6 military developments from WW1 that made warfare more deadly - We Are The Mighty
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6 military developments from WW1 that made warfare more deadly

Sometimes the span of years can be summed up in one quote.


“One really clear way of understanding the shift in World War I in terms of technology is that soldiers rode in on horses and they left in airplanes,” military historian Dr. Libby H. O’Connell told the History Channel.

World War I saw counties mobilize their industry to produce materials needed for the conflict, (Youtube screenshot)

The fact is, World War I wasn’t just about turning out the instruments of death rapidly but instead, new death dealing technology evolved from the slogging stalemate of the trenches. Some of the technologies that helped end the war didn’t even exist when it started in 1914.

Here are some of the most notable developments.

1. Aircraft

In the early part of World War I, bombing attacks were carried out by dropping mortar rounds from planes. There were various ingenious methods being used to mount machine guns so they wouldn’t shoot off a propeller.

By the end of that war, though, the interrupter gear had been perfected, making the fighter a dominant part of aviation. From the ad hoc arrangement of dropping mortar rounds, large, multi-engine bombers delivered massive payloads on target. The aircraft was a proven weapon of war by the end of World War I.

SPAD XIII at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

2. Submarines

Viable submarine technology was in its infancy in World War I. The basics of the diesel-electric boat were worked out, though, and in 1914, an obsolete submarine, the U-9, sent a message by sinking three British armored cruisers in about an hour. That submarine displaced about 600 tons, had four torpedo tubes and eight torpedoes. By the end of the war, German submarines displaced 1,000 tons, had six torpedo tubes and 16 torpedoes.

German U-boats in Kiel. U-20, which sank the Lusitania, is second from the left in the front row. (Library of Congress photo)

3. The machine gun

Hand-cranked Gatling guns had emerged during the American Civil War, but they were still very clumsy affairs. It was Hiram Maxim, though, who came up with the design that would turn the battlefields of World War I into a charnel house. The frontal charges, like Joshua L. Chamberlain’s at Little Round Top, became more about death than glory.

British soldiers fire the Vickers Machine gun during the Battle of the Somme. (Photo: United Kingdom)

4. Tanks

With the rise of the machine gun, troops needed a way to punch through defensive lines. Ideas for the tank had been kicked around, but short-sightedness meant practical designs didn’t arrive on the battlefield until the Battle of the Somme in 1916. By 1918, both sides had tanks, even though Germany’s inventory was very limited.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

5. Chemical Warfare

Another idea to break the deadlock of the trenches was the use of poison gas.  While it was effective early on, eventually gas masks were developed to protect troops from toxins. Chemical weapons remain a threat on the battlefield today, with sarin gas recently being used during the Syrian Civil War.

However, unexploded World War I chemical munitions also remain a threat across France and Belgium, according to a 2015 Daily Mail article on the Battle of Verdun.

Photo colorized by Open University. Original black and white photo copyright Library and Archives Canada.

6. Howitzers

The howitzer came about because the artillery of previous eras, mostly focused on providing direct fire, proved inadequate against troops dug into the trenches. The howitzer came into its own in World War I and was able to provide the long range of cannons with a trajectory able to drop the shell in on enemy troops like a mortar. Today, most artillery pieces used by military forces are howitzers.

WWI doughboys with a 155mm howitzer. (National Archives)

So, with that in mind, take a look at the HISTORY video below to learn more about the deadly military technology of World War I.

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Here’s how to get in shape to be an Air Force special operator

The Air Force’s special operations candidates are encouraged to complete a tailored fitness program before they report for selection.


This 26-week guide is designed to get them physically ready for the challenges of the grueling training pipeline that features 1-3 workouts per day split into cardio, physical training, and swim workouts.

Old military favorites like pushups and planks are included along with creative stuff such as dragon flags, sliding leg curls, and handstand pushups.

Dragon flags are basically leg raises, except you keep raising your legs until all your weight is on your shoulder blades:

For the uninitiated, these are Dragon Flags. GIF: Youtube/BaristiWorkout

Sliding leg curls hit the glutes, hamstrings, and core:

GIF: Youtube/Dan Blewett

Handstand pushups are exactly what they sound like, and they work the shoulders and triceps:

GIF: Youtube/practicetroy’s channel

The challenge of the Air Force’s fitness guide is there for a reason. The training pipeline for combat controllers is over a year long and is physically tough.

GIF: Youtube/United States Air Force

Those interested in trying out the Air Force’s 26-week fitness program can download the guide as a PDF here. But be advised: It starts tough and gets tougher as it goes on.

Unlike the Marine Corps’ fitness app, the Air Force guide does not include instructions for individual exercises. Take some time to research proper form before attempting any unfamiliar exercises. (And WATM’s Max Your Body series can help.)

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Drug theft rises at VA hospitals

Federal authorities are investigating dozens of new cases of possible opioid and other drug theft by employees at Veterans Affairs hospitals, a sign the problem isn’t going away as more prescriptions disappear.


Data obtained by The Associated Press show 36 criminal investigations opened by the VA inspector general’s office from Oct. 1 through May 19. It brings the total number of open criminal cases to 108 involving theft or unauthorized drug use. Most of those probes typically lead to criminal charges.

The numbers are an increase from a similar period in the previous year. The VA has pledged “zero tolerance” in drug thefts following an AP story in February about a sharp rise in reported cases of stolen or missing drugs at the VA since 2009. Doctors, nurses or pharmacy staff in the VA’s network of more than 160 medical centers and 1,000 clinics are suspected of siphoning away controlled substances for their own use or street sale — sometimes to the harm of patients — or drugs simply vanished without explanation.

Drug thefts are a growing problem at private hospitals as well as the government-run VA as the illegal use of opioids has increased in the United States. But separate data from the Drug Enforcement Administration obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act show the rate of reported missing drugs at VA health facilities was more than double that of the private sector. DEA investigators cited in part a larger quantity of drugs kept in stock at the bigger VA medical centers to treat a higher volume of patients, both outpatient and inpatient, and for distribution of prescriptions by mail.

Senator Marco Rubio calls for increased accountability of the VA medical centers to curb prescription drug abuse and theft.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R- Fla., said AP’s findings were “troubling.” He urged Congress to pass bipartisan accountability legislation he was co-sponsoring that would give the agency “the tools needed to dismiss employees engaged in misconduct.” The Senate is set to vote on the bill June 6.

“The theft and misuse of prescription drugs, including opioids, by some VA employees is a good example of why we need greater accountability at the VA,” Rubio said.

In February, the VA announced efforts to combat drug thefts, including employee drug tests and added inspections. Top VA officials in Washington led by VA Secretary David Shulkin pledged to be more active, holding conference calls with health facilities to develop plans and reviewing data to flag problems. The department said it would consider more internal audits.

Criminal investigators said it was hard to say whether new safeguards are helping.

“Prescription drug diversion is a multifaceted, egregious health care issue,” said Jeffrey Hughes, the acting VA assistant inspector general for investigations. “Veterans may be denied necessary medications or their proper dosage and medical records may contain false information to hide the diversion, further putting veterans’ health at risk.”

Responding, the VA said it was working to develop additional policies “to improve drug safety and reduce drug theft and diversion across the entire health care system.”

“We have security protocols in place and will continue to work hard to improve it,” Poonam Alaigh, VA’s acting undersecretary for health, told the AP.

A Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta, GA

In one case, a registered nurse in the Spinal Cord Injury Ward at the VA medical center in Richmond, Virginia, was recently sentenced after admitting to stealing oxycodone tablets and fentanyl patches from VA medication dispensers. The nurse said she would sometimes shortchange the amount of pain medication prescribed to patients, taking the remainder to satisfy her addiction.

Hughes cited in particular the risk of patient harm. “Health care providers who divert for personal use may be providing care while under the influence of narcotics,” he said.

AP’s story in February had figures documenting the sharp rise in drug thefts at federal hospitals, most of them VA facilities. Subsequently released DEA data provide more specific details of the problem at the VA. Drug losses or theft increased from 237 in 2009 to 2,844 in 2015, before dipping to 2,397 last year. In only about 3 percent of those cases have doctors, nurses or pharmacy employees been disciplined, according to VA data.

At private hospitals, reported drug losses or theft also rose — from 2,023 in 2009 to 3,185 in 2015, before falling slightly to 3,154 last year. There is a bigger pool of private U.S. hospitals, at least 4,369, according to the American Hospital Association. That means the rate of drug loss or theft is lower than VA’s.

The VA inspector general’s office said it had opened 25 cases in the first half of the budget year that began Oct. 1. That is up from 21 in the same period in 2016.

The IG’s office said the number of newly opened criminal probes had previously been declining since 2014.

Michael Glavin, an IT specialist at the VA, says he’s heard numerous employee complaints of faulty VA technical systems that track drug inventories, leading to errors and months of delays in identifying when drugs go missing. Prescription drug shipments aren’t always fully inventoried when they arrive at a VAfacility, he said, making it difficult to determine if a drug was missing upon arrival or stolen later.

“It’s still the same process,” said Glavin, who heads the local union at the VA medical center in Columbia, Missouri. The union’s attorney, Natalie Khawam, says whistleblowers at other VA hospitals have made similar complaints.

Criminal investigators stressed the need for a continuing drug prevention effort. The VA points to inventory checks every 72 hours and “double lock and key access” to drugs. It attributes many drug loss cases to reasons other than employee theft, such as drugs lost in transit. But the DEA says some of those cases may be wrongly classified.

“Inventories are always an issue as to who’s watching or checking it,” said Tom Prevoznik, a DEA deputy chief of pharmaceutical investigations. “What are the employees doing, and who’s watching them?”

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Congress wants the Air Force to prove the F-35 can take over for the A-10

Capt. Richard Olson, 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron A-10 pilot, gets off an A-10 Warthog after his flight at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 2, 2011. | US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook


House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry drafted a bill that would stop the Air Force from using funds in their 2017 budget to retire or reduce the use of the A-10 Warthog until the Pentagon’s weapons tester completes comparative tests between the A-10 and the F-35 Lightning II.

The tests would compare the two aircraft’s ability to conduct close air support, search and rescue missions, and forward air controller airborne missions DefenseNews reports.

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate Armed Services Committee contend that the F-35 doesn’t possess the capabilities of the A-10, and that removing the Warthog from service would create a notable capability gap, which would be felt by the soldiers on the ground.

An F-35A Lightning II team parks the aircraft for the first time at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Feb. 8, 2016. | U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth

In March of 2015, when Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh’s claimed that F-16s and F-15s would take over the role of the A-10,  Senator John McCain unleashed the following scathing criticism:

“It’s really embarrassing to hear you say something like that when I talk to the people who are doing the flying, who are doing the combat who say that the A-10 is by far the best close-air support system we have.”

Indeed the A-10, a Cold War-era legacy plane has gained itself a cult following with forward deployed troops in heavy combat zones.

The distinctive buzzing noise made by the Warthog’s 30 mm GAU-8/A Avenger has come to signal salvation to soldiers in need of close air support.

“Cutting back a one-of-a-kind capability with no clear replacement is an example of a budget-based strategy, not the strategy-based budget we need to meet our defense needs,” a letter from the legislators stated last year.

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8 Pvt. Karl hijinks that will get you killed

There’s news out of Russia that two were people tragically were killed and another injured after a Russian S-200 anti-aircraft missile accidentally exploded at a recycling center that was sold there, almost certainly after being stolen.


And while we can’t prove this whole ridiculous and tragic event was thanks to Pvt. Karl of the Russian Federation, I mean, come on, it obviously was.

Alongside “selling armed missiles to civilian scrapyards,” here are eight other deadly shenanigans Karl will try to get his comrades wrapped up in as well as how any rational person should respond:

8. Setting up an illegal gambling ring with the Russian mafia

(Photo: PIRO4D, Creative Commons CC0)

Sure, games of chance are always rigged in the house’s favor, but setting up an underground franchise purchased from the Russian Mafia is a really good way of ending up underground, courtesy of the Russian Mafia, KARL!

7. Taunting paratroopers on their holiday

This guy got punched just for talking about paratroopers in Russia on their special day. (GIF: YouTube/Euronews (in English))

The Soviet airborne corps had an official holiday on August 2 every year, and the Russian Federation has seen fit to unofficially continue the tradition. But engaging with drunken paratroopers celebrating their own importance is a good way to get turned into a lawn dart, KARL! (As a TV reporter learned in 2017.)

6. Trying to distill liquor in a lead-lined still

No, Karl, I don’t think we should buyout this moonshine operation. I actually don’t think we should touch anything here, and I think we should wash our hands. (Photo: An-d, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Yup, bootlegging is a profitable business. But since no one here has metallurgy or distillery experience, and since lead poisoning will make you go blind, maybe we should stick to just buying vodka, KARL!

5. Selling your winter uniforms every summer

(Photo: Office of the President of Russia)

Winter coats are valuable and selling them is an easy way to get some quick cash. But since we’re enlisted soldiers in a country that stretches into the Arctic Circle, maybe we should hold onto them, KARL!

4. Selling weapons and food that “fell off the books” to preppers

(Photo: Russian Ministry of Defence)

So many people are preparing for the apocalypse, and old Soviet stockpiles are popular with them. The modern Russian stuff has to be even better, right? Sure, but getting into the international arms black market probably has some downsides, KARL!

3. Modifying your issued weapons for “enhanced lethality”

(Photo: Russian Ministry of Defence)

Maybe, maybe, maybe if anyone around here had armorer experience, this could be a good idea. But since you can’t even open a soda without cutting your hand open, packing more powder into the ammo casings or adjusting the mechanism for faster full-auto capability sounds like a good way for our boom sticks to actually go boom, KARL!

2. Going in halvsies for a Soviet-made car (only 25% interest!)

(Photo: Erdenebayar, Creative Commons CC0)

Seriously, Karl. This would be a bad deal for a decent, almost new, imported-from-Germany car. And since you can barely drive for more than five minutes after a bar or footlocker of liquor is opened, we could get the same result faster if we just doused you in gasoline and gave you a lighter, KARL!.

1. Hitting on the wife of that pro-military Russian oligarch who came on a morale tour

(Photo: Russian Ministry of Defence)

Yeah, she’s at least a 10. And yes, she’s way closer to our ages than she is to her husband’s. But that does not make this a good idea. She made her choice, and she chose a man who could kill the both of us in a courthouse while surrounded by police and never get arrested, KARL!

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How Desert Storm changed air warfare

Wikimedia


As laser-guided bombs incinerated Iraqi tanks from the sky, surveillance aircraft monitored enemy troop movements and stealth bombers eluded radar tracking from air defenses in the opening days of Operation Desert Storm decades ago – very few of those involved were likely considering how their attacks signified a new era in modern warfare.

Now, as veterans, historians and analysts commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first Gulf War in the early 90s, many regard the military effort as a substantial turning point in the trajectory or evolution of modern warfare.

Operation Desert Storm involved the combat debut of stealth technology, GPS for navigation, missile warning systems, more advanced surveillance plane radar, and large amounts of precision-focused laser-guided bombs, Maj. Gen. Paul Johnson, Director of Requirements for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, told Scout Warrior in a special interview.

“We saw the first glimpses in Desert Storm of what would become the transformation of air power,” he said.

The five-to-six-week air war, designed to clear the way for what ultimately became a 100-hour ground invasion, began with cruise missiles and Air Force and Army helicopters launching a high-risk mission behind enemy lines to knock out Iraqi early warning radar sites.  Two Air Force MH-53 Pave Low helicopters led AH-64 Apache Attack helicopter into Iraqi territory, Johnson explained.

The idea of the mission was to completely destroy the early warning radar in order to open up an air corridor for planes to fly through safely and attack Iraqi targets. The mission was successful.

“This was the dawn of GPS – the ability to precisely navigate anywhere anytime without any other navigation systems. The Pave Lows had it and the Apaches did not – so the Pave Low was there to navigate the Apache’s deep into Iraq to find the early warning radar sites,” he recalled. “Now, everybody has it on their iPhone but at that day and time it was truly revolutionary.”

Wikimedia

Johnson explained the priority targets during the air war consisted of Iraqi artillery designed to knock out any potential ability for Iraq to launch chemical weapons. Other priority targets of course included Iraqi air defenses, troop formations, armored vehicles and command and control locations.

The air attack involved F-117 Night Hawk stealth bombers, B-52s, F-15 Eagles and low-flying A-10 Warthog aircraft, among other assets.

Desert Storm Heroism

At one point during the Air War, Johnson’s A-10 Warthog plane was hit by an Iraqi shoulder-fired missile while attempting to attack enemy surface-to-air missile sites over Iraqi territory.

“I found myself below the weather trying to pull off an attack that failed. I got hit in the right wing. I yelled out and finally keyed the mic and decided to tell everyone else that I was hit. I safely got the airplane back. They fixed the airplane in about 30-days. The enemy fire hit the right wing of the airplane and the wing was pretty messed up, but I had sufficient control authority to keep the wings level,” Johnson said.

On the way back from the mission, while flying a severely damaged airplane, Johnson received in-flight refueling from a KC-10 aircraft at about 25,000 feet. Johnson received the Air Force Cross for his heroism.

The Combat Debut of New Technology

While there was not much air-to-air combat during Desert Storm, the Iraqis did try to field a few Mig-29 fighter jets. However, upon being noticed by U.S. Air Force F-15E radar – they took off, Johnson said.

The advent of much great air-fired precision weaponry, aided by overhead surveillance and GPS for navigation is largely referred to as the 2nd Offset – a moment in the evolution of warfare marked by significant technological leaps forward.  Johnson explained that the 2nd Offset fully came to fruition in the late 90s during Operation Allied Force in Kosovo.

GPS guided bombs, called Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, did not yet exist at the time of the first Gulf War – but GPS technology for navigation greatly improve the ability of pilots and ground forces to know exactly where they were in relation to surrounding territory and enemy force movements.

This was particularly valuable in Iraq due to the terrain, Johnson explained. There was no terrain or mountainous areas as landmarks from which to navigate. The landscape was entirely desert with no roads, no terrain and no rivers.

In addition, massive use of laser guided weaponry allowed air assets to pinpoint Iraqi targets from a laser-spot – thereby increasing accuracy and mission efficiency while reducing collateral damage.

“Laser weapons had been around since Vietnam but we expended laser guided bombs in numbers that we had never done before,” he explained.

Some of the weapons dropped included Maverick missiles, the 2,000-pound Mk 84 penetrator and a 500-pound Mk 82 along with cluster weaponry.  The Maverick missile is an anti-armor precision weapon which uses electro-optical precision weaponry to destroy targets.

“The Maverick has a camera in the front of the missile that would lock on and guide itself to the target. It is old technology but very precise,” Johnson added.

Also, airborne surveillance, in the form of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, provided attacking forces with an unprecedented view from the sky, Johnson said.

The aircraft used Ground Moving Target Indicator and Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, to deliver a “rendering” or painted picture of ground activity below.

“This allowed us to monitor the battlefield day or night regardless of the weather and detect movement of enemy ground formations. The Iraqi forces tried to make a movement on the village of Khafji. It was a large-scale movement by the Iraqi Army in the middle of the night because they thought we could not see them. We saw them,” Johnson explained.

Due to this surveillance technology, the commander of the air war moved an entire theater’s worth of air power to attack the Iraqi formation.

“In Desert Storm you had the ability to dynamically see what was going on in the battlespace and perform command and control in real time and divert assets in real time. You had the ability to navigate incredibly precisely and then the ability to apply precision weapons – one weapon kills one target at a time,” he added.

Desert Storm also involved the combat debut of beyond line-of-sight satellite communications which, among other things, provide missile warning systems, Johnson said.

“We did not shoot at every Scud that came in because we know where it was going to go,” Johnson recalled.

Johnson explained that the Gulf War changed the paradigm for the strategic use of air power by allowing one plane to precisely hit multiple targets instead of using un-guided bombs to blanket an area.

“We began a change in calculus. Since the dawn of air power, the calculus has always been – ‘How many airplanes does it take to destroy a target?’ A-10s can put a string of bombs through the target area and hopefully one of the bombs hits the target. By the end of the 90s, the calculus was – ‘How many targets can a single airplane destroy?’ Johnson said.

Desert Storm Ground War

The 100-hour ground war was both effective and successful due to the air war and the use of tactical deception. U.S. amphibious forces had been practicing maneuvers demonstrating shore attacks along the Kuwaiti coastline as a way to give the Iraqis the impression that that is how they would attack.

“The Iraqis saw these amphibious maneuvers because that is what we wanted them to see,” Johnson explained.

However, using a famous “left hook” maneuver, U.S. coalition forces actually attacked much further inland and were able to quickly advance with few casualties through thinner Iraqi defenses.

Wikimedia

There were, however, some famous tank battles in the open desert during the ground attack. U.S. Army tanks destroyed large numbers or Iraqi tanks and fighting positions – in part because advanced thermal infrared imagers inside U.S. Army M1 Abrams battle tanks enable crews to detect the signature of Iraqi tanks without needing ambient light.

Although this gave U.S. forces and an advantage – and the U.S. Army was overwhelmingly victorious in Desert Storm tank battles – there were some tough engagement such as the Battle of Medina Ridge between the Army’s 1st Armored Division and Iraqi Republican Guard forces.

Effects Based Warfare – Changing Air Attacks

The use of such precision from the air marked the debut of what is commonly referred to as “effects based warfare,” a strategic air attack technique aimed at attacking specific targets from the air without needing to destroy the infrastructure of the attack area.

As a result, targets included command and control centers, moving ground troops or armored forces, supply lines and other strategic and tactical targets. Effects-Based warfare experts describe this as a “strategic rings” approach with command and control at the center of the inner circle and other enemy assets in the so-called outer rings.

One idea, among others, was to use precision weaponry from the air to cut off communication and supply lines between the command and control centers and outer forces on the move — in order to paralyze and destroy mobile enemy forces.

Wikimedia

This approach was successfully used in Desert Storm, marking a historic shift in the strategic use of air power.  In fact, a similar conceptual framework was used more than 10 years later in the opening attacks of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“There once was a time when we thought we had to go into the layers sequentially where we had to start at the out layers and peel it back to get into the inner layers. Desert Storm indicated that this is not the case. The first ordnance to hit the ground was at the inner layer,” Johnson explained.

More from Warrior Scout:

This article originally appeared at Warrior Scout. Copyright 2016.

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Add Zumwalt Class to list of new Navy ships having engineering problems

The Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer DDG 1000 is floated out of dry dock at the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works shipyard. (Photo: U.S. Navy)


With at least five littoral combat ships needing time in the repair yard after engineering problems, and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) suffering her own power plant problems, the Navy took another hit when USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) ended up on the binnacle list as well.

According to a report by USNI News, the 16,000-ton destroyer suffered a seawater leak in an auxiliary system for one of the ship’s propeller shafts. The destroyer is currently undergoing repairs at Norfolk Navy Yard. The repairs are expected to take up to two weeks.

The Zumwalt has had other issues – the new integrated power system caused extensive delay – and was cut from a planned purchase of 32 destroyers to three. Each ship in the class is armed with two 155mm Advanced Gun Systems, the largest guns to see Navy service since the retirement of the Iowa-class battleships. The vessels also carry 30-millimeter Mk 46 Bushmaster II chain guns, and twenty four-cell Mk 57 vertical launch systems. They have a top speed of over 30 knots.

The three vessels being built with cutting-edge technology will cost a total of $22 billion, including $9.6 billion for RD. Each of the three hulls, therefore, is bearing $3.2 billion in RD costs. Had the original 32 ships been procured, the per-ship RD burden would have been only $300 million per ship.

The cut in program size nearly led to the entire cancellation of the program under Nunn-McCurdy, which requires that the Department of Defense notify Congress if unit cost exceeds estimates by 15 percent. When the unit cost exceeds estimates by 25 percent, Nunn-McCurdy requires that the program is to be terminated unless DOD can certify that certain conditions have been met.

In a release about the incident, the Navy noted, “Repairs like these are not unusual in first-of-class ships during underway periods following construction.”

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The Marine Corps’ last Mounted Color Guard enters 50 years of service

The Marine Corps’ last Mounted Color Guard, housed at the Yermo Annex aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, launches into the year 2017 and its 50th year of service.


“In 1966, Lt. Col. Robert Lindsley came to MCLB Barstow (after serving in) Vietnam,” explained Sgt. Terry Barker, MCG stableman.

“At that time a lot of the dependent children from base would take horses from the stables and ride them out in town in parades. Rather than the kids riding in the parades, Lindsley decided that we needed to have the Marines riding with the horses, so in 1967 he stood up the official Marine Mounted Color Guard here.”

The Marine Corps’ Mounted Color Guard pose for a portrait at the stables. Left to right: Sgt. Monica Hilpisch, Sgt. Moses Machuca, Sgt. Terry Barker and Sgt. Jacob Cummins. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Carlos Guerra)

The stables were renamed to honor Lindsley as the founder of the MMCG during a ceremony held on base in April of 2010.

Lindsley, a native of Columbus, Ohio, was born into a military family then joined the Marine Corps as an enlisted Marine in December 1941, days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1950, he was commissioned and after several assignments, he was stationed at MCLB Barstow where he was assigned to the Center Stables Committee, which later became the Mounted Color Guard.

Though there were multiple MCGs initially, MCLB Barstow is now home to the last remaining MCG throughout the Marine Corps. They travel far and wide to participate in events from coast to coast.

“Depending on budget and scheduling, we might be in events from California to Louisiana, Florida to D.C., Tennessee to Oregon,” Barker said.

“We cover the four corners of this country.”

There are some events that they never miss, such as the Tournament of Roses Parade held in Pasadena, Calif. every January. In that event, the MMCG always leads the parade and is the only unit to hold the American Flag. As a recruiting tool, the MCG reaches areas of the country where the Marine Corps is not otherwise represented.

“We have big bases in California, North Carolina and Okinawa,” Barker said. “There are states in the mid-west where there are no Marine Corps bases, active or reserve. So, when we participate in rodeos, parades, or monument dedications, we are quite possibly the only Marines in the entire state. Everybody sees Marines on television, or in the news, but they rarely get to stand next to them, shake their hand and talk to them. That’s what we get to do.”

The horses and Marines train together daily, and always travel together.

Also read: This is how Theodore Roosevelt turned a ‘cowboy cavalry’ into the battle-ready ‘Rough Riders’

“We have a truck and trailer, and wherever they go, we go,” Barker said. The Marines often go so far as to sleep in the truck and trailer, rather than reserving hotel rooms, in order to save money and stay as close as they can to the horses to ensure safety.

“Another benefit is we can get them ready earlier,” said Sgt. Jacob Cummins, MCG Stableman. “Also we have to stay with our horses if they are not in a stables area.”

All of the travel can be difficult, but Cummins said it’s nothing like a deployment.

“For me, my wife is pretty conditioned to it,” he said. “It’s the kids that make it hard sometimes. They don’t know why you have to go.”

It helps to come back and get into a regular routine with family, as well as the horses.

“Our daily regimen (at the stables) depends on what’s going on, as far as events,” Barker explained. “We get here at 7 a.m. and feed and water the horses, and muck the stalls out. As Marines, we still have jobs to do as well, plus ground work, saddle training, and ranch maintenance.”

“For our maintenance training and farrier work we have Terry Holliday, a contractor,” said Sgt. Jacob Cummins, MCG stableman. “Each Marine is assigned to two horses to work with daily, and if any Marines are out, we cover their horses, too.”

The Marine Corps’ Mounted Color Guard. Left to right: Sgt. Monica Hilpisch, Sgt. Moses Machuca, Sgt. Terry Barker and Sgt. Jacob Cummins. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by: Carlos Guerra)

Much has changed over the years, to include the procurement and initial training practices for the horses. In the early stages, Lindsley went to Utah with $600 to purchase horses for use with the MCG Marines.

“The horses we use today are all obtained through the Horse and Burro Program out of Carson City, Nevada,” explained Barker. “From there, they go through an inmate rehabilitation program, where the inmates get the horses to where they are green-broke, which means you can approach them, touch them, and touch their feet and so forth.”

Some of the Marines assigned to the MCG, such as Barker and Cummins, as well as two other riders, Sgt. Monica Hilpisch, and Lance Cpl. Alicia Frost, have prior experience riding and working with horses. However, most of the riders assigned to the MCG, such as Sgt. Moises Machuca and Sgt. Miguel Felix who are both currently with the team, did not have any experience with horses prior to their arrival. It is Holliday’s task to train the Marines to ride the horses effectively. The Marines learn basics first, such as the use of saddles, rein work, the various types of bridles and their functions, as well as how to make contact with the animals.

“They may come to the MCG without experience, but these are Marines and they’re the  best of the best, so they do this like they do everything else,” said Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Atkinson, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Mounted Color Guard. “They work hard and become the best. It’s an honor to represent the Marine Corps in such a manner.”

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Chinese military official warns that war with US under Trump is becoming a ‘practical reality’

A Chinese military official has warned that war between the US and China is becoming “a practical reality” following the inauguration of President Donald Trump.


On January 20, an official from the People’s Liberation Army wrote on its official website that the US’s “rebalance” in Asia, its deployments to the region, and its push to arm South Korea with the THAAD missile-defense system were provocative “hot spots getting closer to ignition,” The South China Morning Post reported Friday.

Related: China tests missile that could muscle US out of the South China Sea

Before his inauguration, Trump sparked controversy in China when he took a phone call from the president of Taiwan, going against the US’s decades-long protocol to respect a “One China” policy. At the time, Chinese officials lodged a complaint with the White House but referred to the call as a “shenanigan by the Taiwan side.”

Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army 1st Amphibious Mechanized Infantry Division prepare to provide Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen with a demonstration of their capablities during a visit to the unit in China on July 12, 2011. | DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

But that hasn’t put to rest all of China’s concerns. “The Taiwan question” is a core interest to the country, which, two PLA authors wrote in December, could push a more aggressive response as the US supports independence for Taiwan and more exports of weaponry.

“We hope that the US will rein in at the brink of the precipice and avoid going farther and farther down the wrong path,” the authors wrote on the Chinese military’s official website.

For now, China seems to be trying to get a read on what a Trump administration might do, especially in the contested South China Sea. But it is continuing to build up military preparedness and overhaul its ranks,according to SCMP.

“As it’s highly unlikely that China will compromise its sovereignty claims in the face of US pressure, we can be sure that the dispute will increasingly become a risky point of contention between Beijing and Washington,” Ian Storey, a senior fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, told the paper.

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9 military movie scenes where Hollywood got it totally wrong

Hollywood makes plenty of military movies, but that doesn’t mean they are always accurate.


Military veterans can be especially judgmental in the accurate portrayal of military films — despite critical and audience acclaim — and some can be impossible to watch when they are filled with technical errors.

Whether its a low budget film you probably haven’t seen or a blockbuster film you love, here are 9 scenes in military movies where Hollywood got it completely wrong.

1. Rambo: First Blood Part II

Mistake: After rescuing the POW’s and getting them on the helicopter, Rambo uses an M72 light anti-tank weapon (LAW) to shoot at the Russian Hind Helicopter and no one on board his helicopter gets hurt.

Reality: The back blast of the M72 light anti-tank weapon (LAW) can kill up to 130 feet. Rambo would have killed all the POW’s he just rescued and possibly destroyed the helicopter.

2. The Hurt Locker

Mistake: Sgt. First Class William James goes AWOL to avenge the death of his friend.

Reality: No soldier in their right mind would go AWOL in combat to avenge someone’s death. He would be prosecuted under the UCMJ. Of course, this is only one of many technical errors in “The Hurt Locker.” This meme pretty much sums it all up:

3. Heartbreak Ridge

Mistake: Gunny Highway shoots live rounds at the feet of his Marines during training.

Reality: Sure, realistic training is good for troops headed into combat, but shooting live rounds at troops is a serious offense and Gunny Highway would be prosecuted under the UCMJ.

4. Jarhead

Mistake: After learning the war is over, Marine Anthony Swofford says he never shot his rifle, to which his friend replies: “You can do it now.” He fires his rifle in to the sky and all the Marines follow by shooting wildly in the air.

Reality: Marines are professional and disciplined war fighters. Every one of these Marines would be brought up on charges under the UCMJ.

5. Full Metal Jacket

Mistake: The colonel salutes Joker first after speaking with him at the mass burial site.

Reality: No matter what branch of service, enlisted service members always salute the officers first, not the other way around.

6. Navy SEALs

Mistake: During an operation one of the Navy SEALs addresses a team member by his real name over the radio.

Reality: Real names are never used over the radio during any military operation.

7. Zero Dark Thirty

Mistake: Navy SEALs yelling orders during the Osama Bin Laden mission.

Reality: Unless absolutely necessary, verbal communication during a covert operation, let alone any mission, would not happen. Hand signals would be the primary way of communicating.

8. Top Gun

Mistake: Maverick flying inverted within 3 feet of the MIG while Goose takes a picture.

Reality: The tails of the fighter jets would be around 9 feet and a collision would be inevitable. There are many, many more problems with “Top Gun,” detailed here.

9. Flesh Wounds

Mistake: A commanding officer in the US Army is wearing a ribbon stack on his camouflage uniform and multiple patches down his sleeve.

Reality: The ribbons and patches this “Colonel” wears makes him look more like a boy scout than a soldier. No branch of service allows service members to wear their ribbon stack on their camouflage uniform.

This was only the tip of the iceberg. What other scenes in military movies did you find were total Hollywood screw-ups? Leave a comment.

NOW: 79 Cringeworthy Technical Errors In The Movie ‘Top Gun’

OR: Hurry Up And Watch ‘Navy SEALs’ In Under 3 Minutes:

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New monument will honor Vietnam helicopter crews

A new monument at Arlington National Cemetery, near the U.S. capital, will honor American helicopter crews who flew during the Vietnam War.


The Military Times reports Congress has approved the monument, which will be near the Tomb of the Unknowns.

(Photo from Wikimedia)

Spearheading the memorial campaign is retired Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Hesselbein, who flew AH-1 Cobra gunships in Vietnam. Hesselbein says Arlington has the greatest concentration of helicopter-crew casualties from the war.

Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin says the monument will create a “teachable moment” for people to understand the story of pilots and crew members. The U.S. relied heavily on helicopters to transport troops and provide support to ground forces near enemy soldiers in Vietnam.

The nonprofit Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association is paying for the monument.

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North Korea just tried to show how it would ‘take on’ the US Navy

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, presided over the launch of a new anti-ship cruise missile system on June 8 in Wonsan, on North Korea’s east coast. And though the missiles performed well and struck their target, it was a pretty weak showing.


The missiles flew about 125 miles, South Korea said, and fired from tracked launchers with forest camouflage. The missiles themselves were not new, according to The Diplomat, but they showed off a new launcher that can fire from hidden, off-road locations within moments of being set up.

But those are about the only nice things you could say about these missiles.

In the photos released by North Korean media, it’s clear the missiles are striking a ship that isn’t moving.

The ship appears anchored, with no wake. Photo by Rodong Sinmun

In a combat situation, the ships would move and take countermeasures. For the US, South Korean, and Japanese navies, that often means firing an interceptor missile.

North Korea also lacks the ability to support these missiles with accurate guidance. The US would use planes, drones, or even undersea platforms to observe and track a target.

Photo by Rodong Sinmun

North Korea waited to test these missiles until two US aircraft carrier strike groups armed to the teeth with missile defense capabilities left its shores, perhaps to avoid embarrassment should the US knock them down.

Unlike its practice with ballistic-missile tests, which are banned under international law, the US did not publicly comment on this launch. North Korea is well within its rights to test a cruise missile in international waters.

Photo by Rodong Sinmun

But despite the rudimentary technology used in the launch, North Korea did show that it poses a real threat. Not only do the missile launchers leverage the element of surprise, but they represent yet another new missile capability.

In a few short months, North Korea has demonstrated a range of capabilities that has surprised experts and military observers. Though the missiles don’t pose a threat to the US Navy, Kim showed he’s serious about fighting on all fronts.

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Here’s what an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities might have looked like

For the better part of the past decade it was one of the most consequential questions in international affairs, with an answer that could potentially spark a war between two Middle Eastern military powers.


Just how close was Israel to attacking Iran’s nuclear program? And if Israel ever launched a preventative strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, what would such an operation actually look like?

A blockbuster report by the Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous provides one possible answer. According to Entous, Israel planned a daring — and, in the US’ view, disastrous and even suicidal — commando raid on Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility in the early 2010s. Fordow ishome to 2,700 uranium enrichment centrifuges and is housed inside a hollowed-out mountain on an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps base.

“Cargo planes would land in Iran with Israeli commandos on board who would ‘blow the doors, and go in through the porch entrance’ of Fordow, a senior US official said,” according to Entous. “The Israelis planned to sabotage the nuclear facility from inside.”

At some point in 2011 or 2012, Israel was apparently serious enough about this plan to violate Iranian airspace in the course of its preparations: “Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry run for a commando raid on the site,” Entous reported.

The “dry run” could have been doubly aimed at signaling the seriousness of Israeli intentions — and Israeli military capabilities — to a US administration that was then in the process of opening backchannel nuclear negotiations with Tehran. But the US took the possibility of an Israeli strike seriously enough to alter its defense posture in the Persian Gulf in response to a possible Israeli attack, sending a second aircraft carrier to region for some unspecified period of time, the Journal reported.

Until the Iran nuclear deal was signed this past July, an Israeli strike on Iran was one of the most intriguing — and perhaps terrifying — hypothetical scenarios in global politics. Israeli officials often argued the country was capable of launching an attack that would destroy or severely disable many of Iran’s facilities. At times, Israel pointedly demonstrated its long-range strike capabilities. In October of 2012, Israeli jets destroyed an Iranian-linked weapons facility in Khartoum, Sudan, a city almost exactly as far from Israel’s borders as Iran’s primary nuclear facilities.

A September 2010 Atlantic Magazine cover story by Jeffrey Goldberg laid out what were believed to be the requirements of a successful Israeli attack on Iran’s facilities. Israel has no strategic bombers; its fighters would have to use Saudi airspace in order to make it to Iran while maintaining enough of a fuel load to return to base. Some of its planes might have had to land in Saudi Arabia to refuel, or even use a temporary desert base as a staging area. (One of the intriguing unanswered questions in the Wall Street Journal story is whether Israeli planes crossed into Saudi airspace during the alleged “dry run.”)

As Goldberg notes, it wouldn’t be enough for Israel just to destroy Iranian facilities. The Israeli mission would also have to have a ground component to collect proof of a successful strike.

The consequences of a direct hit on Iran’s facilities — something which might require the most sophisticated military operation in Israel’s history — are unknowable ahead of time. Perhaps an attack would touch off a devastating escalation cycle in which Iranian linked terrorists attacked Israeli and US assets abroad, Iran launched attacks on Saudi targets to retaliate for their perceived cooperation, and the Iranian proxy militia Hezbollah unleashed its arsenal of 200,000 rockets at Israel.

Or maybe a jittery Tehran would hold back, cutting its losses after a superior military’s direct hit on one of the regime’s most important strategic assets. After all, neither Bashar al Assad nor Saddam Hussein retaliated when Israel destroyed their nuclear reactors from the air in2007 and 1981, respectively.

But administration of president Barack Obama was worried enough about the possible outcome of a strike to make the prevention of an Israeli attack one of it major foreign policy priorities. As Entous stresses, the US withheld information from Israel on the progress of its talks with Iran out of fear that Israel might attempt to sabotage the talks or use an attack to preempt a diplomatic resolution to the Iran issue.

Whether this was a legitimate fear was perhaps less important than the fact that the tactic worked: Israel hasn’t attacked Iran yet, and the Iran Deal substantially raises the costs of a future strike for Israel. The deal signed this past July may or may not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But it effectively removes an Israeli strike against the country from the realm of possibility into the foreseeable future.

As Entous’s reporting indicates, it wasn’t that long ago that Israeli officials really were thinking seriously about an Iran strike — enough to risk sending their planes into enemy territory, and raising tensions with their top ally.