partnered with their regular counterparts. This integration has been powerfully demonstrated by the way regulars and reserves have worked together on Joint Warrior.

It has been a very demanding and complex exercise that has shown that reservists are capable and ready to deploy with the army s rapid reaction force. The UK reserve forces play a vital part in our nation s defence. Find out how you can get involved 6 and what is on offer for reserves.

References ^ Army Reserve ( ^ 16 Air Assault Brigade working with the Royal Navy and RAF ( ^ 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment (4 PARA) ( ^ 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment ( ^ 16 Air Assault Brigade ( ^ Find out how you can get involved (

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Reservists train with army rapid reaction force

Job Opportunity with Mercian Regiment

There is a job opportunity available as a communications officer with Mercian RHQ in Lichfield. Closing date for applications is 25th April at 1200. Applicants will be informed within 7 days of closing date if they have been unsuccessful or progressed to interview stage.

Interviews with be held at RHQ Mercian in the week commencing 5th May 2014.Full jobs description and requirements can be found at Communications Officer Job Spec 1 References ^ Communications Officer Job Spec (

Job Opportunity with Mercian Regiment



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