1. The combatants from Little Big Horn are still fighting.
The U.S. Army’s “Soldier’s Creed” calls for troops to never quit, never accept defeat. Apparently Maj. Gen. George Armstrong Custer and his men got the message 127 years before the Soldier’s Creed was written, because they’re still fighting the lost Battle of Little Bighorn.
2. A Revolutionary War general rides through Pennsylvania trying to find his missing bones.
We’ve previously discussed Maj. Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne and the fact that he’s buried in at least two places. Wayne died while touring military defenses in Pennsylvania and was buried near Lake Eerie. When his son came to recover the body twelve years later, he found that Lake Eerie had preserved the body.
Since the younger Wayne only had room for his dad’s skeleton, he had the flesh boiled off and then moved the bones across the state in a cart. The story goes that he lost a few pieces along the way. “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s ghost still rides the trail, trying to recover the bones his son scattered like some kind of sick Johnny Appleseed.
3. An Air Force base’s security headquarters has a helpful ghost nurse.
Look, few people particularly love military police and security forces, but they provide a needed service. It’s sort of rude to put their headquarters in a haunted building, but that’s what happened at Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.
Building 34 used to be the base hospital, and supposedly a nurse still roams the halls and tries to do her job. No word on how many sleeping staff runners have been woken up with ectoplasm IVs, so we have to assume more than 20.
4. A group of fiery monks protect the Alamo.
After Santa Anna’s forces finally captured the Alamo, Mexican forces had to decide what to do with it. They decided to raze it to the ground in an effort led by Gen. Juan Jose Andrade. Andrade sent a colonel who attempted to complete the mission, but came running back, babbling about ghost monks.
Andrade went to destroy the chapel and remaining fortifications himself with a cannon and torches. When the general and his men arrived, they took aim at the chapel doors. Six monks with flaming swords walked out of the walls of the chapel. As they and other spirits began hurling fireballs at the Mexican soldiers, the general ordered a tactical retreat.
5. USS Hornet is the most haunted ship in the Navy fleet.
The USS Hornet saw extensive service in World War II and the Vietnam War, and so it’s no surprise that a couple of ghosts may have decided to make it home.
It has a reputation as an extremely haunted place though. Visitors to the museum regularly report seeing officers in their blue uniforms or a sailor wearing his dress whites. (No one knows why an eternal spirit would decide to spend his time looking like the Cracker Jack mascot.)
CBP Ag Specialists
at DFW Airport
intercepted these boots and belts made from sea turtles and an arapaima. Photo: Twitter.
The banning of shoes may sound unrealistic, but it is something that actually happens in the United States. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists in the US are always on the look out for goods such as bags, belts and shoes crafted using prohibited and restricted items.
Regardless of the items, if they are illegal, restricted or prohibited, then you will land in hot water. There are bodies and laws set to govern the unlawful trading of endangered species and their products. When you travel outside the US be aware the following items are a no-go.
Felt sole wading boots
These boots are banned in six states in the US including South Dakota, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Alaska, Maryland, Missouri, and in Yellowstone Park. Research shows that felt and other fibrous materials shelter invasive species for long periods. Basically, felt sole boots take longer hours to dry, giving enough time for invasive species to breed.
Rubber soles on the other hand dry faster therefore cannot harbor these species. Invasive species can endanger the health of fish and other water animals and sometimes have an impact on humans. Besides, rubber shoes are more comfortable on long hikes to the water source. Another alternative to felt sole wading boots is the lug sole boots that are suitable for places with soft substrates. Lug soles are also better than felt soles because they do not freeze up so they can be worn during winter.
If fishermen wear felt sole wading shoes, they might transfer the invasive creatures from one fishing ground to the other. This will lead to a catastrophe as some of the water animals might die and even become extinct. Unfortunately, killing the invasive species can be as dangerous to the environment as the disease itself, so wearing boots made from felt should be avoided.
Cowboy boots made from endangered species
A startling discovery that arapaima leather is being used largely to make exotic leather in the US was made recently. Arapaima is giant freshwater fish found in the Amazon region in South America. Scientists have called for urgent research to confirm if increased cowboy boots trades affect the endangered species. It is feared that Arapaima might head in the direction of pangolin populations because they were the most illegally trafficked wild mammals worldwide.
The United States was the most significant contributor to the decline of pangolin species because they are historically the largest buyers of pangolin leather commodities. Even though the trade of pangolin leather items decreased since 2000, the Arapaima leather trade seems to increase every day. Illegal wildlife trade is a lucrative activity driving many species into extinction.
Boots made from sea turtles
Sea turtles rarely survive adulthood because of their slow-growing and late maturity process. Only 1% of the offspring make it into adulthood, making reproductive sea turtles ecologically pronounced to most successive generations of the population. Illegally killing one adult for meat, shell or skin has the same effect on the population as taking thousands of eggs.
Sea turtles are often illegally killed for their commercial value. Their skin makes high-quality leather which is used to craft different materials from boots to belts. All killings of sea turtles, taking their eggs, or selling their products is prohibited in the US because they subject the already endangered species to faster extinction.
The sea turtles are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, in which the US and more than 160 countries are parties. United States laws state that all wildlife and items crafted from wildlife entering the country be clearly marked and declared to customs officials upon entry.
Action movies featuring Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta were supposed to be safe bets, but most viewers were disappointed by ‘Basic.’ Military viewers yelled themselves hoarse when they first saw Jackson’s cape in the movie. The flick follows the investigation into the deaths of multiple Rangers during training in the jungles of Panama.
While many soldiers may hate on “The Hurt Locker,” we’re just going to go ahead and call “Basic” the worst Army movie ever. Yes, ever.
Admin note: Parts of the movie are witnesses giving false testimony, but we still counted the technical errors we saw. Even in fantasyland you should get the details right.
1. (2:15) The movie takes place as Fort Clayton is being transferred over to the Panamanian government which happened in 1999. The Jungle School was at Fort Sherman, not Fort Clayton where the movie is set.
2. (2:20) West is wearing a patch on the front of his sweater where it is visible under his cape. Soldier uniforms don’t include chest patches, that sweater, or a cape.
3. (2:30) Master Sgt. West is giving a speech about Ranger standards to a bunch of Rangers about to go into combat exercises in the jungle. Despite this being tactical training and West being obsessed with standards, one of the Rangers is wearing a shiny watch, one is wearing a t-shirt with nothing over it, and people are wearing six different pieces of headgear, because screw uniform standards. Also, the red and black berets aren’t worn by the Army without flashes and crests.
4. (2:55) It’s revealed to be a live-fire exercise at night in the jungles of Panama during a hurricane and the entirety of the safety brief is, “Keep your weapon on safe so as not to shoot off your nonexistent d-cks.” Live-fire exercises are rarely done in hurricanes and the the method of signaling would not have been white phosphorus grenades since those would be nearly impossible for West to see from the jungle floor. Also, there would have been a real safety brief.
5. (4:00) A different helicopter comes to pick up the Rangers. For some reason, the Rangers are getting picked up by U.S. pilots in a Eurocopter Ec-120 (typically operated by Spanish and Chinese militaries, never by the U.S.). In theory, the helicopter is there to pick up all seven Rangers. The Ec-120 only sits four people in addition to the pilot and co-pilot.
6. (4:16) Col. Styles, later revealed to be the base commander, is on the helicopter looking for the Rangers. He would typically be, you know, commanding the search while allowing a specially trained crew to look for the Rangers. Also, the actual base commander at Fort Clayton from 1986 to its closing in 1999 was the U.S. Army South Commander, a two-star general.
7. (5:10) Col. Styles, shocked, asks the pilot whether the Rangers are shooting live rounds. Live rounds shouldn’t be shocking since the Rangers were on a live-fire exercise.
8. (5:15) “Dunbar” is firing, on full-auto, an M16 into the jungle when he has an M203 slung underneath the weapon and his vision is obscured by rain. The idea that he hit anything is laughable.
9. (6:25) Osborne is wearing no ribbons on her dress uniform.
10. (6:30) Somehow, the Ranger colonel never became jumpmaster qualified. No wonder they won’t make him a general. Also, his highest award is the Army Commendation Medal. How did he ever make colonel?
11. (6:35) Styles says that, if they don’t get to the bottom of this, they’ll have people from Washington crawling all over them like ants. Considering the fact that four Rangers are missing, one is dead, and one is injured, it’s pretty likely that Washington will be all over you anyway.
12. (7:15) Questioning is being done personally by the base commander and the provost marshall. Where is everyone else? Maybe the Criminal Investigation Division and the military police investigators are all at sergeant’s-time-training.
13. (8:40) It’s later revealed that Hardy is in the top-secret Section 8, not in the D.E.A., or at least not in normal D.E.A. And, all his actions in Panama are authorized by the few people who know he’s doing it. So, who is calling him and busting his chops about the bribe he was never actually accused of taking? Why check up on him if his suspension isn’t real?
14. (9:35) It’s revealed that Hardy was an amazing military police investigator and Army Ranger. It’s not exactly impossible, but it’s so rare for MPs to graduate Ranger school that Army public affairs writes press releases when it happens. Even if Hardy graduated Ranger school though, why was an MP assigned to an infantry unit under Styles? Styles would have been leading infantry companies and working in infantry battalions. He’d only meet MPs when he had too much to drink.
15. (9:45) Osborne tells Styles that, if Hardy isn’t Army, then the investigation won’t be official and Styles agrees. An unofficial investigation will make Washington more suspicious, not less. Plus, there’s no way that evidence turned up by a suspended D.E.A. agent not assigned to the base would be admitted into court later. Styles just guaranteed C.I.D. would send legions of agents to Panama.
16. (10:37) Osborne is surprised and grossed out by Hardy dipping. In the Army though, every meeting is adorned by five or six spit bottles on the table.
17. (10:52) Hardy says West was his “black hat.” “Black hat” is refers to airborne school instructors, not Jungle School instructors.
18. (13:00) “Dunbar” was misidentified by his dog tags, a major plot point of the movie. There was no one else who could identify him? No one from the Jungle School could come and tell them they have the wrong name? He wasn’t carrying an I.D. card? Everyone just trusted that the probable murderer was wearing the correct dog tags?
19. (13:35) It’s revealed that the injured Ranger, 2nd Lt. Kendall, is the son of a joint chief. Good luck avoiding a horde of men from Washington.
20. (13:45) Hardy explains to Osborne, the base provost marshall, how interrogation works. And, he’s an investigator known for being good in the room but has a deep-seated aversion to interrogation rooms.
21. (14:15) Osborne points out that Hardy can’t testify at trial and she’ll have to testify instead. Military trials are still trials and the defense will jump on the fact that a shady D.E.A. agent was in the interrogation but disappeared before trial.
22. (15:00) In the 1:15 since Hardy told Osborne to move Dunbar, neither of them have spoken to anyone else or moved Dunbar, yet Dunbar is already in the cafeteria when they arrive. I guess the other MPs heard about Hardy’s hatred of interrogation rooms and just went ahead and moved a dangerous prisoner on their own.
23. (15:11) Armed guard leaves the room without a word once Osborne and Hardy arrive. Good thing Ranger-qualified murderers aren’t dangerous or anything.
BONUS (16:00) Hardy shows off his crotch to Dunbar while talking about baseball. Odd interrogation tactic if not technically an error.
Photo: Youtube.com Note: These are the actual subtitles.
24. (17:31) Hardy says he was stationed in Panama with the 75th Ranger Regiment. Little problem, there never was a Ranger Battalion stationed in Panama. Rangers went there for Jungle School and they were part of the invasion in 1989, but they didn’t stay there. And, again, there are no military police units in the Ranger Regiment.
25. (19:15) Osborne jumps to parade rest for Styles. First, she’s been talking back and being sarcastic to this guy so far. Why do the customs and courtesies now? Second, the proper position would be attention.
26. (20:06) Let’s just get all of Master Sgt. West’s uniform violations in this scene out at once. 1: Nope, those glasses would not be authorized. 2: That collar rank is for Army specialists, four ranks below master sergeant. 3: That damn chest patch is back. 4: West is apparently special forces in addition to Ranger qualified; it’s a shame the Army has used him as an instructor for the past dozen or so years. 5: The patch, while right for Panama, is too far below the Ranger and SF tabs. This guy is starting to look like a stolen valor case.
28. (20:36) Why are none of the students wearing patches? Either they’re in Ranger Regiment and should be wearing scrolls, or they’re coming from other units to the Jungle School and should be wearing their home unit patches, or they’re in 192nd Infantry with West and should be wearing the same patch as him.
29. (20:48) West admonishes “Pike” for surrendering his sidearm. Um, why? Soldiers do give their weapons to their superiors when ordered.
30. (21:15) Just about everyone in this formation is an E-1 who has not been assigned to a unit. So, they’re doing Jungle School ahead of basic training? But apparently after Ranger school? Also, why are none of these “Rangers” wearing Ranger tabs or scrolls?
31. (21:49) Green Hell is a training event in Jungle School, but it’s just an obstacle course. It certainly doesn’t take place in Darien, a completely different province of Panama that’s miles outside of the U.S. controlled canal zone. If Green Hell were that bad though, 20 days of 40 kilometers per day, it would have to be somewhere besides the Canal Zone since the zone is less than 80 kilometers long.
32. (21:54) “Dunbar” says they’re all in the Jungle Leader Course. JLC was six days long and only five of them were training days.
33. (23:00) West accepts the answer of “1,100 meters per second,” for the muzzle velocity of the M16. The M16’s muzzle velocity is actually 948 meters per second.
34. (23:26) We get a good look at Nunez who is regularly referred to as a Ranger. Women are going through Ranger School for the first time now and none have graduated, ever.
35. (25:00) The entire unit has horrible muzzle awareness. Considering the fact that West gives them live ammunition for nearly every exercise, that seems pretty dangerous.
36. (25:30) Prior to 2004, only deployed soldiers wore the U.S. flag and they wore a reversed flag replica (blue field of stars to the front of the soldier’s sleeve). Also, why the cape!?
37. (26:05) “Pike” is getting hemmed up by West, but doesn’t go to parade rest. Every Army private knows the solution to a pissed off sergeant is to go to parade rest and say, “Yes, sergeant,” and, “No sergeant,” as appropriate.
38. (27:25) Apparently, the Rangers now have a code instead of a creed. Also, the code is much shorter.
39. (31:55) Apparently, 2nd Lt. Kendall’s dad, a joint chief of staff, wanted to keep his son’s homosexuality secret. So West, who had never met Kendall before, would have no way of knowing it.
40. (32:55) Kendall tells the investigators that no one could hear anything on the chopper. He doesn’t explain how he heard the entire mission brief on the helicopter.
41. (33:40) The Rangers rappel from the helicopter with their weapons simply slung on their shoulders where they could easily fall off and get lost in the jungle.
42. (34:58) The live-fire training is apparently in the middle of a thick jungle, is done without a safety officer able to oversee the training, and none of the students wear anything to mark themselves to prevent friendly fire. It’s frankly a miracle that the base only had three training accidents per year.
43. (35:00) All of the students apparently have full-auto M16s — even though only two models — neither popular in the Army in the ’90s, had fully automatic settings. Castro, a top student, fires from the hip constantly.
44. (37:40) Rangers find their dead instructor and don’t leave a guard, mark the map, or recover the body.
45. (38:25) In the middle of super tactical training, one of the Rangers decides not to use a red filter on his flashlight.
46. (39:30) Enlisted soldiers tell the officer with a joint chief for a father to shut up.
47. (41:30) “Pike” is wearing a camouflage t-shirt, not an approved uniform item.
48. (41:40) “Pike” is, in this version of the story, an admitted killer. Other Rangers are letting him sit within arm’s reach of a fully automatic weapon. He also only has one guard.
49. (42:46) Ranger gets shot and immediately grabs his weapon. Instead of picking his target, he sprays the inside of the shack with about 60 rounds from a 30-round magazine without bothering to check what he’s shooting.
50. (45:40) “Dunbar” admits to using drugs and Hardy says drugs come with a 20-year sentence in the Army. Actually, they come with military separation unless your chain of command recommends otherwise. There is no minimum sentence for drug use and few offenders serve jail time.
51. (51:45) Finally, someone mentions the radios. “Pike’s” is busted, but what about the rest of them? Why isn’t someone trying to raise West or Fort Clayton on the radio?
52. (52:30) Nunez walks around the tent with her weapon cocked and pointed up. No one protests the weapon safety problem. Also, there’s no need to cock an M9.
53. (53:00) During a high tension moment in the shack, Nunez takes the chance to kiss another Ranger. No wonder Rangers are scared of women being allowed in the school.
54. (53:25) “Dunbar” partially searches one pocket of someone’s pack, can’t find the grenade in that pocket and decides the grenade isn’t in there. Hope he’s never in charge of searching enemy prisoners of war.
55. (54:40) “Pike” exposes the scars from his needle injections. His scars would’ve been visible every time he had to take a shower with the other students.
56. (1:00:25) “Dunbar” was in custody for hours. The military police would have searched him and removed the hypodermic needle that could be used as a weapon.
57. (1:02:05) Osborne smacks a suspect/her former lover across the face with a telephone book. Military trials have different rules than civilian ones, but this would still get the case thrown out.
58. (1:02:15) Drug dealing doctor can’t remember Kendall’s name. He targeted and recruited Kendall, the homosexual son of a joint chief, worked with him for months, rigged his regular drug tests, and now can’t remember his name. This drug dealer pays no attention to his illegal enterprise.
59. (1:12:15) Osborne says that C.I.D. has arrived to take the doctor to Washington. First, why move him to D.C.? His trial would be easier to organize at larger bases like Fort Bragg or Fort Hood and he should be transported by the unit’s chaser detail, not C.I.D. Also, if C.I.D. is on the base, they should take over the investigation. They are the criminal investigation division.
60. (1:12:30) Osborne and Hardy learn that they have Pike and Dunbar backwards. See, that’s why you can’t use dog tags as a sole form of identification.
61. (1:13:30) Osborne says Army files don’t show weight, but they do. Also, dog tags are not enough to identify a criminal. Check ID cards.
62. (1:14:00) C.I.D. would almost certainly be wearing suits, not uniforms.
63. (1:13:35) Hardy and Osborne wouldn’t race to the plane. They’d call the flight line. Phones and radios are awesome inventions.
64. (1:14:17) Hardy steals an agent’s weapon and fires it in the air. Only two guys draw their weapons in response and no one stops Hardy from pulling Pike off the stairs and shoving him towards the prop. The agent at the top of the stairs actually stays at parade rest the whole time.
65. (1:15:00) So, West decided to confront the druggies in his unit and he decided he’d pick that fight in a remote area while he was severely outnumbered. Great tactics, super Ranger!
66. (1:17:00) The female Ranger runs out of the hut on her own without looking around or bringing her weapon to the ready, something no combat trained soldier would do. West kills her with dual pistols. Soldiers are trained to properly use one pistol because it’s more effective than using two.
67. (1:25:15) Hardy tells Osborne to contact him if she needs him to testify about the shooting. The investigators would actually take his sworn statement right then since he was the only witness to the shooting of a base commander by one of his subordinates.
68. (1:26:00) Osborne is driving a military vehicle to her personal residence and turns off to follow Hardy. She shouldn’t be able to take the vehicle home at night and she really shouldn’t be able to drive it around the isthmus without someone asking what’s going on.
69. (1:31:00) The movie ends on a happy note because the whole squad was in Section 8 and the mission was sanctioned! But, Kendall, the joint chief’s kid, is still dead. That’s going to come up later.
A note from a 1955 Ballantine Book remarked about how one author – a former serviceman – arrived in their New York offices with his Stars and Stripes drawings and a story of a “brilliant military career, where he rose through the ranks to become a PFC.”
That newly-minted civilian was Shel Silverstein. And he did rise through the ranks to become one of the most celebrated American writers.
A quick perusal of the books on his website will show a body of work that uses all his many talents.
For decades, Silverstein entertained and delighted children with poetry like “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and stories like “Giraffe and a Half.” His children’s book “The Giving Tree” is widely considered one of the best, though to some divisive, of its genre.
But there is at least one book missing from that list.
It was during his time in the military that Silverstein began to draw cartoons, at times finding himself at odds with military censors. He later wrote enough cartoons to make a compendium of his best works.
“Drop Your Socks” was published in 1955 to the delight and entertainment of the new peacetime Army and the old war veterans alike.
The young artist was attending the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts when he was drafted into the Army in 1953. According to his biography in “Stars and Stripes,” the Army “without realizing its error, assigned him to the Pacific Stars and Stripes, read by thousands of Army men in Japan and Korea.”
But Shel Silverstein didn’t join the Army of WWII or Korea. It was a new Army, one not at war, but supposedly at the ready to fight for peace. Silverstein never knew the Army that “fought the wars with live ammo and read V-mail and liberated towns and kissed French girls and caught bouquets and wore baggy pants and a six-day growth of beard.”
Shel Silverstein’s Army was made up of “ordinary guys” who “dragged through two years [the amount of time a peacetime draftee normally spent in the service] cleaning grease traps, bugging out of details, and forgetting their general orders.”
As he wrote in the book’s introduction, “there’s no war now, no casualties, no rationing, and no immediate danger … people’s attitudes are bound to change.”
But legendary military cartoonist Bill Mauldin, in writing the book’s introduction said, “the thing about real military humor is that when a soldier says something funny, he is mainly trying to ventilate his innards … he expresses himself in a wisecrack because if he said it straight, he’d simply bust down.”
“Motives and methods of warfare change from generation to generation,” Mauldin continues. “But soldiering stays pretty much the same messy proposition. … I suspect Shel Silverstein would have amused the cootie-pickingest Roman centurion.”
It goes without saying that the US Army is continuously testing and adding new weapons to its arsenal.
For example, the Army recently began to replace the M9 and M11 pistols with the M17 and M18, but has only delivered them to soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Therefore, the pistols are not yet standard issue.
While the Army continues to stay ahead of the game, it undoubtedly has a multitude of weapons for its soldiers.
And we compiled a list of all these standard issue weapons operable by individual soldiers below, meaning that we didn’t include, for example, the Javelin anti-tank missile system because it takes more than one person to operate, nor did we include nonstandard issue weapons.
Check them out:
The M1911 is a .45 caliber sidearm that the Army has used since World War I, and has even begun phasing out.
The Army started replacing the M1911 with the 9mm M9 in the mid-1980s.
The M11 is another 9mm pistol that replaced the M1911, and is itself being replaced by the M17 and M18 pistols.
The M500 is a 12-gauge shotgun that usually comes with a five-round capacity tube. The Army began issuing shotguns to soldiers during World War I to help clear trenches, and has been issuing the M500 since the 1980s.
The 12-gauge M590 is very similar to the M500 — both of which are made by Mossberg — except for little specifications, such as triggers, barrel length, and so forth.
M26 modular shotgun accessory
The M26 is “basically a secondary weapon slung underneath an M4 to allow the operator to switch between 5.56 and 12-gauge rounds quickly without taking his eyes off the target or his hands off of his rifle,” according to the US Army.
M14 enhanced battle rifle
The M14, which shoots a 7.62mm round, has been heavily criticized, and the Army is currently phasing it out.
The M4 shoots 5.56mm rounds and is a shortened version of the M16A2.
Have you ever looked at the old SR-71 Blackbird and wondered how awesome it would be as a fighter jet? So did the United States Air Force (for the most part). The SR-71 is based on the super-secret CIA’s A-12 reconnaissance plane. When the Air Force got a glimpse of the A-12 and its capabilities, their minds got to work.
The first idea to come from the A-12 design was the YF-12, a single-seat interceptor aircraft that closely resembled the A-12 but came packing with guns and missiles instead of photographic and signals intelligence monitoring equipment.
Lockheed’s YF-12 first took off in August 1963 and unlike its predecessor, the A-12, or its successor, the SR-71, there was nothing really secret about it. The President of the United States first revealed its existence but that might have been a strategic move. It covered up the CIA’s super-secret aircraft and provided enemies a window into the advancements Air Force fighters were making.
The YF-12 was every bit as great as expected, and every bit as great as both the A-12 and the SR-71. It could fly at supersonic speeds of more than 2,000 miles per hour and at altitudes of more than 80,000 feet. It is still the largest and fastest interceptor aircraft ever built.
It also had an advanced fire control radar system to operate the AIM-47 missiles that could be mounted under its wings. Unlike other missile systems at the time, the AIM-47 was much more accurate and reliable in air-to-air combat. This would have made the YF-12 the deadliest aircraft in the world at the time.
The Air Force was understandably excited at the prospect of integrating such a fighter aircraft into its air defense network. After successfully testing the AIM-47 missile integration, the USAF placed an order for more than 90 of these flying behemoths, ready to implement them into the defense of the United States. It was a little war brewing in Vietnam that would be the program’s demise.
As the intensity of the fighting in Southeast Asia increased, so did the American commitment to South Vietnam. Spending on the war increased along with it. Concerned about the cost of the YF-12 program, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara declined to support the interceptor program and it was ultimately cancelled in 1968.
All was not lost for the unique airframe, however. Though there was no need for a supersonic, high-altitude interceptor for airspace defense in the U.S., there was a need for an ultra-fast, high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft to fly over places other aircraft wouldn’t dare. The SR-71 Blackbird was born from this need.
The Blackbird looks exactly like its predecessors but outperforms both of them. It has a greater operational range than the YF-12 and is still the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft ever built, a record set in 1976.
SR-71s were a brief view of what the YF-12 could have been: a fighter aircraft so accurate, it could hit a target on the ground while flying at three times the speed of sound. If another fighter or a surface-to-air missile came up at it, all the pilots had to do was hit the throttle and outrun it. The A-12s, YF-12s and SR-71s were titanium masterpieces of Cold War technology.
Soviet military weapons have an odd tendency to stay both dangerous and relevant decades after they’re issued. They might lack the creature comforts and modularity of modern firearm designs, but whether a bullet finds its mark from a World War I Mosin Nagant rifle, or a next generation Russian bullpup SVD sniper rifle, the result is the same.
The largest example of this, is the infamous AKM/AK-47. Every tin-pot dictatorship or ex-Soviet satellite nation has churned out terrifying numbers of these reliable automatic rifles. While the AKM is a deadly adversary at close and medium range, it is handily outclassed (both in accuracy, and effective range) by modern Western-made military rifles like the M4A3 and M16A4.
That said, there is one Soviet firearm that continues to confound and frustrate American military forces in the Middle East: the PKM.
The PKM or Modernizirovanniy Pulemyot Kalashnikova (PK Machinegun Modernized) is a belt-fed, open-bolt, long-stroke light machine gun chambered in the hard-hitting 7.62x54R cartridge — the same round used by Russian infantry in World War I, Vietcong snipers in Indochina, and modern Russian Federation snipers wielding the infamous Dragunov.
The internal workings of the PKM aren’t dissimilar to those of the AK, and because of this, the PKM is remarkably reliable and resilient to negligent treatment. This robust construction combined with its powerful cartridge, make for an extraordinarily dangerous weapon against Western militaries — especially since the PKM has an effective range of 1,000-1,500 meters, putting it on par or surpassing most DMR rifles, and light machine guns in service.
Personally, after firing less than 100 rounds through a stateside PKM at an ordnance-testing facility in Nevada, I was able to successfully engage human-sized steel targets with iron sights at 600 yards with frightening regularity. This was with 60-year-old ammunition out of a PKM built in the 1970s with more than a half-million rounds fired through it.
The threat posed by this LMG to American and NATO forces is not lost on military thinkers or modern weapon-makers. In fact, the PKM is the impetus behind the latest evolution of the medium machine gun – the lightweight, medium machine gun, or LWMMG.
Historically, machine guns are grouped into three categories: light, medium and heavy (and occasionally general purpose). The last two, medium and heavy, are crew-served weapons, normally fired from either a tripod or vehicle mount. These are generally not considered man-portable, but are designed to provide constant fire on an area.
The light machine gun, or LMG generally fires a smaller caliber round than the medium or heavy machine gun, and is designed to be used and transported by a single soldier. These weapons are fired from a bipod, but are light enough to be quickly repositioned in the field.
The 5.56mm caliber M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) is a prime example of a light machine gun, while the .50 BMG M2 is a perfect example of a heavy machine gun. The M2 is tremendously more effective at all ranges than the M249, but its tremendous weight and size make it a poor choice for urban environments. The M240B almost splits the difference, but its 7.62 cartridge is still out-ranged by the Soviet PKM.
Thus the idea behind the LWMMG, is to combine the lightweight, portable nature of the the LMG with the extended range, and increased ballistic effectiveness of the MMG.
The engineers at General Dynamics are attempting this by incorporating a new “Short Recoil Impulse Averaging” method of operation coupled with a new modified .338 cartridge. At first glance, this seems like the scribblings of someone with no practical experience behind any of these weapon systems. On paper, a man-portable machine gun with the effective range of a .50 BMG, that weighed at little as the M240B with no more recoil than the 240, seems impossible.
If the footage of the new LWMMG released by General Dynamics is any indication, the new machine gun is more than just a concept. What remains to be seen, is whether or not the Pentagon puts enough importance on infantry combat and their equipment, to justify spending millions on upgrading it.
If nothing else, the likelihood of the General Dynamics LWMMG finding its way into the hands of US Special Forces is all but guaranteed. And while the increased effective range of the new cartridge is very impressive, the .338 round lacks the ballistic effectiveness of the .50 BMG. After all, it isn’t intended to double as an anti-material round, nor does it have the anti-vehicle lineage of the .50 BMG cartridge.
That said, the .338 is designed with an ideal ballistic coefficient in mind — meaning the projectile itself sails through the air with minimal resistance. In effect, this means the rounds travel closer to where the soldier aims them.
In the traditional role of an MMG or HMG, this is sometimes seen as detrimental, as the weapon is supposed to be used to provide a field of fire to an area. If the rounds are too precise, the area might be under less wide-spread fire, and potentially leave some enemy combatants unsuppressed.
However, in this case, precision is key. Since the impetus behind the design is to counter insurgent PKM/PKP light machine guns. Conceptually, this should allow our soldiers to out-range insurgent elements, as well as provide more accurate counter-fire.
As for results, we’ll have to wait and see if the idea gains more traction – and if it does, wait a few months or years for an official reports of its combat effectiveness to surface.
The Navy’s new next-generation aircraft carrier will likely deploy to the Middle East or Pacific theater, bringing a new generation of carrier technologies to strategically vital parts of the world, service officials told Scout Warrior.
“If you look at where the priorities and activities are now – that is where it will likely go,” a Navy official told Scout Warrior.
The Navy’s top acquisition official, Sean Stackley, recently told Congress that the new carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, will deliver to the Navy in September of this year; following deployment preparations called “post shakedown availability” in 2017 and “shock trials” in 2019, the carrier is slated to deploy in 2021, service officials said. “Shock trials” involve testing the large ship in a series of different maritime conditions such as rough seas and high winds.
The Navy official stressed that no formal decisions have, as of yet, been made regarding deployment and that the USS Ford’s deployment will naturally depend upon what the geopolitical and combat requirements wind up being in the early 2020s.
At the same time, given the Pentagon’s Pacific rebalance, it is not difficult or surprising to forsee the new carrier venturing to the Pacific. The power-projection capabilities of the new carrier could likely be designed as a deterrent to stop China from more aggressive activities in places such as the highly-contested South China Sea. The Navy’s plan for the Pacific does call for the service to operate as much as 60-percent of its fleet in the Asia Pacific region.
Also, the continued volatility in the Middle East, and the Navy’s ongoing involvement in Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS could very well create conditions wherein the USS Ford would be needed in the Arabian Gulf.
The service specifically engineered Ford-class carriers with a host of next-generation technologies designed to address future threat environments. These include a larger flight deck able to increase the sortie-generation rate by 33-percent, an electromagnetic catapult to replace the current steam system and much greater levels of automation or computer controls throughout the ship, among other things.
The ship is also engineered to accommodate new sensors, software, weapons and combat systems as they emerge, Navy officials have said.
The ship’s larger deck space is, by design, intended to accommodate a potential increase in use of carrier-launched technologies such as unmanned aircraft systems in the future.
The USS Ford is built with four 26-megawatt generators, bringing a total of 104 megawatts to the ship. This helps support the ship’s developing systems such as its Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, and provides power for future systems such as lasers and rail-guns, many Navy senior leaders have explained.
The USS Ford also needs sufficient electrical power to support its new electro-magnetic catapult, dual-band radar and Advanced Arresting Gear, among other electrical systems.
As technology evolves, laser weapons may eventually replace some of the missile systems on board aircraft carriers, Navy leaders have said. Laser weapons need about 300 kilowatts in order to generate power and fire from a ship.
Should they be employed, laser weapons could offer carriers a high-tech, lower cost offensive and defensive weapon aboard the ship able to potential incinerate incoming enemy missiles in the sky.
The Ford-class ships are engineered with a redesigned island, slightly larger deck space and new weapons elevators in order to achieve an increase in sortie-generation rate. The new platforms are built to launch more aircraft and more seamlessly support a high-op tempo.
The new weapons elevators allow for a much more efficient path to move and re-arm weapons systems for aircraft. The elevators can take weapons directly from their magazines to just below the flight deck, therefore greatly improving the sortie-generation rate by making it easier and faster to re-arm planes, service officials explained.
The next-generation technologies and increased automation on board the Ford-Class carriers are also designed to decrease the man-power needs or crew-size of the ship and, ultimately, save more than $4 billion over the life of the ships.
The Navy plans to build Ford-class carriers for at least 50-years as a way to replace the existing Nimitz-class carriers on a one-for-one basis. This schedule will bring the Ford carriers service-life well into the next century and serve all the way until at least 2110, Navy leaders have said.
Regarding the potential evaluation of alternatives to carriers, some analysts have raised the question of whether emerging technologies and weapons systems able to attack carriers at increasingly longer distances make the platforms more vulnerable and therefore less significant in a potential future combat environment.
Some have even raised the question about whether carrier might become obsolete in the future, a view not shared by most analysts and Navy leaders. The power-projection ability of a carrier and its air-wing provides a decisive advantage for U.S. forces around the world.
For example, a recently release think tank study from the Center for New American Security says the future threat environment will most likely substantially challenge the primacy or superiority of U.S. Navy carriers.
“While the U.S. Navy has long enjoyed freedom of action throughout the world’s oceans, the days of its unchallenged primacy may be coming to a close. In recent years, a number of countries, including China, Russia, and Iran, have accelerated investments in anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities such as advanced air defense systems, anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles, submarines, and aircraft carriers. These capabilities are likely to proliferate in the coming years, placing greater constraints on U.S. carrier operations than ever before,” the study writes.
In addition, the study maintains that the “United States will be faced with a choice: operate its carriers at ever-increasing ranges – likely beyond the unrefueled combat radii of their tactical aircraft – or assume high levels of risk in both blood and treasure,” the CNAS study explains.
Navy officials told Scout Warrior that many of the issues and concerns highlighted in this report are things already being carefully considered by the Navy.
With this in mind, some of the weapons and emerging threats cited in the report are also things already receiving significant attention from Navy and Pentagon analysts.
The Chinese military is developing a precision-guided long-range anti-ship cruise missile, the DF-21D, a weapon said by analysts to have ranges up to 900 nautical miles. While there is some speculation as to whether it could succeed in striking moving targets such as aircraft carriers, analysts have said the weapon is in part designed to keep carriers from operating closer to the coastline.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a Congressional panel of experts, published a detailed report in 2014 on the state of Chinese military modernization. The report cites the DF-21D along with numerous other Chinese technologies and weapons. The DF-21D is a weapon referred to as a “carrier killer.”
The commission points out various Chinese tests of hypersonic missiles as well. Hypersonic missiles, if developed and fielded, would have the ability to travel at five times the speed of sound – and change the threat equation regarding how to defend carriers from shore-based, air or sea attacks.
While China presents a particular threat in the Asia Pacific theater, they are by no means the only potential threat in today’s fast-changing global environment. A wide array of potential future adversaries are increasingly likey to acquire next-generation weapons, sensors and technologies.
“Some countries, China particularly, but also Russia and others, are clearly developing sophisticated weapons designed to defeat our power-projection forces,” said Frank Kendall, the Pentagon acquisition chief said in a written statement to Congress in January of last year. “Even if war with the U.S. is unlikely or unintended, it is quite obvious to me that the foreign investments I see in military modernization have the objective of enabling the countries concerned to deter and defeat a regional intervention by the U.S. military.”
Enemy sensors, aircraft, drones and submarines are all advancing their respective technologies at an alarming rate – creating a scenario wherein carriers as they are currently configured could have more trouble operating closer to enemy coastlines.
At the same time – despite these concerns about current and future threat environments, carriers and power projects – few are questioning the value, utility and importance of Navy aircraft carriers.
Future Carrier Air Wing
The Navy is working on number of next-generation ship defenses such as Naval Integrated Fire Control –Counter Air, a system which uses Aegis radar along with an SM-6 interceptor missile and airborne relay sensor to detect and destroy approaching enemy missiles from distances beyond the horizon. The integrated technology deployed last year.
Stealth fighter jets, carrier-launched drones, V-22 Ospreys, submarine-detecting helicopters, laser weapons and electronic jamming are all deemed indispensable to the Navy’s now unfolding future vision of carrier-based air power, senior service leaders said. Last year, the Navy announced that the Osprey will be taking on the Carrier On-Baord Delivery mission wherein it will carry forces and equipment on and off carriers while at sea.
Citing the strategic deterrence value and forward power-projection capabilities of the Navy’s aircraft carrier platforms, the Commander of Naval Air Forces spelled out the services’ future plans for the carrier air wing at a recent event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington D.C think tank.
Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces, argued last year in favor of the continued need for Navy aircraft carriers to project power around the globe. His comments come at a time when some are raising questions about the future of carriers in an increasingly high-tech threat environment.
“Even in contested waters our carrier group can operate, given the maneuverability of the carrier strike group and the composition of the carrier air wing,” Shoemaker told the audience at an event in August of last year.
Shoemaker explained how the shape and technological characteristics of the carrier air wing mentioned will be changing substantially in coming years. The Navy’s carrier-launched F-35C stealth fighter will begin to arrive in the next decade and the service will both upgrade existing platforms and introduce new ones.
The Navy plans to have its F-35C operational by 2018 and have larger numbers of them serving on carriers by the mid-2020s.
The service plans to replace its legacy or “classic” F/A-18s with the F-35C and have the new aircraft fly alongside upgraded F/A-18 Super Hornet’s from the carrier deck.
While the F-35C will bring stealth fighter technology and an ability to carry more ordnance to the carrier air wing, its sensor technologies will greatly distinguish it from other platforms, Shoemaker said.
“The most important thing that the F-35C brings is the ability to fuse information, collect the signals and things that are out in the environment and fuse it all together and deliver that picture to the rest of the carrier strike group,” Shoemaker explained.
At the same time, more than three-quarters of the future air wing will be comprised of F/A-18 Super Hornets, he added.
The submarine hunting technologies of the upgraded MH-60R is a critical component of the future air wing, Navy officials have said.
“The R (MH-60R) comes with a very capable anti-submarine warfare package. It has an airborne low frequency sensor, an advanced periscope detection system combined with a data link, and forward looking infrared radar. With its very capable electronic warfare suite, it is the inner defense zone against the submarine for the carrier strike group,” Shoemaker said.
Electronic warfare also figures prominently in the Navy’s plans for air warfare; the service is now finalizing the retirement of the EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft in favor of the EA-18G aircraft, Shoemaker said.
“We’re totally transitioning now to the EA-18G Growler for electromagnetic spectrum dominance. This will give us the ability to protect our strike group and support our joint forces on the ground,” he said.
Also, the Growler will be receiving an electromagnetic weapon called the Next-Generation Jammer. This will greatly expand the electronic attack capability of the aircraft and, among other things, allow it to jam multiple frequencies at the same time.
The Navy is also moving from its E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft to an upgraded E-2D variant with improved radar technology, Shoemaker explained.
“We’ve got two squadrons transitioned — one just about to complete in Norfolk and the first is deployed right now on the Teddy Roosevelt (aircraft carrier). This (the E2-D) brings a new electronically scanned radar which can search and track targets and then command and control missions across the carrier strike group,” Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker also pointed to the Navy’s decision to have the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft take over the carrier onboard delivery mission and transport equipment, personnel and logistical items to and from the carrier deck. The V-22 will be replacing the C-2 Greyhound aircraft, a twin-engine cargo aircraft which has been doing the mission for years.
On Sep. 18, 1947, the United States Air Force became an independent branch of the military.
Initially part of the U.S. Army, the Department of the Air Force was created under the National Security Act of 1947. On Aug. 1, 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps formed the Aeronautical Division, which later evolved into the U.S. Army Air Force. The National Defense Act of 1947 created an independent Air Force.
The mission of the Air Force is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace — and it does.
In 1947, then-Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in his Bell X-1 rocket-powered aircraft, kicking off a race of pilots who competed to do the next big thing, eventually leading to outer space and a man on the moon.
While an “ace” is a pilot from any branch who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft, the top jet ace in USAF history is Joseph C. McConnell, a “Triple Ace” who shot down 16 MiG fighters during the Korean War over a four month period, bagging three on his last combat mission of the war. His American record still stands.
In addition to missions that include cyber warfare and defense, personnel recovery, agile combat support, and global precision attack, the United States Air Force prides itself in maintaining global air superiority through training, capability, number and modernity of aircraft, and rather exceptional personnel, if I do say so myself.
Fun fact, the Air Force also tracks Santa. On Dec. 24, 1955, a newspaper ad told kids that they could call Santa at an included phone number. The number listed would call the U.S. Air Defense Command. The colonel on duty ordered his team to give all kids Santa’s “current location.” This tradition now handles calls from over 200 countries.
It is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. You might even say no one comes close.
There are some battlecruisers that might have lasted for a bit, but all too often, battlecruisers had a very short combat career — usually ending in a spectacular fashion.
They had originally been designed to carry a set of big guns to blast apart enemy cruisers, but they also had a very high top speed, so they could outrun anything that could give them a fair fight.
The Royal Navy was familiar with battlecruisers blowing up when hit. They saw it happen at Jutland and the Denmark Strait. But Japan had its own bad experience with battlecruisers. Here are three case studies.
1. HIJMS Akagi
Okay, technically, this is an aircraft carrier, but she was converted from a battle cruiser. Akagi was impressive – ww2db.com notes she displaced 36,500 tons and was over 850 feet long. She carried as many as 90 planes.
She went down because of one bomb. Granted, it was a 1,000-pound bomb, but it was still just one conventional bomb.
According to the book “Shattered Sword” by Jon Parshall and Anthony Tully, that bomb (plus the presence of aircraft being armed and fueled) lead to catastrophic fires that eventually forced Isoroku Yamamoto to order his old command to be scuttled.
Akagi had packed a powerful punch in six months of combat – including credit for wrecking the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB 37) and damaging the USS West Virginia (BB 48). But she proved to have a glass jaw.
2. HIJMS Hiei
On paper, the HIJMS Hiei (along with her sister ship HIJMS Kirishima) should have torn through Daniel Callaghan’s force at Guadalcanal like a kid through Christmas presents. They were two of the four Kongo-class battlecruisers, and brought the biggest guns to the fight.
But instead, it was Dan Callaghan who triumphed that night (at the cost of his life). As for Hiei? She took an 8-inch armor-piercing shell in the steering compartment, and was left a cripple. The next morning, planes from Henderson Field finished her off.
Crippled by a cruiser, then sunk by planes from the airfield she was supposed to bombard, makes Hiei a classic loser.
Her sister, Kirishima, didn’t fare much better. She went toe-to-toe with the USS Washington (BB 56) two nights later, and was reduced to a wreck before she was scuttled.
3. HIJMS Kongo
The lead Kongo-class battlecruiser lasted longer, mostly because during World War II, carriers were rightly seen as the more valuable targets. But when the USS Sealion (SS 315), commanded by Lt. Cdr. Eli Thomas Reich, got her in its sights, Kongo ended up as just another battlecruiser statistic.
Here sources disagree on how many hits she took. Anthony Tully notes at CombinedFleet.com that the Kongo took at least two hits, leading to an eventual capsizing and explosion.
Rear Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison said in the “History of United States Naval Operations in World War II” that a single hit lead to the explosive end of Kongo.
So, there you have it. Three more reasons why battlecruisers are losers — provided by the Japanese Navy.
FOX News Podcasts+ just released its latest investigative audio series: Alchemy of Violence: Narcos, Reapers and Survival. And it’s hosted by a bad-ass Marine veteran, of course.
Retired Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Johnny Joey Jones is a familiar face. A frequent FOX News contributor, speaker and FOX Nation host — now viewers can listen in on his no-nonsense journalistic approach with this latest podcast series created by the news media company. Though the service is subscription based, episode one is available completely free to all listeners on FOXNewsPodcasts.com.
The premium audio series brings listeners behind the curtain and into the lives of Mexican law enforcement officials tasked with targeting the violent cartels terrorizing the country. For Jones, it was an important project to be a part of.
“I think we view the ‘drug cartels’ sometimes as if it’s this romanticized Scarface movie or a godfather-like group of gangsters. Much like the ‘honor among thieves’ farce we get in movies,” he explained. “The truth is, these are evil vicious groups who terrorize innocent people and operate in our own backyard. I hope this helps Americans see the truth about this dangerous problem.”
In Mexico, the cartels are known to hunt down police officers and kill them in their own homes. Since 2006 over 300,000 individuals have lost their lives to cartel violence.
In the first episode listeners will be introduced to former Mexican parliamentary law enforcement officer, Ed Calderon. The in-depth first-hand account of the skills he was required to learn and use in order to survive would make most special operatives nervous.
The intensity of what Calderon had to do was a surprise, even for Jones. “I think It’s really amazing how Ed not only survived his time in the Narco world but learned tactics and techniques out of pure necessity for survival that some of our most highly trained warriors have adopted,” he said.
Despite Calderon’s dedication to taking down the dangerous cartels and serving his country, the rampant corruption would lead to him running for his life. The former law-enforcement officer takes listeners in and through his new journey of survival.
After making it out alive, the former law enforcement officer re-committed his life to serving others who’d experienced similar traumas. Using his own experiences, he now educates on the importance of understanding the cartel mindset and how they can infiltrate cities so easily. Calderon also instructs those who attend his courses on how to stay alive.
The 11-episode podcast series will bring listeners on an extraordinary journey through life south of the border. Unlike the excitement of blockbuster Hollywood movies, living through cartel control is somber and deadly reality for millions. Calderon’s commitment to justice, grit and unwavering determination promise to be an inspiration.
For the combat-wounded host, it’s an interview the nation itself needs to listen to. “I think Ed’s message is really timely for most Americans,” Jones said. “No matter how dire a situation is or how unlikely success may seem, surviving and thriving starts with believing and preparing. That’s powerful.”