That time the Coast Guard tried using pigeons for sea rescues - We Are The Mighty
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That time the Coast Guard tried using pigeons for sea rescues

Back in the late 1970s and early 80s, the Coast Guard thought they had a better way to search for people lost in the ocean. They tested using pigeons affixed to the underside of helicopters.


Yes, like the pigeons in the park. And, yes, it did work. The birds performed about twice as well as their human counterparts at spotting “appropriate targets” on their first pass over an area.

The pigeons performed amazingly at spotting debris in the ocean but were only trained on orange, yellow, and red objects. Photo: US Coast Guard archives

The pigeons involved in Project Sea Hunt, as the effort was known, were first sent to “basic training.” For obvious reasons, about the only thing pigeon basic shared with human basic was the name.

Pigeons were placed in training chambers with “peck keys” that released food when pressed. Once the pigeons got the hang of the keys, their training boxes would be faced toward Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where a buoy with a radio-operated orange plate floated. Trainers would expose the orange plate and then reward the pigeon when it hit the keys, but wouldn’t feed the pigeons if the plate wasn’t exposed.

Over time, the target would be moved further away from the pigeons to train them to look further out to sea.

Once the pigeons passed basic training, the top graduates would proceed to advanced training where the pigeons were actually placed in chambers mounted beneath a helicopter and had to find orange, yellow, and red objects in the ocean. Each bird covered a 120-degree window, so a pod with three pigeons could see in 360 degrees.

A pigeon is loaded into its pod during training in Project Sea Hunt. Photo: US Coast Guard archives

In testing on the helicopter, the pigeons spotted targets on the first pass 90 percent of the time. The human crewmembers were capable of finding the target on the first pass only 38 percent of the time. In a later test, when the humans knew they were trying to catch up to the pigeons, the humans scored a 50.

In passes where both humans and the pigeons spotted the target, the pigeon spotted it first 84 percent of the time. The pigeons were proving to be amazing day-time searchers.

There were a few drawbacks to the use of pigeons. First, the weight of the pigeons had to be carefully maintained. Pigeons at 80 percent of their “free food” weight were generally hungry enough to search the ocean for hours without losing focus. Dropping below that weight threatened the pigeons’ health but going above it would reduce their effectiveness.

And there was one tragedy in the program. A flight was sent to hunt for a missing boat and the helicopter stayed out too long. It ran out of fuel and conducted a forced landing at sea. The crew escaped with no injuries but they couldn’t get the pigeons out in time.

A second batch of pigeons was sent through training to both replace the lost pigeons and to increase the number of pigeons available for missions.

The small bubble on the bottom of this helicopter contains three pigeons trained to spot life rafts. Photo: US Coast Guard archives

Overall, Project Sea Hunt was so successful that a 1981 audit of the program recommended that the pigeons serve at a Coast Guard air station on proper missions and that new pods be developed so that the birds could fly on newer helicopters. Federal budget cuts resulted in the program being shuttered instead.

Advances in technology have made the pigeons less necessary. Planes designed to hunt subs using magnets are much better at finding plane debris than pigeons ever were, and improved homing beacons for rafts and wrecks make the job of scanning miles of ocean less necessary.

Still, there’s a niche that pigeons could still fill better than almost any gadgets, that of looking for orange rafts and flotation devices in the open ocean.

(More photos and background on the program are available at the Coast Guard’s web page for Project Sea Hunt.)

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10 ways war has changed since the Cubs’ last World Series win

It’s been a long time since the Cubs won the World Series. 108 years, in fact; the last time the Cubs won was in 1908, when they captured two World Series titles in a row.


Last night they made history and broke the Curse of the Billy Goat by clinching Game 7 of the World Series in extra (rainy) innings with a final score of 8-7.

The 1908 Cubs and their perfectly normal looking mascot. Source: NBC News

A lot has happened in the world since 1908.  The internet, Communism, Justin Bieber.  But what about warfare?

Well, the military has changed quite a bit too, and some of the changes have completely revamped the way wars are fought today.  Here are ten of the biggest military innovations and changes that occurred since the last time the Cubs won the World Series:

1.  No more cavalry charges

Horses and trenches don’t mix. | Source: Pinterest

Cavalry charges were still pretty common in the early 20th century, and in World War I all sides used horses to some extent.  The Germans stopped utilizing armed cavalry on the battlefield shortly after the war’s outset, but the Ottoman Empire and the British used cavalry extensively in the Middle East theater.

During World War I, machine guns cut through horses in swaths, and the chemical weapons first used by the Germans killed many more.  They were still used to drag equipment through the mud, however, and at one point German troops were told that the life of a horse has more tactical value than that of an infantryman.

Ultimately, though, machine guns and artillery rendered the horse-led cavalry charge obsolete.  The horses were replaced by tanks, although these didn’t truly live up to expectations until World War II.

2.  Planes flying around, shooting stuff, dropping bombs

arly airplanes: sometimes they fly, sometimes they crash. | Source: Pinterest

Although the Wright Brothers first flew a heavier-than-air manned airplane in 1903, planes in warfare didn’t come about until around 1911.  During World War I airplanes became very important for reconnaissance missions, and as they became more maneuverable, some planes were designed to shoot down the recon planes.  This led to fighters, bombers, and the jets that we know today.

Modern warfare generally favors the side that controls the skies, and for that reason, high-tech planes with sophisticated radar and other technologies are closely guarded secrets by states concerned about their leakage.  The United States’ protracted counterinsurgency wars, however, have proven that even though you control the skies, it doesn’t always mean you win.

3.  U.S. Army Special Forces started operating operationally

US Army Green Berets with South Vietnamese troops. | Source: Pinterest

The first true Special Forces Group, the 10th, was formed in 1952 under Col. Aaron Bank.  They evolved from Office of Strategic Services troops that had served behind enemy lines during World War II.  Concurrent with this was the founding of the Psychological Warfare School, later known as the John F. Kennedy School of Special Warfare.  The original goal of the Army’s Special Forces was “to infiltrate by land, sea or air, deep into enemy-occupied territory and organize the resistance/guerrilla potential to conduct Special Forces operations, with emphasis on guerrilla warfare.”

Special Forces have fought in every conflict since Korea and evolved into a number of different roles.  They have grown in number and size and now consist of some of the most elite soldiers in the United States Army, trained in multiple missions, including direct action and foreign internal defense.

4.  Chemical weapons: a sick burn

A gas attack during World War I. | Source: WWvets.com

The Cubs might have gone 108 years without winning a world series, but the world has only gone 101 years since the first chlorine gas attack.

On April 22, 1915, a man named Fritz Haber oversaw the world’s first successful chemical weapons use.  The German scientist had been attempting to convince a German commander to use the gas on Allied troops but had thus far met with scorn and derision.  One commander, however, let him try it, and when the wind finally turned toward the Allied troops, he unleashed the gas.

That single attack killed more than 1,100 Allied troops.  By the end of World War I, more than 50 different poisons had been used on the battlefield, and gas masks had become a tactical necessity.

Today, the use of chemical weapons is a war crime, although that didn’t stop Saddam Hussein from gassing thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq, or Bashar al-Assad using gas on his own people.

5.  Meals, Ready to Eat began constipating troops everywhere

The first MRE, 1981. | Source: MRE Info

The Department of Defense decided to re-vamp their combat rations in 1975, when they declared the MRE would be the new way of feeding troops in combat.  The first delivery of MRE’s occurred in 1981, and they were first field tested by the 25th Infantry Division in 1983.

MRE’s were a huge step forward for field rations because they could be kept almost indefinitely, and they did not require a flame to heat the entrees.  MRE’s nowadays are much tastier than the maggot-filled tack that soldiers of the Continental Army used to eat, and troops can pick and choose menu items.  Plus, Jalapeno cheese.  Enough said.

6.  Aircraft carriers became a thing

The Japanese seaplane carrier Wakamiya, circa 1914. | Source: Wikipedia

With the advent and importance of aircraft in modern warfare, it was only natural that nations sought to project that flight power to different parts of the world.  After all, what good was a runway for planes if it wasn’t near the combat zone?

To that end, armies and navies first tried launching balloons off of wooden ships, but when the propeller plane came around, they started putting aircraft on ships.  The Japanese ship Wakamiya lowered seaplanes onto the water using its crane in 1914 during the battle of Tsingtao, making this the first use of an “aircraft carrier” in warfare.

During the 1920’s, truly dedicated carriers with launch pads were commissioned and became an integral part of shaping the way the world fights wars.  Nowadays, the US Navy’s powerful carriers carry lethal jets and ground forces to places all over the world in order to project United States military power.

7.  Tanks

British Mark I tank, 1916. | Source: Wikipedia

Tanks, along with airplanes and aircraft carriers, changed the way that wars are fought.  Although the infantry was the major component of fighting in World War I, by World War II the way was being led by quick, lethal tanks that could maneuver and shoot accurately at the same time.  The armor provided by the vehicle shielded its occupants from most small arms fire and allowed infantry to follow behind.

Modern land warfare owes its origins to the tank, which debuted at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to limited success.  They simply could not operate in the artillery-churning mud of the front, and often became bogged down before even advancing.

During World War II, the Germans used their lightning-fast tanks in the Blitzkrieg doctrine in combination with airplanes and infantry.  Later on, tanks became more and more technologically advanced, and in modern times a tank can make an enormous difference on the battlefield, although they are still vulnerable to ever-more-lethal anti-tank rockets and missiles.

8.  Night vision let people see the night, visually

An M16A1 fitted with an AN PVS-2 starlight scope. | Source: Wikipedia

In the early days of World War II German scientists experimented with night vision devices with some limited success, even going so far as to equip their Panther tanks with night vision.  But it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that the first practical, mass-produced night vision devices, the AN/PVS-1 and 2 starlight scopes, were introduced.  Even though they were bulky and easily broken, these scopes gave U.S. troops an advantage on the battlefield.  They used ambient light to amplify the picture around them, allowing troops to see enemies moving in the dark.

Today, the United States military has some of the best night vision around, giving it advantages in the wars that it fights worldwide.  Each member of an infantry or special operations unit can have his or her own individual night vision device, which are now compact and project pictures in high definition.  Some devices even incorporate thermal imaging along with amplified ambient light to produce a better picture.  This gives US troops a massive advantage over enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, who have to use captured equipment and have little repair capability.

9.  Widespread use of body armor

Two American Servicemen in Korea, 1951, wearing body armor. | Source: Wikipedia

While the concept of protecting oneself from harm with armor has existed for millennia, the modern age of personally-issued body armor didn’t occur until around the time of the Korean War.  Even then, the vests were issued mostly for protection from shrapnel, and were bulkier and heavier than modern vests.

It wasn’t until the 1971 discovery of Kevlar by scientist Stephanie Kwolek that body armor became ligher and able to stop real bullets, including most pistol rounds.

In 1975, American Body Armor introduced a vest that used 15 layers of Kevlar and a “shok plate,” which could protect against high-velocity rifle rounds.  This set the standard for modern military body armor, which now often consists of so-called “soft” armor for pistol rounds and shrapnel, and hard ceramic plates for high-velocity bullets.  Advances in technology have made it so that troops, particularly those in well-funded special operations units, can have the best of both worlds: lightweight protection for vital organs and ultimate maneuverability.

10.  Missiles and precision-guided munitions

A Regulus guided missile. | Source: Wa3key.com

While airplanes changed the way wars were fought in the 20th century, the way airplanes were used was changed just as fundamentally with the advent of guided missiles.  Although civilizations had been experimenting with rocketry for centuries, the V1 and V2 rockets of Germany in World War II were the first true guided missiles used in warfare.  Following that, various countries began using missiles on their ships, jets and trucks, and creating massive, world-travelling Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.  If it weren’t for our massive experimentation in missile technology, the world would not have known the war-shaping theory of Mutually Assured Destruction, or the standoff capabilities of a guided missile destroyer launching cruise missiles into Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Modern missiles use Global Positioning Systems to find and destroy the enemy, and are becoming ubiquitous for the United States; today, more than 80 percent of bombs dropped by the United States military are precision-guided  They are essential in preventing civilian casualties in a world where states fight terrorist groups rather than each other.

More from American Grit:

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These colorized photos show a new side of World War II

Marines finishing training at Parris Island in South Carolina./Alfred T. Palmer/The Library of Congress


The 1930s and 1940s were a time of upheaval for the US and the world at large.

Reeling from the start of the Great Depression in 1929, the world soon faced a greater disaster with World War II, which lasted from 1939 to 1945. Though the US did not enter into the war officially until after Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the global war still affected the country.

The following photos, from the US Library of Congress, give us a rare glimpse of life in the US during World War II in color. They show some of the amazing changes that the war helped usher into the US, such as women in the workforce and the widespread adoption of aerial and mechanized warfare.

Mrs. Virginia Davis, a riveter in the assembly and repairs department of the naval air base, supervises Chas. Potter, a National Youth Administration trainee from Michigan, in Corpus Christi, Texas. After eight weeks of training, he will go into the civil service.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congres

Answering the nation’s need for woman-power, Davis made arrangements for the care of her two children during the day and joined her husband at work at the naval air base in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Jesse Rhodes Waller, AOM, third class, tries out a .30-caliber machine gun he has just installed in a US Navy plane at the base in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

A sailor at the base in Corpus Christi wears the new type of protective clothing and gas mask designed for use in chemical warfare.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Jesse Rhodes Waller, AOM, third class, tries out a .30-caliber machine gun he has just installed on a US Navy plane in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Feeding an SNC advanced-training plane its essential supply of gasoline is done by sailor mechanics in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Av. Cadet Thanas at the base in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Pearl Harbor widows went into war work to carry on the fight in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Mrs. Eloise J. Ellis was appointed by the civil service to be senior supervisor in the assembly and repairs department at the naval base in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

After seven years in the US Navy, J.D. Estes was considered an old sea salt by his mates at the base in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Mrs. Irma Lee McElroy, a former office worker, painting the American insignia on an airplane wing. McElroy was a civil-service employee at the base in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Aviation cadet in training at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Plane at the base in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Ensign Noressey and Cadet Thenics at the naval air base in Corpus Christi on a Grumman F3F-3 biplane fighter.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Working with a sea plane at the base in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Aviation cadets at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi.

Howard R. Hollem/The Library of Congress

Mechanics service an A-20 bomber at Langley Field in Virginia.

Alfred T. Palmer/The Library of Congress

M-3 tank and crew using small arms at Fort Knox in Kentucky.

Alfred T. Palmer/The Library of Congress

M-4 tank line at Fort Knox in Kentucky.

Alfred T. Palmer/The Library of Congress

A young soldier of the armored forces holds and sights his Garand rifle at Fort Knox.

Alfred T. Palmer/The Library of Congress

Servicing an A-20 bomber at Langley Field.

Alfred T. Palmer/The Library of Congress

A US Marine lieutenant was a glider pilot in training at Page Field on Parris Island in South Carolina.

Alfred T. Palmer/The Library of Congress

Marines finish training at Parris Island in South Carolina.

Alfred T. Palmer/The Library of Congress

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Russia’s creaky, old aircraft carrier is up to something strange

‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ in dry dock in July 2015. | Christopher Michel/Flickr photo


The aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is the biggest ship in the Russian navy and the most visible symbol of the Kremlin’s military power. This October, she will travel to the Mediterranean and carry out air strikes in Syria, according to a report from the Moscow-based Tass news agency.

There is a general rule for news about Russian warships. Like most things in life — don’t believe it until you see it. The first problem is that the Tass report, which reverberated throughout the Russian and Western press, relied on a single anonymous “military-diplomatic source.”

Nor is this the first time rumors have spread about the Admiral Kuznetsovgoing to war in Syria. The Russian navy denied a 2015 report which claimed as much.

But this is not to say you should totally disbelieve it, either. Recent activity surrounding the Admiral Kuznetsov may indicate an upcoming combat deployment.

First, here are several reasons to doubt it.

Admiral Kuznetsov has never seen combat, nor would she be of much practical military use. The 55,000-ton carrier has a bow ramp, not steam catapults, requiring her aircraft to shed weight before taking off. This means her planes will go into combat with less fuel or bombs than the ground-based fighters Russia has already deployed to Syria.

This is on purpose. The Soviet Union designed Admiral Kuznetsov as a “heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser” to support a surface battle fleet, foreign policy writer Taylor Marvin pointed out.

This makes her less flexible than U.S. supercarriers, and it’s the reason she packs anti-ship missiles for sinking other vessels, but cannot launch fully gassed-up strike planes with heavy bomb loads suitable for attacking targets on land.

Worse, the conventionally-powered Admiral Kuznetsov has problems. Poor maintenance, defective steam turbines and shoddy boilers means she’s unreliable — which is why Russia sends an ocean-going tug with her, wherever she goes.

A video of one of these tugs hauling the carrier in bad weather during a 2012 voyage appeared last year. It has an utterly awesome and appropriately Russian soundtrack.

“Carrier operations, particularly high-tempo strike missions, are an extremely complex logistical and operational dance, with lethal consequences for mistakes,” Marvin wrote. “Since the USSR and Russia has had little opportunity to build these skills, and none to test them in combat, any strike missions from the Kuznetsov would be limited and mostly for show.”

Russia would take a big risk … for not much gain. This doesn’t mean the Kremlin wouldn’t take the risk. There is circumstantial evidence to suggest — although in a speculative fashion — that the Russians may be preparing to do just that.

British destroyer HMS ‘York’ shadows ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ in 2011. | U.K. Ministry of Defense photo

For one, Admiral Kuznetsov is planning a voyage to the Mediterranean this fall. “It is true. There is such a plan,” Adm. Vladimir Komoyedov, chairman of the State Duma defense committee, told Tass on June 28.

Su-33 and Su-25 jets recently landed on the flattop, last spotted sailing in the Barents Sea. MiG-29Ks — a carrier-launched version of the muscular, multi-role Fulcrum — will arrive “in the coming days,” according to a July 4 reportby Interfax.

The news agency reported that the arrivals are in preparation for a “long hike” planned “roughly in the middle of October.”

The MiG-29K and its two-seater KUB variant are Soviet-era designs revived for the Indian Navy after it purchased the Kiev-class flattop Admiral Gorshkov — renamed INS Vikramaditya — in 2004. However, the planes themselves are brand new, pack advanced avionics and can drop precision-guided bombs.

The Su-33 is an air-superiority fighter, and the Su-25 is a close air support plane. Tass’ source said the carrier will go to Syria with “about 15 fighters Su-33 and MiG-29K/KUB and more than 10 helicopters Ka-52K, Ka-27 and Ka-31.”

But it gets weirder.

Russia went to war in Syria in September 2015. That month, Admiral Kuznetsov was completing a three-month maintenance stint near Murmansk.

Then in October, she appeared in the Barents Sea … for combat training.

That’s unusual, because the Russian aircraft carrier is a snowbird; she heads south late in the year. More specifically, she sails into the Mediterranean, which she did during her four previous deployments — all during winter.

October is not winter. But the Barents Sea and the carrier’s home port at Severomorsk are beyond the Arctic Circle, where flight operations are particularly dangerous beginning in mid-October due to the polar night, when there is little light.

Sergei Ishchenko, a military commentator and former navy captain, found that perplexing. “Only extraordinary circumstances could have forced training flights from the carrier during the least suitable time of the year,” he wrote for the website Svobodnaya Pressa.

“It’s obvious that the war in Syria is that circumstance.”

 Russia might not have a chance to deploy its carrier in combat again for awhile. In early 2017, Admiral Kuznetsov will head into dry dock for a two-year overhaul shortly after she returns from the Mediterranean. The war may be over by the time her repairs are done, giving the Kremlin a tiny window to signal military prowess with its flattop.

More curious is what’s happening with the MiG-29Ks.

These warplanes train at a runway with a ski-ramp in Yeysk, Russia, along the Sea of Azov. The Kremlin built this facility in 2012 as an alternative to a similar ramp runway in Nitka, Crimea — then part of Ukraine — which Russia leased. Russia captured Nitka during its February 2014 invasion, but the facility is apparently not suitable for MiG-29Ks.

And according to Ishchenko, the MiG-29K unit — the 100th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment — was not fully trained as of January 2016.Admiral Kuznetsov is useless without those multi-role fighters and their pilots. “Victory in that war demands actual, not potential, power,” Ischenko wrote. “And the Admiral Kuznetsov still lacks its full combat power.”

Hence the reason why the carrier is back in the Barents Sea for the second time since last October, now with MiG-29Ks on the way … on a crash course for an upcoming combat mission.

At least, that’s the theory. We’ll find out in a few months.

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N. Korea wants to give the US a ‘bigger gift package’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test of a new ballistic missile controlled by a precision guidance system and ordered the development of more powerful strategic weapons, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported on May 30.


The missile launched on May 29 was equipped with an advanced automated pre-launch sequence compared with previous versions of the “Hwasong” rockets, North Korea’s name for its Scud-class missiles, KCNA said. That indicated the North had launched a modified Scud-class missile, as South Korea’s military has said.

The North’s test launch of a short-range ballistic missile landed in the sea off its east coast and was the latest in a fast-paced series of missile tests defying international pressure and threats of more sanctions.

The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. (KCNA/Handout)

Kim said the reclusive state would develop more powerful weapons in multiple phases in accordance with its timetable to defend North Korea against the United States.

“He expressed the conviction that it would make a greater leap forward in this spirit to send a bigger ‘gift package’ to the Yankees” in retaliation for American military provocation, KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

South Korea said it had conducted a joint drill with a US supersonic B-1B Lancer bomber on May 29. North Korea’s state media earlier accused the United States of staging a drill to practice dropping nuclear bombs on the Korean peninsula.

The US Navy said its aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, also planned a drill with another US nuclear carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, in waters near the Korean peninsula.

North Korean Missile. (Associated Press image via NewsEdge)

A US Navy spokesman in South Korea did not give specific timing for the strike group’s planned drill.

North Korea calls such drills a preparation for war.

The launch on May 29 followed two successful tests of medium-to-long-range missiles in as many weeks by the North, which has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the mainland United States.

Such launches, and two nuclear tests since January 2016, have been conducted in defiance of US pressure, UN resolutions and the threat of more sanctions.

They also pose one of the greatest security challenges for US President Donald Trump, who portrayed the latest missile test as an affront to China.

“North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile … but China is trying hard!” Trump said on Twitter.

Precision Guidance

Japan has also urged China to play a bigger role in restraining North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s top national security adviser, Shotaro Yachi, met China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, for five hours of talks near Tokyo on May 29 after the North’s latest test.

Hwasong missile (North Korean variant). (Photo: KCNA)

Yachi told Yang that North Korea’s actions had reached a new level of provocation.

“Japan and China need to work together to strongly urge North Korea to avoid further provocative actions and obey things like United Nations resolutions,” Yachi was quoted as telling Yang in a statement by Japan’s foreign ministry.

A statement from China’s foreign ministry after the meeting made no mention of North Korea.

North Korea has claimed major advances with its rapid series of launches, claims that outside experts and officials believe may be at least partially true but are difficult to verify independently.

A South Korean military official said the North fired one missile on Monday, clarifying an earlier assessment that there may have been more than one launch.

The test was aimed at verifying a new type of precision guidance system and the reliability of a new mobile launch vehicle under different operational conditions, KCNA said.

However, South Korea’s military and experts questioned the claim because the North had technical constraints, such as a lack of satellites, to operate a terminal-stage missile guidance system properly.

“Whenever news of our valuable victory is broadcast recently, the Yankees would be very much worried about it and the gangsters of the south Korean puppet army would be dispirited more and more,” KCNA cited leader Kim as saying.

This post appeared first on Cyprus Mail.

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Army, NFL scientists team up to develop injury-reducing neck tether

The Rate-Activated Tether | U.S. Army photo


Army scientists, working with officials from the National Football League, have developed a wearable device that helps reduce head and neck injuries.

The Rate-Activated Tether, is a flexible strap that connects a helmet to shoulder pads or body armor, said Shawn Walsh of the Weapons and Material Research Directorate at Army Research Laboratory.

“What happens is if that when head is exposed to adverse acceleration, this RAT strap will basically transition into a rigid device that will transmit the load to the body, and it has been proven to significantly reduce acceleration,” Walsh told defense reporters at a recent roundtable discussion sponsored by Program Executive Office Soldier.

Over the years, the Defense Department has partnered with the NFL and the National Collegiate Athletic Association to research brain injuries. For example, the Army beginning in 2007 put blast sensors into tens of thousands of helmets to monitor head injuries from roadside bombs in Afghanistan. And the Pentagon and NCAA in 2014 announced a joint study into concussions.

Army scientists are not sure if the device will eliminate Traumatic Brain Injury or concussions, but “we can say with some confidence that there is some benefit to reducing adverse acceleration,” Walsh said.

The device could help to prevent head injuries sometimes experienced by paratroopers, Walsh said.

“It is a known fact that paratroopers do experience head injuries,” he said. “They are trained to land very carefully, but sometimes at night, in the rain or in irregular terrain and something goes just a little off, they can land on their head,” he said. “There is some very real Army applications associated with that as well.”

Army officials also discussed more long-term science and technology initiatives such as a project to design robots that could one day deploy shields to protect soldiers in a firefight.

“Part of our job at the research center is to kind of try to push the Army out of its comfort zone,” Walsh said. “One of the things we are exploring now is robotics.”

An effort known as Robotic Augmented Soldier Protection is designed to shadow soldiers and deploy a protective shield when an attack occurs, Walsh said.

“A lot of people associate robotics with lethality, but what we are looking at is can we use robotics in a purely protective mode?” Walsh said. “Can we use these robotics to deploy protective mechanisms … that can work to protect a human?”

What is lacking right now is the science, Walsh said, adding that the Army is trying to work with the academic community on the effort.

Army officials that develop soldier requirements at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia are also interested in the concept, said Col. Curt “Travis” Thompson, director of the Soldier Division at Training and Doctrine Command’s Capability Manpower – Soldier.

“We are the closest touchpoint to the soldiers who are out in the field … but that doesn’t mean that we are the closest touch point to the realm of the possible or where we should be going,” he said. “We absolutely rely on ARL to kind of inform us to what is possible.”

The service’s leadership has shown interest in the effort, Walsh said.

“The Army is encouraging us; we were actually down at Fort Benning,” Walsh said. “They want to see more prototyping. They want to be introduced to these concepts as soon as possible.”

While still a fledgling effort, ARL does have a working prototype, he said.

“We are not saying that every soldier would have one,” Walsh said. “This is only useful in certain scenarios.”

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This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well

If you’ve ever surfed the internet looking for military rap songs, chances are you’ve come across the unique sound of “The Marine Rapper.”


Known for sporting a red mohawk and wearing an American flag bandana, TMR served 10 years in the Marine Corps as a Combat Correspondent where he earned a Combat Action Ribbon and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals during his service.

After successful tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, TMR left the Marine Corps in February 2014. After entering back into civilian life, TMR began focusing on music as a profession and for cathartic expression.

TMR has performed and hosted numerous live shows from Los Angeles to San Diego. (Source: The Marine Rapper)

Related: This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

Since then, TMR’s music has been featured on the Range 15 Movie Soundtrack, the Oscar Mike TV series on Go90 network, and Apple Music.

“Star-Spangled Banger has many meanings,” TMR tells WATM. “It is a new Star-Spangled Banner, it is my moniker and a way of saying veterans made a banger.”

TMR’s music recounts personal war stories over hip-hop and rock inspired beats. He strives to motivate others and to use his rhythmic talents to immortalize his fallen brothers and sisters through music.

Check out The Marine Rapper‘s music video to watch “Star-Spangled Bangar” for yourself.

(YouTube, The Marine Rapper)
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13 funniest military memes for the week of Feb. 17

The week is over, but the memes are neverending. Check out 13 of our favorite military memes of the week below:


1. This woobie is my woobie, and we have seen unspeakable things together (via Pop smoke).

Just take the statement of charges, dude. It’s worth it.

2. “Build a wall over the tunnel!”

(via Military World)

Yeah, that doesn’t stop Marines.

3. The flight line plays by its own rules. Like criminal gangs do (via Air Force Memes Humor).

ALSO SEE: The CIA just declassified these 11 Russian jokes about the Soviet Union

4. Admit it, when you’re in contact, you would rather those Chair Force fellows were in the chairs than in the gym (via Military Memes).

Course, they could go practice some ruck marching when they’re off duty.

5. Dream away, fellows. Dream away (via Pop smoke).

Take a look at the age of that baby. You left her newly pregnant when you deployed and thought you would come back to her full of energy?

6. First sergeants were trying to save your life, Bubba (via Team Non-Rec).

Also would have helped if you kept your dang feet dry, like L-T told you to.

7. Oh yeah, sir? Those were your accomplishments?

(via Shit my LPO says)

Guess I’ll just go over here and keep typing your reports for you.

8. Just give it some liberty, man. Those claws look sharp (via Pop smoke).

Maybe throw in some donut holes for free.

9. D-mnit, Carl. You never learned to secure your weapon? (via Military World)

Guess who’s going swimming?

10. When you find out where Jodie goes after the housing area:

(via The Salty Soldier)

11. Turns me on (via NavyMemes.com).

Haze grey and underway.

12. Ummmm … I’m fine, bro. Keep your motivation to yourself (via The Salty Soldier).

And if that cadence caller could shut up, too, that’d be great.

13. You can tell the safety NCO is phoning it in when:

(via Coast Guard Memes)

Maybe keep some water bottles handy for the foreseeable future.

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The Coast Guard wants to be the face of America in the South China Sea

The U.S. Coast Guard is ready to meet the Chinese military head on – but in a very Coast Guard way.


A member of Maritime Safety and Security Team San Diego stands safety watch aboard a 45-foot response boat-medium from Station Honolulu while participating in an exercise with French navy Floreal-class frigate FS Prairial (F 731), during Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa E. McKenzie)

Related: This is what a war between China and Japan would look like 

China claims sovereignty over a number of disputed islands in the South China Sea, and most of those claims are not recognized by international law. The U.S. Navy, under the guise of its mission to maintain freedom of navigation of the seas, regularly steams through these waters.

The Chinese consider these missions provocative. In October 2016, the guided missile destroyer USS Decatur sailed past the Paracel Islands – shadowed by three Chinese ships.

Beijing always threatens to respond to missions like these.

Chinese sailors travel in rigid hull inflatable boats while participating in a visit, board, search and seizure exercise between China, Indonesia, France and the United States, during Rim of the Pacific 2016. (Chinese navy photo by Wenxuan Zhuliang)

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft thinks the freedom of navigation missions can be done much more diplomatically and he thinks the Coast Guard is the way forward.

“Look at China’s Coast Guard, it really is the first face of China,” Admiral Zukunft told Voice of America. “I would look at providing resources to provide the face of the United States behind a Coast Guard ship.”

The bright, white-hulled ships of the Coast Guard are much more familiar to Chinese soldiers and sailors.

“The U.S. Coast Guard has a very good relationship with the Chinese Coast Guard, with each side frequently boarding the other’s ships to carry out joint maritime law enforcement activities,” he said.

Coast Guard members participate in a counter-piracy exercise with Chinese sailors from Chinese navy multirole frigate Hengshui (572) aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Stratton (WMSL 752), during Rim of the Pacific exercise 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Loumania Stewart)

There’s actually a – no kidding – Coast Guard arms race in the region underway.

Using lightly-armed Coast Guard ships might actually be better for diffusing tensions in the area, instead of using heavily-armed conventional naval forces. Even China’s massive new Coast Guard supercutters will not have heavy armaments.

Zukunft added that the U.S. Coast Guard also could help Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries in the area develop maritime capabilities while keeping peace and security.

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5 other battles that kicked off the war in the Pacific

When the Japanese attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they did so in a coordinated effort that spanned across the Pacific.


Having been weakened by sanctions imposed by the United States, the Japanese sought to deliver a crushing blow to the U.S. and its allies, claiming much of the territory in the East and leaving little means for resistance.

These are the five battles that occurred simultaneously (though on December 8 because they were across the international date line) as the attack on Pearl Harbor, effectively beginning the war in the Pacific:

The Americans would not recapture the island until 1944. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

1. Battle of Guam

Along with the air attacks at Pearl Harbor the Japanese also began air raids against the island of Guam on the morning of December 8, 1941. Two days later an oversized Japanese invasion force landed on the island. After quickly defeating the local Insular Guard force, the Japanese moved on to the under-strength Marine Corps detachment led by Lt. Col. William MacNulty. After a brief resistance, the Marines were ordered to surrender by the islands governor. However, six men from the U.S. Navy fled into the jungle in hopes of evading capture. Five were eventually captured and executed but one, George Ray Tweed, managed to hold out with the help of the local Chamorro tribe for over two and a half years until U.S. forces retook the island in 1944. To the locals he represented the hope of an American return to the island. When the Americans returned he was able to signal a nearby destroyer and pass on valuable targeting information.

Most of the F4F Wildcats defending Wake Island were lost in the initial attack. The remaining would also fall to the Japanese, but not before sinking the Kisaragi battleship. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

2. Battle of Wake Island

When the Japanese first launched their air attacks on Wake Island, they caught the U.S. off guard and managed to destroy precious aircraft on the ground. However, when the Japanese invasion came on Dec. 11, 1941, the Americans were ready and threw back the initial Japanese landing attempt. The Japanese proceeded to lay siege to the island. Aerial bombardment continued but Wake Island became a bright spot in the Pacific as American forces were pushed back elsewhere. The media dubbed it the “Alamo of the Pacific.” Eventually, on Dec. 23, 1941, the Japanese launched another assault on the island. Again the defenders put up a staunch resistance. With no more flyable planes, the Marine aviators — as well as civilians trapped on the island — joined in the fight. Capt. Henry Elrod would become the first Marine aviator to earn the Medal of Honor for his actions there. Despite the intrepid defense, the island was surrendered. The defenders joined the others across the Pacific in their brutal treatment by the Japanese.

Prisoners on the march from Bataan to the prison camp. None would survive the war. (U.S. National Archives)

3. Battle of the Philippines

When the first Japanese forces hit the islands north of Luzon, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, brought out of retirement for just such an occasion, had over 31,000 American and Philippine troops under his command. These forces put up a determined resistance throughout December, but on Christmas Eve MacArthur called for a fighting withdrawal to the Bataan Peninsula. Once his forces were consolidated on Bataan and the harbor islands of Manila Bay, they dug in to make a final stand against the Japanese onslaught. For several months they held out until shortages of all necessary war supplies dwindled.

The survivors were rounded up and subjected to the brutal Bataan Death March on their way to POW Camps. A lucky few were able to withdraw to Corregidor. A defensive force centered on the 4th Marine Regiment and, augmented by numerous artillery units numbering 11,000 men, prepared to defend Corregidor from the Japanese. That attack came on May 5, 1942. The next day Gen. Wainwright, in the face of overwhelming odds and no prospects of relief, decided to surrender the American forces in the Philippines.

Japanese fire artillery at the British colony of Hong Kong. (Photo: Veterans of Foreign Wars)

4. Battle of Hong Kong

The Americans were not the only targets of the Japanese and so at 8:00 a.m. local time, Japanese forces from mainland China attacked the British Commonwealth forces defending Hong Kong. British, Canadian, and Indian troops manned defensive positions but were woefully undermanned.

Initial attempts to stop the Japanese at the Gin Drinker’s Line, a defensive line to the north of Hong Kong island, were unsuccessful due to a lack of manpower. The defenders also lacked the experience of the Japanese troops that were attacking. Within three days, the defenders had withdrawn from the mainland portion of the colony and set up defenses on the island of Hong Kong.

The Japanese quickly followed and, after British refusal to surrender, attacked across Victoria Harbor on Dec. 19. Less than a week later, on Christmas day 1941, the British surrendered Hong Kong to the Japanese. The survivors endured numerous atrocities at the hands of the Japanese.

One of Singapore’s 15 inch coastal defence guns elevated for firing. The guns were supplied with armor-piercing shells instead of high explosive ones, and were therefore not very effective against the invading infantry. (Photo: United Kingdom)

5. Malayan Campaign and the Battle of Singapore

Another British target of the Japanese was Singapore for its important strategic location and because it was a strong base for British resistance. In order to capture Singapore, the Japanese launched the Malayan Campaign on Dec. 8, 1941. On the first day of the campaign the Japanese also launched the first aerial bombardment against Singapore.

In an attempt to intercept the Japanese invasion force, the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese aircraft. This left very little in the means of naval power for the British fleet in Singapore.

On land the Commonwealth forces fared no better. The Japanese stormed down the peninsula, forcing the defenders back towards Singapore. By the end of January 1942 the entire peninsula had fallen and the British set in to defend Singapore. The Japanese launched their assault on Singapore on Feb. 8, 1942. Some 85,000 troops stood ready to defend the city but could only hold out for a week before capitulating. This ended British resistance in the Pacific area.

The British lost nearly 140,000 men — the vast majority of whom were captured — in the campaign. As with the fighting elsewhere, the campaign was marked by Japanese cruelty.

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5 Times When Jon Stewart Made A Difference For America’s Veterans

Jon Stewart is leaving “The Daily Show” after 16 years.


A cursory look at the show archives yields an impressive listing of military-related segments over the years, from an absolutely hilarious segment from Rob Riggle at the protests of Marine recruiters in Berkeley, California to Stewart’s fascinating interview with a soldier on what it takes to get through Ranger school.

But you may not know that Stewart has been an advocate for troops throughout his tenure, and has used his show on occasion to advocate for veterans and veteran-related causes. Here are five times in recent years he tried to make a difference:

When he brought on Eric Greitens, CEO and Founder of The Mission Continues, to discuss how returning veterans could transition into service and leadership roles in the civilian world.

When he sent out Samantha Bee to investigate an Iraq war veteran’s benefit claim — stuck in the 900,000 case backlog at the VA — in a segment called Zero Dark 900,000.

When he spoke with war correspondent Sebastian Junger about his film “Korengal,” and how soldiers could positively impact society after they return from war.

When Jason Jones was sent out to speak with Vietnam veterans who were dishonorably discharged due to PTSD who can’t get treatment because they were dishonorably discharged due to PTSD.

The time he blasted President Obama over the VA backlog scandal in an ongoing series called “The Red Tape Diaries.”

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Watch the Air Force launch an ICBM in mid-air from the back of a C-5

During the Cold War, the American nuclear deterrent strategy required coming up with ways to guarantee the survival of nuclear weapons if the Soviets managed a surprise first strike. The surviving devices would then be used to destroy Soviet civilization.


Keeping U.S. nukes out of Soviet crosshairs required a lot of imagination. The Americans had to keep the nukes deeply buried or constantly on the move. Then they had to make sure the surviving devices could be used effectively.

One such scheme was outfitting a full-size Minuteman III Inter-continental Ballistic Missile to fit in the back of a U.S. Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft, dumping the nuke out the back and triggering the ICBM’s full ignition sequence.

They’re really serious about nothing stopping the U.S. Air Force.

Minuteman III ICBMs carry multiple warheads bound for separate targets. This makes the Minuteman III the ideal missile for the mobile nuclear weapon strategy. At 60 feet long and 78,000 pounds, the missile is easily carried by the gargantuan aircraft.

The C-5 Galaxy’s maximum payload is an amazing 285,000 pounds and the aircraft itself is just under 248 feet long. With an operational range of 5,250 nautical miles, the C-5 can fly from Dover Air Force Base to the Middle East without having to refuel.

Launching a fully functional ICBM out the back of an aircraft inflight might sound crazy, but the Air Force first tested this concept successfully in 1974.

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Recent layoffs indicate working for ISIS might be a risky career move

ISIS is facing severe cash shortfalls as NATO airstrikes take out their supply lines and cash reserves, forcing the so-called caliphate to slash salaries for all workers and fighters as well as cut back services.


The U.S. began targeting warehouses of ISIS cash in Jan. and NATO has been striking oil infrastructure and equipment for months.

GIF: Youtube/Mike B

Other strikes against weapons and fighters have driven up the cost of waging violent jihad, and plummeting oil prices have further damaged ISIS’s bottom line. Now, the Iraqi government has decided to stop paying the salaries of government workers in ISIS-controlled areas, salaries ISIS had heavily taxed.

Photo: Youtube.com

The Commanding General of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, told CNN that ISIS has lost millions of dollars because of U.S. operations.

Back in Jan., it was revealed that money troubles forced ISIS to reduce fighters’ salaries by half, and new reports from the AP show that even that wasn’t enough to bridge the shortfall.

Civil servant salaries have now had their salaries slashed as well, and ISIS is cutting many perks. Fighters no longer get free energy drinks or candy bars (yeah, they were apparently getting those) or bonuses for getting married or having babies.

Some fighters are now going without pay while food and electrical rations have been reduced.

Between the money shortages, the airstrikes and raids, and the Internet trolling, it seems like working for ISIS might be a bad idea.