Meet the prolific Confederate spy dubbed the 'siren of the South' - We Are The Mighty
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Meet the prolific Confederate spy dubbed the ‘siren of the South’


Belle Boyd’s spying career began with a gunshot.

In July 1861, Union troops arrived in Boyd’s town and she wasn’t too happy about it. Since her father was a member of the Confederate 2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment, Boyd (born Isabella Maria Boyd) was “supporting the troops” with Confederate flags in her bedroom.

The Union troops tried to confiscate the flags, then threw up the Stars and Stripes over her house. An argument ensued, a soldier cursed at her mother, and then Boyd pulled out a pistol and shot the guy. She was later cleared of wrongdoing — because in the 1860s it was totally cool to shoot people who cussed at women — but the Union began tracking her activities.

And interestingly enough, she used this to her advantage, and tracked them instead.

From the Encyclopedia Virginia:

Union officials began to monitor Boyd’s movements, but she used conversations with her minders to accumulate detailed information on their movements, sending the intelligence in letters to Confederate commanders. After one such letter was intercepted, Boyd escaped punishment by feigning ignorance. Her parents then sent her to live with her aunt and uncle in even tinier Front Royal (pop. 417), forty miles to the south.

In October 1861, after visiting her father’s camp, Boyd began work as a courier between generals Jackson and P. G. T. Beauregard and was detained briefly for her efforts. Her oft-noted charm was a weapon and, occasionally, a liability. After being captured by a pair of Union soldiers, Boyd claimed to have sweet talked them into escorting her back to Confederate lines, where she promptly had them arrested. When Boyd’s identity was revealed to the two hapless soldiers, they recognized it, suggesting that she already had attained something that spies tend to avoid—notoriety.

Notoriety is exactly what she found, as Boyd appears at least a few times in correspondence between senior Union leaders. While she was getting plenty of hate mail from the Union, she was earning respect from senior Confederates, to include Gen. Stonewall Jackson, who made her a captain and honorary aide-de-camp, according to AP.

Perhaps her biggest intelligence “get” came in May 1862, as she spied on a Union general and his staff through a peephole in a closet floor (Great job securing the SCIF, guys). Union forces had recently captured Front Royal, Virginia, but the general was about to pull a large portion of his forces east. It wasn’t long before the town was back in Confederate hands, thanks to Boyd’s messages.

You can check out more about her exploits here

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This Desert Storm gun is a favorite for special ops units

Believe it or not, there is one gun very notable for having been taken by the United States Air Force to other planets. That said, it was only on TV.


The “Stargate” TV franchise — based on the 1994 movie featuring Kurt Russell — starred Richard Dean Anderson of “MacGyver” for its first eight seasons. The series was notable in having two separate Air Force Chiefs of Staff cameo as themselves, Gen. Michael Ryan in “Prodigy” and Gen. John Jumper in “Lost City, Part Two.”

Pew pew.

The central premise around the series was that the Air Force had acquired a “stargate” that was set up in Cheyenne Mountain. The team led by Anderson’s character, SG-1, was pretty much carrying out a mission similar to of the Army Special Forces: building alliances with native populations.

The adventures eventually took SG-1 all the way across the galaxy and beyond, where they not only faced off against hostile nations, but also made contact with friendly aliens and acquired new technology.

And as is the case with special operations forces, SG-1 had gear that average grunts didn’t get their hands on — usually. In addition to all the alien tech, they did get some earth weapons, too. Notable among them was the P90 personal defense weapon from FN Herstal.

FN P90 with accessories. (Wikimedia Commons)

The P90 is a select-fire weapon that fires the 5.7x28m cartridge. It is a compact weapon with a 50-round magazine. The gun made its combat debut during Operation Desert Storm with Belgian special operations troops.

You can see a video about this PDW that has gone to other worlds below.

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UPDATED: Pentagon names SEAL killed in Somalia raid

UPDATED: The Pentagon has named Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, of Falmouth, Maine, as the commando killed in a May 5 raid near Mogadishu, Somalia. The raid reportedly targeted a propaganda radio operation run by the terrorist al-Shabaab organization. The release said Milliken was a member of an East Coast-based Navy special warfare unit, and many sources report he was a member of SEAL Team 6.


The U.S. military said May 5 a service member has been killed in during an operation against the extremist group al-Shabab as the United States steps up its fight against the al-Qaida-linked organization.

A statement from the U.S. Africa Command said the service member was killed Thursday during the operation near Barii, about 40 miles west of the capital, Mogadishu.

The statement said U.S. forces were conducting an advise-and-assist mission with military.

Members of the Somali Police Force, train with the Carabinieri at the Djibouti Police Academy in Djibouti, Djibouti, Nov. 07, 2016. The Carabinieri is in charge of training mission MAIDIT Somalia 6, which is the mission of training the Somali Police Force in order to promote the stability and security of the entire region of the Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

A CNN report said the service member was part of a special operations task force deployed to the African nation, adding two more U.S. troops were wounded by small arms fire.

“Senior Chief Kyle Milliken embodied the warrior spirit and toughness infused in our very best SEALs,” said Rear Adm. Timothy Szymanski, commander of the Special Warfare Command. “We grieve his death, but we celebrate his life and many accomplishments. He is irreplaceable as a husband, father, son, friend and teammate – and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and teammates.”

Both the United States and in recent weeks have declared new efforts against the extremist group. President Donald Trump has approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab, including more aggressive airstrikes and considering parts of southern areas of active hostilities.

A Somali intelligence official confirmed the U.S. military operation, saying U.S. forces in helicopters raided an al-Shabab hideout near the Somali capital on Thursday night and engaged with fighters.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the helicopters dropped soldiers near Dare Salaam village in an attempt to capture or kill extremists in the area.

The official said the fighters mounted a stiff resistance against the soldiers.

new Somali-American president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, last month declared a new offensive against al-Shabab, which is based in but has claimed responsibility for major attacks elsewhere in East Africa.

Also last month, the U.S. military announced it was sending dozens of regular troops to in the largest such deployment to the Horn of Africa country in roughly two decades. The U.S. Africa Command said the deployment was for logistics training of army.

The U.S. in recent years has sent a small number of special operations forces and counter-terror advisers to and has carried out a number of airstrikes, including drone strikes, against al-Shabab.

The extremist group, which was chased out of Mogadishu years ago but continues to carry out deadly attacks there, has vowed to step up the violence in response to the moves by Trump and Mohamed.

Pressure is growing on military to assume full security for the country as the 22,000-strong African Union multinational force that has been supporting the fragile central government plans to leave by the end of 2020.

The U.S. military has acknowledged the problem. The AU force will begin withdrawing in 2018, and head of the U.S. Africa Command, Commander General Thomas Waldhauser, has said that if it leaves before security forces are capable, “large portions of are at risk of returning to al-Shabab control or potentially allowing ISIS to gain a stronger foothold.”

Fighters linked to the Islamic State group are a relatively new and growing challenge in the north of the country, which has seen a quarter-century of chaos since dictator Siad Barre fell in 1991.

The United States pulled out of after 1993, when two helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu and bodies of Americans were dragged through the streets.

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The Navy’s newest warship is named after this Marine hero

America’s newest warship, the USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) was just commissioned the last week of July — it’s the 65th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to have been built for the US Navy.


Brimming with the latest in naval warfare technology, DDG-115 is named after Sgt. Rafael Peralta, a US Marine whose story continues to inspire long after his passing in Iraq in 2004.

Born in Mexico City, Rafael Peralta immigrated with his family to the United States where he would attend high school in San Diego in 1993, and be awarded a green card in 2000. Upon receiving his green card, the young Peralta immediately walked into a recruiting station, enlisting with the Marine Corps.

The future USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115) successfully completed acceptance trials after spending two days underway off the coast of Maine. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

According to family and friends, it was no surprise that Peralta would join up — the 21-year old was fiercely patriotic, just as his father was before him. Peralta received his citizenship after finishing basic training, placing his boot camp graduation certificate on the walls of his childhood bedroom next to a copy of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Rafael Peralta’s boot camp graduation picture (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

In 2004, Peralta would be deployed with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment to Iraq, seeing combat during Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah. It was during Phantom Fury that the young Marine would give his life for his comrades in arms, etching his name in Marine Corps and Navy history forever.

After clearing three houses during a patrol, Peralta was hit multiple times with enemy fire in a fourth house. Alive, though critically injured, Peralta dropped to the floor in order to clear the way for other Marines to engage hostiles inside the building.

Shortly after, a grenade bounced near Peralta and the Marines returning fire, about to detonate in just a matter of seconds. Without hesitation, Peralta yanked the grenade underneath him, allowing his body and gear to absorb the brunt of the grenade’s deadly detonation.

Though Peralta was killed immediately, the lives of the other Marines in that house were spared.

Then-commander of 1st Marine Division Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski recommended the fallen Marine for a Medal of Honor, basing his request in no small part on the accounts of Marines who were there when Peralta sacrificed his life by falling on the grenade. However, it was announced that Peralta would instead receive the Navy Cross, second to in precedence to the Medal of Honor.

Sgt. Peralta’s family with then-SecNav Ray Mabus during his Navy Cross ceremony in 2015 (Photo US Navy)

An upgrade for Peralta’s award was not considered between 2008 and the present day due to conflicting perspectives on whether or not Peralta was already clinically deceased when the grenade was thrown, or was fully conscious and deliberate in his actions. New evidence recently brought to light might be what finally proves Peralta worthy of the nation’s highest award for valor in combat.

Fellow Marine and current congressman Duncan Hunter has been championing Peralta’s Medal of Honor cause for years, having introduced legislation to have Peralta’s award upgraded in 2012, and filing a petition with Secretary of Defense James Mattis in February of this year for the same.

The Rafael Peralta, prior to commissioning (Photo US Navy)

Hunter was, however, successful in helping cement Peralta’s legacy of service with the naming of a destroyer, officially announced in 2012 by then-SecNav Ray Mabus. The destroyer will carry his Navy Cross in a display case.

Peralta is the second Marine killed in action during the Iraq War to have a ship named after him. Corporal Jason Dunham, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion 7th Marines, was killed after shielding his comrades from a grenade blast by smothering it with his helmet and body. His actions earned him the Medal of Honor, and in 2010, the USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) was commissioned and remains in active service today.

 

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If you can help capture this terrorist, you’ll be $10M richer

The Trump administration is offering a reward of up to $10 million for information about the whereabouts of the military leader of Syria’s al-Qaida affiliated Nusra Front.


The State Department says the reward will be paid for information “leading to the identification or location” of Abu Mohammed al-Golani. The offer is the first under the department’s “Rewards for Justice Program” for a Nusra Front leader. In a statement, the department said that the group under Golani’s leadership had committed numerous attacks in Syria, including many against civilians, since 2013.

Golani has been identified by the U.S. as a “specially designated global terrorist” since 2013 and subject to U.S. and international sanctions, including an asset freeze and travel ban.

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‘The Wall’ takes the classic sniper duel to a whole new level

It’s the classic battle between masters of the martial arts.


Snipers embody the best of stealth, reconnaissance and camouflage and are at the top of their game when it come to dispatching targets with precision from a great distance.

“One shot, one kill” is no joke.

And when it comes to the best way to combat an enemy sniper, there’s no better weapon than a good guy sniper.

But what happens when the bad guy turns the tables and the good guy becomes the hunted? That’s exactly what happens in the new film from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions titled “The Wall.”

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and WWE superstar John Cena, “The Wall” depicts a sneak attack on a U.S. sniper team in Iraq by a diabolical enemy sharpshooter called “Juba,” played by Laith Nakli. The movie explores the psychological jiujitsu from each side as they try to outmaneuver one another in a battle where moving an inch in the wrong direction could mean certain death.

The enemy sniper from “The Wall” is loosely based on the infamous insurgent sharpshooter with the Juba nom de guerre in Iraq. The real Juba was reportedly killed by ISIS in 2013.

“The Wall” will be released in theaters May 12.

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Marine captain writes stinging op-ed: ‘We lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan’

An active-duty US Marine captain wrote a stinging op-ed for the Marine Corps Gazette, going through all the problems he sees with the Department of Defense and the Marine Corps in addition to recent failures in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The biggest problem, according to Capt. Joshua Waddell, is “self-delusion.”

“Let us first begin with the fundamental underpinnings of this delusion: our measures of performance and effectiveness in recent wars,” he wrote. “It is time that we, as professional military officers, accept the fact that we lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

U.S. Marines huddle behind walls as they receive instructions about their next move after a M1A1 tank eliminates the Iraqi insurgents in a house the Marines were receiving fire from in Fallujah, Iraq. | U.S. Marine Corps photo

The active-duty infantry officer, who served with and lost Marines under his command with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, in Afghanistan, didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. He said it took several years for him to accept that, with the goal of improving the system.

A case in point, he says, is a comparison of the US military with other adversaries.

The Pentagon’s budget dwarfs the combined defense spending of the next 10 countries. The Army and Marine Corps are arguably the best-trained fighting forces in the world. The Air Force has the most high-tech aircraft and weaponry, while the Navy maintains nearly 20 aircraft carriers — far more than adversaries like Russia and China that have only one each.

These stats should mean the US military is unstoppable, but the budget, talk of being the best in the world, and other claims it makes don’t square with measures of effectiveness, Waddell writes.

“How, then, have we been bested by malnourished and undereducated men with antiquated and improvised weaponry whilst spending trillions of dollars in national treasure and costing the lives of thousands of servicemen and hundreds of thousands of civilians?” he wrote.

Waddell continues:

“For example, a multibillion-dollar aircraft carrier that can be bested by a few million dollars in the form of a swarming missile barrage or a small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capable of rendering its flight deck unusable does not retain its dollar value in real terms. Neither does the M1A1 tank, which is defeated by $20 worth of household items and scrap metal rendered into an explosively-formed projectile.

“The Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Organization has a library full of examples like these, and that is without touching the weaponized return on investment in terms of industrial output and capability development currently being employed by our conventional adversaries.”

His article isn’t just a critique; Waddell offers several solutions to get the military out of the “business-as-usual” mindset that looks good in PowerPoint briefs but doesn’t translate to success on the ground.

While military leaders typically complain to Congress that constrained budgets have a “crippling” effect on the military, Waddell says the military should work more efficiently with the money it has. He gives an example of a nation already doing this: Russia.

World Military Balance 2016

Moscow’s military budget is about $52 billion, versus Washington’s proposed defense budget of $583 billion. Yet with far less money, Russia has been a consistent thorn in the US’s side in Syria, Ukraine, and now Afghanistan. That’s not to mention Moscow’s success in cyberwarfare.

“This is the same Russian military whom the RAND Corporation has estimated would be unstoppable in an initial conventional conflict in the Baltic states, even against the combined might of the NATO forces stationed there,” Waddell wrote. “Given the generous funding the American people have bequeathed us to provide for the common defense, is it so unreasonable to seek an efficient frontier of that resource’s utility?”

Waddell’s critique includes a call to fix inefficiencies between the Defense Department getting gear to war fighters, as some have to buy things they need because they don’t get there before they deploy. Waddell also calls for an audit of the Marines to see whether there are redundant efforts among contractors.

A squad automatic weapon gunner provides security during a break in his squad’s patrol in Southern Shorsurak, Helmand province, Afghanistan. | US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga

“There is no reason we should be paying twice for the same work or, as is often the case, paying government personnel for work that they have instead outsourced to more capable contractors for tasks within the government worker’s job description,” he wrote. “I would be willing to bet that a savvy staff officer with access to these position and billet descriptions as well as contracting line items could save the Marine Corps millions of dollars by simply hitting Control+F (find all) on his keyboard, querying key tasks, and counting redundancies.”

It’s unclear how much of an effect this op-ed would have on any changes. The Marine Corps Gazette is read mostly by senior Marine leadership, but whether that translates to taking this captain’s advice in an institution that is resistant to change is an open question.

“I have watched Marines charge headlong into enemy fire and breach enemy defenses with the enemy’s own captured IEDs in order to engage in close combat,” Waddell wrote. “This same fighting spirit from which we draw so much pride must be replicated by our senior leaders in leading comprehensive reform of our Corps’ capabilities and in creating a supporting establishment truly capable of fostering innovation.”

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This is what happens to the personal effects of fallen warriors

The months following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, would forever shape the way the military does business.


In an effort to provide some sense of comfort to the families of those who perished that September day, the US Army Human Resources Command established the Joint Personal Effects Depot at present day Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, in Arlington, Virginia.

Its close proximity to the Pentagon made Arlington the perfect area to account for and process personal items of fallen warriors, return them to the families, and help provide closure.

Staff Sgt. Luis Quinones speaks to the media about inventory process April 14, 2011, at the new Joint Personal Effects Depot at Dover Air Force Base, Del. USAF photo by Roland Balik.

But as America’s resolve strengthened, the young men and women of this country took up arms to defend the freedoms of its citizens against an unconventional new enemy in a war against terror thousands of miles away.

With the possibility of a rising number of casualties stemming from this new war, America’s military was faced with a new challenge — how to care for its fallen?

The History

As the war on terror intensified, the need for an expanded personal effects facility soon became evident and the JPED was relocated from Arlington to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Working out of old and sometimes dilapidated World War II era warehouses, workers at the JPED ran an assembly line operation without heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer until 2005, when the decision was made to consolidate the Joint Personal Effects Depot, along with the services’ mortuary, to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Nelson Delgado, operations management specialist (right) and 1st Lt. Marcus Hull, summary court martial officer, both with the Joint Personal Effects Depot, review personal effects inventory paperwork in processing line number 3 June 29, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base. USAF photo by Roland Balik.

“I was assigned to the depot in Aberdeen as a mortuary affairs specialist with the Army Reserve and I can say it was less than ideal conditions to work in,” said Nelson Delgado, JPED operations management specialist and retired Army Reserve master sergeant.

“Back then, everything was moved from station to station,” he said. “It was cramped and there was too much room for mistakes. One day, General Schoomaker (retired Gen. Peter Schoomaker, 35th Chief of Staff of the US Army) showed up and asked us what we needed.

“That’s how we got to Dover.”

In March 2011, construction of the current 58,000 square-foot state-of-the art facility was finally completed by the Philadelphia District Corps of Engineers at a cost of $17.5 million. A few months later in May, the first personal effects processed there.

The JPED building on Dover Air Force Base, Del. Army photo by Tim Boyle.

Staffed by a mix of active and Reserve component Soldiers, Airmen, and Marines, as well as a handful of Department of the Army Civilians and contractors, the JPED, along with the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations facility provides dignity, honor, and respect for the families left behind.

The Process

When Soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice in theater, their personal effects are inventoried, packed, and rushed to the JPED, usually within five days.

“If it comes through the front door, it has to be accounted for by us and sent to the family,” said Delgado. “We don’t throw anything away.”

“Sometimes, what might seem insignificant to you and me may, in fact, be very important to the families. We’ve actually had instances where families have called back asking for something like a gum wrapper that was given to the service member by a child,” he said.

Nelson Delgado, Joint Personal Effects Depot operations management specialist, demonstrates operating one of two x-ray machines at the JPED located at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Oct. 24, 2017. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton.

As items arrive at the depot, they are carefully x-rayed and screened for unexploded ordnance in a blast-proof corridor before they are ever brought into the main facility.

From there, items are brought into an individual cage where they are inventoried and packed for shipment to the service member’s primary next of kin.

“All the preparations are done, from start to finish, in one single room,” Delgado said.

Also Read: How Marines honor their fallen heroes — on the battlefield and at home

“We ensure there are two Soldiers present in the cage at all times in addition to a summary court martial officer. This gives us a system of checks and balances and also reduces the risk of cross contamination of items,” he added.

Each cage is equipped with photographic equipment, washers and dryers, and cleaning materials. As items are inventoried, they are carefully inspected and then individually photographed. Soldiers go through great pains to ensure each item is soil-free and presentable for the family members.

At the two-year anniversary of the creation of the Joint Personal Effects Depot at Dover Air Force Base, Del., the command continues to process fallen service members’ personal belongings with unparalleled dignity and respect. Pictured here, personnel from the JPED process the personal effects of someone who was killed in support of overseas contingency operations. Army photo by Tim Boyle.

“We want to make sure everything that the individual service member had with them in theater is returned to the family,” Delgado said. “What we don’t want to do is make a difficult situation worse.”

“If an item is soiled or bloodstained, we will stay here as long as it takes to get it clean so it can be returned. Besides memories, this is all the families have of their loved ones,” he said.

The Presentation

After items are cleaned and inventoried, they are carefully packaged into individual plastic foot-lockers.

Each item is pressed and folded. They are placed neatly in the containers, and wrapped tightly with several layers of packaging paper and bubble wrap. Smaller items, such as rings, watches or identification tags, are placed into small decorative pouches, inscribed with the service member’s individual branch of service.

The entire process, from start to finish is done in one location to help eliminate items from becoming misplaced or cross contaminated with other service member’s personal items. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton.

Items such as Bibles, flags, or family photos are placed at the top of the first box, so that they are the first things the families see upon opening it.

“We emphasize box one, because that is usually the box the families will open first. But that doesn’t mean we neglect box two, or box six, or even box 10,” Delgado said. “We treat each box the same way because we really want the families to know we care about their loved one.”

“That’s why we take our time and make sure items are neat and presentable, not just stuff thrown in a box.”

After the items are finally packaged and sent to the transit room, Soldiers scour the cage one last time and sweep the floor before exiting. Great attention to detail is given to make sure everything is accounted for and nothing is overlooked.

Items that move through the JPED are carefully cleaned, packaged, and sent to the families who have lost a loved one. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton.

The Connection

Soldiers at the JPED are meticulously screened for duty fitness by HRC’s Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Division before they are ever assigned there.

Assignments at the JPED can be emotionally taxing on the Soldiers working there.

Soldiers regularly attend resiliency training to help them cope with the tasks they are asked to perform. The JPED chaplain is as much there for them as he or she is for the grieving families attending dignified transfers.

“This is a job that not a lot of people want, or can do, but at the same time, this can be the most rewarding job you will ever do,” Delgado said.

Nelson Delgado, Joint Personal Effects Depot operations management specialist, stands in cage one at the JPED located at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Oct. 24, 2017. Army photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton.

“Taking care of the personal effects is the last part of the process. This is what helps bring some sense of closure to the families. The families don’t see what goes on here, but we get to know the service members and their loved ones by working here. We develop a closeness and connection with them,” he added.

For Delgado and others working at the JPED, that connection sometimes hits close to home.

“Sometimes you see kids as young as 19 years of age coming through here,” he said. “I have a 19-year-old kid at home. Sometimes it hits a little too close to home. I don’t know anyone working here that hasn’t cried at one time or another.

“I spent 23 of my 25-year Army Reserve career as mortuary affairs and I was blessed to get assigned to the JPED. This is our way of giving back to the families of the fallen. It’s an honor to do this.”

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7 things people use every day that originated in the military

The military is responsible for a huge amount of consumer goods and technology that people are using everyday. Here are seven examples:


1. Duct tape

The grey tape that can “fix” just about any problem was originally designed for the U.S. military during World War II. While also manufacturing camouflage material, gas masks, and other products for the military, Johnson Johnson was asked to make a waterproof tape for ammunition cases, according to Kilmer House.

Originally called “duck tape,” it “saved valuable time in manufacturing and packaging war materials. A wide variety of tapes to serve a multitude of particular purposes were made for the aviation industry alone,” read the company’s 1945 annual report.

Soldiers quickly figured out duct tape could be used for more than sealing ammo boxes, and they used it to make temporary repairs to jeeps, planes, tents, boots, their uniforms, and everything in between. Troops still use the tape today, as do the rest of us.

Not the intended use (Photo: Youtube)

2. Microwave ovens

You can thank the defense contractor Raytheon for giving you the ability to heat up that leftover pizza in under a minute. While working at the company on radar technology in 1945, Percy Spencer accidentally discovered an active radar set had melted the candy bar in his pocket. He and his colleagues were intrigued, and decided to conduct some more tests.

From Today I Found Out:

The first one they heated intentionally was popcorn kernels, which became the world’s first microwaved popcorn.  Spencer then decided to try to heat an egg.  He got a kettle and cut a hole in the side, then put the whole egg in the kettle and positioned the magnetron to direct the microwaves into the hole.  The result was that the egg exploding in the face of one of his co-workers, who was looking in the kettle as the egg exploded.

Raytheon still holds the patent, with Percy credited as the inventor. The first commercially-produced microwave was a 6-foot-tall, 7000lb monstrosity that cost $5000. But around 1967, a smaller unit at a more affordable $495 finally hit the market, according to Today I Found Out.

3. Global positioning systems (GPS)

Google Maps may be one the best ways to navigate anywhere, but it owes the Pentagon credit for doing much of the legwork. Amid Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union after it launched Sputnik in 1957, U.S. researchers figured out that radio signals emitted by the satellite increased as it approached and decreased when it moved away, according to TechHive.

TechHive has more:

This gave the scientists a grand idea. Satellites could be tracked from the ground by measuring the frequency of the radio signals they emitted, and conversely, the locations of receivers on the ground could be tracked by their distance from the satellites. That, in a nutshell, is the conceptual foundation of modern GPS. That GPS receiver in your phone or on the dash of your car learns its location, rate of speed, and elevation by measuring the time it takes to receive radio signals from four or more satellites floating overhead.

This discovery became the basis for the military’s system of five satellites, called Transit, launched in 1960. It stayed exclusively a defense technology until 1983, when the Reagan administration opened GPS up for civilian application, according to Mio.

4. Disposable-blade safety razors

Razors for shaving have been around for centuries, but the safety razor with disposable blades still enjoys widespread popularity due to the U.S. military’s adoption during World War I.

Before the 20th century, men usually had barbers trim their beards and mustaches. If they did shave at home it was with a straight razor, which needed to be sharpened often. In 1901, King C. Gillette changed that, with the invention of the safety razor — which took a disposable version of the straight edge razor and clamped it onto a handle. The military soon took notice.

From About.com:

Production of the Gillette ® safety razor and blade began as the Gillette Safety Razor Company started operations in South Boston. Sales grew steadily. During World War I, the U.S. Government issued Gillette safety razors to the entire armed forces. By the end of the war, some 3.5 million razors and 32 million blades were put into military hands, thereby converting an entire nation to the Gillette safety razor.

5. Computers

While the original computer was not even as powerful as today’s basic calculators, it was originally designed to compute artillery firing tables for the U.S. Army. Called ENIAC, or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, the new device replaced humans who were physically operating desk calculators, according to Army historian William Moye.

The massive machine took up an entire room at the Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory when it was unveiled after World War II on Feb. 14, 1946. One of its first projects was to test the feasibility of the hydrogen bomb.

6. The internet

The world’s largest repository of cat videos came from a military research project that used packet-switching to allow computers to talk to each other. The first version of the internet deployed in 1969, called the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), was made up of just four computers, with one each located at Stanford University, University of Utah, UCLA, and UC-Santa Barbara.

From About.com:

Designed as a computer version of the nuclear bomb shelter, ARPAnet protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol).

The first internet service provider emerged in 1974, but the internet would not see widespread use until the invention of hypertext-markup language (HTML) and the world wide web were unveiled in the early 1990s.

7. Freeze drying

The ability to keep food preserved for years came from a military effort to keep medical supplies useful after they were transported overseas during World War II. In freeze-drying, food is quickly frozen, then dried slowly to remove the frozen moisture.

The Ready-Store has more:

The freeze-drying process really took off during WWII as a way to transport serums and other medical supplies. Doctors found that medicines that required refrigeration were spoiling by the time they were transported to other parts of the world. The freeze-dried process was invented and allowed for materials to retain their chemical properties and drastically increasing the shelf-life.

Freeze-drying has been used for food and pharmaceuticals. But perhaps most importantly, astronauts use it to have a nice snack in space.

NOW: 9 Military terms that will make you sound crazy around civilians

And: Here’s the military’s incredibly painful ‘OC spray’ training

Or, watch 13 signs you’re in the infantry:

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How the US government tricked itself into buying $1.2M in illegal weapons

To test just how easy it is for cops to get high-tech military equipment, a government agency asked for more than $1.2 million in weapons by pretending to be a fake law enforcement agency — and got it, according to a report published last week.


The Government Accountability Office, the agency tasked with overseeing government abuse, made up a fictitious agency website and address to ask the Department of Defense for more than a million dollars in military equipment.

They received the equipment, which included night-vision goggles, M-16A2 rifles, and pipe bomb equipment, from a military warehouse in less than a week.

M16 assault rifles. DoD photo by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy

“They never did any verification, like visit our ‘location,’ and most of it was by email,” Zina Merritt, director of the GAO’s defense capabilities and management team, told The Marshall Project. “It was like getting stuff off of eBay.”

After receiving the weapons, the GAO recommended more tightly regulating transfer of military equipment and conducting a risk assessment test in order to prevent real-life fraud.

The DoD agreed to better monitor transfer of equipment by physically visiting the location of the agency and conducting a fraud assessment in 2018, according to the report.

USAF photo by Samuel King Jr.

But Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, told the Marshall Project that cases of possible fraud should not be used as a knock against the program.

“It suggests only that the US military is one of the world’s largest bureaucracies and as such is going to have some lapses in material control,” he said.

GAO’s investigation into the transfer of military equipment came after public outrage over the equipment carried by Ferguson police during protests over the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, according to TMP.

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9 text messages from First Sergeant you never want to read

While pretty much all of the veterans here at WATM served in the military fairly recently, we weren’t on first sergeant’s speed dial. If he or she wanted something, he’d send a “runner,” but with technology going the way it has been, it’s probably only a matter of time before troops start getting texts instead.


This is probably not a good thing. Here are nine messages you probably never want to see coming from the phone number of “The Diamond.”

1. Get your ass outside my office. Time: RIGHT F–KING NOW.

He doesn’t need to give you details, because he’s the frigging First Sergeant. But what you can be very sure of just from this very short text: He’s pissed. He’s really pissed… AT YOU.

 

2. We’re going out to the field this weekend. Gear inspection Friday at 1730.

There goes your plans for the weekend. After you read this one, you’ll have to call off your plans to support your local strip club and tattoo parlor. But look on the bright side: At least you’ll be saving money.

3. Gas mask PT tomorrow. Company office at 0500.

Do you hate breathing? Do you like to run? Why not combine both of these things into something your leaders call “Gas Mask PT.”

4. Why was a member of your squad caught drunk and naked at the front gate?

This is a question that really has no good answer. In the first sergeant’s mind, that drunken naked idiot is a direct reflection of your leadership, and anything you say is going to be bad. Prepare to have your butt completely chewed off.

5. Just got call from MPs. Report to my office in dress uniform in 15.

This is more upsetting than a scary movie. A call from military police, and now you have to report in to “the diamond.” What the hell did I do now? Did I not check her ID card?

6. ALL HANDS PISS TEST. Company office in 10.

It’s not necessarily that you did drugs or are worried about popping on the piss test (although that could be a concern). But pissing into a cup as some dude checks out your junk can make anyone nervous. Back off, dude.

7. Too many DUIs in company. Recall formations this weekend at 0600, 1200, and 1800 daily.

Mass punishment. It’s First Sergeant’s favorite pastime. In his mind, you may not have driven drunk, but you could have done something to stop those other guys. Somehow.

8. I’m inspecting the barracks in two hours.

You have a few options: You can try hard to clean your room because first sergeant will probably break out the white gloves to look for dust. Or you can run to the 7-day store and pick up Maxim magazine, Playboy, and a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and place them where he’s guaranteed to look. This distraction may just save your life.

9. What are you wearing?

If you get this text from your first sergeant, you should probably be worried. DON’T RESPOND. Let’s just pretend this one never happened.

NOW: 8 reasons why ‘Aliens’ perfectly captures Marine infantry life

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This is the deadliest machine gun in military history

Many military historians argue that the Maschinengewehr 42 – better known as the MG 42 – was the best general-purpose machine gun ever made. It fired up to 1,800 rounds per minute in some versions. That’s nearly twice as fast as any automatic weapon fielded by any army in the world at the time.


But veterans of World War II rarely remember dry statistics about the weapon. They remember its fearsome nicknames – and why the machine gun earned them. American GIs were rightly terrified of the capabilities of the MG 42, so they gave it an apt name: “Hitler’s buzz saw,” because of the way it cut down troops is swaths. The Red Army called it “The Linoleum Ripper” because of the unique tearing or ripping sound it made because of its extremely high rate of fire.

And German soldiers knew they had a weapon so fierce that the Wehrmacht built its infantry tactics around squads of men armed with the Hitlersäge or “Hitler’s bone saw.”

“It sounded like a zipper. It eats up a lot of ammunition and that makes for a logistical problem, but it eats up a lot of people, too,” Orville W. “Sonny” Martin Jr., who was a second lieutenant with the U.S. Army’s 13th Armored Division, said in an oral history of infantry and armor operations in Europe. “When there’s a group of people advancing, you can really rip them up with that machine gun.”

When the war began in 1939, the Germans had a solid, reliable general-purpose machine gun: the MG34.  But like so many German weapons, it was exquisitely – and expensively – made and difficult to produce. But the German high command wanted front-line troops to have more machine guns. That meant a weapon designed to deliver a high rate of fire like the MG34 but cheaper and quicker to produce.

Mauser-Werke developed a machine gun that fired a 7.92-millimeter Mauser cartridge fed into the gun from either a 50-round or 250-round belt. What’s more, the company manufactured the machine gun from stamped and pressed parts, welding the components together with a technique that reduced production time by 35 percent. That manufacturing method reduced the cost as well. The result was the MG 42, and German soldiers soon swore by its lethal effectiveness.

The MG 42 had a range of up to 2,300 feet, weighed 25 pounds and possessed a barrel that could be changed in seconds.

True, the machine gun had its weaknesses: It used ammunition like crazy, possessed no single-shot capability and could quickly overheat. But the amount of firepower it brought to the battlefield had ghastly results.

A Waffen SS soldier totes an MG 42 with a shoulder strap. (German Bundesarchiv photo.)

The sound alone of the MG 42 took a psychological toll on troops. The situation became so bad the U.S. Army produced a training film intended to boost the morale of U.S. soldiers terrified of the machine gun’s reputation:

In one of the film’s dramatized scenes, a green replacement is portrayed pinned down by MG 42 fire while the narrator says that nobody else in the platoon seems particularly bothered by the sound – nobody but the raw G.I. who “can’t get over the fast burp of the German gun.”

“Well, so it does have a high rate of fire,” the narrator continues. “Does that mean it is a better fighting weapon than ours?”

What comes next is a “shoot off” between various U.S. machine guns and the MG 42 along with other German automatic weapons. The narrator of the training film soberly describes the accuracy and slower-but-steady rate of fire of U.S. weapons, saying, “The German gunner pays for his impressive rate of fire. But you get maximum accuracy with a rate of fire that isn’t just noise! The German gun is good – but ours is betters. Their bark is worse than their bite.”

But the reality is the MG 42 bit hard, killing or grievously wounding many thousands of Allied soldiers. James H. Willbanks, author of Machine Guns: An Illustrated History of Their Impact, writes that the MG 42 was nearly everywhere on the European battlefield, either in machine gun emplacements or vehicle-mounted on everything from halftracks to Panzers.

In fact, it was so deadly the MG 42 shaped German infantry tactics during the war.

U.S. and British tacticians emphasized the importance of the rifleman, with machine guns tasked to support infantry assaults.

Because of the MG42’s devastating power, the Wehrmacht placed the machine gunner in the central infantry role with riflemen in support. Each MG42 ideally had a six-man crew: a gun commander, gunner, a soldier who carried the weapon’s tripod, and three additional troops who carried spare barrels, additional ammunition, and tools.

When Allied troops attempted infantry assaults against positions protected by the MG42, the German machine gun crew would lay down withering suppressive fire. In most cases, all the infantrymen could do was wait for a barrel change, for the gun to run out of ammunition, or for a tank to show up so it could blast the machine-gun nest to oblivion.

The MG42 survived World War II to continue service in the West German Bundeswehr.  Rechambered so it would fire the NATO 7.62-millimeter cartridge, the Germans designated the weapon the MG3 – but it still kept its blistering rate of fire and basic design.

The MG3 is used to this day, not only by the German army, but also by the militaries of 30 nations.

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This defense contractor wants to ‘grow’ drones in high-tech liquid ooze

A new initiative from BAE Defense Systems wants to create a system for “growing” drones in vats in a next-generation version of 3-D printing.


The process would be very quick, allowing military planners to manufacture new drones only weeks after a design is approved. That would allow custom aircraft to be grown for many major operations.

GIF: YouTube/BAE Systems

If the Air Force needed to get bombers past next-generation Russian air defenses, they could print drones specifically designed to trick or destroy the new sensors. If a group of troops was cut off in World War III’s version of the Battle of the Bulge, the Army could resupply them with custom-designed drones carrying fuel, batteries, ammo, and more. Different designs could even be grown for each payload.

The drones would grow their own electronics and airframes, though key parts may need to be manufactured the old fashioned way and plugged into new drone designs. BAE’s video shows a freshly grown aircraft receiving a final part, possibly a power source or sensor payload, on an assembly line after the craft leaves its vat and dries.

GIF: YouTube/BAE Systems

The 3-D printer that would be used, dubbed the “Chemputer” and trademarked by BAE, could potentially even recycle some of its waste and use environmentally friendly materials.

Since each aircraft is being custom built for specific missions or niche mission types, they can be highly specialized. One vat could print an aircraft optimized for speed that needs to outrun enemy missiles while the one next to it needs to act as a radio relay and has been optimized for loiter time.

The project is headed by University of Glasgow Regius Professor Lee Cronin. Cronin acknowledges that roadblocks exist to getting the Chemputer up and running, but thinks his team is ready to overcome them.

“This is a very exciting time in the development of chemistry,” Cronin said. “We have been developing routes to digitize synthetic and materials chemistry and at some point in the future hope to assemble complex objects in a machine from the bottom up, or with minimal human assistance. Creating small aircraft would be very challenging but I’m confident that creative thinking and convergent digital technologies will eventually lead to the digital programming of complex chemical and material systems.”

For more information, check out BAE’s video above or read their article on the program here.