Here's how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery

In a hypothetical war with Russia, the U.S. holds a lot of advantages. America’s Air Force and Navy are the largest in the world. The U.S. military is an all-volunteer force while Russia’s military is still reliant on conscriptions to fill out the ranks.


But there is one area of a conventional war where Russia holds a real advantage: artillery. While America has evolved into a leader in precision artillery fires, Russia has continued to build on its range and ability to deliver massed fires, which are more important factors in an artillery battle between armies.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
A U.S. Army Paladin fires at night. Photo: US Army Spc. Ryan Stroud

The U.S. Army worked hard for its precision. Artillery presents a lot of natural challenges to accuracy. The arc of the round and the time of flight, anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, means that the environment gets a lot of chances to blow artillery off target.

Plus, artillery crews can’t usually see their targets or where their rounds land. A forward observer calls the guns from the frontline and reads off target data. The gun crew uses this description to fire. The observer will let them know if they hit anything, what corrections to make, and how many more rounds are needed.

Target movement makes the challenge even harder. Crews still have to rely on the observer, but against moving targets they also have to hope that the target won’t change its direction or speed in the 30 seconds to three minutes that the round is flying to the target.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: US Army Cpt. Angela Chipman

But the U.S. managed to create precision fires by spending a lot of time and money on laser and GPS-guided artillery rounds that can steer during flight. It also trained its crews for maximum accuracy even when using more traditional rounds.

Because of this innovation and work, American artillery crews could engage enemy forces within a couple hundred meters of friendly troops as long as the observer agrees to a “Danger Close” mission and the crew double checks their math. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan could drop rounds near schools and mosques while remaining confident they wouldn’t destroy any friendly buildings.

The problem is this precision isn’t as necessary in a fight against another nation state. After all, if the enemy has troops camped along a ridge, missing the center by a couple hundred feet wouldn’t matter much. The round would still hit one of the tents or vehicles. And massed fires, shooting a lot at once, would ensure that any specific target would likely be destroyed.

So instead of investing as much as the U.S. did in getting super accurate, Russia invested in getting more guns and rockets that could fire faster and farther.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: Public Domain

Some of those new rockets and guns can fire farther than their U.S. counterparts, meaning that American artillerymen would have to drive their guns into position and emplace them while Russian artillery is already raining down around them.

Russia also invested in new capabilities like drones that pack into rocket tubes and kamikaze themselves against targets as well as thermobaric warheads that fit onto rockets and can be fired en masse. Thermobaric weapons release fuel or metal fragments into the air and then detonate it, creating a massive blast wave and flash fire.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
An American thermobaric bomb is dropped in the desert. (Photo: US Air Force Capt. Patrick Nichols)

These developments have not gone unnoticed by the U.S. Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster gave a briefing in May where he talked about the new threats from Russia’s artillery and called for America to get more serious about artillery against a near-peer adversary.

It’s not time to go running under the tables, yet. Russia’s advantage in an artillery duel is partially countered by America’s dominance in the air. Bombers could launch strikes against the most-capable of the Russian guns provided that the guns aren’t defended by Russia’s top-tier air defenses.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: US Army Spc. Gregory Gieske

America also has more numerous and more capable cruise and other long-range missiles than Russia, meaning that there would be opportunities to degrade Russia’s capabilities before the two artillery forces clashed. And America does have great drone and thermobaric capabilities, just not in its artillery corps.

But if America wants an advantage in all areas ahead of a potential war, it’s time to get serious about massed fires once again.

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‘You’re Really Pretty For Being In The Army’

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery


“This is great – you can help counteract the stereotype that only big bull dykes join the Army just by being there,” the recruiter said (yes, really).

That was one of my first introductions to how much my appearance would constantly be noticed – and openly discussed by others – as a female soldier. I had signed up to do Hometown Recruiting (between initial entry training and going to your first permanent duty station, you can spend a week helping local recruiters out for a few hours every day without getting charged leave, while still having your evenings free). Instead of going back to my hometown, I’d decided to visit a friend in New York City, and the station I was assigned to apparently thought my key asset was not looking the way they apparently assumed lesbians look.

Later in my military career, people regularly told me, “You’re really pretty for being in the Army.” This baffling pseudo-compliment made me uncomfortable, and I developed a joking stock response: “What, all the pretty girls join the Air Force?” … while at the same time wondering if what they meant was that as civilians go, I’m ugly. It was further confirmation that at least initially, my appearance was a key part of how people would form opinions of me as a soldier.

Recently, an internal email from the female officer heading an Army study on how to integrate women into previously closed ground combat jobs and units to the public affairs office was leaked and much of it published by Politico. In it, she urged that public affairs personnel choose photos of “average looking women” to illustrate generic stories. I’m not thrilled with all her word choices, but I’m worried that her core message has been obscured by quibbles over terminology and the relish media outlets and pundits take in trying to turn everything into a major story. If she had wrapped her message in more obfuscating language – perhaps saying women who do not seem to be trying to conform to modern beauty norms by use of appearance-enhancing efforts instead of the shorthand pretty, maybe it wouldn’t have led to the same degree of public outcry. (I also empathize with her on a personal level: I’m not careful in how I phrase messages that are not meant to be public and certainly wouldn’t want some of them leaked!)

The heart of her argument fell much farther down in the story: compared to photos where women troops are obviously wearing makeup, photos of female soldiers with mud on their faces “sends a much different message—one of women willing to do the dirty work necessary in order to get the job done.”

This immediately resonated with me based on my own experiences. While I was deployed to Iraq, I got a few days of RR in Qatar. While there, I went shopping, bought makeup, got a massage, and drank a few (carefully rationed!) beers. Upon my return to Mosul, Bruce Willis and his band (who knew?) came to our FOB on a USO tour. On a whim, I wore the mascara from my RR – it had been nice to feel feminine for a few days.

Guys asked me about it for weeks. All the male soldiers in my unit noticed I’d worn makeup. They commented on it. It changed how they looked at me and thought about me. And they all knew me, had known me for months or years already.

So when it comes to Infantrymen who haven’t served with women before, do I think that this picture might make them think differently about women joining the combat arms than these? Yes. Yes I do.

OK, I purposefully chose extreme examples. It’s not always that cut-and-dry. When my friends and I were discussing this story on social media, we argued about whether or not women in various photos were wearing makeup (yes, really). It isn’t always easy to tell, and for many women, makeup is a fraught issue. I know women who will never be seen without makeup. While I was in Advanced Individual Training at Goodfellow Air Force, one of my suitemates got up an hour before we had to do physical fitness training to put on full makeup. Full makeup – to go run for miles – in the heat of a Texas summer. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. (Recently reading this piece on indirect aggression among young women made me think hard about my negative reaction and wonder if I’d react the same way now that I’m a decade older…)

Part of the kerfuffle about this, to me, comes down to the problems of real versus ideal.

In my ideal world, the way I look is meaningless, whether I wear makeup doesn’t matter – I’ll be judged on how competent I am. But in the real world, I have to be aware of the fact that (in normal settings) wearing makeup “increases people’s perceptions of a woman’s likability, her competence and (provided she does not overdo it) her trustworthiness.” So I’ve worn makeup to every job interview I’ve ever gone on. Once I’ve gotten the jobs, there have days I skipped wearing makeup to the office – I can work toward making my ideal world a reality by demonstrating to my colleagues that my appearance and competence aren’t connected. But the important days, when I wanted to make a good first impression? I lived in the real world.

In my ideal world, the way people dress is unimportant. But in the real world, I wore a suit on my last job interview, too – and so did my husband, because this isn’t just about gender. (Although apparently if either of us had applied to work in the tech world, it may have benefitted us NOT to wear suits.) You meet the social norms of the world you want to inhabit, and then you can work to change it from the inside. But if you thumb your nose too heavily at the mores of the organization you want to join, you risk not getting that opportunity.

Almost all of my women veteran friends who posted about this story on social media seemed (to me) angry that the ideal world hasn’t yet materialized, pissed off that people think about women’s appearances at all, irritated that men in the military might let something as trivial as eyeliner distract from the far more important question of whether or not a woman soldier can accomplish the mission effectively. I get that.

But several of the male troops and vets that I know said they got COL Arnhart’s point and agreed with the core message on at least some level (while agreeing the wording was suboptimal). I imagine part of this is that they aren’t triggered in the same way by words like “pretty” and “ugly,” which can be tremendously emotionally charged for women – and that may give them the space to more clearly acknowledge the real world we still inhabit. (Although one of them less charitably posited, “When we see a picture featuring an attractive female soldier, it undermines the message mostly because we’re all very immature.”)

All signs currently indicate that the Army will be opening ground combat arms jobs to women (I’m not as sure about the Marines). This is a tremendous step forward for both women and the Army. COL Arnhart, who has since stepped down, was – in my take of the situation – urging a couple of colleagues to be mindful of the real world we still inhabit while setting the stage for those women, in order to slightly diminish the obstacles that will be awaiting them. Those women, by demonstrating their competence, strength, and abilities, will help accomplish the mission, regardless of how they look – and that will help drag the ideal world once step closer to reality.

Kayla Williams is an Army war vet and author of “Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the US Army.” This article originally appeared on her website.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Back to standard two-day weekends. Oh well. At least Independence Day weekend was fun while it lasted.


1. Really, really fun (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Hopefully, this guy wasn’t in your unit.

2. If you want logistics join the Army (via Terminal Lance)

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
If you want robots, join DARPA.

SEE ALSO: 5 insane military projects that almost happened

3. Your medicine will be ready when it’s ready … (via Sh*t My LPO Says)

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
… which will be sometime next Thursday.

4. Congratulations on your contract (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
It’s a bummer when your family celebrates that they’ll only see you half the time for the next few years.

5. Budget cuts are taking a toll (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
But at least everyone’s spirits are up.

6. Profiles, chits, doctors’ notes, it’s all shamming.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Not sure which service lets you spend your light duty drinking beer in a recliner though. Pretty good reenlistment incentive.

7. You know that even Unsolved Mysteries couldn’t answer that question, right? (via Team Non-Rec)

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Warrant Officer’s are like reflective belts. The brass insist they work and everyone else just goes along with it.

8. I want to see these three guys shark attack some young private (via Sh*t My LPO Says).

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
It’s always great when lieutenants explain the military to senior enlisted.

9. It gets real out there (via Team Non-Rec)

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
I mean, they don’t even have napkins for their pizza.

10. Patriotic duty

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Say your pledges, protect America, see peace in our time.

11. They specialize in anti-oxidation operations and haze grey proliferation.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
That’s a fancy way of saying they scrape rust and spread paint.

12. Never forget (via Air Force Memes and Humor)

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Clearly, this man behind the stick of an F/A-18 is a good idea.

13. You want their attention? Better have some Oakleys and cigarettes that “fell off a truck.”

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
This is also what the E4 promotion board looks like.

NOW: The 6 most shocking military impostors ever

WATCH: Vet On The Street

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Here’s what Hardship Duty Pay is and how you qualify for it

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
U.S. Marines with Task Force Koa Moana unload gear after arriving in Ancon, Peru, Sept. 2, 2016. Peru is on the list of locations that qualify for HDP-L.


Hardship duty pay is a compensation in addition to base pay and other entitlements for service members stationed in or deployed to locations where the living conditions are significantly below those in the continental United States, the mission lasts longer than a typical deployment or requires specific types of work (i.e. recovering bodies of fallen military members in other countries).

Under specific circumstances, some or all of your hardship duty pay may be tax free. For more information on what is taxable and what isn’t, consult your financial advisor.

There are three different types of hardship duty pay: location, mission, and tempo.

1. Hardship duty pay – location, or “HDP-L,” is paid to service members who are outside of the continental United States in countries where the quality of life falls well below the standard of living that most service members who are in the U.S. would normally expect. Service members who also receive Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger pay of $225 per month only rate $100 a month for HDP-L. Find out if your OCONUS station is on the list.

Who: All service members who are executing a permanent change of station (PCS), temporary duty (TDA/TAD/TDY), or deployment to a designated area.

How much: The rate is paid out in increments of $50, $100, and $150 per month, depending on the level of QoL at that location as determined by the Department of Defense.

Hardship duty pay – mission, or HDP-M, is designed for hardship missions.

Who: All service members, officer and enlisted alike.

How much: $150 per month, max.

Hardship duty pay – tempo, or HDP-T, is for service members operating at a higher tempo for longer times, like during extended deployments or when service members are deployed longer than a set number of consecutive days. The Navy sets that number at 220, for example.

Who: All service members, officer and enlisted alike.

How much: $495 per month, max.

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The complete hater’s guide to the Warthog

So, we are back with another complete hater’s guide to one of the Air Force’s aircraft. Last time, we discussed the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


This time, we will go to the plane that everyone in the Air Force loves…and yet, it keeps ending up on the chopping block. That’s right, it’s time for us to discuss the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron out of Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 10, 2016, during the first combat training mission of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 17-1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)

Why it is easy to make fun of the A-10

Let’s see, it’s slow. It doesn’t fly high, if anything, the plane is best flying very low.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
As any of its pilots will tell you, it’s ugly — but well hung. (U.S. Air Force photo)

It’s not going to win any airplane beauty pageants any time soon due to being quite aesthetically-challenged. Also, when it was first designed, it was a daylight-only plane with none of the sensors to drop precision-guided weapons.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook

Why you should hate the A-10

Because it has this cult following that seems to think it can do just about anything and take out any one. Because its pilots think the GAU-8 cannon in the nose is all that — never mind that a number of other planes took bigger guns into the fight — including 75mm guns.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery

Because that low, slow, flight profile means it is a big target. Because you’d rather claim that a relative died in a motorcycle accident than admit they fly that ugly plane.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner had a major role in the air power strategy of the Gulf War of 1990-1991. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Because that plane always seems to stick around when the Air Force wants to retire it. Because it is useless in a dogfight.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Representative Martha McSally, pictured in her office during her Air Force career, preparing to distribute BRRRRRT. Helps explain why the A-10 will be around indefinitely. (Photo credit unknown)

Why you should love the A-10

Because this plane can bring its pilot home when the bad guys hit it — just ask “Killer Chick.” Because it also has a proven combat record in Desert Storm, the Balkans, and the War on Terror.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Kim Campbell looks at her damaged hog, which she landed at her base after a mission over Baghdad in 2003. (Photo via National Air and Space Museum)

Because it not only has a powerful tank-killing gun, it can carry lots of bombs and missiles to put the hurt on the bad guys.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
An A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft takes part in a mission during Operation Desert Storm. The aircraft is armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, and Mark 82 500-pound bombs. (Air Force Photo)

Because while it is designed for close-air support, it also proved to be very good at covering the combat search-and-rescue choppers.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
An A-10 Thunderbolt II, from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., for refueling Sept. 12, 2013, over southern Arizona. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin)

Because, when it comes right down to it, the A-10, for all its faults, has saved a lot of grunts over the years.

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The USS Pueblo is now the main attraction at North Korea’s Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum

For the uninitiated, the USS Pueblo was a Navy Signals Intelligence ship which was attacked and boarded by North Koreans in international waters in 1968. The crew didn’t just give up; they deftly maneuvered away from the attackers. It took two North Korean


It took two North Korean subchasers, four torpedo boats, and two MiG fighters to stop Pueblo, even allowing for the fact that the crew didn’t man the ship’s guns due to restrictive Navy regulations. The crew destroyed all the classified material they could, but they were simply outgunned and outnumbered. One sailor was killed and eighty-three others were held by North Korea for 335 days before being returned to the U.S.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
And they took the time to let the North Koreans know how they felt about their stay.

The Pueblo is still commissioned in the U.S. Navy and is the only ship to be held by an enemy country. For decades, the ship was moored on the Taedong River in the capital of Pyongyang. After a restoration begun in 2013, the ship is now a part of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in keeping with the North Korean label for the war.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Seriously though, the U.S. really flattened North Korea.

Related: I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 47 years

The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum was founded right after the 1953 armistice was signed. (Note: The U.S. is still technically at war with North Korea as the armistice ended the conflict but not the Korean War.)  As Communists often do, the North Koreans wanted to put their spin on the war immediately, and thus the museum was born.

Ten years later, it was moved to a building built just to house the museum’s collection, a massive trove of North Korean tanks, weapons, and aircraft, along with captured American equipment, jeeps, and downed planes, all supporting the North’s consensus that they actually won.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
This is how they believe the Korean War looked.

Of course, with the Pueblo comes the newest exhibit in the Museum, the Pueblo section.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery

If you’re wondering how the war became a “liberation war to the North, young North Koreans are taught that a joint South Korean-U.S. army started the war, and not that it was started by a North Korean sneak attack.

The North is not likely to return the ship, considering how immensely proud they are of having captured it.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
The Pueblo on the Taedong River in 2012

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8 photos that show how a military working dog takes down bad guys

A dog’s purpose is often for companionship – and they can be loyal friends. But a number of dogs also serve.


Military working dogs have a variety of missions, including bomb detection, security and attack. In a recent photo essay, the Air Force demonstrates how MWDs are trained to take down bad guys. The canine doing this demonstration is Ttoby, a Belgian Malinois.

According to DogTime.com, the Belgian Malinois can reach up to 80 pounds, and can live for up to 14 years. The American Kennel Club website notes that the breed was first recognized in 1959, and that Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, carried out the raid alongside SEAL Team 6 that targeted Osama bin Laden. PetMD.com reports that the dog is very popular among K9 units in law enforcement agencies.

1. It looks like a normal day when Ttoby’s handler tells someone to stop.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Military Working Dog Ttoby, 23d Security Forces Squadron, prepares for an MWD demonstration, Feb. 2, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

2. The guy refuses to comply, so the handler warns the suspected bad guy Ttoby will be turned loose.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Hayes and Ttoby, a military working dog, take a break during a demonstration at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Feb. 2, 2017. Hayes is a military dog handler assigned to the 23d Security Forces Squadron. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives, trained as a military dog at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

3. The bad guy is warned that the dog will be let loose if he doesn’t comply.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Senior Airman Anthony Hayes, 23d Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, pets MWD Ttoby during a demonstration, Feb. 2, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ttoby returned from his first deployment to Southwest Asia near the end of January. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

4. The bad guy gets his last warning – Ttoby’s ready to chase.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Senior Airman Anthony Hayes, 23d Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, prepares to release MWD Ttoby during a training demonstration, Feb. 2, 2017 at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The first Air Force sentry dog school was activated at Showa Air Station, Japan, in 1952 and the second school was opened at Wiesbaden, West Germany in 1953. All MWDs are now trained at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and then distributed throughout the Department of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

5. Ttoby lunges onto the bad guy.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Ttoby, a military working dog, performs a bite attack during a demonstration at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Feb. 2, 2017. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

6. Struggling doesn’t help, as Ttoby has a firm grip.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Hayes, right, holds Ttoby, a military working dog, as he bites Senior Airman Randle Williams during a demonstration at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Feb. 2, 2017. Hayes and Williams are military dog handlers assigned to the 23d Security Forces Squadron. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives, trained as a military dog at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

7. Finally, the bad guy gives up.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Hayes, left, handles Ttoby, a military working dog, as he bites Senior Airman Randle Williams during a demonstration at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Feb. 2, 2017. Hayes and Williams are military dog handlers assigned to the 23d Security Forces Squadron. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives, trained as a military dog at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

8. Ttoby has been told to stand down, but he is ready if that bad guy does something stupid – like try to run or assault the handler.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Hayes, left, commands Ttoby, a military working dog, to stand down during a demonstration at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Feb. 2, 2017. Hayes is a military dog handler assigned to the 23d Security Forces Squadron. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives, trained as a military dog at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

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First female Marines apply to MARSOC

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Maricela Veliz | U.S. Marine Corps


Just weeks after previously closed military ground combat and special operations jobs were declared open to women, the Marine Corps’ special operations command has had its first female applicants.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of MARSOC, told Military.com the command has already received several requests from female Marines to enter the assessment and selection pipeline to become a critical skills operator. While Osterman could not specify how many women had applied, he said the first female applicant surfaced only days after the Jan. 4 deadline Defense Secretary Ash Carter set for new jobs to open.

“The very first week of January … we had one female applicant on the West Coast,” Osterman said. “Unfortunately, there was something in the prerequisite stuff she didn’t have, a [general technical] score or something. It was, ‘get re-tested and come on back,’ that kind of thing.”

Osterman said MARSOC is actively soliciting and recruiting qualified female Marines to join the command’s ranks. The command does not have, as Osterman put it, a “street to fleet” recruiting program; rather, it recruits from within the ranks of the Marine Corps.

To qualify for MARSOC critical skills operator assessment and selection, a Marine must be a seasoned corporal or a sergeant, or a first lieutenant or captain. The Marine must also have a minimum GT score of 105 and a minimum physical fitness test score of 225 out of 300, and be able to pass a command swim assessment and meet medical screening criteria.

“We’ve actively identified all the females in the Marine Corps writ large who meet all the prerequisites just like with our normal screening teams,” Osterman said. “We’ve notified or contacted every one of them and let them know, ‘it’s open, you’re eligible.'”

MARSOC submitted its broad implementation plan to the Secretary of Defense at the beginning of January after receiving input from the Marine Corps and U.S. Special Operations Command, Osterman said. In terms of training and job skills, he said, the command does have an advantage over the Marine Corps in that there were already clear gender-neutral physical standards in place for critical skills operators, while the Corps has only recently created such standards for infantry jobs.

MARSOC’s training pipeline is notoriously grueling. After a three-week initial assessment and selection period that tests physical fitness and a range of other aptitudes, Marines enter a second, 19-day assessment and selection training phase. Applicants who make it through both AS phases can then begin a nine-month individual training course that covers survival, evasion, resistance and escape [SERE], special reconnaissance, close urban combat, irregular warfare and many other skill sets.

Osterman said Wednesday that 40 percent of Marines who enter the MARSOC pipeline go on to become critical skills operators.

“When [Marines] go into assessment and screening, it’s a very holistic psychological profile. It’s swim, it’s physical fitness, but we don’t even count the PFT as part of the evaluation. It’s much more comprehensive than that,” Osterman said. “It’s a pretty sophisticated standardization system which is nice in that, again, we already had this and it’s gender-neutral already.”

MARSOC is also making plans to prepare its leadership for the advent of female trainees and operators, Osterman said.

A December study by the Rand Corporation found that 85 percent of 7,600 surveyed operators within all of SOCOM opposed the idea of serving alongside female counterparts. Many cited fears that female operators would harm combat effectiveness and provide a distraction down range.

Acknowledging the study, Osterman said he planned to hold a town hall meeting for MARSOC leadership to discuss the implementation of Carter’s gender integration mandate and to discuss thoughts and concerns.

“The tone and tenor from my perspective is, the concern was mostly about standards,” Osterman said of the Rand report. “Our standards are as they’ve always been and we’re not changing them.”

On a personal note, Osterman said he could see benefits to having female operators downrange.

“There are things that women can do, as I’ve seen many times in Afghanistan and Iraq, where there’s a lot of value added in the combined arms kind of approach,” he said.

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This Green Beret survived an ambush after being shot three times

A distant, flashing image of blue sky, rolling mountains and snowy rivers visited itself upon an injured soldier flying away from a violent firefight on the ground below – just barely beyond view from the naked eye.


This vivid, yet paradoxical scene is what former Green Beret Dillon Behr recalls seeing when looking down in a weary, half-conscious state from a Black Hawk helicopter while being evacuated from a near-death combat encounter in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Also read: This Marine sniper threw the enemy’s grenade back to save his brothers

“I was able to look back in the valley below and see a lot of my teammates still there fighting. It was a beautiful scene from a distance, yet what had just happened down below was basically hell on earth,” Behr explained.

This violence, heroism and near death for Behr is now known as the famous battle of Shok Valley in Afghanistan, 2008; the mission on that April day was called “Operation Commando Wrath.”

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Dillon Behr

Behr was part of a 12-man US Special Forces A-team tasked with taking out a high-value enemy target up in the mountains; his unit was joined by another supporting 12-man Green Beret A-team and about 100 Afghan Commandos. Behr was part of the 3rd Special Forces Group, ODA 3336.

While Green Berets are, among other things, experienced with helicopter rope drops and various kinds of airborne attack raids typically employed in assaults of this kind, Behr’s unit was forced to climb the side of a mountain and attack on foot, due to the rugged terrain and relative inexperience of supporting Afghan Commando partners.

Behr recalled the combat scene on the mountain, at an elevation of about 1,000 feet, as dreary with gray rocks, some small trees and not much vegetation. The uneven terrain was accompanied by some snow on the ground and a partially iced-over river. Concrete-like looking mud huts and small villages were scattered in rows and villages along ridges of the mountainside.

Having completed Special Forces training, selection, and preparation, Behr had spent years preparing for the life-and-death combat scenario he knew he was about to encounter.

He was a trained fighter, trainer and teacher working as part of a close-knit group focused on a specific attack mission. Behr was an intelligence and communications specialist, yet like all Green Berets, he was first and foremost a fighter, equipped and ready to respond to fast-evolving combat situations.

Insurgent Attack

“As we started climbing, we encountered insurgents… around 200 enemy combatants. They had the high ground and had us surrounded,” he recalled.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Dillon Behr

During a subsequent, fast-ensuing firefight, Behr and his fellow Green Berets used what rocks, small trees and ditches they could find to both avert enemy gunfire and launch counterattacks.

“We had intelligence that a high value target was going to be there, someone traditionally hard to track down. We did not know there would be so many fighters and enemy forces there. We happened upon a much larger meeting of enemy combatants than we had expected,” he said.

At one point during the unfolding 7-hour firefight, Behr was abruptly thrown to the ground by a larger caliber bullet cutting through the side of his pelvis. The bullet blew out the ball and socket of his hip.

“It was like being struck by a car or baseball bat and being electrocuted at the same time,” he said.

This near-fatal strike, unfortunately, was only the beginning of Behr’s effort to stay alive. While fellow A-Team Green Beret intelligence specialist Luis Morales was tending to his injury, a second bullet ripped through Behr’s bicep and continued on to hit Morales in the thigh.

Behr described the painful sensation of feeling a bullet cut through the muscle in his bicep as minor compared to the initial hit to his pelvis… a scenario which can make it seemingly impossible to imaging the magnitude of pain he experienced upon first being shot.

As he fought to stay conscious and his teammates scrambled to stop the bleeding, Behr himself was focused on the survival and safety of his fellow Green Berets under attack.

“I have vivid memories of laying there almost helpless and being concerned about a building across the valley that had direct access to our team. If someone was to shoot from there, we were pretty exposed. I remember directing some people on the team and having them take that out with a large bomb,” he said.

US air support then arrived to destroy attacking insurgents; shrapnel from a bomb mistakenly struck Behr, perforating his intestines.

When confronting what he thought was certain death, Behr thought of his fellow Soldiers and family back home in Illinois.

“There was a point where I thought I was going to leave this world. At one point I thought I was not going to make it, so I said a prayer to myself and felt a calm come over me. Then, all of a sudden, Ron Shurer, the medic on our team, slapped me across the face and said ‘wake up you are not going to die today,'” he said.

The intensity of the firefight, volume of enemy bullets and massive scale of the attacks are still difficult for Behr to recall and describe, the sharpness of certain powerful and violent memories have found a permanent resting place in his mind.  Then, at the very moment Behr thought he might have an opportunity to live, the attacks worsened.

Just after telling Behr he would not die, Shurer himself took a bullet in the helmet right above his face. Fortunately, the bullet bounced off his helmet.

“It could have been much worse,” Behr said.

Four Americans were critically injured and MEDEVAC’ed to Landstuhl Army Medical Center and then Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Two Afghan Commandos were killed, including an interpreter.

In total, 11 Silver Stars and one Air Force Cross were awarded for the events of that day.

“The heroic part is what my team did and how they kept it together under heavy enemy gunfire. They risked their lives to get me and the other injured guys on the team off of that mountain. They were dragging and dropping me over the ledges and trying to catch me off of the ledges,” Behr explained.

Life After Near-Death in Combat

Despite this accumulation of combat trauma and near death experience, Behr has made an astounding recovery. Following medical treatment, Behr went on to earn a Masters degree in Security Studies at Georgetown University before starting a non-profit gym for injured Soldiers at Walter Reed.

When asked how he was able to go on after his combat experience, Behr said “I don’t know what else to do. We’re given abilities and skills and it is a shame to waste them.  Even after we leave the military, we have a responsibility to become leaders in our communities.”

These days, after working for a period as a cyber security threat intelligence analyst at Discover, Behr now works as a professional liability and cyber liability broker for Risk Placement Services, a Washington D.C.-area firm.

In a manner quite similar to his fellow Green Berets, known as “Quiet Professionals” often reluctant to discuss the perils of combat, Behr does not wish to highlight his war zone activities. He does, however, say the experience has changed him forever.

Behr is now married to a former Red Cross volunteer who helped him recover from his injuries.

“I value relationships more than I ever did previously,” Behr said.

Behr is also involved with the Green Beret Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping Green Berets and their families. You can visit the Green Beret Foundation website here.

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This is why US Navy sailors wear rating badges

Every branch of the military has a specific ranking system that takes time and effort to move up through. Although each branch has different names for their ranks, the Navy’s system is different in comparison to the Air Force, Army, and the Marine Corps.


You can look at any service member and clearly notice their rank either on their sleeves or collar devices. You can also imagine what experiences they’ve had based on that rank and the ribbons on their rack — but you wouldn’t have a clue on their specific job title.

If spot a modern era sailor walking around sporting his or her dress blues, look below that perched crow (E-4 to E-9) on their left sleeve, and you’ll be able to tell how they contribute to their country.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
The rating badge for a Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman. (Source: Vanguardmil)

The image above showcases a rating badge consisting of three-inverted chevrons, one-inverted rocker, a perched crow, a five-point star (which makes the sailor an E-8), and the well-respected caduceus medical symbol (the specialty mark).

Only Hospital Corpsmen are allowed to wear the caduceus, as it applies to their distinguished military occupation.

In 1886, the Navy authorized sailors to wear these rating badges and created 15-specialty marks to recognize various fields of expertise.

Up until the late 1940s, it was up to the sailor on which sleeve they wore the rating badge on if they had issues deciphering which side was port (left) or starboard (right) as a reminder.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
These sailors stand proud sporting their inspection ready dress blues.

After the time period, the Navy established the rating badge be worn on the left for uniformity purposes. That same tradition is followed today.

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This is America’s new $13 billion warship

The US Navy is less than a year away from adding the most expensive warship in history to its fleet, the $13 billion USS Gerald Ford.


The USS Ford, the lead ship of the new Ford-class aircraft carrier series, is expected to join the US Navy by February 2016, according to CNN. Once deployed, the ship will be the largest carrier ever to ply the seas and will feature a number of changes and advancements over the United States’ current Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

Here’s a look at this multi billion-dollar beast:

The USS Gerald Ford is expected to cost upwards of $13 billion by the time it is deployed.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: Youtube.com

The USS Gerald R. Ford.

The Ford, and the accompanying Ford-class carrier fleet, are intended to relieve stress and over-deployment within the US Navy. Currently, the Navy operates 10 carriers but wants an additional vessel to take pressure off of the rest of the fleet.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: US Navy Chris Oxley

The ship will feature a host of changes over the current Nimitz-class carrier. Ford-class carriers will be capable of generating three times more electrical power than the older carrier classes, for example.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: US Navy 3D model

A 3D model of the USS John F. Kennedy, the second ship the Ford-class carrier series.

This increased electrical power supply allows the Ford to use the newly designed Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), which will allow the vessel to launch 25% more aircraft a day than the previous steam-powered launch systems.

A successful test of the EMALS launch system.

The amount of electricity onboard also makes the Ford-class carriers ideal candidates to field laser and directed-energy weapons in the future, like rail guns and missile interceptors.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: US Navy

A demonstration of a rail gun.

Once launched, the Ford will be the largest warship in the world. It will be 1,092 feet long and displace upwards of 100,000 tons.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: US Navy John Whalen

Shipbuilding floods Dry Dock 12 to float the first in class aircraft carrier, Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford

This size will allow the carrier to house about 4,400 staff and personnel while also carrying more than 75 aircraft.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aidan P. Campbell

The aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) gets underway beginning the ship’s launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard pier 3 for the final stages of construction and testing.

The Ford is expected to carry F-35s and, once available, carrier-based drone aircraft.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kelly M. Agee

A U.S. Navy Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II conducts it’s first arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) in the Pacific Ocean November 3, 2014. The F-35C was conducting initial at-sea developmental testing.

But for all the advances within the Ford-class carrier group, some have questioned the wisdom of continuing an astronomically expensive carrier-heavy naval strategy in a time when inter-state warfare is rare and nations like China continue to develop potentially carrier-killing long-range anti-ship cruise missiles.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier

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

NOW WATCH: See what life is like on a US Navy Carrier|Military Insider

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The Brit sniper and his record-breaking 1.5 mile kill shot

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery


Throughout the history of modern warfare, the record for longest confirmed sniper kill is one that has steadily gotten more and more extreme as technology has progressed. At the time of writing this, the holder of that record is British sniper Craig Harrison, who notably broke the previous record twice on the same day by hitting two enemy targets on two consecutive shots an astounding 2,474 metres away.

For our friends across the pond, that’s 8,116.8 feet or 1.54 miles or about 22.5 NFL football fields (including end zones) away. The shot was from such an extreme range that it took the bullet about three seconds to reach the target.

Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison made his record breaking shot in November of 2009 while stationed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Harrison personally didn’t find out about its record breaking nature until after he returned home in 2010. The distance from which he took the shot, which was measured and confirmed via GPS, amazed his superiors in the Ministry of Defence so much that they published the details of his shot almost as soon as he got back to the UK, and even granted him permission to give interviews about it to the world’s media.

If you’re wondering about the circumstances surrounding the shot, Harrison was providing cover fire for his commanding officer and members of the Afghan National Army, who’d been ambushed by two insurgents. According to Harrison, the insurgents were armed with a PKM machine-gun and had pinned down the soldiers, giving him only a short time to assess the situation and subsequently line up a shot to ruin the attackers’ day.

With a help from a spotter, Cliff O’Farrell, and 9 test shots to nail down the exact distance, Harrison lined up his shot and squeezed the trigger for a 10th time, firing a .338 Lapua Magnum round and striking the machine-gunner in the gut, killing him. The remaining insurgent, who wouldn’t have even heard the shot coming, reached out to take command of the now free machine-gun only to be hit by a second round launched by Harrison. With both insurgents down, Harrison pulled the trigger one more time to disable the machine-gun itself.

Thus, Harrison not only broke the previous record (7,972 feet set in 2002 in Afghanistan) held by Canadian Rob Furlong using a McMillan-Tac 50, but he made the shot essentially three times in a row without missing- hitting the two insurgents and their machine-gun. This means he technically broke the record twice within a few seconds of one another.

As if all that wasn’t impressive enough, the actual shots were noted as being about 3,000 feet beyond the L115A3 rifle’s effective range. Needless to say, as Harrison said, “Conditions were perfect, no wind, mild weather, clear visibility.”

Interestingly, despite the interviews he gave over the matter, we shouldn’t really know Harrison’s real name. Official Ministry of Defence rules state that the identities of snipers, regardless of interviews of this nature, should never be disclosed publicly, as they would quickly become prime targets. Harrison was well aware of this rule and reportedly only agreed to speak with the media about his record shot on the understanding that his identity wouldn’t be disclosed or that they’d give him a pseudonym.

However, for reasons that aren’t clear, the MoD never passed this restriction onto any of the media outlets Harrison spoke with and they all released stories crediting Harrison under his real name, with some sources even noting where he lived.

The police quickly warned Harrison and his family that they were in danger after the story was printed. To protect his wife, daughter, and himself, Harrison was left with no choice but to uproot his family, which in turn resulted in his wife losing her job and his daughter being pulled from school mid-year. We’re also guessing that for the following few months, Harrison ensured that his wife and daughter were always within 8000 feet of his location, just in case.

Understandably, Harrison got pretty upset about his identity being printed in the news when he was explicitly told it wouldn’t be. Thus, he asked the MoD for compensation for drawing a bullseye on his family’s backs and to cover moving expenses. He was later awarded £100,000 (about $156,000) for his trouble.

Bonus Facts:

  • Just a few weeks after making the longest kill shot in sniper history, Harrison was shot in the head while under enemy fire, but luckily his helmet took the brunt of the blow and the bullet did not penetrate his skull.  Shortly thereafter, he had both his arms broken when the vehicle he was travelling in drove over a roadside bomb. He not only managed to make a full recovery after this devastating injury, but insisted on being sent back to the front line as soon as he was fit, stating that the explosion hadn’t affected his “ability as a sniper”.
  • The spotter Harrison used to make the shot was a military  driver with no formal training in the spotting, making the shot that much more impressive.

References:

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13 lessons you learn while traveling in the US military

Military travel: it’s like civilian travel with more red tape. Here are 13 things every constant military traveler knows.


1. The Defense Travel System is arguably the most frustrating thing ever made.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery

2. The overly moto guys will wear civilian clothes but completely fail to hide that they’re in the military.

3. Your military ID and TSA Precheck can make security a breeze.

4. Getting your gear through security can be more challenging, so you learn to make friends with security.

5. Government rate hotels are not always the nicest.

6. Someone will get lost but swear he isn’t. This is especially annoying when he outranks you.

7. Someone in your group can’t handle foreign food.

8. Take a minute to get to know the staff duty driver every night, just in case.

9. You will run into someone from an old unit. You probably will not be excited about it.

10. The DoD is paying for the rental car and mileage, so find somewhere to go every day off.

11. No matter how many phone numbers, email addresses, and instant messaging usernames you exchange, someone will be impossible to keep track of for accountability. It’s probably a senior officer.

12. Every base exchange is filled with tackier, more expensive versions of local stuff you can buy off post.

13. Despite all the frustrations, you will want to leave again 15 minutes after you return to your home base.

Here’s how Russia would win if the war against the US came down to artillery

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