9 tanks that changed armored warfare - We Are The Mighty
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9 tanks that changed armored warfare

Tank warfare has changed a lot from 1914 when rolling fortresses were first proposed to today when Russia’s T-14 Armata currently in development hopes to shoot down enemy rounds before they can even reach the armor.


From the tank’s debut in 1916 to the fielding of ceramic armor on modern tanks, here are nine armored behemoths that changed tank warfare:

1. British Mark I clears the way for tank warfare

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
(Photo: Public Domain/British Government)

The first tank to see combat was the British Mark I, a slow-moving vehicle that provided relatively little protection from infantry and was prone to breakdowns but which ushered in the tank as a weapon of warfare and was able to grab nearly a mile of German-held ground in its first attempt.

2. French Renault FT blazes across the battlefield (at least, in relation to heavy tanks)

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Army Lt. Col. George S. Patton with a Renault tank. He became America’s first-ever tank officer the previous year as a captain. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The first operational light tank, the Renault FT was one of France’s first tanks and it set the template for tank design that has carried through to the present day.

While the British favored their heavy tank designs, the French adopted light tanks early with the FT. These were faster, capable of matching the speed of marching infantry, and pioneered the cabin design favored by nearly all modern tanks today with a driver in front, commander and turret operator directly behind, and the engine in the rear of the vehicle.

3. Panzer II is a master of coordination (if nothing else)

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
(Photo: German Army Archives)

The Panzer II was one of Germany’s first tanks and a major staple of the army at the start of World War II, but it was a lackluster design that was unremarkable except for one detail: it was the first tank designed with a radio for every tank and an operator assigned as a specific role in the crew.

4. The French S35 featured sloped and cast armor

Frankreich, Panzer Somua S35, Geschütz French S35 tanks captured in World War II. (Photo: German Army Archives)

The S35 was designed and manufactured with a sloped armor hull that was cast in four molds during manufacture. This resulted in armor with fewer seams that could split or give during heavy combat and fewer flat surfaces against which enemy rounds could hit at right angles, reducing the chance they would punch through.

5. The Mk. VII Tetrarch was the first airborne tank

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
(Photo: Imperial War Museum)

The British Mk. VII Tetrarch tank was a fine light tank that wouldn’t be on this list if it weren’t for a very specific adaptation after it was initially fielded: The Tetrarch was taught to fly.

The first British paratroopers looked for a tank they could take with them on jumps and glider insertions and realized that the Tetrarch was light enough to ride in specialized gliders. British airborne forces took the Tetrarch tanks with them into Normandy on D-Day, but the tanks struggled in combat.

6. The Soviet T-34 had armor that could survive multiple hits from enemy main guns

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
A Russian T-34 tank burns during World War II. Hey, they weren’t immortal, just super tough and widely fielded. (Photo: Bundesarchiv)

While there were certainly previous tanks that had survived direct hits from enemy main guns, the T-34 medium tank was possibly the first tank to be fast and well-armed — while also being capable of shrugging off most rounds fired at it.

The Soviets had begun experimenting with sloped armor designs at the same time the French S35 was entering production, and that innovation served the T-34 well. The Germans were forced to rely on artillery and dive bombing to reliably shut the T-34s down until new tank designs with heavier guns could reach the front.

As an added side note, the M4 Sherman was originally going to be on this list as a tank that proved manufacturability (how easy it is to produce mass numbers of the tank) can change the way armored battles are fought. But the T-34 actually predated the Sherman and was manufactured in larger numbers during the war.

7. Tigers could win almost any fight, especially at range

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
A German Tiger in Sicily, 1943. (U.S. Army photo)

The Tiger was designed at least partially as a direct counter to the T-34, and it became one of the most feared and famed tanks on World War II battlefields. It featured a massive, 88mm main gun that could kill anything on the battlefield while its own armor took hits from 75mm guns from approximately 55 yards and the tank kept fighting.

 

7. Sheridan was the first operational tank with a functioning barrel-fired anti-tank missile

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
The M551 Sheridan tank firing a Shillelagh missile. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The M551 Sheridan was a light airborne and amphibious tank that featured a number of attempted innovations, including the barrel-fired anti-tank guided missile.

The Sheridan’s MGM-51 Shillelagh has its issues, though. While it allowed the tank to engage targets at long ranges, it also featured sensitive electronics that could be knocked out of commission by firing the main gun and a problem with the target designating system left it incapable of engaging target in the mid range.

8. Soviet T-62 was the first tank with a smoothbore main gun

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
A Soviet T-55 medium tank at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. (Photo: Department of Defense)

The T-62 was designed with the primary goal of countering new NATO designs which featured 105mm rifled bores and armor that could withstand most hits from the same weapon. For the Soviets, this meant that their armored formations would be at a disadvantage.

The tank which would become the T-62 was being developed at the same time as a smoothbore anti-tank gun that allowed for greater penetration of enemy armor by high-explosive, anti-tank rounds that were not spin stabilized. The Soviets replaced the prototype’s weapon with the smoothbore weapon, and nearly all modern tanks now use smoothbores.

9. The M1 Abrams debuts ceramic armor for tanks

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
M1A2 Abrams Tanks belonging to 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division fires off a round Jan. 26, 2017 during a gunnery range. (Photo: Department of Defense)

While the M1 Abrams was revolutionary in the West for a few reasons, it was the first NATO tank to use a turbine engine and to carry a smoothbore cannon, other tanks in the Warsaw Pact and Sweden had incorporated those elements before the Abrams.

The one thing the Abrams had that was truly revolutionary was its Chobham ceramic armor, a set of sandwiched layers with air pockets and special materials that are still classifed and defeat most enemy tank rounds and missiles.

Notably, the U.S.-made tank’s revolutionary armor did not come from the U.S. It was actually provided by British allies who later fielded the armor on their Challenger tanks.

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Trump’s federal hiring freeze could impact veterans who’ve already been offered a job

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
President Donald J. Trump arrives at the Inaugural Parade during the 58th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. Jan. 20, 2017.


In a moved that shook the federal workforce, President Trump ordered a freeze in the hiring process of all executive branch departments, effective at noon on January 22, 2017.

A report from the Office of Personnel Management estimates that veterans made up about 44 percent of new hires in the executive branch during fiscal year 2015. The total number of veterans employed was 623,755, or roughly 31 percent of the entire executive branch.

So what does this mean for veterans now in the process of seeking employment with the government? Unfortunately, even federal employees currently working in the executive branch aren’t sure.

We Are the Mighty consulted with a Division Director at one of the federal departments, who asked to remain anonymous due to the department being ordered to cease all public communications.

“We just don’t have many answers,” the source told WATM. “This is a very different political environment and we don’t know what to expect.”

We Are the Mighty obtained the “Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies,” signed by acting director of Office of Management and Budget Mark Sandy.

Sent to the heads of the departments, the memorandum read, in part, “An individual who has received a job offer/appointment prior to January 22, 2017, and who has received documentation from the agency that specifies a confirmed start date on or before February 22, 2017, should report to work on that start date.”

Individuals who were offered a position before Jan. 22 but do not have a start date (or a date after February 22) may find that employment offer rescinded. According to the Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, those positions offered will be under review.

Agencies will be tasked with considering “merit system principles, essential mission priorities, and current agency resources and funding levels” when it comes to determining whether job offers should be rescinded.

At this time, the hiring freeze applies to every executive department except for the Department of Defense, and even then, it only allows for recruiting into active duty.

The leadership in any given executive department may grant an exemption to the freeze if he or she believes it to be in the best interest of national security or public safety, according to the press release from the White House.

This public safety exemption rule could be what helps the Department of Veterans Affairs continue to attempt to fill what it might deem necessary positions among the 3,473 jobs listed on its website — though it is unclear exactly how many of those positions could be considered in the interest of national security or public safety.

That same argument can be made for a large number of positions available at the Department of Defense. As DoD employees are directly related to national security, the department seems to have wide latitude over how it will respond to the hiring freeze.

The President has given the Office of Management and Budget 90 days to present a “long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government’s workforce through attrition.” Upon implementation of that plan, the executive order will expire.

This hiring freeze is part of one of the many campaign promises President Trump made last year to drastically shrink the federal government.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

Articles

This footage superimposes an epic World War I battle on the modern world

The Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest engagements in human history with over 1.5 million people wounded and killed from Jul. 1 to Nov. 18, 1916.


The British Army suffered its worst losses in a single day with over 57,000 casualties on Jul. 1.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Screenshot: YouTube/MC C

The Allied Powers received little in exchange for all this blood, taking bits of German-held territory but falling short of their main objectives. The British were forced to rethink their tactics because of their stunning losses during the fight.

Now, 100 years after the battle ended, YouTube user MC C has released a video with classic Somme footage superimposed on the modern spots where the footage was originally filmed.

Check out the full video below. It’s all gripping footage, but our favorite moments are at 18:02, one of the most massive explosions of the war; 27:12, a group of fusileers preparing for what would end up being their final attack; 31:05, artillery crews pounding German lines; and 36:30, a group of cheering soldiers marching together.

(h/t Reddit user KibboKift)
Articles

It’s been 100 years since one of the biggest game-changers in military aviation history

On November 5, 1915, a plane was launched from a ship by catapult for the first time in history.


And, despite the prevailing ideas at the time that naval aviation was an outlandish endeavor, the flight was a success.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Curtiss AB-2 (C-2) Aircraft being catapulted from USS North Carolina (ACR-12) on 5 November 1915. (Image: Naval History Heritage Command)

The pilot for that historic flight was Henry C. Mustin, a naval aviator who helped to found the Naval Aeronautic Station at Pensacola, Florida in 1913. Mustin, using an early catapult system, managed to launch himself successfully from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina at the naval station.

By today’s aircraft carrier standards, the USS North Carolina was a tiny ship. Of course, it was not built as a carrier, but the size differential between the North Carolina and today’s carriers still shows how far things have come in the last 100 years. The North Carolina had a total displacement of 14,500 tons, compared to the 100,020 tons of a present-day USS Nimitz-class supercarrier.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin (Image: Naval History Heritage Command)

Unlike modern carriers, which have built-in flight decks and launch systems, the launching platform built atop the North Carolina was an ad hoc endeavor. At the time, launching a plane from a ship while underway had not been attempted. The questions of whether the plane would fly, or whether it would be possible to safely abort takeoff, were still big unknowns.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
The first catapult launch of an aircraft from a naval vessel, on November 5, 1915. (Image: US Navy)

After that risky start in 1915 US aircraft carrier abilities quickly advanced. By 1922, the US operated the USS Langley, an aircraft carrier that could carry 30 planes.

Today’s Nimitz supercarriers can carry upwards of 62 aircraft. Still, despite their size and capacity, the Nimitz still owes one of its major functions — the use of catapults to launch planes at high enough speeds for flight from a short runway at sea — to Mustin’s original takeoff from the USS North Carolina.

Here’s what a catapult launch looks like today:

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Source: YouTube

Articles

The “Father of the Air Force” challenged the limits of freedom of speech and lost

Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell was an Army officer at the beginning of the 1900s who campaigned for a separate Air Force that would revolutionize warfare. While most of his predictions about American airpower ultimately came true, Mitchell was dismissed as a radical in his day and convicted of insubordination.


9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Photo: US Library of Congress

Mitchell joined the Army in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, seven years before airplanes were a thing and 11 years before the military bought it’s first one.

Mitchell rose through the ranks quickly and was named deputy commander of Army Aviation shortly after his promotion to major. He requested permission to become an Army pilot, but as a 38-year-old major he was declared too senior in age and rank to become a pilot.

So he paid for his own lessons out of pocket. By 1917 he was an accomplished aviator and was promoted to brigadier general. He took command of all U.S. Army aerial combat planes in France and led 1,481 planes into combat against the Germans at the Battle of St. Mihiel.

After the war Mitchell continued pushing for a separate Air Force and claimed that a flight of bombers could destroy any battleship in existence, a claim he proposed testing by bombing actual battleships captured in World War I.

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The USS Alabama is hit by a white phosphorous bomb dropped during a demonstration. Photo: US Navy History

Mitchell eventually got his wish, and a series of demonstrations were scheduled for Jun.-Jul. 1921 where Mitchell’s forces would bomb three captures German ships and three surplus U.S. ships.

The crown jewel of the test targets from the German battleship Ostfriesland, scheduled for bombing Jul. 20-21. The tests were a resounding success. In full view of Navy brass and the American press, every ship was torn apart by aerial bombardment.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

The Ostfriesland was hit with armor piercing, 2,000-pound bombs specially designed for use against naval ships. Unfortunately, the Navy claimed that Mitchell overstepped the parameters of the test and Congress just ignored the results.

The friction between Mitchell and the Navy and Congress grew, until two major accidents by the Navy. In one, three planes flying from the West Coast to Hawaii were lost and in another the USS Shenandoah Airship was destroyed with the loss of 14 sailors.

Mitchell took to the press to blast the Navy and Army brass who he believed had failed their subordinates.

“These incidents are the direct result of the incompetency, criminal negligence and almost treasonable administration of the national defense by the Navy and War Departments,” Mitchell said. “The bodies of my former companions in the air moulder under the soil in America, and Asia, Europe and Africa, many, yes a great many, sent there directly by official stupidity.”

Mitchell was quickly brought up on Article 96 of the Articles of War which prohibits “all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline.”

His trial was a national sensation, attended by societal elite and crowds of veterans. Mitchell’s lawyer tried to argue that Mitchell’s freedom of speech trumped his duties as an officer, but the defense easily ripped through the argument by pointing out allowing complete freedom of speech in the military could create anarchy.

Mitchell was sentenced to five years suspension without pay or duty, during which time he could not accept civilian employment. When the decision reached President Calvin Coolidge, Coolidge amended them to allow the general half pay and a subsistence allowance.

Mitchell opted to resign his commission instead. He launched a speaking tour that traveled around the country and promoted air power.

He died in 1936 and so was not able to see his prophecies come true in World War II. The Air Force Association tried to get his conviction overturned in 1955, but the secretary of the Air Force left it in place because Mitchell did commit the crimes. President Harry S. Truman authorized a special posthumous award for Mitchell in 1946, recognizing Mitchell’s work to create modern military aviation.

Articles

This reporter performed brain surgery on a Marine using a handheld drill

In April 2003, the Marines of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines entered Baghdad, headed for the Iraqi Intelligence Ministry. Sergeant Jesus Vindaña, a radio operator, was relaying orders from his command when a sniper’s bullet tore through his helmet from behind.


His buddies tried to revive him, but the company corpsman declared him dead at the scene.

Except he wasn’t dead — Vindaña’s heart was beating, but it was so weak it didn’t register a pulse.

Nearby, CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, was working as a reporter for the cable news network.

Gupta was embedded with “Devil Docs,” a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and others who operate out of medical tents called “Forward Resuscitative Surgical Suites” in some of the most dangerous combat zones in the world. It was in this FRSS that Gupta found Vindaña – and his pulse.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
(CNN/YouTube)

Luckily for the wounded Marine, Dr. Gupta is a member of the staff and faculty of the Department of Neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. He is the associate chief of Neurosurgery there, and routinely works in its operating rooms.

As the FRSS team worked frantically to save the Marine (who had twice been declared dead already), they asked Gupta for his Neurosurgery expertise, he later recalled in an article on CNN. Turns out, the military didn’t send many brain surgeons to the front-line FRSS units.

They also didn’t have the medical equipment necessary to open skulls during surgery. Not a problem for the resourceful doctor. Gupta borrowed a set of tools from the Marines there and used a Black and Decker power drill to open Vindaña’s head.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Vindaña shows Dr. Gupta the helmet he wore the day he was shot. (CNN/YouTube)

Within an hour, Gupta removed the bullet in Vindaña’s brain and the Marine was in the recovery room.

“In all the years I have worked in hospitals, I have never seen resources mobilized so quickly and health care workers move with such purpose,” Dr. Gupta wrote just three years later. “And, remember, it was a tent in the middle of the desert by the dark of night in the most dangerous place on Earth.”

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Vindaña now advocates for health care reform and maintains contact with Dr. Gupta. (CNN/YouTube)

Years after the surgery, Gupta met with Vindaña again in the Marine’s native Los Angeles. The only noticeable remnants of his bullet to the brain was a “slight limp and weakness in his left hand.”

Articles

The Coast Guard rescued half a million New Yorkers from the 9/11 terror attacks

The U.S. Coast Guard was on scene just over an hour after the first plane hit during the 9/11 attacks. Members of the service evacuated half a million people from Lower Manhattan and stayed on to help clean up New York.


9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Coast Guard Petty officer Billy Bashaw, from Station Fire Island, bows his head in sorrow onboard his rescue boat Sept. 11. Bashaw has close friends who work in the World Trade Center who are still unaccounted for. (USCG photo by PA2 Tom Sperduto)

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Manhattan was thrown into chaos as more than 500,000 people fled towards the water. They were looking for any way to get off the island and away from the dust, debris, and fire that came from the World Trade Center.

No one on the ground at the time knew for sure what was really happening. What New Yorkers did know is that they wanted to flee to safety, and on that sunny Tuesday morning the Coast Guard took immediate action. The first tower was struck at 8:46, and by 10 AM, more than 40 Coast Guard cutters and boats flooded towards the southern tip of Manhattan.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Coast Guard crewmembers patrol the harbor after the collapse of the World Trade Center. Terrorist hijacked four commercial jets and then crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside. USCG photo by PA3 Tom Sperduto

“We felt the impact of the plane hit the Pentagon as we watched New York on TV,” then-Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral James Loy recalls, “and we knew that it was a large-scale terrorist attack.”

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Seen is an aerial view of Pentagon after a hijacked airline crashed into it Sept. 11. Terrorist hijacked four commercial jets and then crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside. (U.S. COAST GUARD PHOTO)

Loy relied on his junior officers to put into action their exhaustive search and rescue and port security training. Those men and women quickly realized they couldn’t go at it alone.

A radio call to any boats that could help came from Lt. Michael Day, the Chief of Activities New York – Waterways Oversight Branch.

“United States Coast Guard aboard the pilot boat New York,” he called. “All mariners, we appreciate your assistance.”

He went on to ask for any vessels to head for several areas set up by the Coast Guard to help shuttle more than 500,000 people off the island. They also had to recover people who attempted to swim towards Staten Island and Jersey City.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
New Yorkers rushed to the Lower Manhattan water front at Battery Park to try to escape the collapse of the World Trade Center towers September 11. They were later evacuated by ferries and tugboats from all over New York harbor. (USCG photo by Chief Brandon Brewer)

Nearly 80 vessels shuttled supplies and personnel between Manhattan Battery and Jersey City as a part of the relief and clean-up efforts in the days following the attack. Loy also changed the course for every cutter on the Atlantic coast to cease migrant and drug interdiction operations and to begin defense readiness and port security operations.

The Coast Guard continued to stand the ready-guard in the weeks and months following 9/11. The world was unsure of whether the attacks would happen again. The Coast Guard guarded every nuclear power plant on navigable U.S. waters. They worked tirelessly and around the clock for months, a part of the recovering and cleanup efforts at the World Trade Center, as well as performing their regular duties.

“You could just see the exhaustion in everyone’s eyes as they worked, unrelenting in trying to just find a survivor,” reflects Senior Chief Machinery Technician Tina Claflin, who served with Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team as a Machinery Technician 2nd Class, on her time working in the clean up efforts.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

Coast Guardsman were not always in their iconic blue uniforms that morning. Several reservists were in New York as first responders, including Christian Waugh, a New York City firefighter, and Port Securityman 1st Class. Waugh, along with Lt. William Cosgrove, NYPD and Zachary Vause, NYFD, carried the body of Rev. Mychal Judge out of the north tower just moments before it collapsed.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

The father of the Coast Guard – the first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton – is buried in the Trinity Churchyard, just steps away from where the World Trade Center stood. In the wake of the attacks, as Loy and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vince Patton stood near Trinity Church, they realized how powerful the house of worship stood as a monument.

It sustained only a broken window and was a place of refuge for recovery workers. As Loy looked around the ash and debris-strewn churchyard, he looked at Patton and told him that they had to clean it. Patton first looked at Loy and thought “Has the old man lost his mind?” but realized Loy was looking across the yard at Hamilton’s grave.

Patton spoke with Senior Chief Petty Officer Steve Koll, the Command Senior Chief at Activities New York, and less than 24 hours later was sent back to New York. Patton estimated the job would take nearly 100 people days to finish. Koll, who had just a few dozen on hand, finished the job in less than a day.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
U.S. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Steven Koll and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Vince Patton, adjust the flag placed at the grave site of Alexander Hamilton, the ‘father of the Coast Guard’, Thursday at the cemetery of Trinity Church, a few blocks away from the WTC disaster site. (USCG photo by PA2 Mark Mackowiak)

While the Coast Guard remembered its history, it also mourned the loss of current members. Jeffrey M. Palazzo, a New York City Fire Fighter and Machinery Technician 1st Class in the Coast Guard Reserves was trapped as the North Tower collapsed, his remains never recovered. Police officer and Port Securityman 2nd Class Vincent G. Danz also lost his life in the North Tower, looking for survivors with the Bronx’s Emergency Service Unit. His remains were lost until December 2001.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
The Master Chief of the Coast Guard Vince Patton, reads some of the messages Thursday that have been applied to the first responder fire truck near the World Trade Center disaster site. Patton was visiting the site to pay respects and to visit with the Coast Guard personnel who are assisting in the recovery. (USCG photo by PA2 Mark Mackowiak)

In everything the Coast Guard did in the aftermath of 9/11, the service didn’t forget its core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. As Patton reflected on the efforts in New York, he said: “When we all rallied around honor, everything just fell into place.”

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The Army is using this FPS video game to help design its weapons of the future

The Army is currently seeking soldiers to provide feedback through online gameplay in order to contribute to the development of the future force.


Operation Overmatch is a gaming environment within the Early Synthetic Prototyping effort. Its purpose is to connect soldiers to inform concept and capability developers, scientists and engineers across the Army.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
(Photo from U.S. Army)

“What we want is two-way communication, and what better medium to use than video games,” said Army Lt. Col. Brian Vogt, ESP project lead with U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Army Capabilities Integration Center.

Through a collaborative effort between TRADOC, U.S. Army Research and Development Command and Army Game Studio, Operation Overmatch was created to encourage soldier innovation through crowd-sourcing ideas within a synthetic environment.

“Soldiers have the advantage of understanding how equipment, doctrine and organization will be used in the field — the strengths and weaknesses,” said Michael Barnett, chief engineer at the Army Game Studio and project lead for Operation Overmatch. “And they have immediate ideas about what to use, what to change and what to abandon — how to adapt quickly.”

Within Operation Overmatch, soldiers will be able to play eight versus eight against other soldiers, where they will fight advanced enemies with emerging capabilities in realistic scenarios.

Players will also be able to experiment with weapons, vehicles, tactics and team organization. Game analytics and soldier feedback will be collected and used to evaluate new ideas and to inform areas for further study.

Currently, the game is in early development, Vogt said.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
A screenshot of the Army’s video game Operation Overmatch. (US Army photo)

One of the benefits of collecting feedback through the gaming environment within ESP is the ability to explore hundreds — if not thousands — of variations, or prototypes, of vehicles and weapons at a fraction of what it would cost to build the capability at full scale, Vogt explained. A vehicle or weapons system that might take years of engineering to physically build can be changed or adapted within minutes in the game.

“In a game environment, we can change the parameters or the abilities of a vehicle by keystrokes,” he said. “We can change the engine in a game environment and it could accelerate faster, consume more fuel or carry more fuel. All these things are options within the game — we just select it, and that capability will be available for use. Of course, Army engineers will determine if the change is plausible before we put it in the scenarios.”

The game currently models a few future vehicles to include variants of manned armored vehicles, robotic vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles. The scenarios are centered on manned/unmanned teaming at the squad and platoon level in an urban environment. Through game play, soldiers will provide insights about platform capabilities and employment.

Lists

23 ridiculously long military acronyms (and what they mean)

The military is notorious for using acronyms and abbreviations, and here are 23 of them that approach YGTBSM status:


 

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

1. AARDACONUS – Army Air Reconnaissance for Damage Assessment in the Continental United States

2. ADCOMSUBORDCOMPHIBSPAC – Administrative Command, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet Subordinate Command (US Navy)

3. ARCCbtWMD – Army Council for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction

4. ASTAMIDS – Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System (Photo: L-3)

5. CASTFOREM – Combined Arms and Support Task Force Evaluation Model

6. COMNAVAIRSYSCOM – Commander, Naval Air Systems Command

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Vice Adm. David Dunaway, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command and member of USNA’s great Class of ’82.

 

7. DEFREMANEDCEN – Defense Resources Management Education Center

8. FLEASWTRACENPAC – Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center – Pacific

 

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

9. HERCULES – Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System (pictured below being loaded on to a C-17)

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
HERCULES being loaded onto a C-17 (Photo: Jason Minto/USAF)

10. HELANTISUBRON5 – Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Five

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

 

11. HRCCIOSPB – Human Resources Command Chief Information Office Strategic Planning Branch

12. INCONMOVREP – Intra‐Continental United States Movement Report

13. MARCORSYSCOM – Marine Corps Systems Command

14. MILPERSIMS – Military Personnel Information System

15. MOBAALOCO – Mobilization Active Army locator

16. NAVCOMTELSTA ASCOMM DET WHIDBEY – Naval Computer and Telecommunication Station, Antisubmarine Warfare Communications Center Detachment Whidbey Island

17. NAVEODTECHDIV – Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division

18. POPNAMRAD – Policies, Organizations, and Procedures in Non‐atomic Military Research and Development

19. Prime BEEF – Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force. Pictured below, members of the U.S. Air Force 577th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Squadron constructs a dome shelter on Camp Marmal, Afghanistan.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Photo: Senior Airman Sandra Welch/USAF

20. RED HORSE – Rapid Engineers Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron, Engineers

21. SINCGARS – Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Photo: Wikipedia

22. SLAMRAAM – Surface Launched Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Photo: Wikipedia

 

23. USAADACENFB – United States Army Air Defense Artillery Center, Fort Bliss

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

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All about the chemical agent VX that allegedly killed Kim Jong Nam

The death of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, in the Kuala Lampur Airport, was apparently due to the use of the deadly nerve agent VX.


According to a report by the London Telegraph, the Malaysian police do not believe that anyone else is at risk, but teams are sweeping the airport to decontaminate areas where the suspected killer may have been. The Associated Press reported that four individuals who Malaysian police are interested in have fled the country, including a North Korean diplomat and a worker with the regime’s state-run airline.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
An M55 rocket being disassembled at Umatilla Chemical Depot. This was one delivery system for VX, a very deadly nerve agent. (US Army photo)

VX was first developed by British scientists in the 1950s as an insecticide. The deadliness of the agent caught everyone by surprise, and it soon found its way into American arsenals. The telegraph notes that those who are hit may feel one of two opposite initial reactions: Giddiness or nausea. Shortly afterwards come the convulsions as the nervous system shuts down.

A victim’s one chance for survival when exposed to VX is a rapid administration of atropine. That drug counters the effect by blocking nerve receptors that VX seeks to overwhelm. The Telegraph notes that Western intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has about 5,000 tons of this nerve agent.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
DOD graphic showing the effects of various chemical agents, including VX. (DOD graphic)

The United States had VX in stock, with one delivery system being the BLU-80 “Bigeye” chemical bomb, according to Designation-Systems.net. After the 1996 Chemical Weapons Convention, the United States discarded all of its VX – and other chemical weapons.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
(YouTube screen grab from John Mason)

The nerve agent was used as a plot point in the 1990s action movie “The Rock,” which starred Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery. The details surrounding it were not accurate technically.

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19 things you learn about your buddies on deployment

You don’t really know your buddies until you deploy together. At that point you get to see a side of them that their families and closest loved ones have never seen — a side effect of spending every hour with them for months on end in a foreign land where all you have is each other.


You get to know the good, the bad, and the weird. Here’s what you can expect:

1. You’ll learn that insults are endearing.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Tropic Thunder, DreamWorks

2. . . . as is antagonizing each other.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Generation Kill, HBO

3. You’ll learn exactly how to take the edge off when you go too far . . .

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Zypee1212, YouTube

“I was just pulling your chain. Here, take a chill smoke.”

4. . . . because you’ve shared nearly every single thought that you’ve had over the last few months.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Tropic Thunder, DreamWorks

Ummm …

5. You’ll learn to think of buds as family.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Photo: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty

6. You’ll learn to communicate with each other just by grunting.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Tropic Thunder, DreamWorks

7. (Aviators learn hand signals.)

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Top Gun, Paramount Pictures

8. Your comfort levels will approach new highs (and lows).

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
NBC

9. And you’ll learn to be totally fine with complete silence.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Image: U.S. Navy

10. And you’ll learn to be brutally honest with each other.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Tropic Thunder, DreamWorks

11. You’ll learn who will be the first to put on his or her “deployment goggles.”

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Deployment Goggles II. Courtesy of Terminal Lance

Related: Gunny tries speed dating

12. And you’ll learn how to read the signs if something more develops.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
MASH, 20th Century Fox

(In fact, you can pretty much read his or her mind.)

13. You’ll learn where they stash all of their goodies.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Photo: DoD by Capt. Andrew Adcock

(And it’s a general rule that whatever is his is also yours as long as you replenish it.)

14. And you learn exactly which items in your MRE to trade with whom.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Photo: U.S. Army

15. You’ll learn not to rat each other out to superiors.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

(Nobody likes a Blue Falcon, or Jodies.)

16. You’ll learn where to find your buddies when no one else can.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Photo: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty

17. You’ll learn the most effective ways to settle your differences.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Image: U.S. Army

18.You’ll learn to always have each other’s backs, no questions asked.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare

19. And you’ll learn that other units can’t bitch about your buddies. Only you can bitch about your buddies.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Tropic Thunder, DreamWorks

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This is why the UH-1 Huey became a symbol of the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War’s icon was arguably the UH-1 helicopter. Officially designated the Iroquois (‘Huey’ is more of a term of endearment), this helicopter has been the most-produced in history, first flying in 1956 — that means it has just over six decades of service with the United States military!


Over 7,000 Hueys were used in Vietnam, and 2,500 were lost during the war.

According to the Naval Institute Guide to World Military Aviation, the UH-1D had the ability to carry up to 16 passengers and crew.

The chopper could also carry just under 3,900 pounds of equipment in the cabin or 5,000 pounds in an external sling. It also could serve as a potent gunship, firing 70mm rockets, M60 machine guns in 7.62mm NATO, and M134 miniguns.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
Soldiers of the U.S. Amry 1/7th Cavalry disembark from a Bell UH-1D Huey at LZ X-Ray during the battle of Ia Drang. (U.S. Army photo)

The secret to the Huey’s success was a gas turbine engine that not only was able to perform at higher temperatures and in less-dense air than previous helicopters, but it was also much lighter than previous helicopter engines.

This allowed the Huey to be smaller (48-foot rotor diameter, 57 foot length) and lighter — making it fast (a top speed of 135 miles per hour) and maneuverable. It had a range of 315 miles, giving American troops the ability to strike hard and fast at a distance.

The chopper’s mobility meant that in a one-year tour, the average infantry soldier saw 240 days of combat. For some perspective, in the Pacific Theater during WWII, the average grunt saw 40 days over the nearly four years that conflict lasted.

9 tanks that changed armored warfare
U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom flies during an exercise. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Today, versions of the UH-1 are still in service with the Marine Corps (the UH-1Y Venom), the Air Force (UH-1N), and Navy (UH-1N). The Army’s last Huey mission was flown on Dec. 15, 2016. According to an Army release, the helicopter was handed off to the Louisiana State Police a week later.

History, YouTube

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Are military bands a thing of the past?

Music in the military has a long history.


While marching toward the enemy, the armies of the ancient Greek city states would sing paeans to the God Apollo in unison. It was an homage to their god, inspired the Greek hoplites to fight, but also was intimidating to the enemy. It also helped the tight, packed formations typical of hoplite warfare keep time in their march.

In a similar way, music played a vital role after the musket was introduced to the battlefield in the 16th century. The weapons were relatively inaccurate and short-ranged, and the concept of massed coordinated volley fire was needed to make them effective in the open-field engagements of the time.

Drums, flutes, and bugles were all used to issue commands over the noise of battle, as well as helping large groups of soldiers keep their ranks as they marched and maneuvered. Young boys were often used for the role, and they could face dangers as great as any of the regular soldiers. More conventional bands were used to entertain troops during the Civil War, often even on the front lines.

Two weeks ago, the House passed legislation that would ban military bands from performing at social functions other than formal military ceremonies and funerals to help cut defense spending.

The Defense Department spent $437 million in Fiscal Year 2015 on “musicians, instruments, uniforms and travel expenses,” according to Stars Stripes.

“For every dollar that is spent on our bands to entertain at social functions, that’s a dollar we’re not spending on national security and on our troops and our families,” said Rep. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, a retired Air Force colonel who sponsored the bill.

The Army currently has 99 bands, the Air Force has 15 bands, the Marine Corps has 12 bands, and the Navy has 11, according to Politico. The bill now heads to the Senate.

The history of military bands is long and storied.

Though bands had played varying roles since the Revolutionary War, it was Army Gen. John Pershing during World War I who set the stage for the military’s current band system after seeing the much more elaborate European army bands in action. He believed the bands to be essential to troop morale and set up a formal training system in place of what was previously fairly ad hoc, greatly expanding regimental bands.

Though by World War II such use of music on the battlefield had largely been abandoned, there were still some examples, if far more eccentric ones. The famed British commando ‘Mad’ Jack Churchill, who clearly had a taste for older styles of warfare, would go into action playing bagpipes to inspire his men while carrying a Scottish broadsword and a longbow. The Soviet Union was known to play patriotic music before it’s troops charged as well.

In modern warfare, however, military bands are seen more and more as an anachronism used for strictly ceremonial purposes, and are confined to the parade ground rather than the battlefield.

It’s been a long time since military bands performed in combat. In an era of tighter budgets and ever more modern warfare, it’s clear Congress is beginning to see military bands more as a frivolity than a necessity.