Why bikini shoot cameo may land National Guardsmen in hot water

The Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah National Guard are both investigating, after a risque video for a calendar was shot in part on military property in Utah and featured at least two National Guardsmen in their uniforms.

Rick Bowmer/AP/File
A military no trespassing sign shown in front of Utah's NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. The nation's new billion-dollar epicenter for fighting global cyberthreats sits just south of Salt Lake City, tucked away on a National Guard base at the foot of snow-capped mountains.

The Pentagon regularly cooperates with Hollywood’s steady demand for war equipment to fill out action thrillers, but two Utah soldiers may face punishment for agreeing to participate in something perhaps too risqué: a bikini video shoot featuring British women cavorting with guns and tanks across the desert.

The promotional video for a calendar was shot in part on military property in Utah, and featured at least two National Guardsmen in their uniforms as part of a backdrop that also depicted Utah National Guard equipment.

The Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah National Guard are both investigating the “Hot Shots” video shoot to see if the guard’s equipment, facilities, and personnel had been used during the shot, which Utah National Guard Lt. Col. Steven Fairbourn said had not been properly authorized.

Utah officials said they were particularly upset by the appearance of soldiers wearing their uniforms.

“It’s not a typical assignment for us to send uniformed officers to participate with women in bikinis shooting guns,” DPS Capt. Doug McCleve told the Associated Press. “That doesn’t reflect the values of our department.”

Indeed, image is paramount to US military officials, who have made deals for decades with Hollywood to help produce films that show the Army and other branches in a positive light. “Wings,” a 1929 flick depicting World War I dogfights, was the first movie to ever win Best Picture, and was produced with enthusiastic help from the Army.

The Vietnam War soured relations between the Pentagon and Hollywood amid a slew of raw, critical movies about America’s fight against Communist incursions in Indochina. But the Tom Cruise-fueled “Top Gun” feature in 1986 marked the beginning of a new era of cooperation.

Critics like David Robb, author of “Operation Hollywood,” a book about the Pentagon’s influence over movies, suggest that cooperation between filmmakers and soldiers often hews too close to propaganda. According to the Pentagon’s Film Liaison Office, “characters in uniform need to reflect what officials consider to be an accurate picture of the practices and the ethos of the military,” writes Kay Stieger, on Raw Story.

That notion may have been disregarded by those who OK’d a shoot that mashes up bikinis with Army gear.

Lieutenant Colonel Fairbourn on Friday said an unnamed non-commissioned officer with the 19th Special Forces was responsible for allowing the models on site.

The NCO apparently had no authority to give the romping Brits the run of the camp. The two soldiers in the film should have known better than to wear their regular uniforms, officials added.

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