The 'Hell Cannon' is the Free Syrian Army's homemade howitzer - We Are The Mighty
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The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

The war in Syria is now five years old. In that time, there have been so many factions vying for power and battlefield superiority, some under-equipped group was bound to have to get creative with their weapons tech. Enter the Hell Cannon.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JEQnHw6HMI

First rigged up in the rural areas near Idlib, the Hell Cannon is an improvised, muzzle-loaded cannon, built by the Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade, then a member force of the Free Syrian Army. The homegrown howitzer caught on and was soon produced in and around Aleppo. The cannon’s popularity is responsible for a grassroots weapons industry in the area.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdGDIegH1S8

The weapon is essentially a barrel mounted to wheels and towed to where it needs to go. It’s entirely muzzle-loaded like an old timey powder smoothbore cannon. The powder is an explosive, usually ammonium nitrate (the explosive used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1996 Oklahoma City Bombing), which is ramrodded with a wooden stick. The round is a gas cylinder (commonly used in the region for cooking stoves) filled with explosives and shrapnel, and welded to a pipe with some stabilizing fins.The cylinder forms a tight seal in the cannon.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Improvised Hell Cannon rounds made of cooking gas canisters and mortar ammo seized by Syrian government forces (SAA) in Latakia (Twitter Photo)

Each round weighs roughly 88 pounds and will fly 1.5 kilometers (just under a mile). Some variants of the weapon will have multiple barrels, from two to seven. Others are welded to vehicles like cars and bulldozers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnXZ8LtbvEE

Newer developments in the weapon feature a 100mm shell used by Russian T-55 tanks attached to the tubes instead of the improvised gas tank. Others use real mortar rounds or compressed air cannons. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights calls the cannons “wildly inaccurate,” because it causes a lot of collateral damage and civilian casualties.

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These 17 hilarious reviews of MREs from troops in the field will bring back memories

If there’s one thing the DoD can count on soldiers to be bluntly honest about, it’s the food. In 2005, 400 soldiers from Fort Greely, Alaska, were asked to taste test a new menu of Meals, Ready to Eat for anything that might stand out to them.


There were a lot of standouts.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Fort Greely is one of the coldest places in the U.S. military. This is how they warm up. Probably. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love)

Fort Greely’s finest filled out the evaluation forms, which were then compiled and sent to the DoD office that manages the procurement of field rations. Grunts don’t pull punches. That’s kinda the whole point of their job.

The main result was that U.S. troops got new MREs. Luckily for us, the Smoking Gun got their hands on the actual reviews and some of the comments are gold.

1. Shakespeare:

“Cheese spread with bread is never a liked mix. Anger is usually the result.”

2. The prophet:

“I noticed this meal # was 666…I will probably die of a massive heart attack thank you for feeding me possessed food.”

3. The skeptic:

“This donut is just a brownie in a circle with crappy “frosting” what are you trying to pull?”

4. The poet:

“I believe it was the dinner meal that caused this (Chicken and Dumplings), but it sounded like a flatulence symphony in my tent all night.”

5. The biographer:

“I have disliked cabbage since childhood.”

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

6. The drama queen:

“Oh my god what were you thinking… don’t give cabbage to a soldier ever again even POWs deserve better.”

7. The fortune teller:

“The entree will only be eaten if you haven’t eaten all day.”

8. The PR Rep:

“Maybe change the name ‘Chicken Loaf,’ [it] scares me.”

9. PFC Gung Ho:

“Put Ranch Dressing on everything! Airborne!”

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

10. The guy who’s wrong about everything:

“F*ck hot sauce [put] gummy bears inside.”

11. Sgt. WTF:

“Tabasco is good in your coffee.”

12. The Obvious Sapper:

“Change the Ranger bar name to ‘Sapper Bar'”

13. The Stream of Consciousness:

“5 Veg ravioli ‘friggin’ sucks. Spiced apple ‘friggin’ rock. Apple cinn. Pound cake taste like cheap perfume. (Friggin). Is chocoletto a foreign Name crap? Pizza anything friggin rocks! Gum is good.”

14. Staff Sgt. TMI:

“This new menu has me using the latrine 3x a day.”

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
The Post-MRE Experience we all know.

15. Sgt. Maj. No Chance:

“Please bring back cigarettes.”

16. Pvt. Ungrateful:

“Jerky is very, very good. How many years did it take to figure that out?”

17. Sgt. Missing the Point:

“The name should be fiesta breakfast party. That would be funny.”

“The vanilla pudding is so good I ripped it open, Licked the inside and rolled around on top of it like a dog. I prefer not to eat anything called loaf but in this case I made an exception… thank god I DID.”

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This is what happens to military working dogs after retirement

After about ten to twelve years, it’s usually time for a military working dog (MWD) to retire.


Unlike us, they don’t get out and start celebrating life immediately. Hundreds of them are sent to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas every year. Before November 2000, most of the dogs were euthanized or just left in the battlefield troops just left (because despite the rank and funeral honors, they’re listed as equipment).

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Military Working Dog Ttoby, 23d Security Forces Squadron, prepares for an MWD demonstration, Feb. 2, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

Thankfully, “Robby’s Law” opens up adoption to their former handlers, law enforcement, and civilian families.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Five puppies cloned from Trakr, a German shepherd, who made headlines by rescuing victims from the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, mug for cameras. (Yonhap News photo)

When a dog is retired out, it is usually because of injury or sickness and the best person to care for the puppy is the handler. More than 90% of these good dogs get adopted by their handler. Makes sense — calling a military working dog your “battle buddy” seems less awkward when the context is with a Labrador Retriever.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Senior Airman Jordan Crouse pets his MWD Hector during a patrol dog certification qualification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mozer O. Da Cunha)

Next on the order of precedent in MWD adoption is law enforcement. Their services would be invaluable within police forces because they are trained to do exactly when the police would need them to do. However, the dogs are contractually agreed to belong to the department. They are the only ones allowed to allow the dogs to perform patrol, security, or substance detection work and the DoD has strict restrictions otherwise.

Sadly, even the police force won’t take the rest of the military working dogs because of their age or injury. This is where civilians come in. Bare in mind, adoption isn’t a quick process and applicants are carefully screened. It may take about a year on the waiting list to get your first interview.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
(Official Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Margaret Gale)

They are not some goofy pug you can just adopt and take home. These dogs have usually deployed and show the same symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. These dogs were trained to sniff out roadside bombs and to fight the Taliban and now have trouble socializing with other dogs and aren’t as playful as they were before.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ramon A. Adelan)

The MWD selection process demands that the most energetic and playful puppies are needed for combat. After years of fighting, these old dogs show signs of nervous exhaustion and distress. If that pulls at your heart strings because it hits close to home, it is scientifically proven that dogs (including these MWDs) can aid and benefit those with Post Traumatic Stress.

Related: A dog’s love can cure anything – including PTSD

If you don’t mind the wait, have an appropriate living space for a large dog, and are willing to aid these four legged veterans, there are organizations that can help. Save-A-Vet and Mission K9 Rescue are great places to start.

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Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

A C-130J Super Hercules from the 37th Airlift Squadron fires flares as it performs anti-aircraft fire tests during exercise Carpathian on May 9, 2016, in Romania. The 37th AS, from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, began participating in off-station training deployments with Romania as early as 1996, allowing the U.S. Air Force to work with NATO allies to develop and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Lane Plummer

Phase technicians from the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work on an F-16C Fighting Falcon during routine phase maintenance at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, May 18, 2016. Phase inspections are performed on aircraft every 300 flight hours and involve procedural maintenance actions that require robust attention to detail.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Justyn M. Freeman

ARMY:

A 2d Squadron 2d Cavalry Regiment infantryman suppresses opposing forces with a M240B machine gun during Exercise Spring Storm in Voru, Estonia, May 14, 2016. Approximately 6,000 military personnel from the U.S., Finland, German Bundeswehr, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom’sHM Armed Forces and Canadian Armed Forces participated in the annual Estonian Army Land Defense Forces training exercise.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven M. Colvin

Soldiers assigned to 3rd Infantry Division, move to their battle position in a M1 Abrams during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge (SETC) at 7th Army JMTC’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, May 11, 2016.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Javon Spence

NAVY:

PACIFIC OCEAN (May 17, 2016) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Michael Allen, assigned to amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), directs an AV-8B Harrier from Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 311 on the ship’s flight deck. America is an aviation centric amphibious assault ship that supports small-scale contingency operations of an expeditionary strike group, to forcible entry missions in major theaters of war. The ship is currently conducting maritime training operations off the coast of California.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan A. Colon/Released

GUAM (May 17, 2016) U. S. Navy Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 land and retrieve their parachutes in Guam after a high altitude-low opening parachute jump. EODMU5 conducted counter improvised explosive device operations, renders safe explosive hazards and disarms underwater explosives.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Doug Harvey

MARINE CORPS:

A Marine attending the Military Police Basic Course, runs to cover during a field training exercise at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., May 11, 2016. The purpose of the course is to provide entry level pipeline and lateral move Marines the knowledge and skills to become disciplined, motivated and capable of performing the duties and responsibilities of military occupational specialty 5811, Military Police.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James R. Skelton

Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) provide security while other Marines conduct fast-rope inserts from a UH-1Y Huey with HMLA-267, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, May 9. 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (1st Anglico), I MEF, facilitated a helicopter rope and suspension technique training package for U.S. Marines and Royal British Commandos.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan Boynes

COAST GUARD:

My name is 1/c Kevin Alvarez and I will be taking you through the events that occur during commencement week leading up to graduation for the class of 2016! Pictured above is the sunset regimental review that took place last night in honor of Rear Admiral Rendon, Superintendent, United States Coast Guard Academy.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
U.S. Coast Guard Photo by PA2 Mendenhall

Step 1 of 3: 186 First Class Cadets line up and make their way to Cadet Memorial Field where they will soon be handed their diplomas and be commissioned as officers.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
U.S. Coast Guard Photo

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The US Navy has new eyes in the sky out in the Pacific

Okay let’s be honest, it’s the combat planes that get most of the attention.


What airplane did “Top Gun” turn into a star? The F-14 Tomcat. “Iron Eagle’s” sex appeal came from the spritely F-16 Fighting Falcon. Even “Flight of the Intruder” made the portly A-6 Intruder attack plane the belle of the ball.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
An E-2D Hawkeye and a C-2A Greyhound assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 fly over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

So, where does that leave some of the support planes? Out in the cold, and that just ain’t fair.

A Navy release on Oct. 21 centers on one of the most important planes in a carrier’s air wing – the E-2 Hawkeye airborne radar and control plane. Specifically, the new E-2D, which is making its Pacific Fleet debut with Air Wing 11 on board USS Nimitz (CVN 68), is a game-changer for the Sea Service.

The E-2D made its debut with the fleet last year with VAW-125 when USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) deployed to the Middle East, Mediterranean Sea, and in the Western Pacific.

The E-2 has been in service since 1964 – sharing the same airframe as the C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery, or “COD,” aircraft. Initially, it used the AN/APS-138 radar, which was later replaced with the AN/APS-145.  The E-2C entered service in 1971, and since then has been continuously upgraded.

The E-2D, though, adds a new radar, the AN/APY-9. This Active Electronically Scanned Array radar not only provides more detection capability, it makes it harder for an opposing plane to know if it is being seen.

The E-2D has far more than better eyes, though. It also can help guide missiles like the AIM-120 AMRAAM and the RIM-174 SM-6 against aerial targets.

But wait, there’s more! The E-2D also has some other upgrades that will help make this plane even more of a game-changer than it was before. It will gain a mid-air refueling capability, enabling it to stay aloft longer. It also will feature a glass cockpit, which not only improves situational awareness for the crew, but will allow the plane’s co-pilot to serve as a tactical controller in emergencies.

So, give the E-2 its due. Without this plane, it’s a safe bet that Maverick and Iceman would probably have no idea where the bandits were until it was too late.

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Want to buy the Glock that lost the Army handgun competition? You might just get your chance

Glock Inc. plans to sell the pistol it developed for the US Army’s Modular Handgun System program on the commercial market, a company official told a German publisher.


In January, Sig Sauer Inc. beat out Glock, FN America, and Beretta USA–the maker of the current M9 9mm pistol–in the service’s high-profile competition to replace the M9.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
A soldier fires a Beretta M9 pistol. Photo from US Army.

Glock protested the decision, which was upheld by the Government Accountability Office, and shortly thereafter released photos of its entries for the program: versions of its 9mm Glock 19 and .40 caliber Glock 23 pistols.

Earlier this month, Dr. Stephan Dorler, managing director of European Security and Defense, a publication based in Bonn, Germany, interviewed Richard Flur, head of international sales for Glock GmbH, based in Deutsch-Wagram, Austria.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Glock, Inc’s one-gun entry for the US Army’s Modular Handgun System program. Photo from Glock, Inc.

Here’s a transcript of the interview, according to a PDF posted online and previously reported by The Firearm Blog:

ESD: Will there be a version of the Glock Modular Handgun System pistol for the commercial market?

Flür: Yes. We think this is a great pistol and would like to give all interested parties the opportunity to try and purchase it. All costs associated with the development of the pistol were financed by Glock, so it is also possible to market the pistol independently. Of course, we will be able to make good use of the experience gained from completing this project. Some aspects will certainly be reflected in future Glock products.

A Glock official in the US said there is no timeline yet for such a plan.

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US to remain in Iraq for ‘years to come’

Top Pentagon leaders are warning that the long war is going to get even longer.


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told Senate leaders on Wednesday that even after ISIS is defeated in Syria and Iraq, U.S. troops will be stationed in the region for at least a few years afterward.

“I believe it’s in our national interest that we keep Iraqi security forces in a position to keep our mutual enemies on their back foot,” Mattis told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
A cavalry scout assigned to the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, scans his sector during his guard shift near Makhmour, Iraq on Jan. 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ian Ryan)

“I don’t see any reason to pull out again and face the same lesson,” he added, referencing the removal of all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011.

Though President Barack Obama in 2008 campaigned on a promise to pull troops out of Iraq, the move has been criticized by conservatives in the years since as helping fuel the rise of ISIS.

In 2014, as ISIS militants seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, one senior military officer told Business Insider the rise of the terror group in the wake of U.S. troop departures was inevitable.

“We said we won some success but this is reversible,” the retired senior U.S. military officer said, on condition of anonymity. “So what we’re seeing now is exactly what we forecasted.”

So far, Mattis seems more comfortable placing troops closer to harm’s way than his predecessor.

Though the Pentagon has long downplayed the role of U.S. ground troops in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, recent deployments of many more “boots on the ground” suggest they may be front-and-center in the coming months.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Green Berets flood a room while practicing close quarters combat techniques. (3rd Special Forces Group)

In addition to roughly 500 U.S. special operations forces, the military has sent conventional ground troops inside Syria, to include a contingent of Army Rangers, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, and artillerymen from 1st Battalion, 4th Marines to provide fire support just 20-30 miles from Raqqa, the ISIS capital.

“The Iraqi security forces will need that kind of support for years to come,” Dunford told the Senate committee.

Articles

The Air Force created an army of online trolls

Everyone gets Facebook friend requests from strangers. We used to worry about them being identity thieves. Nowadays, those strangers might be spooks.


The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

Many experts agree cyberspace is the battleground of the future, and for good reason. We see that future playing out in many ways, even now. There are real cybersecurity threats out there, as the recent hacking of the Office of Personnel Management demonstrates. Experts estimate the cost of information lost to hackers could be as high as $4.6 billion.

This isn’t The Pirate Bay sharing films and music via free torrent downloads. This is actual damage from ideological foes like ISIS and North Korea. China alone accounts for 70% of intellectual property theft. One Air Force counter strategy took a play from Russia’s playbook: create an online army of trolls.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

Russian trolls pump out 135 comments, 50 news article posts, and maintain 6-10 Facebook and Twitter accounts per 12-hour shift. But Russia uses actual humans to do this work, while the Air Force commissioned software to allow one service member to control the same number of online identities, accounts known as “sock puppets,” toward purposes not specified.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Unlike the Air Force’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts, which rightfully celebrate National Waffle Day.

In 2010, Air Force contractors took bids for developing this software on FedBizOps (which is a real government website, despite sounding like a subsidiary of Cash4Gold) as legally required for potential contractor opportunities. According to the contract synopsis the Air Force wanted:

“50 User Licenses, 10 Personas per user. Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms. The service includes a user friendly application environment to maximize the user’s situational awareness by displaying real-time local information.”

That’s 500 people spreading disinformation and propaganda, much more than the mass emails your parents send to all their friends.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has the same technology. It might even be better than the Air Force’s request, as CENTCOM’s can fool geolocating services, allowing for misinformation and propaganda (or anything else the software could provide) from anywhere in the world.

“This contract supports classified social media activities outside the U.S., intended to counter violent extremist ideology and enemy propaganda,” said Commander Bill Speaks, the chief media officer of CENTCOM’s digital engagement team.

In contrast, the Air Force’s guidelines for actual humans posting on blogs and social media is actually pretty well constructed.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

One of the original bidders for the software was the now-defunct HBGary, whose CEO infamously bragged he was able to take down hacker collective Anonymous, the same collective who subsequently dumped HBGary’s secret documents onto the Internet, where it was found HBGary had developed similar software as a part of the U.S. government’s ongoing not-so-secret supervillain plan to destroy the Wikileaks website.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Supervillainy is another area dominated by the Russians

Whatever the persona technology was for, it was launched in March 2011, presumably in support of Operation Earnest Voice. For the record, it would be illegal for the Air Force or CENTCOM to use “sock puppet” accounts against American citizens.

NOW: Russia has a ‘troll farm’ of people posting crazy internet comments all day long

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7 ways to use a uniform inspection as a statement of individuality

No matter what branch of service you are in, uniform inspections are routine, and there’s no real trick to passing them. Just follow the regs to the letter. What’s hard about that?


No, those who truly desire to make their mark in this world choose a different path, and (they won’t tell you this) but that’s what the higher ups are really looking for in their subordinates.

WATM is here to light the fuse of your rocket to greatness. Here are 7 ways to use uniform inspection as a statement of individuality, thereby demonstrating the kind of breakout leadership traits the chain of command loves:

Bust out some innovative grooming

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

SEALs already know this. You think they grow their hair out and rock killer beards to blend in with the Afghan locals? No way. It’s all about staying ahead of the “lumbersexual” trend stateside, and when the admirals see that they’re like, “Man, that’s some awesome leadership stuff going on there.”

Sport an Irish Pennant or two

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

Attention to detail is a must and having loose strings and threads sticking out of your uniform is a clear sign that you have it. Gunnys won’t say this, but they love when their charges show this kind of initiative.

Show your fun side with your military bearing

Cracking a smile, smirking, or making any other expression other than a stoic and fearless look will convey that you’re a professional warfighter who won’t crack under pressure. Demonstrate this sort of lighthearted manner at every opportunity, especially if the inspecting officer is an O-6 or higher.

Cultivate beaucoup wrinkles in your uniform

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer

No steaming, pressing, starching, or ironing your uniform. The presence of lots of wrinkles tells leadership that you accept that military life is imperfect and you won’t let that fact get you down.

Misplace your ribbons and badges

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
(WARNING: Following this recommendation could lead to stolen valor guy responses from zealous vets with YouTube accounts. Avoid public places, especially sporting events or shopping malls or country music concerts.)

What kind of lemming needs a chart to show him or her where ribbons and badges are supposed to go on the uniform? Feel the power of the designer within you and organize all of that stuff in a way that seems right for YOU. This’ll be a real eye-opener for superiors.

Make sure your uniform doesn’t fit

Superiors may tell you that they don’t like the “jeans around the ass with the underwear showing” look, but they’re actually intrigued by it and maybe even a little jealous they didn’t come up with the idea. Once again, don’t be afraid to make a statement that says, “I don’t follow, I lead.”

Wear too much of your signature fragrance

It takes more than clothes and demeanor to leave that lasting impression on those who control your fate. Leverage the sense of smell to your professional advantage.

Dirty up your shoes / boots

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
(Photo: USMC)

It’s true that your shoes say a lot about you, and this is especially true during a uniform inspection. Dirt on your boots screams “I’m totally focused on the mission, dammit, and have no desire to waste this command’s time.” Higher ups might not say it, but trust us, they love that sort of statement.

Good luck, friends. And welcome to the fast track.

NOW: 7 Things people use every day that originated in the military

OR: 9 Military movie scenes where Hollywood got it totally wrong

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Vietnam vets meet the soldier who saved them from a VC ambush

Fifty-one years after saving a squad of U.S. Marines from walking into an ambush by Viet Cong, Don Medley walked into a surprise gathering organized to honor him.


Members of the squadron Medley saved May 12, 1966, gathered Friday at Stone Hearth restaurant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for a surprise dinner. Medley, a former U.S. Army Warrant Officer, had believed he and his wife, Dianne, were meeting one of the Marine veterans, Earl Davis, and his wife, Claudia, for dinner.

In reality, three other men Medley saved, along with their wives, were waiting to meet him. Those honoring him traveled from South Carolina, Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee.

“I told my wife that one day I’d like to meet some of the guys on the ground that I helped,” Medley said. “This is the day.”

Medley, of Hodgenville, appeared stunned and overwhelmed by the handshakes, hugs and greetings he received as he stood near the doorway of the room reserved for the occasion.

“Thank you, for my wife and kids,” one man said.

The words “thank you” repeatedly resounded in the room that held a dining table adorned with a centerpiece of white flowers highlighted with small U.S. flags. Placemats also were emblazoned with U.S. flags.

“This is such an honor for me,” Medley said, his voice wavering as he received gifts of gratitude. “It’s unbelievable.”

Like other members of Bravo Company of 1st Marine Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Earl Davis had wondered over the years who the Cessna pilot who saved them was. After an article was published in Vietnam magazine last year, Medley’s identity became known.

Davis received contact information for Medley on Dec. 26. He decided to coordinate the surprise gathering.

During the gathering, Medley recounted the day he was flying his Cessna over a rice paddy and noticed Marines advancing toward a trench line holding enemy forces. He dropped a smoke grenade on which he had scrawled a brief message warning the Marines, but they continued to advance.

He soon noticed there were more enemies in a tree line, making the number much larger. He dropped a second smoke grenade warning them and included the words, “I’m calling Arty,” referring to notifying artillery. His message saved them, the men said.

“We’ve been looking for this guy for over 50 years,” Ray Maurer said. “I just broke up when I saw him.”

Maurer and his wife, Bernadette, made the trip from Georgia.

Carl Whipple of Tennessee attended the gathering with wife, Myrtle Ruth.

“We all wanted the opportunity to meet him,” he said.

Whipple described the experience as heartfelt and said it was “a God thing” that sent Medley to fly over the squad 51 years ago.

“We’re indebted,” he said.

Dan Ferrell of Missouri said the gathering was a much-needed opportunity to express his thanks to Medley.

“I’ve never been able to put this behind me,” said Ferrell, who has post-traumatic stress disorder.

Medley was presented with a watch that was set at 10:30, the approximate time he dropped the first smoke grenade. He also was given mementos including a framed collection of items, among which was a signed letter of thanks.

Choking up in the process, Davis read the letter during the presentation. Later, he said the emotion he felt at that time summed up what he was feeling and how special the occasion was.

“It means a whole hell of a lot,” he said.

Similarly, Medley visibly was moved during the gathering and said the items he received will be displayed with honor in his den.

“It’s overwhelming,” Medley said. “This vindicates my whole year in Vietnam.”

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Military families ordered to leave US bases in Turkey

Security concerns over threats from ISIS prompted the Pentagon to order evacuations of military families from Southern Turkey, specifically Incirlik Air Base, Izmir, and Mugla. The State Department followed suit, ordering the evacuation of families connected to the U.S. consulate in Adana.


The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refuels a F-15 Strike Eagle in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Dec. 28, 2015. OIR is the coalition intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb)

“The decision to move our families and civilians was made in consultation with the Government of Turkey, our State Department, and our Secretary of Defense,” Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command, said in the statement. The decision affects 700 spouses and children in these areas.

The ongoing threat of ISIS attacks in Turkey makes Incirlik and other U.S. installations prime targets for terrorism. U.S. security forces in the country have been a Force Protection Condition (FPCON) Delta for weeks. Delta is the highest alert level, meaning intelligence has been received that terrorist action against a specific location or person is imminent. The base was locked down in July 2015 and voluntary departures for dependents were authorized in September.  The latest order is mandatory.

Almost 100 people have died in the five terror attacks in Turkey in 2016 alone. Two of the attacks were claimed by ISIS, while the other three allegedly from Kurdish terrorist organizations, which is still a threat to U.S. forces, as the Incirlik Air Base is shared with the Turkish Air Force. Incirlik, located 100 miles from the Turkish border with Syria, houses 2,500 American troops.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
An A-10C Thunderbolt II attack aircraft sits on the flight line at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey Oct. 15, 2015. Along with the 12 A-10C Thunderbolt IIs from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, the U.S. Air Force deployed support equipment and approximately 300 personnel to Incirlik AB in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. This follows Turkey’s recent decision to open its bases to U.S. and other Coalition members participating in air operations against ISIL. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cory W. Bush)

“This step does not signify a permanent decision to end accompanied tours at these facilities,” said a European Command statement. “It is intended to mitigate the risk to DoD elements and personnel, including family members, while ensuring the combat effectiveness of U.S. forces and our mission support to operations in Turkey. The United States and Turkey are united in our common fight against ISIL, and Incirlik continues to play a key role in counter-ISIL operations.”

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US-led forces executed the largest single airstrike of the year against ISIS’ oil business

In one fell swoop, a series of aerial strafing and bombing runs destroyed 83 oil tankers belonging to ISIS forces in Syria.


USA TODAY reports that after a pilot witnessed a gaggle of vehicles in the oil-rich, ISIS-held region of Deir ez-Zor province, US-led coalition forces sent a surveillance aircraft to provide intelligence on the area. After confirming the targets, A-10s and F-16s were scrambled to dispense more than 80 munitions against the vehicles.

After the dust settled, an estimated $11 million worth of oil and trucks were destroyed in the largest single airstrike against ISIS forces in Syria this year.

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
A convoy of ISIS-owned fuel tankers burn after being targeted by a Russian airstrike. | Screenshot via Guerrilla TV/YouTube

“You’re going to have multiple effects from this one strike,” said Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian.

The vehicles, which were reported to have been out in the open, may be indicative of the declining state of ISIS’ leadership and control. After a series of devastating airstrikes from both coalition and Russian forces, ISIS militants have grown accustomed to evade aerial threats by avoiding traveling in large convoys; however, this latest lapse in judgment could be a sign of worse things to come for the militants.

“This is a very good indication that they’re having trouble commanding and controlling their forces,” Harrigian explained to USA TODAY.

The bombing campaign, otherwise known as Tidal Wave II, was enacted to wipe out ISIS’ oil market that was generating more than $1 million a day during its peak.

At the beginning of this operation, coalition aircraft would drop leaflets on the oil tankers prior to their bombing runs to provide the option for drivers to escape. However, after new military rules were implemented, leaflets are no longer required to be dropped.

Instead, pilots are now firing warning shots to indicate their arrival.

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The 9 best attack helicopters in the world

Attack helicopters are fierce predators that go after enemy troop formations and guard friendlies. Here are the 9 that most effectively prowl the battlefield:


1. Ka-52 “Alligator”

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Photo: Youtube

Capable of operating at high altitude and speed, the two-seater Ka-52 snags the top spot from the usual winner, the Apache. The Alligator’s anti-ship missiles have better range than the Apache and the helicopter boasts similar armor and air-to-air capability. A one-seat version, the Ka-50, is also lethal.

2. AH-64 Apache

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Photo: Crown Copyright/Staff Sgt. Mike Harvey

The AH-64 is armed with a lot of weapons including Hellfire missiles, 70mm rockets, and a 30mm automatic cannon. Its tracks and prioritizes 256 contacts with advanced radar and targeting systems. Optional Stinger or Sidewinder missiles turn it into an air-to-air platform. The newest version, AH-64E Guardian, is more efficient, faster, and can link to drones.

3. Mi-28N “Havoc”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8T2lqjCYai0

The night-capable version of the Mi-28, the “Havoc” carries anti-tank missiles that can pierce a meter of armor. It also has pods for 80mm unguided rockets, five 122mm rockets grenade launchers, 23mm guns, 12.7mm or 7.62mm machine guns, or bombs. It also has a 30mm cannon mounted under its nose.

4. Eurocopter Tiger

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Photo: Wikipedia/bidgee

The Tiger minimizes its radar, sound, and infrared signatures to avoid enemy munitions and still has thick armor, just in case. It carries a 30mm turret, 70mm rockets, air-to-air missiles, and a wide variety of anti-tank missiles as well as countermeasures for incoming missiles .

5. Z-10

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Photo: Youtube

The Z-10 has an altitude ceiling of nearly 20,000 feet and carries capable anti-tank missiles, TY-90 air-to-air missiles, and a 30mm cannon. The Z-10 was originally considered a triumph of the Chinese defense industry, but it was actually designed by Russian manufacturer Kamov, the company behind the Ka-52 and Ka-50.

6. T-129

An upgraded version of the Italian A-129, the T-129 is a Turkish helicopter carrying robust UMTAS anti-tank missiles, rockets, and Stinger missiles. Its cannon is relatively small at 20mm, but it can zip around the battlefield at 150 knots, rivaling the newest Apaches.

7. Mi-24 Hind

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Photo: Youtube

The Mi-24 carries understrength anti-tank missiles by modern standards, but it’s great against infantry. Multiple machine guns up to 30mm chew up enemy troops while thick armor grants near-immunity from ground fire up to .50-cal. It also doubles as a transport, carrying up to eight infantrymen or four litters.

8. AH-1Z Viper

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rebekah Adler

A heavily upgraded version of the first attack helicopter, the Viper still has a lot of bite. Hellfire missiles destroy enemy tanks and ships while a 20mm cannon picks off dismounts and light vehicles. Sidewinder missiles allow it to engage enemy air from a respectable distance.

9. AH-2 Rooivalk

The ‘Hell Cannon’ is the Free Syrian Army’s homemade howitzer
Photo: Youtube

The AH-2 is a South African helicopter that uses a stealthy design, electronic countermeasures, and armor to survive threats on the battlefield. While it’s there, it fires a 20mm cannon, TOW or ZT-6 Mokopa anti-tank missiles, or rockets at its enemies. There are plans for it to gain an air-to-air capability.

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