19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now - We Are The Mighty
Articles

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

Countries that border the Pacific are taking part in a massive exercise called “Rim of the Pacific” or “RIMPAC.” Dozens of ships, hundreds of aircraft, and thousands of people are practicing their warfighting skills in RIMPAC.


Military photographers and videographers have been sending out hundreds of excellent photos and videos from the exercise this year, and here are 19 of the best of what they’d captured:

1. Marines and U.S. allies attacked the beaches of Hawaii in a simulated amphibious assault

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
US Marines conduct an amphibious assault during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak)

2. Once the Marines hit the sand, they flooded out of their vehicles and got to work

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
US Marines land on the sands of Hawaii during a joint exercise beach assault with the Japan Self Defense Force. (GIF: US Marine Corps Cpl. Natalie Dillon)

3. Marine attack helicopters flew overhead and provided support to the guys on the ground

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
A Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 367 protects US Marines during a beach assault as part of Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak)

5. Ashore, infantry Marines prepped for the hard fight to the island’s interior

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
US Marines move their mortars forward during a beach assault in Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Casbarro)

6. At training areas past the sand, the Marines practiced assaulting buildings and bunkers

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
US Marines participate in an amphibious assault on Bellows Beach, Hawaii, during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: Royal New Zealand Navy Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn)

7. They even went to firing ranges to practice making stuff blow up

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
US Marines operate in Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii July 20, 2016. (GIF: US Marine Corps Cpl. Isaac Ibarra)

8. Out at sea, the Navy got in the action with a large formation of 40 ships that included some surprising participants …

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Forty ships and submarines sail in close formation during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ace Rheaume)

BTW, if you want to see hundreds of photos of these 40 ships sailing next to each other, just click on this link. Literally hundreds. There are different angles and close-ups on dozens of the ships available.

9. … like the Coast Guard’s USCGC Stratton …

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
USCGC Stratton steams through the Pacific (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ace Rheaume)

10. … and a Chinese hospital ship, the Peace Ark

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
The Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark got in on the action of Pacific Rim. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ace Rheaume)

11. Onboard the Peace Ark, doctors and other medical personnel practiced treating patients and responding to humanitarian crises

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Chinese medical personnel aboard the hospital ship Peace Ark treat simulated injuries during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: Chinese Navy)

12. Another Chinese ship, the multirole frigate Hengshui, fired on targets to display its proficiency

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
The Chinese Navy frigate Hengshui fires its main gun at a towed target during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: Chinese Navy Senior Capt. Liu Wenping)

13. Under the waves, a New Zealand dive unit had to locate an 18-foot shipping container and assist in its recovery

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Photo: New Zealand Defence Force Photographer Petty Officer Chris Weissenborn

14. A Canadian team found and interrogated an underwater wreck during their training

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Canadian divers held their training at an underwater range on July 17, 2016, as part of Rim of the Pacific. (GIF: Canadian Forces Combat Camera Master Corporal Christopher Ward)

15. Forces from four allied countries land on a “captured” beach on a Royal Australian Navy landing craft

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
A Royal Australian Navy landing craft transports Australian, New Zealand, Tongan, and US forces to a Hawaii beach on Jul. 30. (Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. William L. Holdaway)

16. Military vehicles laid down beach matting to prevent other vehicles from slipping on the loose sand. The matting can be laid down in combat to allow tanks and other heavy vehicles to assault towards their objectives quickly

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
An LX-120 front end loader lays down beach matting during Rim of the Pacific 2016. The matting makes it easier for follow-on vehicles to cross the loose sand. (Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. William L. Holdaway)

17. Royal Australian combat engineers cleared the way inland for allied forces by searching out mines and other simulated explosives

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Royal Australian Army Sgt. Connor Chamney syncs his mine calibration equipment Jul. 30. (Photo: US Marine Corps Sgt. William Holdaway)

18. Air Force F-22 Raptors and a tanker aircraft assisted with the exercise, allowing the Air Force to improve its interoperability with the U.S. Navy and foreign militaries

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Three US Air Force F-22 Raptors refuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gregory A. Harden II)

19. The Mexican Navy sent small craft to southern California to practice working with U.S. Navy riverine craft, the small boats that patrol rivers and other tight waterways

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
A Mexican Navy coastal patrol boat practices tactical maneuvers during a mission with the US Navy’s Coastal Riverine Squadron 1 in Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan A. Nelson)

RIMPAC takes place on most even-numbered years and has been held 25 times since 1971. America’s traditional allies in the Pacific usually attend, but some rivals like Russia and China are common guests as well.

Humor

9 ways not to get treated like a complete boot in the infantry

We’ve all heard the term “boot” blurted out at one point or another during our military career. It means that guy who graduated boot camp, completed all their courses in their speciality school, and is now headed off to their very first unit.


In the naïve mind of a boot, the majority think they know everything, what with all that intense training and all.

Wrong!

The truth is, you probably don’t know your elbow from your a-hole, and you’re going to make plenty of dumb mistakes between now and forever.

Related: 7 things you should know before joining the infantry

So check out these tips on how not to be treated like a complete boot while serving in the infantry:

1. Don’t be the biggest smart ass ever

Grunts have some of the darkest humor around, but most times a smart ass boot hasn’t found his place in the squad and can go overboard with their personality real quick.

No one likes a smart ass. (Images via Giphy)

2. Don’t be the biggest “know it all” either

It’s an excellent trait to have a brain sitting in between your ears — just be mindful of when you correct someone in a position of power because you think they may be wrong. It’s all in the approach.

Think it through. (Images via Giphy)

3. Show up to formations on time

If you show up late, someone has to go looking for you, and you could be keeping your platoon from going home on a Friday afternoon. Don’t be that guy sitting in your barracks room playing COD.

Oh, look you’re only an hour late. (Images via Giphy)

4. Take on some extra responsibility

You don’t have to volunteer for everything, just something simple. Oh, and get it right the first time — then every time after that.

 A smart choice now can save you from a terrible voluntold assignment later. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 6 newbie boots you wouldn’t want in your infantry squad

5. Kill it at the range

Grunts love to see their boots hit that target center mass with a well-placed round.

Nailed it! (Images via Giphy)

6. Pay attention to details

It’s the little details that matter. Write that down.

True story. (Images via Giphy)

7. Don’t get a D.U.I.

Don’t do it. Just don’t effing do it.

“I’m not that drunk.” (Images via Giphy)

8. Watch your spending

Don’t go spending all your money on a car with a high-interest rate. The financial creditors will contact your chain of command and dock your check if you fail to make your payments.

Enjoy it while it lasts. (Images via Giphy)

9. Have your uniform squared away

That is all.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Meet you future platoon Corpsman.

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

Articles

5 differences between the Navy and Coast Guard

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
(Photo: USCG)


When people consider joining the military, many times they get confused about the differences between branches, especially when those branches have missions that, at a glance, seem similar. In the case of the Navy and the Coast Guard, they both have boats and airplanes and operate around the water. So how are they different?

Well, here are five major ways:

1. Size

The Navy has a $148 billion budget for Fiscal Year 15. The Navy has around 325,000 active service members and 107,000 reserve service members.

The Coast Guard has a $9.8 billion budget for fiscal year 2015. The Coast Guard has 43,000 active service members and 8,000 reserve service members.  In terms of size, the U.S. Coast Guard by itself is the world’s 12th largest naval force.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

 (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Apprentice Patrick Gearhiser)

2. Assets

The U.S. Navy has 272 deployable combat ships and more than 3,700 aircraft in active service (as of March 2015).

The Coast Guard operates nearly 200 cutters, defined as any vessel more than 65 feet long, and about 1,400 boats, defined as any vessel less than 65 feet long, which generally work near shore and on inland waterways. The service also has approximately 204 fixed and rotary wing aircraft that fly from 24 Coast Guard Air Stations throughout the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

3. Mission

The Navy is a warfighting force governed by Title 10 of the U.S. Code and is part of the Department of Defense. The mission of the U.S. Navy is to maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.

The Coast Guard is a maritime law enforcement and search and rescue entity governed by Title 14 of U.S. Code and is part of the department of homeland security. (Prior to 2004 it was part of the Department of Transportation.) However, under 14 U.S.C. § 3 as amended by section 211 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006, upon the declaration of war and when Congress so directs in the declaration, or when the President directs, the Coast Guard operates under the Department of Defense as a service in the Department of the Navy.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

4. Career

The Navy is organized into eight different warfare communities: Surface, Amphibious, Undersea, Air, Special Operations (SEALS), Expeditionary Warfare (EOD, Construction, Riverine), Cyber Warfare/Information Dominance, and Space.  These communities offer a number of career options for those interested in driving and maintaining ships, airplanes, or submarines or fighting the nation’s bad guys in direct ways.  The Navy also needs doctors and lawyers and supply types as well as a host of other support jobs that are both rewarding in uniform and sought after on the civilian side.

The Coast Guard’s 11 mission areas — ports, waterways, and coastal security; drug interdiction; aids to navigation; search and rescue; living marine resources; marine safety; defense readiness; migrant interdiction; marine environmental protection; ice operations; and other law enforcement — also give myriad career options to those interested in ships (albeit smaller ones) and airplanes.  The main difference is the USCG’s overall mission is not to wage war but to enforce maritime law.  That’s not to say that Coast Guardsmen aren’t ever involved in trigger-pulling – quite the contrary.  In fact, those involved in mission areas like drug interdiction and other law enforcement operations are arguably more likely to use their weapons than the average fleet sailor.

Coast Guard aviation candidates go through the U.S. Navy’s flight school curriculum.  (There have even been two USCG astronauts.)

Despite the fact the Coast Guard falls under DHS, members are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and receive the same pay and allowances as members of the same pay grades in the other four armed services.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

5. Duty stations

The U.S. Navy has bases worldwide and assignments are based primarily on warfare specialty.  For instance, if you’re an aviator you’ll be based at an air station in places like San Diego or Virginia Beach as well as deployed aboard an aircraft carrier that can cruise anywhere around the world the situation demands.

Coast Guard has air stations for helicopter and other aircraft, boat stations for launching small boats, and sectors and districts to coordinate the activities of all those assets. Coast Guard stations are located at intervals along the coast of the continental US-based on the response time for search and rescue missions. Those same units also perform coastal security missions.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Did everyone enjoy their freebies on Veteran’s Day? Congrats! Now enjoy these memes for free!


1. What’s better than getting a bunch of free food on Veteran’s Day?

(via Coast Guard Memes).

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Getting free food while collecting a bunch of Facebook love.

2. Seriously. ‘Merica.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
But remember: If it’s burning but doesn’t shoot a rocket, go see the corpsman.

3. Sorry, F-35. No one cares (via Air Force Nation).

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
We love you, Warthog.

SEE ALSO: The best A-10 memes on the internet

4. Adapt your equipment for your users’ knowledge level (via U.S Army W.T.F! moments).

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
This was probably the work of a bored staff duty runner.

5. It’s not easy to find talented snipers. You gotta take them where you can get them.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Sometimes he shoots birds and sends those humans to fetch them.

6. #InsideThatCounts (via Sh-t My LPO Says)

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
#SafetyFirst

7. Poor Coast Guard (via Coast Guard Memes).

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

8. This last name must be so much fun at each new unit (via Devil Dog Nation).

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
But he will likely be the scariest first sergeant.

9. Those awkward questions your child asks:

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

10. Air Force operators are hardcore (via Air Force Nation).

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Still a nonner.

11. If you wanted good food, you should’ve joined the Air Force (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
It’s kind of shaped like a heart though, so you got that going for ya.

12. Air Force saving Marines in the one event they’re good at.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
If the enemy could combine gunfire and standardized testing, America would fall.

13. “Really, you waited until right now?”

(via Pop Smoke)

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Enjoy your weekend. We’re sure your release formation is right around the corner. Just one more tasking first …

NOW: 7 features that would make military games more realistic

OR: 9 times when troops said what they really felt

Articles

Here’s why NBA ‘badboy’ Dennis Rodman is visiting Pyongyang

Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman said Tuesday that he is “just trying to open a door” by going to North Korea in his first visit since President Donald Trump took office.


Rodman, who has made several trips to the country, sported a black T-shirt advertising a marijuana cybercurrency as he headed toward immigration at Beijing airport, from where he is expected to fly to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

Asked if he had spoken to Trump about his trip, he said, “Well, I’m pretty sure he’s pretty much happy with the fact that I’m over here trying to accomplish something that we both need.”

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

Rodman has received the red-carpet treatment on four past trips since 2013, but has been roundly criticized for visiting during a time of high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over its weapons programs.

His entourage included Joseph Terwilliger, a professor who has accompanied Rodman on previous trips to North Korea.

Rodman said the issue of several Americans currently detained by North Korea is “not my purpose right now.”

In Tokyo, a visiting senior U.S. official said Rodman’s trip is as a private citizen.

“We are aware of his visit. We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters after discussing the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts.

In 2014, Rodman arranged a basketball game with other former NBA players and North Koreans and regaled leader Kim Jong Un with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.” On the same trip, he suggested that an American missionary was at fault for his own imprisonment in North Korea, remarks for which he later apologized.

A foreign ministry official who spoke to The Associated Press in Pyongyang confirmed that Rodman was expected to arrive Tuesday but could not provide details. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the ministry had not issued a formal statement.

Any visit to North Korea by a high-profile American is a political minefield, and Rodman has been criticized for failing to use his influence on leaders who are otherwise isolated diplomatically from the rest of the world.

Americans are regarded as enemies in North Korea because the two countries never signed a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. Thousands of U.S. troops are based in South Korea, and the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.

A statement issued in New York by a Rodman publicist said the former NBA player is in the rare position of being friends with the leaders of both North Korea and the United States. Rodman was a cast member on two seasons of Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Rodman tweeted that his trip was being sponsored by Potcoin, one of a growing number of cybercurrencies used to buy and sell marijuana in state-regulated markets.

North Korea has been hailed by marijuana news outlets and British tabloids as a pothead paradise and maybe even the next Amsterdam of pot tourism. But the claim that marijuana is legal in North Korea is not true: The penal code lists it as a controlled substance in the same category as cocaine and heroin.

Americans have been sentenced to years in North Korean prisons for such seemingly minor offences as stealing a political banner and likely could not expect leniency if the country’s drug laws were violated.

Articles

This is why some Marines wear the ‘French Fourragere,’ and some don’t

You may have noticed a select few Marines and sailors walking around in their uniforms with a green rope wrapped around their left arm — it’s not just for decoration.


That green rope is called a “French Fourragere,” and it was awarded to the members of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments for their heroic actions during the Battle of Belleau Wood from the French government in WWI.

This rite of passage extends to Marines who serve in those respected units today to commemorate their brothers in that historic battle.

The Fourragere is authorized on all service uniforms, and dress coats or jackets where medals or ribbons are prescribed.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

During the bloody summer months of 1918, the Marines and the Germans fiercely fought one another just northwest of the Paris-to-Metz road. For weeks, German Gen. Erich Ludendorff had his troops attack U.S. forces with artillery, machine guns, and deadly gas.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

Although the Marines sustained thousands of casualties during the skirmish, the infantrymen charged their opposition through the wooded area with fixed bayonets.

It’s reported the French urged the Marines to turn back, but the grunts proceeded onward frequently engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.

By June 26, 1918, the war-hardened Marines confirmed that they secured the woods from German forces and took many prisoners.

And the French Fourragere reminds Leathernecks in this storied units of their World War I bravery.

Articles

Paris-based ‘Charlie Hebdo’ magazine has a new cover taunting ISIS

In its new issue, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo reacted to the gruesome attacks that shook Paris on Friday.


The cover depicted a man dancing around, with a bottle of Champagne in one hand and drinking out of a flute while the Champagne poured out of apparent bullet holes in his body. The text surrounding the image says: “They have arms. F— them. We have the Champagne!”

The cover was posted on social media ahead of the magazine’s release on Wednesday by a columnist for Charlie Hebdo, Mathieu Madénian.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Photo: Twitter/@Mathieu Madénian

Last week’s attacks on Paris left at least 129 people dead and hundreds more injured, after a wave of shootings and suicide bombings at restaurants, bars, a concert hall, and a sports stadium. The incidents constituted the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II. The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Charlie Hebdo was itself attacked early this year. On January 7, 12 people were killed in a shooting at Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris. Five others were killed in several related attacks throughout the capital, including a hostage situation at a Kosher market.

The magazine was targeted in part for its often controversial depictions of religious and political leaders, including the Prophet Muhammad.

The two men behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Said and Cherif Kouachi, had been well known to French authorities. Cherif had been jailed before and was reportedly influenced by a radical preacher in France.

Two days after the attack, a top cleric from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was intended as “revenge for the honor” of the Prophet Muhammad.

The slogan, “Je suis Charlie” — French for, “I am Charlie” — became a popular rallying cry across social media after the shootings. After the attacks, hundreds of thousands of people rallied in France and around the world to show their support for the victims and to defend free speech.

This week’s cover is already being shared widely on social media. It embodies a sentiment shared by many Parisians after the attacks: resilience.

Articles

This Army veteran running for Senate assembles an AR-15 blindfolded in a new ad

Army veteran Jason Kander is running for the US Senate to unseat Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and he just dropped an incredibly effective ad pushing back on criticism of his gun rights positions.


He assembles an AR-15 blindfolded while simultaneously talking about his time serving as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan. “I approve this message, because I would like to see Sen. Blunt do this,” he says, holding up the finished rifle, in what is the political equivalent of a mic drop.

Last week, the National Rifle Association released an ad that criticized “liberal Jason Kander” for a 2009 vote against the defensive use of guns. The spot criticized the Democrat as being weak on Second Amendment rights.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Missourians for Kander | YouTube

In response, Kander is seen blindfolded in a new ad released Wednesday, pushing back on that view.

“Sen. Blunt has been attacking me on guns. In Afghanistan, I volunteered to be an extra gun in a convoy of unarmored SUVs,” Kander says. “And in the state legislature, I supported Second Amendment rights. I also believe in background checks so that terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these.”

Brandon Friedman, a former Army officer and CEO of public relations firm McPherson Square Group, told Business Insider the spot was “a masterpiece.”

Still, Kander has an uphill battle in the race. His opponent Roy Blunt scored the endorsement of the influential NRA in April, and he currently leads the challenger by three points, according to the RealClearPolitics average of Missouri’s US senate race.

Watch the ad below:

Articles

Russia’s inflatable arsenal is one of the oldest tricks in the book

The Russian Ministry of Defense has started deploying an old kind of military deception: inflatable weaponry.


The Russian government has a growing supply of inflatable military gear, including tanks, jets, and missile batteries, provided by hot-air balloon company RusBal, as detailed by a report by The New York Times.

Also read: WWII ‘Ghost Army’ may be up for Congressional Gold Medal

A demonstration in a field near Moscow illustrated the ingenuity behind the idea.

The inflatables deploy quickly and break down just as fast. They transport relatively easily, providing targets that may not only draw the enemy’s fire but also affect their decision-making process, burdening a rival’s leadership with the task of verifying targets.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
An inflatable mock-up of a T-72 tank, from the 45th Separate Engineer-Camouflage Regiment of Russia.

“If you study the major battles of history, you see that trickery wins every time,” Aleksei A. Komarov, RusBal’s director of military sales, told The Times. “Nobody ever wins honestly.”

Inflatable weaponry has a history on Europe’s battlefields. Prior to the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944, Gen. George S. Patton was placed in charge of the First US Army Group (FUSAG) — a phantom force housed in cities of empty tents and deployed in vehicles made of wood, fabric, or inflatable rubber.

After Allied forces had a foothold in France, the “Ghost Army,” as it came to be called, continued to serve a purpose, as it was responsible for more than 20 illusions that befuddled German military leadership and disguised actual Allied troop movements in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

Moscow’s modern-day iteration of the inflatable army fits with a distinctly Russian style of subterfuge: Maskirovka, a Russian doctrine that mixes strategic and tactical deception with the aim of distorting an enemy’s conception of reality, bogging down decision-makers at every level with misinformation and confusion.

Maskirovka is a longstanding practice of Russian planners. During the Cold War, maps created for the Russian public were filled with tiny inaccuracies that would make them useless should they fall into the hands of rival military planners. The cartographer who came up with the ruse was given the State Prize by Josef Stalin.

A more recent version of maskirovka was displayed in Ukraine in 2014, when masked or otherwise disguised soldiers showed up in Crimea, and later by other soldiers purportedly “vacationing” in eastern Ukraine.

According to The Times, Russian military leaders were dubious about the inflatable hardware at first, but they appear to have been won over.

“There are no gentlemen’s agreements in war,” Maria Oparina, the director of RusBal and daughter of the founder, told The Times.

“There’s no chivalry anymore. Nobody wears a red uniform. Nobody stands up to get shot at. It’s either you or me, and whoever has the best trick wins.”

Lists

The 6 most-secret units in military history

Secrecy is one of the best currencies in war, so it’s sometimes best for commanders to keep their best assets hidden from the enemy and the public. While the military has admitted that most of the units on this list existed at some point, a lot of their missions were classified for decades before being disclosed to the public. For the units that are still operating, America still only gets glimpses into their secret activities.


1. Task Force 88/Task Force Black

They may or may not be the same group and they may or may not still be in operation. Task Force Black and Task Force 88 are names floating around the media for the unit that conducted raids against terror organizations in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of the wars. The unit was commonly described as being a joint U.S.-U.K. force made up of the best that SEAL Team 6, Delta Force, and the British SAS had to offer. Controversy erupted when they were blamed for a cross-border raid into Syria. There is speculation that Task Force Black may be back in operation to destroy ISIS, if it ever stopped.

2. 6493rd Test Squadron/6594th Test Group

 

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Photo: US Air Force

 

These Air Force units existed from 1958 to 1986 and were tasked with catching “falling stars.” They would fly out of Hawaii and catch film canisters falling from America’s first spy satellites. The satellites, part of the Corona program, orbited the Earth and took photos of Soviet Russia. Then, the satellites would drop their film canisters over the Pacific ocean where these Airmen would try to snatch the canisters out of the air.

The recovery process was surprisingly low-tech. A plane with a large hook beneath its tail would try to catch the canister’s parachute as it fell. When the planes failed to make the grab or the weather was too bad to attempt it, Coast Guard rescue swimmers in the unit would fish the film out of the water. The unit boasted a perfect record with more than 40,000 recoveries in 27 years. When its airmen weren’t snatching film from the air, the unit supported rescue missions near Hawaii. It was credited with 60 saves.

3. Delta Force/Combat Applications Group/Army Compartmented Elements is more well known, but still pretty secret

 

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Photo: Department of Defense

 

Like many of the units on the list, Delta has gone through a few name changes over the years. Formation of an elite counter-terrorism unit had been proposed multiple times in the 1970s and Delta Force is widely believed to have been formed in late 1977. Its operational history got off to a horrible start with the failed Operation Eagle Claw in 1980. Since then, Delta has distinguished itself in combat from the invasion of Panama to the Gulf War to hunting Osama Bin Laden in the Tora Bora Mountains. Since the unit is still operational, many of their missions remain classified.

4. SEAL Team 6/DEVGRU

 

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eddie Harrison

 

SEAL Team 6 specializes in counter terrorism, special reconnaissance, hostage rescue and close protection missions. You’ve probably heard of them, but many of their missions are still secret. Since 9/11, their budget and responsibilities have expanded to where they are now thought to have over 1,800 members, including some women who serve in intelligence roles. Perhaps most famous for both killing Osama Bin Laden and rescuing Captain Phillips from Somali pirates, it has been conducting combat operations since 1981.

READ MORE: 5 key differences between Delta Force and SEAL Team 6

5. 7781 Army Unit/39th Special Forces Operational Detachment

 

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Photo: Bob Charest

Operating in Berlin from 1956 to 1984, this team of green berets went through a few names during their history. They worked to keep West Berlin safe from communist incursions but also prepared to foment resistance if the city was taken over. Trained in classic spy craft skills, they were equipped with Bond-like gadgets such as cigarette-lighter guns and C-4 filled coal.

Master Sgt. Bob Charest, a retired former member of the unit, wrote for WATM about the unit.

6. The OSS

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Photo: US Office of Strategic Services

The Office of Strategic Services was formed in 1942 with the very broad mission of collecting and analyzing strategic information and conducting “special operations not assigned to other agencies.” Since few agencies had special operators in World War II, this gave the OSS a lot of room to run. Under Col. William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the tiny agency conducted raids, smuggled weapons and spies, supported resistance groups in Axis territory, and collected intelligence. The OSS even employed the first “sea, air, and land” commando in U.S. history.

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The cover story that helped the CIA pull off one of the Cold War’s most epic heists

 


With the use of a massive ship and a cover story involving billionaire Howard Hughes, the CIA pulled off one of the most epic heists of the Cold War during the 1970s.

The story begins in 1968, with the sinking of a Soviet submarine. In September of that year, the nuclear-armed K-129 and all of its crew sank 16,500 feet to the bottom of the Pacific ocean. The Soviets conducted an unsuccessful search over the next two months — and that’s where the CIA comes in.

Via PRI:

After the Soviet Navy failed to pinpoint the location of the wreckage, the US Navy found it. So the CIA decided to raise it off the seabed. They called this mission “Project Azorian,” and its details have been an official secret for decades. It took three years for retired CIA employee David Sharp to get permission to publish in 2012 his account of the mission and his role.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
The K-129

Onboard the sub were live nukes, secret documents, electronics, and cryptography equipment that could help the Americans crack Soviet codes, according to Maritime Reporter. But the CIA couldn’t just build a massive recovery ship emblazoned with “US Navy” on its side and get to work in the middle of the Pacific. The Soviets would be very suspicious.

Long before the CIA concocted the fake movie “Argo” to rescue hostages in Iran, it brilliantly bullsh–ted the Soviets with the help of an eccentric billionaire. The agency approached Howard Hughes, and recruited his help in providing the cover story: The ship, called the Glomar Explorer, would be conducting marine research “at extreme ocean depths and mining manganese nodules lying on the sea bottom. The ship would have the requisite stability and power to perform the task at hand,” according to the CIA’s account of the operation.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

The massive 618-foot-long ship took four years to build, and was incredibly complicated. Meanwhile, Hughes was talking up the mining effort in the press, enjoying headlines like “SECRET PLAN: HUGHES TO MINE OCEAN FLOOR.”

While Moscow had no idea what was going on, in August 1974 the Explorer wrapped its mechanical claw around the K-129 and began raising it up from its three-mile depth. Unfortunately, the operation did not go exactly as planned: As it neared 9,000 feet below the surface, the claw failed and a large part of K-129 broke apart and fell, according to PRI. But the CIA still managed to bring up the ship’s bow, with the bodies of six Russian sailors.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now

The CIA could have given it another try (and planned on it) if it had time to build a new claw, except the secret operation was exposed in the press shortly after Hughes’ L.A. headquarters had a break-in. The thieves had stolen a number of secret documents, one of which linked Hughes, Glomar, and the CIA. The Los Angeles Times broke the story in 1975.

There’s are a few interesting post-scripts to the story. The bodies of the Russian sailors were buried at sea in a secret ceremony, video of which was later shared with the Soviets in 1992 as a gesture of goodwill. And the Glomar Explorer was later bought by TransOcean and converted for deepwater oil drilling, though it’s soon headed to the scrapyard after 40 years of service.

But perhaps most famously, the incident highlighted the CIA’s standard “Glomar Response,” an incredible non-answer that has annoyed everyone from average Joes to journalists alike: “We can neither confirm or deny the existence of such an operation.”

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Canadians honor their fallen troops by lining the ‘Highway of Heroes’

When a Canadian soldier is killed in action, the remains are repatriated to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, near Trenton, Ontario, operated by the Royal Canadian Air Forces. From there, they are driven to the coroner’s building in Toronto for examination before being released to the families.


Part of the 401 Highway connecting CFB Trenton and the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto is now called the “Highway of Heroes” in honor of the Canadian Forces who gave their lives to Canada’s military missions. This is also the stretch of road the remains of the fallen take in funeral convoys on the way to Toronto.

The funeral processions are marked by a ceremony at CFB Trenton before the 100 mile drive to the morgue. When this process first started, something extraordinary happened: Canadians spontaneously started to line the route, waving flags and rendering salutes in a grassroots phenomenon to remember their country’s sons and daughters.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
(Flickr Christina Matheson)

Pete Fisher is a photographer who first saw the procession in 2002, when his father tipped him off that four soldiers would be driven that day. He petitioned the government for a formal name change for the stretch of highway. He now has a 185-page book featuring every Canadian soldier whose remains traversed the road.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
The body of Cpl. Steve Martin, a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan, is returned to Canada. Martin, a member of the Canadian Forces, was killed by a roadside bomb in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province. Ontario Provincial Police vehicles lead the procession to the coroner’s office in Toronto. Martin is the 154th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan. (photo by Robert Taylor)

“Each picture means so much,” Fisher told Canada’s CTV News. “All these families were so amazing… In their worst moment of sadness, there they are in these limousines screaming ‘thank you’ to the people on these bridges. But it was reciprocal. The people on these bridges were thanking them.”

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
(Flickr, Christina Matheson)

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
(Creative Commons)

Most recently, Sgt. Andrew Doiron of Moncton, New Brunswick, was repatriated on the Highway. Doiron was a Canadian Forces special forces advisor in Iraq, killed by Kurdish Peshmerga in a friendly fire incident. His death is the first Canadian fatality of the new phase of the Iraq War.

Thousands of people — firefighters, policemen, civilians — line the bridges and overpasses on the stretch of highway waiting for hours to pay tribute to the soldiers and remind the families their grief and sacrifice is not forgotten.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
(Flickr, Robert Taylor)

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
(flickr, Robert Taylor)

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
(Creative Commons)

Every. Single. One.

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A brief history of the Berlin Wall, “the monument to Communist failure”

As of 2015 the Berlin Wall has been down almost as long as it stood separating the German people. The wall built by the Communist German Democratic Republic (GDR – better known as East Germany) around the Western sectors of Berlin became a longstanding symbol of the divide between Western Capitalism and Eastern Communism during the Cold War. In the 28 years it stood, no place on Earth was so central to world events as Berlin and the reason for that is the Berlin Wall. Twenty-six years after its fall, it’s worth a look to see the how Cold War history played out surrounding such a central, divisive symbol.


After World War II, West Germany was occupied by France, England, and the United States, East Germany was occupied by the Soviet Union. Berlin, despite being deep in Soviet-occupied territory, was also partitioned in a similar way. After the Berlin Airlift ended a Soviet blockade — really an attempt to push the West out of Berlin through economic strangulation — fears of further drifts toward a full Communist state in the East prompted many to emigrate to West Germany in exponential numbers. These were mostly young, well-educated Germans whose flight became known as a “Brain Drain” of East German intelligentsia and workers. Only 61% of the East’s working age population remained. Something had to be done and what better way to make people want to stay in your country than by walling them in and threatening them with constant torture and execution?

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Memorial crosses of those killed by East Germany while trying to cross to West Germany

The borders around West Berlin were closed on August 13, 1961 as the Soviets tore up the streets, erected fences, and placed barbed wire. Families were suddenly split, jobs were lost and the United States had no official response. The U.S. didn’t actually think there was valid reason for its permanent erection. Then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, “The Wall certainly ought not to be a permanent feature of the European landscape. I see no reason why the Soviet Union should think it is—it is to their advantage in any way to leave there that monument to Communist failure.”

Erected in 1961, it was called the “Anti-Fascist Protective Wall” by the GDR, who placed rows of barbed wire a guard towers along the wall. It would soon become a symbol for the corruption and lack of freedom for those living in the Soviet Union-dominated Eastern Bloc, as the world recognized it as a true “Iron Curtain,” a means to keep East Germans from getting to West German freedom, instead of keeping West Germans out of the East Germany. It would be upgraded three times after its construction.

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Robert Kennedy and Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt at the Berlin Wall

President Kennedy denounced its construction and appointed retired Army General Lucius D. Clay as Ambassador. Clay was the mastermind of the Berlin Airlift, former military governor of American-controlled Germany, nicknamed “the Kaiser” and was wildly popular with Berliners. Following Kennedy’s order to reinforce the Allied defenders of West Berlin, Clay ordered 1,500 men with vehicles and trailers from West Germany, through East Germany to West Berlin, where they were met by Clay and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson as a show of strength and a reassertion of the Allies’ access to Berlin.

In June, 1963, President Kennedy visited the Berlin for the first time with General Clay to reaffirm the U.S. dedication of support for West Germany and to remind the Soviet Union of that support.

Hundreds of East German died trying to get to freedom on the other side of the wall, thousands were successful in defecting across the wall. They would dig tunnels below the wall, flying hot air balloons, through the sewers, or just driving cars at max speed through weaker sections. One East German guard even drove his tank through the wall to defect. Western guards were not able to help defectors until they were on the Western side of the wall.

In 1988, the year before the Berlin Wall fell, Bruce Springsteen played the Berlin Wall in a concert organized by East German Communist authorities in an attempt to pacify East German youth. Communist authorities saw rock music as a “nefarious cultural weapon” (and for much of the music of the 1980’s, that assertion isn’t far off), so the concert was a surprising shockk to much of the world, most of all East Germans. Springsteen didn’t miss the importance of the event. After playing Born in the U.S.A. in front of 300,000 East Germans, he delivered a short speech in German:

“I’m not here for any government,” he began. “I’ve come to play rock and roll for you in the hope that one day, all the barriers will be torn down.”

19 awesome images of the massive RIMPAC exercise going on right now
Springsteen in East Germany (wikimedia commons)

The crowd went wild. Sixteen months later, on November 9, 1989, the government of the German Democratic Republic, better known as East Germany, announced Germans living in the East would then be free to visit West Germany and West Berlin. That day, East and West Germans crowded the Berlin Wall, and systematically chipped away and demolished it.

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