I won’t deny that your average Army Military Intelligence Corps soldier has an almost pre-requisite nerdiness to them, no matter what their physical fitness scores are. It may not come out in their foam swords, anime collections, or Call of Duty handle. It may not even come out at those slightly deeper levels, when someone nonchalantly brings up that they like the Star Wars prequels more than the originals. No no no. The true inner depths of full frontal nerdity may sometimes only manifest in ways even the Nerds themselves can neither foresee, nor forestall. (Trust me on this one, I’m one of them…)
Task Force ODIN — which stands for “Observe, Detect, Identify, and Neutralize” — is an Army Aviation Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition asset. The unit stood up at Ft Hood, TX, in 2006 to support a larger counter-IED effort in Iraq, as well as to help the United States Air Force with some of their Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance missions.
“To the men and women of Task Force ODIN…you have and continue to provide the coalition and Afghan security forces with a decisive advantage. You hunt down named objectives. You deliver pinpoint, lethal strikes. You provide early warning and tactical over-watch. You find homemade explosives and illicit narcotics. You provide evidence for convictions in Afghan courts. You disrupt the enemy’s reconnaissance efforts and their mission command cycle. You help protect the force.”-U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III, U.S. Forces Afghanistan deputy commander for support and Bagram Airfield commander
To my knowledge there is no direct affiliation with the Norse deity Odin.
One thing that makes TF ODIN so special is that they roll with the MQ-1B Warrior-Alpha (a variant of the more widely known General Atomics MQ-1 Predator). Everyone just calls all drones “Predator” now. But of the few variants, they all have their own cool name (Gray Eagle, Sky Warrior, etc.). The Warrior-Alpha carries a complex advanced sensor array.
That bad boy totes around everything from synthetic aperture radar and forward looking infrared (for seeing things the way the Predator in the movie Predator does), to laser rangefinders and designators (this is what facilitates the “Neutralize” portion of the unit’s name). This baby’s got a significant score under that Neutralize heading (well into four figures), is directly accountable for the capture of thousands more, and is basically just one of those flying Cylons from the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series. (Let’s just hope none of them go full Johnny 5 on us.)
So yeah, all that techy stuff is fun. Who doesn’t like flying robotic death machines that can see you through a wall… in the dark? But that’s not really why we’re here. Looking past all of the next-gen kill-tronics… we work ourselves back to what brought us out here in the first place.
That’s right. Let that freak flag fly, Service brothers and sisters! I’d like to direct your attention back to that Task Force Odin unit patch up there. Pretty hot, ain’t it? Odin, riding on his eight-legged horse (named Sleipnir, by the way). Running with him in the sky are his wolves, Freki and Geri. And flying even higher, are two drones. Fitting, as they’ve replaced Odin’s two crows, Huginn and Munin — Odin’s own ISR assets — “Thought” and “Memory”.
Now, on this patch, the drones originally were Huginn and Munin. You see, the unit didn’t just dream up this epic unit picture. Nay! Nor did any obscure heraldry office. No. This picture comes from a somewhat more obscure place.
This picture, damn near line for line, came straight off the cover of the official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Edition) Legends and Lore game book. Now, I’m not saying anyone copied anything. At least not on purpose. I think what happened is someone’s subconscious mind pulled this patch straight out of a foggy fantasy-soaked memory.
Like I said, we don’t always know the depths of our own nerdity — even when death-machines are involved. We can’t always control it. Like, when our phones autocorrect “morning” to “Morgoth,” for example. Or when someone says “Ranger,” and you don’t know if they’re talking about Hank from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, or oh yeah… someone from the Ranger Regiment.
So, I’ll leave you with this, sports fans, in the off chance that you ever had any doubt:
It’s all fun and games, until someone loses an eye…