The fascinating story behind the military's use of the 21-gun salute - We Are The Mighty
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The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

Becky R. asks: Why do they use 21 guns in the 21 gun salute?


The 21-gun salute that we know today has its roots in the ancient tradition of warriors demonstrating their peaceful intentions by resting the point of their weapons on the ground.

The notion of making a soldier’s weapons useless to show that he came in peace continued even as warfare changed over the centuries. Gunpowder and cannons became commonplace among militaries and private forces, both on land and at sea around the 14th century. In order for a ship entering a foreign port to show those on shore that they came in peace, the captain would have his crew fire the guns. This rendered the weapons inoperable for a period of time, with early guns only being capable of firing a single shot before crews needed to reload them.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

Traditionally when a British ship entered into a foreign port, it would fire its guns seven times. The reason for the seven shots is widely debated to this day. One theory states that the majority of the British ships at this point only carried seven guns and so firing seven shots became the standard to signal those on shore that the ship was now unarmed. Ships carried enough gunpowder and ammunition to reload multiple times, but beyond symbolism, the idea here was that the lengthy process of reloading would allow the soldiers onshore more than enough time to disable the ship with their own weapons if needs be.

Another proposed theory for the number seven relates to the Bible. After creating the world, the Bible states that God rested on the seventh day (or for the seventh “event”- there is some debate over the “day” vs. “event” translation). So it has been theorized that the number could have been chosen in reference to its Biblical significance, perhaps of resting with the ship coming to port after a long journey. Yet another theory stems from the pervasive superstitious nature of sailors combined with the historic notion in certain regions that the number 7 is sacred, and that odd numbers are lucky and even unlucky. In fact, for a time it was common to use an even number of shots to signify the death of a ship captain when returning from the voyage the death occurred on.

Whatever the underlying reason, the guns onshore would return fire as a form of welcome once the incoming ship finished firing the seven rounds. However, the shore bound guns fired three rounds for every one fired by the incoming ships, putting the total number of shots fired at twenty-one in these cases. As with the “7” number, it’s not known precisely why in the regions that used this number scheme that they chose a 3 to 1 ratio.  What is known is that as time went on where this was practiced, it became traditional for the ships themselves to start firing off 21 shots as well, perhaps due to the ships becoming larger and being equipped with more guns, with the captains ostensibly preferring a 1 to 1 salute.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Oscar L Olive IV

This then brings us to when firing the 21 shots became considered a type of official salute, rather than a symbolic way to indicate peaceful intentions.  This seems to have started around 1730 when it became a recognized salute to British government officials. Specifically, the British Navy allowed its ships and captains the option to perform the 21-gun salute as a way to honor members of the British Royal Family during select anniversaries. About eighty years later, in 1808, the 21-gun salute officially became the standard salute to honor British Royalty.

While the British Navy adopted the 21-gun salute in 1808 as the standard, other nations, such as the United States, didn’t adopt it until much later. In fact, the United States War Department decided in 1810 to define the “national salute” as having the same number of shots as there were states in the nation. That number grew every year that a new state joined the Union.  Needless to say, this quickly became a cumbersome way to salute the United States and its dignitaries.

That said, the United States did make the “Presidential Salute” a 21-gun salute in 1842, and in 1890 officially accepted the 21-gun salute as the “national salute.” This followed the 1875 British proposal to the United States of a “Gun for Gun Salute” of 21-guns to honor visiting dignitaries.  Essentially, the British and French, among other nations, at this point were all using 21 guns for their salutes, but the U.S. system required many more shots for their dignitaries.  Besides needing to fire off more cannons, this also potentially signified greater honor to the U.S. dignitaries than to those of other nations. Thus, the British proposed a 1 for 1 shot, with 21 being the number, which was accepted by the U.S. on August 18, 1875.

The 21-gun salute still represents a significant honor today. In the United States, the 21-gun salute occurs to honor a President, former president, or the head of foreign state. It can also be fired in order to honor the United States Flag. The salute also occurs at noon on the day of the funeral of a President, former President, or President-elect along with on Memorial Day.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Navy

You may have noticed that there’s no mention of the 21-gun salute occurring during military funerals and that’s a common misconception. Known as the “3 Volleys,” the salute that occurs during soldiers’ funerals follows a battlefield tradition where both sides stopped fighting so that they could remove their dead from the field. The series of three shots, or volleys, let the other side know that the dead had been taken care of and that that battle could resume. Therefore the number of volleys is more important than the actual number of shots. Even the United States Army Manuel’s section on the Ceremonial Firing Party at a funeral named the number of riflemen as between five and eight, rather than an exact number.

Bonus Facts:

  • When ships were engaged in battle during the 14th century, the common practice was that the captured or defeated ship needed to expend all of its ammunition in order to make it helpless in the presence of the other ship and signify surrender.
  • A 62-gun salute was fired upon the birth of Prince George of England. The 21-gun salute was increased to 41-guns because the guns were fired from a royal park or residence and an additional 21-guns were added in order to pay respect to the city of London.

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This article originally appeared at Today I Found Out. Copyright 2015. Like Today I Found Out on Facebook.

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You can buy the home of legendary Marine Gen. ‘Chesty’ Puller

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute


The home of one of the most legendary U.S. Marines ever is up for sale in Virginia.

The former residence of Lt. Gen. Lewis B. Puller — known affectionately as “Chesty” since he was awarded five Navy Crosses, among other military awards — was listed for sale in June for $395,000. It was last sold in Feb. 2007 for $315,000.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

Puller’s 2,253 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath home is located at 732 Gloucester Rd., Saluda, Virginia. It sits on a 3.37 acre lot.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

Born in 1898, Puller joined the Marine Corps in 1918 and went on to serve for 37 years, seeing combat in Haiti, Nicaragua, World War II, and Korea. He died in Virginia in 1971, and still remains the only Marine to ever be awarded five Navy Crosses. (Puller is buried just a few miles away from the home in Christ Church Parish Cemetery).

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

Here’s the realtor’s description, via Zillow:

Own a piece of history- the cherished home of Lieutenant General Lewis B.Chesty Puller who was one of the most decorated Marines to ever serve in the Corps. He was the only Marine to win the Navy Cross five times for heroism and gallantry in combat. State Route 33 which is the major dual lane highway through Middlesex County is named in his honor- Lewis B. Puller Memorial Highway.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

 

You can see more photos here.

NOW: See what life is like for the US Marine Infantry

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22 photos inside ‘Dustoff’ — the Army’s life-saving medevac crews

Army soldiers count on the elite medics assigned to air ambulance crews to pull them out of combat when they are wounded. These crews, called, “Dustoff,” fly unarmed choppers into combat and provide medical care to patients en route to US field hospitals. This air medical evacuation saves lives and bolsters the confidence of soldiers in the field.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Army Sgt. Travis Zielinski


When the terrain is too rough for even a helicopter to land, hoists are used to lower medics or raise patients.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Rasheen A. Douglas

US Army Dustoff crews typically consist of a pilot, copilot, flight medic, and crew chief. Some teams, especially those on the newer UH-72A aircraft, will have a firefighter/paramedic in place of the crew chief unless a hoist operation is expected.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Department of Defense

Flight medics will train other soldiers on how to properly transfer patients to a medevac helicopter.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Ashley Moreno

When possible, the crew chief or flight medic will leave the bird to approach the patient, taking over care and supervising the move to the chopper.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Reed

This training is sometimes done with foreign militaries to ensure that, should the need arise in combat, the US and other militaries will be able to move patients together. Here, Republic of Korea soldiers train with US medics.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Lou Rosales

Medics going down on a hoist are supported by the crew chief, an aviation soldier who maintains the aircraft and specializes in the equipment on the bird.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Army National Guard Sgt. Harley Jelis

Of course, not all injuries happen during calm weather in sunny climes. Medevac soldiers train to perform their job in harsh weather.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: U.S. Army

The crews also train to rescue wounded soldiers at any hour, day or night.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Department of Defense

Some medevac pilots even train to land on ships for when that is the closest or best equipped hospital to treat a patient.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Department of Defense

Dustoff crews also care for service members who aren’t human. The most common of these patients are the military working dogs.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Army

The Dustoff helicopters are launched when a “nine line” is called. When this specially formatted radio call goes out, medevac crews sprint to ready the choppers and take off.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Marine Corps

The medevac is eagerly awaited by the troops on the ground who request it.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Navy HMC Josh Ives

The flight medics can provide a lot of care even as they move a casualty in the air. Most patients will get a saline lock or an intravenous drip to replace fluids.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Marine Corps Cpl. Paul Peterson

Flight medics have to deal with turbulence, loud noises, and possible attacks from the ground while they treat their patients.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Army

Another challenge flight medics often face is providing treatment in low light or no light conditions.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Department of Defense

No light conditions require the use of NVGs, or night vision goggles.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Army Sgt. Duncan Brennan

Medical evacuation helicopters also face challenges while picking up their patients. The tactical situation can be dangerous where these birds operate.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Department of Defense

Ground soldiers have to secure the landing zone.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Justin M. Mason

When the medevac bird returns to the base, the casualty is rushed into the hospital so they can be treated.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

If a soldier’s injuries are severe enough, they’ll be stabilized and prepped again for transport to hospitals outside of the deployment zone.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Department of Defense

The mission of those under the Dustoff call sign can be challenging, but it provides great comfort to the troops on the ground.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Georgian Army National Guard Maj. Will Cox

 

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This is what a Mk 38 Bushmaster can do to an Iranian speedboat

You’ve probably followed the reports of how Iranian speedboats have harassed U.S. Navy vessels. Frustrating, aren’t they? Well, think about it this way… we’ve been “showing restraint.”


The thing is, those speedboats are not really Iranian Navy. Instead, they belong to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy. These speedboats, which are often equipped with heavy machine guns, rockets, and other weapons, got a reputation for attacking merchant traffic in the Iran-Iraq War. Back then, they were called “Boghammars” after the Swedish company that built the first boats used by the Iranians.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

Today, their primary threat to an American warship could be as a suicide craft. That said, American ships have options to address these craft. Two of the most prominent are the Mk 38 Mod 2 Bushmaster and the M2 heavy machine gun. The M2 is a legend. It’s been used on everything from tanks to aircraft to ships, and against just about every target you can imagine.

Now, the Mk 38 Mod 2 Bushmaster is not as well-known. That said, it’s been in quite common use. It got its start on the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, where the Army calls it the M242.

It needs a lot of luck to kill a tank, but it can bust up other infantry fighting vehicles, trucks, groups of infantry, even helicopters and aircraft. The Bushmaster made its way to the Marine Corps LAV-25.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
A Task Force Liberty Soldier from 3rd Infantry Division stands guard in an M3A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle near an Iraqi police checkpoint in Tikrit, Iraq. The Bradley main armament is the M242 25mm (Bushmaster) Chain Gun. The standard rate of fire is 200 rounds per minute, and has a range of 2,000 meters making it capable of defeating the majority of armored including some main battle tanks. (DOD photo)

The Navy put the Bushmaster on ships, and it comprises the main armament of the Cyclone-class patrol craft. Each Cyclone has two of these guns, one of which is paired with a Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher. The guns are also used on other surface combatants as well. The guns can do a lot of damage.

You can see the Mk 38 and the M2 go to work on a speedboat in the video below. One almost an imagine that the Iranian speedboat crews may be asking themselves the question that Harry Callahan told a bank robber to ask himself: “Do I feel lucky?”

Well, do they?

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This program helps turn troops into teachers

Troops to Teachers, a Department of Defense funded program, has been working to help service members transition to careers in education since 1993. The program is part of the Defense-Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support, or “DANTES,” which assists service members in acquiring degrees or certifications (or both), during and after their obligated service.


Through DANTES, service members can apply for scholarships, grants, loans, and tuition assistance, as well as get help understanding their VA education benefits.

Eligible DANTES users who utilize the Troops to Teachers program may qualify for additional funding — up to a $5,000 stipend or a $10,000 bonus.

Stipends may be used to pay for certifications, classes, or teaching license fees. Bonuses are awarded to those who’ve already completed their education and received certification and licensure; they are designed to be an incentive for teaching in high need or certain eligible schools.

“High need schools”, according to TTT, are schools in areas where 50 percent of the elementary or middle school or 40 percent of the high school receives free or reduced lunch. “Eligible” schools will have at least 30 percent of its students receiving free or reduced lunch, have an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 13 percent or more, or be a Bureau of Indian Affairs funded school.

Service members awarded stipends or bonuses must either agree to teach full time in an eligible or high need school for three years, or must commit an additional three years to the military.

The Troops to Teachers program has several goals:

  • Reduce veteran unemployment.
  • Improve American education by providing motivated, experienced, and dedicated personnel for the nation’s classrooms.
  • Increase the number of male and minority teachers in today’s classrooms.
  • Address teacher shortage issues in K-12 schools that serve low-income families and in the critical subjects – math, science, special education, foreign language, and career-technical education.

TTT actively recruits service members from its program to teach in Native American “school[s] residing on or near a designated reservation, nation, village, Rancheria, pueblo, or community with a high population of indigenous students.”

In addition to financial assistance and job placement, TTT offers support to its participants through counseling and mentorship programs.

To date, TTT has awarded over $325,000 in stipends, nearly $2.5 million in bonuses, and helped place over 20,000 veterans into jobs.

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4 military disguises that were just crazy enough to actually work

1. That time French soldiers hid inside papier-mâché horse carcasses

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute


Looking back, trench warfare has to be one of the most insane methods of warfare ever carried out. Between the torrential mud, staggering levels of trench foot, and other diseases that ran rampant, it’s a wonder that everyone didn’t just give up and get the hell out of the ground.

But World War I was still, in some respects, a gentleman’s war. And gentlemen don’t let mud get them down. Gentlemen also don’t complain about their lack of protective cover — at least not if you’re France. While other platoons were bemoaning the crumbling, barren landscape that made up infamous “No Man’s Land” — a stretch of charred earth, tangled barbed wire and broken bodies between opposing trenches — a few French soldiers set up camp right in the middle of it.

They weren’t alone, though. They were using a very special kind of shelter … the hooved kind. Don’t worry, no one was actually crawling inside of dead horse bodies to hide from enemy artillery fire. Though a dead horse is what started this whole thing.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Maybe it was this one

Horses were a huge part of combat in WWI. They pulled ambulances, carried soldiers into cavalry charges, and were the primary means of transporting weapons, ammunition and food supplies for each nation involved. They were also large, bulky and loud, making them primary targets for enemy scopes.

This, as you can imagine, left a lot of dead horses everywhere. Eventually, someone searching for shelter in No Man’s Land probably cuddled up next to one in what he thought were his final moments, only to realize that this decaying Seabiscuit actually made for a pretty awesome barrier.

Enter France’s big idea: hollow, papier-mâché horses large enough for a man to crawl inside and aim his gun through.

Once night fell, the French drug away the dead horses that lay right in front of the German trenches and replaced them with the dummies. Then they ran a telephone wire from inside the horse back to the French trenches, so the sniper who would hide inside the horse would be able to report back on German movements.

This worked for a few days. Then a German soldier spotted a French sniper climbing out of one of the dead horses, and the jig was up. The method quickly became popular though, and “dummy horses” would appear on battlefields throughout Europe for the duration of the war.

2. The sailors who cross-dressed and pretended their warship was a cruise liner

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

World War II had its share of out-of-the-box camouflage as well. While a Dutch warship was busy disguising itself as an island to hide from Japanese bombers, the British fleet was brainstorming its own method of deception.

German U-boats were becoming more and more of a problem for the Allied merchant fleet. With little means of fighting back, the small ships were sitting ducks for the German watercraft, who could pluck them off easily with their superior weapons and speed. This gave England an idea: if the King’s warships disguised themselves as merchant boats, they could lure them into an ambush, destroying the German U-boats and the submarines that surfaced alongside them during their attacks.

But England wasn’t about to do this deception halfway. If they were going to pull this off, their disguise would have to be elaborate, reflective of the other (hijinks) they had pulled off earlier in the war. So the sailors got creative, and boy did they deliver.

Not only did the British officers don civilian costumes, some dressed in drag, pretending to be ladies sunning themselves on the deck of a cruise liner. When the Germans looked through their periscopes to take in the ship, they would see men and “women” flirting aboard a civilian ocean liner, walking around the deck and taking in the views over the rail.

They would also have to act the part. When a German U-boat was spotted, some ships went as far as pretending to panic, running around the deck and tripping over themselves for the benefit of the German’s view. There are even accounts of sailors haphazardly deploying their lifeboats and “accidentally” leaving one of their own behind, then scrambling to retrieve them as the unlucky “civilian” screamed for help.

The ship, of course, was actually outfitted with plenty of hidden weapons. When the U-boats would close in, the ruse would be over, and they would destroy the enemy ships and submarines as they began to close in.

3. The German soldier who hid inside of a fake tree

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

Man-sized horse piñatas weren’t the only thing soldiers were hiding inside of during WWI. In 1917, a platoon of German soldiers in Belgium needed to find a way to gain visibility through a small patch of dead trees that blocked their view of the Allies on the other side.

The cluster of dry wood was optimistically named the Oosttaverne Wood, one of the last clumps of nature left in the battlegrounds near Messines. It actually looked like a bunch post-apacolyptic metal posts, which gave the Germans an idea. They couldn’t send a sniper in to hide amongst the trees because there weren’t enough branches to cover him, but they could send them inside their own tree.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

A plan was set into motion. The Germans would build a 25-foot-tall tree out of steel pipe, painting it so it looked like it had bark. Then a solider would hide inside, using a small hidden window to spy on the British forces in what was probably one of the most cramped snipers’ nests ever.

Just like the French horse-creators did, the Germans waited until nightfall to get things moving. With artillery fire ringing out to disguise the sounds of sawing and chopping wood, they cut down the real tree and set up their new steel lookout, hoping it wouldn’t draw any unwanted attention.

It didn’t. For several months the Germans were able to spy from their wartime treehouse, with the tree-spy crawling out of his post under cover of darkness each evening to report on his findings. It wasn’t until the British tunneled under the German lines and destroyed their trenches from the ground up in the Battle of Messines  that the tree was abandoned. Once they had captured the trenches, the British lived and worked alongside the fake tree for several months before discovering it was a fake. The steel tree can now be found in The Australian War Memorial.

4. Israeli special forces used fake boobs to trick the PLO

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Wonder where they got the idea from… (Photo: Variety)

Thus far, all of our disguise contenders have been relatively believable. When you have shells exploding next to your trench and artillery fire screaming in your ears, you’re probably not going to spend much time debating the validity of a slightly iron-looking tree, or a particularly limp dead horse. No one has time for that kind of daydream. And even though the cross-dressing sailors were doubly ridiculous, they had the advantage of distance from enemy scopes.

This story, however, is just plain insane. In 1973, a group of Israeli special forces commandos entered Beirut on a mission to take out three key leaders of the [Palestine Liberation Organization] who were responsible for the Munich massacre of the 1972 Olympics. The mission, dubbed “The Spring of Youth,” was incredibly risky, and the operatives knew that some deception would be in order if they were to get in and out of the area safely.

So, the Israeli commandos did the logical thing — they dressed up as women. Besides being confident in their ability to infiltrate the PLO, they were also apparently confident that their enemies had never seen a woman before. Or that they could really rock a pair of heels, who knows.

With wigs, fake boobs and matching shoes all in place, the muscled members of the Israeli special forces strolled down the street on the arms of other members of their secret group, who were normally-dressed men.

The fake couples were able to pass right by bodyguards and police without inciting any suspicions, and the hidden team was able to walk up to the apartment building of the PLO leaders and wait right outside their doors. Once safely inside, the men and “women” burst through the doors and pulled out their hidden guns and explosives, shooting and killing the stunned PLO members and avenging the deaths of their murdered countrymen.

The story gets even crazier from here. One of the femme fatales who carried out the high stakes mission was Ehud Barak, who would eventually serve as Prime Minister of Israel and currently serves as Defense Minister. Just goes to show you that dressing in drag could help you make it to the top.

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‘Timbuktu’ Is One Of The Most Important Movies Ever Made About Terrorism

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Youtube/screenshot


Violent jihadism as a governing ideology has been a significant feature of the global scene for nearly two decades.

There are certainly differences between say, the nature Al Shabaab’s control over Somalia in the early 2010s, the Taliban state’s governance of Afghanistan from 1996 until the US-led invasion in 2001, and ISIS’s “caliphate” in the present day.

But militant groups spurred by a combination of religious radicalism, violent disenchantment with the existing state system, revisionist philosophies of Islamic history, and a rejection of secularism and Enlightenment value systems have morphed into territorial political units with alarming frequency in recent years.

One such instance was in Mali in early 2012, when jihadists piggybacked on a long-simmering Tuareg autonomy movement — itself empowered by the collapse of Mali’s government in the wake of a shocking military coup — in order to take control of several population centers in Mali’s desert north. Among them was Timbuktu, a legendary center of trade and Islamic scholarship.

The jihadist occupation of Timbuktu was brutal but thankfully brief: In early 2013, a French-led coalition liberated the city after 10 months of militant control. Now, the rule of Al Qaeda-allied militants over the city is the topic of what might be the important movie of the past year.

The hypnotic and visually overwhelming “Timbuktu,” the work of Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako and an Oscar nominee for best foreign language film, is an intimate and terrifying inquiry into one of the defining authoritarian ideologies of the 21st century, as told from the perspective of the people who are actually suffering under its yoke. (The film is currently playing in New York and LA and will open in various other US cities in February and March.)

US movie audiences have usually met jihadists through the lenses of American sniper rifles, or lying prone in front of CIA interrogators. “Timbuktu” is hardly the only movie that’s portrayed them as political and social actors. “Osama,” a multi-national production about a girl living in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan that won the 2004 Golden Globe award for best foreign-language film, and Iranian director Moshen Makhmalbaf’s highly regarded “Kandahar,” about a Afghan woman who sneaks into Taliban Afghanistan to try to stop her sister from committing suicide, succeed in giving viewers a first-hand look at the societies that jihadists create and the horrors this visits upon the people trapped in them.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Photo: Youtube/screenshot

In the wake of ISIS’s takeover of a Belgium-sized slice of the Middle East, “Timbuktu” has more immediate resonance than either of those films. The movie opens with a pickup truck of fighters flying a black flag nearly identical to ISIS’s. As the opening credits roll, the fighters eviscerate a row of traditional figurines in a hail of machine-gun fire.

But the firmest sign that jihadist rule is something external, alien, and deeply unwanted comes in the next scene, when gun-toting fighters enter a mud-brick mosque without taking their shoes off. They tell the imam that they have come to wage jihad. The imam replies that in Timbuktu, people wage jihad (which has the double meaning of spiritual reflection and self-purification, in addition to earthly holy war) with their minds and not with guns.

The next hour and a half is a grisly survey of what happened when this 1400-year-old precedent was inverted.

The jihadists ban music — one of the most celebrated aspects of Malian culture — and then whip violators in public. They ban soccer, and then break up a group of children miming a game in silent protest. The jihadists speak a smattering of local languages and broken Arabic; their leader bans smoking only to sneak cigarettes under the cover of the town’s surrounding sand dunes.

In one of the more illustrative scenes, a female fish seller is told by one jihadist that women can no longer appear in public without wearing gloves. She explains to him that she can’t work unless she’s barehanded and then dares the fighter to cut her hands off on the spot.

In “Timbuktu,” the jihadists are power-tripping, thuggish and hypocritical. They are in the city to create a totally new kind of society and revel in their own insensitivity to local concerns.

But crucially they are not entirely outsiders, and some of the film’s most affecting scenes involve a Tuareg who joins with the jihadists occupying the town, a reminder that there are local dynamics at play. Just as importantly, the film hints at the context of state collapse and social chaos that allowed the jihadists to take over in the first place.

The movie’s primary narrative follows a Tuareg herder who accidentally kills a fisherman from a different ethnic group during an argument over his cows’ access to drinking water along a disputed riverbank. The film’s central conflict encapsulates the unresolved questions of ethnicity and resources that kept northern Mali in a state of crisis that the jihadists later exploited.

The herder’s treatment at the hands of Timbuktu’s new overlords depicts the imposition of an an outside ideology. But the killing is itself is a pointed example of how social turmoil can feed into a violent, totalitarian mania seemingly without warning. It harkens back to ISIS’s swift takeover of Iraq this past summer, a national-level instance of the dynamics that “Timbuktu” manages to boil down to an intimate, dramatic scale.

“Timbuktu” has a happy ending. Even if it isn’t part of the movie, the city was eventually liberated from jihadist control. The film depicts a now-extinct regime.

But the nightmare of “Timbuktu” is far from over. The liberation of the areas that ISIS rules will come at some indeterminate future date, and parts of Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria are still under the control of extremists whose ideologies are not categorically different from what appears in the film.

“Timbuktu” is maybe the best cinematic depiction ever made of what millions of people around the world are suffering through.

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This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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Here is the video of MOAB’s combat debut

The Department of Defense has released video of the combat debut of the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb.


FoxNews.com reported that the April 13 air strike which killed 36 members of the Afghanistan-based affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also called ISIS-K or the Khorasan Group, targeted a cave and tunnel system in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. Heavy fighting between Afghan government forces and the terrorist group has been reported, and local residents were eager to see more bombings.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
The GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB, moments before it detonates during a test on March 11, 2013. On April 13, 2017, it was used in combat for the first time. (USAF photo)

“I want 100 times more bombings on this group,” Hakim Khan told FoxNews.com.

On April 8, a Green Beret died of wounds suffered in a firefight with ISIS in that province. Pentagon officials denied that the use of MOAB was in retaliation for the loss.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using [improvised bombs], bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan said in a Department of Defense release. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
A U.S. Air Force MC-130H Combat Talon II from the 1st Special Operations Squadron flies over Kadena Air Base, Japan, shortly after takeoff May 14, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stephen G. Eigel)

The GBU-43 is a 21,700-pound bomb that uses GPS guidance to hit its target with over 18,000 pounds of high explosive. The bomb replaced the BLU-82, a 15,000-pound bomb used since the Vietnam War. Both bombs are dropped from the back of MC-130 cargo planes modified for use by Special Operations Forces.

Below is the 30-second video of MOAB’s combat debut.

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This is the new body armor soldiers are getting in a few years

Plastic may sound like a terrible idea for stopping bullets and shrapnel, but this plastic is lightweight, modular, and affords all the same protection of current gear. The Army’s Program Executive Officer (PEO) Soldier, the office responsible for cost and scheduling in DoD acquisitions for soldiers’ equipment and protective gear, has been field testing armor weighing only 23 pounds. This new lightweight armor is known as the Torso and Extremities Protection System and is 25 percent lighter that current body armor.


The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Image from PEO Soldier

The key is Polyethylene. The plastic is also replacing kevlar in soldiers’ personal protective armor and in replacing helmets. Furthermore, manufacturers of ceramic plates are also refining the process of making the plates, which will drive the weight down even more.

“The Army is constantly trying to make soldiers’ loads lighter,” Lt. Col. Kathy Brown told Stars and Stripes. Brown is a program manager for Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment at Program Executive Office Soldier. “We are looking at further developing the system,” she said. “We think we can lose more weight.”

The new armor will cost less to produce and will allow troops to wear more or less armor, depending on mission risk and requirements. The new flexibility also offers the wearer increased mobility. For missions with less risk involved, soldiers can wear a “ballistic combat shirt,” a soft armor which protects the upper back, check, neck, and arms under their jackets. Ceramic plates can be added for increased protection.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

The new armor has been field tested at Army and Marine Corps units across the U.S. for the last two years and has received a 95 percent positive feedback rating from troops who tested it. In addition, the Army tried to take into account all the previous efforts to make armor more comfortable for female wearers. So this armor is designed to be unisex and all-encompassing for both male and female soldiers.

The new armor is expected to be available for Army-wide soldier use in 2019.

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‘Squad’ drops you right back into anti-terror combat (in a good way)

“Squad” is a super-realistic modern shooter that pits large teams of players, up to 50 on each side, in combat using modern weapons, vehicles, and battlefields. Most importantly, the game features such realism that modern tactics are necessary to win.


Players in the game are broken down by squad and can opt to fill roles from squad leader to medic to rifleman.

These squads move forward under the command of their leader in what quickly becomes a tense, suspense-filled match. Every player can die from just a round or two hitting them center mass, making it super important that players spot their enemy first.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

This makes the long movements over the sprawling maps stressful in the best way. The point man needs to stay super alert while the squad moves in a wedge behind him. Crossing linear danger areas like roads and rivers in a tactical manner can save the team from detection and destruction.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

In short, If you learned it in basic training, it’s probably important in “Squad.”

All this realism makes every decision feel important and heavy. Selfish glory hogs are quickly outed in the game as leaving a blocking position or moving away from overwatch can doom the rest of the team, no matter how many kills the hero gets.

This makes it easy to tell a veteran from a newb despite how simple the controls are. Veterans carefully position themselves in areas of cover or concealment and assault through dead space to hide their approach while new or unskilled players quickly die because they’re trying to defend a point on the map from an exposed position.

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute

Vets make sure to work as a team, frequently talking to each other in the in-game voice chat that actually works similar to a radio network. There are separate channels for speaking within the squad or within the platoon as a whole. Hot keys allow players to quickly choose whether they’re speaking on the squad or platoon net.

The game is still in Alpha mode, so there are a lot of tweaks and new features being added. But, it’s already a fun and tense experience that players can buy on Steam today.

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These three dogs helped top leaders win World War II

A true warfighting professional knows how to be civilized at armed conflict. And what many military greats learned over the ages is that there’s nothing like a friendly animal by your side to keep you calm and centered when things get kinetic. And when it comes to friendly animals, a dog is hard to beat.


Here are three dogs that did their part keeping their masters focused during World War II:

1. Gen. George S. Patton’s American Bull Terrier Willie

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Gen. Omar Bradley talking to Gen. George S. Patton as Patton’s dog Willie takes a snooze in his favorite chair. Photo: U.S. Army)

Patton acquired an American bull terrier in 1944 and named him “William the Conqueror,” although the dog proved to be anything but aggressive and was actually scared of gunfire. But in spite of his timid disposition Patton loved him like few other living things on the planet.

‘My bull pup . . . took to me like a duck to water. He is 15 months old, pure white except for a little lemin [sic] on his tail which to a cursory glance would seem to indicate that he had not used toilet paper,’ Patton wrote in his diary.

2. Commander-in-chief Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottie Fala

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
FDR and his dog Fala. (Official White House photo)

FDR received his dog Fala from a cousin in 1940 with the idea that a canine companion would keep the commander-in-chief more relaxed during stressful times. The president and his dog became inseparable from that point forward, which arguably made Fala the most famous White House pet of all times.

According to the Daily Mail, the pup was given obedience training before he formally took up residence in the White House in November 1940, where he could be spotted attending press conferences. He even learned how to stand at attention on his hind legs when the national anthem was played.

The adorable Scottie captured the hearts of Americans and became a national symbol as World War II spread across Europe.

3. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Scottie Telek

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Ike talking to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox in October of 1943. (Photo: AP)

Like Patton, Ike also relied on a faithful dog during the war.  Telek was surrounded by controversy however, as it was rumored that the dog was co-owned by his mistress and driver Kay Summersby.

‘One day when they were driving in the country, Kay mentioned that she wanted a dog,’ according to Dr. Ronnie Elmore, a professor from Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in an interview with a school publication in 2004 about Ike’s pet.

Though numerous Eisenhower contemporaries have refuted claims of a torrid love affair, Summersby inherited the Scottie after his departure from Europe, further sparking rumors of the intimate bond between the two.

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Here’s your complete military guide to nutritional supplements

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
(Photo: steadyhealth.com)


The total was $183.27. I happily submitted my credit card information and clicked “Submit.” As I anxiously awaited for my magical supplements to arrive I looked over the complex regimen. I could carry this printout around with me everywhere I went.

Thinking back to that moment in 2004, I realize now how uneducated I was about the supplement industry. Why did I buy all of that? Because the website I visited offered a free nutrition plan which conveniently included their supplements to help me achieve my goals. Now, a little over a decade later, with a medical degree under my belt, twenty fitness competitions, and countless nutrition clients I can tell you – supplements can be quite simple.

Below is a simple breakdown to follow based on your budget. Pick the category that fits you and then select the supplements that fit your goal.

(Note: I was not compensated in any way by the manufacturers of any products listed.)

Level 1 – THE BASICS

Multivitamin: Multivitamins might be obvious, but it’s a commonly missed basic. You should take a multi-vitamin to replace critical elements missing in your food. Some of the critical things I look for: one pill a day vs. two pills, Calcium at least 50 percent of the daily value, Vitamin D at least 800IU. I know the gummy version is very popular now and I don’t recommend these because of the added sugars and the cost per serving is much higher. I have also found they are lower in vitamin concentration. The brand isn’t too important. Average cost: $15 for 90 days

L-Glutamine: Glutamine is an alpha amino acid that’s essential for so many daily body processes such as protein synthesis (building muscle, muscle recovery) and getting rid of toxins via the kidney. I recommended 15 grams per day taken 3 different times during the day. If that’s too complicated for your schedule, then just take 5 grams when you wake up and 5 grams after your workout. L-glutamine is found naturally in dairy products and many proteins like beef, pork, chicken, fish, but not enough. Average cost: $20 for 30 days

Level 2 – COMMITTED WITH LIMITATIONS

Includes Level 1 supplements.

Whey Protein Powder: Whey protein is used to build muscle, help prevent muscle breakdown, and helps with recovery. Protein powder is not better than whole food protein but it is a good alternative for convenience. Whey is the best-studied protein powder. There are mixes of different kinds of proteins, but these aren’t well studied. It’s hard for me to believe they are better. (I like evidence.) I also do not use powder with claims supplements are added. It’s easy for supplements to be missing or cut short, but you will easily pay more than basic whey protein powder. My favorite brands are Optimum Nutrition, Metabolic Nutrition, Muscle Pharm, and BSN to name a few. Average cost: $35 for 45 days

Beta-alanine: Beta-alanine is a beta amino acid that helps with blood vessel dilatation, building muscle, muscle recovery, and increased performance. Studies have shown greater results when combined with creatine, but also by itself. There is not a problem with water retention. Most people will get results with 4-5 grams per day. I recommend splitting it so you take 2-2.5 grams 20 minutes before your workout and 2-2.5 grams immediately after your workout. If you notice a tingling feeling on your skin after taking it, but that is normal. You can take it with food or decrease how much you take so that sensation is tolerable or gone. Average cost: $30 for 60 days

Level 3 – NO BUDGET OPTION (Includes Level 1 and 2 supplements)

Creatine: Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid. It increases the amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the body which then can help in building muscle size by improving the body’s response to resistance exercise and increasing the maximal force from muscles. There are some people that report water retention but many people don’t experience this. Studies show about 20 grams per day is sufficient for benefits. I do not recommend the “loading phase” as the scientific findings on this are not convincing and you will run out of product faster. Results are even greater if taking beta-alanine. Average cost: $10 for 30 days

ATP Extreme: This product is actual ATP which is easily depleted during workouts. ATP supplementation will allow for increased endurance, stronger workouts, and as an effect better performance. Studies show an increase in muscle mass and strength. This supplement comes in the capsule form and everyone is a little different in how they should take it. I take 4 capsules 30 minutes before my workout – weight lifting or cardiovascular exercise. Cost: $49.95 for 30 day

Provide Gold Liquid Protein: This product is my favorite! This product is the only supplement I know of that medical professionals will actually use for their patients. Liquid protein is exactly what it sounds like. Liquid protein works to impact depleted protein stores . One “shot” is jam packed with amino acids and only 100 calories. There is a sugar-free version, as well. I split my shot and have half right before my workout and another half afterward. Cost: $46 for 60 days

The fascinating story behind the military’s use of the 21-gun salute
Simone is an Air Force Academy graduate, doctor, and fitness model. You can contact/follow her here: email: simone.maybin@gmail.com, Instagram: @simonemaybin, Snapchat: @simoneyroney, Facebook: Simone Maybin, or Twitter: @simonemaybin.

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Watch a US Air Force pilot pull mind-bending moves in the world’s most lethal combat plane

The F-22 Raptor combines extreme stealth with supermaneuverability, and the pilots of the US Air Force, through excellent training, make it the most lethal combat plane in the world.


Also read: How China’s stealthy new J-20 fighter jet compares to the US’s F-22 and F-35

In the clip below, an F-22 performs several mind-bending moves in the air. More than once, the Raptor goes completely vertical, nose up to the sky, while draining off nearly all of its speed, and for a brief, shining moment, pauses at the crest of its ascent.

Then the pilot twists the F-22 into flips and rolls. At one point, the Raptor goes into a “falling leaf” maneuver, where it spins and drifts in a way that makes you almost forget that two massive jet engines power it. Seconds later, the engines roar back to life, and the plane is on its way again.

In a dogfight, figures like maximum speed don’t mean a whole lot. Sure, the F-22 can supercruise, but the ability to slow down and bear down on a target matters more in an air-to-air confrontation at close range.

In the clip below, see how a US Air Force pilot in an F-22 owns the sky with incredible maneuvers:

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