Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016 - We Are The Mighty
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Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

The U.S. Air Force says it will have an initial squadron of  F-35 fighters ready for combat by the end of 2016.  The commanders of the USAF’s Air Combat Command and Air Force Materiel Command reviewed the milestones in the $379 billion weapons program last week and reported their findings to the Pentagon.


Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

There are lingering doubts that the development of the plane’s computer logistics system, called Autonomic Logistics Information System, was on schedule. The complex system, according to military planners, required extra “focus” for the program.

“The actual plane is on schedule and doing well,” Colonel Tad Sholtis, spokesman for Air Combat Command, told reporters on April 13. “The Air Force expects to meet its target window of August through December for declaring an initial operational capability.”

The Air Force says the F-35’s performance exceeds expectations of pilots, but that they are continuing to compare the fighter to other, older aircraft. Sholtis added that the fighter was strong in some areas and less strong in other, but only by fielding the plane to familiarize airmen with the plane and its workings could they fully exploit the F-35’s capabilities.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016

“We anticipate that side-by-side, air-to-air and air-to-ground tests will be illustrative of the fifth generation fighter’s advanced interdiction capabilities,” Sholtis said. “This aircraft is built to go where legacy platforms cannot.”

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Here’s a good way for troops to fight predatory lenders but still get money in a pinch

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016


The American Forces Press Service reports that payday loans have become a $40 billion business and are especially prominent outside military bases. David VanBeekum, a market manager for a local bank near Hill Air Force Base helps to educate Airmen about how payday loans work. He said Utah has 350 payday lenders and almost 10 percent of them are located just outside the base’s gates.

But you don’t have to physically go to the stores. The Internet has 2.5 million links for payday loans, 4 million for cash advance sites; and 31 million for check advance sites. In addition, the Hill Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center, which offers financial counseling services for military members, found that in California the payday loan outlets outnumber McDonalds and Burger King restaurants combined.

Typically, payday loans are for relatively small amounts of money in increments of $100, up to $1,000. It’s easy to obtain one of these loans. All anyone needs is a bank account, proof of a steady income such as a pay statement, and a simple form of identification. It takes about 20 minutes to secure a loan.

Payday lenders target women, those who earn $25,000 or less per year, minorities, and military members. The borrower writes a personal check or grants electronic access for the amount of the loan and a finance charge. However, these loans are not long term and become due on the borrower’s next payday, either in one or two weeks. The interest compounds quickly and calculates to an average of 390 to 780 percent annual percentage rate. There’s no payback installment plan so the borrower must pay the entire amount due in order to avoid another finance charge associated with an extension of the entire loan principle.

This style of business traps the borrower into a repetitive cycle. On average, a person choosing a payday lender ends up with eight to 12 loans per year. A successful payback of the loan is not reported to the credit bureaus and there are documented cases of companies resorting to unlawful or questionable collection tactics.

Each state establishes its own regulations, finance fees and interest rate limits, not the federal government, Mr. VanBeekum said. There’s even a lender in Utah who charges as much 1,335 percent, and even though they’re required by law to advertise the interest rate, 75 percent of them do not.

The Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit advocacy group, has studied the payday loan industry for the past 10 years and said the industry meets the criteria for predatory lenders who have abusive collection practices, balloon payments with unrealistic repayment terms, equity stripping associated with repeated refinancing and excessive fees, and excessive interest rates that may involve steering a borrower to a higher-cost loan.

Besides the high interest rates, CFA surveyors found they misrepresent themselves as check cashers even though they are not registered with the state as a check cashing entity. They will not cash your personal check. Instead, they are only willing to hold your check until payday. The lenders will threaten or badger the client into paying the loan and many people end up rolling over the entire balance of the loan, and thus incur the finance fees again. A number of payday lenders have also ignored the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and found ways to access a consumer’s account when not authorized or when authorization was withdrawn.

The PenFed Foundation’s Asset Recovery Kit (ARK) provides a no-interest alternative to predatory lending for active duty, reserve, and National Guard military.

Fees for predatory payday loans can be an astronomical $19 for each $100 borrowed until payday. Through ARK, one can borrow up to $500 with a flat fee of $5 and no interest for one month.

ARK is a hassle-free, confidential, and smart way to deal with money problems.

  • Active duty, reserve, and National Guard military are eligible 
  • No credit report is pulled because those with emergency cash needs have already exhausted their options.
  • No interest is charged, just an application fee of $5. With ARK, you don’t fall further into debt.
  • Immediate cash loans up to $500 (or 80 percent of net pay) are available for one month.
  • There’s minimal paperwork just a simple one-page form.
  • It’s completely confidential, meaning we don’t tell anyone who has come to see us.
  • Up to three loans in six months are available, but after the first ARK loan, the recipient must sit down with a local Consumer Credit Counselor identified by the foundation.

ARK was designed to be as easy as a payday loan, but without the negative consequences. The goal is to rebuild or repair credit, improve cash flow and increase money-management skills.

PenFed partners with credit unions across the country to bring the ARK program to military men and women. They welcome new credit union partners. Please contact them to learn more.

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20 stupid questions about the Coast Guard


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It’s common for the four major military branches — the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Army — to work together, but seldom do we share missions with the Coast Guard.

But it wasn’t always this way. While the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, there have been instances when it fell under the Department of Defense. In actuality, the U.S. Coast Guard gets passed around a lot. In addition to the DoD, it has also fallen under the Department of Treasury, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of the Interior.

Related: 7 things you probably didn’t know about the US Coast Guard

So, it isn’t hard to imagine why some service members get confused when it comes to the Coast Guard. For this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we invited fellow coastie and We Are The Mighty contributor Mary-Elizabeth Pratt to answer questions about the Coast Guard we’ve always wanted answers to but were too afraid to ask for fear of looking stupid.

Hosted by:

Guest:

  • Mary-Elizabeth Pratt: Coast Guard service member and historian

    Mary-Elizabeth Pratt is a DC-based freelance writer and non-profit employee. She combines her degrees in English and Military History with her experience as a Coast Guard Maritime Enforcement Specialist to teach others about the importance of the military’s smallest branch. Currently working with the Fisher House Foundation in operations, Mary-Elizabeth has spent time with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, and several small museums as a civilian.

    More articles about the Coast Guard by Mary-Elizabeth Pratt

Selected links and show notes from the episode:

Related: 13 thoughts I had during Coast Guard boot camp graduation

  • [05:03] What was it like to work on a major movie about the U.S. Coast Guard?
  • [06:25] Which movie do coasties embrace the most, The Finest Hours or The Guardian?
  • [08:45] Why did you want to write the hater’s guide to the Coast Guard?
  • [09:55] Why do people picture the TSA instead of the Coast Guard whenever the Department of Homeland Security is mentioned?
  • [11:00] Are coasties subject to the UCMJ or something else?

Related: The 5 military laws that nearly everyone breaks

  • [12:45] Do all the coasties go on drug busts?
  • [14:55] What’s the quickest way to get a rise out of a coastie?
  • [16:00] Why is Sinbad the dog so beloved by Coast Guard?
  • [17:38] Why should anyone hate the Coast Guard?
  • [19:50] What does maritime law enforcement consist of?
  • [20:00] What’s a B.U.I., is that like driving under the influence (D.U.I.)?
  • [20:23] What are some of the worst and best Coast Guard duty stations?
  • [23:00] What do coasties hate being called more: puddle pirates or shallow water sailors?
  • [23:55] Is it harder to get into the Coast Guard than it is to the main military service branches?
  • [24:50] Why should we love the Coast Guard?
  • [26:00] What are the differences and similarities between the Navy and the Coast Guard?
  • [28:45] What’s it like to be around members of the other service branches?
  • [32:00] What are some popular coastie hangout spots?
  • [33:05] What’s a Coast Guard deployment like?

Music licensing by Jingle Punks:

  • Goal Line
  • Heavy Drivers
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An adversary pilot was rescued after ejecting off San Diego coast

A Navy helicopter crew rescued a civilian pilot who ejected from a contracted fighter jet off the coast near Point Loma August 22, Navy and Coast Guard officials said.


The pilot ejected safely from the single-seat Hawker Hunter jet, for unknown reasons, roughly 115 miles off the coast, Navy officials said. No information about the pilot’s condition was available.

The Navy-contracted plane had participated in a pre-deployment training exercise for the ships of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, Navy officials said. The Composite Training Unit Exercise, which tests the strike group’s deployment readiness, began earlier this month, according to the Navy.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the Arabian Gulf. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alex Millar.

The Coast Guard was summoned about 4:30 p.m. to assist in the pilot’s rescue, but a helicopter crew assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt hoisted the pilot out of the ocean before a Coast Guard helicopter crew responded, officials said.

The pilot was taken to Naval Medical Center San Diego for a medical evaluation.

In the past, Hawker Hunter jets have been contracted by the Navy to play the role of an enemy aircraft in offshore training.

In two instances, in October 2014 and May 2012, the pilots who assisted in the training exercises crashed in a field near Naval Station Ventura County as they prepared to land. Both pilots died.

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Massive Marine wargame helps prepare troops for high-tech enemy

A force of 55,000 Marines and sailors, fighting with a Canadian army brigade, went ashore to bolster a U.S. ally threatened by an invading neighbor and criminal unrest.


And when the dust settled, the Marine Corps-led forces won, succeeding in helping unseat the well-equipped invaders and restoring a semblance of peace and security for its ally.

But it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park — and that was by design.

During Large-Scale Exercise 2016 that wrapped up Aug. 22, more than 3,000 troops across three southern California bases and a larger “virtual” force faced off against a conventional enemy whose military, cyber and communications capabilities matched or were better than those of the U.S. and its allies.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
A Marine with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment relays commands during Integrated Training Exercise at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Aug. 18, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps)

The exercise, the largest MEF-level command battle drill since 2001, involved Marines and sailors with Camp Pendleton, California-based I Marine Expeditionary Force and a contingent of Canadian soldiers at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. It marks a shift from the heavy metal conventional threat of the Cold War era to the 21st century hybrid warfare, where military troops face formidable cyber and electronic warfare threats from highly-capable enemies and state actors across the warfare spectrum.

“For years, we have been able to physically outmatch our opponents on the battlefield. As we look forward, we see potential adversaries out there that we will not be able to physically outmatch,” Col. Doug Glasgow, director of I MEF’s information operations cell, said in an Aug. 21 interview at a tent complex at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station that served as the MEF’s command post.

“We have to think harder about how we are going to conduct the maneuver warfare that our doctrinal publication told us we would have to do against these potential adversaries that match the strength and the technology and that have been watching us for years,” he said.

That doctrinal pub, Warfighting, dubbed “MCDP 1,” includes a section addressing the mental and moral effects of warfare.

“The true thing I think we’re after is to potentially reduce the amount of resources — whether that’s time, blood or money — involved in defeating the enemy and in getting after the enemy commander’s will and want to fight,” Glasgow said. “Rather than brute force applications where you hit the enemy head on, we want to present the enemy with dilemmas.”

Such large scale exercises train MEF commanders and staff to plan and deploy units to operate and fight as a Marine air-ground task force, likely with coalition forces. Each MEF does the senior-level command exercise about every two years. I MEF, the Corps’ largest operational command, hadn’t trained to fight a conventional war against a peer-type opponent since 2001, even though it’s directed to prepare for the full range of military operations, with the focus on the highest end of major combat operations.

The exercise also evaluates how I MEF commands and operates with its subordinate command headquarters, including the 23,000-member 1st Marine Division.

The exercise, coordinated and overseen by the MAGTF Staff Training Program at Quantico, Virginia, put I MEF through the ringer and incorporated forces and threats including a sizable cyber component, both offensive and defensive.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force and sailors with 553 Cyber Protection Team, monitor network activity during I MEF Large Scale Exercise 2016 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Aug 22, 2016. (Photo: Marine Corps)

“It was a struggle for dominance in the network, which our guys were successfully able to prosecute against a pretty effective, well-trained ‘red team,’ ” said Col. Matthew L. Jones, I MEF chief of staff.

Near the end, the MEF purposefully shifted into a scenario of lost comms and data, forcing Marines to use voice and single-channel radios entirely, “which is actually the first time we’ve done this in a MEFEX in the last three years,” Jones said. “They’ll just have to find different ways to pass their information.”

Surprise, confusion and disruption are key warfighting tools. In a high-tech battlefield, that could involve killing or interfering with communication, computer networks and satellites so the enemy can’t talk with superiors or coordinate subordinates.

Deception remains a tactic, too, using modern technologies that could even include social media. Officials don’t want to talk specifics; a good portion of what they’re doing remains under wraps.

“We want to leave him in a state where to continue the war is not to his best [interest],” Glasgow said. “We are trying to get to his will quicker than just trying to destroy all of his formations where he’s got nothing left in formations to fight.”

But that won’t mean heavy tanks, mortars and missiles will be shelved.

“We will continue to be very kinetic, and the Marine Corps will continue to be very lethal,” he added.

Glasgow heads the G-39, a newly-formed experimental cell under the MEF’s operations office that one officer described as “sort of like IO on steroids.” Information ops used to be an arm of the MEF’s fires-and-effects coordination center working lethal and non-lethal fires, but it wasn’t always fully staffed, Glasgow said. The prior MEF commander, Lt. Gen. David Berger, who’s slated to lead Marine Corps Forces Pacific in Hawaii, established the new cell — the first in the Marine Corps and in line with “J/G-39” offices at The Joint Staff and at combatant commanders.

The staff of 14 Marines are expert in areas including electronic warfare, military information support operations (formerly psychological operations) and offensive cyber ops.

“Most of those authorities are held at the national level, so we try to coordinate to have effects that will help the MAGTF,” said Glasgow. “We are not actually the executors, but we bring the expertise of what’s available and how to get that hopefully pushed down to the MEF.”

The cell also coordinates related capabilities including civil affairs, public affairs, military deception and physical security and seeks to measure the impact of the human dimension. With no longer a clear physical force advantage, in some cases, “how do we go after the will of a near-peer enemy?” Glasgow said. “So we’ve been thinking about it. We don’t have the answers. … But we’re exercising it. We are learning a lot of lessons.”

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This stunning video shows how fast a railgun can shoot

The Navy has been testing a railgun that could see deployment on the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt and her sister ships. The goal is to get the railgun to not only be able to fire its projectiles to a range of 110 nautical miles, but to increase the rate of fire to as many as ten rounds a minute.


The long range is only one of the many advantages. Another is improved safety. Gunpowder can be very volatile, as a number of British battlecruisers found out at Jutland and at the Denmark Straits. The battleship USS Arizona (BB 39) also found out about how bad a gunpowder explosion in the wrong place at the wrong time can be.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
The British battlecruiser HMS Hood was sunk when her magazines exploded in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. (Wikimedia Commons)

The approach also saves money, and provides for more ammo capacity. The gunpowder is expensive to safely store, has to be purchased, and it takes up spaces in the ship. All of those factors end up making the ship design more expensive.

The railgun testing is slated to take place over the summer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division in Virginia. One of the big issues will be to quantify how much electrical power will be needed to send the rounds downrange.

Forget what you saw in 2009’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” when an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer took out the Decepticon Devastator. Only the Zumwalt-class destroyers have the electrical power capacity to use a railgun.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
U.S. Navy photo

Another is addressing the issue of barrel wear – largely because it is sending the mail downrange at Mach 6.

Dr. Tom Beutner of the Office of Naval Research notes that the barrel wear issue is being fixed, saying, “They’ve extended the launcher core life from tens of shots’ core life when program started to something that’s now been fired over 400 times and … we anticipate barrels will be able to do over 1,000 shots.”

Watch the video of the Navy testing the railgun’s autoloader below:

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Russia just deployed the ‘Terminator’ to Syria, and you’ll be shocked to see what it can do

We just heard how the U.S. Army’s top general wants to put lasers, rail guns and all kinds of high-tech wizbangery on the service’s next-generation tank.


Sure, that sounds awesome. But let’s face it, those types of technologies built tough enough to be soldier-proof and deployed on a ground vehicle are still years off.

But what would happen if you slapped on a crap ton of totally badass weaponry that’s available today, wrapped it in some truly tough armor and gave it some go-anywhere treads?

Well, that’s what those mad scientists in Chelyabinsk (Russia’s main weapons development lab) did with the BMP-T “Terminator.” And by the looks of it, what trooper wouldn’t want this Mecha-esque death dealer backing him up during a ground assault.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
You don’t want to be at the other end of those 30 mike-mikes. (GIF created from Military & Space Archive YouTube)

This machine is festooned with about everything a ground-pounder could ask for, aside from a 125mm main gun. With two — count ’em — two side-by-side 30mm 2A42 autocannons, the Terminator can throw down up to 800 rounds of hate per minute out to 4,000 yards.

Take that Mr. Puny Bradley with your itty bitty 25mm chain gun…

Those 30 mike-mikes will take care of most ground threats for sure, but the Russians didn’t stop there. To blow up tanks and take down buildings and bunkers, the BMP-T is equipped with four launch tubes loaded with 130mm 9M120 “Ataka-T” anti-tank missiles. These missiles are capable of penetrating over two-feet of tank armor.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Anti-tank missile? Da. (GIF created from Military & Space Archive YouTube)

Enough badassery for one vic? No sir. The Terminator is also loaded with a secondary 7.62mm PKTM machine gun peeking out between the two 30mm cannons, and it’s got a pair of secondary, secondary 30mm grenade launchers just to add a little close in bang bang.

The Russians reportedly developed the BMP-T after its experience in Afghanistan and more recently in Chechnya, were the armor of a tank was needed in an urban fight, but with more maneuverability and better close-range armament than a tank gun.

Reports indicate the Terminator has been deployed to the anti-ISIS fight in Syria for field trials, but it’s unclear how many of these wheeled arsenals Moscow actually has in its inventory.

That said, the video below shows just how freaking full-on this infantry fighting vehicle is and the devastating punch it packs for bad guys.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdOtHUp20Pk
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Why using nukes on ISIS would be a bad idea

With the latest dustup over comments allegedly made by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump questioning America’s nuclear weapons use rationale, WATM thought it would be worth looking into how popping off a couple nukes on, say, ISIS might actually look.


While a nuclear exchange using even small arsenals like India’s and Pakistan’s would likely result in a nuclear winter, an extinction-level event, a small nuclear attack would not produce a nuclear winter on its own.

So what would happen if America or another nuclear power were to use a single, small, nuclear bomb to end a conflict?

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
It would be nice to see ISIS at the bottom of one of these clouds. (Photo: US Department of Energy)

To destroy a city with a small nuclear weapon such as the B61 bomb—capable of explosions from .3 kilotons to 340 kilotons—while minimizing fallout and other repercussions, it would be best to detonate the weapon on the surface at its minimum .3 kiloton yield. This is roughly 2.5 percent the strength of the blast at Hiroshima.

Based on the math, .3-kiloton explosion in the ISIS capital of Raqqa, for example, could be aimed to destroy major infrastructure such as roads without directly hitting the National Hospital or major mosques.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
If a .3-kiloton nuclear explosion was properly aimed in Raqqa, Syria, it could avoid most protected sites while still inflicting massive damage on the ISIS capital. (Image: Google Maps and Nuclear Map)

When the bomb went off, a flash of light would fill the sky, blinding anyone looking at it.

A searing heat would accompany the flash, superheating the surfaces of buildings, streets and anything else in the area. Paint, plastics, glues, papers, living tissue and so forth would immediately burn and begin to rise as black carbon. This effect would kill everything in an approximately 160-yard radius from the blast area.

In the following instant, the massive overpressure wave from the blast would rock the surrounding landscape. The wind generated by this blast would pick up all the black carbon, loose objects, sand and rubble, and blast it out from ground zero and up into the atmosphere.

This shockwave would be especially strong — compared to the size of the explosion — in a dialed-down bomb like the B61 at a .3-kiloton setting. Between the searing heat and the shockwave, everyone within approximately 340 yards of the blast would be killed nearly instantly.

All of this would happen in the first second after the bomb detonated.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
These four photos were taken as a nuclear blast ripped through the Nevada desert during a 1953 test. The pressure wave at the house was measured at 5 PSI. That same over-pressurization would be present at 340 yards from a .3-kiloton blast. (Photo: US Department of Defense)

In the area surrounding ground zero, going from about 340-750 yards, many people would survive the initial explosion with severe burns, internal injuries from the pressure blast, and blindness.

This would produce an estimated 4,400 casualties and 8,900 injuries, according to nuclearsecrecy.org‘s Nuke Map.

In the minutes that followed the blast, fires would quickly spread everywhere there is material to burn. Emergency crews would have to juggle between fighting the fires and treating the wounded.

With the sudden increase in debris and damage to infrastructure, first responders would be unable to move the wounded to hospitals. Surviving doctors — which Raqqa already has a shortage of — would be pressed into service treating the wounded.

Given the Islamic State’s known disdain for civilians, it’s likely these doctors would be ordered to treat militant fighters first.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
These worthless sacks do not have a good track record taking care of civilians. (Photo: Youtube.com)

The irradiated debris from the blast and the fires, including burnt plastics and other toxins, would settle on the ground starting in the first few hours after the detonation. As this material settled, much of it would end up in the Euphrates River which runs to the south of the city center. This would poison the water supplies downriver, including much of Syria and the bulk of Southern Iraq.

Any attempt to render humanitarian aid in the area would be hampered by the severe health risks of operating in an irradiated environment. While all branches of the military have personnel and units trained to operate in a nuke zone, only a small number are true specialists.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
The only guys trained in responding to chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks are too valuable at home to deploy without good cause. (Photo: US Army National Guard Spc. Eddie Siguenza)

And most of these specialized forces are assigned to domestic counterterrorism missions — meaning that pre-staging them forward or deploying them to assist after a nuclear attack would weaken America’s ability to respond to an attack at home.

Meanwhile, there is little evidence that a nuclear attack on the ISIS capital would actually stop them.

Nuclear attacks are designed to work two ways. First, the attack damages infrastructure and the physical warfighting capability of the enemy. But ISIS has relatively few infrastructure needs. It doesn’t manufacture tanks or planes, and it can build suicide vehicles and bomb vests nearly anywhere.

The second way a nuclear attack stops an enemy is by delivering such a psychological blow that they stop fighting. But ISIS fighters are already happy with being cannon fodder and suicide bombers. Martyrdom is martyrdom, nuclear or otherwise.

A nuclear attack on a Muslim city, even the ISIS capital, could also prove to be a prime recruiting tool. It might be used as an example that America doesn’t care about Muslim lives, and “Remember Raqqa!” would be a rallying cry for recruiters and fighters for the rest of the war.

Using the weapons against any other enemy would be even worse. While ISIS would survive and be able to recruit after suffering a nuclear attack, China or Russia could respond with an actual nuclear attack. The resulting exchange would guarantee a nuclear winter.

So maybe it’s best to keep using nuclear weapons as a last-resort deterrent instead of just another weapon in the armory.

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The service histories of 7 famous cartoon veterans

Some of the world’s favorite cartoon characters are veterans of World War II. When America entered the war at the end of 1941, Walt Disney, Looney Tunes, and other companies sent their casts to war.


Here are the wartime biographies of 7 characters who answered the call:

1. Donald Duck the Paratrooper

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Gif: Youtube/Donald Duck Cartoon

Donald Duck served in a number of ways. He was a soldier in World War II who tried to become a pilot but was tricked into becoming a paratrooper by a sergeant who didn’t like him. He was decorated for serving behind enemy lines in commando missions and destroying a Japanese base single-handedly.

Decades later in 1987, he returned to service as a sailor in the Navy, but there is little evidence of what he accomplished there. He gave up care of three of his nephews to enlist.

2. Daffy Duck

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: Youtube/NewAndImprovedToons

Donald wasn’t the only one slipping behind enemy lines to disrupt enemy activity. Daffy Duck destroyed Nazi infrastructure and assassinated enemy leaders, primarily through wacky hijinks like time bombs and wooden mallets.

In a particularly daring raid, Daffy flew into a rally of Nazi party members and struck Adolf Hitler on the head with a large hammer.

3. Superman

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Gif: Youtube/Public Superman

In World War II, the cartoon Superman hunted down saboteurs and other threats to Metropolis on the home front as well as assisted in war games to train troops.

In the comic book, Clark Kent attempted to enlist but received a medical deferment when he accidentally read the eye chart in the next room with his X-Ray vision. Despite being medically deferred Superman helped out on the war front from time to time, sinking battleships, steering bombs to targets, and tying cannon barrels into knots.

4. Private Pluto

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: Youtube/TresorsDisney

Pluto was a military working dog before it was a thing. He served as an Army private who attempted to keep Army equipment safe from saboteurs and small rodents. He had trouble with the second mission, as the chipmunks Chip and Dale used Army howitzers to crack open acorns despite Pluto’s best efforts.

Pluto also served a short period with the Navy, guarding ship supplies from rats. Like the battle against Chip and Dale, this effort did not go well for Pluto.

5. Popeye the Sailor

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Gif: Youtube/Pat Hawkins

America’s favorite sailor entered the Navy in 1941, but had previously served in the Coast Guard from 1937 to 1941. As a Navy sailor, Popeye processed incoming draftees, served as a boatswain’s mate, and even helped the Army perfect its tank program.

Unfortunately, Popeye did get in some trouble when he ran afoul of an uptight captain. Popeye later defeated an enemy fleet attacking the ship, and so was returned to normal duty. He was allowed to serve until 1978 when he returned to civilian life.

6. Bugs Bunny

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: Youtube/TheWallStudios

Bugs single-handedly captured an island from the Japanese Imperial forces after he washed up on it, and later disrupted the Nazi headquarters. It isn’t clear though that he was in a military force or acting on official orders at the time.

He used a combination of direct assault and subterfuge to achieve his objectives.

7. Porky Pig the doughboy

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Photo: Youtube/8thManDVD.com Cartoon Channel

Porky Pig, famous for his stutter and shyness, became an unlikely presenter of American propaganda after enlisting in the U.S. Army. He served primarily on the homefront, selling war bonds and explaining the newest and best military technology for the benefit of the American people.

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Marine who raised first flag on Iwo Jima dies at 94

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Marines greet John Keith Wells on his 91st birthday. (Photo: Arvada Press)


“Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.” – Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

First Lt. John Keith Wells, the Marine commander responsible for raising the first flag atop Mt. Suribachi, died on February 11, just days shy of the 71th anniversary of his time on Iwo Jima.

“He was a very warm, sensitive, spiritual man, all the way to age 94,” Connie Schultz, Wells’s daughter, told Denver 7.

He was also tough as nails.

“Give me 50 men not afraid to die, and I can take any position,” Wells said during the transit to Iwo Jima.

On February 19, 1945, he was ordered to lead the 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division in an assault up the base of Mt. Suribachi. In keeping with his claim, he succeeded.

1st. Lt Wells’ platoon is believed to be the most decorated platoon in Marine Corps history for a single engagement. His individual awards included a Navy Cross, a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart.

Here is an excerpt from his Navy Cross citation:

When ordered to attack across open terrain and dislodge the enemy from a series of strongly-defended pillboxes and blockhouses at the base of Mount Suribachi, First Lieutenant Wells placed himself in the forefront of his platoon and, leading his men forward in the face of intense hostile machine-gun, mortar and rifle fire, continuously moved from one flank to the other to lead assault groups one by one in their attacks on Japanese emplacements. Although severely wounded while directing his demolition squad in an assault on a formidable enemy blockhouse whose fire had stopped the advance of his platoon, he continued to lead his men until the blockhouse was destroyed. When, an hour later, the pain from his wound became so intense that he was no longer able to walk, he established his command post in a position from which to observe the progress of his men and continued to control their attack by means of messengers.

In a 2013 interview with the Arvada Press his daughter Connie said, “He didn’t give an order. His men just followed him because they respected him so much as a leader.”

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
1st Lt. John Keith Wells, USMC. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

Even after several wounds, including shrapnel and a chunk of his leg being severed, Wells continued to lead his men until he physically couldn’t do move because of severe dehydration. But he wasn’t down for long. He convinced a corpsman to give him sulfa powder and morphine so he could get off the hospital ship and back to his platoon.

Once Wells reached the base, one of the flag raisers, Charles Lindberg, helped him the rest of the way.

According to the 5th Marine Division’s “Legends” page, after the first flag was raised Wells’ commanding officer ordered him to relinquish command of the platoon and return to the aid station. Wells reluctantly passed the platoon to Sgt. Ernest “Boots” Thomas who was killed in action several days later. Wells remained on the island, although unable to lead his troops, until the island was declared secure.

Wells’ daughter pointed out that the famous Iwo Jima flag raising photo, the one used to design the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, was actually the second flag raised on the island. “The first one caused so much emotion that [one of the commanders] ordered a bigger flag be flown,” she said.

After World War II ended, Wells attended Texas Tech College and obtained a degree in Petroleum Geology. He worked in the oil industry and served in the Marine Corps Reserve until 1959, retiring as a major.

In 1995, he published a memoir titled Give Me 50 Marines Not Afraid to Die.

“He honored and loved the Marine Corps with all his heart and soul,” his daughter Connie said. “His last words were, ‘My family.'”

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This is why the Allies’ secret DD tank failed on D-Day

If you’ve seen the blockbuster movies The Longest Day (currently on Netflix) or Saving Private Ryan, a big part of the story is how infantry fought through the obstacles on Omaha Beach (the wisdom of sending two divisions into that meat-grinder can be debated at another time).


But the lack of tank support wasn’t part of the plan. In fact, it was one hell of an instance where that notorious and unwelcome Murphy’s Law put in an appearance, costing the infantry some much-needed support. It would have been their secret weapon: the Dual-Drive, or DD, tank.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
M4 Sherman modified into a DD tank. (British government photo)

The DD tank was a modified M4 Sherman that had a large canvas screen and propellers to enable it to swim in to shore from a distance. Tanks-Encyclopedia.com notes that the M4 had some good firepower for busting up fortifications — a 75mm gun with 90 rounds. At close range, that gun would more than do against the Nazi fortifications.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
This is how the DD tank was supposed to work. Note the calm seas. On D-Day, they seas were rough. (YouTube screenshot)

There’s just one problem: the DD tanks weren’t tested in rough seas. Almost all of them ended up sinking when eight-foot-tall waves swamped them. And a tank on the bottom of the channel can’t provide support for the grunts. In short, the grunts had to do the hard by themselves.

So, take a look at this History Channel video, and a piece of D-Day history some folks would like to forget.

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This top-secret unit killed 5,428 and rescued 574 in WWII

The Office of Strategic Services Detachment 101 was a predominantly Army unit set up to conduct guerrilla operations in Burma during World War II. Originally ordered to conduct limited sabotage and reconnaissance missions, the unit grew to lead almost 10,000 local fighters that killed thousands of Japanese, rescued hundreds of Allied pilots, and enabled the success of Merrill’s Marauders.


Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Detachment 101 recruits train in the thick jungles of Asia. (Photo: CIA.gov)

The Coordinator of Information, the organization that would soon morph into the Office of Strategic Services, created Detachment 101 on April 14, 1942, as a sabotage organization with no organized plan or mission.

But the head of the COI, famed “Wild” Bill Donovan, picked a wild Army Reserve officer and gave him broad authority to pick a team and proceed as he saw fit. Maj. Carl F. Eifler had originally joined the military as a child but was discharged in 1923 at the age of 17 when the military figured it out. He became a police officer, customs agent, and Army Reserve officer.

Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Stilwell ran the China-Burma-India theater of the war and was not keen on having Detachment 101 in his battlespace, but he accepted them, partially because he had known Eifler from a previous command. Stilwell tasked the Detachment with shutting down Japanese operations around a key airfield.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
An American member of Detachment 101 plays with a local child in Burma. (Photo: U.S. Army)

The detachment began by sabotaging infrastructure in the area. The first operation, three simultaneous strikes against key bridges, went badly as only one bridge was destroyed and the U.S. teams suffered casualties. The next two operations suffered from rushed planning and little reconnaissance and failed.

But Detachment 101 built relations with the local Kachin people who resented Japanese rule and the mission hit its stride. The American soldiers recruited, paid, and deployed forward with their Kachin Rangers. The Kachins were generally smaller than their American counterparts but were strong and knew the battlefield and jungles much better.

One of the Kachins’ preferred methods for killing Japanese were to set up ambush areas. They planted improvised bamboo spikes known as pungyi sticks in the undergrowth and then carefully placed their weapons in concealment.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Kachin Rangers stand in formation. (Photo: U.S. Army)

When the Japanese arrived, the Rangers would attack, forcing the Japanese to decide between taking heavy machine gun and rifle fire in the open or diving into the undergrowth where pungyi sticks awaited them.

Initially, there was a small number of U.S. personnel leading a small number of guerrillas, but as the mission became more successful it got better funding and drew more local recruits. One Catholic missionary, Father Dennis MacAllindon, could speak Kachin and helped the Americans recruit.

The joint U.S.-Kachin team branched out into rescuing downed air crews and providing target reconnaissance in the jungle. The Japanese had been careful to operate primarily underground or under dense canopy to prevent being targeted by the Army Air Forces.

So the Kachins carefully watched the Japanese and noted the locations of airfields, supply caches, headquarters, troop buildups, and other threats. American radio operators then relayed this targeting data to bomber units that would strike.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Carl F. Eifler during his promotion to colonel. (Photo: CIA.gov)

In once case, a Japanese force had hidden their planes in holes covered in sod at an old airbase, making it appear unused from the air. Detachment 101 sent a heads up to the rest of the Army and they bombed the whole thing into ancient history.

Detachment 101 grew to encompass almost 10,000 Americans and locals, still mostly Kachins. When the rest of the Army became serious about retaking sections of Burma, mostly to reopen routes into and out of China, Detachment 101 was a key part of the mission.

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
Merrill’s Marauders move through the China-Burma-India Theater on the Ledo Road. (Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

The famed Merrill’s Marauders formed the core of Operation Galahad, but Kachin forces protected their flanks, guided patrols, and even helped move equipment by elephant.

The Kachin forces and the rest of Detachment 101 were eventually credited with the deaths of 5,428 Japanese troops and the rescue of 574 Allied airmen downed over the Japanese-held area.

But the real significance of Detachment 101 was its ability to force the Japanese out of areas or degrade their operations to the point of irrelevance.

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The fledgling Afghan Air Force is training to take on Al Qaeda and the Taliban

Air Force says an F-35 squadron will be combat-ready in 2016
An Afghan air force A-29 Super Tucano aircraft flies over Afghanistan during a training mission April 6, 2016. NATO Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air worked daily with the Afghan air force to help build a professional, sustainable and capable air force. | U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Eydie Sakura


It was just a few months ago that the first A-29 Super Tucanos touched down in Afghanistan, and a new video of live fire drills gives us a rare look at the Afghan pilot’s progress since then.

As part of NATO’s Operation Resolute Support to provide support and security to the Afghan National Government in the face resurgent terrorist groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the US has provided A-29 light air support planes to the fledgling Afghan Air Force.

Throughout the video, you can hear US Air Force trainers instructing the Afghan pilots.

The A-29s in the video are firing off rockets, as well as the .50 calibre guns.

The A-29s sent to Afghanistan are US made, designed specifically for counter insurgency and are super versatile.

The planes have five hardpoints on each wing and can carry up to 3,300 pounds of additional ordinance, like AIM-9X missiles, rocket pods, 20 mm cannons, smart freefall bombs, and even air-to-air missiles, according to IHS Jane’s.

Watch the full video below (the firing starts at around the 3:10 mark):