The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos - We Are The Mighty
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The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos

There are a lot of G.I. Joes in the Joe organization. While every commando unit needs people to run the administration of the unit, not all of them need to pretend to be useful on the battlefield. We covered the least intimidating G.I. Joes so it makes sense to look at their arch-nemesis: Cobra.


Cobra is just as big as G.I. Joe, with just as many people. It’s bound to have some dead weight Cobras, or those least likely to help take over the world.

1. Sludge Viper

I can’t list all of the short-lived eco-warriors. I wish I could, because on both sides, they’re absolutely ridiculous.

The most absurd on the Cobra side is Sludge Viper, whose sludge gun (yeah, sludge gun) has unlimited ammo because it degrades whatever is around it into more sludge and shoots WEAPONS GRADE SLUDGE at high velocity. You know, laser weapons weren’t real (yet) when GI Joe was on TV, but we bought it because we all know they will be.

But no one has ever thought of weaponizing sludge. EVER.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos

The weapon is just as dangerous to Cobra as it is to their enemies and has the added benefit of giving off methane. So the only way to defeat Sludge Viper is to get him to shoot himself or smoke a cigarette within 50 feet of him.

2. Lt. Clay Moore

Before the new millennium, Cobra wasn’t really an organization that prided itself on diversity. As a matter of fact, Lt. Clay Moore was Cobra’s only non-Caucasian member before 2001, and even then, Cobra Commander gave the guy’s command to a GI Joe traitor, and when Moore protested, he forced the two to fight to the death. FOR A LIEUTENANT’S SLOT.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Maybe put in for an OCONUS assignment.

Calm down and take a long tour to Korea or something, you two. It’s not worth a death match. I get that his name is a play on on claymore mines but Lt. Moore doesn’t get a cool code name (or any code name at all) and dresses like any regular Cobra soldier. His special training includes losing at death matches. My guess is that the L-T is most likely to defect to the Joes – and for good reason.

3. Raptor

I’m forming an army of evil super soldiers, each with special abilities that will help me take over the world. Obviously, I need an “ex-yuppie tax consultant.” Why is a terrorist army paying taxes? Who are they paying them to? Where the hell did Raptor learn to specialize in these kinds of taxes?

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Raptorman. Not even a Velociraptor.

Raptor spends most of his time – and this is not a joke, it’s on his file card – dressed like a bird and sitting in the bottom of a large cage. He is also Cobra’s falconer, because of course someone who is unnaturally obsessed with birds of prey would find the one job which demands time alone with falcons. I bet they’re super useful in laser combat with the Joes.

4. Big Boa

Big Boa is Cobra’s resident drill instructor and asshole. His bullhorn-like voice kicks open the barracks door at 0500 and forces some awful PT on Cobra recruits. He demands the most out of the trainees but dresses like he’s a member a Daft Punk/Queen Tribute Band but still demands to be taken seriously.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Big Boa: Big asshole, or biggest asshole?

5. Zartan

On top of being able to change his skin to fit in with any environment, which is great for infiltrating the enemy (I mean, probably), Zartan’s file card also lists that he’s really awesome with makeup and is a great ventriloquist.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
I see awful puppet comedy in this guy’s future. Look out Jeff Dunham.

Unfortunately, when you need a deep infiltration agent, you probably don’t want to depend on someone who dresses like Alice Cooper and is a paranoid schizophrenic suffering from multiple personality disorder. This is also the last person who should be sporting a bow and arrow.

6. Croc Master

This genius tried to popularize the use of crocodiles and alligators as home invasion deterrence and was surprised when people didn’t really go for it. If a Brinks guy came to my house and suggested I build a moat, I’d call the cops.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Go back to Florida with the other crazies.

But of course Cobra went for the idea. This is the terror organization who once thought a telethon would be the best way to raise money to conquer the world. And now Croc Master spends his free time in the bathtub pretending to be a crocodile. Why is Cobra full of cosplayers who have creepy relationships with animals?

7. Serpentor

Speaking of cosplayers, the biggest offender of all is Serpentor, who is an all-out furry and talks like a high school drama teacher. If everyone should dress for the job they want, why is the Cobra organization trying to replace Cobra Commander with someone who dresses like he wants to be the Mascot for the Cobra Football Team?

They cloned history’s best military minds and all it can think to do is throw live snakes at people. The Simpsons has a character like this but she’s not in charge and she’s infinitely more likeable.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos

I can’t even imagine what this guy thinks when he puts his snake head on in the morning and looks in the mirror. “Yeah. That’s a good look. Go get ’em today Serpentor.”

8. Major Bludd

Major Bludd has all the makings of a villain’s villain. Eyepatch? Check. Snidely Whiplash mustache? Check. Villainous name? Check. Unfortunately, he has no real-world villainy skills.

His card says “Terrorist.” Well, welcome to Cobra, Bludd, WHERE EVERYONE IS A TERRORIST. His secondary specialty is “weapons and tactics.” Weapons and tactics are pretty much all Cobra is ever supposed to do. What else do you have, Major? Poetry. POETRY. HE’S A POET. AN EVIL POET.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos

Not even good poetry. He’s actually more of a bad rapper. Published in prison newsletters, he outs himself as Cobra’s resident Blue Falcon (a term that probably gets Raptor all hot and bothered): “My ruthless tactics keep you on your toes/’Cause I fight ’em all, whether friends or foes!”

Dishonorable Mention: Cobra Commander

Speaking of what Cobra is supposed to be doing all the time, Cobra Commander makes this list for being one of the worst possible commanders of all time. This is the guy who thought rigging a local election, destroying the Ozone Layer, trying to destroy all the plants on Earth, and starting a rock band were the ways to beat the Joes for good.

If Cobra’s mission was to annoy liberals, they can raise a big ol’ Mission Accomplished banner. No, their mission is to kill Joes and under Cobra Commander, they were never able to kill a single Joe. Not one.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Because you’re awful, CC. Just awful.

The only good plan he ever had was to kill Serpentor, the only commander more worthless than he was. And guess what? He botched that too.

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This is the new ‘Pitch Perfect’ trailer featuring the USO

The “Pitch Perfect” films are actually pretty funny and the music is definitely catchy — great date night movie (you’re welcome).


If you haven’t seen them, they’re about a women’s collegiate a capella (singing without music accompaniment) group competing against other singers for glory and what not. I was wondering where the third film would go, considering most of the characters were graduating at the end of “Pitch Perfect 2” — and now we have our answer: the USO.

(Pitch Perfect | YouTube)

This introduces some military-ness into an otherwise girly world — including military working dogs and Anna Kendrick flying out the back of a heavy — but mostly it leaves me wondering one thing: How would a group like the Bardon Bellas be received on a USO tour?

And on that note, who have been your absolute favorite (and not-so-favorite) USO guests? Leave a comment and let me know.

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The 6 greatest military heroes you’ve never heard of

 1. The Polish Resistance Agent who got himself sent to Auschwitz — on purpose

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Witold Pilecki Photo: Wiki Commons


Nazi concentration camps were one of the most hideous and disturbing tragedies to arise out of the second world war, but few countries were aware of their existence before the Allied liberation in 1945. Fewer still had any idea what atrocities were taking place within their gates — which is exactly why Witold Pilecki, a Polish resistance agent, decided to see the inside for himself. How’d he do it? By getting himself arrested and sent to the worst death camp of them all: Auschwitz.

He gathered intelligence inside Auschwitz and sent it to the underground Polish army for two years, enduring brutal conditions and near-starvation to detail Nazi execution and interrogation methods. When the Allies continued to put off any aid (some even accused him of exaggerating his reports, according to NPR) he broke out of the camp and escaped. Pilecki continued to gather intelligence throughout the war, and didn’t let up afterwards either, though now it was against a different government — the Soviet regime in Poland.

Sadly, Pilecki was later captured by the communists, arrested for espionage in 1948, and issued not one, but three death sentences. The communists also wiped his name from the public record after his execution, and no accounts of Pilecki’s bravery were known until after the fall of the Berlin wall.

2. The Middle Eastern soldiers of France’s Free Army

On the whole, France gets a pretty bad rap when it comes to military valor. Some of the jokes actually ring true — when France fell to the Nazi regime during World War II, Gen. Charles De Gaulle struggled to gather soldiers who were ready and willing to drive out the Fuhrer’s army … not exactly the kind of bravery you write home about. Which is exactly why a frustrated De Gaulle set his sights outside of France to raise an army, recruiting instead from French colonies in Africa. Arabic, African and Tahitian volunteers rallied to the French cause, and the French Free Army was born.

Amazingly, this rag-tag militia, many of whom had never stepped on French soil before, kicked ass in the war against Hitler, wining several battles. So why haven’t you heard of them? Sadly, the Allies weren’t too thrilled with these guys, and when The Free French Army geared up to liberate Paris, the Allies actually refused to fight with them — unwilling to go into battle with dark-skinned foreigners.

As much as this sucks, it was typical for the time — U.S. military units were still segregated between blacks and whites in the 1940s. The Allies then essentially told De Gaulle if he wanted their help, he needed to white-wash his army, which he did — by calling a bunch of Spaniards to fight and sending the original French Free Army back to Africa. The colonists who fought for their Mother country never received any military recognition, and France would later cut off their military pensions, effectively removing them from its history.

3.  The Real-Life Rambo who beat the U.S. military at its own job

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Richard Marcinko in uniform Photo: Wiki Commons

Sylvester Stallone graced us with one of the most iconic military characters ever when he played man-of-few-words and probable-sociopath John Rambo in  “Rambo: First Blood,” and then again in “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” “Rambo III.” Well, you get the drill. Stallone may have jumped the shark with the franchise, but the story of this real-life Rambo will never get old.

Richard Marcinko, nicknamed “Demo Dick,” was a teletype operator who dreamed of transferring to UDT, or Underwater Demolitions Team — a unit that would eventually evolve into the Navy SEALs. When he kept getting rejected, Marcinko decided he would find an alternative way into the unit — by clocking some guy in the face. Just as he’d planned, Marcinko got sent to the UDT as punishment.

During his time with the UDT and later with the SEALs in Vietnam, Marcinko became so notorious amongst the Viet Cong that there was actually a 50,000 piaster reward for whoever was brave enough to bring back his head. Yikes.

Marcinko survived Vietnam but continued his testosterone-fueled lifestyle, searching out conflict in Cambodia before being asked by the U.S. military to carry out a program called Red Cell. The mission? Infiltrating American bases all around the world to find their weak spots. Not surprisingly, Demo Dick took his job a little too seriously, and ended up mock-kidnapping a lot of officers and even their families to see if they would crack under interrogation.

Marcinko also founded SEAL Team 6 in response to the U.S. military’s failed attempt to extract Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis. He was the leader of the anti-terror detail, and would largely shape the elite force into what it is today.

The U.S. military still hadn’t let go of his Red Cell shenanigans, however, and later sent Marcinko to jail for conspiracy. But Demo Dick didn’t go down without a fight, and ended up writing best-selling book “Rogue Warrior” during the year he was behind bars, detailing his escapades while in uniform and humiliating the the military. What a guy.

4. The Oskar Schindler of Japan

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Chuine Sugihara Photo: Wiki Commons

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
A transit visa that Sugihara issued Photo: Wiki Commons

As the Nazi regime began tightening its chokehold on Europe, Japanese Consul-General Chiune Sugihara and his wife Yukiko watched with increasing concern as Lithuanian Jews were persecuted, driven out of their businesses, and forced away to “labor camps.” Finally, Sugihara decided enough was enough, and set out to bring the Jews of Europe onto Japanese soil and out of Hitler’s reach. The Japanese government, however, didn’t approve of the idea, and shut down Chiune’s request to issue visas for the fleeing Jews. In response — and in true Liam Neeson fashion — Sugihara essentially told them to shove it, and began to write the visas by hand.

He and his wife ended up writing what some estimate to be around 6,000 visas for Lithuanian Jews, an incredible feat that’s even more unbelievable when you compare it to Oskar Schindler’s record of 1,200 saved through his work program. The last foreign officials to remain in Kuanas, Lithuania, save for a Dutch consul, Sugihara and his wife worked round the clock, issuing close to 300 visas a day and distributing them to the refugees who gathered outside of the Japanese consulate gates.

When Sugihara was finally ordered to leave, he continued to write visas and throw them from the train as he departed, and left his official visa stamp with one of the refugees so they could continue his work in his absence. It is estimated that he saved nearly all of the people who received visas, and after arriving in Japan, the Jewish refugees called themselves the Sugihara Survivors in honor of his bravery.

So why hasn’t his story been broadcasted like Schindler’s? Unfortunately, Japan was still operating under the samurai code of honor during this time, and to defy a superior was considered unforgivable. So rather than award their comrade for his contributions to the war, he was removed from his government position and forced to live in dishonor until his death in 1986.

5. The British Lt. Col. who fought with a sword, longbow and bagpipes

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Jack Churchill Photo: Wiki Commons

Lt. Col. John Malcom Thorpe Fleming Churchill, or “Mad Jack” as he would later be known, may have been the most badass person to walk the earth. He joined the British military in 1926 at age 20, only to leave shortly after to pursue professional bagpiping and compete in the World Archery Championship in 1939 — because why not. But when WWII rolled around, Churchill was more than ready to jump back into the fray, and racked up a war record so unbelievable we’re shocked the guy doesn’t have his own movie yet.

Churchill stormed the beaches of Normandy carrying a Scottish sword, wore his bagpipes in battle and made many of his kills with a longbow he wore on his back. During a night raid on the Nazi lines, Churchill led his men to capture 136 enemy soldiers — and he himself captured 40 plus Germans at sword point. During a different battle on the Nazi-controlled island of Brac, “Mad Jack” fought until he was the last of his men standing. Then, when he ran out of ammo, he stood his ground, playing his bagpipes on top of a hill until a grenade knocked him out and he was captured by the Germans.

Churchill would later escape his POW camp and meet up with American troops, only to find out — to his profound disappointment — that two atomic bombs had been dropped, and the war was essentially over. According to Vice, Churchill reportedly complained, “If it hadn’t been for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going for another ten years!”

7.  The Scottish soldier who went full “Braveheart” on Nazi soldiers

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Tommy Macpherson Photo: Wiki Commons

“Mad Jack” may have donned Scottish bagpipes to fight in WWII, but Sir Tommy Macpherson had the balls to go full “Braveheart” on the battlefield, sporting a kilt while he raised hell with the Scottish commandos. Nicknamed “The Kilted Killer,” Macpherson’s flashy battle attire and relentless tenacity earned him a 30,000 Franc bounty on his head for whichever German could kill him first.

Amazingly, Macpherson made it through the entire war despite the Germans’ determination to take him out — even orchestrating the surrender of 23,000 German troops at the Das Reich Headquarters by bluffing that the Royal Air Force would unleash hell if they didn’t cooperate. In reality, Machpherson was alone and the RAF had no idea he was there, but he still managed to convince German Gen. Botho Henning Elster to give up his men and vehicles.

Macpherson walked away from World War II as the The UK’s most decorated living soldier in history, earning the Military Cross for his escape from a Nazi prison camp in Poland, a papal knighthood and two bars for his valiant — and unusual — service.

NOW: 7 crazy facts you didn’t know about the D-Day invasion

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6 must-have New Year’s resolutions for the Coast Guard

The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all have things they’d like to work on in 2018, but what about the often-forgotten Coast Guard? This agency has a wide range of responsibilities and, with so much on their plate, there’s a lot of room for improvement in 2018. Let’s take a look.


6. Acquire more airframes

The Coast Guard has a total of 201 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft across the entire service. Let’s put this into perspective: That’s only one more airframe than the Marine Corps has of F/A-18A/C/D Hornets, according to FlightGlobal.com. Despite these numbers, they have to secure a massive 12,380 miles of coastline. This ought to change as soon as possible.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
This MH-60T Jayhawk is being used to train an Air Force military working dog. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Adam R. Shanks)

5. Add more cutters

The Coast Guard website lists a total of five national security cutters, four high-endurance cutters, and 28 medium-endurance cutters on hand. The Coast Guard plans to replace the remaining four Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters with four Bertholf-class national security cutters, but the Coast Guard once had 12 Hamilton-class cutters. Furthermore, the service plans to replace 28 medium-endurance cutters with 25 Heritage-class vessels. The Coast Guard needs to resolve to replace its old cutters on a one-for-one basis at a minimum.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
A U.S. Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft prepares to drop supplies aboard the national security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) in the Arctic Ocean Sept. 14, 2012, during a patrol in support of Arctic Shield 2012. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs Specialist 1st Class Timothy Tamargo)

4. Take some ships off the Navy’s hands

The Coast Guard adopted a number of Navy vessels after World War II. Today, the Navy’s Freedom- and Independence-class littoral combat ships could be huge assets for the Coast Guard. In fact, in 2010, USS Freedom (LCS 1) scored four drug busts in a single, six-and-a-half week deployment.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
USS Coronado (LCS 4) during sea trials. (Photo from U.S. Navy)

3. Bring back some anti-drug capability

Did you know the Coast Guard once had some E-2 Hawkeyes? Yep, those eyes in the sky helped keep drugs out of the United States until the post-Cold War budget cuts ended that program. The Coast Guard also recently gave up the HU-25 Guardian and the MH-68 Stingray.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
A Coast Guard MH-68 Sting Ray helicopter crew prepares to take off for a patrol of the Savannah River to provide security during the G8 Summit while Air Force One sits in the background. (USCG photo by PA3 Ryan Doss)

2. Build a Coast Guard Special Operations Command

Other services have contributed assets to Special Operations Command, but the Coast Guard is conspicuous by its absence. The Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team is an elite unit that could complement Delta Force and SEAL Team Six, while their Maritime Safety and Security Teams handle a lot of counter-terrorism ops.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
A member of the Coast Guard’s Maritime Security Response Team boards a vessel. (Photo from USCG)

1. Get more icebreakers

The Coast Guard is in a world of hurt when it comes to icebreakers. While the Coast Guard website says they have four icebreakers (three polar, one on the Great Lakes), one of the polar icebreakers is out of commission with engine problems. Meanwhile, Russia is pushing hard to control the Arctic. Right now, the Coast Guard needs more icebreakers, even if it means restarting the Polar-class production line.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
The Coast Guard icebreakers USCGC Polar Sea (WAGB 10) and USCGC Polar Star (WAGB 11) during a resupply mission to McMurdo Research Station. (USCG photo)

What do you think the Coast Guard should resolve to do in 2018?

Articles

An Austrian company is taking aim at the new US special ops sniper rifle

An Austrian firm has just debuted a new big-bore, bolt action rifle that could become a player in a new program to outfit U.S. special operations troops with an updated long-range sniper rifle.


A new company in the market, Ritter  Stark is making precision modular rifles from the ground up, using an innovative rifling technology and a barrel attachment system that virtually guarantees zero with optics matched to the caliber. Its SX-1 MTR chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum answers Special Operations Command’s original call to provide commandos with a new “Advanced Sniper Rifle” that could be quickly reconfigured to several calibers and be deadly accurate each time.

The Ritter  Stark SX-1 MTR is built from the ground up for precision. It's modular barrel system includes chamberings in .338 Lapua Magnum, .300 WinMag and .308. (Photo from Ritter  Stark) The Ritter Stark SX-1 MTR is built from the ground up for precision. It’s modular barrel system includes chamberings in .338 Lapua Magnum, .300 WinMag and .308. (Photo from Ritter Stark)

What sets Ritter Stark apart from the competition is the novel way in which its SX-1 changes caliber. Most manufacturers have an interchangeable barrel that slides into the receiver and is attached to the action with a barrel nut or similar method. Ritter Stark built theirs with the barrel attached to the Picatinny-railed upper receiver and it’s secured to the lower through simple hex bolts on the handguard.

“The caliber change takes a maximum of three minutes and you don’t have to take it to a gunsmith to do it, you can just use a hex wrench,” said Ritter Stark Deputy Managing Director Ekaterina Trakham during the 2016 Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington, D.C.

The SX-1 can be switched to a .300 WinMag chambering, a .308 chambering and the .338 Lapua Magnum option. Reports indicate, however, that SOCOM has modified its ASR requirement for a .300 Norma Magnum chambering.

Like other high-end military sniper rifles, the SX-1’s bolt locks inside the barrel for increased accuracy. And the company uses a proprietary “electrochemical” process to rifle its barrels, with company officials saying a .338 barrel is good for 5,000 rounds and a .308 can take 10,000 rounds before needing a replacement.

The SX-1 also has a three-position safety that’s optimized for military and police applications, with two standard “fire” and “safe” positions, and a third one that not only blocks the firing pin but locks the bold handle down.

“We have a lot of experience working with security detail snipers who patrol the perimeter, and they’re usually asked to engage the safety when they’re on target,” said Ritter Stark sales director Alexandr Chikin.

The SX-1 trigger also has a flip safety located under the trigger guard to limit movement that could give away a sniper’s position and also blocks it when the rifle needs to be safed.

Company officials say the rifle should be commercially available within the next few months and cost around $6,000 for the .338 variant and $5,000 for the .308 one.

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The Marines are looking for a few good Tigers

The Marine Corps wants to buy some second-hand Tigers. No, they’re not trying to replace Sigfried and Roy; they want to buy some F-5E/F Tiger fighters.


According to a report at Soldier of Fortune, the Marine Corps is looking to bolster its force of aggressors. The F-5E/F had long seen service as an attack airframe. In fact, F-5E/F aggressors portrayed the fictional MiG-28 in “Top Gun.”

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
A Swiss Air Force F-5E Tiger. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

So, why is the Marine Corps looking to expand the aggressors? One reason is the age of the fighters. The Marine F/A-18Cs are in some of the worst shape — it’s so bad that last year, the Marines had to pull Hornets out of the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

Currently, the Marines have VMFAT-101 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, in Arizona. The goal is to place detachments of F-5s at three other Marine Corps air bases. This will help meet the needs of the Marine Corps.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Northrop F-5E (Tail No. 11419). (U.S. Air Force photo)

One of the reasons ironically had to do with a new capability for the AV-8B Harrier force in the Marines: the ability to shoot the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. The AMRAAM capability required training to help the pilots use it.

So, why not just ask the other services? Well, the Navy and Air Force are having similar problems in terms of airframe age.

SOF also notes that the Air Force has resorted to using T-38 Talon trainers to provide high-speed targets for the F-22, largely because the F-22 force is both very small and expensive to operate. The Marines face the same issue with operating costs if they were to use the F-35B as aggressors.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
A Republic of Singapore Air Force F-5S armed with AGM-65S Mavericks. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Marines are also looking to add light attack capability, possibly using one of two propeller-driven counter-insurgency planes, the AT-6C Coyote and the AT-29 Super Tucano.  If such a unit were to be created, it could very well be assigned to the Marine Corps Reserve’s 4th Marine Air Wing.

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This is how researchers are trying to stop sand from killing aircraft engines

If you’ve ever seen some of the DOD videos – or photos, for that matter – from Iraq or Afghanistan, they’re often accompanied by huge clouds of dust as helicopters come in for a landing.


But here’s what you don’t see; the damage the sand and dust does on the engines of those helicopters.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter comes into land at Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan following a mission. Note the huge cloud of dust. (UK MoD photo via Wikimedia Commons)

That matters – because the engines of helicopters and jets have one naturally-occurring enemy: FOD, which stands for “foreign object debris.” According to an FAA fact sheet, FOD was responsible for the June 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people.

What the fact sheet doesn’t mention is that sand and dust are also foreign objects to an engine. What they do isn’t as spectacular as what happened in Paris almost 17 years ago, but it can be just as lethal.

Worse, while regular FOD walks can handle the larger objects, you can never quite get all the sand and dust away from an air base in Afghanistan or Iraq. So, there is a need to figure out how to keep the sand and dust from damaging engine components.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
A UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter lands as U.S. Army paratroopers secure the area in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, July 23, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team and the helicopter crew is assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. The soldiers evacuated a wounded insurgent. (US Army photo)

The Department of Defense recently released a video about efforts to address this. For instance, one of the researchers in this video one component in the T-700 engine is supposed to last 6,000 hours, but sand and dust reduce that to 400 hours – 1/15 of the planned operating life.

The price tag for the component in question? $30,000. That is a minor inconvenience. When a helo goes down, things get even uglier.

So check out the new ways researchers are attacking the problem of sand-damaged engines.

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The Army found an M2 .50 caliber machine-gun still shooting perfectly after 90 years of service

The .50 caliber M2 machine gun was designed in 1918, near the end of World War I by John Browning.


Production began in 1921 and the weapon was designed so a single receiver could be turned into seven different variants by adding jackets, barrels or other components.

Roughly 94 years after the first production run of M2 machine guns came off the assembly line, the 324th weapon produced made it to Anniston Army Depot for overhaul and upgrade.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Cody Bryant, left, and Corby Tinney inspect the 324th M2 receiver ever produced. The weapon arrived at Anniston Army Depot to be converted to a M2A1 in May. Photo: Army Materiel Command Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus

In more than 90 years of existence, the receiver with serial number 324 has never been overhauled.

“Looking at the receiver, for its age, it looks good as new and it gauges better than most of the other weapons,” said John Clark, a small arms repair leader.

Despite the fact that the weapon still meets most specifications, it may be destined for the scrap yard.

Modifications made to the weapon in the field mean part of the receiver would have to be removed through welding and replaced with new metal, a process which usually means the receiver is scrap.

“I’d rather put this one on display than send it to the scrap yard,” said Clark, adding the weapon’s age makes it appealing as a historical artifact.

Currently, the 389th M2 is on display in the Small Arms Repair Facility. There is an approval process the older weapon would have to go through in order to be similarly displayed. Clark and Jeff Bonner, the Weapons Division chief, are researching and beginning that process.

In 2011, the depot began converting the Army’s inventory of M2 flexible machine guns to a new variant.

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos
Photo Credit: US Army Gertrud Zach

The M2A1, has a fixed headspace, or distance between the face of the bolt and the base of the cartridge case, and timing, the weapon’s adjustment which allows firing when the recoil is in the correct positon.

In the past, every time a Soldier changed the barrel on the M2, the timing and headspace had to be changed as well. If that wasn’t done properly, the weapon could blow apart. The fixed headspace and timing eliminates this risk to Soldiers.

“It only takes 30 seconds to change out the barrel on the M2A1 and you’re back in business. The M2 Flex version could take three to five minutes, depending upon your situation,” said Jeff Bonner, weapons division chief.

Bonner said this is the first major change to the M2 weapon system since the machine gun was first fielded.

Since the overhaul and upgrade work began in fiscal year 2011, the depot has brought more than 14,000 of these .50 caliber machine guns to better than new, and upgraded, condition.

Once the weapon is rebuilt, it has to be readied to be fired, repeatedly, without jamming or suffering other mechanical difficulties.

To assist with this process, a machine known as the exerciser is used to ensure the new parts work well with the old.

After all, the older parts of the weapon could be nearly 90 years old.

The exerciser simulates charging the weapon, or preparing it to be fired, 700 times.

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How Bob Hope continues to serve the troops


Bob Hope was among the brightest stars during his era. He was known for his comedic one-liners and performances over a long career in entertainment.

He passed away in 2003 at the age of 100 but left a legacy of humor and humanitarianism having traveled the world for more than half his life to deliver laughter and entertainment to American troops. His legacy of service to the troops lives on through the Bob Dolores Hope Foundation, thanks to his granddaughter Miranda Hope and Easterseals.

Join us for an informative episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast with Miranda Hope and discover why Bob Hope continues to be beloved by our troops.

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You can help support veterans with Easterseals Southern California. Shop at any Vons or Pavilions in Southern California and donate at the register!

Hosted by: Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Senior Contributor

Guest: Miranda Hope

Miranda Hope serves as a Member, Director, and Vice President of the Bob and Dolores Hope Foundation, which is dedicated to serving those in need and those who serve to protect our nation. She has worked as a public school teacher, a counselor, and a performer. She holds degrees from Columbia University (MFA) and Stanford University (BA) and offers trauma-informed yoga and meditation to civilian, military, and incarcerated populations.

Selected links and show notes:

  • [01:15] Bob Hope’s history with American troops.
  • [04:45] How Miranda Hope became involved with the troops.
  • [06:50] How today’s veterans respond to Bob Hope.
  • [09:10] The mission of the Bob Dolores Hope Foundation.
  • [13:35] How the foundation benefits veterans.
  • [14:50] Who can apply to this program.
  • [15:15] Why the Bob Dolores Hope Foundation teamed up with Easterseals.
  • [17:00] Issues that plague today’s veterans.
  • [21:00] Future plans and expansion of the program.

Music license by Jingle Punks

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Articles

Stunning photos show Air Force Thunderbirds flying over Niagara Falls

The U.S. Air Force demonstration squadron, the Thunderbirds, flew at the “Thunder of Niagara” air show this July.


Senior Airman Jason Couillard captured these incredible images of the F-16 Fighting Falcons as they performed above the falls.

Check out Couillard’s photos below:

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The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos

 

The 8 most worthless Cobra Commandos

(h/t Business Insider)

READ MORE: Never-before-seen photos show Bush administration officials right after 9/11

Articles

This author writes military fiction that isn’t too far from the truth

He’s a war strategist and a business owner, a bestselling author and an expert on mercenaries and robots. And for much of the past week, he was a major defense-conference headliner invited to share ideas with the region’s top brass as well as grunts on the ground.


New America Foundation senior fellow Peter “PW” Singer is probably best known as the co-author of “Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War,” a 2015 thriller that mixes fact and future to describe how the United States, Russia, and China might battle on the ground, at sea, in the air, and throughout cyberspace.

But he’s also an international thought leader sought out for his views on espionage, technology, and politics.

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Singer during his speech at the 2016 World Travel Tourism Council Global Summit 2016. (Photo via WTTC)

In his keynote speech at the AFCEA C4ISR Symposium in San Diego, Singer shared his thoughts on “Visualizing the Future of War Through Fiction.”

But it was his time away from the conference that telegraphed his importance to the military — five briefings at local Marine and Navy facilities, including a pow wow with Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and hours observing war games off of Camp Pendleton’s Red Beach.

Based in Washington, D.C., Singer, 42, was hosted throughout the week by consulting giant Deloitte.

“It’s been exciting to see the impact the book has had,” Singer said during an interview. “It’s doubly amazing to me because I’ve written nonfiction books that have had a pretty good range of readership in the military, but nothing that compares to this. And I think it shows the evidence of what storytelling can do by dropping people into a world, into future scenarios, where they see themselves.”

It’s not the first piece of fiction to find relevance in the military.

The Martians in H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” unleashed the Heat-Ray on humanity, what today would resemble the lasers or directed energy weapons joining America’s military tool kit. Wells also predicted atom bombs and nuclear proliferation, the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, and a form of communication akin to email.

Also read: Here’s who would win if Russia, China, and America went to war right now

In 1992, Air Force officer Charles Dunlap Jr.’s provocative essay “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012,” told in the form of a letter from Prisoner 222305759, triggered debate throughout the services about the importance of preserving traditional military-civilian relations and protecting the Constitution.

The commandant’s reading list for enlisted and officer Marines includes a dozen works of fiction, including Jim Webb’s Vietnam War classic “Fields of Fire” and Phil Klay’s”Redeployment,” poignant writing about Iraq. A pair of Singer’s books share space on the commandant’s shelf: “Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution” and “Ghost Fleet,” which was co-authored by August Cole.

“Ghost Fleet” doesn’t mirror other novels on the list.

Its mix of cutting-edge technology and fast-paced plot was inspired by Tom Clancy’s “Red Storm Rising.” Clancy’s novel so excited strategists and policymakers in 1986 that many feared he had divulged too many secrets about America’s revolutionary weapon systems and how they might be employed in battle.

Clancy’s fiction franchise inspired video games. Singer also has worked as a consultant on the popular “Call of Duty” series.

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Call of Duty: WWII. (Promotional image by Activision)

“Tom Clancy was a big influence on us, but the obvious difference is that in the Clancy books the technology always works perfectly,” Singer said.

“In the real world, it doesn’t. And in a lot of the science fiction I love as well, like (William) Gibson’s ‘Blade Runner,’ it doesn’t either. And that’s both because technology never works perfectly in the real world and also because there’s this thing called ‘people.’ People are working against the technology.”

“I think what we’ve done in large part expresses what people in the Navy are actually saying. And that comes from the fact that the interviews for the book were with Navy ship captains, you know? Enlisted sailors. A Marine fighter pilot. Special operations. Whatever. So when someone in the book says, ‘The Littoral Combat Ship? More like ‘Little Crappy Ship,’ that’s not us making it up. That’s someone in the Navy, in the real world, who said that.”

Phil Carter, an Army combat veteran of Iraq who now directs the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C., said Singer is an essential thinker because of his unique ability to comprehend the spirit of a new age of war, where battles take place on the Internet and in dusty villages. He described the novel as catnip to commanders.

Also read: A war with China in 2025 would be bloody and unwinnable

“Science fiction really has a hold on military officers in particular,” Carter said. “And Peter Singer taps into that. His nonfiction and his fiction are like a smarter, hipper version of Tom Clancy, and that really appeals to guys like me who grew up reading Tom Clancy and are now in the military living it.”

Critics grouse that “Ghost Fleet” suffers from some of the same literary problems that plagued Clancy — thin characters, wooden dialogue, and a story that turns on an unlikely event, with the authors too often sacrificing cogent analysis for a quick turn of the page.

“Peter does a great job bringing attention to very complicated issues such as the future of war, but ‘Ghost Fleet’ should be used as a point of departure on the subjects and not the last word. It helps to stimulate a more robust debate inside the services and among policymakers,” said Erin Simpson, a top national security consultant who co-hosts “Bombshell,” a hit podcast that also has excited the Beltway’s defense community.

And then there’s China. A recent review in the People’s Liberation Army’s Daily newspaper complained that Singer and Cole were trying to paint Beijing as an enemy.

“But our agenda isn’t to say that there will be such a war,” Singer said. “If there’s a political lesson from it, for geopolitics, it’s the idea that the kind of conflict (of) states fighting states was thinkable for much of the 20th century. The two world wars that happened versus the third World War, the fear of it throughout the Cold War.

“But then for the last generation, it’s been unthinkable. And now it’s thinkable once more.”
Articles

This is how a vet can go from a battlefield to a pit crew

Veterans often wonder what to do when they leave the military. Sometimes finding the right job can be tough, but for some, perhaps motor sports may be an option, if not as a career, then as a way to help recover from the invisible wounds of war.


According to Racer.com and USA Today, a number of efforts to encourage veterans to get involved in various types of auto racing have emerged recently. One is MilitaryToMotorsports.com, a venture from Andretti Autosports. The Andrettis are one of the biggest names in the auto-racing world, and this team has won the Indianapolis 500 four times, captured four IndyCar championships, plus two X-Games Gold Medals.

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Auto racing legend Mario Andretti observes flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln during a visit to the ship as part of the centennial celebration of the Indianapolis 500 auto race. The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in support of maritime security operations and theater cooperation efforts.

According to the MilitarytoMotorsports.com site, veterans can apply to be anything from a motor transport driver (perfect for folks who drove a HEMTT in their service) to a machinist to hospitality staff to being on a pit crew. In other words, the job you did in the military could have a lot of applications in helping an IndyCar driver win the next Indianapolis 500!

The chairman of Military to Motorsports is Navy veteran David Tilton, whose lengthy career included a tour on the amphibious assault ship USS Saipan (LHA 2) and a tour with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He retired after a back injury in 2003, and first became involved with Andretti Autosports in 2015.

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Staff Sgt. Doug Miller and Master Sgt. Scott Dolese, aircraft structural maintenance technicians, work a jack support box repair from the inside and outside of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, May 17 at the 167th Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air National Guard phtoo by Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle)

“I am very excited to be part of the launch of the Military to Motorsports Program with Andretti Autosport,” said Tilton. “This program will give well-deserved military personnel the opportunity to utilize their skills and discipline, gained during their service, as part of one of the most successful teams in motorsports.”

NASCAR is not being left out, as a number of NASCAR drivers and teams have become involved with Hope for the Warriors, a Veterans Service Organization founded in 2006. According to USA Today, the drivers and team invite veterans like ex-Marine Ryan Harshman, a combat-wounded vet, to races.

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A US Army MH-6 Little Bird at a NASCAR race. (DOD photo)

“NASCAR events can be very organically therapeutic. If you can challenge somebody’s hesitations by putting them in an environment like that where they’re very excited to be there, it helps. They are distracted from the chaos, but the chaos is actually helping to ease the PTSD and the noise issues and so forth,” Hope for the Warriors President Robin Kelleher told USA Today Sports.

Today, Harshman is working at an outdoor store, and remains involved with the charity.

Articles

US General thinks Iran is behind the missile attacks on US Navy near Yemen

US Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US forces in the Middle East, said on Wednesday that he believes Iran was behind missile strikes on US Navy ships fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen.


“I do think that Iran is playing a role in some of this. They have a relationship with the Houthis, so I do suspect there is a role in that,” said Votel at the Center for American Progress, The Hill’s Kristina Wong reports.

Also read: Another US Navy ship dodges a rebel missile off of Yemen

Iran does have a history of harassing US ships in the Persian Gulf. In January, Iran even went to the extreme length of taking US sailors captive after their ships broke down in Iranian national waters.

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Guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG-94) steams through the Atlantic Ocean. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeremy L. Grisham

While experts have indicated to Business Insider that Iran likely supplied the Houthis with the missiles used in three separate attacks on US Navy ships, Votel’s comments mark perhaps the first time a US official has laid the blame on Iran.

After the US struck the radar sites used by the Houthis, an armed uprising battling the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi,Iranian vessels rushed to the waters off of Yemen under the premise of protecting “trade vessels from piracy.”

If Iran does prove to be behind the missiles attacks, it’s possible that the US’s limited and defensive strikes have not addressed the larger problem.

Jonathan Schanzer, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider that the Obama administration “doesn’t want to get dragged into another Middle East conflict, but [it’s] also an administration that is phobic of clashing with Iran-sponsored actors,” as it tries to preserve the fragile nuclear deal with Iran.