The Inaugural events start tonight. Here's how to watch. - We Are The Mighty
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The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

On January 20, 2021, Joseph R. Biden will be sworn in as America’s 46th president. This year will look very different due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Prior to the 20th amendment, Inauguration Day was always March 4, the anniversary of the Constitution taking effect. January 20 has been “the day” since 1933, unless it falls on a Sunday. This and some of the more modern traditions are the only things that will still be the same. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has continued to ravage the globe and our country. With this in mind, the majority of the inaugural events will be virtual. The Presidential Inauguration Committee has created some special events leading up to the big day. Here’s a partial list of televised events (all times listed are in eastern time).

Image credit – Adam Schultz

Saturday, January 16 at 7pm there will be a virtual welcome event, American United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America’s Changemakers, featuring musical guests and speakers to kick off the festivities. The focus will be on the country’s unsung heroes and the impacts they have made with their work. Sunday, January 17 at 8pm, the inaugural committee will have a concert titled, We the People

Monday, January 18 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The soon-to-be president has dedicated the day to service. To honor the spirit of King, it has been designated as the National Day of Service. The call to action is for Americans all over the country to engage in a day of volunteerism within their own communities and the event has been titled United We Serve. That evening at 8pm eastern, there will be a virtual event with entertainers and speakers who will celebrate the legacy of King. 

Tuesday, January 19, will be a somber day; the day is dedicated to American lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee is inviting cities and communities across the country to join in on a moment of unity and remembrance at 5:30pm, by lighting their buildings and ringing their church bells. In Washington, D.C., there will be a lighting ceremony around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. 

As in years past, Biden will be sworn in on the west side of the U.S. Capitol alongside his soon to be Vice President, Kamala Harris. The attendance at the event will be minimal, with only congressional members present in accordance with safety protocols. But all across the National Mall there will be 200,000 American flags waving in the wind, in the place of Americans who would normally be there to witness the momentous event.  

Following the swearing in ceremony, the new president will make his address to the nation. The last part of this event will include the pass in review, a longstanding military tradition to reflect on the peaceful transfer of power. After that, the newly sworn in president and vice president will head to Arlington National Cemetery with their spouses to lay a wreath on the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. They will be joined by President Barack Obama, President George W Bush, President Bill Clinton and their spouses. 

Instead of the traditional parade to the White House that Americans are used to, the new president and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, will receive a presidential escort to the White House by representatives from every military branch. There will then be a full televised virtual parade, showcasing communities and citizens from all over the country. At 8:30pm, Tom Hanks will host Celebrating America, a prime-time television event in lieu of the traditional inaugural balls. President Biden and Vice President will offer remarks as well as a host of other speakers that represent the diversity of America. After that, President Biden and Vice President Harris will go to work.

To watch all of the inauguration festivities planned for the next five days, click here. Be sure to watch the swearing in LIVE on the We Are The Mighty Facebook page.

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7 Celebrities Who Didn’t Last At West Point

Being a West Point cadet isn’t for everyone, and that’s not a bad thing if you’re a poet or an LSD pioneer.


Not everyone can make it through the famed U.S. Military Academy that has been training Army leaders for more than 200 years. The academy has had its fair share of famous graduates, of course, but we looked back at a few who didn’t make it all the way through.

 

Edgar Allen Poe

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

Edgar Allen Poe, the poet best known for “The Raven,” served as a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army 1827-1829. He was a member of West Point’s Class of 1834 and excelled in language studies, but he was ultimately expelled for conduct reasons. (Wikipedia)

Chris Cagle

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Before he played in the NFL, Chris Cagle was part of West Point’s Class of 1930. He played for the Black Knights during the 1926–1929 seasons. Right before his commissioning, he was forced to resign in May 1930 after it was discovered he had married — a breach of the rules for cadets — in August 1928. (Wikipedia; Photo: Amazon.com)

Timothy Leary

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Timothy Leary, counterculture icon and LSD proponent, was part of West Point’s Class of 1943 before dropping out to “drop out, tune in, and turn on” – his motto during the ’60s.

Richard Hatch

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Richard Hatch was part of West Point’s Class of 1986 before he dropped out to eventually become the original reality show bad boy and winner of the first season of Survivor. (Photo: People.com)

Maynard James Keenan

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Maynard James Keenan is well known in rock music circles as the front man of art metal bands Tool and A Perfect Circle. Keenan would have been part of the Class of 1988 but instead of accepting his appointment to West Point in 1984 (while he was attending United States Military Academy Preparatory School) he decided to skip cadet life and instead complete his term of active duty enlistment. (Photo: Karen Mason Blair/Corbis)

Adam Vinatieri

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Adam Vinatieri is well-known to NFL fans as a placekicker for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. His stint as a cadet didn’t last very long. He left the Academy after two weeks of plebe life. (Photo: Colts.com)

Dan Hinote

 

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

Dan Hinote dropped out of West Point in 1996 – his plebe year – when he was picked up by the Colorado Avalanche, which made him the first NHL player ever drafted from a service academy. He is currently an assistant coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Photo: NHL.com)

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Here’s The Intense Training For Marines Who Guard American Embassies

The U.S. Marine Corps is often at the tip of the spear, and the few chosen to guard American embassies in friendly and not-so-friendly places around the globe are certainly proof of that.


Also, Watch: Watch Air Force Security Forces Training For Base Security 

Stationed at 176 embassies and consulates around the globe, Marine watch-standers and detachment commanders with Marine Corps Embassy Security Group keep a watchful eye on diplomats, classified information, and equipment vital to U.S. national security.

In many hotspots — Yemen, Pakistan, and Iraq for example — their presence, professionalism, and training is an absolute necessity for diplomats to be able to do their jobs. But before they can go overseas, they need to pass one of the Corps’ toughest schools: MSG School in Quantico, Virginia.

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

“To go in there knowing that people have been dropped from school for sneezing when they should be keeping their bearing, or having a single Irish pennant on their uniform,” Ben Feibleman, a Marine veteran who served as an MSG in Liberia, Malta, and Iraq, told WATM. “Knowing that however true it may be, is nerve wracking. The entire time you are walking on pins and needles.”

While noting the schoolhouse is filled with rumors and exaggerations (which likely include the above anecdote) of why past Marines failed, Feibleman said, “things that will get you yelled at in the fleet will get you dropped.”

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

The school has a number of challenges, from weapons qualification under State Department (rather than Marine Corps) guidelines, classes ranging from alarms and electronics to State Department acronyms, physical training, peer evaluations, and a board that interviews every student before signing off on whether they can become an MSG.

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

“They give you hypothetical questions: ‘What would you do if someone had a kid out front [of the embassy] with a knife to their throat. What would you do, would you open the door?'” said Feibleman, of a potential question asked in a room typically packed with high-level Marine officers, government contractors, and intelligence officers.

Perhaps the roughest part of MSG training is when students are pepper-sprayed. Not only that, they have to be able to perform a number of movements and fight a potential assailant while they are blinded.

“It may be the greatest pain I’ve ever felt in my life,” Feibleman said.

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

Once they graduate, Marines on MSG duty can expect varying tours and experiences at posts worldwide.

“I got to Liberia [in 2003] and the embassy had just been shelled. There’s bullet holes in the windows and in the house. [It was] a not f–king around post. We would go out running and the detachment commander would bring a pistol in a fanny pack.”

While Feibleman said “each post is different,” there are typical duties for watch-standers that can be expected regardless of embassy.

“Your job is to stand in this very small room that’s kind of the size of a deep walk-in closet. It’s got a lot of communications equipment. It’s got a desk. Bulletproof glass.”

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

With a pistol at their side and a shotgun and M4 carbine in a rack, MSG’s quite simply maintain security 24 hours a day.

According to the official MSG website, “the primary mission of the Marine Security Guard (MSG) is to provide internal security at designated U.S. diplomatic and consular facilities in order to prevent the compromise of classified material vital to the national security of the United States.”

Now check out this video from the Marine Corps that gives an inside look at MSG School:

NOW: How Navy Special Ops Survive Training Missions In Freezing Water 

OR: Watch Stephen Colbert’s Hilarious Stint In Army Basic Training 

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This harrowing World War II SERE story is coming to the big screen

The harrowing tale of how a U.S. Army Air Force B-24 top turret gunner evaded Nazis for six months after his plane was shot down in 1943 is now heading to the silver screen.


According to a story in The Hollywood Reporter, actor Jake Gyllenhaal’s production company Nine Stories has acquired the rights to make a film adaptation of “The Lost Airman,” a book about the odyssey that Staff Sgt. Arthur Meyerowitz faced in evading Nazis after the B-24 he was in was shot down.

The film is being produced for Amazon Studios.

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.
Turret assembly of B-24D Liberator bomber. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to a March 2016 review of the book, Meyerowitz suffered a serious back injury when he bailed out from the Liberator, which kept him from getting across the Pyrenees Mountains right away. This meant that Meyerowitz was in serious trouble — not only was he an Allied airman, he was also Jewish.

So, the French Resistance hid Meyerowitz in plain sight as an Algerian named Georges Lambert, a deaf-mute who had been injured in an accident who had been hired to work in a store in the city of Toulouse. Meyerowitz was joined by a Royal Air Force pilot named Richard Cleaver.

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.
Captain Jack Ilfrey, an ace who ended the war with eight victories, twice escaped capture during WWII. Like Meyerowitz, he posed as a deaf-mute to successfully evade capture by the Nazis. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

At great cost, the French Resistance eventually got Meyerowitz over the Pyrenees, but even then, there was still risk from Spanish officials who were perfectly willing to return “escaped criminals” to the Nazis (usually after the payment of a bribe).

Thus, the two pilots were not truly safe until they arrived in Gibraltar via a fishing boat.

Meyerowitz would receive the Purple Heart for the injury he suffered while escaping from the stricken B-24. He also would spend over a year in hospitals recovering from the untreated injury.

French Resistance fighters. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Gyllenhaal is best known for starring in the movies “Nightcrawler,” ‘The Day After Tomorrow,” and “Jarhead.” The film is being produced by Academy Award-winning producer John Lesher, best known for “Birdman.” No release date has been set.

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Boeing’s new laser fits in suitcases and shoots down drones

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.
Photo: Youtube/Boeing


Boeing’s High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) fires a beam of concentrated light that can disable anything from drones in flight to incoming mortar shells.

Lasers are already in use on military trucks and Navy ships, but Boeing premiered a new version that can fit inside a suitcase earlier last week in New Mexico, Wired reports.

HEL MD works by shooting a 10 kilowatt beam of focused light at light speed towards airborne targets.

The beam will then quickly heat the surface of the target until it bursts into flames. Boeing claims the laser works with “pinpoint precision within seconds of [target] acquisition, then acquires the next target and keeps firing.”

Potentially these lasers could serve to defend against hypersonic missiles, which fly too fast for conventional missile defense.

Wired reports that the laser is accurate within a few inches, and it can disable or destroy the flying foe depending on what the situation calls for. So an incoming mortar can be detonated from a safe distance.

The laser also has the benefit of being totally electronic, so no dangerous projectiles will be fired, and as long as the electricity flows, the machine can fire indefinitely. For that reason, the HEL MD system is a rare instance of a high tech defense product having a low operational cost.

Boeing hopes to have the system available for purchase within a year or two, according to Wired, who also report that Boeing will add sound effects to the silent machine.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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A UK intelligence source based information about Iraq chemical weapons on a Nicolas Cage movie

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.


A UK intelligence agency might have based part of a report on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction on a movie starring Nicolas Cage, according to a government report released Wednesday.

The report contends that Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war was based on “flawed intelligence and assessments” that were “not challenged” when they should have been. The 2.6-million word document, known as the Iraq Inquiry, or the “Chilcot report,” is the culmination of a huge investigation that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown launched in 2009.

One volume of the inquiry focuses on the UK’s evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. These intelligence assessments turned out to be false, as both the US and the UK discovered after the 2003 Iraq invasion turned up no such weapons.

The inquiry notes that two Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) assessments from September 2002 were called into question months later. Some within the intelligence agency, which is also known as MI6, began doubting the source of the information that was included in the assessments.

The intelligence reports stated that Iraq had “accelerated the production of chemical and biological agents.” Officials believed the source of this information was reputable.

But one of the reports mentioned glass containers that supposedly contained the chemical agents the Iraqi government was supposed to possess.

Here’s the relevant section from the Iraq Inquiry:

“In early October, questions were raised with SIS about the mention of glass containers in the 23 September 2002 report. It was pointed out that:

  • Glass containers were not typically used in chemical munitions; and that a popular movie (The Rock) had inaccurately depicted nerve agents being carried in glass beads or spheres.
  • Iraq had had difficulty in the 1980s obtaining a key precursor chemical for soman [a chemical agent].

“The questions about the use of glass containers for chemical agent and the similarity of the description to those portrayed in The Rock had been recognized by SIS. There were some precedents for the use of glass containers but the points would be pursued when further material became available.”

The movie the report refers to is the 1996 Michael Bay action thriller, “The Rock,” starring Nicholas Cage playing an FBI chemical-warfare expert. Sean Connery plays a former British spy who teams up with the FBI agent to prevent a deranged US general from launching a chemical-weapons attack on San Francisco.

The Iraq Inquiry goes on to state that intelligence officials were meant to do further reporting on the questionable intelligence contained in the September 2002 report.

By December, doubts emerged within SIS “about the reliability of the source and whether he had ‘made up all or part of'” his account.

Later that month, there were still “unresolved questions” about the source of the chemical-weapons intelligence. But the UK was under considerable pressure to produce evidence of these weapons.

Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary for the UK, was reportedly concerned about “what would happen without evidence of a clear material breach” of Iraq’s December 2002 declaration that it did not have weapons of mass destruction.

SIS eventually determined that their source was lying about the supposed chemical agents, but intelligence officials did not inform the prime minister’s office, according to the inquiry.

While chemical weapons are different from weapons of mass destruction, these intelligence reports still informed policy-makers’ opinions of the extent of Iraq’s weapons programs. And the evidence of these weapons programs was eventually used as a justification for going to war in Iraq.

David Manning, a former British diplomat, told former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in December 2002 that there was “impatience in the US Administration and pressure for early military action” in Iraq, according to the inquiry.

“There were concerns about the risks if the inspections found nothing,” the inquiry noted. UK and US officials also worried about “the difficulties of persuading the international community to act if there were a series of ‘low level and less clear-cut acts of obstruction’ rather than the discovery of chemical or biological agents or a nuclear program.”

The inquiry states that Manning told Blair: “We should work hard over the next couple of months to build our case.”

Blair reportedly said the UK would “continue to work on securing credible evidence” that then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein “was pursuing [weapons of mass destruction] programs.”

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Bang BOLO I: Some New Bullet News

Bang BOLO: Some New Bullet News


A gear porn bulletin from WATM friends The Mad Duo at Breach-Bang-Clear

PAY ATTENTION. This is a gear porn bulletin, a public service for those of you epistemophiliacs out there who want to Know Things. It’s neither review, endorsement nor denunciation. We’re just telling you these things exist if’n you wanna check ’em out.

Grunts: Epistemophilia

1. SST NAS3 cases

Shell Shock Technologies has announced the successful completion of a 1,000 round torture test of its NAS3 case without failure.

NAS3 cases are two-piece cases described as both stronger and more reliable than traditional brass. They’re just half the weight, are intended to deliver greater lubricity, and apparently can be reloaded numerous times.

According to SST they won’t abrade, foul, clog, wear out or otherwise damage breach and ejector mechanisms (which, if true, is significant). They are likewise described as more resistant to corrosion than brass, with greater elasticity.

As for reloading, Shell Shock says, “NAS3 cases will not split, chip, crack or grow (stretch) and are fully-reloadable with S3 Reload dies. Customers have reported being able to reload NAS3 cases many more times than brass cases. A video can be found on Shell Shock’s website showing 9mm Luger NAS3 cases being reloaded 32 times using S3 Reload dies.”

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

The cases have been tested to pressures up over 70,000 psi and — according to independent tests conducted by H.P. White Laboratory — achieved a velocity standard deviation of 0.93 fps with a 124 grain bullet using 4.2 grain Titegroup powder over a string of 10 rounds.

The extreme variation was 3 fps.

They ran the test with an Angstadt Arms (@angstadtarms) UDP-9, which is an interesting choice, and one that piques our interest. The UDP-9 is one of the weapons we’ve been wanting to shoot and review.

It’s a closed bolt blowback PDW that uses Glock magazines, in an AR pistol configuration. Should be interesting to shoot.

Shell Shock doesn’t sell loaded ammunition, mind you—they supply 2-piece cases (which allegedly eject cool to the touch). You’ll need to load your own or buy some that someone else has loaded.

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

You can find Shell Shock Technologies online here.

Read what the NRA had to say about ’em right here.

 

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

2. Sig Sauer 223 Match Grade ammunition

Sig Ammunitions’s new 223 Match Grade ammunition is a 77 grain Sierra Matchking bullet in an Open Top Match round, designed to function in both bolt guns and precision AR platforms. Sig says the new addition to its Match Grade Elite Performance Series delivers 2,750fps, with a muzzle energy of 1,923 ft-lbs.

The propellant they use is manufactured to deliver consistent muzzle velocity in all weather conditions. As Sig tells it:

“Premium-quality primers ensure minimum velocity variations, and the shell case metallurgy is optimized in the SIG Match Grade OTM cartridge to yield consistent bullet retention round to round. All SIG SAUER rifle ammunition is precision loaded on state-of-the-art equipment that is 100% electromechanically monitored to ensure geometric conformity and charge weight consistency.”

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.
Sig Sauer’s Ben Johnson is one of the reasons for the company’s continued success. A superlative horseman, former stuntman, and accomplished rodeo rider, Johnson has starred in numerous westerns over the years. He played such iconic characters as Cap Rountree, Mr. Pepper, Sgt. Tyree, and Tector Gorch before taking on his current role as the Sig Sauer Schalldämpfer Product Manager.

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

Dan Powers, the President of Sig’s Ammo Division, says this about the new bullet:

“The 223 Rem is one of the most popular calibers on the market today, and our customers have been asking for it since we entered the ammunition business. The accuracy and reliability of our new 223 Rem Match Grade rifle ammunition make it an ideal choice for precision shooters – whether shooting in competitions or hunting varmints.”

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

3. G2 Telos

G2 Research, progenitors of the Radically Invasive Projectile and other dramatically named bullets, has release a new round called the Telos in both .38 special and 9mm +P.

To the idea that .38 Special and 9mm Parabellum rounds have been “underrated” during the last decade, Chris Nix, G2 VP of Sales Marketing, says the following:

“That will change with these new G2 Research +P Telos rounds. These new rounds are specifically designed and loaded to stop fights — quickly!”

Thank heavens! Most bullets can’t make that claim.

Especially the ones meant for tickle fights.

The Telos bullet is CNC-built using a copper slug, constructed with a “huge internally segmented hollow-point.”

G2 advises, “Once the hollow point fills fluid it literally flies apart in controlled-fragmentation releasing six-copper petals. … The base of the bullet continues to travel forward for additional penetration (10+inches). [sic]”

Well, who the hell wouldn’t  want at least an additional penetration of *snicker* *snort* ten or more additional inches?

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

They go on to say,

“The Telos bullet is designed to stay inside the target releasing all of its energy, not into an innocent bystander on the other side of the target.”

This sort of ballistic performance, by the way, is exactly why it’s the chosen bullet of both Kung Fury and Hardcore Henry. It will literally disintegrate a Tyrannosaurus Rex if you hit it with a controlled pair fast enough.

Here’s the specs G2 presents:

Full Specs:

Caliber: .38 Special +P

Bullet weight: 105 grains

Velocity: 1,170 fps

MSRP: $28.99-twenty rounds

Caliber: 9mm +P

Bullet weight: 92 grains

Velocity: 1,120 fps

MSRP: $27.99-twenty rounds

About the Author: We Are The Mighty contributor Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore comes to us from our partners at BreachBangClear.com (@breachbangclear). He is one half of the most storied celebrity action figure team in the world. He believes in American Exceptionalism, holding the door for any woman and the idea that you should be held accountable for every word that comes out of your mouth. He may also be one of two nom de plumes for a veritable farrago of CAGs and FAGs (Current Action Guys and Former Action Guys). You can learn more about Swingin’ Dick right here.

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

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See how a B-58 Hustler crew averted disaster after a takeoff went wrong

We often think a lot about the risks that service members take during combat. However, the routine day-to-day peacetime operations, and training are also fraught with danger.


The example of the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) is just the latest prominent incident where peacetime ops proved deadly.

It’s been that way for a long time. One incident that got very dangerous involved a training operation involving a B-58 Hustler with the 43rd Bombardment Wing out of Carswell Air Force Base in Texas. The trainees had 32 flight hours and six sorties in their plane.

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Convair B-58A Hustler in flight (S/N 59-2442). Photo taken on June 29, 1967. (U.S. Air Force photo)

But the plane’s seventh flight went bad from the moment it began to take off. The left main landing gear failed and damaged a fuel tank, sending aft a train of flame as the afterburners of the B-58’s four J79 jet engines ignited the fuel. Miraculously, the plane didn’t explode, and was able to take off.

The navigator noticed the flames, and advised the pilot. The pilot reported the plane’s situation to ground control. A plane was sent up, but couldn’t tell how badly the Hustler was damaged until they flew over the city of Fort Worth.

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.

Eventually, the decision was made to send the B-58 to Edwards Air Force Base to make an emergency landing. What was supposed to be a routine training mission ended up lasting 14 hours, and involved multiple pit stops with Air Force aerial refueling planes, during which the pilot had to come up with a technique to maintain speed and directional control using the Hustler’s engines.

The B-58 eventually made a safe landing. You can see the Air Force documentary on this incident below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZu_ONVE90Y
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American commandos are ready for a ‘Toyota War’ of their own

The Inaugural events start tonight. Here’s how to watch.
Special operators gather around an up-armored Humvee. (Photo: DVIDS)


In May, images emerged of American commandos working with the Kurdish YPG rebel group in Syria. Among other things, the pictures highlighted an increasingly popular military method of transportation for special operators – the pickup truck.

Though the Pentagon has spent millions on purpose-built military trucks for its elite troops, U.S. Special Operations Command has a separate project specifically set up to buy more discreet, civilian-style vehicles. Based on readily available models, the top commando headquarters dubbed them “Non-Standard Commercial Vehicles,” or NSCVs

“The NSCV provides … a low visibility vehicle capability to conduct operations in politically or operationally constrained permissive, semi-permissive or denied areas,” U.S. Army Col. John Reim explained in a briefing on May 26 at the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida. At that time, special operators had a combined fleet of more than 500 Fords, Nissans and Toyotas, with the bulk already deployed around the world.

Commonly referred to as “technicals,” armed pickup trucks are generally associated with terrorists, insurgents and small military forces rather than American troops. When Chadian soldiers piled into these types of vehicles to fight Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddaffi in 1987, observers quickly dubbed the conflict the “Toyota War.”

Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11th, 2001, the Pentagon has been working with contractors to develop and field these improved civilian vehicles. After arriving in Afghanistan in 2002, Army Special Forces soldiers were famously spotted riding a red Toyota Tacoma pickup on at least one occasion.

We don’t know whether this or other similar trucks spotted in the field were part of the formal NSCV project. The Army’s special operators only got their latest versions ready to go in September 2014, according to the one review of the ground combat branch’s special operations plans.

In principle, the truck’s main job is to allow elite troops to better blend in overseas. On top of that, the upgraded pickups and sport utility vehicles offer a number of distinct advantages over specially upgraded Humvees and mine-resistant MRAPs.

The most obvious benefit is that the NSCVs are simply smaller and lighter than their military cousins. A basic Toyota LandCruiser Model 78 weighs approximately 4,700 pounds, depending on year and starting configuration.

An up-armored Humvee can be over 11,000 pounds. In comparison, Oshkosh’s “light” M-ATV mine-resistant vehicle is positively gargantuan at over 32,000 pounds.

One 1999 Army manual tells Special Forces troops to “carefully consider weight” when using modified Humvees. “An overloaded vehicle handles poorly, consumes fuel at a higher rate, lacks power, and will experience more maintenance problems.”

The handbook specifically says the M1114 up-armored Humvee is a poor choice for desert operations because of its size. Heavy military vehicles can easily sink and become trapped in sand and other soft ground.

The Humvee’s ever growing size and weight is why the U.S. Marine Corps purchased a number of Growler “internally transportable vehicles” that could squeeze inside the confines of their unique MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors. With similar concerns, the Army has become increasingly interested in smaller military trucks, such as the Jeep J8, for airborne and airmobile troops.

For special operators, even if the added armor and other gear doubled the weight of an NSCV, it wouldn’t be half as big as the MRAP. With payload capacities up to 2,500 pounds, when riding in the plain looking trucks, elite troops don’t necessarily have to leave behind critical gear. The pictures from Syria showed commandos in full kit on pickups armed with weapons like the .50 caliber M2 machine gun and 40-millimeter Mk 47 automatic grenade launcher.

In addition, the upgraded civilian trucks retain their relatively small dimensions. This means the pickup trucks can fit into the main cabin of the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’s MH-47 transport helicopters.

All of the modified commercial vehicles can easily drive on and off the Air Force Special Operations Command’s specialized MC-130 cargo planes. These four-engine transports can airdrop unarmored versions, too.

So, unlikely MRAPs, elite troops can quickly get the trucks where ever they might be needed. It’s no surprise that special operators brought NSCVs with them into the complex and hostile Syrian battlefield.

And the commercial starting pattern makes the trucks less of a hassle to maintain in remote areas. American special operations forces routinely work with friendly troops driving similar vehicles – which the Pentagon has often supplied in the first place.

With their NSCVs, the special operators can go where their allies can go and share many necessary supplies. In training exercises, the elite troops could share valuable lessons learned from their own experiences. The otherwise innocuous trucks present a less obvious target to terrorists or criminals when American commandos travel abroad.

Now, the Pentagon is looking to expand and extend the project. On July 18, the top commando headquarters hired the Battelle Memorial Institute to help develop new versions.

The $170 million contract covered modifications to Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger pickup trucks, as well as Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicles, according to the original synopsis the Pentagon posted online in October 2015. Battelle had previous experience supplying the armored NSCVs to the Pentagon, according to Reim’s presentation.

The work outlined in the latest contract included upgrades to the vehicles’ suspensions, armor plating and bulletproof windows and space for communications gear, radio signal jammers and other military equipment. If the defense contractor keeps to the agreed upon schedule, Battelle should deliver the first 20 pickups and SUVs for tests by January 2016.

The Pentagon expects to buy just over 511 of the trucks over the course of their seven-year deal with Batelle. However, Reim’s bullet points said that the contract could cover more than 550 vehicles, some 20 vehicles over what the officer said was needed to achieve “full operational capability.”

These new vehicles are set to replace SOCOM’s existing modified trucks over the next three to five years. Whatever happens, American commandos are prepared to fight their own “Toyota War” for years to come.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Awesome memes from around the interwebs. Share your favorites on our Facebook page.


1. Look, when the Army started giving the Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle to more units, soldiers got excited about it (via Team Non-Rec).

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2. Being a boot is hard (via Devil Dog Nation).

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Probably doesn’t even realize why his armor is so uncomfortable.

3. “Basic training is not nearly as much fun as I thought it would be.”

(via Air Force Nation)

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4. Navy, this isn’t the reason we make fun of you …

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… but it’s definitely a reason we make fun of you.

5. Do airmen do field exercises? If so, why?

(via Marine Corps Memes)

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I mean, you park the planes at big ole bases anyway. Why go to the field?

6. You think your personnel manager is an a-shole?

(via Entertain Your Nerdy A–)

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Stormtroopers got you beat every time.

7. They’re so sweet and so, so bitter.

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Sure, you’re finally leaving, but that also means you’re putting your ruck back on.

8. Look, it’s fine to be a POG (via Army Nation).

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If you’re not infantry, stop playing like you are.

SEE ALSO: 9 reasons it’s perfectly fine to be a POG

9. Why malingerers are always so happy:

(via Military Memes)

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Wouldn’t it be great if the malingerers were all secretly Hulk-level strong? Instead of useless?

10. When your service has A-10s and F-22s, it’s hard to take your M-16 seriously (via Air Force Nation).

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But you should still carry it with you.

11. Which would you rather have:

(via Sh-t My LPO Says)

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The next three years of your life? Or a free soda?

 12. Car bumper stickers tell a story (via Sh-t My LPO Says).

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13. “Sgt. 1st Class Smozart will be leading the 155mm howitzer crew through the 1812 Overture.”

(via Military Nations)

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NOW: Troops pick which Army job is best

OR: This is the ultimate special operations weapon

Articles

The Invisible War On The Brain

The cover story of National Geographic magazine’s February issue, “The Invisible War on the Brain,” takes a close look at a signature injury of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars—traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) caused by the shock waves from explosions. TBIs have left hundreds of thousands of U.S. veterans with life-altering and sometimes debilitating conditions, the treatment of which can be extremely complicated. At Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, soldiers paint masks that help them cope with their daily struggles and help them reveal their inner feelings. We invite you to see the service members’ masks and read the full story here.


Impeccable in his Marine uniform and outwardly composed, McNair sits on the porch of his parents’ home in Virginia, anonymous behind a mask he made in an art therapy session. “I was just going through pictures, and I saw the mask of Hannibal Lecter, and I thought, ‘That’s who I am’ … He’s probably dangerous, and that’s who I felt I was. I had this muzzle on with all these wounds, and I couldn’t tell anyone about them. I couldn’t express my feelings.”

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Marine Cpl. Chris McNair (Ret.), Afghanistan 2011-12. (Photo by © Lynn Johnson/National Geographic)

Wearing his mask—half patriotic, half death’s-head—Hopman confronts the battery of medications he takes daily for blast-force injuries he sustained while treating soldiers as a flight medic. “I know my name, but I don’t know the man who used to back up that name … I never thought I would have to set a reminder to take a shower, you know. I’m 39 years old. I’ve got to set a reminder to take medicine, set a reminder to do anything… My daughter, she’s only four, so this is the only dad she’s ever known, whereas my son knew me before.”

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Army Staff Sgt. Perry Hopman, Iraq 2006-08. (Photo by © Lynn Johnson/National Geographic)

“Detonation happened, and I was right there in the blast seat. I got blown up. And all this medical study—nobody ever thought that they [blast events] were very harmful, and so we didn’t log them, which we should because all blast forces are cumulative to the body. On a grade number for me, it would probably be 300-plus explosions … I’m not going to not play with my children. I’m not going to let my injuries stop them from having a good life.”

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Marine Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Tam (Ret.), Iraq 2004-05, 2007-08, (with wife Angela and their two children). (Photo by © Lynn Johnson/National Geographic)

Tiffany H., as she prefers to be known, was “blown up” while helping women in a remote Afghan village earn additional income for their families. Memory loss, balance difficulties, and anxiety are among her many symptoms. The blinded eye and sealed lips on her mask.

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Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tiffany H., Iraq 2007-08, Afghanistan 2010-11. (Photo by © Lynn Johnson/National Geographic)

Suiting up before attempting ordnance disposal “is the last line. There’s no one else to call … It’s the person and the IED … and if a mistake is made at that point, then death is almost certain. They call it the long walk because once you get that bomb suit on, number one, everything is harder when you’re wearing that 100 pounds … Two, the stress of knowing what you’re about to do. And three, it’s quiet, and it seems like it takes an hour to walk.”

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert “Bo” Wester (Ret.), Iraq 2007, 2008-09, Afghanistan 2010. (Photo by © Lynn Johnson/National Geographic)

Brain injuries caused by blast events change soldiers in ways many can’t articulate. Some use art therapy, creating painted masks to express how they feel. (Photos by © Rebecca Hale /National Geographic)

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This Jewish refugee and World War II vet made modern video games possible

Ralph H. Baer was a refugee of Nazi Germany and a World War II vet working for a defense contractor when he made the first video game console.


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Baer was born in Germany in 1922 but his family fled in 1938 through Holland to the U.S. as the Third Reich rose to power. He trained through correspondence courses to repair radios before being drafted into the U.S. Army.

He became a military intelligence soldier and was sent to Europe for two years. During his deployment, he collected a number of German weapons and metal detectors. Once he finished studying the metal detectors the Germans were using, he began turning them into radios for his friends. The 18 tons of small arms he collected were sent back to the states to become museum pieces.

Baer returned to America after the war and went to school on the G.I. Bill. While working as a engineer on guided weapons for a defense contractor, Baer conceived of a box that would plug into a normal T.V. and let people play games together. One of his bosses liked the idea and gave Baer some money and two engineers to work with.

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Baer would later invent the SIMON electronic game. Photo: Public Domain via Wikipedia/Hempdiddy

They called their device the “Brown Box” until Magnavox bought it and named it the Odyssey. The Odyssey was the first true video game console and allowed two players to play card, board, and other games on their home T.V.

A number of companies would go on to make more marketable and successful consoles. The popular game Pong, along with many others, was ruled to be infringing on Baer’s patent after Baer’s employer bought it and sued other companies.

Baer continued inventing after the Odyssey. Light guns, like those used in Nintendo’s Duck Hunt, are his invention. He created SIMON, the popular ’80s electronic game where players match sequences of colored lights. The Navy used a submarine tracking radar that Baer invented, and users of talking doormats and greeting cards have him to thank.

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Photo: White House Eric Draper

Baer was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush in 2006 and was admitted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010. He died in Dec. 2014.

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This man had the misfortune of being in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki when the bombs were dropped

The United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan in August of 1945, attacks that convinced the Japanese leadership to surrender by destroying the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killing 120,000 people, most of them civilians.


Tsutomu Yamaguchi has the dubious distinction of having been within two miles of both blasts.

Yamaguchi designed tankers for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. He was in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945  finishing up a three-month business trip to the shipyards there when he heard the low, distinctive drone of a bomber overhead.

“It was very clear, a really fine day, nothing unusual about it at all,” he said in 2005. “I was in good spirits. As I was walking along I heard the sound of a plane, just one. I looked up into the sky and saw the B-29, and it dropped two parachutes. I was looking up at them, and suddenly it was like a flash of magnesium, a great flash in the sky, and I was blown over.”

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The atomic cloud over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Photo: US Air Force 509th Operations Group

The young man passed out. He woke back up in time to see a pillar of fire over the city that eventually bloomed into the darkly iconic mushroom cloud shape of a nuclear explosion. He was less than two miles from the epicenter of the explosion.

He rushed to an air raid shelter where he found two of his colleagues who were on the trip with him. They rushed to grab their belongings and flee back to their hometown of Nagasaki. As they made their way to the train platform, they saw firsthand the destruction and carnage around the city.

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The aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. (Photo: US Navy Public Affairs)

“They didn’t cry,” Yamaguchi said. “I saw no tears at all. Their hair was burned, and they were completely naked. Everywhere there were burned people, some of them dead, some of them on the verge of death. None of them spoke. None of them had the strength to say a word. I didn’t hear human speech, or shouts, just the sound of the city in flames.’

He made it to the hospital in Nagasaki and was treated for the burns that covered much of his body. Despite his injuries, he reported Aug. 9 for work at Mitsubishi.

There, his boss did not believe the rumors that the devastation at Hiroshima was the result of a single bomb.

“Well, the director was angry,” Yamaguchi told the Daily Mail. He quoted his superior: “‘A single bomb can’t destroy a whole city! You’ve obviously been badly injured, and I think you’ve gone a little mad.'”

As his boss was discounting his story, the second bomb went off overhead.  “Outside the window I saw another flash,” Yamaguchi said.  “The whole office was blown over.”

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The nuclear cloud spreading over Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. Photo: Hiromichi Matsuda via Public Domain

Again, Yamaguchi was less than two miles from the bomb when it detonated. The second blast blew off his bandages and severely injured the formerly skeptical director he’d been talking to.

This time, the hospital that had treated Yamaguchi was destroyed so he simply ran home. He sheltered there, dazed by a bad fever until Aug. 15 when he heard that Japan had surrendered.

Yamaguchi went on to become an advocate against nuclear proliferation. In 2010 he died of cancer.