American commandos are ready for a 'Toyota War' of their own - We Are The Mighty
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American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Special operators gather around an up-armored Humvee. (Photo: DVIDS)


In May, images emerged of American commandos working with the Kurdish YPG rebel group in Syria. Among other things, the pictures highlighted an increasingly popular military method of transportation for special operators – the pickup truck.

Though the Pentagon has spent millions on purpose-built military trucks for its elite troops, U.S. Special Operations Command has a separate project specifically set up to buy more discreet, civilian-style vehicles. Based on readily available models, the top commando headquarters dubbed them “Non-Standard Commercial Vehicles,” or NSCVs

“The NSCV provides … a low visibility vehicle capability to conduct operations in politically or operationally constrained permissive, semi-permissive or denied areas,” U.S. Army Col. John Reim explained in a briefing on May 26 at the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida. At that time, special operators had a combined fleet of more than 500 Fords, Nissans and Toyotas, with the bulk already deployed around the world.

Commonly referred to as “technicals,” armed pickup trucks are generally associated with terrorists, insurgents and small military forces rather than American troops. When Chadian soldiers piled into these types of vehicles to fight Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddaffi in 1987, observers quickly dubbed the conflict the “Toyota War.”

Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11th, 2001, the Pentagon has been working with contractors to develop and field these improved civilian vehicles. After arriving in Afghanistan in 2002, Army Special Forces soldiers were famously spotted riding a red Toyota Tacoma pickup on at least one occasion.

We don’t know whether this or other similar trucks spotted in the field were part of the formal NSCV project. The Army’s special operators only got their latest versions ready to go in September 2014, according to the one review of the ground combat branch’s special operations plans.

In principle, the truck’s main job is to allow elite troops to better blend in overseas. On top of that, the upgraded pickups and sport utility vehicles offer a number of distinct advantages over specially upgraded Humvees and mine-resistant MRAPs.

The most obvious benefit is that the NSCVs are simply smaller and lighter than their military cousins. A basic Toyota LandCruiser Model 78 weighs approximately 4,700 pounds, depending on year and starting configuration.

An up-armored Humvee can be over 11,000 pounds. In comparison, Oshkosh’s “light” M-ATV mine-resistant vehicle is positively gargantuan at over 32,000 pounds.

One 1999 Army manual tells Special Forces troops to “carefully consider weight” when using modified Humvees. “An overloaded vehicle handles poorly, consumes fuel at a higher rate, lacks power, and will experience more maintenance problems.”

The handbook specifically says the M1114 up-armored Humvee is a poor choice for desert operations because of its size. Heavy military vehicles can easily sink and become trapped in sand and other soft ground.

The Humvee’s ever growing size and weight is why the U.S. Marine Corps purchased a number of Growler “internally transportable vehicles” that could squeeze inside the confines of their unique MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors. With similar concerns, the Army has become increasingly interested in smaller military trucks, such as the Jeep J8, for airborne and airmobile troops.

For special operators, even if the added armor and other gear doubled the weight of an NSCV, it wouldn’t be half as big as the MRAP. With payload capacities up to 2,500 pounds, when riding in the plain looking trucks, elite troops don’t necessarily have to leave behind critical gear. The pictures from Syria showed commandos in full kit on pickups armed with weapons like the .50 caliber M2 machine gun and 40-millimeter Mk 47 automatic grenade launcher.

In addition, the upgraded civilian trucks retain their relatively small dimensions. This means the pickup trucks can fit into the main cabin of the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’s MH-47 transport helicopters.

All of the modified commercial vehicles can easily drive on and off the Air Force Special Operations Command’s specialized MC-130 cargo planes. These four-engine transports can airdrop unarmored versions, too.

So, unlikely MRAPs, elite troops can quickly get the trucks where ever they might be needed. It’s no surprise that special operators brought NSCVs with them into the complex and hostile Syrian battlefield.

And the commercial starting pattern makes the trucks less of a hassle to maintain in remote areas. American special operations forces routinely work with friendly troops driving similar vehicles – which the Pentagon has often supplied in the first place.

With their NSCVs, the special operators can go where their allies can go and share many necessary supplies. In training exercises, the elite troops could share valuable lessons learned from their own experiences. The otherwise innocuous trucks present a less obvious target to terrorists or criminals when American commandos travel abroad.

Now, the Pentagon is looking to expand and extend the project. On July 18, the top commando headquarters hired the Battelle Memorial Institute to help develop new versions.

The $170 million contract covered modifications to Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger pickup trucks, as well as Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicles, according to the original synopsis the Pentagon posted online in October 2015. Battelle had previous experience supplying the armored NSCVs to the Pentagon, according to Reim’s presentation.

The work outlined in the latest contract included upgrades to the vehicles’ suspensions, armor plating and bulletproof windows and space for communications gear, radio signal jammers and other military equipment. If the defense contractor keeps to the agreed upon schedule, Battelle should deliver the first 20 pickups and SUVs for tests by January 2016.

The Pentagon expects to buy just over 511 of the trucks over the course of their seven-year deal with Batelle. However, Reim’s bullet points said that the contract could cover more than 550 vehicles, some 20 vehicles over what the officer said was needed to achieve “full operational capability.”

These new vehicles are set to replace SOCOM’s existing modified trucks over the next three to five years. Whatever happens, American commandos are prepared to fight their own “Toyota War” for years to come.

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Wing commander praises crew of wrecked B-52 for averting a larger catastrophe

The seven crewmembers of a B-52 that crashed at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, during a takeoff on May 19 were applauded by their commander for their actions in the crisis.


“We are thankful that the air crew are safe,” Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, 36th Wing commander, told Pacific Daily News. “Because of their quick thinking and good judgment in this emergency situation, the air crew not only saved their lives, but averted a more catastrophic incident.”

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
A B-52 takes off successfully. Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Brittany Y. Bateman

The plane was taking off on a routine training mission and was carrying only inert munitions, which limited the potential danger to nearby civilians or to emergency responders. Still, it had a full load of fuel and both Air Force and local firefighters had to quickly cordon off the area and battle the flames.

The mission was part of the Department of Defense’s continuous bomber presence in the Pacific. Guam is a small island but has played an outsized role in U.S. Pacific strategy because of its placement near both important sea lanes as well as areas of the Pacific that are claimed by multiple countries, including China.

The Air Force is now working to investigate the crash while also limiting the environmental effects of the spilled fuel and oil from the wreck.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
B-2 Spirits have also had mechanical issues while flying out of Guam. Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III

This is the second B-52 crash at the base in eight years. A 2008 incident tragically claimed the lives of six crewmembers. In addition to the B-52 incidents, a B-2 Spirit was damaged in Guam due to sensor failures and a B-1 was damaged when it struck emergency vehicles during an emergency landing in 2008. In 2010, another B-2 was damaged when a fire broke out in an engine compartment.

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Russian bombers buzz international airspace close to Alaska

The U.S. military has intercepted a pair of Russian bombers flying off the coast of Alaska, a Pentagon official says amid escalating tension between Moscow and Washington over a recent U.S. strike on Syria.


Pentagon spokesman Commander Gary Ross made the announcement on April 18, saying that two US Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft had intercepted the Russian TU-95 Bear bombers within 160 kilometers of Alaska’s Kodiak Island a day earlier.

The American stealth fighters escorted the Russian long-range bombers for 12 minutes before they reversed course and headed back to their base in eastern Russia, according to the official.

Ross said the intercept was “safe and professional,” and there was no violation of U.S. airspace and any international norms.

The Pentagon spokesman noted that Russia’s TU-95s are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, but there was no indication that the planes were armed.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
F-22 Raptors from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, fly over Alaska May 26, 2010. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

The provocative move comes at a time when the U.S. and Russia are at odds over a six-year conflict in Syria and Russia’s engagement in fight against the Daesh terrorist group (ISIL) in the Arab country.

In a recent development on April 7, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered two U.S. Navy destroyers to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea at Syria’s al-Shayrat airfield, in retaliation for a deadly chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun, which American authorities have blamed on the Syrian air force without providing any evidence.

Damascus and Moscow argue that the incident was a result of an air strike hitting a chemical depot belonging to militants fighting the Syrian government. At least 87 people were killed in the town on that day.

This is while the Syrian government turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the U.S. back in 2013.

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U.S. general admits F-35 is actually three separate airplanes

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Image: Lockheed Martin


The whole idea behind the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was for it to be, you know, joint. That is to say, the same basic plane would work for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and foreign countries.

Lockheed Martin is designing the F-35 to meet all the requirements of all three U.S. military branches from the outset, with — in theory — only minor differences between the Air Force’s F-35A, the Marines’ F-35B and the Navy’s F-35C.

The variants were supposed to be 70-percent common. But Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, head of the JSF program office, told a seminar audience on Feb. 10 that the three F-35 models are only 20- to 25-percent common, mainly in their cockpits.

In other words, the F-35 is actually three different warplanes. The F-35, F-36 and F-37.

There are very few examples of plane designs that effectively meet the requirements of all three American armed services that operate fighters. The F-4 Phantom was a successful joint fighter, but only because McDonnell Douglas developed it for the Navy — and the Marines and Air Force adopted it after the fact without complicating the design process.

By contrast, the JSF’s design has taken the services’ competing, even contradictory, needs into account from the outset. The F-35A is supposed to be able to pull nine Gs. The B-model has a downward-blasting lift fan to allow it to take off and land vertically. The C-variant has a bigger wing and systems for operating from aircraft carriers. Even trying to bend each variant toward the same basic airframe resulted in a bulky, blocky fuselage that limits the F-35’s aerodynamic performance.

And the compromise didn’t result in a truly common design. It’s “almost like three separate production lines,” Bogdan said, according to Air Forcemagazine. A real joint fighter, the program boss said, is “hard” because each branch is adamant about its requirements. “You want what you want,” Bogdan said.

Bogdan declined to say whether the Pentagon’s next generation of fighters should be joint. But Lt. Gen. James Holmes, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for plans and requirements, said in mid-February 2016 that the Navy and Air Force would probably design their next fighters separately.

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This is why the M320 kicks the M203’s ass

The M203 grenade launcher entered service with the U.S. military in 1969 during Vietnam. It replaced the M79 “Blooper” stand-alone launcher, almost always being used as an under-barrel addition to an assault rifle.


American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. William Jaggers, rifleman, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division (2d MARDIV), loads an M203 grenade launcher during a live-fire range at the Infantry Platoon Battle Course as part of a Deployment for Training (DFT), on Fort Pickett, Va., Dec. 12, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alexis C. Schneider, 2d MARDIV Combat Camera)

Though it has served faithfully and effectively for over 40 years now and will continue to do so for years to come, the M203 is being phased out of Army service and is being replaced by the new M320 designed and built by Heckler Koch.

For now the Marines are sticking with the 203, though many top infantry advocates in the service want the Corps to replace its current ones with M320s.

The M320 won a competitive bidding process and entered production in 2008 with over 71,000 of the weapons planned for the U.S. Army. Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division were the first to field the weapon operationally.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Spc. Travis Williams, a grenadier with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, looks through the the sights of his M320 grenade launcher March 24, during a training exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

While the M203 was capable of operating independently, in practice it is rarely used in standalone configuration. In fact, the old M79 resurfaced during Operation Iraqi Freedom as a superior option for grenade launcher duties without a rifle.

The break-action blooper (or ‘thumper,’ based on who you ask) was touted as a superior tool for the job when the whole rifle/launcher combo was too heavy or unwieldy, and standalone M203 units were not up to the task or simply unavailable.

The M79 has greater range and better accuracy than the M203. While it has performed admirably since Vietnam, no one has ever claimed that the M203 provided pinpoint accuracy.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
The M79 was beloved by troops since Vietnam and still has a following in today’s military. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The M79, introduced in 1961, is even older than the M203. Much more importantly, it’s not capable of being used as an under-barrel launcher on an M4 or M16 rifle. While stand-alone launchers definitely have their place, the need for a grenadier who is also a rifleman is a crucial one in most cases. A new, better, under-barrel 40mm grenade launcher was needed.

The M320 filled that need. Using the same high-low propulsion system of the M79 and M203 to keep recoil low while firing a heavy 40mm projectile, the M320 has the same range as the M203 while increasing accuracy and coming with a number of improvements over the older model.

One of the most noticeable upgrades over the M203 is the M320’s side-loading mechanism. The barrel swings out for loading, rather than the M203’s forward-sliding pump-like barrel. This allows the use of additional, longer, ammunition, particularly non-lethal rounds. With the weapon’s introduction, the Army is able to move forward with the development of new, high-tech rounds that wouldn’t fit in the M203.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
(Photo from PEO Soldier)

Another obvious feature of the M320 is the folding foregrip. The grip is intended primarily for use when the weapon is used separate from a rifle, but it can also serve as a forward vertical grip when mounted under a barrel. When not needed, the foregrip can be easily folded back and out of the way.

The sights of the M320 are certainly more advanced than those of the M203, and they benefit from being integral to the launcher itself, being mounted on the side of the unit. The M203’s sights were attached separately and had to be re-zeroed every time.

The M320’s leaf sight simply flips up when needed, and the integrated electronic sighting system allows users to dial in the range as determined by laser and tell if they’re on target. This alone makes the M320 easier to field and more accurate in more conditions more of the time. While operating the M79 was an acquired ability and accuracy with the M203 was more art than skill, the M320’s sight helps to make every operator a capable grenadier.

The M320 has a double-action trigger compared to the M203’s single-action unit and has an ambidextrous safety. This allows the operator more control over his weapon, its firing, and better capability to handle a misfire or simple unloading.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
U.S. Army Pfc. Rohan Wright, center, a cavalry scout with a personal security detachment with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, prepares to fire an M320 Grenade Launcher Module (GLM) at the weapons range at Forward Operating Base Thunder in Paktia province, Afghanistan, Oct. 18, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Justin A. Moeller/Released)

Despite the M320’s technical advantages over its predecessors, its introduction did not come without some hiccups. All new weapons systems suffer from some teething pains, particularly when introduced during a time of war, and the new grenade launcher was no exception.

While intended to be lighter than the M203, the M320 is actually slightly heavier, weighing in at 3.3 pounds compared to the M203’s 3.0 pounds. While this difference is small, combat troops are already overloaded and every ounce counts.

While the new sight provides significant advantages over the M203’s sight, some troops have complained that it’s a little fragile for hard use in the combat zone. This may be due to the fact that the troops are used to not worrying about an M203 because there was so little to break.

Another complaint is that when used stand-alone with the stock assembly, the buttstock is a little short for many operators.

Finally, the single-point sling attachment of the stand-alone M320 meant that the weapon swung around and was often bouncing in the way, with troops calling for a holster of some sort to use while carrying the launcher unmounted. The Army responded by launching an M320GL Holster Soldier Enhancement Program.

The SEP was a “try-before-you-buy” program that used holsters from three different vendors and issued them to troops for testing and feedback. The holster solution will also address some of the concerns about the fragile sights, since the weapon won’t be bouncing around or getting dragged on the ground when the operator hits the dirt.

A comment found online from a soldier claiming to carry an M320 in Afghanistan says that the launcher is a pain in the ass and swings everywhere, he “wouldn’t trade it for anything else in a firefight.” It’s hard to come up with a better endorsement of the M320 than that.

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7 ‘Carls’ that every unit has to deal with

D-mnit Carl!


Everyone hates “Carl.” He’s that guy who won’t shut up during operations, or pushes buttons just to figure out what they do, or sometimes is just too eager to do stupid crap.

Unfortunately for everyone else, every unit has some version of Carl. Here are seven types that everyone runs into sooner or later:

1. The Carl who messes up a perfect thing

Oh, that Carl. Everyone is doing the right thing and nailing it, except for him. For instance, a daring commando raid in March 1941 landed in German-occupied Norway and managed to take prisoners, recruit new fighters, and damage infrastructure with only a single injury. That injury came from a man accidentally shooting himself in the thigh with a revolver. If his name wasn’t Carl, it should’ve been.

2. The Carl who always wants to screw around

 

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own

(Meme via Pop smoke)

Everyone else is mission focused, but Carl is over there talking about fishing. Or wearing a funny prop. Or maybe even doing an accent while wearing a fake mustache. It would be hilarious back in the barracks. But since the squad is four steps away from a closed door and the fatal funnel, everyone really wishes he would focus up.

3. The Carl who won’t stop talking

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Maybe it’s nerves, or maybe he was raised by overattentive parents, but this guy seems to think every moment is made better with his singing, sound effects, or commentary. Sure, some of his one-liners are pretty great, but it would seriously be better if he shut the f-ck up. For once.

4. The Carl who can’t get anything right

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own

(Meme via God D-mmit Carl)

The whole unit can go through four briefings and dozens of rehearsals, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that when push comes to shove, Spc. Carl is going to hit the trigger while trying to engage the safety.

5. The Carl who randomly plays with dangerous equipment

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
(Meme via Damnit, Carl)

Of course, that’s why he shouldn’t be touching anything dangerous. Unfortunately, this is the military and keeping Pfc. Carl safe near an armory is like trying to keep “that” uncle sober during a distillery tour. You’re going to fail, someone is getting burned, and the locals aren’t going to want to see you again.

6. The Carl who is an expert in everything but his job

This Carl is at least moderately useful. They could be an expert in physical fitness or maybe they’re a “good” barracks lawyer (actually knows more than 25 percent of the regulations they try to quote!). But still, they know jack and/or crap about their actual job. Need someone to actually purify some water? Don’t ask Carl, he’ll reach for the hand sanitizer and eye drops.

7. The Carl who always has somewhere to be (usually the smoke pit)

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own

(Meme via Shut Up, Carl)

Call for an extra mag or grenade during combat and you’ll understand why this Carl is the worst. You reach back for some extra firepower only to hear from one of the Joes that Carl is actually in the Humvee checking his Facebook messages or in the smoke pit puffing on a clove cigarette (yeah, he’s that guy). Hope you can still achieve fire superiority.

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Judge rules that Army vet is genderless

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own


Last week an Oregon judge ruled that Jamie Shupe, an Army vet, can legally be considered “nonbinary.”

Up to that point, Shupe considered himself female, although he doesn’t identify with either sex.

“It feels amazing to be free from a binary sex classification system that inadequately addressed who I really am, a system in which I felt confined,” Shupe said.

Shupe was male at birth, but he started transitioning to a female in 2013, more than a decade after retiring from the military as a sergeant first class.

“Oregon law has allowed for people to petition a court for a gender change for years, but the law doesn’t specify that it has to be either male or female,” said civil rights attorney Lake J. Perriguey, who filed the petition, according to CNN.

“The law just says, ‘change.’ Historically, people have asked for a gender change from male to female and the other way around, but Jamie is the first to ask for the gender of “nonbinary,” Perriguey said.

It’s unclear what the ruling will have nationally, but it certainly has the potential to complicate the Pentagon’s already-challenging gender integration efforts. Special operators are just now adjusting to the idea of having females in their ranks. Are they ready for nonbinaries?

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Watch this WWII commando veteran explain how to spot a sniper

“You always get enemy snipers,” says Roy Cadman, a WWII veteran of Britain’s No. 3 Commando, talking about fighting the Nazis in Europe. “… And they’re a bloody nuisance.”


Cadman is a 93-year-old Chelsea pensioner, a resident at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which is a nursing care facility for veterans of the British Army of an advanced age.

In the video below, he explains that you hear the crack of the bullets before the discharge of the sniper’s rifle in the distance. The distance between the two sounds helps determine how far you are from the sniper shooting at you.

“You can work out the distance,” Cadman continues, “but you can’t work out the angle of where he is. You have to look out at that distance from your right. If you were him, where would you go?”

The idea is to find a place where a sniper would hide himself in a European battle, things like bushes, houses or roofs. Cadman explains that it’s a skill the Tommies learned and honed over time, learning exactly where to look.

In other interviews, the old, bold commando also told the Army Museum about his landing at Sword Beach on D-Day, how he joined the British Army at age 17, and how to scale cliffs, build bridges, and span rivers with a simple length of rope.

He notably returned to Normandy in June 2016 to spread the ashes of his departed No. 3 Commando comrade Fred Walker.

The video is one of many from the U.K. National Army Museum’s “The Old and the Bold” series, where veterans of World War II and the Korean War share their stories and experiences from the battlefield.

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West Point, Ranger School grad is the first female US Army infantry officer

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Capt. Kristen Griest participates in Ranger School. | Photo by Spc. Nikayla Shodeen, US Army


The U.S. Army has just announced that Captain Kristen Griest’s request to change her military occupational specialty from Military Police to Infantry has been approved, according to a report posted by the Ledger-Enquirer.

“Like any other officer who wishes to branch transfer, Capt. Griest applied for an exception to Army policy to transfer from military police to infantry,” Fort Benning Spokesman Bob Purtiman said. “Her transfer was approved by the Department of the Army over the weekend.”

Griest, a West Point graduate, was one of three women to successfully complete Ranger School last August. She is scheduled to graduate from the Captains Career Course at Fort Benning this week. The Army has not announced her next assignment.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Captain Kristen Griest | Photo by U.S. Army

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Patton once sent 300 men to rescue his son-in-law from a Nazi prison

In March 1945, Capt. Abraham Baum, a 23-year-old Army officer fighting in Europe, was summoned to the tent of Gen. George S. Patton for a special assignment.


“What the hell am I doing here?” Baum remembered thinking to himself.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Abraham Baum, thinking the same things many have thought during their service.

Ostensibly, Patton was worried that once Americans invaded greater Germany from the West, the fleeing Nazis would massacre Allied POWs in prison camps. It just so happened that one of those prisoners was Lt. Col. John K. Waters, the general’s son-in-law. With Patton’s army just 60 miles from the camp, the threat must have weighed heavily on his mind.

Waters was captured by the Nazis near Sidi Bou Zid, Tunisia in 1943. He would remain in Nazi hands for much of the duration of World War II, until his legendary father-in-law’s Third Army entered Germany – but he would not be rescued by Baum’s task force.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Gen. John Waters in 1966

Baum’s orders were to take 300 men 50 miles behind enemy lines to liberate the prison camp near Hammelburg. No one knew the exact location of the camp or how many prisoners were held there.

But the rescue mission turned into a disaster.

The sight of 303 men, 16 tanks, 28 half-tracks, and 13 other vehicles rumbling through western Germany probably came as quite a shock to the locals. Historian John Toland, in an interview with Baum for World War II Magazine, said the hysteria caused by the Task Force caused the Wehrmacht to “throw a huge number of troops at a pint-sized threat.”

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
(Map by Gene Thorp)

Task Force Baum met more and more resistance as it drove deeper into Germany. When the column reached Hammelburg, they were ambushed and lost the initiative. By the time Baum reached the gates of the camp, the defenders were ready, despite being outnumbered.

For two hours, the camp commander tried to hold off Baum’s forces. When he finally issued the surrender order, Waters was shot in the stomach by a German soldier who didn’t get the memo. Worse still, Baum was slowly being surrounded as the Germans moved in on his force.

As the column moved back toward allied lines, it was attacked and harried in force by elements of the Wehrmacht they defeated on the way in. Baum’s men fought alongside liberated POWs and on damaged vehicles as they struggled to fight their way out of German territory. Baum himself was injured (shot in the groin), captured, and hospitalized.

Task Force Baum was almost completely annihilated. According to historian Charles Whiting, only 20 of Baum’s original men made it back to the Allied lines and 100 were captured by the Germans. 130 are completely missing in action.

In the end, Baum did catch up with Waters. Abe Baum’s POW hospital bed was just a few down the row from Waters’. They both remained there until the 14th Armored Division captured Hammelburg. Waters would stay in the Army, eventually becoming a four-star general.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
The 14th Armored, crashing through the gates of the POW camp near Hammelburg.

Patton, heavily criticized by his superiors for the risky move, was unwavering. He denied knowing that Waters was at the camp and maintained that he was worried the POWs would be executed. Patton awarded Baum the Distinguished Service Cross, which the General pinned on Baum personally. Patton would be dead within a year.

Baum and Waters became close friends, even though Baum’s Army days were numbered. Baum advised the Israelis during their 1948 War of Independence but ultimately returned to his family’s business. He died in 2013, buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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The Pentagon and Silicon Valley are at odds over AI weapons

The Pentagon, via the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), is seeking $12-15 million to develop weapons which would select and engage targets without human intervention. The people who develop artificial intelligence think it’s possible that such weapons will exist within years instead of decades, including “armed quadcopters that can search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria.” And those developers aren’t thrilled about it one bit.


American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Neither was Captain America, but I’m pretty sure he took care of the whole problem.

Current AI technology is built on the premise of human non-intervention. For example, on Patriot missile batteries, the automated system will select and destroy a target unless the user opts out, which can have disastrous consequences, especially for friendly fighter pilots trying not to die from Patriot missile attacks, because the AI isn’t always as smart as we like to think it is.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Willie sees you. Willie don’ care.

So with a current fail-safe system less secure than an iTunes gift card, why don’t American lawmakers and generals try to take a hint about the”AI Arms Race” from the most trusted, brilliant, and influential nerds who trying to warn us? Nerds like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Steve Wozniak?

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
This pretty much sums it up.

The Defense Department says it’s to make the human more effective in combat. Because as anyone who’s ever lost their mobile phone knows, having all your numbers stored under names like “Josie Drunk Girl” and “Do Not Answer” makes your memory soooooooo much better.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
Technology!

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
ANALYSIS COMPLETE

But the list goes on. According to Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, the new technologies the Pentagon wants to develop will allow commanders to identify and analyze enemy defenses.

Further technological innovations would include wearable electronics, exoskeletons, greater use of drones and manned aircraft working together, and mother ships that would send out mini-drones to execute military missions, all of which could incorporate AI.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own

The announcement comes not just against the urging of America’s tech mogul community, but also amid skepticism from within the Defense Department’s own ranks, presumably until Deputy Secretary Work actually told a packed conference at the Center for a New American Security the DoD wants to be able to “kick the crap out of people who grew up under an authoritarian reign,” at which point, I imagine they erupted in cheers and then partied like a group of tailgating Buffalo Bills fans.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own

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Afghan ambassador honors fallen special operators

Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States paid a special visit to Fort Bragg on Thursday to pay respects to Army special operations forces killed while fighting the Taliban and other insurgent groups.


Hamdullah Mohib, ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, joined Lt. Gen. Kenneth E. Tovo in placing a wreath at a memorial wall outside the U.S. Army Special Operations Command headquarters.

Tovo is the commanding general of USASOC.

Mohib, who served as deputy chief of staff to the president of Afghanistan before being appointed ambassador to the U.S., also spoke with soldiers who have served or will soon deploy to Afghanistan.

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
U.S. Special Operations Memorial Wall at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Marcus Butler, USASOC Public Affairs)

The memorial wall, located on Meadows Memorial Parade Field, lists the names of more than 1,200 special operations soldiers who have died in conflicts dating to the Korean War. More than 330 of the names have been added since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

At least four U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year, all of them belonging to USASOC units.

The latest losses were last month, when Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers and Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, both part of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, were killed in southern Nangarhar province.

Mohib, who is based in Washington, was a special guest of Maj. Gen. James B. Linder.

Linder relinquished command of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School during a ceremony Thursday morning. He’ll next serve as commander of the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan and Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan.

Officials said Mohib’s presence highlighted the strong ties between Afghanistan and Army special operations.

“Since 2001, the men and women of U.S. Army Special Operations Command have been on continuous rotations in and out of Afghanistan,” Linder said. “Our soldiers have formed enduring friendships with our Afghan commandos and special forces partners. We have cemented a brotherhood through blood, sweat and sacrifice.”

Fort Bragg soldiers have historically played a key role in the 16-year war in Afghanistan. Local troops have been continuously deployed to the country since the earliest days of the war.

And last month, the Army announced that 1,500 paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division would soon deploy to the country.

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Mattis does not intend to discuss MOAB damage estimates

The ear-splitting explosion from America’s “mother of all bombs” has been followed by calculated silence about the damage it inflicted.


U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said April 20 he does not intend to discuss damage estimates from last week’s use of the military’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb on an Islamic State stronghold in Afghanistan.

The April 13 attack on an IS tunnel and cave complex near the Pakistani border marked the first-ever combat use of the bomb, known officially as a GBU-43B, or Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb. U.S. military officials have said the 11-ton bomb effectively neutralized an IS defensive position.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, however, called the use of the weapon “an immense atrocity against the Afghan people.”

American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own
The GBU-43 moments before detonation in a March 11, 2003 test. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Afghan government has estimated a death toll of more than 90 militants. It said no civilians were killed.

Reporters traveling with Mattis in Israel asked for his assessment of the bomb’s damage, but he refused.

“For many years we have not been calculating the results of warfare by simply quantifying the number of enemy killed,” Mattis said.

But the Pentagon sometimes announces death counts after attacks on extremists.

On Jan. 20, for example, it said a B-52 bomber strike killed more than 100 militants at an al-Qaida training camp in Syria. That same day, the Pentagon said more than 150 al-Qaida operatives had been killed by U.S. strikes since Jan. 1.

On Jan. 25 the Pentagon said U.S. strikes in Yemen killed five al-Qaida fighters.

Mattis, who assumed office hours after President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, hasn’t publicly discussed such numbers. He said April 20 his view was colored by lessons learned from the Vietnam war, when exaggerated body counts undermined U.S. credibility.

Related: Here is the video of MOAB’s combat debut

“You all know the corrosive effect of that sort of metric back in the Vietnam war and it’s something that’s stayed with us all these years,” said Mattis, who was in Tel Aviv to meet Israeli government leaders on April 21.

He met April 20 with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

The publicity created by the bombing in Afghanistan caught many Pentagon leaders by surprise, leading to questions about whether U.S. commanders fully considered the strategic effects of some seemingly isolated decisions.

The Pentagon also has been criticized for its declaration that an aircraft carrier battle group was being diverted from Southeast Asia to waters off the Korean Peninsula, amid concern that North Korea might conduct a missile or nuclear test. The announcement led to misinformed speculation that the ships were in position to threaten strikes on North Korea.

Mattis said he is confident his commanders are properly weighing their actions.

“If they didn’t, I’d remove them,” he said.
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