5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the 'HO HO HO Initiative' - We Are The Mighty
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5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has once again given top-performing American gear to Santa to assist him with his Christmas mission, despite Saint Nicholas’s ongoing refusal to release his aviation technology to the U.S.


Santa has received DARPA research the past two Christmas seasons under the High-speed Optimized Handling of Holiday Operations initiative. The HO HO HO initiative has previously gifted Santa with the tools to protect his network from hacks, land more safely on slanted roofs, and more effectively scout homes for people who are awake before he places the presents.

This year, DARPA’s gift features five major programs.

1. New tools for seeing through snow, dust, and fog

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
(Illustration: DARPA)

The Multifunction RF program is working on creating new sensors for aircraft that can detect obstacles, terrain, and other aircraft during flight — even in severe dust and snowstorms. The military wants the technology to prevent crashes during dangerous operations.

But Santa can use it to more safely approach houses in severe snowstorms and dust storms. This will become increasingly important as Santa fights to maintain his tight timeline with more kids to serve every year.

2. A fancy new Santa suit will help prevent strain injuries

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
(Photo: DARPA)

The Warrior Web suit is designed to protect soldier’s joints and muscles from damage while the wearer is carrying heavy loads, sometimes topping 100 pounds. To do so, the suit uses a bare 100w of power to augment the muscle work done by the user, lessening their muscle fatigue and injury risk.

While Santa’s average load from the sleigh to the tree is unknown, his sack sometimes has to accommodate dozens of toys, books, and electronic devices. Hopefully, a new Santa suit featuring Warrior Web technology will help Santa more safely move up and down the chimneys.

3. The TRADES program will lead to new toy designs

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
An artist created this concept art of an artist creating concept art. (Illustration: DARPA)

The Transformative Design program is trying to give engineers new tools to model the properties of possible equipment designs and to figure out manufacturing processes to create those products.

For top elves, this means that they can start fabricating new toy designs that would have been impossible just a few years ago. The new technologies will be especially useful for 3D printing.

4. New computer chips will keep the North Pole’s computers cool

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
(Illustration: DARPA)

As Santa and his staff serve a growing population, DARPA has become worried that the computer servers processing all that information will overheat.

To help prevent this, they’ve offered the Man in Red access to their Intrachip/Interchip Enhanced Cooling research. Computer chips integrating this technology are cooled more efficiently and are less likely to fail during high-demand tasks such as when Santa makes his list and checks it twice.

5. Programs from the Cyber Grand Challenge will defend against hacks by the naughtiest of children

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
(Photo: DARPA Camilla Sjoden)

The Cyber Grand Challenge provided millions of dollars in prizes to teams who put created automated bug hunters and defenses against hacking and then pitted those software programs and machines against each other on a Las Vegas stage.

Now, DARPA has turned some of that research over to Santa to help him keep his computer systems secure. While there’s little evidence that any hackers have made it into the system so far, the Naughty/Nice list is too obvious a target to be unprotected.

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World War I’s bloodiest front is one you’ve never heard of

The Isonzo campaign, fought in present-day Slovenia from June 1915 to November 1917 between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is one of the bloodiest series of battles during World War I, yet is hardly remembered outside of the countries involved. A dozen engagements that often ran into each other ended up costing 1.7 million casualties, and the stalemate was only ended with the disastrous Italian defeat at Caporetto.


After Italy entered the war in May 1915, the Isonzo Valley presented the only real option for serious offensive operations into Austria, since the remainder of the front was mountainous terrain heavily fortified by the Austro-Hungarians. But the Isonzo River, called the Sloca River today, presented a formidable obstacle, and the fortifications in the hills overlooking the river made any crossing almost impossible.

The Italian Army’s Chief of Staff, Luigi Cadorna, believed that a determined attack could break through the enemy lines, seize the strategic towns of Gorizia and Trieste, and set the stage for a march on Vienna. He assembled two field armies for the offensive, and the Austro-Hungarians, despite disastrous losses in the fighting in Serbia and Galicia, foresaw the coming attack and assembled 100,000 men for the defense.

Cadorna, like many of his contemporaries, was a firm believer in the offensive and the frontal assault, but operations in the area would not be easy. The Isonzo River was prone to flooding, and the terrain difficulties surrounding it were extreme, with enemy fortifications dug in atop steep rocky slopes. The Italian army was also suffering from a shortage of modern artillery, making a direct attack even more hazardous.

The Italian offensive began on June 23, sparking the First Battle of Isonzo. Italian soldiers found themselves charging head-long uphill into barbed-wire and fortifications that their artillery had been unable to break up, and attempting to cross the Isonzo while under ferocious Austro-Hungarian counter-barrages. The fighting raged until Austro-Hungarian reinforcements arrived and stopped the offensive in its tracks. The Italian Army had suffered nearly 15,000 casualties, nearly double the enemies, while achieving practically no real gains.

This was a pattern that was to repeat itself throughout 1915 in three more failed Italian assaults, resulting in a quarter of a million casualties with no significant success. Cadorna showed himself particularly incapable of learning from the carnage, and was himself usually as far as 50 kilometers behind the front lines. He was also a savage disciplinarian, routinely ordering the execution of soldiers for cowardice and straggling.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
Captured Italian soldiers are escorted to the rear by German soldiers during the Battle of Caporetto.

A fifth attack in March of 1916 also failed, but then an opportunity seemed to present itself. After appeals from the French to lessen the pressure they were feeling at Verdun from the Germans, the Russians launched a massive offensive under General Aleksei Brusilov against the Austro-Hungarians at Lusk in modern day Ukraine. The Austro-Hungarians desperately shifted troops north from the Italian front, and Cadorna took advantage of this weakness. The sixth attack launched on August 6 was the Italian’s only real success of the entire campaign, seizing territory along a 20-km front and the town of Gorizia, but at the cost of over 50,000 Italian casualties.

The Italians continued to launch offensives into 1917, and despite Italy’s terrible losses the Austro-Hungarians were beginning to feel the war of attrition. They simply did not have the manpower the Italians had, and and their lines near Gorizia were on the brink of collapse. At last, appeals to Germany for reinforcements were answered, and a combined offensive was launched against the Italians at Caporetto, who were all forward deployed with no reserves for a defense in depth.

At 2 a.m. on October 24, a massive artillery barrage featuring high explosives, smoke, and huge quantities of chemical weapons caught the Italian 2nd Army completely by surprise. Their lines were broken almost immediately by special German stormtrooper units practicing new assault tactics featuring flamethrowers and the mass use of hand grenades. By October 30 the Italians had withdrawn past the Tagliomento river. Italy had lost over 300,000 men in a week, most of them taken prisoner.

The scale of the disaster led to the dismissal of Cadorna, shook the Allied governments, and led to France and England hurriedly rushing reinforcements to Italy. The Germans and Austro-Hungarians could not sustain the offensive, but Isonzo as a viable front for the Italians was essentially gone. Two and half years and more than a million and a half casualties from both sides had resulted in no gains to speak of.

Even in the carnage of World War I, the Isonzo campaign stands out for bloodshed concentrated in a single sector. Cadorna in particular was one of the most callous, stubborn, and unimaginative generals in a war noted for such leaders, and the Italian Army paid a terrible price for his ruthlessness and incompetence. The Isonzo and the disaster at Caporetto became a byword for failure in Italy, and the disillusionment caused by Italy’s massive losses in the war with little to show for it played a large role in the rise of fascism and dictator Benito Mussolini. Like so much of World War I, the Isonzo campaign played its own role in sparking World War II over 20 years later.

Lists

9 celebrities who were military flyboys first

Before they were big-name celebrities, these nine men served as pilots and aircrewmen in the U.S. military.


Joseph Heller

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

In 1942, at age 19, Joseph Heller joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Two years later he was sent to the Italian Front, where he flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier.

Heller later remembered the war as “fun in the beginning … You got the feeling that there was something glorious about it.” After his military service Heller went on to write Catch-22, which to many represents the standard of American military sarcasm.  (Source: CNN)

Jimmy Stewart

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

Before Jimmy Stewart starred in classic American films like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Rear Window” he was an Army Air Corps pilot.  On March 31, 1944 he was appointed Operations Officer of the 453rd Bomb Group.  Subsequent billets included that of Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat wing, 2nd Air Division of the 8th Air Force. Stewart ended the war with 20 combat missions. He remained in the USAF Reserve and was eventually promoted to brigadier general.  (Source: Military.com)

Clark Gable

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

Clark Gable may have frankly not given a damn when dissin’ Scarlett in the movie “Gone With The Wind,” but he most likely did when he served as an bomber crewman in World War II.

Gable flew five combat missions as an observer-gunner in B-17 Flying Fortresses, which earned him the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. During one of the missions, Gable’s aircraft was damaged by flak and attacked by fighters, which knocked out one of the engines and shot up the stabilizer. In another raid on Germany, one crewman was killed and two others were wounded, and flak went through his boot and narrowly missed his head. (Source: Wikipedia)

Charles Bronson

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

Charles Bronson‘s steely-eyed glaze as seen in “The Dirty Dozen” was certainly perfected while staring down Japanese air defenses in the Pacific during World War II.

In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aerial gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron. In 1945, as a B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group, Bronson flew 25 missions and received a Purple Heart for wounds received in battle. (Military.com)

Tom Landry

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

Dallas Cowboys’ iconic fedora-wearing coach Tom Landry earned his wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant at Lubbock Army Air Field, and was assigned to the 493d Bombardment Group at RAF Debach, England, flying the B-17 Flying Fortress.

From November 1944 to April 1945 he flew 30 combat missions.  During that period he also survived a crash landing in Belgium after his bomber ran out of fuel. (Source: Tom Landry: An Autobiography)

Norman Lear

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

Before Norman Lear created groundbreaking TV shows like “All in the Family” and “Maude” he was a B-17 radio operator/gunner with the 772nd Bombardment Squadron, 463rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the 15th Air Force.

He flew 52 combat missions and was awarded the Air Medal. (Source: WNYC)

Paul Newman

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

Paul Newman is best known for his salad dressing and the characters he played in movies like “Cool Hand Luke” and “Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid,” but he was also a sailor during World War II in the Pacific theater. He had hoped to be accepted for pilot training but was dropped when docs discovered he was color blind.

He was redirected to boot camp and eventually flew from aircraft carriers as a turret gunner in the Avenger torpedo bomber. He was aboard USS Bunker Hill during the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945. He missed one mission when his pilot developed an ear infection, and all of those who wound up going were killed in action.

Ted Williams

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

The same eyesight that made Ted Williams a legendary slugger for the Boston Red Sox made him a great fighter pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Williams had earned his Wings of Gold at the tail end of World War II and was called back to active duty six games into the 1952 baseball season because the Corps needed pilots for the Korean War effort. Williams flew 39 combat missions, and his plane was hit by enemy gunfire on at least three occasions.  He was awarded three Air Medals before being sent home with a severe ear infection and recurring viruses.  (Source: Wikipedia)

Terry Dietz

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

Before he dominated the challenges and finished third on the hit TV series Survivor in 2005, Terry Dietz attended the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating with the Class of 1982.  He earned his Wings of Gold and served on the USS Carl Vinson with VF-51 flying the F-14 Tomcat.

He also served as an instructor at VF-124, the Tomcat training squadron on the west coast. Deitz left active service in 1992 and continued flying in the Navy Reserves on logistics missions around the world. He retired in 2001 at the rank of commander.  In recent years Dietz has kept his hand in the TV game by hosting military-themed shows on a variety of networks.

Originally published 2017.

Lists

7 animals with better camouflage than you

Shortly after the First World War kicked off, war-fighters began adopting camouflage patterns to conceal themselves during battle. Over the years, it’s gotten more and more advanced until they changed over to the digital pattern because rumor says its “better.”


It’s probably just cheaper to produce.

Show me the science. That’s all I’m saying.

No matter how good the military thinks they can make theirs, animals have beaten us to it through millennia of evolution to perfectly hide from predator and prey alike.

Here are 7 who are better at camouflage than the military (thought #1 is a close call):

7. A golden retriever is like the Navy’s ‘blueberry’ pattern

Let’s face it. Pretty much any form of camouflage pattern that is remotely the same shade as its surroundings is better than dark blue digi-cam on a light gray ship.

If it wasn’t for the fact that it technically considered a camo pattern, it would be compared to a loud, goofy puppy.

This is the animal that most closely resembles the effectiveness of this branch’s camouflage style.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
Still have much love for you guys! Even if your camo pattern only works the one place a sailor wants to be spotted easily — overboard.

6. An actual tiger compared to Air Force ‘Tiger Stripes’

Somewhere down the line, an Airman thought, “Let’s take the Army’s Vietnam-era SOF pattern but add more tiger stripes. Because we’re fierce.” And no one had the courage to stop them.

The tiger uses its stripes to blend in with tall grass. Senior Airmen use their stripes to fail at making Below the Zone.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
See Navy? You’re not the only ones on the bottom of this list

5. This cat compared to a soldier’s ACUs

The only place the Army Combat Uniform works is on Grandma’s old couch. But it does fairly well when it gets dirty, so there’s that.

I mean, house cats would still need some kind of camouflage. Animal Planet did rank them as “The Most Extreme” killer because they kill for sport instead of food or territory. Savage!

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

4. A barn owl compared to a Marine’s MARPAT

Rounding out the regular service uniforms are the Marines — because they actually tried to fit into their surroundings.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
But they may have only won this by default.

3. An alligator compared to a sniper’s ghillie suit

On to actually useful camouflages, both the alligator and sniper begin the real contest.

They both adapt to their environment by adding local flora to help conceal themselves.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
Both deadly, but both have to stay still for a long period of time to get their kill.

2. A peppered moth compared to a Force Recon’s suit

Both get shared around for those “can you spot the -whatever-” photos on social media. Both cause the people trying to find them to give up and look in the comments.

Another key to excellent camouflage is keeping a low profile. Fewer shadows would help this guys’ head conceal a bit more.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
No need for a fancy suit if you know your perfect spot.

1. A spider compared to a sniper

The one things snipers will tell you if you want to join them is that you have to get comfortable with waiting around. And it’s not the standard issued “hurry up and wait” — they mean “hours without a single twitch” kind of waiting.

Don’t be afraid to dig in. You may have to hold that spot for a while.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
Believe me, they’re both in this photo and they’re both dead center in of each of their frames.

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7 things Jodie will do with your girlfriend this Valentine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air! Cupid is on the march!


And you have duty. Or are deployed. Or stuck in the barracks. … Whatever.

We all know what that means. While you’re busy mopping floors and standing at parade rest, Joe D./Jodie/Jody is on the prowl, looking for heartsick girlfriends and boyfriends stuck all alone at home. Here’s the date he’s probably suggesting to your significant other right now:

1. He’ll probably give her some nice flowers.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
RIP Mary Tyler Moore. You were the real MVP. (GIF: Giphy/hulu.com)

Most likely roses, but it could be something creative like daisies or tulips.

2. Take a ride in your Cadillac.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

The wax still looks pretty good, and the shine on the tires hasn’t lost any of the luster. Sorry, man. “Ain’t no use in looking back, Jodie’s got your Cadillac.”

3. Dinner …

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
(GIF: giphy.com/amzn.to)

Soft light from candles glints off of some fancy silverware as it cuts through delicious Italian food. Filling, but not too heavy.

 4. … and a movie.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
(GIF: giphy.com/foxsearchlightpictures.tumblr.com)

They’re gonna finish up just in time to catch a movie at the theater. Something funny, and not too racey for a girlfriend hanging out with a guy just as friends. It’s not “50 Shades Darker.” It’s “The Lego Batman Movie.”

5. Take a long walk in the park, on the beach, through the woods, or out behind the barn where no one can see them.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
(GIF: youtube.com/ICON)

It was an early movie, so the night is still pretty young. And the clear stars make a walk this time of evening just perfect. Of course, she might have to borrow his jacket, to keep the February chill at bay.

6. Play some nice, soft music.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
(GIF: youtube.com/Topshelf Records)

What? Lots of guys keep smooth jazz on their phone. And Jodie just likes to hear this kind of music.

In the dark. In a secluded area. On a walk. With a service member’s significant other.

7. Let’s be honest, Jodie/Jody/Joe D. isn’t doing anything with anyone. But your girlfriend/guyfriend/general’s daughter-friend could use a good Valentine’s Day.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
(GIF: giphy.com/Limelightlowlifes)

Your significant other is probably sitting at home, still in love with you. But don’t take that for granted. It’s Valentine’s Day for crying out loud.

If you’re stateside and can surprise them, just do everything from this list that Jodie might have done. If you’re deployed, send some nice flowers and a sweet video message.

Both of these things work even if you have to do it on the 13th or 15th.

Come on, give your loved ones some credit. The ladies know better than to give into Jodie’s nonsense. Now, the boys and Jane, on the other hand….

Articles

The M79 isn’t perfect, but we love it anyway

Every soldier wants maximum firepower.


Firepower is something that can make the difference between life and death in a battle. It’s even better if the firepower is readily portable, so a single soldier can deliver death and destruction anywhere needed.

That’s why soldiers love the M79 grenade launcher. First used in Vietnam, the weapon has a well-deserved reputation for putting the power of a mortar in the hands of the individual Joe.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
An M79 grenade launcher with the leaf-type site unfolded. (Photo courtesy of Airman Magazine)

It isn’t a perfect weapon. The 40-mm round the M79 fires sometimes has less-devastating results than a hand-lobbed grenade.

But it is a simple weapon to use.

First deployed in 1961, the M79 grenade launcher is a single-shot, break-open, shoulder-fired weapon. It is breech-loading and fires a 40 x 46-mm grenade that is easy to load and easy to fire.

“The M79 broke in the middle like a shotgun and loaded in the same way,” wrote Dean Muehlberg, a Special Forces operator who fought in Vietnam during 1979, in his book War Stories. “They were an awesome and deadly weapon.”

No wonder the M79 earned the nickname “The Thumper.”

The M79 uses a “high-low” propulsion launching system that reduces recoil and increases its effective range to up to 400 yards.

It also extends the “reach” of an infantryman. Designed to bridge the effectiveness between the maximum range of a hand grenade and the minimum range of a mortar, the M79 quickly proved its effectiveness during the Vietnam War.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
An M79 grenade launcher rests atop a Marine bunker beside an M249 squad automated weapon. (Department of Defense photo by Staff Sgt. Laird)

U.S. soldiers and Marines could usually shoot grenades best at targets from 150 yards to 300 yards away. Small infantry units benefited the most from the M79 because it increased the destruction they could inflict on enemy targets such as Viet Cong bunkers and redoubts.

The M79 was not only used throughout the Vietnam War but remains in the arsenal to this day.

During the early years of the Iraq War, there were Marine convoy units that carried the M79 to destroy IEDs at a comfortable distance. An explosive round from the grenade launcher often did the job of keeping a road clear more quickly and safely than calling in bomb disposal units.

U.S. special operators also reportedly keep the M79 on hand because it remains a simple and accurate means of destroying an entrenched adversary — even though the M203 rifle-mounted grenade launcher was first introduced into the arsenal in 1969.

The M79 also fired flechette rounds, known as Beehive Rounds because of the sound they made when traveling down range, that dispensed 45 small darts in a plastic casing that could shred flesh and bone when they hit the target point first. Unfortunately, many times the flechettes simply bounced off the target.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
A coast guardsman loads a non-lethal round into an M79. (U.S. Marine photo by Sergeant Brannen Parrish)

It can also fire buckshot, smoke, and tear gas rounds. In Vietnam, the M576 buckshot round replaced flechettes, producing far more lethal results.

The grenade launcher also has the capability of firing less-than-lethal rounds for crowd control and riot suppression. Used by police forces around the world, the M79 is often used to fire sponge rounds or rubber-coated crowd dispersal rounds to break up mobs and restore order.

Time tested, the M79 is proof that newer isn’t always better.

Articles

Watch an elderly Vietnam Vet fight off a woman who tried to take his wallet

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’


An attack by a woman on an elderly veteran was caught on tape outside a Fresno, California, auto parts store.

Police are asking for the public’s help in trying to find 73-year-old Victor Bejarano’s attacker.

The Vietnam vet said the woman got out of an SUV and asked him for his wallet in the parking lot. When he refused, she tried to take it from him, leading to a prolonged struggle.

When he made his way inside the store in order to get help, she followed him and the struggle continued right at the counter.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

 

None of the customers in the store stepped in to help, police said. The woman got back in her SUV and drove off before police arrived.

After all that, Bejarano said if the woman had just asked him politely for money and explained her situation, he would have helped her out.

“If she would’ve told me from the beginning: ‘Sir, please help, I have a child. He’s crying because he’s hungry.’ I would have given her the money. But she didn’t ask for the money, she asked for my wallet. I said, I can’t give you my wallet,” said Bejarano, who was at the Auto Zone to fix a friend’s van.

Watch the “Fox and Friends” report here.

Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
Articles

This organization matches homeless pets with vets who need them

Every day, countless men and women who served in the armed forces return home from war with wounds that are invisible — most never reach out to seek help.


As new mental health treatments are developed, many don’t want to be placed on a cocktail of medication they can’t pronounce and put them in a fog. That’s where an organization called Mutual Rescue can help.

David Whitman and Carol Novello created a national animal-welfare initiative that aims to connect loving and homeless pets with people who are in need of specialized care.

“Even before he was my cat, before he even knew me that well, Scout saved my life,” said Josh Marino, an Iraq war vet. “He put me on a different path. He gave me the confidence to try to come back from all the adversity that I was feeling.”

Check out Mutual Rescue‘s video for Josh Scout’s uplifting story of how animals can rescue their owners.

(Mutual Rescue, YouTube)

Related: SOCOM wants drugs to turn its K9s into super dogs

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After 20 years of war, the U.S. will completely withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11

The longest war in the history of the United States will finally come to an end, 20 years to the day after the terror attack that sparked it. 

Officials from the Biden Administration confirmed the plans on April 13, 2021. The original withdrawal date was set by the Trump Administration for May 1, 2021, and this time, it’s “set in stone.”

“The president has been consistent in his view that there’s not a military solution to Afghanistan, that we have been there for far too long,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. President Biden is expected to give remarks about the withdrawal plan in the coming days. 

After May 1, there will be just 3,000 U.S. troops in the country. Their ongoing mission will be to protect diplomats and other American officials still doing ongoing work there. A senior official who first leaked the news said that if the Taliban decide to attack, “we will hit back hard.” 

Turkey announced that it will hold a peace talks summit for all the warring parties in Afghanistan on April 24, 2021, but the Taliban said it would not participate unless all foreign forces were out of the country at that time. An intelligence report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said a peace deal between the Taliban and the U.S. was unlikely to succeed within the coming year. 

According to the same intelligence reports, the pullout is good news for the Taliban, who stand to make decisive gains against the democratically-elected government of Afghanistan once the United States is gone. 

“The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield,” it said.”The Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support. Kabul continues to face setbacks on the battlefield, and the Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory.”

The ODNI report, called the Annual Threat Assessment, was distributed before the news of the pullout came from the White House later that same day. 

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’

“Afghan security forces remain tied down in defensive missions and have struggled to hold recaptured territory or reestablish a presence in areas abandoned in 2020,” it said. In March 2021, a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), agreed. 

The Taliban “have not significantly changed their tactics,” says SIGAR. “Each quarter since the (U.S.-Taliban) agreement was signed has seen a higher average number of enemy-initiated attacks compared to the same quarters in 2019.” 

Critics of the war have long believed that the Taliban had no interest in really signing a peace agreement, believing they could simply wait out the Americans as support for the war waned back home.  Critics of the peace deal hit the Biden Administration almost immediately in response to the news. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Biden “plans to turn tail and abandon the fight in Afghanistan… Precipitously withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake.”  

Ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jim Inhofe, called it “a reckless and dangerous decision.”  

Whether a good call or bad, 2021 will mark the end of America’s longest war after 20 years of fighting. There’s a good chance the United States will enter a new phase of wartime preparation — the great power conflicts looming with Russia and China.

Articles

This is the all-Jewish force who took it to the Nazis in North Africa

The French military doesn’t get a lot of love these days; their crushing defeat and capitulation in 1940 still colors the way the world sees the armed forces of France. It’s a completely undeserved reputation, however. The French are much better at fighting wars than you might think.


5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
The Free French Foreign Legionnaires assault a Nazi position.

One part of this is the French Foreign Legion and its cadre of criminals, strongmen, war junkies, and other badasses who decided to get a clean slate by joining the Legion. In World War II, the Legion was just a capable as it is today — and they capitulated to no one. In 1942, they were joined by a group of Jewish soldiers who decided they had enough of the anti-Semitism in Europe.

And they were going to prove their mettle.

Related: This is why the French are better at war than you think

In 1940, the British created 15 divisions of some 30,0000 Jewish soldiers from the Mandate of Palestine. Within two years, the Jewish troops were sent to fight in North Africa, where the Nazi Afrika Korps routed the Allies time and again.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
The Jewish Brigade in formation. (Imperial War Museum)

At a small oasis in Libya, guarding an old Turkish fort, the Free French Foreign Legion begin to reinforce their position. The fort, called Bir Hakeim, was a sort of last stand for the Allies. If Field Marshal Erwin Rommel could punch his army through the French position, he could take the vital port city of Tobruk. Near the end of the Legionnaires’ lines was a place called Bir-el Hamat.

This is where the Jewish fighters of WWII would make their presence felt.

They were a small group of 400 minelayers sent by the British and led by Maj. Félix Liebmann to reinforce the French position. They had no heavy weapons and were generally poorly armed and equipped. Rommel’s men targeted the Jewish position as the weakest point and sent a truce flag over to demand the Jewish surrender. When they refused, the Nazis hit the Jewish defenders with everything they had.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
Jewish Brigade troops in infantry training.

The combined German-Italian force was trying to get around the Free French line to surround and destroy the remaining French, advance on Tobruk, and destroy the British 8th Army.

Unable to radio the French a few miles up the road, the Jewish fighters held their position using molotov cocktails on the tanks that didn’t get destroyed in the minefield. For eight days — low on water, ammunition, and supplies — the Jewish troops withstood relentless, constant bombardment and fought the Afrika Korps to a standstill.

On the last day, the French and Jewish forces got the word to retreat. They held off the Nazis long enough for the British 8th Army to retreat — and they did, in the middle of the night. Three-fourths of the unit were killed or wounded at Bir-el Hamat and they marched 60 some miles all the way to Gasr el-Abid.

When they arrived, they folded up their flag, a gold Star of David on a blue and white striped background — a precursor to the modern-day state of Israel’s flag. Observing the men folding their colors, French Foreign Legion commander General Marie-Pierre Koenig demanded why they stopped flying their flag. Under the British, Maj. Liebmann explained, they were not allowed to fly their own colors.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
Flag of the Jewish Brigade Group.

Koenig had the flag attached to his jeep, next to the Free French flag, at equal stature.

The British 8th Army was able to to defeat the Afrika Korps at el-Alamein the very next month, in a pivotal battle that kept the Axis from advancing into Egypt and capturing the Suez Canal. By 1944, the Jewish Brigade (as they came to be called) was formed to take the fight to the Nazis in Italy.

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5 adjustments the Brits need to make when Marines deploy on the HMS Queen Elizabeth

It’s now official: Marines will put some F-35Bs on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the British carrier’s first deployment in 2021.


That said, the Brits will find that the U.S. Marines will do things a bit differently than Her Majesty’s lads. Here are a few things the Brits will need to do to make life “Oorah!” for American Leathernecks.

1. Schedule regular beer runs

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
Photo Credit: Streetwear Deals

The Brits may need to borrow a Supply-class replenishment ship just to have enough beer on hand for the Marines. You see, no thanks to Josephus Daniels the U.S. Navy doesn’t allow alcohol on board its vessels.

Royal Navy ships, on the other hand, are “wet,” and with the heat on carrier decks, Marines will get thirsty. The Brits will need sufficient supplies of Coors Lite to keep the Marines happy.

Oh, yeah, and when it comes to the harder stuff – figure that it might not hurt to have extras on stock. But they can leave the brandy and sherry ashore.

2. Ditch the tea and pile up the energy drinks

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
An aluminum recycling bin is filled with empty energy drink cans in this 2009 photo. That year, 1,000 cans of energy drinks were sold each week at just ONE exchange in Germany. (Photo by Pfc. Jennifer Kennemer, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Earl Gray is not what most Marines will drink around 5:00pm. Forget even offering it.

Energy drinks on the other hand, are popular amongst all American service members. To fully understand how popular they are, keep in mind that according to a 2016 DOD release, Monster was the most popular cold beverage sold in the exchanges. In 2009, one exchange store reported selling 1,000 cans a week, according to an Army release.

Come to think of it… you may need a second replenishment ship for all the Monster that will be consumed. We’re sure Military Sealift Command will give a discount for leasing two Supply-class ships.

3. Stock coffee … and lots of it

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
Marines make Coffee on Iwo Jima

While we’re talking about pick-me-ups, it may not be a bad idea to remember that the Marines will also drink coffee — and lots of it.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs from “NCIS” is not an aberration. The grouchiness if he doesn’t have his coffee – that’s not an aberration, either.

And the Marines have to have it.

That photo above was taken during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Trust me, if Leathernecks had their coffee during Iwo Jima — and did what they did there — you don’t want to see what Marines do without their coffee.

That might take a third Supply-class replenishment ship, by the way. MSC has to have a discount for leasing three, wethinks.

4. Add a rifle range

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
An M9 service pistol’s magazine rests on the firing line next to a scoring sheet during a pistol qualification course aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., April 7, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo taken by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell/released)

The Marines’ motto is, “Every Marine a Rifleman.” Even the jet jockeys.

So, you’re gonna need a range so the Marines can qualify on the M16A4 rifle and the M9 pistol. That means you’ll need a good backstop, plenty of ammo, and plenty of spare magazines for both (luckily the British L85 rifle uses the same magazines as the M16).

5. Brush up on what real football is

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
U.S. Naval Academy quarterback Kriss Proctor runs the ball during the 112th Army-Navy Football game at FEDEX Field in Landover, Md. The Midshipmen have won the previous nine meetings. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge/Released)

Also, depending on the time of year, you will be in football season.

No, we’re not talking the game with the black-and-white round ball. That’s soccer.

We’re talking real football. Eleven on a team, yes, but beyond that, the Brits will need to know the intricacies of the 46 defense, what “Cover 2” means, and just who Tom Brady, DeMarcus Ware, and Ezekiel Elliot are — among others.

Also, don’t even think of mentioning Manchester United in the same breath as the Chicago Bears. Just don’t.

They aren’t even in the same league as Da Bears.

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The Marine Corps just spent $6 million on a war tool invented in the barracks

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Marine Corps is proving the potential of its newly established rapid capabilities office with an early purchase: a tactical decision-making kit, invented by Marine grunts, that blends a range of cutting-edge technologies to allow infantry squads to compete against each other in a realistic simulated training environment.


The service inked a $6.4 million contract March 31 for enough kits to outfit 24 infantry battalions with the technology. The contract came just 51 days after Marine leaders identified the technology, invented in a Camp Lejeune barracks room, as a valuable capability for the service, said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

In an interview with Military.com on Tuesday at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference, Walsh said leathernecks from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, decided to turn space inside one of the battalion’s barracks facilities into a makeshift warfighting lab, combining a handful of technologies already in use by the Corps into a sophisticated mission rehearsal system.

While the service last year designated a West Coast unit — Camp Pendleton, California’s 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines — as its experimental battalion, multiple East Coast units have also taken the initiative to test out new technology and concepts.

The North Carolina-based 2/6 created what it called a tactical decision room, linking computers equipped with deployable virtual training environment simulation software already in use by the service.

The Marines used quadcopters to create a 3D map of a real training area, which was then uploaded to the simulation. They could then run and re-run the same realistic mission in the simulated environment. They added in the Corps’ Instrumented-Tactical Engagement Simulation System equipment, technology that allows tracking of battlefield movements and simulated fires using lasers, allowing for realistic training and complex after-action feedback for the warfighter.

“So now what we’re seeing these guys do is, they’re gaming in their barracks, squad-on-squad — gaming back-and-forth on decision-making,” Walsh said. “… They all get to take it 3D, plug it into what they look at virtually, figure out how they’ll attack it, then go conduct the mission.”

In an article published in the Marine Corps Gazette, four platoon leaders from 2/6, all second lieutenants, described how they saw the system they helped create fitting into infantry training.

“As infantrymen, we do not spend as much time in the field as we would like,” they wrote. “The decision room is a way to maximize our training and tactical prowess garrison … we can optimize the natural technical aptitudes of millennials while not requiring units to purchase additional materials.”

The Office of Naval Research assisted with pulling the software components together and making them communicate as a complete system, Walsh said. Ultimately, top Marine leadership, including Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Assistant Commandant Gen. Glenn Walters, designated the system as a candidate for investment through the Corps’ rapid capabilities office, which activated late last year.

5 inventions DARPA just gave Santa in the ‘HO HO HO Initiative’
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force conducts a Realistic Urban Training Exercise in Guam. | US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan Wright

Col. James Jenkins, director of Science and Technology for the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, said the value of the system is in the ability of squads and small units to run and re-run the same scenario with detailed after-action feedback.

“Here’s the debrief, here’s who shot who when, and here’s why, and go back and just get better every time,” he said. “It’s all about that sets and reps.”

Jenkins said the first system will be delivered early next month, with planned delivery of four tactical decision-making kits per month until all 24 battalions are equipped. Jenkins said the kits will be delivered strategically when a unit has time to learn the technology and incorporate it into training, not during pre-deployment workups or other kinetic seasons.

This summer, between June and July, the Corps plans to publicly promote the tactical decision kit within the service, describing the innovation process at 2/6 and how relatively junior-ranking grunts came up with something of value to the greater institution.

“It was truly bottom-up, how could we make this better,” Jenkins said.

Walsh said the purchase illustrates the need for the rapid capabilities office and funding for fast prototyping and development. Ideally, he said, he would like to have around $50 million available to invest in new ideas and technologies.

“Is it the 100 percent solution? Probably not. We’re going to have to keep adjusting,” he said of the 2/6 invention. “But it’s now getting every squad in the Marine Corps wargaming, experimenting and doing tactics and learning from them.”

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Navy: no exceptions to fitness standards for transgender sailors

A new 12-page handbook released by the Navy today describes in detail when and how a sailor can complete a gender transition, down to how transgender sailors can participate in urinalysis tests and when it is appropriate to wear clothing of a preferred gender during visits to foreign ports.The guidance also contains a caution for sailors hoping to transition: they will be expected to pass the physical fitness requirements of their preferred gender immediately on transition, and are expected to take the initiative to train to those standards in advance.


As of Oct. 1, sailors were allowed to begin the process to change their official gender designation in personnel systems in accordance with a Pentagon mandate. Beginning in November, the Navy will dispatch mobile training teams to all major commands to explain the new policies and what they mean for the fleet. By July of next year, the Navy and all the other armed services will be accepting transgender applicants into ranks.

Also read: 3 myths about the new military retirement system

But the new guidance from the Navy makes clear that readiness will remain a top priority, even as sailors transition.

“There are no separate or distinct standards for transgender Service members,” the Navy administrative message containing the new guidances reads. “Service members and [military medical providers] must carefully consider the time required to adjust to new PRT standards as part of the medical treatment and transition planning process.”

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Screen grab from video highlighting changes to Navy PFA | Navy Video

The Navy’s physical readiness test, or PRT, has different requirements for men and women at every age group. For example, male sailors between the ages of 20 and 24 max out the PRT with 87 push-ups, a 1.5-mile run in 8 minutes, 30 seconds or less, and a 500-yard swim in six minutes, 30 seconds. Women in the same age group need to complete only 48 push-ups, a 1.5-mile run in 9 minutes, 47 seconds, and a 500-yard swim in seven minutes, 15 seconds to max out.

Meanwhile, height and weight standards also differ for male and female sailors. A male sailor who is within standards at 5′ 3″, 155 pounds and plans to transition to female must then meet standards for female sailors, which set the maximum weight for that height at 152 pounds.

Only a military medical provider can determine if a medical waiver is justified for sailors who are out of standards as they transition, the guidance states.

When and how to transition

In order to complete a gender transition while in uniform, sailors must receive an official diagnosis from a military doctor indicating that gender transition is medically necessary, according to the guidance. That diagnosis, along with a medical treatment plan, then must be reported to the appropriate unit commanding officer to for approval of the timing of medical treatment, taking into consideration when the sailor will rotate to another command, deployment and other operational schedules, and how the transition will affect career milestones. If a specific case requires immediate medical treatment, the guidance states it will be treated like any other medical emergency affecting a sailor. In these cases, the sailor may be transferred to limited duty status and “result in an unplanned loss to the command,” according to the Navadmin.

The commanding officer must respond to transition requests within 90 days, according to the new policy. The CO is allowed to take into account impact to the current mission, including “morale, welfare, and good order and discipline of the command,” when determining timeframe to respond to transition requests.

Gender transition treatment plans will differ from sailor to sailor and may include behavioral health counseling, hormone therapy, surgery, and real-life experience, the Navy’s term for for dressing and behaving in public as the preferred non-birth gender.

Sailors are allowed to begin participating in real-life experience before their gender transition is complete and their official gender has been changes in the personnel enrollment system, but must do so only in off-duty status, according to the guidance. All official unit functions, on-base or off, are considered to be on-duty status for sailors, making them off limit for real-life experience outings. And sailors deployed aboard ship face significant limitations: whether working or not, they are considered on-duty on ship at all times. While they can venture out in the clothing of their preferred gender during foreign port visits, these too are subject to restrictions and cultural sensitivities of the country in question.

“Commands need to be cognizant of host-nation laws and social norms when considering RLE in an off-duty status in foreign nations,” the guidance states. “Travel warnings, the State Department’s country-specific website, the DoD Foreign Clearance Guide, and any U.S. regional military commander directives should be reviewed and heeded.”

During transition, some missions may be off-limits for sailors. Transitioning sailors will be restricted from flying and diving ops during medical treatment and there may be limitations for sailors who have access to nuclear weapons, and chemical and biological weapons.

“The Navy’s bureau of Medicine is studying the effects of medical treatments associated with gender transition on members of the aviation and diving communities,” officials with Naval Personnel Command said in a statement.

Gender transition is only complete after a military doctor documents that the service member has completed required medical treatments and written permission from the commanding officer to change the official gender marker in the appropriate personnel administrative systems. While Defense Department guidance says no sailor may be kicked out of the service on the basis of being transgender, sailors are advised to consider the needs of the service when choosing how and when to transition. Transition should be completed during one tour of duty to avoid interrupting medical treatment and requiring additional coordination and a new transition plan, which may disrupt operational requirements at a new command. And transition during boot camp or service academy training is not advised.

“A service member is subject to separation in an entry-level status during the period of initial training … based on a medical condition that impairs the Service member’s ability to complete such training,” the guidance states.

Keeping the fleet comfortable

As a result of transgender sailors being permitted to serve openly, the entire fleet may get a little more modest.

Nudity in berthing and shower facilities is out, according to the guidance, and sailors must maintain a “minimum standard of coverage” walking through spaces, while sleeping, and while using bathrooms and washrooms, in order to show courtesy for others and maintain good order and discipline, according to the guidance.

Unit commanders are prohibited from creating exclusive berthing or bathroom facilities for transgender sailors, but are expected to use their discretion to enact appropriate policies to ensure the protection of privacy for individual sailors.

For urinalysis drug tests, which require that one sailor observe another procure the urine sample, the observer will be another of the same designated gender. But there may be adjustments to ensure the relative comfort level of the observer and the observed. These will be written into a future policy, the Navadmin states.

Though the details may be challenging, Navy officials said the service wants to make sure all qualified personnel find their place in the fleet.

“Our goal is to ensure that the mission is carried out by the most qualified and capable service members,” officials with Naval Personnel Command said in a statement. “If an individual can meet the Navy’s standards, they should be afforded the opportunity to serve.”

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