The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
Senior Airman Jordan Webber, a KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., checks gear is where it needs to be shortly before a refueling mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 18, 2015, during exercise Red Flag 16-3. The exercise is one of four Red Flag exercises at Nellis AFB, with this iteration focusing on multi-domain operations in air, space and cyberspace.
An HH-60 Pave Hawk returns from an exercise mission July 12, 2016, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., as part of Red Flag 16-3. The exercise is one of four Red Flags at Nellis AFB, with this iteration focusing on air, space and cyberspace operations.
Soldiers assigned to the Massachusetts National Guard — The Nation’s First, use smoke to conceal their movement during an exercise at theJoint Readiness Training Center, Operations Group,Fort Polk, Louisiana, July 15, 2016.
Soldiers, assigned to 25th Infantry Division, load an AH-64 Apache helicopter onto a United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster during an emergency deployment readiness exercise as part of exercise Arctic Anvil at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, July 21, 2016. The exercise was designed to test the readiness of U.S. Army Alaska and their ability to quickly prepare vital air assets for deployment. As emergent demands continue to increase, Army readiness continues to be the Army’s number one priority.
SOUTH CHINA SEA (July 21, 2016) Sailors take a lunch break from the high operational tempo of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). U.S. Navy Aircraft carriers, like Reagan, serve up to 18,150 meals a day. Ronald Reagan, the Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5) flagship, is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
PACIFIC OCEAN (July 17, 2016) – Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) board an MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced) on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8). Makin Island is conducting integrated training with Amphibious Squadron Five and the 11th MEU off the coast of southern California in preparation for an upcoming deployment.
A Candidate with Alpha Company, Officer Candidate School conducts the Combat Course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 20, 2016. The mission of OCS is to educate and train officer candidates in order to evaluate and screen individuals for qualities required for commissioning as a Marine Corps officer.
Marines assigned to Maritime Raid Force, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct a fast rope training exercise during a deployment on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) July 5, 2016. 22nd MEU is conducting Naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
The cutter and crew returned to their homeport in Virginia Beach earlier this week after a 55-day deployment through the Eastern Pacific Ocean in support of the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy.
The newest Fast Response Cutter Joseph Tezanos, scheduled to be commissioned in August, took a test run off the coast of Key West, Florida, today. The cutter was named after a WWII hero who became the first Hispanic American to complete the service’s Reserve Officer Training Program.
One man got inside the heads of ISIS fighters, literally and figuratively, throughout the months-long Siege of Kobani. He was called Heval Hardem, a.k.a.: “Musa the Sniper.”
“I walked for miles once just to kill a single ISIS fighter,” Musa told Kurdish media. “Before and after killing them, I knew who the ISIS fighters were and could identify them by the bullet.”
The bullet came from Musa’s signature weapon, a Russian-made Dragunov rifle, which gave him a deadly range of 400 meters.
“I killed one with a bullet to the head while he was trying to run away,” he once boasted to the Daily Mail. “The others were easier because they could not run very fast.”
26 year-old Musa the Sniper was born in Iran (or “Eastern Kurdistan”) and joined the Syrian Kurdish YPG three years ago. He fought in Kobani from the first day until the last, training others to be snipers when he wasn’t protecting Kurdish fighters on the ground. He was an essential part of the Kurdish fight against Daesh (what the Arabs call ISIS, an acronym of the group’s name in Arabic, which means “a bigot who imposes his views on others”) in Kobani. For four months, he moved continually from ruined house to ruined house house in the city, providing cover and killing as many enemy fighters as possible.
In September 2014, ISIS fighters captured 350 Kurdish villages in the Northern Syrian area of Rojava, an area claimed by the Kurds since the start of the Syrian Civil War. The main city they captured was Kobani, a small city on the Turkish border. When the siege of Kobani picked up a lot of attention in the West, ISIS poured thousands of fighters into the area in an effort to show their superiority. Instead it became an example of tactical blunder, due mainly to the efforts of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to push ISIS from the town. American air strikes with aid from the Iraqi Peshmerga and Free Syrian Army helped dislodge ISIS. The biggest morale booster to the YPG fighters in Kobani, however, was Musa the Sniper.
Musa is credited with hundreds of kills in Kobani alone. He was himself killed earlier this year in the Kobani region. An Italian volunteer for the Kurdish International Brigade of Rojava, a unit comprised of Western volunteers who are fighting ISIS in Syria, penned a memorial to Musa. In it, the Italian who identified himself as “Marcello” wrote the following:
In the city when we were few and DAESH [sic] was occupying most of the buildings, the sniper was king. The Chechen snipers limited the movement of comrades and caused many of them to fall martyrs. These were highly paid mercenaries coming from abroad to destroy us.
We could not even raise our heads with the fear of being struck by sniper fire. Then Hardem came. At that moment ‘Musa the sniper’ of Kobanê was born to strike back fear in waylyers’ hearts’.
If the snipers were kings in Kobanê, then Hardem was the Emperor. Every time a problem came up, Heval Hardem was the man to call first. He would fight day and night, and after a while DAESH learned about his feat. No Chechen sniper could defeat him, many of us are alive because of him.
If ever a true hero was born, that’s Hardem. Hero of Kobanê.
The KGB—or Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti— was the Soviet Union’s main security agency from 1954 until its break up in 1991.
Conventional media and entertainment paint the organization as the Soviet version of America’s CIA. However, a more realistic description of the KGB includes the roles of the NSA, FBI, and state media along with the CIA. Its responsibilities included intelligence gathering, border security, and propaganda enforcement. Additionally, the KGB served as the state’s secret police and was a military service governed by military laws and regulations; the CIA, on the other hand, is a civilian foreign intelligence service.
A 1983 Timearticle called “The KGB: Eyes of the Kremlin,” reported that it was the world’s most effective information-gathering organization at its peak. The USSR liked to keep things simple; information flowed freely throughout the agency, which avoided any hiccups that may occur between multi-agency cooperation.
After the Soviet collapse, the KGB was succeeded by the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) of Russia, which was in turn succeeded by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB). Although the KGB doesn’t officially exist, many argue that its mode of operation lives on under former KGB agent and current Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Case in point is the mysterious poisoning of former KGB and FSB agent Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko by radioactive polonium-210 that resulted in his death. Litvinenko and other FSB officers publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. After being arrested and acquitted, he defected to the United Kingdom in 2000 until his suspected murder in 2006.
In January 2016, the BBC reported that Putin ‘probably’ approved Litvinenko’s murder after years of personal antagonism. This TestTube News video explains the KGB’s evolution and why it was so feared.
When you think of the Gulfstream, you probably think of a jet that’s used by A-list celebrities and corporate CEOs – all of whom are living the high life.
Well, that is true. In fact, the Pentagon has a fleet of Gulfstream 550s dubbed the “C-37B” for the VIP transport role, including for President Trump (who owns a 757 of his own).
But if all you see is a cushy transport for execs, you’re missing the potential of the Gulfstream, company officials say.
In fact, the plane could do a whole lot more than fly high-rollers in comfort. The company is using the G550 as a platform for multiple missions, including for missile range instrumentation, a multi-mission version, and even for command and control. Some of these variants were being shown off by Gulfstream at a display at the 2017 SeaAirSpace Expo in National Harbor, Maryland.
The G550 has a lot going for it. It has long range, over 6,750 nautical miles, or about 12 hours of endurance. It is also reliable – the Gulfstream website notes its 99.9 percent mission-ready rate means that this plane misses one flight every five years.
This bird could very well become a larger part of the DOD inventory – proving that airframes can do much more than you might think they can at first glance.
An experimental Pentagon program has already developed two types of a highly advanced, Terminator-like prosthetic arm.
What’s more, a quadriplegic woman with sensors implanted onto her brain controlled one of the robotic limbs to grab a cup, shake hands and eat a chocolate bar. She even flew an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter simulator using just her thoughts.
Now, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to expand on that cutting-edge work to build other potential breakthrough medical technologies, including a pacemaker-sized device that might someday improve the memory of troops who suffered a traumatic brain injury. Think of it as a hard drive of sorts for the brain.
“We know we need a next-generation device that doesn’t exist today,” said Justin Sanchez, who manages DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office in Arlington, Virginia. “That’s what these new programs are all about — not only understanding the brain and these conditions, but building the hardware that enables us to address those issues. You need both.”
Over more than a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, roadside bombs and other explosive devices took a toll on the U.S. military. An estimated half to two-thirds of the more than 7,100 Americans killed or wounded in combat were victims of such blasts and some 1,800 lost limbs, according to USA Today. Hundreds of thousands more suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
While researchers have been scanning the brain for years, very little is known about memory, which is stored in the side parts of the brain known as temporal lobes, Sanchez said. Like epileptic patients, troops who damage this part of the brain can suffer from memory loss and other issues.
One of DARPA’s newer projects, Restoring Active Memory, seeks to build a prosthetic device that could aid in the formation and recall declarative memory, a form of long-term memory that can be recalled such as a fact. For example, a future experiment might involve a patient who is asked to identify a series of faces and names with the aid of an implant.
“The twist on this is he or she will be interacting with a prosthetic device,” Sanchez said. “So at some face and name presentations, maybe we’ll stimulate the part of the brain that is involved in the memory formation and see if there are particular patterns of stimulation that can facilitate the formation and recall of that memory.”
The research builds on the work of a precursor program, called Revolutionizing Prosthetics, which dates back almost a decade and reflects the cornerstone of the agency’s research into neural signaling.
Jan Scheuermann, one of two patients in the program, in 2012 agreed to let surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center implant a pair of pea-sized electrodes onto her left motor cortex — which controls movement — and connects her to a robotic arm. She hoped she might feed herself for the first time in a decade. She did that and more.
Scheuermann, a 55-year-old mother of two who became paralyzed in middle-age due to a rare neurological disorder known as spinocerebellar degeneration, became so adept at manipulating the arm developed by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory that her participation in the study was extended until October, when the electrode arrays were removed.
“That is the first program in the agency where you have humans interacting with really advanced prosthetic devices to do something extremely useful,” Sanchez said.
Reading the Mind
The sensors on Scheuermann’s brain measured just four-millimeters long, yet included hundreds of contact points designed to pick up signals from individual brain cells called neurons.
“When you intend to move your arm, for example, there are certain places in your brain that become active, the neurons that are there become active, and that activity can occur when you physically move your arm or even if you imagine moving your arm,” Sanchez said.
The signals were relayed to a computer running software that matched the activity to patterns associated with physical movements, such as raising or lowering an arm. Scientists used vector mathematics to build algorithms that determined the intended motion of the not only the arm, but also the wrist and fingers. The code translated into operating instructions for the robotic prosthesis.
“Neurons in this particular part of your brain are tuned to certain movement directions,” Sanchez said. “You can imagine how you can use that information to operate a robotic arm. Once you know those associations, you can say, ‘Oh, whenever I see that guy firing, I’m trying to go in this direction.”
Flying the F-35
While the program’s potential real-world applications aren’t limited to prosthetics, patients won’t be flying drones into combat anytime soon. When Scheuermann piloted the F-35 simulator, she didn’t drop bombs or launch missiles. Rather, she simply cruised along — sometimes erratically — and tried to bank the aircraft on simple flight patterns.
The process of linking her brain to the aircraft’s motion was similar to the robotic arm. Scientists would tell her to imagine trying to steer the plane to the right and left, and then would have to figure out how the neural activity would connect to control of the rudders.
“You have to try to find this functional mapping,” Sanchez said. “This is a real core part of this from a science perspective: How do you learn what those signals in the brain mean when you intend to do something and how do they relate to the device you’re trying to actuate, whether it’s a robotic arm or an airplane?”
Scheuermann also virtually piloted a small Cessna plane around the Eiffel Tower in Paris — an experience she found “liberating,” Sanchez said.
“That’s a really powerful statement,” Sanchez said. “We think of neurotechnology as hardware, but we don’t often think about it in terms of how it can improve somebody’s life or change somebody’s life.”
Bringing Back Sensation
The next and final phase of the program will seek to reverse the signaling process by understanding the patterns for sensation in the central nervous system.
“It’s really easy to say, ‘We want to bring sensation back,’ but it’s really difficult to actually do it,” Sanchez said. “You have to go to a different part of the brain that’s involved in the perception of touch — the primary central cortex — and again the challenge is the same: You have an electronic device that is measuring something and we need to translate that into signals that the brain understands.”
His office is working to identify potential civilian patients for the program. The agency doesn’t perform experiments on troops, even though the research is designed to help those who serve.
“Military personnel make the ultimate sacrifice,” Sanchez said. “They serve our nation and their lives often are changed through their injury. The very least we can do is develop a technology that will help to improve their quality of life. We have to stay true to that. It’s essential.”
In the early 2000s, connecting a brain to a robotic prosthesis would have required multiple rooms full of computers, cables and other hardware. While its recent work proved it could be done with more advanced systems and less space, the agency still wants much smaller components.
“All of the new programs have fundamentally by their design the goal of developing medical devices that are fully implantable — the size of a cardiac pacemaker that could be implanted somewhere in the body,” Sanchez said.
Under another new effort called Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (Subnets), DARPA is funding the development of implantable devices designed to more precisely identify and treat psychiatric diseases.
“All of these procedures, at least the ones we’ve talked about thus far, are reversible,” he added. “Neurotechnology is being designed in such a way that it’s reversible, so if it’s not providing a benefit for you, you don’t use it. You just take it out.”
Few things have the power to transport people like the cinema.
Who can forget Robert Williams’ “Good morning, Vietnam” or Marine Corps DI Hartman’s memorable quotes?
The following list is of our favorite military movies to watch over Fourth of July weekend.
“The Longest Day” (1962)
“The Longest Day”tells the story of heroism and loss that marked the Allies’ successful completion of the Normandy Landings on D-Day during World War II.
The film stands out due to its attention to detail, as it employed many Axis and Allied D-Day participants as advisers for how to depict the D-Day landings in the movie.
“Lawrence Of Arabia” (1962)
Based on the exploits of British Army Lieutenant T. E. Lawrence during World War I, “Lawrence of Arabia” tells the story of Lawrence’s incredible activities in the Middle East.
The film captures Lawrence’s daring, his struggles with the horrific violence of World War I, and the incredible British role in the foundation of the modern Middle East and Saudi Arabia.
“The Great Escape” (1963)
“The Great Escape” is based on a novel of the same name, which was a nonfiction account of a mass escape from a German prison camp in Poland during World War II. The film follows several British German prisoners of war as they try to escape from the Nazis and make their way back to Allied-controlled territory.
“The Dirty Dozen” (1967)
Extremely loosely inspired by true acts during World War II, “The Dirty Dozen” tells the story of 12 Army convicts trained for a nearly impossible mission deep in Nazi-occupied France before D-Day, and the film follows their exploits in training and beyond.
“MASH” is a black comedy set on the frontlines of the Korean War. The story follows a group of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital officers as they carry out their mission against the bleak backdrop of the seemingly ceaseless conflict miles from their position.
A movie documenting the life and exploits of General George S. Patton.
A wartime hero of World War II, the film covers Patton’s exploits, accomplishments, and ultimate discharge.
“The Deer Hunter” (1978)
“The Deer Hunter” follows the story of a trio of Russian-American steelworkers both in Pennsylvania before their service and during the Vietnam War.
The film, which stars Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken, won multiple awards, including the Academy Award for best picture, best director, and best supporting actor for Walken.
“Apocalypse Now” (1979)
Featuring an all-star cast (Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, and Dennis Hopper) and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, “Apocalypse Now” is a modern adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s classic “Heart of Darkness.”
Set in Vietnam in 1970, the film shows to what depths men will sink during wartime.
“Das Boot” (1981)
“Das Boot” is a German film depicting the service of German sailors aboard fictional submarine U-96. The story has been lauded for personalizing the characters during World War II by showing both the tension of hunting ships, as well as the tedium of serving aboard submarines.
“Top Gun” (1986)
Starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, “Top Gun” follows Cruise as he attends the Top Gun aviation school. An aggressive but extremely competent pilot, Cruise competes throughout his training to become the best pilot in training. The film was selected in 2015 by the Library of Congress for preservation due to its cultural significance.
“Platoon,” featuring Charlie Sheen, depicts the horrors and difficulties of the Vietnam War. The movie both shows the difficulty in locating potential insurgents in a civilian population, as well as the strains and struggles war can place on brothers-in-arms.
“Good Morning Vietnam” (1987)
Loosely based on a true story, “Good Morning Vietnam” is a comedy-drama starring Robin Williams as a radio DJ in Saigon during the Vietnam War.
Williams earned an Academy Award for best actor.
“Full Metal Jacket” (1987)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, “Full Metal Jacket” follows two new recruits as they enter bootcamp during the Vietnam War. From depicting the struggles of training to the savagery of war, “Full Metal Jacket” remains a timeless classic.
Featuring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, and Morgan Freeman, “Glory” follows the US’s first all African American regiment, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for his performance.
“The Hunt For Red October” (1990)
Based on Tom Clancy’s bestselling novel, “The Hunt For Red October” is set during the last stages of the Cold War.
The film stars Sean Connery as a rogue Soviet naval captain who is attempting to defect to the US with the Soviet Union’s most advanced nuclear missile submarine.
“Schindler’s List” (1993)
Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Liam Neeson, “Schindler’s List” tells the true story of how businessman Oskar Schindler evolves from seeing Jews as nothing but human chattel to doing his best to save as many Jews from Nazi death camps as possible during the Holocaust. The film, based on a true story and painfully told, won the Academy Award for best picture.
“Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
Directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Tom Hanks, “Saving Private Ryan” showcases both the brutality of World War II while also paying tribute to the amazing courage and honor that each person can rise to. The movie won Spielberg an Academy Award in 1999 for best director.
“Three Kings” (1999)
Featuring Ice Cube, Mark Wahlberg, and George Clooney, “Three Kings” shows a stark depiction of life on the ground in Kuwait and Southern Iraq following the end of the Gulf War.
The movie depicts the brutality that Iraqis faced from the regime of Saddam Hussein after trying to rise up against the government at the end of the war.
“Black Hawk Down” (2001)
Directed by Ridley Scott, “Black Hawk Down” follows the tragic exploits of US special forces that were sent into Somalia on a peacekeeping mission in 1993. The movie won the Academy Award for best film editing in 2002.
“Jarhead,” directed by Sam Mendes and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, depicts a realistic look at the mix of drudgery and tension that exists for soldiers in a war zone.
The movie spans from the late 1980s through the US involvement in the Gulf War.
“Downfall” depicts the end of the European stage of World War II from inside Adolf Hitler’s bunker in Berlin. The movie depicts Hitler’s final days as he, and his fellow high-ranking Nazis, realize the futility of their position in the war and the end of the Third Reich.
“Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War” (2005)
“Tae Guk Gi” follows the tale of two South Korean brothers during the start of the Korean War. Drafted into combat, the older brother continuously volunteers for the most dangerous missions in exchange for his little brother’s safety. But, as the movie depicts, such constant violence takes the toll of all involved.
“Letters From Iwo Jima” (2006)
Directed by Clint Eastwood, “Letters From Iwo Jima” tells the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese perspective. The film is a companion to Clint Eastwood’s film “Flags Of Our Fathers,” which also tells the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima but from the American perspective.
“Beasts Of No Nation” (2015)
Released on Netflix, “Beasts of No Nation” is based on a book of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala. Set in an unnamed West African country, the film depicts the horror of civil war and the use of child soldiers.
The film is told from the point of view of the child soldier Agu, played by Abraham Attah, as he attempts to survive and is forced to fight in the war.
Hunkered down in sniper positions on the top floor of an abandoned building in the Syrian city of Raqqa, two Americans and a British volunteer face off against Islamic State snipers on the other side of the front line. The trio, including two who were battle-hardened by experience in the French Foreign Legion and the war in Iraq, have made the war against IS in Syria their own.
They are among several US and British volunteers in the decisive battle against the Islamic State group for Raqqa, the city in northeastern Syria that the militants declared the capital of their self-proclaimed caliphate in parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq.
The men joined US-allied Syrian militias for different reasons — some motivated by testimonies of survivors of the unimaginable brutality that IS flaunted in areas under its control.
Others joined what they see as a noble quest for justice and a final battle with the “heart of darkness,” in a belief that violence can only be met with violence.
Taylor Hudson, a 33-year old from Pasadena, compares the fight for Raqqa to the 1945 Battle of Berlin in World War II that was critical to ending the rule of Adolf Hitler.
“This is the Berlin of our times,” said Hudson, who doubles as a platoon medic and a sniper in the battle against the militants. For him, IS extremists “represent everything that is wrong with humanity.”
Syria’s war, now in its seventh year, has attracted foreign fighters to all sides of the complicated conflict.
Islamic extremists from Europe, Asia, and North Africa have boosted the ranks of the Islamic State group, as well as rival radical al-Qaeda-linked groups. Shiite Iranian and Lebanese militias have sided with the Syrian government, deepening the sectarian nature of the conflict that has killed over 400,000 people and displaced over 11 million, half of Syria’s pre-war population.
On the anti-IS side — though far less in numbers than the thousands of foreigners who swelled the IS ranks — most Western foreign volunteers have been drawn to the US-allied Kurdish militia known as The People’s Protection Units, or by their Kurdish initials as the YPG. The US military has developed a close relationship with the YPG and its extension, the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the war against IS.
Some Western volunteers have died in battle — earlier in July the YPG announced that 28-year-old Robert Grodt, of Santa Cruz, California, and 29-year-old Nicholas Alan Warden, of Buffalo, died in the battle for Raqqa.
Since launching the push on Raqqa on June 6, the US-backed forces have conquered a third of the city.
Hudson, who has been fighting in Syria for the past 13 months, said he was moved to tears by stories in the media of Iraqi Yazidi women who were enslaved by IS militants and looked for a way to help. A pharmacy student who learned combat medicine in the field, he said he had treated some 600 wounded ahead of the march onto Raqqa.
The presence of Western anti-IS volunteers in Syria has created something of a conundrum for their governments, which have often questioned them on terrorism charges.
“I am not a terrorist,” said Macer Gifford, a 30-year former City broker in London, who came to Syria three years ago to volunteer first with the Kurdish militia. Now he is fighting with an Assyrian militia, also part of the US-backed forces battling IS militants.
“I am here defending the people of Syria against terrorists,” he added.
Gifford has been questioned by both his British government and by the US government. At home, he has written and lectured about the complex situation in Syria, offering a first-hand experience of IS’ evolving tactics.
He believes the militants can only be defeated by sheer force.
“The Islamic State (group) is actually an exceptional opponent,” Gifford said. “We can’t negotiate them away, we can’t wish them away. The only way we can defeat them is with force of arms.”
For Kevin Howard, a 28-year old former US military contractor from California who fought in Iraq in 2006, the war against the Islamic State group is more personal.
A skilled sniper who prides himself in having killed 12 IS militants so far, Howard said he is doing it for the victims of the Bataclan Theatre in France, where the sister of one of his best friends survived. The Nov. 13, 2015 attacks claimed by IS killed 130 people at Paris cafes, the national stadium, and the Bataclan, where 90 died.
“This is a continuation of that fight, I think if you leave something unfinished, it will remain unfinished for a lifetime,” he said, showing off his 1972 sniper rifle.
On his forehead and neck, he has tattooed the “Rien N’empêche” — or “Nothing Prevents”— words from the song of the French Foreign Legion in which he served, and “life is pain.”
“For me this is a chance to absolutely go to the heart of darkness and grab it and get rid of it,” he added.
From his sniper position on Raqqa’s front line, he peeked again through the rifle hole. For Howard, the orders to march deeper into the IS-held city can’t come soon enough.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
National VFW Honor Guard in dress whites.
Airmen in their dress blues during a Veterans Day ceremony.
Soldiers assigned to 10th Special Forces Group, maneuver through a shooting range during a weapons training exercise at the Panzer Range Complex, Boeblingen, Germany, Nov. 08, 2016.
A US Army Golden Knights Soldier lands after jumping into the Girls’ Science and Engineering Day at UAHuntsville in Huntsville, Ala., Nov. 5, 2016.
PEARL HARBOR (Nov. 3, 2016) Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) render honors to the Battleship Missouri Memorial as Decatur prepares to moor at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Decatur, along with guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Spruance (DDG 111) are deployed in support of maritime security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific as part of a U.S. 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) under Commander, Destroyer Squadron 31 (CDS 31).
PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 11, 2016) A Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78 MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) flight deck. Carl Vinson is currently underway conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in preperation for an upcoming deployment.
The sun sets over the USS Green Bay (LPD-20) at White Beach Naval Base, Okinawa, Japan, August 21, 2016.
Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct combat marksmanship and close-quarters tactics training during a “deck shoot” aboard the USS Makin Island, while afloat in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 2, 2016.
Servicemembers from all five branches participated in the New York Giants vs. the Philadelphia Eagles Military Appreciation Game at MetLife Stadium today. More than 100 service members from the New York and New Jersey area volunteered to represent their branch of service during the pre-game and halftime ceremonies.
They say practice makes perfect, which is exactly why our crews are always training. A crewmember aboard the USCG Cutter Active, a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., fires a 25mm gun during underway training.
Lt. Colonel Shannon Stambersky takes a selfie with her UCLA Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets after completion of an annual field training exercise (FTX) at Camp Pendleton and filming of the first ROTC Virtual Reality recruitment video.
China wants to become east Asia’s dominant power. And in order to do that, the country needs a navy that can balance out American and US-allied assets in the region.
China wants a force that is capable of operating for extended periods in the open ocean, away from the coasts or support bases. A “blue-water navy” would allow China to protect vital trade routes while also enabling Beijing to project force in areas far from China’s coastline.
Beijing’s naval development could be one of the biggest strategic challenges the US faces in coming decades. And the Chinese navy is already pretty formidable. The following graphic from the US Office of Naval Intelligence shows every surface ship in the Chinese Navy as of February 2015 (you can view a much larger version of the graphic here):
The largest ship in China’s navy is currently the Liaoning aircraft carrier, a refurbished Soviet-built craft that’s had an array of problems. The vessel is several decades old and of questionable quality — it suffered an unexpected power outage during sea trials in October of 2014.
But the Liaoning may just be a practice carrier for the Chinese Navy. China is using the low-cost vessel to master the operation of carrier battle groups before purchasing and developing more expensive and capable vessels.
There are reports that China is planning on developing three carrier battle groups, in a massive ramping-up of naval force projection.
The Luyang II 052C class guided missile destroyer is also noteworthy. These ships are designed to operate in open ocean away from China’s coasts, allowing Beijing to press its territorial ambitions throughout the Pacific and the South China Sea.
Additionally, a ship model called the Jinan will feature a number of new-generation weapons, and is specially designed to protect any future Chinese aircraft carriers.
“The guided missile destroyer Ji’nan (hull number 152), is equipped with multiple sets of home-made new-type weapons,” China Military Online reports.
“It is able to attack surface warships and submarines independently or in coordination with other strength of the PLAN. The ship also possesses strong capabilities of conducting long-distance early-warning and detecting as well as regional air-defense operation.”
The US Navy is an institution rich in tradition with its own language and elaborate ceremonies. One of those ceremonies is the Chief Petter Officer initiation.
Ask any sailor what a newly made chief does as soon as they put on the khaki uniform and you’ll get mixed results. Responses vary from the good to the awfully absurd and usually based on a sailor’s time in service.
For example, this sailor on Facebook said that his chief completely changed when he put on the khakis for the first time:
Ask a chief and he’ll say that it’s one of the hardest and most satisfying jobs in the world:
WATM did an informal poll of sailors of all ranks to uncover the nine common things that new chiefs do when they put on the khakis:
1. Smile incessantly for about an hour.
They’ve just been made and now have the privilege to do the following eight things:
2. Get a new coffee mug that says “chief.”
A good chief’s mug will be respected and left alone. A bad chief will have their mug washed out. Apparently, chiefs have it in their mind that their unwashed coffee mugs have super caffeine powers.
3. Start calling everyone ‘shipmate.’
Everyone becomes a “shipmate” once you become a chief. It used to be that they call everyone by their rate (Navy job) and rank.
4. Start calling other khakis by their first names.
It’s now Frankie and Jane instead of Smith and Martinez.
5. Start eating like a king in the chief’s mess.
Rumor has it that the chiefs eat better than the officers aboard a ship.
6. Gain weight.
Everything has a cause and effect.
7. Pass off the ensign to the first-class.
They lose an ensign but gain a lieutenant.
8. Wait for the first person to call him ‘sir’ so he can say, “don’t call me sir, I work for a living.”
Along with the new position comes treasure trove of cliché terms that they’ve been waiting years to use. (Poor boot, he confused the chief for an officer.)
A report released Aug. 19 from a Washington, D.C.-based think tank tracked how North Korea reacts to annual military exercises conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.
The result? Kim Jong Un is using the drills as an excuse to act out.
The study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies doesn’t say exactly that, but what it found was a pattern of behavior during the rule of Kim Jong-Il, and another quite different reaction after the younger Kim Jong Un took the reins of power.
“The study shows that annual joint exercises do not provoke North Korea despite such claims in the media and from North Korea,” Victor Cha, CSIS Korea Chair and former director for Asian affairs at the White House’s National Security Council, told the Wall Street Journal.
But the younger Kim says the annual war games are a provocation, and the cantankerous dictator routinely flies off the handle and issues wild threats and warnings in the days leading up to the exercises.
His father, on the other hand, did not respond to the drills the same way. Tensions surrounding joint exercises like Foal Eagle, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, and Key Resolve are significantly more potent since the elder Kim suffered a stroke in 2008.
On top of determining a pattern of behavior around U.S. military exercises, the study also uncovered other key findings.
The first is that the exercises have no lasting impact on relations between North Korea and the United States. When the six-party de-denuclearization talks were still held regularly, the games didn’t change the timing or agenda of the talks.
The report also says that the North “compartmentalizes” its response to the annual war games versus other ongoing issues with the U.S. or South Korea.
Cha also told the Wall Street Journal Kim Jong Un uses the games as a way to spin a yarn to his people that the U.S. military is the destabilizing force on the peninsula and the Korean regime under his leadership is the only bulwark against American aggression.
The report should be welcome news for the U.S. military, who maintain an extensive presence on the Korean Peninsula and have since the end of the Korean War.
“It’s not the exercises,” Cha said, “but the state of diplomacy in the weeks prior that will tell them whether North Korea will do something big in retaliation.”
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:
A C-130 Hercules flies over Izu Peninsula, Japan, Oct. 14, 2015. Performing regular in-flight operations gives all related personnel real-world experience to stay prepared for contingency situations and regular operations.
Capt. Stephen Elliot and 1st Lt. Stephen Pineo, 36th Airlift Squadron pilots, prepare to perform an assault landing during a night operations exercise over Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 14, 2015. The training enhanced the pilots’ ability to operate in the dark
Capt. Matthieu Rigollet, 36th Airlift Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot, flies over the coast of Japan Oct. 14, 2015. The crew of Kanto 22 flew past Mount Fuji and performed a practice bundle drop as part of Yokota’s ongoing mission to keep all personnel ready to perform real-world operations.
Capt. Thomas Bernard, 36th Airlift Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot, performs a visual confirmation with a night vision goggles during a training mission over the Kanto Plain, Japan, Oct. 14, 2015. Yokota aircrews regularly conduct night flying operations to ensure they’re prepared to respond to a variety of contingencies throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
Senior Airman Gary Cole, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, surveys a drop zone at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 14, 2015. The C-130 Hercules crew performed simulated drops and several landings and takeoffs all while using night vision goggles.
Soldiers, assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade, conduct a live fire exercise during Operation Atlantic Resolve in Latvia, Oct. 14, 2015.
A UH-60 Black Hawk crew, assigned to the Texas Army National Guard, helps fight wildfires threatening homes and property near Bastrop, Texas, Oct. 14, 2015.
A Soldier, assigned to 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain “Patriots”, conducts Pre-Ranger Combat Water Survival training at Fort Polk, La., Oct. 7, 2015.
Capt. (Ret.) Florent Groberg will receive the Medal Of Honor in a Nov. 12, 2015 ceremony, for heroic actions during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Oct. 6, 2015) Children wave goodbye to their father, Lt. Chris Robinson, deploying aboard the amphibious transport dock USS Arlington (LPD 24). Arlington deployed as part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (Oct. 10, 2015) Sailors assigned to USS Constitution perform a War of 1812-era long gun drill in Charlestown Navy Yard as part of Constitution’s weekend festivities celebrating the U.S, Navy’s 240th birthday.
SASEBO, Japan (Oct. 13, 2015) Operations Specialist 3rd Class Karlee Carter cuts a cake with Cmdr. Curtis Price during the celebration of the U.S. Navy’s birthday aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and is forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
A UH-1Y Venom lifts off of an expeditionary airfield during an air ground defense exercise at Landing Zone Bull at Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, California, Oct. 10, 2015. This training evolution is apart of a seven week training event, hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.
Gunnery Sgt. Dragos Coca engages targets during a desert survival and tactics course. Coca is a platoon sergeant with 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Elements of the 15th MEU trained with the 5th Overseas Combined Arms Regiment in Djibouti from Sept. 21 to Oct. 7 in order to improve interoperability between the MEU and the French military.
Marines with 1st Marine Division provide security during a heavy Huey raid in Yuma, Arizona on October 7, 2015. This exercise was part of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force.
What keeps Coast Guard crews Semper Paratus? Training! Every training evolution proves crucial for daily operations across the nation. Here, U.S. Coast Guard Station Morro Bay conducts helicopter operations with a nearby air station.
Aurora borealis is observed from Coast Guard Cutter Healy Oct. 4, 2015, while conducting science operations in the southern Arctic Ocean. Healy is underway in the Arctic Ocean in support of the National Science Foundation-funded Arctic GEOTRACES, part of an international effort to study the distribution of trace elements in the world’s oceans.
Unexploded ordnance, often called “UXO,” has long been a problem after wars. In World War II, the Allies dropped almost 1.6 million tons of bombs on Germany – the equivalent of 6.4 million 500-pound bombs. Every major city was hit.
The problem is that not all the bombs exploded — not surprising when so many were dropped. These have been hanging around – and even now, 72 years after V-E Day, some of them still turn up.
And in Hanover, Germany, on May 7, 2017, three of those UXOs were found by construction crews, according to the BBC.
With so many people affected, the city decided to throw a big UXO party. Numerous events were set up, including screenings of films for kids, sporting events, and museum tours. There were also efforts made to provide food and other essential supplies to the evacuees while the Allied bombs were secured.
There’s no doubt about it, UXO can still kill, even after decades under ground. The BBC reported that in 2010, three German EOD techs were killed while trying to defuse a World War II leftover. In 2012, a construction worker was killed when his equipment hit an old bomb. Old World War II ordnance has sometimes been discovered during training exercises, notably in the Baltic Sea.
In the United States, most of the UXO is from the Civil War. In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, a number of cannonball left over from that conflict were unearthed.