Most of the TV-watching public may all have laughed (or at least smiled) at the idea of a high school student doing the Harrier’s trademark vertical landing at this high school, but John Leonard wasn’t playing around.
No, Leonard didn’t buy 16.8 million cans of Pepsi, but the 21-year-old did send in 15 Pepsi Points and a check for $700,008.50, which – according to the rules of the contest – Leonard could do. Pepsi refused to give the guy his jet.
“Mr. Leonard saw the spot, hired business advisers and lawyers, and decided to take legal action,” said the Pepsi spokesman.
Leonard vs. PepsiCo, Inc. was the case of 1996. The young business student accused Pepsi of fraud and breach of contract, while Pepsi argued the commercial’s use of the jet was “just a joke.”
“People point out that this Pepsi generation they’re trying to sell to is me,” Leonard countered, but his lawsuit was thrown out in a summary judgment, saying “if it is clear that an offer was not serious [to an objective, reasonable person], then no offer has been made.” The specific language of the court’s ruling is as follows:
Plaintiff’s understanding of the commercial as an offer must also be rejected because the Court finds that no objective person could reasonably have concluded that the commercial actually offered consumers a Harrier Jet.
Even if the plaintiff won the Harrier, it would have been a mere shadow of the Calvin and Hobbes-like boyhood dream John Leonard probably imagined. In a 1996 article from CNN, the Pentagon said it would have to completely demilitarize the jet before giving it to a civilian, which means its guns and air-to-air and air-to-ground missile capability would be out, as well as its vertical takeoff, which is pretty much is the whole reason behind going through so much trouble for a Harrier.
The cost of using and maintaining a Harrier would be very expensive for the young man. The real price of a Harrier in 1996 was $33.8 million and used 11.4 gallons of fuel per minute. Leonard included $10 for shipping and handling, as per the contest rules.
Two U.S. Air Force pilots have ejected after a U-2 spy plane crashed around noon local time during a training mission on the West Coast, a service spokesman said.
Lt. Col. Michael Meridith, a spokesman for the Air Force, confirmed the incident on Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference outside Washington, D.C., but he didn’t know the whereabouts or the condition of the service members. “It did crash,” he said when asked if the plane went down. “Two pilots ejected.”
Meridith said a search and rescue operation for the crew was under way.
The U.S. Air Force press desk later tweeted, “We can confirm a U-2 from @9thRW Beale AFB has gone down in Sutter County, CAA; 2 pilots have ejected; details to follow when available,” referring to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing.
But officials walked back their initial statements on the pilots’ condition as the day went on.
“We have no official confirmation on the pilots’ condition,” Beale Air Force Base tweeted later in the day. “We will provide updates when more information is available.”
Air Combat Command around the same time issued a similar statement to correct a previous one that wrongly stated the pilots had “safely” ejected and were “awaiting recovery with aircraft in isolated area.”
The U-2 Dragon Lady is a Cold War-era surveillance plane based at Beale Air Force Base in California. Trainer models of the aircraft hold two crew members.
Russia is busy trying to drum up sales for its newest high-tech weapons, and one of those is the Su-35S Flanker – a heavily upgraded version of the Su-27, also called the Flanker.
According to the London Daily Mail, Russia has released a brief video of the Su-35 being taken for a test flight.
The Su-35’s biggest change is the use of thrust-vectoring engines. This only enhances the maneuverability inherent in the Su-27 design. The Su-27 is famous for being able to do the Pugachev Cobra, a maneuver that allows it to fly tail-first for a period of time.
The Daily Mail noted that the Su-35S has a top speed of Mach 2.25, the ability to fire a variety of missiles and drop up to 17,000 pounds of bombs from 12 hardpoints, and is equipped with a 30mm cannon for close-in dogfighting. Some Su-35s were sent to Syria by the Russian government, which backs that country’s dictator, Bashir al-Assad.
Russia also did a video of its aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The video, though, omitted relevant details, like the carrier’s poor operating condition. There were also at least two splash landings during the Kuznetsov’s deployment off Syria.
WATM recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tim Neff, Vice President/Director of Museum & Education at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Pittsburgh to talk about the mission of the museum, what visitors can expect and how COVID has changed the museum’s offerings.
Editor’s note: This interview was conducted May 11, 2021. Readers interested in visiting should check the museum website for COVID-19 related policies, as they may have changed since then.
WATM: What made you decide to become a steward of our nation’s heritage?
Right from the beginning, my family has always been interested in history, especially our family’s history. Our family has been in American history for a very long time. Our family genealogy was a big part of me growing up. I think that got me started. I think, like a lot of people, I had an impactful high school teacher, who brought history to life, who made it interesting, really got it away from dates and names and made it more about stories and inspired me to move into a career of history.
Specifically, I had a second class about military history with a different teacher. [Laughs] Maybe the second teacher wasn’t as good as the first one, it was a great combination. I really appreciated that teacher’s delivery and the content of the military history class. You kind of put that together, when I went off to school my goal was to be a high school history teacher. That’s what I wanted to do. Different circumstances pushed me in another direction after college graduation and I ended up working in a history museum for my career. I’m very happy with how it all worked out, that’s for sure.
WATM: The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum Trust is currently open by appointment only, what can attendees expect on their tour?
Our tour right now is a 90-minute experience. Our museum essentially covers the veteran experience from the Civil War to present day. So, our visitors are led through the museum, almost in a timeline. It starts with our Civil War collection, which is the primary reason our museum was built — it is a Civil War Memorial — and our story begins. Since then, other wars have occurred. Our museum, building and memorial have adapted and changed.
When visitors come, they start with the Civil War and then they move through the Spanish-American War, World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and even a little bit on Iraq and Afghanistan and current times. It truly is a comprehensive look at American veterans and their service to our country. Everything we have in our museum has been donated by local men and women who served. When you look at our museum, we have real artifacts donated by local veterans that we use to tell their story and honor their service to our country.
WATM: How has COVID-19 impacted the museum experience?
COVID-19 has forced us into the virtual world. To be honest, it was not something that I was too familiar with personally. I had to get used to it, [laughs] and learn as I went along. What we’re delivering is: every month we have what we call our Spotlight On Program. It’s an hour long on the second Thursday of each month. We just had one last night. It was about Memorial Day, the history of it and what it means. (The audience discussed) the different traditions that have evolved about honoring the fallen. (The museum) delivers that the second Thursday of every month. It’s about an hour-long program. We try to bring in guests from other museums, experts from different areas, but of course we always have our curator or myself on the panel as well bringing things back to Soldiers and Sailors and its mission.
Another thing we do is we work with another online organization called Varsity Tutors. My degree is in education. As I’ve said I wanted to be a teacher. I want to deliver content to young people during this time. We partnered with this group because they have a large audience all across the country. We’ve been doing classes once a month geared toward young people and educating them about topics of the military; African-Americans in the military, women in the military, the meaning behind the uniforms such as symbols, patches and ribbons. We did one about Veterans Day, We’re going to be doing one about Memorial Day. It’s kind of interactive, there are questions and games we play that are geared to get the younger audience interested about veterans and the military in general.
WATM: What other virtual content do you have available?
A big one I didn’t mention there is Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a big day for Soldiers and Sailors. Normally, we have an open house, thousands of people come to our museum. We have a ceremony in the morning to respectfully honor the meaning behind Memorial Day and some outdoor fun. Of course, we can’t do that now. This year we will deliver a virtual Memorial Day event.
The ceremony will take place at 11 o’clock on May 31st where people can watch the posting of the Colors, the National Anthem, laying of the wreath by Gold Star Families and we have a slide show we play every year which honors fallen soldiers from the Post 9/11 conflict. There are about 300 or so troops that have been killed from the state of Pennsylvania and we have a solemn tribute via Livestream after the live ceremony in our auditorium.
WATM: How can someone support the museum’s mission?
The easiest way is a monetary donation. [Laughs] We’re always open to donations. That’s one way. Of course, there are other ways as well, we’re always looking for artifacts to be donated. Our museum is made up of artifacts donated by families and individuals. We do not go out and buy things or solicit things. They’re artifacts that are brought to us.
If there are folks in the Western Pennsylvania region that have items that they do not know what to do with and are looking for a home for, we’re always looking for those items and to see if they would be a good fit for our collection. So, donating artifacts is another way people can help. A third way is people can visit us. If people are in the Pittsburg area they can stop by. Hopefully, we’ll be able to open in the next month or so. Folks passing by the Pittsburg region should stop by and see our museum.
WATM: Do you have anything you would like to say to the veteran audience?
First I would like to say thank you for their service to our country. I am not a veteran myself but I’ve learned about all the sacrifices they have made through the years. We’re here for them. Our mission is to make sure their stories and sacrifices are not forgotten by future generations. I take that responsibility very seriously as an educator. On a normal year, we have thousands of school students coming through the museum and they learn the importance of recognizing veterans. Western Pennsylvania is home to a lot of veterans and to people who have veterans in their families. It reinforces how significant it is what they have done for our country.
WATM: What is next for you and the museum?
The next big step is opening up to our regular hours and walk-in business. We will always offer guided tours but some people appreciate coming through on their own. We have another big project where we are redesigning and rebuilding our exhibit cases. Our building was not built as a museum. Our museum cases had to be fit in the best way they could. They were done 30 years ago and weren’t done the best way possible. We want to improve that. It is a big project and will take a lot of fundraising efforts but we’re very lucky to have been given some money related towards the Korean War by the Korean Memorial Fund in this region.
We can completely redo our Korean War section of the museum. We are going to have three new Korean War exhibits filled with our artifacts. It will be built by a local firm that does museum exhibits and we’re hoping this time next year we’ll be ready to debut these brand new, state of the art, museum-quality exhibits for the Korean War. In turn, we can use it as a model to raise funds to revamp our other exhibits throughout our museum. It’s really exciting. We can take that next step to achieving a more professional look that people expect at museums. I’m not saying we do not have that now but there is always room for improvement. This is going to be a big part of that.
WATM: I like to throw a curveball at the end of every interview. What is a piece of military history that most people do not know?
That could be a lot of things, unfortunately. That why we’re here [laughs], to make sure people know about them. I’ll tell you one of the most popular stories that people are not prepared for: we have a painting from the Civil War about a dog. His name is Dog Jack. He was a dog of a local regiment of Civil War soldiers. People somewhat affiliate dogs with the military.
Of course, today dogs are in the military. Working dogs, you know. At that time he was just a mascot. It’s an amazing story about trading a confederate prisoner to get him back. It’s something that appeals to everybody. When people come to this museum, especially students as I’ve said, sometimes they don’t want to know everything about military history. What they don’t expect is to get this story about little Dog Jack. Almost everybody identifies with. They love that story and appreciate it. At least when it comes to us, I think people aren’t ready to learn that story when coming in.
The United States Army recently demonstrated some new killer robots at Fort Benning, near the city of Columbus, Georgia. While these robots are new, some of the gear they used looks awfully familiar to grunts.
While it might seem odd to use the older vehicles as the basis for robots, keep this in mind: The military has thousands of M113s and thousands of HMMWVs on inventory. The vehicles have also been widely exported. In fact, the M113 is so widely used, it’s hard to imagine anyone would want the used M113s the United States Army has to offer. The same goes for the HMMWV.
Furthermore, while these vehicles may not be ones that you can keep troops in during combat, they can still drive. They can carry cargo. Or, they can carry some firepower. With today’s ability to either drive vehicles by remote control, or to program them to carry out missions, these vehicles could have a lot of useful service left to give.
An Army release had details about how the old platforms helped. One M113 was used to deploy other robots from its troop compartment – one that could hold 11 grunts. Another M113 was used to provide smoke – and conceal a pair of M1A2 Abrams tanks. An unnamed HMMWV demonstrated its ability to use a remote weapon station and a target acquisition system.
That’s not all. The military also had a modified Polaris all-terrain vehicle show its stuff. The ATV also featured an unmanned aerial vehicle on a tether. Such an eye in the sky can have huge benefits. Furthermore, the ATV has a much lower profile.
If these experiments are any indication, American grunts will still be seeing the M113 and HMMWV on the battlefield. This time, though, they will be fighting alongside them, not riding in them.
On July 11, 2017, the Sri Lankan navy was conducting operations nine miles out to sea and spotted something surprising: an elephant swimming in the deep ocean.
Elephants are actually excellent swimmers for land animals, using their powerful legs to propel themselves forward and breathing through their trunk. But they aren’t true endurance swimmers or deepwater experts.
The military has very talented photographers in its ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. This is the best of what they shot this week:
Eleven C-17 Globemaster IIIs line up on the runway at Moses Lake, Wash., after an airdrop during exercise Rainier War Dec. 10, 2015. Rainier War is a semiannual large formation exercise, hosted by the 62nd Airlift Wing, designed to train aircrews under realistic scenarios that support a full spectrum operations against modern threats and replicate today’s contingency operations.
An F-16 Fighting Falcon receives fuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker during exercise Razor Talon Dec. 14, 2015, over the coast of North Carolina. The aircrew and other support units from multiple bases conducted training missions designed to bolster cohesion between forces.
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter crew, assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska drops off United States Air Force Airmen during a field training exercise at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, Alaska, Dec. 9, 2015.
An explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician, assigned to the 20th CBRNE Command, checks for a simulated improvised explosive device during an exercise at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Dec. 9, 2015.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Dec. 14, 2015) Capt. Brian Quin, commanding officer of Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), takes a “selfie” with Tigers during a Tiger Cruise. Essex is the flagship of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU), is deployed to the 3rd Fleet area of responsibility.
SAN DIEGO (Dec. 10, 2015) Santa Claus gives a pediatric patient a gift at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD). Santa Claus and NMCSD staff members brought patients toys and cookies to lift their holiday spirits.
A Marine with Alpha Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, awaits the order to lock down the hatches as the unit prepares to conduct company-level beach operations on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Dec. 5, 2015. During this exercise the unit conducted maneuvers as a mechanized infantry company in preparation for upcoming operations.
A U.S. Marine assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 461, sits on top of a CH-53E Super Stallion aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, Dec. 15, 2015. HMH-461 conducted helicopter rope suspension training with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and 2nd Recon Battalion.
The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba returns to their homeport of Boston, Dec. 19, 2015, following a successful 52-day deployment in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. The crew aboard the Escanaba successfully interdicted 1,009 kilograms of cocaine, two vessels, and five suspects, in support of Operation Roundturn.
Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles crew conducts emergency aircraft evacuation trainingSubscribe to Unit Newswire Subscribe 2 Crew members of Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles conducted emergency aircraft evacuation training at Loyola Marymount University on Dec. 16, 2015. Each member is harnessed into an aircraft seat situated inside a metal simulated aircraft cabin.
Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford made the rounds July 19 on Capitol Hill, reportedly briefing lawmakers on the White House’s strategy for Afghanistan and on the ongoing coalition campaign to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon repeatedly has said its Afghanistan war plan would be on President Trump’s desk by mid-July.
For several weeks, defense officials led by Mr. Mattis have been assessing the progress of the Afghanistan war, determining what level of support — including a 3,000- to 5,000-troop increase — will be required to stabilize the country’s security forces.
Government-led analysis and reviews by private sector analysts say upwards of 60 percent of Afghanistan is heavily influenced by or under the direct sway of the Taliban. Afghan troops, advised by US and NATO forces, have suffered heavy casualties to maintain control over the 40 percent of the country ruled by the central government in Kabul.
The war in Afghanistan received little attention on the campaign trail last year, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump focusing on the US-led coalition to defeat the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL. But Washington refocused on Southwest Asia amid Taliban gains this spring and the increased Islamic State presence in the eastern half of Afghanistan.
“We are not winning in Afghanistan,” Mr. Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee last month.
His comments echoed those of US Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel and Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander in the country.
Currently 8,400 US troops are in Afghanistan, training and advising local security forces. Should the top-end troop increase proposal go into effect, it would raise the number of US forces in the country to more than 10,000.
On top of the increases sought by the Pentagon, NATO leaders have agreed to send surge forces into the war-torn country. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced the decision during an alliance ministerial earlier this year.
Inside the Pentagon, hopes were high that President Trump’s emphasis on military might to achieve US national security objectives coupled with a hands-off management style would give the department the resources and leeway it needed to bring the Afghan war to an end. Those hopes were bolstered when the administration announced decisions on troop numbers would be the exclusive domain of Mr. Mattis and his staff.
But recent reports claiming that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster instituted a soft cap of 3,900 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that could be sent to Afghanistan has put a damper on such assumptions.
The Trump White House’s management of the Pentagon “is not the free hand that has been advertised,” said Bill Roggio, managing editor of the Long War Journal and an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Furthermore, any close study of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign would have proven things would be business as usual at the Pentagon. “The [war] policies are fundamentally the same at this point in time just with the reins loosened,” Mr. Roggio said.
The proposed 3,900-man troop cap is less an example of the war micromanagement of the Obama administration and more a way to get some breathing room as the Trump administration pulls together a long-term Afghan strategy, he added.
“It is a stopgap until we can come up with a complete strategy. It is not a permanent cap,” said Mr. Roggio.
Congressional hawks, led by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, have taken Mr. Trump’s national security team to task over its lack of an Afghanistan war plan.
Last month Mr. McCain told Mr. Mattis and Gen. Dunford that he hopes they can “understand the dilemma you are presenting to us” each day the Trump administration holds off on issuing a new strategy for America’s longest war.
But for all the rhetoric, the US does have an Afghanistan strategy in place — the one drafted by the Obama White House.
Mr. Roggio said he understands the frustration at the Defense Department and on Capitol Hill regarding the White House’s slow pace on the Afghanistan plan.
“But there is a strategy in place right now, and until there is a new one, you follow that,” he said, referring to the Obama plan.
Army Apaches are using a new technology in Afghanistan which enables the attack helicopter crews to view real-time video feeds from nearby drones, control the drones’ flight path and therefore more effectively destroy enemy targets, service officials told Scout Warrior.
Manned-Unmanned Teaming, or MUM-T, gives AH-64E Apache attack helicopters an ability to control the flight path and sensor payload of Army Shadow and Gray Eagle drones. Army officials say the combination of the Apache’s lethal weapons and the drones’ sensors enable helicopter crews to find and go after dynamic or fast-moving targets from further ranges.
For instance, looking at real-time Electro-Optical/Infra-red images from drone cameras in the Apache cockpit gives crews an increased ability to, for instance, more effectively destroy groups of enemy fighters on the move in pick-up trucks or attack insurgents hiding near a known U.S. Army convoy route planning to launch an ambush.
Manned-Unmanned Teaming was recently used with great success in Afghanistan by the 1-229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Army officials said.
“Now before the unit even deploys out of the Forward Arming Refueling Point, or FARP, they can actually bring up the UAS (drone) feed, look through the sensors and see the target they are going to attack up to 50 or 60 miles away,” Apache Program Manager Col. Jeff Hager told Scout Warrior in an interview.
Hager also explained that maintaining drone sensors on targets which can move and change gives the Apache crew an opportunity to make adjustments while en-route to a target location.
“They have full situational awareness on that target as they fly inbound and do not lose any data on that target on the way,” Hager added. “They don’t go into a situation where they are surprised.”
Apache pilots in Afghanistan are now flying upgraded AH-64E-model helicopters which give the platform increased speed and performance. In development for many years and now part of the operational force, the AH-64E models use a stronger 701D helicopter engine, composite rotor blades and next-generation communications technology and avionics.
“The additional power and capability that the aircraft brings actually changes the face of the battlefield. Now they can close, maintain and assume contact activities with the enemy at a much faster rate. The enemy could time the amount of time it was going to take the Delta (“D” model Apache) models to get to them. We completely threw that out the window and they (the “E” model Apache crews) can get there much faster,” Hager explained.
The ‘E” model is able to transport a larger amount of ammunitions and fuel in what is described as “high-hot” conditions at altitudes of 6,000 feet and temperatures of 95-degrees or above. The innovations built into the “E” model give the helicopter all of the technological advantages of its predecessor “D” model – yet at a lighter weight making it more maneuverable and effective.
The AH-64E Apache is also 20 knots faster than the previous model and can reach speeds of 164 knots.
The current “D” model Longbow Apache is heavier than the original “A” model helicopter; it carries the Longbow radar and significantly improved targeting and sensing technologies, however it lacks the transmission-to-power ratio and hard-landing ability of the initial “A” model. The AH-64E is engineered such that an advanced, high-tech aircraft the weight of the previous “D” model can have the power, performance and landing abilities of an original “A” model with a much lighter weight.
“One of the biggest values of the aircraft (“E” model) itself is the increased performance that we put back into the airframes, specifically from the composite rotor blades. We increased the power of the engines and improved the transmission. That gives the aircraft and Alpha (“A”-model”)-like performance that we have not seen in years,” Hager explained. “The aircraft is faster and more lethal.”
In total, the Army plans to acquire 690 AH-64Es by 2025. The helicopters can carry 16 Hellfire missiles, 70 2.75mm rockets and 1,200 30mm chain gun rounds, service officials said.
“We are getting super feedback from what they were doing over in combat. MUM-T has really changed the state of the battlefield,” Hager added.
The AH-64E is highly mobile, lethal and can destroy armor, personnel and material targets in an obscured battlefield conditions at ranges out to 8-kilometers, an Army statement said.
The “E” model also keep the millimeter wave fire control, radar frequency interferometer and targeting sensors engineered into previous Apache version, the statement continued.
The AH-64E, which is manufactured by Boeing, was also praised by Boeing officials who report hearing favorable feedback from Army pilots who flew the helicopter in combat.
“Its performance in ‘high-hot’ conditions made it able to go from point to point to the target where it was going, as opposed to having to go longer and down into a valley or up into a higher peak” said Kim Smith, Vice President of Attack Helicopters, Boeing.
Smith also said that Apache crews say the composite rotor blades make for a smoother flight.
But the Abrams, the T-90, the Leopard… they’re not the only main battle tanks out there.
The United Kingdom has developed a series of outstanding main battle tanks. In fact, just as the British invented the tank in World War I, they also invented the main battle tank when they introduced the Centurion in the last days of World War II.
In essence, today’s Challenger tank is the direct descendant of the Centurion. What makes it so awesome, though? One item is the Chobham armor. This armor, also used on the Abrams, made a name for itself when it deflected 125mm main gun rounds from Iraqi T-72s from less than 500 yards away.
The Challenger 1 has a 120mm gun, like the Abrams and the Leopard 2. But this version is very different.
The British put a rifled gun in, and it is capable of taking out enemy tanks from three miles away. The British tank also holds 64 rounds for its main gun, compared to 40 for the Abrams and 42 for the Leopard 2.
The Challenger 1 had its origins in a design for the Iranian military, but the mullahs that took over in 1979 cancelled the contract. The tank entered service in 1983, and served with the British Army until 2001, when they were sold to Jordan and replaced by Challenger 2 tanks.
The Challenger 2 features a new rifled 120mm gun and 50 rounds, plus a new hull and engine.
Check out the video below to get a good look into the history of this British tank titan.
The U.S. Army‘s chief of staff said Thursday that if he had his way, he’d abandon the bureaucratic Modular Handgun System effort and personally select the service’s next pistol.
Speaking at the Future of War Conference 2016, Gen. Mark Milley said he has asked Congress to grant service chiefs the authority to bypass the Pentagon’s multi-layered and complex acquisition process on programs that do not require research and development.
“We are not exactly redesigning how to go to the moon, right?” Milley said. “This is a pistol. And arguably, it is the least lethal and important weapon system in the Department of Defense inventory.”
The Army launched its long-awaited XM17 MHS competition in late August to replace its Cold War era M9 9mm pistol. One of the major goals of the MHS effort is to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm. The U.S. military replaced the .45 caliber 1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985 and began using the 9mm NATO round at that time.
Gunmakers had until Feb. 12 to submit proposals to the Army.
Milley used the program as an example of the bureaucratic acquisition system that often makes it overly complicated to field equipment to soldiers in a timely manner.
“We are trying to figure out a way to speed up the acquisition system,” Milley said. “Some of these systems take multiple years, some of them decades to develop.”
As the service chief, Milley said he should be able to say “here is your purpose; here is the end-state I want to achieve … if you succeed, you are promoted and I give you a medal. If you fail, you are fired. You hold people accountable.
“I’m saying let me and then hold me accountable,” he added. “Let me figure out what type of pistol we need and let me go buy it without having to go through nine years of incredibly scrutiny.”
The program has a “367-page requirement document. Why?” Milley asked. “Well, a lawyer says this and a lawyer says that and you have to go through this process and that process and you have to have oversight from this that and the other.”
Milley also criticized the lengthy testing process for MHS that’s slated to cost $17 million.
“The testing — I got a briefing the other day — the testing for this pistol is two years,” Milley said. “Two years to test technology that we know exists. You give me $17 million on the credit card, I’ll call Cabelas tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman, and Marine with a pistol and I’ll get a discount on it for bulk buys.”
That calculation appears off, though, since the handguns under consideration retail between $400 and $700 apiece and the military may purchase nearly a half million firearms as part of the program.
Current plans call for the Army to purchase more than 280,000 full-size handguns and 7,000 compact versions, officials maintain. The other military services participating in the MHS program may order an additional 212,000 systems above the Army quantity.
MHS is set to cost at least $350 million and potentially millions more if it results in the selection of a more potent pistol caliber, sources said.
The request for proposal calls on gun makers to submit packages that include full-size and compact versions of their handgun as well as hundreds of thousands of rounds for testing.
In a break from tradition, the Army is also requiring competing firms to prove that they are capable of delivering millions of rounds of pistol ammunition per month in addition to delivering thousands of new handguns per month, according to the request.
The competition will also evaluate expanding or fragmenting ammunition, such as hollow-point bullets, that have been used by law enforcement agencies for years. The Army’s draft solicitation cited a new Defense Department policy that allows for the use of “special purpose ammunition.”
“We are not figuring out the next lunar landing,” Milley said. “This is a pistol.
“There is a certain degree of common sense to this stuff and that is what I am talking about — empower the service chiefs with the capability to go out and do certain things. Speed the process up.”
The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) oversees the American military units that take on incredibly difficult and unconventional missions.
These units contain some of the most elite warriors in the world.
And though each unit in SOCOM has its own culture, certain approaches are universal.
From their writings and from our interviews with former Navy SEAL commanders Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, former Delta Force commander going by the pseudonym Dalton Fury, and retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal — who led the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) branch of SOCOM before leading American forces in the war in Afghanistan — Business Insider noticed recurring lessons on leadership that could apply in any type of career.
We’ve collected those lessons here.
A team’s success falls entirely on its leader
After returning from duty as a SEAL platoon commander in the 2006 battle of Ramadi in Iraq, Leif Babin became a SEAL training instructor. It was during one “Hell Week” of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S) in 2008 that he saw an incredible example of leadership at work, he wrote in his 2015 book “Extreme Ownership,” cowritten with Jocko Willink.
Babin and his fellow instructors split the SEAL candidates into teams of seven for a string of boat races, which required the teams to run with a 200-pound raft held aloft and then placed into the ocean for a short course. After several races, Boat Crew II was almost guaranteed to win and Boat Crew VI was almost guaranteed to come in last place.
The most senior instructor decided to swap the team leaders of Crews II and VI. To Babin’s surprise, Crew II performed well but never reached first, and Crew VI won nearly every race.
“When the leader of Boat Crew II took charge of Boat Crew VI … [h]e didn’t wait for others to solve his boat crew’s problems,” Babin wrote. “Rather than tolerate their bickering and infighting, he pulled the team together and focused their collective efforts on the single specific goal of winning the race.”
What it all comes down to, Babin writes, is “whether or not your team succeeds or fails is all on you.”
Manage your boss
Dalton Fury spent more than 20 years in the US Army as a Ranger and then as a Delta Force operator.
Fury is the pseudonym he uses for his writing, since his time in Delta Force, one of the most secretive and elite forces in the US, has required him to conceal his true identity.
Fury writes that part of being an effective leader is knowing not only how to instill confidence in your subordinates, but in your superior.
He explains that there are times in special operations where plan A isn’t going exactly as planned, and if the leadership in charge of the mission’s commander gets nervous, the entire thing could turn into a disaster. It’s why, Fury says, leaders need to assure their own leaders in advance that they are prepared for whatever unexpected situations arise.
Mitigate risk as much as possible
Whoever’s in charge can’t waste time excessively contemplating a scenario without making a decision. But when it’s time to make that decision, all risk must be mitigated as much as possible.
Willink and Babin both write about situations in Ramadi in which delaying an attack until every detail about a target was clarified, even when it frustrated other units they were working with, resulted in avoiding tragic friendly fire.
Fury says it is the leader’s responsibility to “see the forest through the trees” and anticipate as many scenarios in a mission as possible, in order to always have a plan ready to go with the least risky choice available.
Have a set of standards that guide decisions
“There are a set of standards that you know are right,”McChrystal told Business Insider. “They may look and feel different at times, but those standards should guide you.”
He said that there was once a time when he was mulling over a weighty decision with a command sergeant major, and he was questioning what his values were telling him was right. They worked over the decision for six months.
“And at the end of that decision, I thought I had consensus, and I announced this decision, and I looked to him for approval and he said, ‘It was the right decision. But you could have made it six months ago.'”
“The reality is we often delay making decisions when we already know the right answer and we’re trying somehow to prevent ourselves from having to make that step because we’re trying to mitigate all the reaction we’ll get to it,” he said. “But sometimes you just have to cut bait and do it.”
He wrote that, “I did my utmost to ensure that everyone below me in the chain of command felt comfortable approaching me with concerns, ideas, thoughts, and even disagreements.”
“That being said,” he added, “my subordinates also knew that if they wanted to complain about the hard work and relentless push to accomplish the mission I expected of them, they best take those thoughts elsewhere.”
As Fury put it: “Play well with others — but remain the alpha.”
Be calm without being robotic
Willink says that while leaders who lose their tempers lose respect, they also can’t establish a relationship with their team if they never expression anger, sadness, or frustration.
“People do not follow robots,” he writes.
For Fury, this comes when a leader is humble. “And at that moment when you apply this secret, realizing you are not one of the action heroes — more Clark Kent than Superman — you have met the first standard for actually leading high-performance teams,” he wrote.
Trust your subordinates
Fury says that in the military, commanders establish relationships with officers they can trust to act on their own and come through in a crisis.
For example, Fury writes, “Year after year, commander to commander, maverick warrior … Jim ‘Serpico’ Reese, a stand-out Ranger and Delta officer, quite possibly would have made [Ulysses S.] Grant appear wanting when it came to working through chaos, calming nerves, and demanding the best out of subordinates.”
It’s this trust in each other that makes elite units so special.
When talking about the Navy SEALs in particular, McChrystal wrote in his book, “Team of Teams,” he said it is their intense, selfless teamwork from the top down that allows them to process any challenge with “near telepathy.”
Military recruiters have to convince normal people that their best option for the future is signing a multi-year contract for a job with workplace hazards like bombs, bullets, and artillery. And since many people aren’t eligible to serve, the service branches need a lot of people coming into recruiting offices.
To make recruiters’ jobs a little easier, each branch has an advertising budget. Here are some of the most iconic commercials from that effort.
1. “The Climb” (2001)
With arguably the best uniforms, awesome traditions, and swords, it’s no surprise that some of the best commercials come out of the Marine Corps. “The Climb” reminded prospective recruits that yes, becoming a Marine will be hard, but it’s worth it.
2. “Rite of Passage” (1998)
Some commercials stop making sense after the era they were written in. The idea of climbing into a coliseum to fight a bad-CGI lava monster may seem like an odd advertising angle now, but it was rumored to be pretty effective at the time.
3. “America’s Marines” (2008)
Some videos target adventure nuts, while some go after aspiring professionals. This one targeted people who wanted to be part of a long-standing tradition. It also reminded people that Marines get to wear some awesome uniforms.
4. “Army Strong” (2006)
“Army Strong” was an inspiring series of advertisements, though it opened the Army to a lot of jokes (“I wanted to be a Marine, but I was only Army Strong”).
5. “Army of One” (2001)
“Legions” was part of the “Army of One” campaign. Though “Army of One” brought recruits into the Army during the early years of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, it never quite made sense to professional soldiers. In the Army, soldiers are schooled daily in the importance of teamwork and selfless service. During basic, they’re even required to be with another recruit at all times, so what is an “Army of One”?
6. “Be All That You Can Be” (1982)
The slogan “Be all that you can be,” sometimes written as, “Be all you can be,” was one of the Army’s longest-running slogans and most iconic campaigns. The jingle is as dated as the video technology in the video, but some soldiers went from their enlistment to their retirement in the Army under this slogan.
7. “Footprints” (2006)
One of the Navy’s best ads focused on some of the world’s best warriors. “Footprints” manages to highlight how awesome Navy SEALs are without showing a single person or piece of equipment.
8. “A Global Force for Good” (2009)
Though popular with recruits, the slogan for this recruiting drive ended up being unpopular with the Navy itself. Much like the Army with its “Army of One” slogan, the Navy dropped “Global Force for Good” after only a few years.
9. “Accelerate Your Life” (early 2000s)
“Accelerate Your Life” commercials were always full of sexy imagery. From fighter jets, helicopters, fast boats, automatic weapons, and camouflage, just about everything was tossed in. Like the commercial Air Force campaign “We have been waiting for you” below, dating the commercial to an exact year is tough, but the campaign began in 2001.
10. “Air Force: I Knew One Day” (2014)
“I Knew One Day” is an odd title for this commercial, but it’s not bad as a whole. It puts a face on the airmen who crew the AC-130, perform surgeries, or pilot Ospreys, and it tells recent high school and college graduates that they can become the next face of these jobs as well.
11. “We Have Been Waiting For You” (early 2000s)
With the tagline “We have been waiting for you,” the Air Force aimed to bring in recruits for all the jobs in the Air Force that weren’t about flying. Since two of the ads they released starred pilots, it seems like they weren’t trying that hard. While it’s hard to pin down the exact year this commercial was released, the “We’ve been waiting for you,” line began showing up in 2001.
12. “Science Fiction” (2011)
The Air Force is proud of its technological advantages on the battlefield, and it made a series of commercials comparing themselves to science fiction. The commercials were critiqued for including a lot of things Air Force technology couldn’t do, but they did highlight actual missions the Air Force does using technology similar to, though not as advanced as, what is featured in the commercial.