15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard - We Are The Mighty
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15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard

Every Coastie has at least once been called a sailor, asked if they aren’t just a part of the Navy, or otherwise been compared to the Navy. Just as siblings don’t care to be compared to one another, the Coast Guard works to set itself apart in many ways, from uniforms to missions to rates.


In case you were wondering, here are 15 very important differences between the seaborne branches.

1. They have different bosses

The major difference between the Navy and the Coast Guard comes from the very top of either branch – the Navy is part of the Department of Defense, while the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security. This allows the missions and structure of both branches to best serve the needs the country.

2. Their roster sizes are significantly different

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard Ensign Joshua Kitenko, boarding officer from the Coast Guard Cutter Forward, climbs down a ladder to board the cutter’s small boat, after a joint U.S. and Sierra Leone law enforcement boarding on a fishing vessel in the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Annie R. B. Elis.)

In the battle of Navy vs. Coast Guard, the Navy wins the heavyweight title. The Navy boasts 325,000 active duty and 107,000 reserve sailors, while the Coast Guard has just over 40,000 active duty personnel and 7,600 reservists.

3. Comparatively speaking, it rains money at the Navy Department

The Coast Guard’s entire budget for Fiscal Year 2015 was $9.8 billion, while the Navy’s was $148 billion.

4. They have different roles in combat

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard

The Coast Guard’s role in combat has changed vastly over time. Since the early 1990’a and during the Gulf War, the Coast Guard’s combat role evolved to mostly port, maritime, and other asset security, as well as search and rescue. The Navy has a primarily defensive mission, prepared to fight back against a land-based or maritime enemy when called on.

5. The Coast Guard has more ships than you’d think (and more than the Navy)

The Coast Guard has nearly 200 cutters and 1400 small boats, while the Navy has 272 ships.

6. The Coast Guard paints operational aircraft orange

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
And operators know how to dangle.

The Coast Guard is proud of its more than 200 aircraft, mainly consisting of the iconic orange and white helicopters. The Navy, on the other hand, has a fleet of more than 3,700 aircraft, making it the second largest air force in the world, second only to the US Air Force. (And the only orange Navy airplanes are trainers.)

7. If the Coast Guard’s missions make them ‘jacks of all trades,’ the Navy is a master of one

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
A U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft prepares to drop supplies aboard the national security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) in the Arctic Ocean Sept. 14, 2012, during a patrol in support of Arctic Shield 2012. A(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs Specialist 1st Class Timothy Tamargo)

While the Navy serves to “maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.” The Coast Guard, on the other hand, has eleven missions ranging from marine safety to drug and migrant interdiction to icebreaking. Their missions range from saving someone in a sinking boat on the shores of San Diego to defense readiness in Bahrain.

8. USCG Rescue Swimmers are busier

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
The U.S. Coast Guard demonstrates how they conduct a search and rescue during the 2009 Sea and Sky Spectacular. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sunday Williams)

 

While both the Coast Guard and Navy have a rate for rescue swimmers, the Coast Guard takes pride in having the unique ability for their Aviation Survival Technicians, also known as rescue swimmers, to save lives on a daily basis. ASTs serve with Coast Guard air stations, deploying with search and rescue operations to recover civilians from dangerous situations.

9. Coasties actually have more uniforms than the Navy

 

You can tell the difference just in looking at personnel – the Navy’s NWU are often made fun of for blending a sailor into the water, but the Coast Guard’s ODUs are no better. The Navy’s dress uniforms are also universally known, complete with the “Dixie Cup” cover, but the Coast Guard’s are primarily based off of the Air Forces, with a few exceptions including Officer Whites, based on the Navy’s. There are even Coast Guard units who wear the Navy’s Type IIIs.

10. Coasties are bit more specialized

Every branch has a different names for its occupational specialty – whether MOS, AFSC, or rate. The Coast Guard and Navy both share the name “rating” for their specialities. The Navy has nearly 90 specialized ratings, while the Coast Guard lumps theirs into just 21.

11. Basic Training for the Coast Guard is a lot harder than you think

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Company Commander OS1 Tom Carella looks out at new recruits outside of Sexton Hall at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, NJ. (USCG photo by PAC Tom Sperduto)

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Great Lakes Training Center relies on a process called “Sailorization” to turn civilians into sailors over the course of eight weeks. The Coast Guard’s boot camp was based on Marine Corps boot camp, but shortened from twelve to eight weeks. Recruits are purposefully stressed to the maximum they can handle through intense and constant time pressure, sleep deprivation, and physical training. The process allows recruits to learn how to make the best decisions under the most pressure – something necessary when attempting to save a life on a sinking ship in foul weather.

12. The Coast Guard filled in for the Navy after it was disbanded

The history of the branches isn’t what it always seems – While the Coast Guard’s history occasionally seems to be shrouded in mystery, it was founded as the Revenue Cutter Service on August 4, 1790. It has since been the longest continuous sea service in the United States. “But isn’t the Navy’s founding in 1775?” you might ask – and you would be correct. But shortly after the Revolutionary War ended, the Navy was disbanded, and was not reestablished until 1799, leaving the USRCS to serve the newly formed nation.

13. The USCG gets passed around a lot

The Navy has also been steadfastly its own branch of the military, as well as under the Department of Defense. The Coast Guard, on the other hand, has been under the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Transportation, Department of the Interior, the Department of Homeland Security, and yes, even under the Department of the Navy – five times.

14. Everyone has a chance to go to the Coast Guard Academy

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard

Shown is an aerial view of the Coast Guard Academy with Hamilton Hall in center. (USCG photo by PA1 David Santos)

To apply to the U.S. Naval Academy, as well as the other service academies, a prospective student must be appointed by a member of the US Congress in addition to applying to USNA. The Coast Guard Academy, on the other hand, does not require congressional nomination, instead opening the applications to anyone and letting applicants be admitted solely on their own merit – both personal and academic.

15. Navy ships keep a supply of Coasties to maintain civil law and order

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Members of a Coast Guard Maritime Search and Rescue Team prepare to depart USNS Sisler via Coast Guard Seahawk after storming the ship as part of maritime security exercise Frontier Sentinel (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

On many Navy ships throughout the world, a small Coast Guard contingent is placed with the crew to do maritime law enforcement. Because of the Posse Comitatus Act, the Department of Defense may not do any kind of civilian law enforcement. The Coast Guard, thanks to the 1790 Tariff Act and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006, may conduct boardings of vessels both foreign and domestic without a warrant. On Navy ships stationed in waters where illegal drugs and migrants are common, the Coast Guard serves to assist the Navy where it cannot serve.

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This stunning video reveals what it’s like to serve in the Indian Army

Much of the world knows how visually stunning films from India can be, especially since Bollywood produces an incredible number of colorful and evocative films every year. So it makes sense their recruiting videos would be just as visually appealing.


From the Indian Army’s YouTube page, comes a video titled “Indian Army: A Life Less Ordinary,” and it’s quite stunning.

The video gives an interesting look inside a foreign military, showing everything from troops marching, physical training, operating in the mountains, and special operations forces jumping out of airplanes.

YouTube comments, notorious for being so bad they sap people’s faith in humanity (they’re so bad Forbes wrote about them), are overwhelmingly positive, especially among those who appear to be the target age range for joining. Another win for the Indian Army.

It even starts with a little hat tip to famed Revolutionary War patriot captain John Paul Jones.

Check out the Indian Army’s full page of videos. They have some interesting recreations of the ADGPI’s win at the Battle of Haji Pir

NOW: The 15 Best Foreign War Movies

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Clint Eastwood casts Paris train heroes as themselves in film

The three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack on a train bound for Paris will be playing themselves in the upcoming film “The 15:17 to Paris,” directed by Clint Eastwood.


According to a report by the Hollywood Reporter, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone will be acting alongside Jenna Fischer (The Office), Judy Greer, and Ray Croasini in the film.  Eastwood, whose films Sully and American Sniper both garnered Academy Award nominations, is producing the film with Tim Moore, Kristina Rivera and Jessica Meier. According to Variety.com, filming of the project began on Tuesday.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Defense Secretary Ash Carter awards the Soldier’s Medal to Spc. Alek Skarlatos, Oregon National Guard, the Airman’s Medal to Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone and the Defense Department Medal for Valor to Anthony Sadler, at a ceremony in the Pentagon courtyard Sept. 17, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez)(Released)

TheTrackingBoard.com had reported that Eastwood had initially wanted to cast Kyle Gallner, Jeremie Harris and Alexander Ludwig as the three heroes in the film, which is based on a book by Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone.

On August 21, 2015, Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guard soldier, Stone, an Airman assigned to the 65th Air Base Group, and Sadler, a high school classmate who was attending college, thwarted an attack being carried out by a “lone wolf” terrorist who had an AKM assault rifle. Skarlatos, Stone, and Sadler tackled the gunman, whose rifle had jammed, then Stone, a medic, treated a passenger who had been shot in the neck by the jihadist, despite being wounded himself. Skarlatos received the Soldier’s Medal for his actions that day, while Stone received the Airman’s Medal and Purple Heart. Sadler was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal of Valor.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Master Sgt. Tanya Hubbard, 60th Medical Group, left, and Staff Sgt. Roberto Davila, 60th Medical Group, right, tack staff sergeant stripes on to Spencer Stone.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken Wright)

The casting of Skarlatos, Stone, and Sadler is not the first time a military hero portrayed himself. In 1955, Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy portrayed himself in “To Hell and Back,” based on his 1949 memoirs. It should also be noted that in 2012, the movie Act of Valor starred Navy SEALs as themselves, but in a fictional scenario. The SEALs were not formally credited in the movie directed by Scott Waugh and “Mouse” McCoy.

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Army preps for massive, Great Power land war

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Aura E. Sklenicka


The Army’s “live-fire” combat exercises involve large-scale battalion-on-battalion war scenarios wherein mechanized forces often clash with make-shift, “near-peer” enemies using new technologies, drones, tanks, artillery, missiles and armored vehicles.

The Army is expanding its training and “live-fire” weapons focus to include a renewed ability to fight a massive, enemy force in an effort to transition from its decade-and-a-half of tested combat experience with dismounted infantry and counterinsurgency.

Recent ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created an experienced and combat-tested force able to track, attack and kill small groups of enemies — often blended into civilian populations, speeding in pick-up trucks or hiding within different types of terrain to stage ambushes.

“The Army has a tremendous amount of experience right now. It has depth but needs more breadth. We’re good at counterinsurgency and operations employing wide area security. Now, we may have to focus on ‘Mounted Maneuver’ operations over larger distances,” Rickey Smith, Deputy Chief of Staff, Training and Doctrine Command, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

While senior Army leaders are quick to emphasize that counterinsurgency is of course still important and the service plans to be ready for the widest possible range of conflict scenarios, there is nonetheless a marked and visible shift toward being ready to fight and win against a large-scale modernized enemy such as Russia or China.

The Army, naturally, does not single out these countries as enemies, train specifically to fight them or necessarily expect to go to war with them. However, recognizing the current and fast-changing threat environment, which includes existing tensions and rivalries with the aforementioned great powers, Army training is increasingly focused on ensuring they are ready for a mechanized force-on-force type engagement.

At the same time, while large-scale mechanized warfare is quite different than counterinsurgency, there are some areas of potential overlap between recent warfare and potential future great power conflict in a few key respects. The ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over a period of more than a decade, involved the combat debut of various precision-guided land attack weapons such as GPS guided artillery and rocket weapons.

Weapons such as Excalibur, a GPS-guided 155m artillery round able to precisely destroy enemy targets at ranges greater than 30-kilometers, gave ground commanders an ability to pinpoint insurgent targets such as small gatherings of fighters, buildings and bomb-making locations. Guided Multiple-Launch Rocket System, or GLMRS, is another example; this precision guided long-range rocket, which can hit ranges up to 70-kilometers, was successful in killing Taliban targets in Afghanistan from great distances, among other things.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Soldiers with Charlie Battery, 1-377 FA fire an M198, 155mm howitzer during a recent combined live-fire exercise. | U.S. Army photo

These kinds of precision munitions, first used in Iraq and Afghanistan, are the kind of weapon which would greatly assist land attack efforts in a massive force-on-force land war as well. They could target key locations behind enemy lines such as supplies, forces and mechanized vehicles.

Drones are another area of potential overlap. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan featured a veritable explosion in drone technology and drone use. For example, the Army had merely a handful of drones at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, the service operates thousands and has repeatedly relied upon them to find enemy locations, spot upcoming ambushes and save lives in combat. These are the kinds of platforms which would also be of great utility in a major land war. However, they would likely be used differently incorporating new tactics, techniques and procedures in a great power engagement.

“This is not back to the future…this is moving towards the future where Army forces will face adaptive enemies with greater lethality.  This generation of Army leaders will orchestrate simultaneous Combined ArmsManeuver and Wide Area Security” Smith said.

Nevertheless, many Army leaders now experienced with counterinsurgency tactics will need to reexamine tactics needed for major conventional warfare.

“You have a generation of leaders who have to expand learning to conduct simultaneous ‘Combined Arms’ and ‘Wide Area Security” Smith said.

“The Army has to be prepared across the entire range of military operations. One of these would be ‘near-peer’ operations, which is what we have not been fighting in recent years,” Smith explained.

Massive Land War “Decisive Action”

The new approach to this emerging integrated training is called “Decisive Action,” Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, Commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said.

Grigsby explained that live-fire combat at Fort Riley, Kan., affords an opportunity to put these new strategies into effect.

“Every morning I could put a battalion on the north side and a battalion on the south side – and just joust working “Combined Arms Maneuver.” I can do battalion-on-battalion and it does involve “Combined Arms” live fire,” said Grigsby. “Because of the airspace that we have here – and use the UAS – I can synchronize from 0-to-18,000 feet and do maneuver indirect fire.”

This includes the use of drones, Air Force air assets, Army attack aviation along with armored vehicles, artillery, tanks and infantry units equipped for small arms fire, he explained.

Some of the main tactics and techniques explored during “Decisive Action” live fire exercises include things like “kill what you shoot at,” “move to contact,” “synchronize indirect fire,” and “call-in 9-line,” (providing aircraft with attack coordinates from the ground), Grigsby said.

Grigsby explained that “live-fire” combat exercises now work to incorporate a wide range of emerging technologies so as to better anticipate the tactics, weapons and systems a future enemy is likely to employ; this includes the greater use of drones or unmanned systems, swarms of mini-drones in the future, emerging computing technology, tank-on-tank warfare tactics, electronic warfare, enemy aircraft and longer-range precision weaponry including anti-tank missiles, guided artillery and missiles.

In order to execute this kind of combat approach, the Army is adapting to more “Combined Arms Maneuver.”  This warfare compentency seeks to synchronize a wide range of weapons, technologies and war assets in order to overwhelm, confuse and destroy an enemy force.

Smith likened “Combined Arms” to being almost like a symphony orchestra where each instrument is geared toward blending and contributing to an integrated overall musical effect.

In warfare, this would mean using tank-on-tank attacks, indirect fire or artillery, air defenses, air assets, networking technologies, drones, rockets, missiles and mortar all together to create a singular effect able to dominate the battlespace, Smith explained.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
U.S. Army photo by Capt. John Farmer, 1st BCT, 1st CD Public Affairs

For example, air assets and artillery could be used to attack enemy tank or armored vehicle positions in order to allow tank units and infantry fighting vehicles to reposition for attack. The idea to create an integrated offensive attack – using things like Apache attack helicopters and drones from the air, long-range precision artillery on the ground joined by Abrams tanks and infantry fighting vehicles in a coordinated fashion.

Smith also explained how preparing for anticipated future threats also means fully understanding logistics and sustainment — so that supplies, ammunition and other essentials can continue to fortify the war effort.

Current “Decisive Action” live fire training includes an emerging emphasis on “expeditionary” capability wherein the Army is ready to fight by tonight by rapidly deploying over large distances with an integrated force consisting of weapons, infantry, armored vehicles and other combat-relevant assets.

At the same time, this strategy relies, to some extent, on an ability to leverage a technological edge with a “Combined Arms” approach as well, networking systems and precision weapons able to destroy enemies from farther distances.

In order to incorporate these dynamics into live-fire training, Grigsby said the battalion -on-battalion combat exercises practice a “move to contact” over very large 620 kilometer distances.

“This builds that expeditionary mindset,” he explained.

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It’s not the Beretta M9 that sucks, it’s the ammo

There’s a decades-old argument about which pistol round is better that stems from a more basic argument about terminal ballistics – which is just a fancy term for what happens when bullets hit living things.


The two sides of the argument are between those who believe fast, lightweight rounds do more damage, and those who believe heavy, lower-moving rounds impart more energy and “stopping power” on the target.

Listen to the WATM podcast to hear our veteran hosts and a weapons expert discuss the M9 and why ammo matters: 

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Given its history of weapon adoption, it seems the Army is a proponent of the fast, lightweight department. First it swapped out the 7.62mm M14 for the 5.56mm M16, then the .45 1911 for the 9mm M9. While many agree with the first change (sorry M14 lovers) some still think the M9 should never have been adopted without changing the ammunition recipe beforehand.

Here’s why.

Full metal jacket ammo is really great for sending rounds through paper, but its aerodynamic and hydrodynamic design makes it zip through tissue without dumping most of the energy behind it into the target. Shot placement can compensate for this by hitting harder stuff like bones or vital organs, but under the stress of returning fire, that’s damn tough for even the seasoned Delta operator to land perfect hits with a sidearm.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
An M9 service pistol’s magazine rests on the firing line next to a scoring sheet during a pistol qualification course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 7, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo taken by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell/released)

Ideally, a round will dump all of its energy into a target, which reduces the need for shot placement at the cost of reduced penetration. On a rifle, this is a big drawback. It means if Johnny-Jihad is hiding behind a plywood shack, the rounds will expand in the wooden walls and lose most of their power. With a sidearm, most shooters aren’t trying to blast bad guys through walls – it’s a weapon of last resort.

So when a trooper needs to draw his M9, he shouldn’t have to worry about the bullets failing to stop his attacker.

If the military wants to put the M9 on even-footing with the M1911’s fight-stopping power, it might only need to swap out the M882 round with the good stuff being issued to American law enforcement officers.

Heck, Rangers have been running heavier, jacketed hollow-points for years. This isn’t news to the brass.

A little more than a year ago, the Army declared its Modular Handgun System should be able to operate with special ammunition like jacketed, hollow-point rounds.  The so-called XM17 is slated to replace the M9.

In fact, one recommendation is to replace the lightweight 112gr M882 FMJ cartridges with heavier 147gr expanding hollow-point rounds like those employed by Ranger elements during combat operations. These heavier rounds don’t just expand better in their targets, they’re also subsonic.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse Paquin, assigned to Expeditionary Combat Camera reloads an M9 pistol during practical weapons course training at Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex, July 28. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric Dietrich)

This has two major advantageous. First, it makes them better suited to pistols and submachine guns equipped with sound suppressors. And second, it provides a more consistent flight path since the bullet doesn’t go transonic.

That all said, many agree the M9 does have some serious mechanical shortcomings. Slides cracking, junk magazines in the early days of the G-WOT, and the gun’s open-slide gobbling up sand all contribute to a pistol clearly not at home in desert warfare.

But with new magazines that work much better, reinforced slides and a proper maintenance schedule, many experts say the M9 beats the hell out of the 1911 it replaced — but only with proper ammo. Hague convention be damned, expanding ammunition isn’t designed to cruelly maim soldiers but to drop them more reliability. Plus, these same rounds are nearly always stopped by walls, putting fewer civilians at risk in adjacent rooms.

Lastly, if you’re worried about our guys getting hit with these types of rounds, don’t be. Expanding ammunition amplifies the effectiveness of body armor, since both are designed to dissipate force. So as long as Joe has his body armor on, hollow points won’t do any more than a standard pistol round.

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Top military doc is open to changing obesity standards

The Army is likely catching a lot of grief lately, after a news story reported that Pentagon data showed Joes are fatter than their brethren in other services.


But are they really?

According to the head of the new Defense Health Agency, the way the military measures obesity using the so-called Body Mass Index might be a bit behind the times.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Senna, assigned to Joint Multinational Training Command, performs push-ups during the Army Physical Fitness Test at U.S. Army Europe’s Best Warrior Competition in Grafenwoehr, Germany, July 30, 2012. (Photo from U.S. Army)

“I know that Navy has looked at this in terms of modifying what they say is a healthy weight and a healthy body mass and I think that’s appropriate,” said Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, Director of the Defense Health Agency told WATM during a breakfast meeting with reporters Oct. 20.

“Do I have any indication that [obesity] is hurting readiness? No,” Bono added. “But I would actually say that is one of the hallmarks of being in the military is that we’re always ready.”

According to the services, a Body Mass Index of 25 or over is considered unsat (the BMI is determined by a simple calculation of height and weight). The National Institutes of Health define obesity as a BMI of 30 or over.

A 44 year-old male who weights 215 pounds and is 74-inches tall has a BMI of 27.6, for example. That’d be considered “clinically obese” to the DoD.

Some in the services argue measuring weight standards using the BMI is a blunt instrument, putting perfectly fit and healthy servicemembers on notice for not being up to snuff.

And while she’s all in favor of modifying how the level of fitness to serve is calculated, Bono is concerned about the overall trend on obesity, with the Pentagon reporting nearly 10 percent of its troops are overweight. And Bono recommended healthier choices in chow halls, regular exercise (not just for the PFT), and stopping smoking.

“My job is to make sure I’m enabling the department to have the healthiest troops possible,” Bono said. “I struggle with encouraging troops to make healthier choices — even when we activate servicemembers with health data or scary pictures of what smoking can do to you they still persist in those behaviors. I don’t know what the right answer is.”

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America and Japan could use giant robots in their next war

Anyone who has watched a lot of Japanese anime knows that giant robots are a major theme. Heck, the first four “Transformers” films have netted almost $3.8 billion at the box office since making their debut in 2007. In August, American and Japanese robots will go head-to-head in real life – and we could be seeing some of the classic military sci-fi coming to life.


15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
We’ve seen Optimus Prime engage in some giant-robot fighting on the big screen, but in real life, Megabot Mk III and KURATAS will go head-to-head this summer. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to a report by FoxNews.com, the American company Megabots issued the challenge to the Japanese robotics firm Suidobashi in 2015 after Megabots had completed the 15-foot tall, six-ton Megabot Mark II. The Japanese company accepted the challenge, but insisted that hand-to-hand combat be allowed before agreeing to commit their battle bot, KURATAS.

Megabots then spent two years re-designing its robot warrior to address the changed dynamics of the duel. They also needed to be able to transport the robot inside a standard shipping container. That meant the company had to be able to quickly deploy the Megabot Mark III — a 16-foot tall, 12-ton behemoth — from an air transportable configuration. That’s not an easy task when you consider there are 3,000 wires, 26 hydraulic pumps, and 300 hydraulic hoses to bolt into place.

Plus, the robot’s 430-horsepower engine was originally designed to move a car, not power a piloted robot in a duel to the death – of the robot, that is.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
KURATAS, Suidobashi’s giant fighting robot. (Youtube screenshot)

“When we show our robot to people who haven’t heard of us, the reaction is always ‘Oh! I saw that in…’ and then they list any of 60 or 70 different video games, movies, [or] animated shows that feature giant robots fighting. We’re trying to bring the fantasies of sci-fi fans around the world to life,” Megabots co-founder and CEO Gui Cavalcanti said.

Which robot will emerge victorious, and which one will turn into scrap? We’ll find out this summer. Will we eventually see these robots in the military? Don’t bet against it. Meanwhile, watch the challenge Megabots issued to Suidobashi.

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The Air Force told PETA it will continue to kill rabbits in survival training

A few months ago the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals found out that Air Force Academy survival school students kill rabbits and chickens as part of their training regimen. So PETA submitted a petition from its membership asking the Air Force to stop.


The Air Force said no.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Nope Nope Nope.

USAFA cadets do, in fact, kill, skin, cook, and eat rabbits in the Expeditionary Survival and Evasion Training Program. The “sustenance” portion of the class teaches cadets how to find water as well as skin and cook a wild animal.

Air Force spokesman Zachary Anderson told the Air Force Times in July 2016 the Air Force tries to find the best balance between the humane treatment of animals and properly preparing aircrew cadets for real-world scenarios.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Staff Sgt. Eric Zwoll, instructor at the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school, explains to his class how to jump safely with a parachute, everything from leaving the aircraft to overcoming equipment malfunctions and evading forces on the ground. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Connie Bias)

“The Air Force is aware of PETA’s concerns,” Anderson said. “However, the use of animals in Air Force survival training plays a critical role in equipping our airmen with skills needed to stay alive in a combat environment.”

While PETA wants the USAF to get out of the animal business entirely, the animal rights group also alleges the rabbits are sourced from a business that routinely violates the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Citing a FOIA request,  PETA says the academy doesn’t file proper reports to the Department of Agriculture on the number of rabbits and chickens used and that the dealers aren’t even registered with the Agriculture Department.

“We were contacted by an individual who reported that cadets bludgeon docile, domesticated rabbits to death during these training exercises,” PETA Senior Laboratory Methods Specialist Shalin Gala wrote the Colorado Springs Independent. “This person expressed concern that cadets do not actually learn anything from killing tame animals who are used to being handled by humans… USAFA has previously informed the media that cadets are taught to kill animals with a rock or club.”

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
A U.S. Air Force Airman Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape candidate adds water to a cooking pot at Camp Bullis, Texas. SERE candidates are encouraged to boil their meals to keep as much nutrition in the food as possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Chisholm)

The Department of Agriculture did not have an open investigation at the time of the academy’s refusal to give up the practice.

The Air Force Times‘ Stephen Losey found the animals are sourced from Fancy Pants Rabbitry, a Gunnison, Colorado-based supplier. Fancy Pants’ owner Kathy Morgan, vehemently denies any wrongdoing.

“Our rabbits are raised in compliance with USDA standards as far as cage sizes and operations, so we are comfortable our rabbits are raised in the best possible conditions,” Morgan said. “They are treated humanely, and when necessary, they are dispatched humanely. I’m comfortable with the quality of our product and the quality of their lives while they’re with us.”

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
A U.S. Air Force Airman Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape candidate eats a grasshopper at Camp Bullis, Texas, Aug. 17, 2015. SERE candidates are taught how to survive on food procured from the environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Chad Chisholm)

Fancy Pants sold roughly 300 rabbits per year for the past two years to the USAF Academy. PETA is correct that Morgan’s business is not registered with the USDA. Because it sells rabbits as food and meat, it is registered with the FDA.

There is a precedent for giving up meat in the field. DoD directives require that other means of training besides animals are to be used whenever possible. PETA was instrumental in the animal “sustenance” portion of the Army’s Dugway Proving Grounds survival course and the Marine Corps’ Mountain Warfare Training Center, saying tame chickens and rabbits are unlikely to be found in a combat zone.

The animal rights group wants the academy to switch to book and classroom learning.

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Here’s how the USPS delivered 12 million letters a week during WWI

Letter written from the front-line trenches from 2nd Lieutenant Leonard James Shaw, France 3-7-1916 to his niece Jessie Osborne. National Archives.

In a fact we all know but may not understand in practice — during the First World War, written communication was the only way families could keep in touch. There were no video calls (or regular calls for that matter) back home, no online correspondence and reaching the other party took days, if not weeks. Correspondence took time, and receiving a letter was often the excitement of the day. 

Britain specifically tried handing out letters at dinner time to provide morale with the evening meal. Reports say that despite extreme fatigue and hunger, soldiers always read their letters before eating, a show of just how important the messages actually were. In the U.S., an offer was even released in 1918 prompting soldiers to write to their parents regularly. This was listed as a way to keep the parents from suffering. 

“To write home frequently and regularly, to keep in constant touch with family and friends, is one of the soldier’s most important duties. Mothers and fathers will suffer if they do not hear often from sons fighting in France. In the present large companies, it is not possible for officers to write letters for their men, and every man must do it for himself.”

New officers also received pamphlets that told them to urge enlisted soldiers to write home often, along with tips on how to encourage them to do so. 

Soldiers from the 92nd and 93rd divisions in World War I. National Archives

However, the War Department was unwilling to share the locations of military units, of course, this made the task of delivering letters difficult, if not impossible. To solve this problem, soldiers were assigned an APO (Army Post Office) location where their mail could be sent. 

In 1917, the first APO was created in France, APO 1. By 1919 they had opened APO 953, which were civilian-ran. However, in May of that year, they opened the Military Postal Express Service to receive and distribute all mail in France. At its height, that meant thousands of letters per day. By 1918, mail was transported overseas by air, which greatly sped up the delivery process. 

The U.S. put extreme focus on the letters to maintain morale and family communication with their soldiers. 

They also allowed for soldiers to mail letters for free. By writing OAS — on active service — on their letter, it would be mailed without postage. In most cases, these free deliveries were available for postcards, meaning one’s message could be viewed by postal workers. This was both to uphold security standards, and to limit the weight that was mailed. By providing postcards, the USPS could control the weight and size of what was being sent. (The Military Postal Office was not formed until 1980.)

Most of these postcards were provided by charities that donated writing supplies to soldiers on the front lines. 

In contrast, folks back home saw their postage fees increase from $.02 to $.03 per stamp; that price was reduced after the end of the war. 

Because giving away too much information could be a security threat, they were limited to what they could say. Letters were also edited if they contained any telling data, first by a lower-ranking officer, then by a higher official to ensure no classified information was included. 

Delivering so many letters stateside — from soldiers to their families — also proved to be a challenge, especially because many former letter carriers were fighting on the front lines. Larger cities began hiring women to work these jobs to help fulfill the growing volume. An increase in hands on deck and vast improvements to the collection and delivery processes — many of which stayed in place after the war — were all credited to the mass amounts of delivery throughout the Great War. 

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
USPS photo

In 2018, for the war’s centennial, a commemorative Forever Stamp was released to honor those who fought in WWI. A special ceremony was held at the WWI Museum in Kansas City, MO releasing the design of “Turning the Tide.” 

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This American POW disfigured himself so he couldn’t be used for propaganda

“I will never surrender of my own free will. If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.”

These statements, and others, are part of the Six Articles of the Code of Conduct. Applying to all members of the U.S. military, the Code of Conduct provides guidance to service members on the battlefield and in the event that they become a prisoner of war. During the Vietnam War, one American sailor exemplified the code like no other.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Stockdale exits his A-4 Skyhawk (U.S. Navy)

James Bond Stockdale (yes, that was his real name) began his naval career as a surface officer. Following his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1947, Stockdale served primarily on destroyers.

In 1949, Stockdale was selected for naval flight training. The next year, he was designated a Naval Aviator. He trained at Pensacola, Corpus Christi and Norfolk. In 1954, Stockdale was accepted into the Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River and completed the training in July of that year. As a test pilot, Stockdale tutored Marine Aviator and future first American to orbit the Earth John Glenn.

In 1959, Stockdale attended Stanford University and earned a Master of Arts in international relations. Though he preferred flying fighter planes to studying textbooks, Stockdale later credited Stoic philosophy with helping him get through his time as a POW in the Vietnam War.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
USS Maddox (DD-731) was involved in the initial Gulf of Tonkin Incident (U.S. Navy)

On August 2, 1964, USS Maddox (DD-731) engaged three North Vietnamese P-4 torpedo boats in the Tonkin Gulf. When the ships broke contact, four F-8 Crusader fighters from USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) engaged the torpedo boats. As commander of VF-51 (Fighter Squadron 51), Stockdale led the attack on the boats. Although none of their rockets connected, they scored multiple hits with their 20mm cannons. Two nights later, Stockdale again flew overhead during a second reported attack. However, he later recounted that there were no enemies in the area. “[I] had the best seat in the house to watch that event, and our destroyers were just shooting at phantom targets…There was nothing there but black water and American firepower.”

The next morning, August 5, 1964, President Johnson ordered bombing raids on North Vietnamese military targets. When Stockdale was informed of the retaliatory strikes, he responded by asking, “Retaliation for what?” During his time as a POW, Stockdale constantly feared that he would reveal his knowledge of the controversial Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Stockdale takes pre-flight notes in 1965 (U.S. Navy)

On September 5, 1965, Stockdale flew a mission over North Vietnam from the USS Oriskany (CV-34). His A-4 Skyhawk was hit by enemy fire and disabled, forcing him to eject. He landed in a small village, was badly beaten and taken prisoner. For over seven years, Stockdale was held at the Hỏa Lò Prison, better known as the infamous Hanoi Hilton.

As the senior naval officer in the prison, Stockdale was one of the primary organizers of American POW resistance. He created and enforced the Code of Conduct for his fellow prisoners. This included their behavior under torture/interrogation, secret communications and even planned escape attempts. All of this made Stockdale a favorite of North Vietnamese interrogators who knew that the high-ranking aviator would have valuable information.

During his time in captivity, Stockdale was routinely beaten and denied medical care for his leg which was severely broken during his capture. Stockdale’s leg would be broken twice during his time at the Hanoi Hilton. Whenever he was caught with information that could implicate his fellow prisoners, he would slit his own wrists so that he could not be tortured into confessing. Still, his most famous act of defiance came in the summer of 1969.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Stockdale with President Nixon at the White House (White House)

Stockdale was locked in a bath stall and chained in leg irons to be tortured and beaten. His captors told him that he was to be paraded in public and made an example of. To keep from being exploited, Stockdale used a razor and slit his own scalp. Disfigured, the North Vietnamese wouldn’t be able to use Stockdale for their propaganda. When his captors tried to cover his head with a hat and salvage their exploitation, Stockdale used a stool to beat his own face swollen beyond recognition. As a result, the North Vietnamese gave up on trying to exploit him for propaganda.

On Feb. 12, 1973, Stockdale was released as a POW during Operation Homecoming. Three years later, he received the Medal of Honor for his actions and leadership in captivity. Although his injuries as a POW prevented him from returning to flight status, Stockdale remained in the Navy and made Vice Admiral before retiring in 1979.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Stockdale after his Medal of Honor ceremony (White House)

Today, Stockdale’s exemplary resistance in captivity is used as a model for SERE School students learning the Code of Conduct.

Feature Image: U.S. Navy photo

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Watch the Navy blow up some of its obsolete ships

When most ships are decommissioned, they eventually will head to the scrapyard. Mostly, their fate is to become razor blades.


Others become artificial reefs, providing a tourist attraction for divers and a home for fish. But some vessels escape these fates for a more noble end: They are sunk as targets.

And that’s not new.

Back in the early 1920s, the United States used old battleships as targets to test how well air-dropped bombs could sink ships. In fact, since the end of World War II, ships have been sunk as targets – often to test how well current or new weapons work, or to provide crews with training that is quite realistic in using their anti-surface warfare systems.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard

The 1946 Operation Crossroads was perhaps one of the most dramatic examples. In two tests, the Navy detonated atomic bombs amongst a fleet of obsolete ships, including the Japanese battleship Nagato, the German cruiser Prinz Eugen, and the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV 3). A total of 14 ships sank outright, while the Prinz Eugen sank five months later.

Perhaps the largest ship to be sunk as a target was the aircraft carrier USS America (CV 66). This ship displaced almost 85,000 tons when fully loaded, and had a 31-year career, including service in the Vietnam War, Operation El Dorado Canyon, and Desert Storm.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard

On May 14, 2005, the America was sunk after the testing by controlled scuttling, which included remote systems monitoring the effects of underwater explosions that took place over four weeks.

The video below shows the sinking of a pair of Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates and a Newport-class landing ship. Often smaller systems will be used before they unleash the really powerful missiles – and last, but not least, the torpedoes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPT0isrCIUE
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WWII ‘Ghost Army’ may be up for Congressional Gold Medal

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
National Archives


In the crucial months following the D-Day invasion, the clever foxes of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops repeatedly fooled the Nazis by deploying a Ghost Army; a phantom division of mocked-up tanks, vehicles, and artillery. The artists, actors, designers, and audio-technicians who made up the unit managed to deceive the Nazis on more than 20 occasions.

Now, more than seventy years later, a bipartisan congressional movement seeks to reward the tricksters for their efforts. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) have introduced a bill called “The Ghost Army Gold Medal Act,” according to the Washington Times. “It is finally time that the American people recognize their ingenuity and selflessness which saved countless American and Allied lives,” Mr. King says. “The Ghost Army deserve their due.”

The bill has picked up over 30 co-sponsors in the House, with a companion bill being introduced in the Senate. There are currently surviving “Ghost vets” in 11 states and the District of Columbia. If the Ghost Army is awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, they will be joining other specialized WWII units such as the Monuments Men, the Doolittle Raiders, and the Native American Code-talkers.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
Plate of Peas Production | YouTube

Though the 23rd was made up of only 1,000 men, they were often able to dupe the Nazi army into believing they numbered closer to 30,000. They did this by strategically placing dummy tanks, trucks, and artillery within enemy line of site, while blasting sound effects of heavily armed infantry on giant boom boxes, while could be heard from more than 20km away. This was often enough to distract the enemy long enough for the non-inflatable Allied Army to get into position on the crucial front lines of Normandy to the Rhine River. It’s estimated that these tactics saved tens of thousands of soldiers’ lives.

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
National Archives

The ingenuity of the 23rd wasn’t limited to battlefield theatrics. Actors within the Ghost Army impersonated U.S. general and hi-ranking officers in European towns, brazenly discussing fake military plans over casks of wine and fooling German spies. Architects and set designers even constructed dummy camps and airfields, complete with tents and laundry drying on clotheslines, and fake convoys of empty trucks ferrying back and forth.

Hollywood has taken notice, as well, and a “Ghost Army” film is currently being developed by “American Sniper” actor Bradley Cooper and producer Todd Philips.

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Call it ‘Ma Deuce’ or 50-cal, the Browning M-2 machine gun is one bad mother of a weapon

15 important and surprising differences between the Navy and Coast Guard
The Browning M-2 heavy machine gun has served U.S. soldiers since the 1930s. (Department of Defense photo.)


It’s one of the longest-serving weapons in the U.S. arsenal, packing a punch that few forget whether they are firing the weapon or on the receiving end of its tremendous firepower.

The Browning M-2 .50-caliber heavy machine gun casts a long shadow over U.S. military history – and it holds a special place in the hearts of many soldiers.

Nicknamed “Ma Deuce” by World War II G.I.s, some who have fired the weapon consider it the mother of all machine guns.

“Witnessing the down-range effects of the .50-caliber bullet is an eye-opening experience,” writes Gordon Rottman, author of Browning .50-Caliber Machine Guns.  “There are few who can say they were wounded by a .50-cal. Those hit seldom say much more.”

First conceived during World War I, the Browning M-2 has been in production since 1933. Since then, it’s made history in the hands of some extraordinary fighting men.

A wounded Audie Murphy, one of America’s most decorated soldiers, fired one atop a burning tank destroyer and held off six Panzer tanks and 250 German soldiers for more than hour during a battle in Eastern France, an act of bravery that won him the Medal of Honor.

The long-range firepower of the Ma Deuce combined with its single-shot ability convinced legendary Marine Corps sniper Carlos Hathcock that he had an unusual but effective weapon. In 1967, Hathcock mounted a 10-power scope on an M-2, which he later aimed at a Viet Cong guerilla that he killed 2,500 yards away – a nearly one-and-a-half mile shot that remained the world record for longest sniper kill until 2002.

In 2003, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith climbed on top an armored vehicle and fired the 50-cal at more than 100 enemy soldiers that pinned down his platoon, saving the lives of his men. Killed during the fire fight, Smith received the Medal of Honor posthumously, the first awarded in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The technological terrors of World War I with its use of armor and airplanes convinced American Expeditionary Force commander Gen. John Pershing that the Army needed a heavy machine gun if it was going to keep pace with world militaries. Both the French and British possessed large-caliber machine guns like the Hotchkiss, but during World War I the U.S. inventory of machine guns only fired rifle-sized calibers.

Eventually, American weapons genius John Browning experimented with his existing M1917 .30-caliber machine gun design to develop a heavy machine gun that fired the .50-caliber round. By 1921, the Army adopted an experimental, water-cooled .50-caliber machine gun based on the Browning design that was the “father” of the Ma Deuce.

After Browning’s death, other weapons designers corrected flaws in the M1921 such as its lightweight barrel.  During the 1930s, the Colt Co. took over production of the weapon – but it was still essentially Browning’s original design and it gained the familiar designation of Browning M-2.

The classic configuration of the Ma Deuce is a belt-fed, air-cooled, recoil-operated machine gun. Its size alone makes it look formidable: It is nearly six-feet long and weighs 84 pounds without its tripod, 128 pounds when tripod mounted.

It fires up to 550 rounds per minute, but it can be set to fire single shots. Because of the weapon’s design, the ammo belt can be fed from either the right or left after a few adjustments to the gun.

What’s more, the 50-cal has the potential to let the gunner “reach out and touch someone.” The weapon’s effective range is 6,000 feet, but its maximum range is four miles.

Both the Army and the Navy loved the M-2 and by World War II it was everywhere: Mounted on tanks as a coaxial gun, placed in aircraft to shoot down enemy fighters, mounted on a tripod so GIs and Marines could lay down suppressive and covering fire, and placed on board naval vessels as an anti-aircraft gun.

There was even a holy terror nicknamed “the Kraut Mower,” the M-45 Quadmount. Originally designed as an anti-aircraft weapon, it was four Ma Deuces in an armored housing mounted on a halftrack.

But as the war progressed, innovative soldiers discovered it was a hellishly effective anti-personnel weapon.  For example, if a machine-gun nest or a sniper pinned down Allied troops and the M-45 was nearby, they would have it open fire on the German position.

The barrage of .50-caliber rounds would simply mow down the building or tree and its German threat – hence, the weapon’s nickname.

The Browning M-2 has its weaknesses. If the gun’s barrel overheats a new barrel needs to be installed on the weapon. The gun will malfunction violently if a barrel change is not performed exactly right, and the task was often a finicky and time-consuming job.

M-2 malfunctions caused by improperly performed barrel changes injured dozens of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan before the Pentagon approved adoption of a “quick change” kit in 2012 that allows a barrel replacement without manually resetting the weapon, according to a Department of Defense report for Congress.

Its weight and tendency to vibrate the gunner’s body can make it awkward to use. But it is a powerful weapon that can dominate any tactical situation.

And that’s why the ‘Ma Deuce’ will be on battlefields for years to come.

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