Here's the difference between special ops and special forces - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
USAF special ops training. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)


Possibly one of the most pervasive yet irritating missteps that the media and public in general makes about the military is the use of the terms ‘Special Operations Forces’ (SOF) and Special Forces (SF) interchangeably. In a day and age where special operations units have a growing presence in the media due to the increase of their importance in the asymmetric, non-conventional combat environment that our country has found ourselves in, the mistake has become all too common in headlines on news channels as well as newspapers and magazines. Consider this article a primer for anyone in the media that even remotely cares about their journalistic accuracy, as well as the curious citizen.

Special Operations, or sometimes referred more accurately to as Special Operations Forces, include any unit that falls under the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Naval Special Warfare, Air Force Special Operations Command, Army Special Operations Command, and Marine Special Operations Command are all included under this umbrella. I won’t go further down the ladder and list every unit under those commands, but they cover everything from the 528th Sustainment Brigade and Civil Affairs to the SEAL Teams and Ranger Regiment.

The shadowy Joint Special Operations Command also falls under SOCOM as a sub-unified command but often reports directly to higher authorities due to their unique and often sensitive missions. Who is not covered by the term Special Operations? Anyone who does not fall under the SOCOM umbrella. For example, although Force Recon companies in the Marine Corps are highly trained and undergo a selection process similar to many SOF units, they are not considered Special Operations as they belong to the Marine Corps, not SOCOM.

Now, what about the term “Special Forces”? Special Forces is not a generic term in the U.S. military and refers to a very specific unit. The 1st Special Forces Regiment falls under the command of the Army Special Operations Command (mentioned above) and includes the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 19th, and 20th Special Forces Groups.

They are most often referred to by their distinctive headgear, the Green Beret, or simply as “SF.” The Army’s Special Forces are capable of a wide variety of missions but were designed to be the premiere experts on unconventional warfare and foreign internal defense.

As an example of a classic unconventional warfare mission that happened in recent history, after the terror attacks of 9/11 small elements of the 5th Special Forces Group embedded with indigenous fighters from Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance and lead them into battle. Within a matter of weeks, they had effectively neutralized the Taliban threat – accomplished not with brigades and divisions of soldiers, but with only a couple dozen Special Forces soldiers. This is the capability that the 1st Special Forces Regiment brings to the table, and makes them very unique in the larger SOCOM picture.

To summarize, Special Operations Forces is a generic term that you can use to refer to any and all special operations units. Special Forces is the title of a very specific unit and is not a generic term for other units. If you don’t know what unit did something, refer to them as SOF or Special Operations. If you know for a fact that it was a unit from one of the seven Special Forces Groups, then refer to them as Special Forces.

Simple enough … right?

This article originally appeared at The Havok Journal.

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Here’s what it would look like if a modern Army fought the Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest in American history with over 7,000 soldiers killed in three days of fighting.


(A single civilian, Mary Virginia Wade, was also killed.)

But if the modern military fought the battle, the costs could easily be much higher as today’s artillery, mortars, jets, and helicopters make every exchange more costly. And the increased range and firing rate of the M16 instead of Civil War rifles would make the missteps of generals even more catastrophic.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
A squad designated marksman scans his sector while providing security. (Photo: U.S. Army)

When the two sides first clashed at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, it was largely an accident. Union Brig. Gen. John Buford, the head of cavalry for the North, had sent men to scout the area around the city and they ran into a group of men commanded by Gen. Harry Heth heading into the city to find supplies.

While many Union leaders thought there were only a few rebels in the area, and many rebels thought the Union forces were just a militia group, Buford and a few others suspected the truth. The two major armies in the eastern theater had just stumbled into one another.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Mounted infantry is now known as mechanized infantry. (Photo: U.S. Army)

But Buford was a pioneer of mounted infantry tactics and ordered his subordinates to prepare for a pitched battle the following day. He spent the bulk of that night getting the lay of the land and planning his attack. But, if he had been in command of modern, mechanized infantry, he wouldn’t have needed to.

Instead, he would have sent his dismounts forward to search out the enemy encampments and would have brought his Strykers up with them. Meanwhile, any UAVs he could wrangle up would be flying ahead, searching out the enemy.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
An MQ- Reaper remotely piloted aircraft performs aerial maneuvers over Creech Air Force Base, Nev., June 25, 2015. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cory D. Payne)

But Rebels with modern communication equipment would have reported the chance engagement in the city to their higher headquarters. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, who knew that the Union was pursuing them north, would likely have sent out his own scouts and drones to search for enemy forces.

When each side learned that their enemy was nearby, heavily armed, and deployed near the vital strategic crossroads of Gettysburg, they would have surged all assets to take and hold the key ground.

Buford’s mechanized infantry would likely have taken the same heights that it did in 1863, but this time it would have positioned Strykers with TOW missiles behind cover and sent those armed with machine guns to cover the approaches to the heights. Most infantry squads would dismount and take up defensive positions on the heights.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
A U.S. soldier engages enemies during a training exercise. (Photo: Commonwealth of Australia)

Meanwhile, each side would begin calling up close air support and alerting the Air Force that they needed air battle interdiction immediately. Unfortunately, when the jets arrived, they would be too busy trying to establish air superiority to start hitting ground targets.

As the duel began to play out in the sky, artillery units on the ground would begin lobbing shells at precision targets and using rockets and howitzer barrages to saturate areas of known enemy activity.

This is what makes it unlikely that Mrs. Mary Wade would be the only civilian casualty of a modern Gettysburg.

The Union forces would likely congregate in a similar fishhook that first night as they did in the actual battle on the second day.

But here is where things would go wrong for the Union. When Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles made his ill-fated move into the peach orchard, the Confederates would have been able to pin his men down with machine gun fire and then concentrate their artillery fire, wiping out Sickles and most of his men.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ismael Pena)

Unfortunately, that would mean that U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Maryland, would not receive Sickles’ leg as a permanent display.

Down most of a corps and under fire, the Union would fall back to the heights once again and move forces to defend the flank where Sickles once was.

But Lee might once again make his great mistake of the battle. With a corps ground under his heel and the Union center losing men to guard the flank, he would order Maj. Gen. George Pickett, newly arrived on the battlefield in transports, to push against the seemingly weak Union center.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Like this, but with even more destruction. (Scan: Library of Congress)

But as Pickett leads his men across the 1-mile of open ground to the Union center, his men would be cut down. The Union Strykers and Abrams would fire from behind cover and, while a few of them would be taken out by Confederate Javelins, TOWs, and other weapons, they would still wreak havoc.

Gunners on the ridge would open up with M2 .50-cals and M240Bs, walking the rounds on incoming Confederate infantry as they bounded into range. Union artillery would, once again, saturate the area. Fisters would identify command vehicles and pass their locations to helicopters and artillery crews for concentrated destruction.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Reece Lodder)

Missiles would arc back and forth across the Gettysburg fields in the wee hours of July 1. The whole Battle of Gettysburg, fought over a three-day period in real life, would have played out on an advanced timeline with modern-day weapons of war.

But the outcome would likely be the same: Lee’s undersupplied, outnumbered troops would attempt to force the high ground against defenders who reached most of the important terrain first; a false sense of confidence after the Confederates took advantage of Sickles’ mistake would have led them to gamble much and lose it all.

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Navy officer feels the need for NASCAR speed

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces


Jesse Iwuji wasn’t a race car driver when he entered his first race. The Dallas-area high school football standout and son of first-generation Nigerian immigrants had been recruited by the U.S. Naval Academy to play defensive back. He’d been a big part of three winning seasons with the Midshipmen when he took his stock Chrysler 300 to the Capitol Speedway in Crofton, Maryland to see if he could beat anyone on open drag race night.

That experience fueled his desire to do it again . . . and better. Immediately after he graduated and put on ensign bars in May of 2010 he bought a Dodge Challenger SRT8 and started racing it.

After a year of coaching football at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island, Jesse made his way to San Diego for his first fleet tour aboard a mine sweeper. Among his priorities once he got there was to join a car club and locate the nearest raceway. He managed to balance his shipboard duties with drag races on free weekends at a strip 45 minutes away.

His racing was interrupted by a 10-month deployment to the Persian Gulf, but when he returned to San Diego he was able to convert the money he’d saved on cruise into modifications to his Challenger that made it into a 1,000 horsepower scream machine. He took the car to the Mohave Mile and hit 200.9 miles per hour, which made him only the fifth person in the world to reach that speed with a modern HEMI engine.

“I proved you don’t have to be a fancy person to go fast,” he said.

His performance at the Mohave Mile got him the right kind of exposure. A lot of people started following his racing videos on YouTube. He was featured in a number of car magazines, including Hot Rod. That coverage led to performance company sponsorships.

Jesse transferred from sea duty to a shore tour working on the staff at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and as he did he bought a five-year-old Corvette ZO6 with an eye on switching from drag strips to road courses. He spent weekends driving five and a half hours from Monterey to Irwindale in an attempt to learn the ropes required beyond driving fast in a straight line.

“I started learning car control and the different parts of being a good driver,” he said.

Eventually he landed an invitation to try out for a driver slot with Performance P1 Motorsports. After 4 test sessions he was on the team for the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season – 11 30-lap races, one every two weeks or so, all of them at Irwindale Speedway.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
(Photo: Eric Win)

Race weekends start with Friday night practice runs. Saturday is race day, including qualifying runs to determine pole position in a field of 20-22 cars.

Jesse’s first race was on April 4. He crashed during a practice run but managed to make the race and finished 15th. He started in the 12th position in his second race a few weeks later but got tangled up with another car and spun out.

“The guy behind me had nowhere to go,” he said. “I got T-boned. That ended my night.”

He finished the third race in 17th place.

Jesse has quickly learned that setting the car up right maintenance-wise is crucial.  “When you don’t have a lot of seat time you don’t necessarily know what’ normal in terms of how the car should feel,” he said.  “The more runs I get the more I’ll know.”

Entry fees for races are between $3,500-$7,000, which is a lot of money for a single lieutenant. But his financial burden has been largely reduced by the Phoenix Patriot Foundation.

“We dedicate each race weekend to a wounded veteran and his family,” he said. “The effort has been widely supported by race officials and others. It’s an opportunity for everyone to give back to the people who’ve made a sacrifice on their behalf.”

Jesse plans on getting out of the Navy at the end of his current tour to pursue bigger things as a NASCAR driver. He hopes to move up to the KN Pro Series soon, driving a bigger car in front of bigger crowds. After that he wants to make it to the Xfinity series and finally the big leagues – the Sprint Cup.

Jesse’s confident he’ll make it all the way. “All the things I’ve learned in the Navy have helped,” he said.  “Some of the biggest drivers haven’t even graduated high school yet. They don’t have real life experiences.  I’ve managed myself in stressful environments, including war zones. That has already helped me a lot out here, along with networking and meeting the right people.”

Jesse’s next NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race is July 4.

For more about the Phoenix Patriot Foundation go here.

Now: This combat controller kept taking it to the enemy after he was shot in the chest

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Gen. Stanley McChrystal has a plan for all young Americans to serve their country

It all started with a question.

In the summer of 2012, Gen. Stanley McChrystal was wrapping up an onstage conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival conference.


He was asked if the US should reinstate the draft.

Yes, he replied, but not to grow the size of the armed forces.

He argued that since only 1% of Americans serve their country, America lacks in shared experience — there’s almost no common background between the upper class and the middle class, the educated and the uneducated, the rural and the urban.

The solution, then, wouldn’t be mandatory military service, but national service — programs like Teach for America and City Year, but made accessible to a full quarter of a yearly cohort rather than an elite few.

Since that conversation, McChrystal has campaigned for making a “service year” a part of young Americans’ trajectories. The goal is to “create 1 million civilian national service opportunities every year for Americans between the ages of 18 and 28 to get outside their comfort zones while serving side by side with people from different backgrounds.”

In an interview with Business Insider, McChrystal, who has held positions as head of US Joint Special Operations Command and as the top commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, explained his plan for making that happen, and the effects national service could have on American society.

Business Insider: What does the word “citizenship” mean to you, and how does national service inform it?

Gen. Stanley McChrystal: When I think of citizenship, I think of a nation as a covenant. It’s an agreement between a bunch of people to form a compact that does such things as common defense, common welfare, whatnot. The United States is not a place; it’s an idea, and it’s basically a contract between us.

BI: So if a nation is an agreement, then citizenship is putting that agreement into action?

SM: That’s exactly what it is.

BI: What does citizenship have to do with having a common experience?

SM: We’ve become a nation that’s split 50 ways.

There are fewer ties to the community today than when you lived in a small town, and everybody had to get together to raise a barn. You knew your neighbors because you had to. Grandparents tended to live in the same town as parents, and kids grew up there. Nowadays, we don’t live that way.

BI: But service programs today are unreachable for most people, so how can they serve as a common link? Teach for America, the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps — these programs have acceptance rates comparable to Ivy League schools. How do you make service more accessible?

SM: What has happened is that many of our service practices have become almost elitist programs. They do it because they can, and also it protects their brand and their reputation so they can survive in tough times. But it’s not solving the problem because most of people who go do those kinds of things, I think they come out better citizens, but it’s too small a number — it’s less than 200,000 kids a year.

BI: There are a ton of social structures at work here. How do you make a change?

SM: We’ve got 4 million young people in every year cohort in America, so we think that in the next 10 years we’ve got to get to about a million kids every year to do a year of national service. That would be 25% of the year group.

Now, I can’t prove this, but our sense is that if we get to 25%, you probably get the critical mass, because what we’re trying to do is get this into the culture of America so that service is voluntary but it’s expected. Meaning if you go to interview for a job, you go to apply to a school, you go to run for congress, people are going to naturally ask, Where did you serve?

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces

BI: OK, so how do you make that happen?

SM: Creating a big government agency isn’t the mechanism to do this.

We’re trying to take existing organizations like Teach for America and expand those. Then Cisco, the corporation, has donated money and helped to develop a digital platform that is going to give us a 21st-century ability to match opportunities and people looking for a service year opportunity.

I think we create a marketplace to do this that obviously starts slowly and then builds up momentum. And then once we get to the point where people really believe that service is not only a good thing to do — in an altruistic sense as citizen — but it also advantages them.

BI: There seems to be a lot of anxiety around doing “a gap year.” Are any programs already in place that take away that anxiety?

SM: There’s a program that Tufts University rolled out that’s called 1+4. And I was up there when they announced it. And what you do is, you apply for Tufts — I think there are 50 slots for the class that came in last September — but you do your first year doing national service, kind of like you’re red-shirted for football, and then you do your four years.

You’re already accepted, so the family doesn’t worry, Is Johnny going to go to college? If you’re on financial aid, Tufts pays for it. They pay for the national service. Tufts believe they get a more mature freshman. We’re pushing this in a lot of universities now because it’s a win-win for a university.

They do get a more mature person, and parents don’t worry about the vagaries of the gap year. There could be a lot of different permutations of that kind of thing, but those are the kinds of things that we see as practical steps.

BI: How will you know when the plan has succeeded?

SM: The key part of the ecosystem is the culture that demands national service. At some point, my goal is to get it so that nobody would run for Congress who hadn’t served, because they think they’d get pummeled for not having done a service year.

Also from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2014. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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This is what happened when Japan gave the F-16 steroids

When Japan was looking to replace aging F-1 fighters (dedicated anti-ship aircraft), they were thinking about an indigenous design. The F-1, based on the T-2 trainer, had done well, but it was outdated.


According to aviation historian Joe Baugher, the Japanese eventually decided to go with a modified version of the F-16C/D, giving Lockheed Martin a piece of the action.

However, Japan didn’t go with a typical F-16. They decided to give it some upgrades, and as a result, their replacement for the F-1 would emerge larger than an F-16, particularly when it came to the wings – gaining two more hardpoints than the Viper.

This allowed it to carry up to four anti-ship missiles — enough to ruin a warship’s entire day.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
A Mitsubishi F-2A taxis during a 2009 exercise. Note the dumb bombs. (U.S. Air Force photo)

It was also equipped from the get-go to carry radar-guided missiles like the AIM-7 Sparrow and Japan’s AAM-4. MilitaryFactory.com notes that the F-2 was delayed by issues with the wings, and eventually sticker shock hit the program when the initial versions had a price tag of $100 million each.

In the 1990s, that was enough to truncate production at 98 total airframes, instead of the planned 140.

AirForce-Technology.com reported that F-2s deployed to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for joint exercises in 2007. In 2011, 18 of the planes suffered damage, but most were returned to service. In 2013, the F-2s saw “action” when Russian planes flew near Japanese airspace.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
A comparison of the F-2 (in light blue) and the F-16 (in orange). (Wikimedia Commons)

For its long development and its truncated production, the F-2 has proved to be very capable. It has a top speed of 1,553 miles per hour and it carries over 17,800 pounds of ordnance.

By comparison, an Air Force fact sheet notes that the F-16 has a top speed of 1,500 miles per hour, and MilitaryFactory.com credits it with the ability to carry up to 17,000 pounds of ordnance.

In essence, the F-2 paid a visit to BALCO, and got some good steroids, going a little faster and carrying a bit more than your normal F-16. Japan has also improved the plane’s radar.

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Here’s What Life Is Like For US Army Tankers

With a 68-ton armored vehicle packing a 120mm cannon, U.S. Army tankers can take the fight to the enemy in just about any environment.


Tankers consider themselves part of a brotherhood with roots in World War I. Now driving the M1 Abrams tank, these soldiers continue that legacy today. Here is a taste of what their life is like.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Sgt Sarah Dietz

Also Read: These Crazy Photos Show 30+ Ton Tanks In Flight 

The Abrams can fire different rounds for different purposes, and tank crews have to train in a variety of environments. That means they get a lot of time on the range.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Sgt. Kim Browne

The crews are tested at twelve different levels, referred to as tables. The tables demand crews prove they can drive, fire, and coordinate together in battle in a variety of conditions.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Caldwell

The main gun is what most people think of when it comes to tanks, but crews also have to certify on the machine guns mounted outside, as well as the M9 pistols and M4 carbines they’re equipped with.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo Credit: Gertrud Zach/US Army

Crews generally have four members. There is a tank commander, a gunner, a driver, and a loader.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Spc. Marcus A. Floyd

 The inside of the tank can be a little cramped with equipment and crew.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Spc. Luke Thornberry

The driver sits in a small hole in the front of the tank. His control panel is located immediately in front of him.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Tankers sometimes bring their family to see the “office.”

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Ruth Pagan

Much of the maintenance for the tank is done by the crew.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Spc. Marcus A. Floyd

Considering everything the M1 is designed to withstand, it can be surprising that tanks sometimes break down because of soft sand or loose soil pushing a track out of place.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Sgt. Richard Andrade

When tanks break down and have to be towed out, it takes specialized equipment. The main recovery vehicle for an Abrams tank is the M88. Here, an M88 rolls up the tread from a damaged Abrams before towing the Abrams to a maintenance area.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: Us Army Sgt. Richard Andrade

Transporting tanks can also be problematic due to the tank’s weight. Crews will generally take their tanks to railways …

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Spc. Marcus A. Floyd

… or Naval ports for transport for deployments or exercises. Here, an Abrams tank is driven off of a ship.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Navy

When the mission calls for it, M1 tanks can also be flown on the Air Force’s largest planes.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Air Force Courtesy Photo

Air Force C-17s, like the one in the following photo, can carry one tank while C-5s can carry two.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Richard Wrigley

While on deployment, tankers can end up working for 20-hour days.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army

U.S. tank crews are commonly called on to train foreign allies. Recently, the Iraqi Army got a large number of Abrams tanks and U.S. soldiers provided training.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Sgt. Chad Menegay

Sometimes the mission calls for tankers to operate on foot or from other vehicles. Here, tank crews conduct a patrol in Humvees.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Sgt. Eric Rutherford

The tanker tradition dates back to WWI when the first combat cars and tanks took to the battlefield with tank crews leading the way into mechanized warfare.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: Poster by J.P. Wharton, Public Domain

 Today, US crews continue the tradition, carrying armored combat into the future.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: US Army Sgt. Aaron Braddy

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The 9 weirdest projects DARPA is working on

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) works on some very outlandish projects. One of its stated mission goals is to cause “technological surprise” for America’s enemies. Basically, they want enemy fighters to get to the battlefield, look at what they’re facing off against, and go, “What the hell?”


These are the DARPA projects that make that a reality.

1. Airships that can haul 2 million pounds of gear

Yeah, they’re back. DARPA’s attempt at new airships was scrapped in 2006 due to technology shortcomings, but the project was revived in 2013. The goal is for a craft that can carry up to two million pounds halfway around the world in five days. This would allow units to quickly deploy with all of their gear. Tank units would be left out though, unless they suddenly had a …

2. A super-fast lightweight vehicle that drives itself

The Ground X-Vehicle looks like a spider mated with a four-wheeler. Troops could directly control it or simply select a destination and focus on the intel the vehicle provides. Either way, the vehicle would decide how to deal with incoming attacks, ducking, sidestepping, or absorbing them as necessary.

3. Aerial platforms that allow drones to land and refuel

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: DARPA

Flying platforms for landing and fueling drones would keep the U.S. drone program well ahead of its enemies, especially combined with the project to have drones fight as a pack. Hopefully these will be more successful than the last airborne carriers the military made.

4. Robots that gather intel and eat plants for fuel

The unmanned ground vehicle programs at DARPA want a UGV that could conduct reconnaissance indefinitely without needing to be refueled. The Energy Autonomous Tactical Robot will do that by eating plants and converting them to energy. It would also be able to steal enemy fuel when necessary.

5. Remote-controlled bugs that spy on the bad guys

Basically, remote control bugs that provide power to sensor backpacks. DARPA has already implanted control devices into pupae (insects transitioning into adults) and created electrical generators that use the insects movements for power. Now, they just have to couple those technologies with tiny sensors and find a way to make them communicate with each other and an operator who would collect intelligence from the insects.

6. Cameras that can see from every angle

DARPA isn’t sure yet how this would work, but they’re looking for ways to use the plenoptic function to create a sensor that can see an area from every angle. Though it would work differently, this would give capabilities like Jack Black has in “Enemy of the State.”

7. Nuclear-powered GPS trackers

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: DARPA

Don’t worry, the nuclear material is for determining velocity, not powering anything or exploding. The military has trouble directing vehicles and missiles in areas where GPS signals might be blocked or scrambled, like when submarines are underwater. Chip-Scale Combinatorial Atomic Navigator (C-SCAN) is very technical, but it would allow precise navigation without a GPS signal by precisely measuring atoms from nuclear decay.

8. Brain implants that could hold the key to defeating post-traumatic stress.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Strictly for therapy, DARPA promises. The idea may be a little unsettling, but SUBNETS (Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies)  would allow electrical currents in the brain to be mapped and then altered. This could be a major breakthrough for PTSD and traumatic brain injury sufferers.

9. Pathogens that fight back against enemy biological weapons.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Photo: Wikimedia Commons by Bruce Wetzel

One of the emerging threats to U.S. operations is biological weapons using antibiotic resistant bacteria. DARPA wants to nip it in the bud before an enemy can cause massive infections to American forces or civilians. To do so, they’re investigating pathogens that could be cultured and deployed in victims of attacks. These killers would seek out the bacteria wreaking havoc and murder it on a microscopic level.

AND: This Retired Navy Jet Is Finding New Life In The Fight Against ISIL 

OR: DARPA wants to implant chips in soldiers’ brains 

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Pentagon reveals covert Chinese fleet disguised as fishing boats

The Pentagon’s new report on China’s developing military capabilities exposes the fighting force on the front-line of China’s quest to control the seas.


The Chinese Maritime Militia, a paramilitary force masquerading as a civilian fishing fleet, is a weapon for gray zone aggression that has operated in the shadow of plausible deniability for years. Supported by the People’s Liberation Army Navy “grey hulls” and Chinese Coast Guard “white hulls,” the CMM “blue hulls” constitute China’s third sea force.

The CMM engages in “low-intensity coercion in maritime disputes,” according to the Department of Defense report.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
A Pentagon report reveals that China has a covert fleet of fishing trawlers intended to wreak havoc in the maritime ‘grey areas’ of the South Pacific. (US Navy photo)

“China has used coercive tactics, such as the use of law enforcement vessels and its maritime militia, to enforce maritime claims and advance its interests in ways that are calculated to fall below the threshold of provoking conflict,” the report explains. For instance, after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague discredited China’s claims to the South China Sea last July, Beijing dispatched the CMM to the territories China aims to control.

“China is building a state-owned fishing fleet for its maritime militia force in the South China Sea,” the Pentagon report introduced.

China presents the CMM as a civilian fishing fleet. “Make no mistake, these are state-organized, -developed, and -controlled forces operating under a direct military chain of command,” Dr. Andrew Erickson, a leading expert on Chinese naval affairs, explained during a House Committee on Armed Services hearing in September.

The maritime militia, according to the Pentagon, is a “subset of China’s national militia, an armed reserve force of civilians available for mobilization to perform basic support duties.” In the disputed South China Sea, “the CMM plays a major role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting, part of broader [People’s Republic of China] military doctrine that states that confrontational operations short of war can be an effective means of accomplishing political objectives.”

The Department of Defense recognizes that the CMM trains alongside the military and the coast guard. A 2016 China Daily article reveals that the maritime militia, a “less-noticed force,” is largely “made up of local fishermen.” The article shows the militia training in military garb and practicing with rifles and bayonets.

“The maritime militia is … a component of China’s ocean defense armed forces [that enjoys] low sensitivity and great leeway in maritime rights protection actions,” explained a Chinese garrison commander.

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A helicopter attached to Chinese Navy ship multirole frigate Hengshui (572) participates in a maritime interdiction event with the Chinese Navy guided-missile destroyer Xi’an (153) during Rim of the Pacific. (Chinese navy photo by Sun Hongjie)

The CMM is not really a “secret” weapon, as it has made its presence known, yet throughout the Obama administration, government publications failed to acknowledge the existence of the maritime militia. “We have to make it clear that we are wise to Beijing’s game,” Erickson said in his congressional testimony.

The CMM harassed the USNS Impeccable in 2009, engaging in unsafe maneuvers and forcing the U.S. ship to take emergency action to avoid a collision. The maritime militia was also involved in the 2011 sabotage of two Vietnamese hydrographic vessels, 2012 seizure of Scarborough Shoal, 2014 repulsion of Vietnamese vessels near a Chinese oil rig in disputed waters, and 2015 shadowing of the USS Lassen during a freedom-of-navigation operation. China sent 230 fishing vessels, accompanied by several CCG vessels, into disputed waters in the East China Sea last year to advance China’s claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands administered by Japan.

Commissar of the Hainan Armed Forces Department Xing Jincheng said in January that the members of the Maritime Militia should serve as “mobile sovereignty markers.” He stated that this force is responsible for conducting “militia sovereignty operations” and defending China’s “ancestral seas,” territorial waters “belonging to China since ancient times.”

“I feel that the calm seas are not peaceful for us,” he said. “We have to strengthen our combat readiness.”

While the maritime militia has been mentioned by Navy officials, as well as congressional research and commission reports, the new Department of Defense report is the first high-level government publication to address the third sea force. “The fact is that it is there,” U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift said in November, “Let’s acknowledge that it is there. Let’s acknowledge how it’s being command-and-controlled.”

Dragging the maritime militia into the light significantly limits its ability operate. “It is strongest—and most effective—when it can lurk in the shadows,” Erickson wrote in the National Interest.

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5 ways Russia trolled the US on July 4th

Russia is an expert-level troll.


During the Cold War, Syria remained a staunch ally to the Soviet Union – a source of power and stability for the Assad regime. In 2012, the United States began supporting Syrian rebels, stepping into the conflict and into Russia’s backyard.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces
Remember when Syrian battle maps had only three colors and non of them were ISIS? Good times.

Ever since, the Russians have made it a point to antagonize the Americans at every opportunity. Not being content to cross “red lines” and annex Crimea, Putin expertly trolls the U.S. and its president every Independence Day.

2016: Vladimir Putin addresses the American people

President Putin took the time to write to the U.S. about his wish for better relations.

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“Американцы поверят чему угодно.”

“The history of Russian-American relations shows that when we act as equal partners and respect each other’s lawful interests, we are able to successfully resolve the most complex international issues for the benefit of both countries’ peoples and all of humanity,” Putin wrote to President Obama.

At the time, he was directing an all-out effort to disrupt the American election with a coordinated misinformation campaign.

2015: Russian bombers drop by to say hello

American fighters intercept two Russian bombers 39 miles off the coast of California. Upon interception, the Russians radio the Americans:

“Good morning, American pilots. We are here to greet you on your 4th of July Independence Day.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin was on the phone with President Obama the entire time, calling to wish him a Happy Independence Day.

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces

At the same time, Russian aircraft are intercepted in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone.

2014: Russian bombers intercepted off of Alaska and California

American F-22 Raptors intercept four long-range Tupolev 95 Bear H bombers and their aerial refueler just 200 miles off the coast of North America.

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They actually do that a lot. This photo is from 2007. Just not July 4, 2007.

Two of them veer off back to Russian airspace while the other two skirt U.S. airspace 50 miles from the California coastline.

2013: Infamous Russian spy publicly proposes to Edward Snowden

Fully 10 days into his permanent residency in Russia, American whistleblower Edward Snowden received a public marriage proposal from Anna Chapman (aka Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko), an outed Russian spy– which was quickly spread by Russian state media.

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Everything we learned about Russian spies from movies was right. Apparently.

Chapman was exchanged with nine other Russian agents in 2010, garnering notoriety because of her bright red hair, history of modeling, and Cold War-era spy story.

She publicly tweeted her proposal more than once, even asking the NSA to babysit their potential children.

2012: Nuclear-capable bombers enter Alaska Air Defense Zone

The 200-mile zone between the U.S. and Russia was penetrated by two Tu-95 Bear H Bombers on July 4, 2012, but the planes did not enter American airspace.

Defense officials called it “Putin’s 4th of July Bear greeting to Obama.”

Here’s the difference between special ops and special forces

Any Russian aircraft entering the area are always intercepted by American fighters, but this time it was notable because it happened on Independence Day – the first of many to come.

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How Bob Hope continues to serve the troops


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

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

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

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

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

Guest: Miranda Hope

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

Selected links and show notes:

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

Music license by Jingle Punks

  • Goal Line
  • Staircase Flapper
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The top 10 militaries in the world, ranked

It’s always fun to sit around and war game which country could beat up which, and it’s even better when you have hard facts to back up your decisions.


Below is a summary of the top ten militaries in the world, according to Global Firepower, which tracks military power through publicly-available sources. We’ve scrapped Global Firepower naval comparisons since they track naval strength by number of ships, making a patrol boat equal to a supercarrier. This list of the largest navies by weight is being used instead.

Below the spreadsheet we’ve added a breakdown of each military power.

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Germany and Turkey’s naval tonnage come from Wikipedia.com

Breakdown

1. United States of America

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Photo: US Navy Chief Photographer’s Mate Todd P. Cichonowicz

No real surprise here. The U.S. spends $577 billion per year, nearly four times more than China’s $145 billion defense budget. The U.S. is behind both India and China on all measures of manpower, but it makes up for it with vastly superior airpower and a carrier fleet larger than any other country’s entire navy.

2. Russia

America’s Cold War rival still packs a major punch. Its high ranking is fueled strongly by superior armor numbers. Russia also fields a large navy and is the world’s largest oil producer. Russia is fourth for number of military personnel, but its numbers are padded by short-term conscripts. Though it isn’t calculated by GFP, Russia’s special operations forces and propaganda arms have been proving themselves in Ukraine where Russia is a major destabilizing force.

3. China

China has the second largest military budget, third largest fleet of aircraft, second largest tank force, and the world’s largest number of military personnel. China’s special forces also took 3 of the top 4 spots at 2014‘s Warrior Games in Jordan. Though China technically has a draft, it is rarely used.

4. India

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Antônio Milena

India’s ranking is largely due to its large labor force and large number of service members. It also has a large fleet of aircraft and tanks as wells as a respectable navy. It suffers though due to a large amount of oil consumption vs. a very small amount of oil production. Interestingly, India’s Border Force is the only modern military force that maintains a camel-mounted regiment.

5. United Kingdom

Despite a small tank force, low number of aircraft, and low number of military personnel, the United Kingdom maintains a spot in the top five with the world’s fifth largest navy and fifth highest military budget. The British military is also aided by geography as it’s hard for an invading force to attack an island.

6. France

France doesn’t post up the most impressive numbers of ships, planes, and tanks, but what equipment it has is modern and very capable. Mirage and Rafale jets, Tiger helicopters, LeClerc main battle tanks, and the only nuclear-powered carrier outside the U.S. provide the main muscle behind the French military. France also manufacturers much of its own military supplies, meaning it has the ability to create more equipment in a protracted war.

7. South Korea

Though South Korea has the sixth largest military by population, the sixth largest fleet of aircraft in the world, and the eighth largest navy, it has a relatively small budget and armored corps. Its largest threat is North Korea which, despite having the largest navy by number of ships, is weak because of antiquated equipment and undertrained personnel.

8. Germany

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Photo: US Army Visual Information Specialist Markus Rauchenberger

Germany got a decent rank on Global Firepower and a great one at National Interest due to a strong economy, military spending, and good training. However, news coming out of Germany suggests its position may be weaker than it appears on paper. It consumes much more oil than it produces, and imports come from Russia, its most likely adversary. Germany’s ability to weather an oil shortage is also decreasing as it moves away from coal and nuclear power. Also, it’s facing a major problem with its standard rifle.

9. Japan

Japan would be ranked higher if its people had a greater appetite for war. The sixth largest military spender, it has the fifth largest air fleet and the fourth largest navy. Still, a lackluster ground game drags it down and its constitution limits the military’s ability to project force worldwide.

10. Turkey

An expanded military industry bodes of good things to come for Turkey’s military. It has a large military population and tank force. It is upgrading its navy. The Turkish preparations for war are becoming more urgent as ISIS stands at its doorstep.

NOW: The most-epic military movie ever needs your help to get made

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

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This Marine veteran creates beautiful artwork to overcome PTSD

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Art can be an important outlet for people struggling with post-traumatic stress, and one Marine veteran in Oregon is proving it with his paintings.

“I was never creative and didn’t really have an interest in art,” Shane Kohfield, a Marine infantry machine-gunner who deployed twice to Iraq, told KGW-Portland. “I started doing this for something to do and then I felt the raw emotion.”

Kohfield, now a student at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Ore., returned from war with post-traumatic stress and a traumatic brain injury. But he has maintained an incredibly positive attitude: “My head injury didn’t make me weak; it made me stronger than I could have ever imagined and has given me courage in the face of overwhelming adversity,” he wrote.

Kohfield uses an interesting method to create his abstract paintings: He spray paints across his canvas and then uses a spatula to blend the colors. His technique developed out of necessity, since his trembling hand prevented him from using a normal paint brush, according to KGW-Portland.

Fox 12-Oregon has more:

Before too long, Kohfield’s work got noticed. Pegasus Art Gallery in Corvallis now displays several of his paintings. Kohfield has sold three so far, for anywhere from $500 to $2,500, but he also gives many of his pieces away.

“People may have trouble getting to know me, but they have no problem connecting with my paintings. So in a sense, it’s them connecting with me.”  Kohfield said.

Watch the video:

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The Navy just named a destroyer after this Marine Corps hero

The first African-American to earn aviator wings in the Marine Corps and the first one to receive a brigadier general star in the Corps has been honored as the namesake of the Navy’s upcoming DDG 121, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.


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The Marine Corps’ first African-American aviator and first African-American general officer, Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps courtesy photo)

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. joined the Navy in 1950 and was commissioned as a Marine officer in 1952. He served in Korea and Vietnam before retiring in 1988. Before his retirement, he was the senior-most aviator in the Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy.

During his time in Korea and Vietnam, Petersen flew over 350 combat missions. He flew more than 4,000 hours during his career and was shot down over Vietnam in 1968. His awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“The courage and perseverance of Lt. Gen. Petersen throughout his distinguished and ground-breaking career make him especially deserving of this honor,” Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said. “Those who serve aboard DDG 121 will, for decades, carry on the storied legacy of this Marine Corps hero.”

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An illustration of the USS Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen during a Nov. 9 ceremony unveiling the future destroyer. (Photo: Department of Defense live stream screenshot)

The USS Lt. Gen. Frank E. Petersen, Jr. is expected to reach the fleet in 2020 and will have the mission to fight against threats from the air, surface ships, and underwater vessels. The ship will be built according to Flight IIA configuration which features improved anti-air capabilities through updated AEGIS missile systems.

The newest versions of the Flight IIA configurations allow these ships to defend against multiple incoming missiles at once. The USS John Paul Jones shot down three missile targets at nearly the same moment in a 2014 test.