The Golden Knights put on a show for military children - We Are The Mighty
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The Golden Knights put on a show for military children

All April, schools on and around Fort Bragg have been celebrating the Month of the Military Child.


Today, that celebration took to the skies for students at Irwin Intermediate School on Fort Bragg.

The school’s roughly 470 students, wearing purple shirts with the words “Keep calm and be military kid strong,” were treated to a performance by the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights are based at Fort Bragg and are international ambassadors for the Army, performing at air shows, sporting events and on the international stage where they are the world’s most highly decorated parachute team.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
U.S. Army Parachute Team members prepare to land on target as part of the Golden Knights annual certification cycle on Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Jan. 27, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Jerry Morrison)

Lt. Col. Carlos Ramos, commander of the Golden Knights, said the team has just started its annual “show season,” meaning they will soon be traveling the nation to perform for millions.

According to officials, the Golden Knights are seen by an estimated one-third of the U.S. population each year.

But Ramos said there was something special about performing in the Golden Knight’s own backyard on Fort Bragg.

“It’s a great honor,” Ramos said. “What better crowd is there than a Fort Bragg crowd?”

The Knights took off from nearby Pope Field and jumped at roughly 2,400 feet.

It was a special treat, said Miriam Breece, principal of Irwin Intermediate.

Breece said the Golden Knights are the latest visitors to the school, after the 82nd Airborne Division Band performed earlier this week.

She said the Month of the Military Child was meant to show the students that while they have unique challenges, they are also special.

“We like to thank them,” Breece said. “We exist to support them.”

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This is the ironic reason the Spitfire beat the Bf 109

Every student of history knows that the British won the Battle of Britain in August and September of 1940, and that the Spitfire played a key role. But why was that the case?


The answer is stunningly ironic, and it requires us to look at what both the Spitfire and the Bf 109 were supposed to do.

(Yes, I said Bf 109. Believe it or not, calling Willy Messerschmidt’s signature design a Me 109 isn’t accurate. Messerschmidt worked for the Bavarian Aircraft Works, or Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. Now, Messerschmidt bought the company in 1938, but planes designed before the purchase, like the Bf 109, kept the old designation.)

 

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children

 

So, with that out of the way, let’s look at the Bf 109 and Spitfire.

Both planes were really designed to fulfill the same mission profile: that of a short-range interceptor.

The Spitfire Mk VB had a top speed of 370 miles per hour, could climb 2,600 feet per minute, and had a combat radius of 470 miles. The Bf 109G had a top speed of 398 miles per hour, a range of 621 miles with a drop tank, and could climb 3,345 feet per minute.

In 1940, the Germans needed a plane to escort their bombers, and the Bf 109 was their only option. They tried the Bf 110, a twin-engine plane with long range and heavy firepower. The problem was, the Bf 110 was easily killed by the more maneuverable Spitfires, so the Bf 109 found itself pressed into service.

But even with a drop tank, the Bf 109 just didn’t have the endurance to be a good bomber escort.

 

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
A Spitfire Mk. 1A flies in 1937. (Photo: Royal Air Force)

The Spitfire was also plagued with short endurance, but during the Battle of Britain — and even over Dunkirk earlier in the summer of 1940 — it was fulfilling its role as a short-range interceptor.

In essence, it was doing what it was designed to do. The Bf 109 was also a short-range interceptor…but it was pressed into service as a bomber escort, and it just couldn’t hack it.

When the United States entered the war, one thing they were truly successful at was coming up with the perfect escort fighter, the P-51 Mustang. You could say they had learned from Nazi Germany’s mistake.

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Bill requiring women to register for the draft passes Senate

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
A Marine Corps drill Instructor commands a recruit to run in place during a function in Van Nuys, California, on March 12, 2016. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders


A provision that would require women to register for the military draft alongside men for the first time in American history was included as part of the massive 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate handily on Tuesday with an 85-13 vote.

The language requiring the draft for women was added in committee and received little debate on the Senate floor, but has created a firestorm of controversy on and off Capitol Hill. It comes as the military services welcome women into previously closed ground combat units in keeping with a mandate from Defense Secretary Ash Carter given late last year.

On Feb. 2, a panel of top military leaders including Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabusall told the Senate Armed Services Committee they supported drafting men and women in light of the changes to combat assignments.

“It is my personal view that based on this lifting of restriction for assigning [job specialties], that every American that is physically qualified should register for the draft,” Neller said at the time.

In the House, which previously passed its version of the NDAA, an amendment requiring women to register for the draft passed narrowly with a 32-30 vote, even though its author, California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, voted against it.

“I’ve talked to coffeehouse liberals in San Francisco and conservative families who pray three times a day,” Hunter said April 27, as the House Armed Services Committee marked up the bill. “Neither of them want their daughter to be drafted.”

The Senate proposal was hotly debated on the floor June 7 by Republicans Ted Cruz, from Texas, and John McCain, from Arizona.

Cruz complained that the provision including women in the draft entered the bill through committee, rather than in public, open debate.

“I’m the father of two daughters. Women can do anything they set their mind to, and I see that each and every day,” Cruz said. “The idea that we should forcibly conscript young girls in combat to my mind makes little or no sense. It is at minimum a radical proposition. I could not vote for a bill that did so without public debate.”

McCain countered that including women in the draft was a matter of equality.

“Women who I have spoken to in the military overwhelmingly believe that women are not only qualified, but are on the same basis as their male counterparts,” McCain said. “Every leader of the United States military seems to have a different opinion from [Cruz], whose military background is not extensive.”

Currently, U.S. law requires most male citizens and immigrants between the ages of 18 to 25 to register in the selective service system. The Senate NDAA would require all female citizens and U.S. residents who turn 18 on or after Jan. 1, 2018, to register as well.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah introduced an amendment that would have removed the draft language from the bill, but it was unsuccessful. Another Republican, Rand Paul of Kentucky, filed an amendment that would have gotten rid of the draft altogether, but it too failed to get traction.

The House and Senate must now reconcile their versions of the NDAA in conference before final passage.

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The 5 most legendary American battleships ever

Battleships were floating fortresses, capable of both dishing out and taking a lot of punishment.


America got her first true battleship in 1895 and decommissioned the last one in 1992.

Here are 5 among them that earned legendary reputations during that period:

1. The USS Texas “avenged” its sister, the USS Maine.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
The USS Texas. Photo: Public Domain via Wikipedia

America got its first proper battleship in 1895 with the commissioning of the USS Texas. Texas entered the fleet just ahead of the USS Maine. When the Maine was lost in Havana Harbor on Feb. 15, 1898 to an explosion of unknown origin and America declared war on Spain, the Texas was one of the ships sent against Spanish possessions in the Atlantic.

Texas and another ship destroyed the Spanish fort at Cayo del Tore in a mere 75 minutes. Later, Spanish ships attempted to run the American blockade and the Texas attacked four of them simultaneously, heavily damaging each and forcing them to run aground. She then assisted in the destruction of the rest of the Spanish fleet, helping to force the end of the war.

2. USS Alabama fought in both the Atlantic and Pacific with distinction.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
The Alabama is now a museum in it’s namesake state. Photo: Wikipedia/Tigerplish via CC BY-SA 3.0

The USS Alabama completed its shakedown in Jan. 1943 before being sent to escort merchantmen past Nazi submarine patrols and across the Atlantic to Britain and Russia. Soon after, she was sent to Norway lure out the Tirpitz and to support a feint that distracted the Germans from the invasion of Sicily.

In the middle of 1943, Alabama was sent to the Pacific via America for repairs. In the Pacific, the ship assisted in the assaults on a number of islands including Tarawa, the Marshall Islands, and the Japanese-held Philippines. It also protected carriers from enemy planes and bombarded the Japanese home island of Honshu before the Japanese surrender.

3. USS Iowa saw combat in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf war.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
The Iowa fires all of its guns during a 1984 firepower demonstration. Photo: US Navy PH1 Jeff Hilton

The USS Iowa entered World War II in Aug. 1943, operating in the Atlantic and carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt to North Africa. Iowa later headed to the Pacific where she assisted in a number of landings and helped the Alabama shell Honshu, the island that Tokyo sits on.

Iowa was reactivated for the Korean War and then the Persian Gulf War. During the Gulf War, the Iowa carried a number of Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles and escorted Kuwaiti oil tankers to international waters.

4. USS New Jersey was the most decorated battleship in U.S. history.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
The USS New Jersey with all guns blazing. Photo: US Navy

The USS New Jersey first served in World War II, striking targets across the Pacific. She went into reserve status after the War but was called back up to pound positions in Korea. The New Jersey was placed on reserve status in 1957 but returned to active service in 1968, providing artillery support to forces in the Vietnam War.

After another period of deactivation, the Jersey was upgraded in 1982 with cruise missiles and supported American operations in the Lebanese War from 1983-1984. Over decades of service the USS New Jersey was awarded with 19 battle stars.

5. Mighty Mo’ hosted the Japanese surrender ceremony and was America’s last battleship.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
USS Missouri engages a target during naval exercises. Photo: US Navy PH1 Terry Cosgrove

The USS Missouri was the last American battleship to be commissioned and the last one to be decommissioned, serving from 1944 to 1992. Mighty Mo’ bombarded Japanese positions at Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Japanese mainland. As the flagship of the 3rd Fleet in 1945, the ship played host to the Japanese surrender ceremony that marked the end of World War II.

In her later years of service, Mo’ attacked enemy positions in the Korean War and was part of the fake landing of amphibious forces on the Iraqi coast in Desert Storm. After its final decommissioning in 1992, the USS Missouri was converted into the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

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7 coolest ways to blow up the enemy’s HQ

Dude, your enemy sucks. I don’t know who they are (is it ISIS? Are you fighting ISIS right now?), but they’re really dangerous and I’m pretty sure they just said something untoward about your mother. It’s time to take out most of the leadership in one fell swoop by hitting their headquarters.


But how do you blow up an entire castle/fortress/tent (again, I don’t know who your enemies are. Nazi Germans? They liked castles…)? Here are seven plans that will always work, but you may want to pack some ear plugs. Spoiler alert: there will be explosions:

1. Cruise missile to the face

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
This is a Tomahawk Cruise Missile. It will absolutely ruin the day of any recipients. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Leah Stiles

You still have at least three days of killing the enemies’ goons before you can get inside the building to send them to their makers, but all the leadership may flee before you arrive. What should you do?

Time for a cruise missile. These bad boys fly at low levels below most radar coverage, turning and winding their way through mountain passes and other obstacles until they reach their target. Once they arrive, they’re going to “disrupt” the headquarters pretty hard.

2. Sustained artillery barrage

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Naval artillery barrages are still artillery barrages. (Photo: U.S. Navy PH1 Jeff Hilton)

Of course, if you’ve already gotten your forces close to the enemy headquarters, it can be fun to put on the world’s most lethal fireworks show and all-percussion concert. Just give your artillerymen a few minutes warning, and they’ll be ready to orchestrate a masterpiece.

3. Bombing mission

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Ooooh. Hope you didn’t recently redecorate or anything. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris)

If you already own the airspace (which, with the F-22, is likely), then you can get all the pyrotechnics of a cruise missile strike at a fraction of the cost per weapon. Just send a few fighters to keep your bombers and ground attack planes safe and let nature take its course.

Warheads on foreheads.

4. Close combat air/close air support

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
The Warthog in all her glory. Sorry, sorry–the Thunderbolt II. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

If you realize that the castle/fortress/tent is a headquarters only at the last minute, you may not have time to do the full integration and planning needed for a standard bombing mission. All of a sudden, that JTAC in your unit stops being the butt of all those Air Force jokes and starts being the answer to your prayers.

The JTAC will tell all those nearby air assets where the guys who need to die are, where the nearest friendlies are, and from what angle you will be filming them for the YouTube video. The pilots will take care of the rest.

5. Clear the HQ with infantry, then let the engineers go nuts

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
The engineers use controlled detonations to get rid of buildings. It looks kind of like this except, instead of just the door blowing up, everything blows up. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Justin T. Updegraff)

No air assets at all? Feel like you didn’t coordinate this attack very well but now isn’t the time for armchair generals. Let the infantry run wild and take the building by force. You won’t get the immediate satisfaction of an air strike, but the combat engineers come with the grunts and are pretty good at destroying literally anything. Expect your C4 stock to fall low very suddenly.

Of course, if your infantry is carrying enough missiles and mortars, you may not need the engineers.

6. Tanks at close range

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Army 1st Infantry Division Soldiers conduct a live-fire accuracy screen test to calibrate the tank’s fire control system on Nov. 13, 2014, in Camp Buehring, Kuwait. (Photo: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Austin McGuin)

Hey, if you brought a bunch of armored beasts with 120mm cannons on the front, you know what to do. High explosive rounds are the obvious choice for the mission, but this writer humbly suggests trying canister shot. It takes longer and there’s no tactical advantage, but watching the building get chewed up by a constant barrage of steel balls would be pretty entertaining.

7. Screw it–hit it with nukes

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
(Photo: U.S. Archives)

Is the building too thick for canister shot? And high explosive rounds? And bunker busters and artillery and engineers? Oh well. Time for the ultimate trump card. Just be sure to accurately measure the effects of any lithium included in the mix. That stuff can quickly ruin your day at the beach.

Military Life

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

If you’re in the military, you’re going to move. It’s a fact of military life. Uprooting your life can be hard enough without government paid movers breaking all of your stuff. Yes, you can file claims for damaged goods and get reimbursed, but did you know that there’s a way to make some money and ensure your stuff gets to your next base intact? After all, if you want a job done right, do it yourself.

That’s right, you can choose to perform a Do It Yourself move. A DITY will earn you an incentive payment of up to 95% of what it would otherwise cost the government to move you and your stuff. Here are some tips and tricks to help ensure you have a smooth move to your next base.

1. Overkill is underrated

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Still a better ride than a Humvee (Uhaul)

Not sure what size truck to rent? Get the biggest one. The last headache you need while packing up your life is finding out that not everything will fit in the moving truck. Remember, you get reimbursed for the cost of rentals. As long as you feel comfortable driving it, go all out with that 26-footer. Once you get it out on the road, it’s really not that bad. Just be sure to use your mirrors.

2. Buy all the moving supplies

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
(military.com)

Boxes? Buy a ton. Tape? That’s not enough. Bubble wrap? Just take it all. With a similar mindset to the truck, a shortage of moving supplies while packing your place up is always an unwelcome surprise. Yes, you can always go out and buy more if you’re short, and you should. But that will cut into your moving time and when it comes to out-processing, time is so rarely on your side. Consumable materials like these are also reimbursed by Uncle Sam, so have plenty on hand. Plus, most major moving suppliers will allow you to return excess supplies. You’re covered either way.

3. You don’t have to do it all yourself

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Pizza is a great incentive (U.S. Army)

Willing to shell out for some pizza and drinks? Enlist the aid of some buddies to help you pack the truck. The military is a team environment and that includes help with moving. Plus it gives everyone a chance to hang out and say goodbye. Maybe you just have a few odd and/or heavy pieces of furniture that won’t fit in a moving truck (see tip #1 first). You can opt to do a partial DITY. That is, have the government move those difficult items free of charge and move everything else yourself. If the government movers get to the next place before you, no worries. The government authorizes up to 90 days of temporary storage at the receiving location. Just call to schedule a more convenient delivery day and time.

4. Stock up

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Yes, motorcycles count toward the weight of your household goods (U.S. Army)

The government will pay you based on the weight that you move and the distance that you move it. The more you pack the truck, the more money you get. Now, I’m not saying to cram it full of rocks or water barrels. That’s called fraud and will land you in some hot water. But what about that home gym set you’ve been eyeing? Or the motorcycle you’ve been meaning to treat yourself to. Heck, your cat always needs more litter, right? Better to get those things at your current base and move with them than get them at your next base and miss out on moving that weight. It’s also worth noting that it’s to your advantage to weigh the truck full with a full tank of gas too.

5. Save your receipts

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Those receipts are literally your money (U.S. Air Force)

If you’ve been in the military for a minute, you know that if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen. The government will reimburse you based on the receipts of your expenses. That Uhaul rental receipt that you got in your email? Save it. The rope that you bought at Home Depot to tie stuff down in the truck? Save that receipt too. The gas pump won’t print you a receipt from your fill-up? You’d better go into the gas station and politely ask for your receipt, because a picture on your phone of the pump’s screen won’t do it.

6. Take the toll

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Hopefully your drive looks better than this (USDot)

On a weekend trip, that $5 toll to shave off 20 minutes might not be worth it. But if you’re cruising the highway all day for a few days straight to get to your next base on time, the toll road is worth the cost. Plus, the cost of those tolls can be reimbursed too. Just be sure to keep a record of what tolls you take so that you can claim them on your travel voucher. Receipts aren’t required unless it exceeds $75. Make your life easier and have some change and small bills on hand.

7. Know what doesn’t count

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Sorry, your Camaro doesn’t count for weight (Uhaul)

Unfortunately, not every DITY expense is reimbursed. While the cost of a truck rental is covered, the cost of an auto trailer rental is not. Moreover, the weight of an auto trailer and the car being towed on it cannot count towards your total move weight. Likewise, any optional insurance you purchase to cover rental equipment is not eligible for reimbursement. Although consumable moving materials like boxes and tape can be reimbursed, certain items like ratchet straps and padlocks are not considered consumables. Finally, Uncle Sam only reimburses the actual cost of rentals, supplies, and gas. Any sales tax paid on top will not be reimbursed.

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This was the Littoral Combat Ship before there was a Littoral Combat Ship — Video

During the 1980s, the United States had a small squadron of vessels intended to work close to shore. These ships gave good service, and proved to be decent at not just their primary purpose. Yet when the peace dividend came, they got retired, and most were scrapped. One has been saved as a museum.


Meet the Pegasus-class missile-armed patrol hydrofoil. They were 255 tons. They could go up to 48 knots. They had a 76mm Mk 75 gun and eight RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

That was a lot of firepower on a small vessel. With a crew of four officers and 17 enlisted, these were not very manpower-intensive ships.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Six vessels of Patrol Combatant Missile Hydrofoil squadron 2 travel in formation en route to Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Va. for decommissioning. The formation includes the USS PEGASUS (PHM-1), USS HERCULES (PHM-2), USS TAURUS (PHM-3), USS AQUILA (PHM-4), USS ARIES (PHM-5) and USS GEMINI (PHM-6). (DOD Photo)

The Pegasus patrol boats never did have to carry out their primary mission to take out enemy ships. But GlobalSecurity.org notes that these ships did prove very valuable in other missions, including the drug interdiction role.

The “Seventh Edition of Combat Fleets of the World” notes that the ships were very steady weapons platforms for their size. Since they were based out of Key West, Florida, the patrol boats could keep an eye on Cuba.

Original plans to base them in the Med were scrapped, according to the “Thirteenth Edition of The Ships and Aircraft of the United States Navy.”

Think about what these ships could do with 255 tons. Now, let’s look at the Littoral Combat Ship.

What do we get for the 3,500 tons on a Freedom-class LCS? Well, we get roughly the same top speed (47 knots). We get a hangar with two MH-60 helicopters (primarily for anti-submarine warfare, but they have Hellfire missiles, which don’t do jack against anything larger than a Pegasus). We get a 57mm gun (the Mk 110), a Mk 31 RAM launcher … and a few .50-caliber machine guns.

While there is some improvement in air-defense (matched by the DART round for the 76mm gun), it’s weak when it comes to the anti-ship side of things.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children

Looking at the LCS, while it has had its shining moments — particularly USS Freedom’s 2010 Southern Command deployment — it has also had problems galore.

Perhaps the Navy should have gone back to the proven Pegasus design while it got the LCS right.

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It looks like the Russkis have deployed the ‘AMRAAMski’ in Syria

There’s nothing like a trial-by-combat to see if a new weapon is really worth its salt, so Russia has been using the Syrian Civil War to test out a lot of its new military technology.


In 2015, Russia’s Klub cruise missile made its combat debut, and Moscow has sent some of its most advanced planes to the war — including the Su-34 Fullback, the Su-35 Flanker, and the Tu-160 Blackjack — to carry out missions in support of Bashir al-Assad’s regime.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
(Photo from ausairpower.net)

Now, it looks like the Russians are including the R-77 air-to-air missile among the systems being used in what has become an operational testing ground. The missiles have been seen on Syrian Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrums, a fighter that the Soviets and Russians have exported to a number of countries in the region.

The R-77 — also known as the AA-12 “Adder,” or “AMRAAMski” — is an active-homing radar-guided missile. It’s comparable to the earlier versions of the U.S.-made AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile. The Adder has a range of roughly 70 miles, and a top speed in excess of Mach 4. The Adder can be carried by just about any Russian aircraft, from the Su-35 Flanker to the Mig-21 Fishbed. It entered service in 1994.

The AIM-120 AMRAAM has a top speed of Mach 4, and entered service in 1991, although it was being delivered as early as 1988. Early versions of the missile had a range of 45 miles, but the latest variant has a range of over 100 miles. The AMRAAM has been mounted on a wide variety of combat aircraft, including upgraded F-5s for the Singaporean Air Force; the F-22; the F-35; the Tornado F.3; the JAS.39 Gripen; F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets; and even the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Russia’s move to improve its air-to-air capability is certainly intended to stymie any U.S.-led contingency plan of creating a no-fly zone over the war-torn region.

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How 9/11 unfolded, through the eyes of the pilot of Air Force One

Most Americans who lived through the events of Sep. 11 remember where they were on Sep. 11, 2001, whether it was on the ground in New York or watching the chaos unfold on television.


Col. Mark Tillman (Ret.) had an inside view of the day’s events, being right there with the President of the United States as the pilot of Air Force One. Tillman, who retired from the Air Force in 2009, recalled the events of that day in a 2014 video by Tech Sgt. Nicholas Kurtz.

“We were sitting in Sarasota, Florida. We could see everything unfolding on television,” he says. “The first plane hits the tower. Then you can see the second plane hit the tower. Then the staff starts getting into gear, advising the president of what is going on.”

After takeoff, Tillman and his crew endured a number of close calls. Confused air traffic controllers told the pilot there were planes headed in his direction on two occasions. Then an ominous message was received from the vice president, according to The Daily Mail: “Angel is next,” using the classified callsign for Air Force One.

“I had to assume the worst. I assumed the president was about to be under attack.”

Watch:

NOW: 7 incredible stories of heroism on 9/11

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Here are 4 ways wartime presidents effectively rallied the American people

By the power of the Constitution, American presidents are the ultimate link between the people and the military. As commanders-in-chief, presidents are responsible for committing the nation to war — a very tall order.


Here are 4 presidents that navigated the vagaries of public sentiment better than most:

1. Polk told Americans that Mexico “shed American blood on American soil!”

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
President James K. Polk was almost certainly not a snake that dressed up as a human, despite his appearance. (Portrait: George Peter Alexander Healy)

President James K. Polk was an expansionist and wanted land from Mexico so that the U.S. would stretch from sea to shining sea. There is a dispute among historians on whether Polk wanted a war or was just willing to accept one, but he sent 4,000 troops under general and future president Zachary Taylor to a portion of land claimed by both Texas and Mexico.

Ten months later on May 8, 1846, Mexican troops attacked what they perceived to be American troops on Mexican land.

Polk acted quickly when he got word of the fighting. On May 11 he asked Congress for a declaration of war with the cry that Mexico had “shed American blood on American soil!” While a very few anti-expansionist Whigs – including then-Senator Abraham Lincoln – protested the fact that it was technically not “American soil,” the rest of the Whigs and the majority of Congress voted for war.

2. Lincoln rode on the coattails of his generals

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President Abraham Lincoln’s tactic for keeping public support of the war was to win it. (Photo: Alexander Gardner)

President Abraham Lincoln, one of the most popular and well-respected leaders in American history, was not always popular in his time. Indeed, during the road to the 1864 election with the war going badly. Even Lincoln expected a crushing defeat in his re-election bid. When the Democrats nominated Gen. George B. McClellan on a platform of peace with the breakaway Confederacy, all seemed lost.

But Lincoln had pushed hard for aggressive generals during the war, and two of them saved him in the final months before the election. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had been handpicked by Lincoln for the top job, and Grant’s favored subordinate, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, delivered Atlanta to the president on Sep. 3, 1864.

The victory in Atlanta was soon followed by Grant’s wins in the Shenandoah Valley campaign. With the war suddenly going well, Lincoln was able to rally the North to keep going and win the war.

Lincoln still nearly lost the election. But, despite how closely contested each state was (he won nearly all of them by narrow margins), he achieved an electoral college landslide of 212 to 21. He saved the Union but doomed himself to an assassin’s bullet on Apr. 14, 1865, less than six weeks after his second inauguration.

3. Wilson leaked the “Zimmerman Telegram” to the press

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
President Woodrow Wilson looked like a nerdy professor because he was one, but he still managed to mobilize America in World War I. (Photo: Harris Ewing, Library of Congress)

President Woodrow Wilson was notoriously reluctant to join World War I despite Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare which killed hundreds of Americans and sank prized ships. One of the tipping points for Wilson was when Britain revealed the “Zimmerman Telegram” to him.

The Zimmerman Telegram was a secret proposal from Germany to Mexico. Germany promised Mexico Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico if Mexico entered World War I as a German ally against the U.S. Wilson authorized the Navy to begin arming civilian vessels and leaked the telegram to the public. Once the American public was in a fury, he went to Congress and asked for a declaration of war.

4. Roosevelt hid his disability, befriended journalists, and held fireside chats

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children

President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew a thing or two about keeping up appearances. Though crippled by polio, he led America through most of World War II primarily by projecting strength. To make sure that reporters didn’t skew his message or show him looking weak, he befriended the journalists who covered him by holding small, intimate meetings with them in the Oval Office.

When he wasn’t glad-handing journalists, he spoke directly to the American public over the radio during his iconic “Fireside Chats” that actually started in the early days of his presidency when the U.S. was more worried about the Great Depression than the wars in Europe and Asia.

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

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:


AIR FORCE:

An F-15C Eagle from the 142nd Fighter Wing, Portland, Ore., lands at Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands.

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Photo: Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane/USAF

Members of the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., conduct a multi-ship C-17 Globemaster III formation during Crescent Reach 15.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Photo: Staff Sgt. Corey Hook/USAf

NAVY:

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG82), front, conducts a trilateral naval exercise with the Turkish frigate FTCD Gediz (F-495) and Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) destroyers Seoae Ryu Seong-ryong (DDG 993) and Gang Gam-chan (DDH 979) in support of theater security operations.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Photo: 2nd Class Evan Kenny/USN

NEW YORK (May 24, 2015) Sailors assigned to USS San Antonio (LPD 17) march in the Greenpoint Veterans Memorial Parade in the borough of Brooklyn as a part of Fleet Week New York (FWNY) event, May 24. FWNY, now in its 27th year, is the city’s time-honored celebration of the sea services.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre N. McIntyre/USN

ARMY:

Soldiers, assigned to 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, unload their Stryker vehicles during joint readiness exercise, Culebra Koa 15, May 21, 2015, at Bellows Air Force Station in Waimanalo, Hawaii.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Photo: Staff Sgt. Carlos Davis/US Army

Paratroopers, assigned 173rd Airborne Brigade, conduct airborne operations off the coast of Athens, Greece, with the 2nd Para Battalion of the Greek Army.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Photo: 1st Lt. Steven R. Siberski/US Army

MARINE CORPS:

Protect the Bird. A Marine with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, establishes security aboard Bellows Air Force Station, Hawaii.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Photo: Cpl. Elize McKelvey/USMC

Night Flight. An F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter taxies to be refueled on the flight deck of USS Wasp during night operations, a part of Operational Testing 1, May, 22, 2015.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Photo: Cpl. Anne K. Henry/USMC

COAST GUARD:

Later this week we will take a look at what it’s like on an International Ice Patrol deployment! Here is a small sample of what is to come.

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Photo: MST2 Steve Miller/USCG

The United States Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard Silent Drill Team was caught performing at the Statue of Liberty this past Saturday.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Photo: USCG

NOW: The definitive guide to US special ops

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Articles

The difference between Trump’s old airplane and Air Force One

President Trump knows how to travel in style when he flies around the world. A home theater system, 24 karat gold plated bathroom fixtures, VIP lounge — just to name a few customize fittings that make up “Trump Force One” built in the 1990s.


Powered by two Rolls-Royce RB211 jet engines, Trump’s Boeing 757 is considered the “mini-me” version of his newly earned class of jetliner — Air Force One.

Air Force One — the Air Force callsign created in 1953 to designate the President’s plane — is a Boeing 747 that measures 231 feet long, seats 100 passengers, and races in at a max speed of 700 miles per hour. It comes fully equipped with enough fuel to fly 7,800 miles.

It also houses an onboard aerial refueling tube. Perfect for those extended trips to Russia.

AF-1 comes standard with amenities like a full medical clinic, a full gym and over 80 lines of communication, so he’ll always acquire that perfect internet signal wherever he is.

That’s compared to his Boeing 757 at 155 feet long, seating 43 passengers and with a top speed of 660 miles per hour which he purchased back in 2010 for close 100 hundred million smackeroos. Considerably smaller— Trump’s 757 does come in as the fancier choice but doesn’t come close to having the defensive capabilities like a full circuit of radar jamming software like AF-1 does.

Unlike any previous president, Trump independently owns his own aerial fleet, including the Boeing 757-200 airliner, a Cessna Citation X and two Sikorsky S-76Bs. Now that Donald Trump is President, he’ll have to keep his amazing fleet in the hanger, and we think that’s just awful.

MSNBC, YouTube

Which plane could you see yourself flying in? Comment below.

Related: Mattis orders separate reviews of F-35, Air Force One programs

Articles

US special operators, artillery, gunships support Raqqa offensive

United States Special Forces have been deployed on several fronts around the Syrian city of al-Raqqa, supporting the offensive of the Kurdish militias and other allied factions laying siege to the city, according to a British war monitor.


US troops are deployed to the north, east, and west of al-Raqqa, considered the capital of the caliphate of the Islamic State, and includes US special ops units, US Marines artillery (155mm/M-777’s), and US Apache helicopter gunships supporting the advance of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led armed alliance that launched an offensive to retake the city, according to the UK’s Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The US-led coalition’s aircraft are also providing the Kurdish fighters with intensive air support.

The Golden Knights put on a show for military children
Syrian Democratic Forces march in Raqqa in 2016

Currently, there are clashes between the SDF and the US Special Forces on one side against IS, on the other, at the former base of Division 17, North of al-Raqqa; also on the outskirts of the Haraqala area and around the neighborhood of al-Jazra in the West.

SOHR said the SDF controls 70 percent of the al-Meshlab area, on the eastern side of al-Raqqa, where progress is being hampered by IS snipers and mines, although the Kurdish militia stated on Wednesday it completely controlled the area.

There are no civilians left in this district since they were evacuated days ago by the radical fighters, who have dug trenches and tunnels to defend the area, the NGO said.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons

For their part, the SDF reported in their Telegram account that they have managed to break into the neighborhood of al-Jazra in the western part of al-Raqqa.

On June 5th, this force launched an offensive on the city.

This offensive comes on the third anniversary of the proclamation of its caliphate on June 29, 2014, by IS in Syria and Iraq.

Currently, there are some 500 US troops deployed in Syria.

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