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The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Department of Defense


This article by  was originally published on Task Purpose, news and culture site for the next great generation of American veterans.

During the height of the Cold War, the U.S. Army deployed a nuclear-tipped rocket launcher that could be carried by a fire team.

Davy Crockett was a renowned frontier hero steeped in myth and legend, much of it probably based on tales invented by himself. Supposedly Crockett was such a crack shot he could split a bullet on an axe blade using a musket.

The Cold War weapon that bore his name was many things, but dead accuracy wasn’t one of them. The M28/29 Davy Crockett Weapon System was a man-portable recoilless rifle that could fire a 76-pound W54 nuclear warhead up to two and half miles, and provided the terrible power of fission in a system that could be carried and operated by three men.

The simmering tensions between NATO and the Soviet Union led to huge numbers of nuclear weapons being built, enough to destroy most of the planet 20 times over. By 1967, the United States had a nuclear stockpile of 31,255 warheads, spread out among many types of weapons systems. It included thousands of so-called tactical nuclear weapons that were meant for general battlefield use, like theW48 155mm nuclear artillery shell or the AIR-2 Genie air-to-air missile.

Developed in the 1950s, the Davy Crockett was envisioned for use at the Fulda Gap, considered a prime invasion route for Soviet army divisions driving into West Germany and widely anticipated as where the first big battles of World War III would be fought.

Faced with overwhelming numbers of Soviet tanks, it was hoped weapons like the Crockett and the W48 shell could devastate large armored formations and keep the Soviet Union bottled up in the Fulda Gap. This even included nuclear landmines such as the Special Atomic Demolition Munition, which could also be used by Special Forces parachuting behind enemy lines to destroy key infrastructure.

By nuclear standards, the W54 warhead used by the Davy Crockett was tiny, with an explosive yield of .01-.02 kilotons, or the equivalent of 10 to 20 tons of TNT. By comparison, the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima had a yield of 15 kilotons, or 15,000 tons of TNT, nearly a thousand times more powerful.

But though a shrimp compared to most nukes, the warhead still carried plenty of bang. The largest conventional bomb fielded by the U.S. military, the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, weighs 22,600 pounds and has a blast yield of 11 tons of TNT. The Crockett could deliver double that with a bomb .3% of the mass.

The blast was powerful enough to collapse buildings and cause third-degree burns hundreds of feet away, but the real lethality of the weapon lay in its radiation effects, which could be fatal over a quarter of a mile away. Residual fallout would contaminate the area and make it dangerous for any exposed personnel to pass through, making it a potent barrier weapon.

But the Davy Crockett had a number of problems that seem obvious in retrospect. The weapon was highly inaccurate, often hundreds of feet off target, and its limited range made it highly probable that users could be exposed to radioactive fallout. Though designed primarily to engage Soviet tank formations, the slow setup and inaccuracy of the weapon made targeting fast-moving tanks problematic.

The fact that mass use of the weapon could contaminate huge areas of land for years to come also made it dubious as a defensive weapon, since it would effectively deny territory to either side. It would also create a huge risk of escalation that could lead to a world-destroying nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union.

With its many deficiencies in mind, and perhaps a glimpse of sanity among military planners, it was phased out of use by 1971 and not replaced.

The United States nuclear stockpile has declined from its horrifying height in 1967 to a little over 70,000 today. A little over 2,000 of those are actually deployed, with the rest being held in reserve or awaiting dismantlement.

We may be past the days where the military fielded nuclear weapons on the scale seen in Western Germany during the Cold War, and the nuclear forces of the U.S. are aging and suffering from a long period of neglect from the Pentagon. But it is worth remembering that nuclear weapons were once so prevalent it was thought necessary to turn them into an infantry weapon.

This article, “The Man-Portable Rocket Launcher That Could Destroy A City Block,” originally appeared on Task Purpose. Follow Task Purpose on Twitter @Taskandpurpose.

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Ukrainian soldiers are trolling Russian separatists by pretending to be SEAL Team 6

Reports emerged in late July that the Pentagon has devised a plan to arm Ukrainian forces fighting Russian-backed separatists with defensive weapons, such as Javelin missiles.


But many Ukrainian soldiers on the ground believe the plan would give them more of a psychological edge than anything, according to The Daily Signal.

“The weapons themselves will not have a decisive impact on the course of combat operations,” Andrei Mikheychenko, a lieutenant in the Ukrainian army, told The Daily Signal. “Deliveries of lethal weapons, in my opinion, will primarily have psychological significance for both the Ukrainian army and the terrorists it fights.”

The war in eastern Ukraine started shortly after Russia annexed Crimea  in 2014 when pro-Russian Ukrainians proclaimed parts of the Donbas as independent states known as the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Pro-Russian rebels shoot in the air at funeral of a fellow fighter killed in a battle for Marinka near Donetsk. Eastern Ukraine, 6 June, 2015. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov

And since then, both sides have been engaged in a full-fledged psychological war.

In an effort to intimidate and vex their enemies, Ukrainian troops have at times pretended to be members of US Navy SEAL Team 6 and give orders over the radio in English, The Daily Signal said.  Other times, they’ve even raised American flags above their lines.

In 2015, Ukrainian troops changed the name of a street in the village of Krymske, which is on the front lines near the LPR, from some old Soviet hero to “John McCain Street,” The Daily Signal said.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
A US Marine assigned to USMC Forces Europe and Africa takes the beach after an amphibious landing in Nikolaev, Ukraine, during exercise Sea Breeze 2017. These are the last guys pro-Russian rebels want to find at their doorstep. USMC photo by Cpl. Sean J. Berry

Russian-backed separatists, on the other hand, have reportedly been known to send Ukrainian forces intimidating text messages.

A few months ago, one journalist with Ukrainian troops received a text message, as did all the soldiers with whom she was embedded, saying “Ukrainian soldiers, they’ll find your bodies when the snow melts,” according to the Associated Press.

“Leave and you will live,” other text messages will say, or “Nobody needs your kids to become orphans.”

Russian-backed separatists have also been known to use more brutal psychological tactics.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
A Ukrainian soldier is forced to eat his own army badge by Russian-backed separatists. Screenshot from YouTube user PavelDonbass

In early 2015, videos emerged of rebel commanders forcing captured Ukrainian troops to kneel on the ground and eat their own army badges.

While many Ukrainian soldiers believe that the US supplying them with defensive weapons would help them in the psychological war, they also believe it will give them a combat edge and help deter attacks, The Daily Signal said.

Russian-backed separatists currently have about 478 working tanks, The Daily Signal said, and most of these can be taken out by the Javelin.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Minnesota National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben Houtkooper

However other European nations, such as France and Germany, are worried that supplying Kiev with such lethal weapons would only increase the fighting.

While fighting slightly increased in July, the three-year old war, for the most part, has ground to a stalemate in which the two sides lob mortars and grenades from afar and trade sniper fire.

At least 10,090 people — including 2,777 civilians — have been killed, and nearly 24,000 have been wounded, through May 15, according to the UN. More than 1.6 million people have been internally displaced.

President Donald Trump has yet to approve the weapons deal, and is expected to make a decision in coming months.

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Army preps for massive, Great Power land war

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Aura E. Sklenicka


The Army’s “live-fire” combat exercises involve large-scale battalion-on-battalion war scenarios wherein mechanized forces often clash with make-shift, “near-peer” enemies using new technologies, drones, tanks, artillery, missiles and armored vehicles.

The Army is expanding its training and “live-fire” weapons focus to include a renewed ability to fight a massive, enemy force in an effort to transition from its decade-and-a-half of tested combat experience with dismounted infantry and counterinsurgency.

Recent ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created an experienced and combat-tested force able to track, attack and kill small groups of enemies — often blended into civilian populations, speeding in pick-up trucks or hiding within different types of terrain to stage ambushes.

“The Army has a tremendous amount of experience right now. It has depth but needs more breadth. We’re good at counterinsurgency and operations employing wide area security. Now, we may have to focus on ‘Mounted Maneuver’ operations over larger distances,” Rickey Smith, Deputy Chief of Staff, Training and Doctrine Command, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

While senior Army leaders are quick to emphasize that counterinsurgency is of course still important and the service plans to be ready for the widest possible range of conflict scenarios, there is nonetheless a marked and visible shift toward being ready to fight and win against a large-scale modernized enemy such as Russia or China.

The Army, naturally, does not single out these countries as enemies, train specifically to fight them or necessarily expect to go to war with them. However, recognizing the current and fast-changing threat environment, which includes existing tensions and rivalries with the aforementioned great powers, Army training is increasingly focused on ensuring they are ready for a mechanized force-on-force type engagement.

At the same time, while large-scale mechanized warfare is quite different than counterinsurgency, there are some areas of potential overlap between recent warfare and potential future great power conflict in a few key respects. The ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over a period of more than a decade, involved the combat debut of various precision-guided land attack weapons such as GPS guided artillery and rocket weapons.

Weapons such as Excalibur, a GPS-guided 155m artillery round able to precisely destroy enemy targets at ranges greater than 30-kilometers, gave ground commanders an ability to pinpoint insurgent targets such as small gatherings of fighters, buildings and bomb-making locations. Guided Multiple-Launch Rocket System, or GLMRS, is another example; this precision guided long-range rocket, which can hit ranges up to 70-kilometers, was successful in killing Taliban targets in Afghanistan from great distances, among other things.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Soldiers with Charlie Battery, 1-377 FA fire an M198, 155mm howitzer during a recent combined live-fire exercise. | U.S. Army photo

These kinds of precision munitions, first used in Iraq and Afghanistan, are the kind of weapon which would greatly assist land attack efforts in a massive force-on-force land war as well. They could target key locations behind enemy lines such as supplies, forces and mechanized vehicles.

Drones are another area of potential overlap. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan featured a veritable explosion in drone technology and drone use. For example, the Army had merely a handful of drones at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, the service operates thousands and has repeatedly relied upon them to find enemy locations, spot upcoming ambushes and save lives in combat. These are the kinds of platforms which would also be of great utility in a major land war. However, they would likely be used differently incorporating new tactics, techniques and procedures in a great power engagement.

“This is not back to the future…this is moving towards the future where Army forces will face adaptive enemies with greater lethality.  This generation of Army leaders will orchestrate simultaneous Combined ArmsManeuver and Wide Area Security” Smith said.

Nevertheless, many Army leaders now experienced with counterinsurgency tactics will need to reexamine tactics needed for major conventional warfare.

“You have a generation of leaders who have to expand learning to conduct simultaneous ‘Combined Arms’ and ‘Wide Area Security” Smith said.

“The Army has to be prepared across the entire range of military operations. One of these would be ‘near-peer’ operations, which is what we have not been fighting in recent years,” Smith explained.

Massive Land War “Decisive Action”

The new approach to this emerging integrated training is called “Decisive Action,” Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, Commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said.

Grigsby explained that live-fire combat at Fort Riley, Kan., affords an opportunity to put these new strategies into effect.

“Every morning I could put a battalion on the north side and a battalion on the south side – and just joust working “Combined Arms Maneuver.” I can do battalion-on-battalion and it does involve “Combined Arms” live fire,” said Grigsby. “Because of the airspace that we have here – and use the UAS – I can synchronize from 0-to-18,000 feet and do maneuver indirect fire.”

This includes the use of drones, Air Force air assets, Army attack aviation along with armored vehicles, artillery, tanks and infantry units equipped for small arms fire, he explained.

Some of the main tactics and techniques explored during “Decisive Action” live fire exercises include things like “kill what you shoot at,” “move to contact,” “synchronize indirect fire,” and “call-in 9-line,” (providing aircraft with attack coordinates from the ground), Grigsby said.

Grigsby explained that “live-fire” combat exercises now work to incorporate a wide range of emerging technologies so as to better anticipate the tactics, weapons and systems a future enemy is likely to employ; this includes the greater use of drones or unmanned systems, swarms of mini-drones in the future, emerging computing technology, tank-on-tank warfare tactics, electronic warfare, enemy aircraft and longer-range precision weaponry including anti-tank missiles, guided artillery and missiles.

In order to execute this kind of combat approach, the Army is adapting to more “Combined Arms Maneuver.”  This warfare compentency seeks to synchronize a wide range of weapons, technologies and war assets in order to overwhelm, confuse and destroy an enemy force.

Smith likened “Combined Arms” to being almost like a symphony orchestra where each instrument is geared toward blending and contributing to an integrated overall musical effect.

In warfare, this would mean using tank-on-tank attacks, indirect fire or artillery, air defenses, air assets, networking technologies, drones, rockets, missiles and mortar all together to create a singular effect able to dominate the battlespace, Smith explained.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
U.S. Army photo by Capt. John Farmer, 1st BCT, 1st CD Public Affairs

For example, air assets and artillery could be used to attack enemy tank or armored vehicle positions in order to allow tank units and infantry fighting vehicles to reposition for attack. The idea to create an integrated offensive attack – using things like Apache attack helicopters and drones from the air, long-range precision artillery on the ground joined by Abrams tanks and infantry fighting vehicles in a coordinated fashion.

Smith also explained how preparing for anticipated future threats also means fully understanding logistics and sustainment — so that supplies, ammunition and other essentials can continue to fortify the war effort.

Current “Decisive Action” live fire training includes an emerging emphasis on “expeditionary” capability wherein the Army is ready to fight by tonight by rapidly deploying over large distances with an integrated force consisting of weapons, infantry, armored vehicles and other combat-relevant assets.

At the same time, this strategy relies, to some extent, on an ability to leverage a technological edge with a “Combined Arms” approach as well, networking systems and precision weapons able to destroy enemies from farther distances.

In order to incorporate these dynamics into live-fire training, Grigsby said the battalion -on-battalion combat exercises practice a “move to contact” over very large 620 kilometer distances.

“This builds that expeditionary mindset,” he explained.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Hallo-memes! Wait … that’s not right. Meh, whatever.


1. Remember, terrorists “trick or treat” too (via Military Memes).

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Get special candy for them.

2. Pretty sure DA PAM 670-1 Chapter 5 Section 7 addresses this.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block

SEE ALSO: From 1860-1916 the uniform regulations for the British Army required ever soldier to have a mustache

3. How the invasion of Iraq really went down:

(via Pop Smoke)

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block

4. When you join the Navy to see the sights:

(via Sh-t My LPO Says)

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
At least you’re in California. You could be stuck with those same sights in Afghanistan.

5. Your trip to find yourself in Vienna does not impress your elders (via Air Force Nation).

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
If you were finding Nazis there, maybe. You’d have to fight them too.

6. How the military branches decide who’s the most awesome/fabulous (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Coast Guard has it made.

7. Just two combat veterans letting off a little steam in a war zone (via Ranger Up).

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Bet the A-10 kept flying combat missions until at least the second trimester.

8. The standard is Army STRONG …

(via Marine Corps Memes)

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
… we’re not worried about much else.

9. He forgot how to Marine (via Terminal Lance).

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Hey, staff officers have to practice throwing grenades too. Just don’t give him a real one.

10. Stolen valor airman can’t be bothered to learn your Air Force culture (via Air Force Nation).

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block

11. This is true (via Military Memes).

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Iraq and Afghanistan would look a little different if soldiers and Marines had access to nukes.

12. First sergeant just wants you to be ready to fight in any environment.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Side note: If you ran at the actual pace he was trying to set, you would be warm during the run.

13. Real warriors like to stay cool (via Marine Corps Memes).

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Don’t like the view? Get out of the mortar pit.

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Watch actual footage from the first Apache strikes of Desert Storm

On January 17, 1991, seven months after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded and tried to annex neighboring Kuwait, the world decided it had enough. Operation Desert Storm was launched that day, and Saddam was smacked down by a coalition of 39 countries.


Conducting this epic assault required bringing in Western airpower to destroy Hussein’s formidable armored corps of over 4,000 tanks. To open the way for other planes and choppers, eight Apaches and two Pave Low helicopters flew to Iraqi air defense sites and unleashed dozens of Hellfire missiles.

The sites and their operators were destroyed by the onslaught. See actual footage from the raid in this video from the Smithsonian Channel.

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Army to deploy Armored Brigade Combat Teams to Europe

To address the potential Russian threat, the Army will start rotating Armored Brigade Combat Teams to Europe, starting next year.


According to a report by the Army Times, the first unit to handle a rotation will come from the 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Carson, Colorado. The European rotation will join Armored Brigade Combat Team rotations in South Korea and Kuwait.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
(PHC D. W. HOLMES II, U.S. Navy)

The Army also announced that a brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart in Georgia, will be converted from an Infantry Brigade Combat Team to an Armored Brigade Combat Team.

An Armored Brigade Combat Team with the 1st Armored Division will also be moved from training duties to the active rotation. The deployments to Europe, South Korea, and Kuwait are for nine months.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
A U.S. Army Bradley during a training exercise. (Photo by Private 1st Class James Dutkavich)

At present, there are only nine Armored Brigade Combat Teams in the Active Army, with five more in the National Guard. The conversion of the 3rd Infantry Division’s brigade will make it ten active Armored Brigade Combat Teams.

The only U.S. Army unit permanently deployed to Europe is the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Stryker unit. Earlier this year, the Army received the first M1296 Dragoon, a Stryker modified with the Mk 46 Bushmaster II 30mm chain gun.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle outfitted with a 30mm cannon was delivered Thursday to the Army. (Photo Credit: Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems)

An Armored Brigade Combat Team has three battalions, each with two companies of M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and two companied of mechanized infantry that each have 14 M2A3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

The brigade also has a reconnaissance squadron with three troops of 12 M3A3 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles each.

The Army had to withdraw its Armored Brigade Combat Teams from Europe five years ago due to budget cuts caused by sequestration. A 2015 Army Times report outlined that the cuts reduced the number of brigade combat teams from 45 in 2012 to 30.

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The amazing way the military says goodbye to working dogs

Military working dogs are some of America’s hardest working service members. They find IEDs, drugs, victims of natural disasters, and dozens of other things. They also serve beside special operators and engage enemies with their human counterparts.


Unfortunately, they also live shorter lives than their humans.

That means that nearly every human handler will one day have to say goodbye to their friend and partner. The military allows handlers to go through a process that ensures the humans get one last day of bonding with their animals and the dogs receive a dignified sendoff.

 

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Retired U.S. Air Force Military Working Dog, Mica T204, carries a toy while waiting for her final patrol to begin Nov. 14, 2016, at Tyndall Air Force Base. (Photo and cutline: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Javier Cruz)

First, a decision is made about who will handle the canine during their final day. This is often the current handler assigned to the dog or the person who adopted them upon their retirement, but it could also be someone who spent a long time with the animal or who bonded most strongly with them.

This handler and other service members who love the dog will spend time playing together one last time.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Javier Cruz)

Then, the canine is taken for a “Final Patrol” or, sometimes, a “Final Walk.” Depending on the installation and the dog, this can be anything from a low-key walk around some of the greener parts of the base to a full-fledged parade down the base’s main drag.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
(U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Cody W. Torkelson)

Sometimes, the dogs may be too sick or old to conduct the final patrol on their own. In those circumstances, the units will arrange an escort with handlers and other people who loved and respected them.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
(U.S Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Javier Cruz)

At the end of the final patrol, a human with close ties to the dog will walk them past a final salute.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Cody W. Torkelson)

Service members line the walk to render honors to the animals who have served faithfully. This will be the last chance for many of the humans to express their gratitude.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Javier Cruz)

Inside the clinic, veterinarians will begin the euthanization process while handlers comfort the dogs.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Cody W. Torkelson)

The handlers stay with the dogs until the end.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Brix, a retired Navy MWD, is comforted by Navy Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Drew Risley before Brix’s euthanization. Brix earned the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Army Commendation Medal in Iraq. (U.S Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tristin English)

Once it is done, the dog is draped with the flag and prepared for their final rest. Usually, the dogs are cremated.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Cody W. Torkelson)

Handlers and other members of the unit will then hold a memorial ceremony with a display of a kennel, a tipped dish, a collar and leash, and sometimes the dog’s ashes.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block

Pvt. Kaitlin Haines, a handler with the 100th Military Working Dog Detachment and a native of Sacramento, Calif., salutes during a Feb. 9, 2015, memorial service at Miesau Chapel for Cak, a local military working dog who was put to rest in December. (Photo and cutline: Elisabeth Paqué)

The handlers then have to overcome their grief and find a new partner to work with.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Pvt. Kaitlin Haines, a handler with the 100th Military Working Dog Detachment, runs beside MWD Beny as he trains at the Miesau Army Depot Kennels in Germany on Feb. 18. (Photo by Brandon Beach)

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This is how China plans to ‘defend the world’

Chinese President Xi Jinping on July 30 presided over a massive military parade from an open-topped jeep, declaring, “The world is not peaceful, and peace needs to be defended.”


And as China’s show of force demonstrates, Beijing may have the will and the strength to replace the US as the world’s defender of peace.

“Our heroic military has the confidence and capabilities to preserve national sovereignty, security, and interests … and to contribute more to maintaining world peace,” Xi said at the parade, one day after US President Donald Trump lashed out at Beijing for its inaction regarding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

China’s massive military modernization and increasing assertiveness have irked many of its neighbors in the region, and even as the US attempts to reassure its allies that US power still rules the day, that military edge is eroding.

China showed off new, mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles that it says can reach the US in 30 minutes, along with its J-20 stealth interceptor jets. And Xi inspected thousands of troops drawn from the 2 million-strong People’s Liberation Army on its 90th anniversary.

The historian Alfred McCoy estimates that by 2030, China, a nation of 1.3 billion, will surpass the US in both economic and military strength, essentially ending the American empire and Pax Americana the world has known since the close of World War II.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Sailors aboard the Chinese Navy destroyer Qingdao. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist David Rush.

But China could achieve this goal patiently and without a violent struggle. China has employed a “salami-slicing” method of slowly but surely militarizing the South China Sea in incremental steps that have not prompted a strong military response from the US. However, the result is China’s de facto control over a shipping lane that sees $5 trillion in annual traffic.

“The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, may already be tattered and fading by 2025 and, except for the finger pointing, could be over by 2030,” McCoy wrote in his new book, “In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.”

China’s J-20 jet also most likely borrows from stealth secrets stolen from the US through a sophisticated hacking regime. Though China hasn’t mastered stealth technology in the way the US has, the jet still poses a real threat to US forces.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Flypast of the Chengdu J-20. Wikimedia Commons photo by Alert5.

Meanwhile, the US is stretched thin. It has had been at war in Afghanistan for 16 years and in Iraq for 14, and it has been scrambling to curtail Iranian and Russian influence in Syria while reassuring its Baltic NATO allies that it’s committed to their protection against an aggressive Russia.

Under Xi, who pushes an ambitious foreign policy, China’s eventual supremacy over the US seems inevitable.

Articles

The 13 Funniest Military Memes Of The Week

It’s Friday, so that’s good. But it’s three weeks since the military’s last pay day and we all know you’re staying in the barracks this weekend. While you’re crunching on your fast food and waiting for your video games to load, check out these 13 military memes.


Real guns are super heavy.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
The assistant gunner has to carry 300 extra rounds, nearly a pound of weight.

It’s guaranteed that this was a profile pic.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block

Maybe if we just taxi it near the maintenance chief really slowly, he’ll tell us if it’s okay.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
That’s why pilots just fly the d*mn thing.

 Don’t use flashbangs near the uninitiated.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block

Coast Guard couldn’t make it. They were super busy helping the TSA foil terrorists.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
The soldier can brag about that pushup if he wants, but it won’t count with his feet that far apart.

Just salute, better to be laughed at than shark attacked.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
But really, why does an anchor outrank a crow? Navy Ranks are weird.

But hey, at least they don’t have to wear PT Belts.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Both groups also get into adorable shenanigans while everyone is working.

 Be afraid, be very afraid.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
It’s all fun until she takes away your breath with a Ka-Bar through the ribs.

That’s why they have planes.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
You don’t need to run when you can project force from those comfy chairs.

Notice the National Guard sticker on the cabinet?

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
You’re going in well after the Marines. Judging by that recruiter’s lack of a deployment patch, you might never go.

Whatever, the Marine is the only one working right now.

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
He’s collecting intelligence. VERY detailed intelligence.

The sweet, sweet purr of the warthog

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
BRRRR is just how they clear phlegm from their throat and enemy fighters from the ground.

You start off motivated …

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Just wait until you leave the retention office and realize you re-upped.

NOW: The Nazis had insane ‘superweapon’ ideas that were way ahead of their time

OR: Check out 13 more funniest memes of the week

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This Iraq War vet and congressman treated the wounded during Alexandria shooting

Moments after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the U.S. House Majority Whip, was shot in the hip during an attack on a practice for the upcoming Congressional baseball game, an Iraq War vet was treating his wound.


“You never expect a baseball field in America to feel like being back in a combat zone in Iraq, but this morning it did,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup tweeted. The Ohio Republican congressman later told an aide the only difference between the Alexandria shooting and Iraq was being “without his weapon.”

The man-portable rocket launcher that could destroy a city block
Maj. Gen. Mary Link, commanding general for Army Reserve Medical Command, stands next to Congressman Bill Pascrell from New Jersey’s 9th district; Congressman Josh Gottheimer, from New Jersey’s 5th district; Dr. Ihor Sawczuk, Hackensack University Medical Center President; and Col. Brad Wenstrup (far right), commander of 7457th Medical Backfill Bn. (U.S. Army photo)

According to a report by WLWT.com, Wenstrup began to treat his wounded colleague after Scalise dragged himself off the field. Wenstrup had seen wounds like that before he had ever entered politics.

According to the official biography on his web site, that is because Rep. Wentrup is also Col. Wenstrup in the U.S. Army Reserve – and he’s has served in the Army Reserve since 1998, after his sister had a battle with leukemia. During a tour in Iraq with the 344th Combat Support Hospital, Wenstrup was a combat surgeon, which he described as “the worst thing that ever happened to me, and the best thing I ever got to do.”

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U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, right, a Sunset Parade guest of honor, exchanges greetings with a U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant during a parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va., June 18, 2013. A Sunset Parade was held every Tuesday during the summer months. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tia Dufour/Released)

According to a profile at the University of Cincinnati’s website, Wenstrup was the chief of surgery at Abu Ghraib, the location of a scandal over prisoner treatment. He treated Iraqi civilians, detainees at the prison, and wounded troops.

“I remember one Marine we lost on the table, and the anesthesiologist saying, ‘I had breakfast with him this morning.’ Or having to tell a group of Marines their buddy didn’t make it. Those were the tough days,” he told the college’s magazine.

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He had good days, too, including helping to treat a four-month old girl who had pneumonia. Eventually, the doctors figured out the girl also needed gluten-free formula, and raised over $400 to help make arrangements for a U.S. company to send the girl’s father the right baby food.

“Those were the good days,” he said.

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Meet the World War I legend ‘Black Swallow of Death’

While Eddie Rickenbacker has a claim to fame as the top American ace of World War I, there were plenty of other Americans who fought valiantly with Allies from the air.


One of them, Eugene Bullard, has the distinction of being the first African-American military pilot.

According to Air and Space Power Journal, Bullard was born in Columbus, Georgia, on Oct 9, 1894. At 8 years old, he left Georgia after his father narrowly escaped a lynching, and made his way to Norfolk where he worked a series of odd jobs before he stowed away on a ship bound for Scotland.

He worked more odd jobs across Scotland and England, including as a longshoreman and on a fish wagon, until he discovered talents for boxing and performing. That talent eventually landed him in Paris just as World War I started.

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Eugene Jacques Bullard. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Bullard spent two years with an infantry unit and was wounded during the Battle of Verdun. He then transferred to the French Flying Corps. During his time in the infantry, he was nicknamed “The Black Swallow of Death.” Bullard would score two kills in just over two months of combat flying. After the U.S. ignored his application to be a pilot for the American military despite his combat experience, he was transferred to non-combat duties by the French until his discharge in 1919.

Bullard would settle down in France, but come to his adopted country’s defense again in World War II, first serving as a spy, then seeing ground combat near Orleans. After he was wounded, he was medically evacuated, along with his daughters to the United States. He eventually went to work as an elevator operator in New York City.

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Eugene Bullard. (DOD photo)

In 1954, France invited Bullard and two other men to re-light the Eternal Flame at the Arc de Triomphe. In 1959, he was named a Knight of the Legion of Honor, and was interviewed on the Today Show. The next year, Charles de Gaulle publicly declared Bullard a hero of France.

Bullard died on Oct. 12, 1961, after an illness caused by the wounds he had received. He was 67 years old. In 1994, 100 years after he was born, the U.S. Air Force granted him a commission as a Lieutenant.

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7 times drunks decided the course of battle

Historians always want to talk about how battles were won with a general’s brilliance or a unit’s bravery. Sometimes they are, but sometimes they are decided in somewhat less elegant ways. For instance, here are seven times alcohol played a major role in the outcomes:


1. A German officer loses key bridges on D-Day because he got drunk with his girlfriend

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Photo: British Army Sgt. Christie

In his book, “Pegasus Bridge,” Stephen E. Ambrose of “Band of Brothers” fame details the night of drinking German Major Hans Schmidt had before his unit was attacked by British Paratroopers. His men were guarding two key bridges over the river Orne, and he was supposed to order their destruction if the allies came close to capturing them. The bridges were wired with explosives and could have been destroyed instantly with an order from Schmidt.

But, Schmidt was drinking the night of the attack and wasn’t there to give the order. When he sobered up, he tried to get to the battlefield and accidentally rode past the British lines. He was captured with his driver and the British held the bridges, protecting Allied paratroopers from a German counterattack.

2. A nearly crushed army survives because an enemy commander is too drunk to attack

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Kurz Allison

On Dec. 31, 1862, the first day of the Battle of Stone River, the Confederate Army attacked the Union near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. General Braxton Bragg’s battle plan worked nearly as designed and thousands of Union soldiers were captured. The attack would’ve been more successful, but Maj. Gen Benjamin F. Cheatham’s brigades were severely late and disorganized after the drunk Cheatham fell from his horse while rallying his troops.

The Union Army nearly retreated, but the generals decided they had just enough troops left to hold the position, troops they likely wouldn’t have had if Cheatham had attacked as planned. The Federal soldiers held it together for two days before Union artillery wiped out 1,800 Confederates in less than an hour on Jan. 2, 1863. The Union gained the momentum and won the battle.

3. Ulysses S. Grant’s entire military career

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mathew B. Brady

Ulysses S. Grant had a well-documented alcohol problem, but historians think it may have actually made his career. James McPherson won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, “Battle Cry of Freedom.” In it, he says that Grant’s “predisposition to alcoholism may have made him a better general. His struggle for self-discipline enabled him to understand and discipline others; the humiliation of prewar failures gave him a quiet humility that was conspicuously absent from so many generals with a reputation to protect; because Grant had nowhere to go but up, he could act with more boldness and decision than commanders who dared not risk failure.”

Basically, Grant was already dealing with so much disdain because of his alcoholism that he didn’t care if he failed. This caused him to be more aggressive in battle than other generals were likely to be. Grant once cut himself off from everything but ammunition and medical supplies on purpose so he could attack Vicksburg. When the attack failed to take the city, Grant just turned the attack into a two-month siege (that ultimately succeeded). It should be noted, however, that Grant was absent for some of the siege since he was enjoying a two-day bender on the River Yazoo.

4. Samurai party so hard they don’t realize they’re under attack

Imagawa Yoshimoto, a powerful Japanese commander in 1560 with 35,000 soldiers, decided he wanted to try and take the capital of Japan at the time, Kyoto. On his way to Kyoto, Yoshimoto attempted to capture fortresses owned by Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga was only able to raise 2,500 samurai to face the opposing force.

Nobunaga marched with his forces to a fortress near Okehazama, Japan. When Nobunaga saw Yoshimoto’s forces drinking and partying, he ordered a small force to occupy the fortress and plant the flags of the army all around it. With the rest of his men, he slipped around the drunken samurai and approached from the rear.

Nobunaga’s fought against 12 to 1 odds, but the victory was complete. Yoshimoto reportedly left his tent to complain about the noise before he realized he was hearing an attack, not the party. Yoshimoto wounded a single enemy soldier before he was killed. Nobunaga and his forces killed all but two of the senior officers before the remaining samurai fled or surrendered.

5. Ottoman sultan loses his entire navy for some casks of wine

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Andrea Vicentino

Ottoman Sultan Selim II drank so much his nickname was, “The Sot.” His love of wine is one of the most popular explanations for his invasion of Cyprus in 1570. Though the invasion went well at first, this play for the famed Cypriot wine would cost the sultan dearly.

As fortresses in Cyprus fell to Selim, Pope Pius V was trying to get European leaders to build a naval armada to attack the Ottomans. It took over a year for the countries to agree on the alliance’s terms, but Europe created a massive naval fleet that confronted the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. When the naval battle began, 300 Ottoman ships faced off against 200 Christian ships of greater quality. Historians believe 90 percent of ships in the Mediterranean at the time were involved in the battle.

Despite having roughly equal forces, the Christians stomped Selim so hard they made a profit. 12 European galleys were sank, and 8,000 Christian fighters died. But, Christians liberated 15,000 slaves and captured 117 galleys. The Ottomans lost most of their Navy both in terms of ships and personnel. Selim II did still capture Cyprus with his armies and was able to drink its famed wines to his content, but it probably took a lot of drinking for him to forget what he paid for it.

6. Russian troops get bored before a battle and drink too much to fight

In “A History of Vodka,” Vil’i͡am Vasil’evich Pokhlebkin details what Russian fighters drank while they waited for a small enemy force to arrive for a battle in 1377. It’s mostly mead, ale, and beer.

While the exact numbers of troops on each side are no longer known, the armies of five Russian warlords were assembled at the river. But, they were so drunk that the Mongols of the Blue Horde just showed up and started slaughtering them. The supreme commander of the forces, Ivan Dmitriyevich, drowned along with some of his staff before the horde even made it to him.

The river’s original name was lost to history because it became known as the River Pyana, meaning “drunken,” after the defeat.

7. The Trojan Horse

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo

It’s definitely the best known of the entries on this list. The prince of Troy claimed a Greek king’s wife as a prize owed to him by Aphrodite. The wife, Helen, agreed and was married, kicking off a war between the Greeks and the Trojans.

After nine years of war, a Greek general came up with a plan of faking a retreat and leaving an offering of a giant wooden horse. Greek soldiers hid out in the horse. The horse was towed into the city and the Trojans began a night of epic celebrations.

They drank, sang, and feasted until they passed out. That’s when Greek soldiers crept from the horse. opened the gates, and slaughtered every Trojan they encountered.

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The Baghdad Underground Railroad built an escape for Iraqi interpreters. It was just the beginning.

Every generation has their war. And every war has its story.

1776.

Battle Cry of Freedom.

All Quiet on the Western Front.

Band of Brothers.

The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War.

We Were Soldiers Once… and Young.

Black Hawk Down.

Now, thanks to Steve Miska, Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.), the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan finally have their “required reading,” in Miska’s new book, Baghdad Underground Railroad: Saving American Allies in Iraq.

Since September 11, 2001, a multi-generational war has raged in the Middle East. Countless memoirs have been written, thousands of accounts have been told. But never before have we heard this story: the one of our Iraqi interpreters.

Baghdad Underground Railroad is riveting. During his second of three combat tours in Iraq, Miska led a team that established an underground railroad from Baghdad to Amman to the United States for dozens of foreign military interpreters who supported U.S. troops in-country. Since then, he has written extensively about the need to protect soft networks, and has acted as an advisor to several non-profits that aim to support and protect foreign military interpreters, including No One Left Behind and the International Refugee Assistance Project.

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Key leader meeting at Combat Outpost (COP) Casino. Note the sweat-drenched uniform after removing body armor. Author Steve Miska (center), Colonel J.B. Burton (right with back turned), Major Scott Nelson (opposite Burton), and LTC Barry Niles, Iraqi Army Military Transition Team Chief (bottom left). Photo: Courtesy of Steve Miska

Baghdad Underground Railroad takes a soul-wrenching look at the solemn promise our government makes – to our men and women who serve, to their families, to our fallen: No one left behind. This isn’t just a saying; it’s an ethos, a commitment, a vow. No one left behind.

Unless you’re an Iraqi.

With bureaucracy at the helm, our allies – our interpreters – our lifelines over there are not just being left behind, they’re being executed at an alarming rate. With the impending troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, Miska’s story is more important than ever. His firsthand account of establishing the Underground Railroad is equal parts inspiring and courageous, fraught with devastation and frustration. But more than a war story, it’s a gripping, beautiful, human story. You’ll feel such anger at reading about the interpreter gunned down outside his home, simply for helping us. You’ll wipe tears at tender, endearing moments like the interpreter who finally made it to Kansas and got a job. Filled with gratitude, he wanted to treat his host to dinner, and insisted he take her and her son to somewhere nice – so he picked McDonald’s. These aren’t just strangers who helped us – these men and women are family.

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Troops from 2nd Squadron, 9th US Cavalry attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division and Iraqi Army soldiers use an interpreter to talk to the resident of a house before they search it in Ad Dawr, Iraq.

Thousands of interpreters are still awaiting their Special Immigrant Visa, and layers upon layers of red tape have made getting the SIV nearly impossible. The issue is gaining national attention; just yesterday legislation was passed in the House by a 366-46 vote.

Reps. Jason Crow (D-CO) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) introduced the Honoring Our Promises through Expedition [HOPE] for Afghan SIVs Act of 2021 in April. According to Crow’s website, this bipartisan legislation would waive the requirement for Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants to undergo a medical examination while in Afghanistan. 

The Afghan SIV Program was created in 2009 to provide safety for Afghan interpreters, contractors, and security personnel who worked with the U.S. government in Afghanistan, Crow said in a press release. The application process has been plagued by delays since the program was established and faces severe backlogs, with wait times routinely stretching for years. 

Since the Biden Administration announced their plans to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, Crow has called on the Administration to expedite this visa process, as SIV applicants and their families are increasingly under threat by the Taliban. 

Among the bureaucratic hurdles facing SIV applicants, many have cited the medical examination requirement, which can cost thousands of dollars, as a serious delay in the process. There is currently only one facility in Kabul that conducts all immigrant visa examinations for the entire country, forcing applicants from the outer provinces to travel to Kabul in often dangerous circumstances. 

“When I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I worked closely with local interpreters and contractors who were critical to our safety and success. Without their help, I may not be here today,” said Congressman Jason Crow. “The U.S. must honor our promises and protect our Afghan partners whose lives are now at risk by the Taliban. We can help expedite the SIV process by waiving the medical examination requirement in Afghanistan, which is cost prohibitive and difficult for many applicants to safely receive. The HOPE for Afghan SIVs Act is bipartisan, common-sense legislation that can help save lives.” 

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Logan Salah, an interpreter with Multi-National Division – Center, rides a helicopter above Camp Liberty for a mission to meet with Iraqi leaders July 31, 2008.

“When I deployed to Iraq, my unit was aided by local interpreters who knew their actions came at great cost to themselves and their families. Like them, our Afghan allies have been indispensable in our fight against terrorism. With the Administration’s deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan fast approaching, we cannot forget their sacrifices on our behalf. In many cases, it’s untenable for them to remain in their home country due to active death threats for helping America, and our interpreters and other local allies are in mortal danger,” said Congressman Brad Wenstrup. “I’m proud to join this legislation, which provides temporary flexibility to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program to make sure we don’t leave our friends behind.”

In addition to legislation passing, yesterday, Miska shared the stage with Washington Post Opinion Columnist David Ignatius and General David Petraeus (Ret.) to discuss U.S. airstrikes on Iranian-backed militia and the withdrawal from Afghanistan. When asked about what the U.S. owes Afghan interpreters who helped Americans, Gen. Petraeus shared,

“We have a moral obligation to individuals who shared risk and hardship alongside our soldiers on the battlefield…With our forces leaving, and with the embassy already having drawn down its forces, and now in a covid lockdown, needless to say,  there has not been much progress on the processing of the special immigrant visas in recent months….At that time (when he and former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker sent a letter to Sec. Blinken asking the Biden administration to accelerate issuing visas for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters and others who assisted US service members), I didn’t necessarily support a big airlift, but it is looking as if to meet the policy decision the president has announced now, which is that we will not leave them behind, it’s not going to be business as usual. I don’t think normal process will accelerate sufficiently in the course of the next month or two so that we can get them to the United States with the visa that they have earned.”

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Wazir (second from left), 57, a former Afghan National Army colonel, served as an interpreter with Combat Logistics Regiment 7 during their most recent deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan, April-October 2011. Wazir moved to the U.S. in 2005 with his family and was nationalized as a U.S. citizen earlier this year. USMC photo

Miska shared, “The plight of Iraqi and Afghan interpreters left behind by the United States remains one of the most significant human rights issues of the Global War on Terrorism, America’s longest, and ongoing, military conflicts.”

Baghdad Underground Railroad is a sober reminder of the far-reaching human and national security consequences of abandoning U.S. allies in countries of conflict,” Miska explained. “Above all, it is an exploration of universal questions about hope, brotherhood, and belonging—questions that strike at the heart of who we are as a people and as a nation.”

Baghdad Underground Railroad: Saving American Allies in Iraq is now available on Amazon.

Featured photo: First Lieutenant John Cheatwood walks with an interpreter and children during a patrol south of Baghdad. (U.S. Army)

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