Boeing has patented a 'Star Wars'-style force field - We Are The Mighty
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Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Youtube.com


Boeing has won a patent for a protective force field that could stop vehicles from being harmed by explosions, Popular Science reports.

It might sound futuristic — and it is. The patent isn’t about stopping bullets or lasers or anything like that, though. Instead, it detects explosions near a vehicle, and then quickly heats up the air or water between the vehicle and the blast. The heat creates a plasma shield that is more dense than normal air, adding to the vehicle’s protection.

This diagram from Boeing shows the different parts of the force-field system:

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Diagram: Boeing

Boeing’s patent application shows how the force-field technology could work with a military vehicle:

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Diagram: Boeing

The above diagram shows a military Humvee with a device that can lessen the impact of explosions from bombs like improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

But there could be other uses for Boeing’s force-field technology. Boeing notes that it can be used in water as well as air, heating up the area around boats or submarines to lessen damage from explosions.

Here’s Boeing’s full patent filing:

Method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc by Michael Janitch

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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This is how US ships defeat missiles without firing a shot

When the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) came under attack multiple times in October 2016, the ship was able in at least one instance to use its defenses to shoot down the incoming Noor anti-ship missiles.


But there are times when a ship can’t shoot down the missiles – and thankfully, U.S. Navy vessels have plenty of options.

There are a number of reasons why a U.S. Navy ship may not be able to fire. In some cases, it may be due to restrictive rules of engagement. Other times, the inability to shoot may be due to battle damage. Perhaps there’s concern about what a miss might do.

In those cases, the Navy relies on decoying an inbound missile in one of several ways.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
The guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) steams through the Atlantic Ocean. Mason is participating in Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 08-4 as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katrina Parker /Released)

One option is via electronic countermeasures, or “ECM.” Specifically, the goal is to interfere with the guidance systems on the missiles by confusing or blocking the seekers on radar-guided ones.

The confusion angle is very simple. An ECM system like the AN/SLQ-32 would create false targets. This gets the missile to hopefully chase into empty ocean. Another method is to reduce the seeker’s effective range with jamming. This would allow the ship to get outside the seeker’s ability to acquire a target — again sending the missile off on a merry chase to nowhere.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
An antenna for the AN/SLQ-32 system on board USS Nicholson (DD 982). (US Navy photo)

However, missile makers are wise to the countermeasures and haven’t stood still. The field of electronic counter-countermeasures exists to help make seekers both more powerful and more intelligent, enabling them to beat the ECM. Thankfully, there is another option.

Most U.S. Navy ships also have launchers for chaff. Like the deception portion of ECM, it creates a false target for a missile seeker. Unlike the deception portion of ECM, since it is actually physically metal, it creates a real “target” for the seeker to home in on.

Furthermore, firing a bunch of the rockets makes a bigger “target” – which the incoming missile will hopefully go for.

You can see a Burke-class destroyer launch a chaff rocket in the video below.

These are known as “soft” kills. The enemy missile is negated, but it is misdirected as opposed to being shot down. “Soft” kills do have a potential to go bad, though.

During the Argentinean air attacks on the Royal Navy on May 25, 1982, a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Ambuscade, fired off chaff to decoy incoming Exocet anti-ship missiles. The missiles flew through the chaff cloud and locked on to the Atlantic Conveyor, a merchant vessel carrying supplies for the British forces. Two missiles hit the vessel, which sank three days after being hit.

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George Custer’s younger brother earned two Medals of Honor in the same week

It’s funny how the older Custer can be so infamous for his worst military blunder, while his brother Thomas Ward can earn two Medals of Honor and practically be lost to history.


Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Note, I still haven’t shown a picture of Thomas Ward Custer yet. This is George.

Related: 9 amazing facts about General George Custer

“If you want to know what I think of him, all I can say, Tom ought to have been the general and I the captain,” so says Gen. George Armstrong Custer, who was probably right.

Custer’s famous last stand is one of the defining moments in the Indian Wars of the late 19th century. The name Custer evokes the memory of a legendary failure. If you don’t believe it, just read “We Were Soldiers Once… and Young.”

Retired Lt. Col. Hal Moore, commanding the 7th Cavalry at Ia Drang, worried he’d be just like the infamous 7th Cavalry commander Custer and lead his men to certain death.

“Casualties were beginning to pile up. As we dropped behind that termite hill, I fleetingly thought about an illustrious predecessor of mine in the 7th Cavalry, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, and his final stand in the valley of the Little Bighorn in Montana, eighty-nine years earlier. I was determined that history would not repeat itself in the valley of the Ia Drang.”

Thomas Ward Custer would die with his big brother at Little Bighorn and wouldn’t achieve the rank and notoriety of the elder Custer. He was a good soldier (to put it mildly) enlisting at age 16 to fight in the Civil War and fighting in the major battles of Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and in the Atlanta Campaign. He was enlisted for most of the war before earning a commission in October 1864.

Barely six months later — April 3, 1865 — the younger Custer captured a Confederate Regimental flag at Namozine Church. He did it after being wounded and thrown from his horse. He also took at least a dozen prisoners to boot.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Thomas Ward Custer, just after the Civil War ended.

 

Capturing an enemy flag was a big deal at the time of the Civil War. If a unit’s flag was captured, there was a good chance the unit’s cohesion would just fall apart. They were held in the middle of the unit and troops looked to them for assurance during the fighting – the assurance that the rest of the unit was still fighting with them.

Three days later, Thomas Ward captured another regiment’s colors at Saylor’s Creek, jumping from his horse during a cavalry charge, over and into the enemy lines. He was wounded in the face for his trouble and awarded his second Medal of Honor. General Charles E. Capeheart, an eyewitness, reported:

“Having crossed the line of temporary works on the flank of the road, we were encountered by a supporting battle line. It was the second time he [Tom] wrestled the colors. He received a shot in the face which knocked him back on his horse, but in a moment was soon upright in the saddle. Reaching out his right arm, he grasped the flag while the color bearer reeled. The bullet from Tom’s revolver must have pierced him in the region of the heart. Captain Custer wretched the standard from his grasp and bore it away in triumph.”

Just three days after Thomas Ward captured his second enemy regimental flag, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, ending the Civil War.

Also read: These 12 facts might give you a new perspective on the Civil War

When the Civil War ended — at 20 and a brevet lieutenant colonel — Thomas decided to stay on in the Army. His exploits on the American frontier were the stuff of legend, including a tussle with the Western lawman “Wild Bill” Hickok.

It was following his brother George to Little Bighorn that would prove the younger Custer’s fatal mistake.

The site of Custer’s last stand in 1877. All that remained were the skeletons of cavalry horses. (Worst. Family Reunion. Ever.)

Thomas Ward Custer was slaughtered there during his brother’s infamous last stand, along with another brother, Boston Custer and their nephew, Henry Armstong Reed.

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11 steps to turning a puppy into a badass military working dog

Military working dogs are among the world’s most elite four legged warriors. Serving side by side with U.S. troops since World War II these brave animals have saved thousands of lives and earned their stripes by performing as critical military assets. But before they ever patrol a base or go on a combat mission they must meet the very high standards of military dogs.


These are 11 steps to turning a puppy into a badass military working dog:

1. Breeding  Procurement

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Facebook.com/DoDMWDBreedingProgram

The Department of Defense acquires puppies from breeders overseas as well as in the United States, but many now come from DoD’s own military working dog breeding program at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas. Established in 1998, the DoD’s state of the art whelping facility has dedicated “puppy development specialists” who take care of them until they are about 8-10 weeks old.

2. Fostering Program

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Facebook.com/DoDMWDBreedingProgram

If you live within two hours of Lackland and meet certain requirements you could qualify to foster a future K9 hero. The  foster program allows the dogs to have a normal puppyhood by being exposed to different environments and become socially sound.  Volunteer foster families take great pride in raising the puppies, like the one pictured above. See if you qualify to foster a puppy by clicking here.

3. Selection Evaluation

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: U.S. Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano

The dog will return to Lackland when he or she is around 7 months old and go through puppy training. In the same way civilians must be screened by military recruiters to see if they are a fit for the armed services, the puppies are evaluated to see if they display the attributes needed of military working dogs. If they don’t get selected to move on they may still qualify to be used at another agency or they will be adopted out.

4. Dog Training School

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Megan E. Acs

The few dogs selected go to Dog Training School, the military working dog boot camp. The dog trainers at DTS are experienced handlers from all military branches, and for many it’s a dream job to get assigned there. The entire mission of DTS is to train and certify dogs in the fundamentals of being an MWD. Each dog is different but typically they will be at DTS anywhere from 4 – 7 months. The head trainers will then assess the dog’s ability in detection and patrol work. Even here dogs can fail and wash out of the program. Some wash outs become training dogs for brand new handlers going through basic handlers course. The dogs who pass earn the coveted title of military working dog — but they are still not mission-ready.

5. Base assignment

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Facebook.com/MilitaryWorkingDogs

Each newly-minted MWD will get orders to a kennels at a U.S. military base around the world. Normally, a MWD will work his or her entire career at one base.

6. Handler assigned

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Clayton Lenhardt

Every kennel in the military has a kennel master in charge of all operations of the unit. Once a new MWD arrives the kennel master will assign a handler. Now the MWD has finally been partnered with their first MWD handler, and the real training begins.

7. Obedience Training

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Brandon Beach

Simply because a handler and MWD are assigned to each other does not mean they can function as a team yet by any means. The dog needs to learn to trust and respect the handler, and that starts with obedience training — the foundation of all good MWD teams. Handlers give basic obedience commands followed by lots of praise, and the team starts to create trust, mutual respect, and an overall bond.

8. Patrol Training

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Lance Cpl. Suzanna Lapi

MWD’s have an innate drive to pursue (and bite) bad guys. Once a dog team has established a foundation of trust, allowing the MWD to do patrol training helps strengthen that trust while also creating in the MWD a sense of protection over the handler, and it keeps the MWD’s morale high.

9. Detection Training

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Chris Hartman

While a few MWD’s won’t be certified in patrol, every MWD must be certified in detection as it is the primary mission of an MWD team. A dog’s nose can detect up to 10,000 – 100,000 times better than a human’s, they just need guidance on how to properly maximize their gifted olfactory skills. While each MWD is trained to detect either explosives or narcotics by the time they graduate DTS, handlers must train with them to learn each dog’s specific behavior when they pick up a scent.

10. Train, Train, Train

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Corey Hook

Every single day dog teams must train. Whether it’s patrol work, detection, or simple obedience they must develop an unbreakable bond in which they fully trust one another with their lives. In order for a dog team to work efficiently they must both be good, not one or the other. In the same way an infantryman must know his weapon inside and out and maintain it every single day, a handler must train, groom, and know everything about his or her MWD.  Once the kennel master feels confident the team can work effectively together, an official MWD team certification is scheduled.

11. Dog team certification

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Facebook.com/MilitaryWorkingDogs

To be certified as an official MWD team and granted authority to operate as one, the kennel master puts together a real-life detection training scenario that involves all of the odors the MWD is trained to detect. The commanding officer of the unit must be present and personally witness the MWD team successfully locate every odor. Once complete, they become an official military working dog team. And any handler will tell you that handling a military working dog is not only a tremendous responsibility but also a lifetime honor.

 Now: The top 10 militaries of the word, ranked

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Three Army chaplains just certified as Green Berets

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Three Chaplains who completed the U.S. Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection program, as well as the Special Forces Qualification Course. (From left to right: Chaplains Tim Crawley, Mike Smith, and Peter Hofman) | US Army


A Roman poet named Juvenal is credited with saying; “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” –a Latin phrase that means “who will guard the guardians?” Chaplains are often seen as these guardians, someone who looks after those who protect others.

Historically, nearly every unit in the Army has had chaplains assigned to look after the spiritual and/or emotional needs of the force, to include elite units such as U.S. Army Airborne, Rangers, and Special Forces. While many chaplains assigned to these units decide to go through the Basic Airborne Course and Ranger School, which can help them better relate to the soldiers in their care, few have had the opportunity to attend and complete the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course.

“Support soldiers such as the staff judge advocate, surgeons office and chaplains, are a necessity to Special Forces, but they are not required and/or rarely offered the opportunity to attend SFQC, without having to re-class (change their MOS),” said Chaplain (Capt.) Mike Smith, now a Special Forces qualified chaplain with 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. “Now, since I completed the course and earned the coveted Green Beret, they see me as one of them. I have ‘survived’ the same challenges they had to survive in order to serve in the Special Forces community.”

“To me, it isn’t the fact that I am able to wear the beret as much as it allows me to understand the operators I serve. There is a sense of alienation when a support soldier, including the chaplain, arrives to an SF unit. There is some assessment time where the unit attempts to understand the new chaplain,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Timothy Maracle, a Special Forces qualified chaplain with 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). “This period of acceptance and access to the unit allows a chaplain the ability to express their identity to the new group of soldiers and operators. On the other side, when the unit finally does accept the chaplain, there is an unbreakable bond. We support one another as if they were our own flesh and blood. The beret is the vehicle of access, but it doesn’t do everything for a chaplain, just provides access.”

Smith recalls some of the challenges he faced through his journey, explaining that a mere week from graduation he was told he may be receiving a certificate of completion rather than actually donning the Green Beret with the rest of his classmates. However, senior SF personnel such as Chaplain (Col.) Keith Croom expressed those chaplains who have met the same standards of SFQC as other candidates should be granted the opportunity to don the Green Beret and thus minister with their SF brethren.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Four Chaplains who completed the U.S. Army Special Forces Assessment and Selection program, as well as the Special Forces Qualification Course. (From left to right: Chaplains Timothy Maracle, Mike Smith, Tim Crawley, and Peter Hofman.) | US Army

Although these chaplains have met the same standards, been through the same training, and hold the same qualifications as many SF soldiers, they do not consider themselves ‘operators.”

“If there is one thing I learned, it is that I am not an ‘operator.’ I was not and am not called to that role. It’s not to say that I couldn’t take on that role, because I have gone through the training, but it’s more to say that my role is different,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Peter Hofman, a SF Qualified Chaplain and instructor at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, Fort Jackson, South Carolina. “My role is to guard the guardians, to minister to those in the SF community.”

Hofman also recalls a moment during his time at SFQC when he was met with his share of adversity.

After his final patrol in the Small Unit Tactics portion of the course, Hofman notes that he was sitting with the rest of his platoon waiting for a final AAR (after action review), when an instructor walked up to him and said, “What’s your deal man?”, which led him to believe he had done something wrong. The instructor then clarified his initial question by asking why Hofman, as a chaplain, was learning about assaulting objectives and carrying weapons.

“I could tell he was irritated by my presence and after a little back and forth I finally said, ‘Well sergeant, I think the SF motto: ‘De Oppresso Liber’ is an important mission,” he said. “In fact, it is the same mission that Jesus stated was his mission in ‘Luke 4’ quoting from ‘Isaiah, chapter 61′. It’s a mission that I would like to be a part of and the SF community is a brotherhood that I would be honored to serve in’. Apparently, that satisfied him because he walked away. In that moment I became more aware than ever before what a huge responsibility I was being charged with and what a privilege it was to be there and serve with these ‘guardians.'”

Because of the unique situation these chaplains find themselves in (attending SFAS and SFQC as Chaplains), they also share a unique perspective.

“The essence of what SFQC has done for me is knowledge. Knowledge about how much these soldiers have been pushed, pulled, and stressed while going through the course. Knowledge about the way operators think, which assisted me during counselings with their spouse. Knowledge about how important perception is to an operator, as it is the first impression of a person that will assist an operator when he needs it,” said Maracle. “Knowledge about my own weaknesses and how understanding my breaking points, I can understand that in others as well. And finally, knowledge about the bigger picture of what is truly important to an operator and how to support them when they don’t even know they need it.”

According to Maracle, for him and his fellow chaplains, enduring and ultimately graduating this grueling course was never about the glory, but always about the soldiers they would later serve.

“Any time a chaplain can successfully complete challenging courses and become tabbed, I believe it bolsters the reputation of the (Chaplains) Corps,” said Crawley “I am a better man and chaplain for having gone through, and I believe it also gives us a voice in places we may not have without it.”

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8 ways to kill time during ‘hurry up and wait’

Most of a service member’s time is filled with “Hurry up and wait,” the long-standing tradition of making everyone come in six hours before any training event, travel or other military activities.


But there are ways to fill the hours between the time troops have to show up and the time the training activities start. Here are eight humble suggestions:

1. Throwing rocks

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Two soldiers talk and throw rocks before testing starts during the Expert Field Medic Badge course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Sept. 24, 2015. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

This game just naturally starts to happen if too many people are sitting in a motor pool or anywhere else with rocks. Make sure to find a hat to throw the rocks into or a small piece of metal or something to throw the rocks at.

When someone makes a tricky shot, everyone has to half-heartedly cheer and then look around for something else to throw rocks at.

2. “Would you rather … ?”

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field

Everyone knows this game. One person asks another — or multiple people — which of two horrible experiences they would rather go through.

“Would you rather have to scrub every latrine in the battalion with your only toothbrush or low crawl through the [local strip club name] on payday Friday?”

This game is known for getting dirtier the longer it is played.

3. “Screw, marry, kill”

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field

Like “Would you rather?” this game consists of one person offering another a series of options. In this case, the quizzer offers three names, usually female, and the quizzed has to pick one to sleep with, one to marry, and one to kill.

Obviously, this game is super inappropriate, which is part of what makes it so funny. Pros make sure to include options like “your sister” or “your childhood pet.”

This game is also known for getting dirtier the longer it goes on.

4. B-tch session

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

Sometimes you just need to get all the hate out in the open, preferably when the platoon sergeant and leader aren’t around so you can complain about them.

The best thing is, being stuck in “Hurry up and wait” mode is the perfect gripe to get started with.

5. Dangerous games (like throwing knives at each other’s feet)

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
(via Military Memes)

Do you want a safety briefing? Then don’t get caught playing these games.

They can be lots of fun and are popular in the field, especially on the gun line. The most common involves two people squaring off with their feet shoulder width apart and throwing a knife in the dirt.

We’re not printing the instructions here because we don’t want to be liable for any lost toes. But check with any gun bunnies. They know how to play it.

6. Ridiculous physical training

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
GIF: YouTube/Rhonda Smallwood

Having younger troops do embarrassing exercises like the little man in the woods, the duckwalk, or the dying cockroach is always funny, just make sure you don’t actually cross the line into hazing. Extra points if you make the new guys race while doing an exercise.

Two-person teams in a leap frog race make for a particularly enjoyable session.

7. Quick naps

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
(via Military Memes)

This is exactly what it sounds like. You don’t actually need an explainer on how to nap, right?

8. Cell phone

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

Your cell phone can reach the entire Internet. Just make sure to bring an extra battery pack in case the “wait” part of your “Hurry up and wait” is longer than one charge.

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Here’s how a little girl who lost her Marine dad taught the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the full cost of war

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
General Dempsey talking to the troops in Iraq. (Photo: CBS News)


Like most general officers commissioned right after the Vietnam War ended, Gen. Martin Dempsey’s firsthand experience of dealing with combat losses came relatively late in his career. During the summer of 2003, then-Major General Dempsey was commanding “Task Force Iron” in Iraq when the post-invasion lull ended and the insurgency began going after American troops.

“We started taking casualties,” Gen. Dempsey recounted. “And during the morning briefing, after we talked about the high-level mission items and what we called ‘significant incidents,’ we’d flash up the names of the fallen and have a moment of silence.

“The names were up there on the screen and then, whoosh, they were gone,” he said. “After about two or three weeks of the same thing, I became really uncomfortable with that. One minute it was there and real, and then the next minute it was somebody else’s problem.”

Gen. Dempsey attended a number of the memorial services held at the forward operating bases downrange for those killed in action.

“They were both heart wrenching and inspirational,” the general said about the services. “To see the love that these soldiers had for each other made me take my responsibilities that much more seriously.”

But as he greeted the battle buddies of the fallen, Gen. Dempsey wasn’t sure what to say to them that would help at those moments. “I had nothing,” he said. “I mean, I’d say, ‘hang in there’ or ‘we’re really sorry about what happened’ . . . I felt so superficial.”

Then it hit him one morning after he was just waking up in his quarters in Baghdad. “A phrase was echoing in my head,” he remembered. “Make it matter.”

He did two things immediately after that: First, he had laminated cards made for every soldier who had been killed to that point. The cards were carried by all the general officers in theater as a constant physical reminder of the human cost of the war. In time the number of casualties became so great that it was impractical to carry the cards at all times, so he had a mahogany box engraved with “Make it Matter” on the top and put all but three of the cards inside of it. He would constantly rotate the three he carried in his pocket with the ones in the box.

Second, from that point forward when he would address the soldiers in units that had experienced losses, he’d simply say, “Make it matter.”

“They knew exactly what I meant,” Gen. Dempsey said.

****

Five years after Gen. Dempsey’s introduction to the challenges a two-star leader faces during periods of significant combat losses, Marine Corps Major David Yaggy, a veteran of three combat deployments, was an instructor flying in the rear cockpit of a Navy T-34C trainer on a cross-country flight between Florida and South Carolina when the airplane went down in the hills of Alabama. Yaggy and his flight student at the controls in the front cockpit were both killed in the crash.

The day of that crash is burned into the memory of Maj. Yaggy’s widow, Erin. She first heard from a realtor friend that a helicopter had gone down, and she immediately went online and saw a report that, in fact, a T-34 had crashed in Alabama. Fearing the worst, she put her 18-month-old daughter Lizzy in a stroller and went for a walk, in denial and hoping to avoid any officials who might show up to tell her that her husband had been killed.

During the walk, she received a phone call from her cousin. “Where are you?” she asked.

“I’m at your house,” he replied. That was all he said.

Erin ran home pushing the stroller, in her words, “like a crazy person.” When she arrived she caught a glimpse of a uniform, and she broke down, hysterical. “That didn’t go so well,” she said.

She had a long period of vacillating between shock, anger, and sorrow. “I felt like other people wanted me to cry,” she said. “I was like, ‘I don’t want permission to cry, I just want him here.”

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Lizzy Yaggy visiting the Arlington National Cemetery gravesite of her father. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The sister of the flight student killed with Erin’s husband convinced her to get involved with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), and she wound up making the short trip from Baltimore to Washington DC to attend her first Good Grief Camp — the organization’s signature gathering — when Lizzy was four years old.

****

General Dempsey had just taken over as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army when his aide briefed him that he was scheduled to address the TAPS Good Grief Camp attendees gathered in a hotel ballroom across the interstate from the Pentagon. Although the general had heard of TAPS and was armed with the requisite three-by-five cards filled with talking points provided by his staff, when he got there he realized he wasn’t fully ready for what he was walking into.

“I walked into this room with 600 kids all wearing big round buttons with images of their parents, and I knew I was ill-prepared,” Gen. Dempsey said. “It was emotionally overwhelming. It’s hard enough meeting a single family that’s had a loss. It’s another thing altogether meeting 600 families.”

Gen. Dempsey started his appearance with a question-and-answer session, and after a couple of innocent ones like “do you have your own airplane?” and “do you like pizza?” a little girl dramatically shifted the mood by asking, “Is my daddy an angel?”

“I was stunned,” Gen. Dempsey recalled. “How do you answer that question?”

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Lizzy Yaggy greets Gen. Dempsey during TAPS Good Grief Camp. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The general thought for a few moments before calling an audible of sorts. Fearing that he could well break down if he tried to talk he decided to attempt something else.

“I knew I could sing through emotion instead of trying to speak,” he said.

So he answered that, of course, her father was an angel — like the fathers of everyone there — and that the entire group should sing together because singing is joyful and the fact that their fathers were angels should bring them great joy.

Then he launched into the Irish classic, “The Unicorn Song,” including a lesson in the proper hand gestures required during the chorus. Soon the entire room was singing.

After his appearance, General Dempsey asked Bonnie Carroll, the founder of TAPS, if he could meet the little girl who’d asked the question and her family, so Bonnie introduced him to the Yaggys. The general was immediately struck by Lizzy’s spark, and, as Erin put it, Lizzy was drawn to the man with lots of silver stars on his Army uniform who’d raised her spirits by singing with all of the kids.

“His timing was perfect,” Erin said. “Before [General Dempsey’s singalong], Lizzy had just said, ‘I don’t want to talk about daddy being dead anymore.’ Her attitude changed after she met General Dempsey.”

****

At the following year’s Good Grief Camp, they began what blossomed into a tradition: Lizzy introduced him as the keynote speaker.

“She stood up and said, ‘this is General Dempsey.  We love him, and he loves to sing, and he makes us feel good,'” the general recalled. “And she finished with, ‘and now my friend, General Dempsey.'” With that, once again, General Dempsey had to fight back tears as he faced hundreds of military survivors.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Lizzy introducing Gen. Dempsey at the TAPS Gala for the first time. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

General Dempsey and his wife Deanie stayed in touch with the Yaggys, exchanging email updates and Christmas cards. The third year Lizzy introduced the general he’d taken over as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon’s senior-most position. Before they got on stage together she gave him a little box with an angel-shaped medallion in it, saying, “You’re my guardian angel.”

The general was deeply moved and wanted to return the gesture, but all his aide had in his possession was a ballcap with the numeral “18” on the front of it, signifying the 18th CJCS. He wrote in black ink on the bill: “To Lizzy — From your chairman friend. Martin E. Dempsey.”

“It was so cute to see her wearing that hat for the rest of the night,” Deanie Dempsey said. “Here was this little girl in this long green dress with a ballcap on.”

“She wore that hat all the time after that,” Erin said. “She even took it to bed with her.”

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Lizzy wearing her favorite hat, a gift from the 18th CJCS. (Photo: Erin Yaggy)

The entire time General Dempsey served as the chairman he only had two things on his desk in the Pentagon: The mahogany “Make it Matter” box full of the laminated cards that profiled those who were killed under his command in Iraq and the guardian angel medallion Lizzy gave him.

****

When it came time for the general to retire, the Pentagon’s protocol apparatus sprang into action — after all, a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff change of command is like the Super Bowl of military ceremonies. As the officials were coordinating all the moving parts, including the details surrounding President Obama’s attendance, they were surprised to learn who the outgoing chairman wanted to introduce him. They pushed back, but the general was insistent.

The day arrived and at the appropriate moment in the event, a little girl on the dais confidently strode by the dignitaries and political appointees and the President of the United States and stood on the box positioned behind the podium just for her.

And without any hesitation, Lizzy Yaggy delivered her remarks to the thousands in attendance, and finished with, “Please welcome my friend, General Dempsey . . .”

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Lizzy hugging now-retired Gen. Dempsey at this year’s TAPS Good Grief Camp in DC. (Photo: TAPS.org)

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This heroic Coastie, WWII resistance fighter, and POW died at 101

Florence Finch was born with the heart of a American warrior. Her father was a U.S. Army veteran of the Spanish-American war who opted to stay in the the Philippines after the war, where he met his wife.


Finch worked as a civilian for the Army headquarters in Manila before World War II broke out. That’s where she met her first husband, a Navy sailor in 1941. Later in life she joined the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (also known as SPARS) “to avenge her husband’s death.”

Finch would distinguish herself in the Japanese occupation of the island chain. She was the first woman to receive the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon and was later awarded the Medal of Freedom. She died in December 2016 at age 101 and was given a burial with full military honors on Apr. 29, 2017.

Her husband was killed in action six days after Manila fell to Japan. She hid her American lineage from the occupiers and found herself managing fuel rations in Philippine Liquid Fuel Distributing Union. Finch began to covertly divert those supplies to the Philippine Underground while helping coordinate sabotage operations with other resistance fighters.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Japanese light tanks moving toward Manila on the day the city fell. (U.S. Army photo)

For two years, Florence Smith (her first married name) managed to help fight the Japanese occupation. Her former Army employers, now Japanese POWs, managed to get word to her of their mistreatment and suffering in prison. She immediately began smuggling food, medicine, and other supplies to them. This was a much trickier operation and she was caught in October 1944.

The Japanese arrested, imprisoned, and tortured her until she was liberated by American troops in February 1945. They wanted her to give them everything she knew about the resistance movement. She never broke. Finch weighed only 80 pounds when she was freed.

According to the Troy Record-News, she repeatedly told herself: “I will survive.”

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field

Soon after, she moved to upstate New York, where she joined the SPARS. The war ended shortly after, but when her superiors in the Coast Guard found out about her wartime activities, they awarded her the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon. She served honorably for two years.

That’s when her former U.S. Army boss in the Philippines, Lt. Col. E.C. Engelhart, penned this testimonial to award her the Medal of Freedom:

For meritorious service which had aided the United States in the prosecution of the war against the enemy in the Philippine Islands, from June 1942 to February 1945.  Upon the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands, Mrs. Finch (then Mrs. Florence Ebersole Smith) believing she could be of more assistance outside the prison camp, refused to disclose her United States citizenship.  She displayed outstanding courage and marked resourcefulness in providing vitally needed food, medicine, and supplies for American Prisoners of War and internees, and in sabotaging Japanese stocks of critical items. . .She constantly risked her life in secretly furnishing money and clothing to American Prisoners of War, and in carrying communications for them.  In consequence she was apprehended by the Japanese, tortured, and imprisoned until rescued by American troops.  Thought her inspiring bravery, resourcefulness, and devotion to the cause of freedom, Mrs. Finch made a distinct contribution to the welfare and morale of American Prisoners of War on Luzon.

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Florence Finch in 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

After the war, she married U.S. Army veteran Robert Finch and moved to Ithaca, New York, where she lived until age 101. She worked as a secretary at Cornell University, where no one knew about her life as a war hero.

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13 Legends of the US Coast Guard

In a service whose mission includes rescuing lives in peril, it’s hard to pick and choose legends among so many heroes. The Coast Guard’s history is filled with ordinary men who rose to the challenges presented by extraordinary circumstances. Here is a list of 13 folks who embodied the Coast Guard ethos:


1. Douglas Munro

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(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The ultimate hero of the Coast Guard is arguably Douglas Munro. As he commanded a group of Higgins boats at the Battle of Guadalcanal, Munro coordinated the evacuation of more than 500 Marines who came under heavy fire, using his boat as a shield to draw fire. During the evacuation, he was fatally wounded, but his last words were, “Did they get off?”

2. Thomas “Jimmy” Crotty

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(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Lt. Thomas “Jimmy” Crotty was the first Coast Guard prisoner of war since the War of 1812 and served at the front lines of the Battle of Corregidor as the Japanese took the Philippines. A 1934 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy where he was an accomplished athlete, Crotty served as an skilled cutterman before being attached to a Navy mine warfare unit. After several different positions in the Pacific Theater, Crotty found himself attached the Marine Corps Fourth Regiment, First Battalion, as the Japanese forces attacked the last American stronghold. One eyewitness report says that Crotty supervised army personnel manning a howitzer dug-in until the American surrender on May 6, 1942. Crotty was captured by the Japanese and taken to Cabanatuan Prison, where he died of diphtheria.

3. William Flores

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(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

On January 28, 1980, the USCGC Blackthorn collided with a tanker in Tampa Bay, Florida. Seaman Apprentice William Flores, just eighteen years old and a year out of boot camp, stayed on board as the cutter sank, strapping the life jacket locker open with his belt, giving his own life jacket to those struggling in the water, and giving aid to those wounded on board. He was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard’s highest non-combat award, the Coast Guard Medal.

4. Ida Lewis

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(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

After her father had a stroke, Ida Lewis took over as the keeper of Lime Rock Lighthouse, Rhode Island. Over her 39 year career, Lewis saved 18 lives. She was one of the earliest women in the Lighthouse Service, which later was combined with four other services to become the Coast Guard. Lime Rock Light has since been renamed Ida Lewis Light, and a coastal buoy tender was named in her honor.

5-8. Bernie Webber, Andy Fitzgerald, Ervin Maske, and Richard Livesey

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(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The rescue of the crew of the SS Pendleton in the icy waters offshore of Chatham, Cape Cod, Mass. had been a legend told by generations of Coasties. Bernie Webber, Andy Fitzgerald, Ervin Maske, and Richard Livesey climbed aboard a 36-foot-long motor lifeboat and saved the lives of 32 sailors after their tanker split in half during a storm in February 1952. For their heroism, the crew received the Gold Lifesaving Medal and their heroic efforts were immortalized in the Disney movie, The Finest Hours.

9. Nathan Bruckenthal

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(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Petty Officer Nathan Bruckenthal is one of the modern Coast Guard heroes. In April 2004, Bruckenthal and a team including Navy and Coast Guard personnel intercepted a small dhow in the North Arabian Gulf. As they attempted to board, one of the terrorists aboard detonated a bomb that was powerful enough to overturn the American vessel alongside, wounding several of the men. Bruckenthal later died from his injuries, the first Coast Guard war casualty since the Vietnam War. He is interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

10-12. David Jarvis, Ellsworth Bertholf, and Samuel Call

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(U.S. Coast Guard photo)

David Jarvis, Ellsworth Bertholf, and Samuel Call snowshoed more than 1,500 miles to Point Barrow, Alaska to rescue hundreds of fishermen who were trapped in ice after winter came early in 1897. During the three months it took them to reach their destination they engaged with native communities along their route, healing illnesses, teaching more effective hunting techniques, and arbitrating legal disputes. For their heroism, the trio received Congressional Gold Medals. All three have Coast Guard cutters named in their honor.

13. Miles Imlay

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Coast Guard Captains Edward Fritzche (left) and Miles Imlay (right) discuss the invasion of Omaha Beach on a relief map laid out in the hold of the Samuel Chase. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Captain Miles Imlay commanded a group of Coast Guard landing craft at the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, as well as during all other major amphibious landings across the shores of Europe in World War II. Imlay was the second in command of one of the groups that landed at Omaha Beach and under constant, heavy fire, commanded a vessel off the beaches during the entire invasion to make sure that the landing craft went to the correct location. He received a Silver Star for his actions on D-Day, and the Legion of Merit for invasions in Italy.

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This is how you pass the ‘stress test’ from military moves

On average, military families will move to a new duty station every three years. Sometimes even more than that.


According to the Dartmouth stress test, the average civilian move — and everything that goes with it — causes a person to accrue 322 stress points.

The higher the stress points a person has, the more likely he or she is to get sick. At over 300 stress points, the average person has an 80 percent chance of getting sick, and it is the highest level on Dartmouth’s test.

That doesn’t even account for the rest of life’s stressors — just the ones that happen with a typical civilian move.

The more likely a person is to get sick, the harder they have to work to maintain their health and well being, and that’s where Walgreens comes in.

Walgreens is proud to serve the military community with more than 8,100 in-network stores Nationwide.

From prevention and wellness services like vaccines and screenings, to comprehensive medication reviews, Walgreens is truly an all-service pharmacy.

Providing for the health and wellbeing of you and your loved ones is the company’s passion, and they understand that it is yours, as well.

That’s why they are committed to providing the most in depth, complete care possible at every one of their locations.

Carrying over 18,000 items in its stores and more online, Walgreens mission is to be America’s most-loved pharmacy-led health, well-being and beauty retailer. Its purpose is to champion everyone’s right to be happy and healthy.

Over 75 percent of the country’s citizens live within a five-mile radius of a Walgreens store, making the health and wellbeing of you and your loved ones as stress free as possible. More than 10 million customers interact with Walgreens each day in communities across America, using the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice.

Providers at Walgreens pride themselves on their personal approach to wellness, a tradition dating to the personal example of founder Charles Walgreen himself.

Walgreen understood the stress of military life; he himself enlisted in the military before the company’s humble beginnings in 1901.

Walgreens knows that packing up and following your military member is a matter of loyalty and commitment to service, and that is why they are dedicated to serving the military community.

Walgreens makes the transition from duty station to duty station as stress free as possible by allowing customers to easily transfer their prescriptions between stores and from other pharmacy chains, in person, on line or using its convenient mobile app. Using a mobile phone and the Walgreens app, just scan a prescription label from a Walgreens or other store’s pill bottle to easily transfer prescriptions.

Their pharmacists are available to answer all of your questions and help you in deciding what’s best for you and your loved ones as you transition.

While moving is stressful, maintaining your health and wellbeing during a move doesn’t have to be.

Walgreens is here to serve you.

 

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The US military took these incredible photos in just one week-long period

The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:


AIR FORCE

Soldiers from the 193rd Infantry Brigade and Airmen from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron land after a parachute jump as a part of Emerald Warrior.

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Photo: Airman 1st Class Shelby Kay-Fantozzi/USAF

An MC-130J Commando II from the 9th Special Operations Squadron taxis for departure from the Red Horse Landing Zone in support of Emerald Warrior.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Matthew Plew/USAF

NAVY

An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 performs ground turns aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3).

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Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto/USN

Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) tip their caps to the crew of the MilitarySealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14) following a weapons onload.

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Photo: Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke/USN

ARMY

Paratroopers, assigned to U.S. Army Alaska‘s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, push toward an obstacle during a combined arms maneuver live fire exercise, part of Exercise Spartan Phoenix.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Staff Sgt. Daniel Love/US Army

A soldier, assigned to 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, loads a M240 machine gun during a gunnery exercise on Camp Konotop, Poland.

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Photo: Sgt. Brandon Anderson/US Army

MARINE CORPS

Philippine Marines train with U.S. Marines attached to the III Marine Expeditionary Force/Marine Corps Installations Pacific during a fast-rope exercise.

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Photo: Lance Cpl. Ryan C. Mains/USMC

A Marine scout sniper candidate with Scout Sniper Platoon, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment looks through the scope of his rifle during a stalking exercise in the vicinity of SR-10 aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

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Photo: Sgt. Austin Long/USMC

COAST GUARD

A beautiful sunset view aboard USCGC STRATTON WMSL 752 to end a great weekend of Service to Nation.

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Photo: USCG

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City conducts training with the Great Lakes Maritime Academy to prepare for future ops.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: USCG

NOW: The 13 funniest military memes of the week

AND: The 14 best military non-fiction books of all-time

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These fighters are doing the heavy lifting against ISIS

Older U.S. Air Force jets — including the A-10 Thunderbolt II, eyed in recent years for retirement, and the F-15E Strike Eagle — are leading the air war against the Islamic State, statistics show.


U.S. military fighter-attack jets, bombers and drones have dropped more than 67,000 bombs since the 2014 start of Operation Inherent Resolve, the Defense Department’s mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, according to information provided by Air Forces Central Command.

Notably, fighter-attack aircraft released more than three times as many weapons as bombers did, the figures show. Drones dropped the least of any category of aircraft.

Aircraft like “the A-10, F-15E, and F-16 are breaking their backs because they are the right platform for the job and providing the right function,” Brian Laslie, an air power historian and author of the book, “The Air Force Way of War,” said in an email to Military.com.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
F-15E Strike Eagle as it refuels. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua A. Hoskins)

Weapons Released by Aircraft

U.S. aircraft have released a total of 67,333 weapons from Aug. 8, 2014, through May 16, according to the data. While the F-15E released the most, the F-22 Raptor — one of the most advanced stealth fighters — dropped the least.

Here are the figures for the 10 types of U.S. aircraft flying combat sorties: F-15E Strike Eagle, 14,995 weapons released; A-10 Thunderbolt II, 13,856; B-1 Lancer, 9,195; F/A-18 Super Hornets, 8,920; F-16 Fighting Falcon, 7,679; B-52 Stratofortress, 5,041; MQ-1 Predator drone, 2,274; MQ-9 Reaper, 2,188; AV-8B, 1,650; and F-22, 1,535.

Broken down by aircraft type, fighter and attack planes dropped a total of 48,635 weapons, or 72 percent of the total; bombers released 14,236, or 21 percent; and drones dropped 4,462, or 7 percent, according to the statistics.

 

Capt. Kathleen Atanasoff, a spokeswoman for Air Force Central Command, or AFCENT, cautioned that the numbers released by the command — which includes assets and actions under the Combined Forces Air Component Commander, or CFACC — don’t reflect the “entirety of kinetic activity in OIR,” such as assets belonging to coalition partners or other U.S. components, like the Combined Joint Land Component Commander and Special Operations Joint Task Force.

“The amount of weapons employed by each aircraft varies due to a number of factors, such as time in theater, types of missions (i.e. close air support, air-to-air, escort, interdiction, etc.), ordnance type, etc.,” Atanasoff said in an email last week.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
F-15Es parked during Operation Desert Shield. (Photo by: Wikimedia)

‘Lion’s Share of the Work’

While the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornets actually flew the most combat missions, the Air Force’s F-15Es dropped the highest number of bombs, releasing more than one in five of the total amount, according to AFCENT.

As the workhorses of the ISIS fight, the “E” model Strike Eagle is a dual-role jet with the ability to find targets over long ranges and destroy enemy ground positions.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II, the gunship popularly known as the Warthog or simply the ‘Hog’, has released almost as many weapons, albeit with a special type of accounting. Every 100 rounds from the Hog’s 30 mm Avenger gun is counted as one weapon, Atanasoff said.

Laslie said he wasn’t surprised that commanders are turning more frequently to fighters and close-air support aircraft in the campaign against ISIS — an operation estimated to cost roughly $13 billion so far.

After the Vietnam War, the service has operated as “a much more tactical Air Force,” he said. “From El Dorado Canyon in 1986 [campaign in Libya], to Desert Storm in ’91 and the Balkan campaigns of the mid-to-late 90s, tactical assets have done the lion’s share of the work.”

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
A U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52F Stratofortress drops bombs over Vietnam. (U.S. Air Force photo))

‘See the Airpower’

Atanasoff said the relatively lower strike number for the B-52 doesn’t mean the bomber isn’t as active as other aircraft, but rather that it simply hasn’t been in theater as long. The B-1 left the campaign in early 2016 and was replaced by the B-52 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein in February said, “You’re just going to see a continual rotation of both of those weapons systems.”

Col. Daniel Manning, the deputy director of the Combined Air Operations Center, last year noted the Stratofortress’ unique ability to stay airborne for a long duration.

“Frankly, we want our partners and the enemy to see the airpower [the B-52] has overhead,” he said at the time. “A B-52 encourages our partner force that we have their back. Being seen is actually a pretty good thing.”

Laslie said, “GPS and stand-off weapons (and permissive environments) have kept the B-52 in the game, but it really is a tactical conflict in OIR.” He said bombers like the B-52 — though strategically useful — “aren’t really optimized for this mission set” in quick, one-off strike sorties.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
An F-22 deploys flares. (Photo by: US Air Force)

Hunting for Intel

Similarly, the relatively lower strike numbers for the F-22 stealth fighter and the MQ-1 and MQ-9 drones may be attributed to the fact that they’re often used for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance to relay to other platforms and the Combined Air and Space Operations Center.

“We have refined our targeting process and become more efficient in layering our ISR to uncover targets that have made themselves available to us, which also has facilitated the number of weapons we’ve been able to deliver,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told reporters last week.

Leaders have also “relied on the F-22’s ability to fuse information, understand where our friendly forces are,” to watch, and deconflict with multiple forces on the ground, he said.

At times controllers are using Reapers, Predators or both “combined in a formation” as a more efficient way of using their sensors, according to Lt. Col. Eric Winterbottom, chief of the Commander’s Action Group, U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

Remotely piloted aircraft are likely the first aircraft dictating “strike or no strike calls based off what we’re seeing” from the sensors, Winterbottom said in October. They’re an example of why officials ask for more ISR assets to ease pressure on manned aircraft and to minimize collateral damage from airstrikes.

More at Military.com:

Needing Trops, Army Offers Up To $90K Bonuses To Re-Enlist

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Pair of Raids in Tehran

Pentagon: China Could House Fighters on 3 South China Sea Outposts

 

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SOCOM plans to test Iron Man suit by 2018

The top weapons buyer for U.S. Special Operations Command said Wednesday that the so-called Iron Man suit being developed for elite commandos may not end up being the exoskeleton armored ensemble popular in adventure movies.


It’s been four years since SOCOM leaders challenged the defense industry to come up with ideas for the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS — an ensemble that would provide operators with “more-efficient, full-body ballistics protection and beyond-optimal human performance” as well as embedded sensors and communications tech for heightened situational awareness.

Related: 5 awesome new technologies coming to the US military

Program officials are about “a year and a half” away from having a TALOS prototype that’s ready to put in the hands of operators for testing, James “Hondo” Geurts, acquisition executive and director for SOF ATl at USSOCOM, told an audience at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium.

Boeing has patented a ‘Star Wars’-style force field
Photo: Youtube.com

When the program began, it captured the public’s imagination and conjured images of high-tech ensembles worn in movies such as “Man of Steel,” “Pacific Rim” and “Starship Troopers.”

“We are on our fifth prototype,” Geurts said. “Will we get everything we want? Probably not. That was never the intent.”

SOCOM officials envisioned TALOS would feature integrated heaters and coolers to regulate the temperature inside the suit. Embedded sensors would monitor the operator’s core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels. In the event that the operator is wounded, the suit could feasibly start administering the first life-saving oxygen or hemorrhage controls.

This is not the first time the U.S. military has embarked on an effort to perfect smart-soldier technology. The Army is now equipping combat units with a secure, smartphone-based kit — known as Nett Warrior — that allows a leader to track subordinates’ locations in relation to his own position via icons on a digital map. The unit leaders can view satellite imagery and send text messages.

The technology has seen combat and given leaders a precise view of their tactical environment, empowering units to operate more decisively than ever before.

But the program’s success did not come easily. Land Warrior, the first generation of this computerized command-and-control ensemble, was plagued by failure. From its launch in 1996, the Army spent $500 million on three major contract awards before the system’s reliability problems were solved in 2006.

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US Army photo

When TALOS began, SOCOM said it planned to funnel $80 million into research and development over a four-year timeline. Geurts did not say how much money SOCOM has spent so far on TALOS.

One of the biggest challenges is powering the suit, but also a type of control theory and deep learning, Geurts said.

In just walking, “we take for granted that when we put our arm out, that our foot is behind us to balance it,” he said.

Geurts said the program has had “tremendous hurdles” working with these technologies, but said the effort will likely result in spin-off technologies that can be fielded to operators before TALOS is operationally ready.

“So in TALOS, don’t just think exoskeleton and armor — think of the whole equation,” he said. “Survivability is part of what armor you are carrying, but it’s also a big part of whatever information you have, what is your situational awareness, how do you communicate. So as we are going down all those paths, we can leverage quickly some of the stuff that is ready to go right now.”