The Olympics for special operators just got underway - We Are The Mighty
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The Olympics for special operators just got underway

The Summer Olympics Games may be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil but all eyes are on Peru this week as security forces from 20 nations compete at Fuerzas Comando, a friendly military skills competition where the top special operations forces and police forces from the Western Hemisphere compete for the coveted Fuerzas Comando Cup.


The Olympics for special operators just got underway
Special Operations Forces from 20 nations take part in opening ceremonies for Fuerzas Comando 2016 outside of Lima, Peru. (U.S. Army photo)

Along with the U.S. and Colombian delegations, teams from the nations of Argentina, Belize, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay will compete in this year’s event. The U.S. team is represented by elite Green Berets from the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group.

The U.S. is looking to finally bring home the gold after coming in second place each of the previous two years, losing to the Colombian special operations team. Colombia has won the last three Fuerzas Comando competitions and has won seven times overall since the games were established in 2011.

Sponsored by U.S. Southern Command and executed by U.S. Special Operations Command South, the annual event aims to improve cooperation, knowledge, and interoperability between participating countries. It’s broken down into two parts: an assault team competition and a sniper team competition.  Each event is scored and evaluated by judges from each of the 20 participating nations to provide a fair and balanced evaluation of all the participating nations.

The team who wins each event wins 200 points. The team with the most points by the end of the week-long event wins the title of Fuerzas Comando champion. These are the events in which the teams will be judged:

Physical Fitness

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(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Christine Lorenz)

This event consists of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a 2-mile run.

2016 Competition Update: The Guatemala Team place 1st in this event and were awarded 200 points. They were followed by Mexico and Honduras. The U.S. team placed 14th in this event.  

Marksmanship

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A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier fires at a 100-meter range July 16, 2015, during Fuerzas Comando competition held in Poptun, Guatemala. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Christine Lorenz)

A series of tests assessing the marksmanship abilities of the assault team members using both rifle and pistol from various distances. Each of the events is timed.

Stress test

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A member of the U.S. team pulls an evacuation sled loaded with a 250-pound mannequin to a range during the Fuerzas Comando Stress Test event. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Wilma Orozco Fanfan)

Competitors must run long distances with heavy objects and drag large mannequins across various stations on a firing range and then engage stationary targets. The team with the most successful hits wins 200 points.

Aquatics

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Peruvian team members swim down a creek while pulling their gear during last year’s Fuerzas Comando. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Andrew Kuhn)

This event consists of getting across a large body of water in a raft, run 3 miles with their rucks, swim with full military gear and weapons, and then sprint to a pistol marksmanship range and engage targets.

Obstacle Course

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Haitian competitors navigate an obstacle during Fuerzas Comando 15. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Menegay)

The obstacle course consists of a series of stations such as a rope climb, horizontal ladders, wall climbs, and rappelling tall towers to test each individual’s strength, endurance, and balance.

Ruck March

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Chilean competitors race to complete a 20-kilometer road march during last year’s Fuerzas Comando competition held in Poptun, Guatemala. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite)

Competitors compete in a 12-mile ruck march with full military equipment. Team with the fastest time wins the event.

Combat Assault (Shoot House)

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Members of the Uruguayan assault team breach a doorway during a live-fire shoot house. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden)

Each nation’s assault team moves through a shoot house to clear several targets. Teams must eliminate all threats located inside and rescue a hostage dummy. Each team must carry their hostage back to the finish line to successfully complete the event.

Sniper concealment and Mobility

Move within a range observe and engage a target while remaining undetected. They must return to the starting point without being seen by the judges. The teams have 90 mins to complete this event.

Sniper Unknown Distance Shoot

 

The Olympics for special operators just got underway
The Panamanian sniper team scans for targets during a live-fire exercise as part of last year’s Fuerzas Comando. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden)

Competitors engage targets from various distances, 300 to 800 meters. The team who hits the most targets wins the event.

The exercise ends with a multinational friendship airborne jump. To stay updated on the day-to-day results and scores on the competition, follow https://www.facebook.com/USSOCSOUTH/

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Air Force advances new A-10 requirements

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An A-10C Thunderbolt II attack aircraft sits on the flight line at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey | U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cory W. Bush


The Air Force is beginning to work on how fast, lethal, durable and capable a new “A-10”-like aircraft would need to be in order to provide U.S. military ground troops with effective close-air support for decades to come.

Senior service officials are now exploring “draft requirements” concepts – and evaluating the kind of avionics, engineering, weapons, armor and technical redundancy the aircraft would need, Air Force officials told Scout Warrior.

Many of the core technical attributes and combat advantages of the A-10 will be preserved and expanded upon with the new effort, officials said.

The performance of the A-10 Warthog in the ongoing bombing campaign against ISIS, coupled with the Air Forces’ subsequent decision to delay the aircraft’s planned retirement – has led the service to begin the process of developing a new, longer-term A-10 type platform.

Following an announcement earlier this year from Pentagon leaders that the A-10 will not begin retiring but rather will serve until at least 2022, Air Force and DoD officials are now hoping to keep a close-air-support aircraft for many years beyond the previously projected timeframe.

Given the emerging global threat environment, it would make sense that the Air Force would seek to preserve an aircraft such as the A-10. While the aircraft has been extremely successful attacking ISIS targets such as fuel convoys and other assets, the A-10 is also the kind of plane that can carry and deliver a wide-ranging arsenal of bombs to include larger laser-guided and precision weapons.

This kind of firepower, coupled with its 30mm cannon, titantium armor plates and built-in redundancy for close-air-support, makes the A-10 a valuable platform for potential larger-scale mechanized, force-on-force type warfare as well. The A-10 has a unique and valuable niche role to perform in the widest possible range of combat scenarios to include counterinsurgency, supporting troops on the ground in close proximity and bringing firepower, protection and infantry support to a large-scale war.

Air Force officials have told Scout Warrior that the current approach involves a three-pronged effort; the Air Force may consider simply upgrading the existing fleet of A-10s in a substantial way in order to extend its service life, acquire an off-the-shelf existing aircraft or develop a new close air support platform through a developmental effort.

“We are developing that draft requirements document.  We are staffing it around the Air Force now.  When it’s ready, then we will compare that to what we have available, compare it to keeping the A-10, compare it to what it would take to replace it with another airplane, and we will work through that process,” Lt. Gen. James Holmes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements, recently told reporters.

Holmes went on to explain that the service was, broadly speaking, exploring ways to achieve, preserve and sustain “air superiority” in potential long-term, high-end combat engagements. He added that considerations about a close-air-support replacement aircraft figured prominently in the strategic calculus surrounding these issues.

As a result, the Air Force will be looking for the “optimal” type of close-air-support platform by weighing various considerations such as what the differences might be between existing aircraft and future developmental platforms.

Cost and affordability will also be a very large part of the equation when it comes to making determinations about an A-10 replacement, Holmes explained.

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A-10C aircraft from the Maryland Air National Guard stationed at Warfield Air National Guard base in Baltimore, Maryland flying in formation during a training exercise. | U.S. Air Force photo

“The question is exactly where is the sweet spot as we talked about between what’s available now and what the optimum CAS replacement would be.  We are working along that continuum to see exactly what the requirement is that we can afford and the numbers that we need to be able to do the mission,” Holmes added.

Several industry platforms, such as Raytheon’s T-X plane and the A-29 Embraer EMB Super Tucano aircraft, are among options being looked at as things which could potentially be configured for a close-air-support plane.

Holmes added that Congress expects the Air Force to operate about 1,900 A-10s or A-10-like close-air-support aircraft.

Having the requisite funds to support this would be of great value to the Air Force; Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh recently told lawmakers that, despite the prior plan, the service did not want to retire the A-10.

Prior plans to retire the fleet of A-10s were purely budget driven, senior Air Force leaders have consistently said.

“I don’t want to retire it,” Welsh told a Congressional Committee in early March.

Air Force leaders had previously said that the emerging multi-role F-35 would be able to pick up the close-air-support mission. With its sensor technology, 25mm gun and maneuverability, there is little question about whether the F-35 could succeed with these kinds of missions. At the same time, there is also consensus that the A-10 provides an extremely unique set of battlefield attributes which need to be preserved for decades.

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Here’s how veterans can get a head start to become a successful entrepreneur

We all know that when you leave the military, it can be a cruel employment world out there.


Despite the confusion that often comes with transitioning from service, there’s potentially never been a better time to take a stab at becoming your own boss. And fortunately, there is a host of organizations out there to help former service members crack the code on starting a successful business.

At the end of March, the organizers behind VETCON are hoping their roster of A-Listers in the tech and business world will open more than a few veterans’ eyes to the opportunities out there. Billed as an “annual gathering of visionaries, hustlers, and game-changers from around the world,” the folks at VETCON say they represent a wide community of so-called “vetrepreneurs” that want to pass on their secrets to their military brethren.

“Military veteran entrepreneurs are an untapped market with huge potential,” said Ian Faison, VETCON co-founder, West Point graduate and former U.S. Army Captain. “Despite mutual interest from both venture capitalists and veteran founders, there’s never been a conference that delivers true ROI to entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors at the same time – until now.”

Hosted in Redwood City, California, this year’s VETCON is slated to feature more than 200 veteran entrepreneurs and more than 35 professional investors, including “The Godfather of Silicon Valley” Steve Blank, Mike Maples of Floodgate Ventures, Trae Stephens of the Founders Fund, as well as leaders from Andreessen Horowitz; Facebook; GrowthX; Wildcat Ventures; HubSpot; IBM; Salesforce; and Indiegogo.

Held between March 23 and March 25, the conference is intended to “develop a 30-day plan to take your business to the next level … [with] a mixture of fireside chats, workshops, solo talks, networking events, and Action Hours.”

“VETCON changes the game for veterans and investors alike,” VETCON’s Faison said. “With programming that rivals any startup event in the country, we’re catalyzing the nationwide veteran ecosystem, providing investors with genuine business opportunities and helping entrepreneurs boost their customer pipeline and raise funding faster in 2017.”

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These are the clean cut differences between an atomic and hydrogen bomb

Fat Man: Hiroshima, Little Boy: Nagasaki. To date, these two bombings on the 6th and 9th of August 1945, during WWII, remain the only instance of the use of nuclear weapons during an armed conflict. Their use resulted in the ending of the war on the Pacific front. The immediate casualties are estimated between 129,000 and 226,000, most of them civilians. Follow-up deaths from radiation poisoning, cancer, birth defects, etc., and long-term environmental damage have brought the morality of nuclear weapons into question.

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Creative Commons/Wikimedia.

The Cold War

Questions of ethics did not stop the USA, the Soviet Union, the UK, France, China and other countries from developing entire arsenals of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The US remained the sole possessor of nuclear weapons until 1949 when Russia caught up with the deadly technology. In response, the USA developed the first hydrogen bomb, reputed thousand times more powerful than the nuclear bomb. To date, nine countries are officially in possession of nuclear arsenals and five of them also have thermonuclear weapons. Although they are not used in armed conflicts, they are used as a dissuasion tool to prevent the invasion of said countries as well as their economical interests overseas.

A-Bomb and H-Bomb

Nuclear (A-bomb) and thermonuclear (H-bomb or hydrogen) weapons are the most powerful weapons in history. But what are the differences between these two types of bombs? The primary difference between the A-bomb and the H-bomb lies in the explosion process at the nuclear level. The A-bomb relies on nuclear fission while the H-bomb is set off through both nuclear fission and fusion.

The H-bomb is said to be the advanced version of the A-bomb. Therefore, it is harder to make but it also produces greater energy. In fission, the nucleus of an atom is split into two or more parts, while in fusion, two atoms are put together to create a third one. In the H-bomb, the fission compressed and heats the hydrogen atoms, leading to fusion. Both simple fission and the combination of fission and fusion release a tremendous amount of energy, which results in an explosion.

However, an A-bomb’s explosion is measured in kilotons, the equivalent of the explosion of 1000 tons of TNT, while an H-bomb’s explosion is measured in megatons – the equivalent of the explosion of 1,000,000 tons of TNT. Fat Man’s explosion, which leveled Hiroshima, is estimated at 12 to 18 kilotons. In contrast, the very first hydrogen bomb detonated by the USA in 1952 yielded an estimated 10,400 kilotons.

Another difference between the A-bomb and the H-bomb involves the material used in the nuclear reaction. In an A-bomb, the fissile material is either enriched uranium or plutonium, while in the H-bomb, both materials are used, in addition to hydrogen isotopes called deuterium and tritium, which are the main atoms involved in the fusion.

Because it combines reactions called supercritical chain reaction and its components, an H-bomb is more difficult to make than an A-bomb. For example, although North Korea recently claimed to have tested an H-bomb, some experts think that the country still lacks the supercomputers necessary for the fabrication of these weapons. However, although more advanced, an H-bomb is also lighter than an A-bomb, which means it could be mounted on missiles, making it more mobile and less obvious.

Treaties

Nuclear power is one of the main sources of energy in the world. However, its military applications are considered a worldwide threat. The Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968, followed by the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, signed in September 2017 and enforced in January 2021, are international attempts at regulating weapon-grade nuclear power. However, the nuclear-power countries are not yet ready to let go of their arsenals. As of May 2021, none of the countries in possession of the A-bomb or H-bomb has signed the Ban Treaty. Neither has Japan.

Featured image: Thermo-Nuclear (Hydrogen) device is set off in the South Pacific during Operation Ivy. Operation Ivy test “Mike”, occurred on 31 October 1952 at Elugelab (flora) Island in the Enewetak Atoll. The blast was 500 times the yield of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II. Wikimedia commons.

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These are 4 of the most underrated American military commanders ever

We’ve all heard about military leaders from American history who totally rock. Washington, Stonewall Jackson, and Ike are certainly among them.


But it’s worth noting some military commanders who didn’t get the accolades, but really should have.

Some, you may know a little bit about, and some you might never have heard of until now.

Let’s take a look at who might need some more compliments for their military prowess.

1. Raymond A. Spruance

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Raymond A. Spruance, the victor of Midway. (U.S. Navy photo)

 

Samuel Eliot Morison called Raymond Ames Spruance “the victor of Midway” in his “History of United States Naval Operations in World War II.”

Morison noted in that Spruance, upon reviewing the text, requested that “the victor of Midway” be changed to “who commanded a carrier task force at Midway.” Morison declined to make the change, but it shows the modest character of Spruance, who was arguably America’s best naval combat commander in the Pacific Theater.

Look at his results.

At Midway, Spruance smashed and sank four Japanese carriers. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea, his fleet pulled off the Marianas Turkey Shoot, and later sank a carrier and two oilers (American subs sank two more carriers). Here’s how thoroughly Spruance beat the Japanese: At the start of the battle, CombinedFleet.com noted the Japanese had 473 aircraft on their carriers. After the battle, WW2DB.com noted the Japanese carriers had 35 planes total among them.

In the Navy, it is an honor to have a ship named after you. When your name goes on the lead ship of a class of destroyers, it speaks volumes about how you did.

Spruance’s name was on USS Spruance (DD 963), the first of 31 Spruance-class destroyers. An Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer (DDG 111) also bears his name.

2. John Buford

Sam Elliot gave a memorable performance of this general in “Gettysburg.”

 

We may very well owe the fact that the Union won the Civil War to John Buford. Everything that happened at Gettysburg was due to Buford’s actions on June 30 and July 1, 1863. An excerpt from a U.S. Army training manual notes, “Buford’s deployment and delaying tactics blocked Confederate access to Gettysburg while gaining time for reinforcing Union columns to arrive on the battlefield.”

He identified the terrain that mattered, he then bought time for the Union Army to arrive, and to eventually regroup on Cemetery Ridge. The U.S. Army manual says that, “[H]is morning actions ensured that the Army of the Potomac secured the high ground. Over the next two days, General Lee’s army would shatter itself in repeated attacks upon these heights. The battle of Gettysburg very much reflected the shaping influence of Buford’s cavalry division.”

3. Ulysses S. Grant

 

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mathew B. Brady

 

Butcher. Drunk. Those are common perceptions of Ulysses S. Grant, but they miss the point.

If Robert E. Lee’s biggest fault was the failure to keep in mind the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the two sides in the Civil War, Grant was someone who keenly grasped them. Yes, Union troops suffered heavy casualties at battles like Cold Harbor or the Wilderness, but where other generals pulled back, Grant pressed forward.

Edward H. Bonekemper noted at the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable that in the Overland Campaign, “Grant took his aggressiveness and persistence beyond the levels he had demonstrated in the Western and Middle Theaters.” Bonekemper also expressed his belief that had Petersburg not held, Grant’s campaign would have won the war in two months.

Eventually, he broke Lee’s army, and with it, the Confederacy.

4. Daniel Callaghan

 

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(Photo: U.S. Navy)

 

Like John Buford, Callaghan really had one big moment. But what a moment it was.

Against overwhelming odds, Daniel Callaghan saved Henderson Field from a massive bombardment, making the ultimate sacrifice in doing so. Yet far too many historical accounts, like Richard Frank’s Guadalcanal (see pages 459 and 460), act as if Callaghan blundered into the fight.

On the contrary, Callaghan, by forcing a melee, bought enough time that the Japanese had to postpone having a battleship bombard Henderson Field for two critical days — enough time for American fast battleships to arrive.

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Do you know what it takes to be in the Marine Corps Band?

The Marine Corps is one of the most prestigious branches of the U.S. military. They have earned honors and recognition through many important and dangerous missions. Yet, one would not readily associate a career as a professional musician and the Marine uniform. One would be wrong.

The Marine Band is the oldest professional musical organization in the United States. They have played at every single United States presidential inauguration since 1801 when Thomas Jefferson personally asked them to perform at his. They have also performed at many official ceremonies and events at the White House throughout the years. Due to their special connection with the POTUS, the Marine Band is known as the “President’s Own.”

However, that connection comes with an obligation for exacting musical standards. The Marine Band plays hundreds of occasions, all around the world. Every single one of these performances must be flawless, to meet the standard of excellence expected from the entirety of the Marine Corps.

Auditions

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo by GySgt. Bryan A. Peterson)

The search for perfection starts at auditions. Candidates are not required to have any specific level of education. However, a lot of them have at least a college degree. Due to the number and variety of performances given by the Marine Band, candidates must be very versatile to be able to play in a wide range of music styles, such as orchestra, marching band, jazz group, ceremonial, rock band, etc. The auditions have three steps: prepared material, theoretical knowledge of music and finally, sight-reading, which counts for half of the final. These auditions are blind, to avoid any bias.

In addition to musical skills, candidates are also expected to meet high mental, moral and fitness standards, as is expected of any Marine. Finally, they must pass an extensive background check. Their proximity to the White House requires them to obtain a Secret security clearance. The Marine Band is a very exclusive club as, out of approximately 180,000 Marines, only 600 of them are musicians.

Training and education

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Once a candidate is selected, he or she must sign a four-year contract with the U.S. Marine Corps. However, their duty is exclusive to the Band. They cannot be transferred to any other unit. They must also undergo six months of extra schooling at the School of Music in Virginia Beach. In these six months, the musicians will have to complete the equivalent of an associate degree. It is not for the faint of heart.

It might be surprising for musicians to be also asked to go through boot camp. However, it allows for reinforcement of the concepts of discipline, synchronicity and leadership. It teaches them to have pride in their uniform and the Corps. Marines are warriors first and foremost and musicians are basically trained Marines.

Depending on their specialty and the available positions, musicians can be sent to eight different bases around the continental United States. This includes Hawaii and Japan. Like all programs in the Marine Corps, the Marine Band only selects the very best to wear their uniform and perform their duties.

Life in the band

However, the musicians who succeed in joining the band can make a comfortable living from their music, to travel the world, to play on stage in front of heads of state and large crowds, and to serve in an honored Corps that will give them lifelong friends, moral values and a great sense of accomplishment. There are very few musicians who can boast such opportunities and experiences.

With over 700 performances around the world every year, including about 200 of those at the White House, the Marine Corps Band is really a musician’s dream come true.

Feature image: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sarah Luna/Released

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These five countries fought a war that was literally over bird sh-t

In the early 1860s, Spain was dealing with the loss of many of its overseas colonies. Spain also suffered a series of minor insults to their prestige at the hands of Peru, a former Spanish colony. In an effort to save face and collect on debts left over the Peruvian War of Independence, Spanish forces launched a fleet of ships in April 1864 to seize the valuable Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru.


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Photo: Wikipedia/Federico Castellón Martínez

The Chincha Islands supplied over half of Peru’s annual budget at the time as laborers collected bird guano from 150-foot-high deposits. Yes, sh-t stacks that high. In the late 1800s, bird guano was known as both a great fertilizer and a great source of saltpeter. Saltpeter mixed in the proper ratio with sulfur and charcoal forms gunpowder.

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The guano mines in the Central Chincha Islands in the 1860s. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

So when the Spanish landed 400 marines on the islands and formed a blockade of Peruvian ports, the Peruvian government was understandably angry. A political crisis followed as negotiations repeatedly failed to end the standoff. This stalemate drug on from April 1864 to September 1865.

That was when a Spanish ship went to a Chilean port to refuel with coal and the Chileans refused it on the basis that they couldn’t support Spain’s occupation of the islands and blockade of Peru. The Spanish commander, Vice Adm. Juan Manuel Pareja, sailed his flagship into the Chilean harbor and demanded a military salute from the town. When it was refused, Spain demanded reparations payments. The Chileans declared war in September 1865 instead. The Chincha Islands war was on.

Chile won an early victory at the Battle of Papudo when it captured a Spanish ship, the Covadongo. Peru then entered open hostilities with Spain and signed a treaty with Chile. Spain, Peru, and Chile fought for a year before Ecuador and Bolivia joined the fight against Spain in late-1866.

In early 1867 Spain crippled Chile’s merchant marine and shelled a Chilean city. While the attacks were militarily successful, the rest of the world was quick to condemn Spanish actions. Spain found itself with even fewer friends as Britain and America condemned the attacks.

Spain eventually gave up on the war without having captured any ground beyond the original guano-soaked gains in the Chincha Islands. As the Spanish withdrew, Peru took the islands again and have continued to collect the guano since.

The Chincha Islands War wasn’t the only conflict the nations fought for guano. The War of the Pacific from 1879-1884 was partially over guano deposits in the Atacama Desert.

NOW: 4 of the weirdest things the Nazis ever did

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Navy sub-hunting aircraft joins search for EgyptAir wreckage

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A U.S. Navy P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft joined the search Thursday over the Mediterranean for EgyptAir Flight 804 which went missing on a Paris to Cairo flight, the Pentagon said.

The P-3, flying out of Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy, was the only U.S. military asset involved in the search thus far, said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook. The U.S. did not have any ships in the area and there were no immediate plans to send any, Cook said.

“At this point, it’s just the aircraft that’s involved,” he said at a Pentagon briefing.

The four-engine turboprop planes made by Lockheed Martin Corp. have been maritime surveillance and submarine hunting workhorses for the Navy for decades. The aircraft features a distinctive tail antenna, or “MAD Boom,” for the underwater magnetic detection of submarines and other objects below the surface.

EgyptAir Vice Chairman Ahmed Adel told CNN that what was believed to be the plane’s wreckage had been found in the Mediterranean about 160 miles north of the Egyptian coast. He said the search and rescue operation was on the verge of “turning into a “search and recovery” mission.

The signal from the EgyptAir Airbus A320 carrying 66 passengers and crew was lost at about 2:30 a.m. early Thursday local time as it began its approach to Cairo. None of the passengers were listed on terror watch lists and three security officials were on board the aircraft, according to CNN.

Cook declined to speculate on whether terrorism may have been involved but said U.S. law enforcement agencies were in contact with the Egyptians.

Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sharif Fathi said technical failures and terror are both possible explanations for the disappearance of the aircraft.

“But if you analyze this situation properly, the possibility of having a different action aboard, of having a terror attack, is higher than having a technical problem,” Fathi said.

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A Navy Corpsman Earned The Navy Cross For Ignoring His Wounds To Try And Save 2 Marines

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Chief Petty Officer Justin Wilson (Photo: MARSOC)


A U.S. Navy Corpsman attached to Marine Special Operations Command will receive the Navy Cross for attempting to save the lives of two Marines despite his being disoriented and wounded by two IED blasts himself, Marine Times reports.

Chief Petty Officer Justin Wilson, 36, is set to receive the nation’s second-highest award at Camp Pendleton, Calif. on Nov. 25. On his third deployment to Afghanistan with MARSOC’s Special Operations Team 8113, Wilson volunteered to accompany explosive ordnance tech Staff Sgt. Nicholas Sprovtsoff to clear an IED from a nearby checkpoint.

But not soon after they began inspecting the device it exploded, wounding Sprovtsoff and disorienting Wilson, the Times reported.

The Times has more:

According to his medal citation, the corpsman immediately left his safe position and searched around the checkpoint until he found Sprovtsoff. While he was tending to the wounded Marine with the help of [Staff. Sgt. Christopher] Diaz and another team member, another IED detonated. The blast wounded Wilson severely, and ultimately led to the death of the two Marines. In the chaos, and despite the shock of his injuries, Wilson became single-minded.

“Ignoring the pain of his own injuries, [Wilson] focused solely on treating his fellow team members,” his citation states. “He dragged one outside the checkpoint and rendered aid until he succumbed, and then searched for the other casualties, who had been blown over the barriers by the second blast. Only after confirming they were already dead did he allow treatment of his own wounds.”

Wilson is a shining example for corpsman past and present, embodying the “example of all that is honorable and good” that ends the Corpsmen’s pledge. Both fallen Marines, Staff Sgts. Christopher Diaz, 27, and Nicholas Sprovtsoff, 28, will receive posthumous Bronze Stars with combat “V” for their heroism.

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4 animal superpowers we want before our next deployment

So, the American warfighter is one of the most technologically advantaged warriors in history.


But we could still make it better, right? No one wants a fair fight in war, and nature is full of animal superpowers that would give the U.S. a greater advantage.

Here are four that might be on the way:

1. Snow fox rangefinder

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(Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dave Smalls)

Snow foxes have achieved internet fame recently for their “built-in compass” that makes them more successful in hunting mice under the snow or dirt when they strike at a small range of compass directions to the northeast of their position.

But it’s not exactly a built-in compass, it’s more of a range finder. This Discovery Blog article does a good job of explaining it, but the snow fox can basically sense disturbances at a fixed distance from them along a fixed direction. This allows them to much more accurately sense the exact range of the mouse from their position and attack with precision.

Is it coming?

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(Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Samuel Soza)

Troops currently can receive acoustic systems for identifying sniper locations and radar systems for artillery and mortar point of origins, both of which are always getting better.

As for targeting enemy forces that aren’t actively engaging them, soldiers still have to spot the enemy and either guess, hit them with a laser rangefinder, or compare the enemy positions to their position on a map and do the math. No magic hunting powers are on the table yet.

2. Grizzly bear time-defying nose

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(Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Terry Tollefsbol)

Bloodhounds are famous for their sense of smell, and the reputation is well-earned. Their noses are so sensitive that they can detect minute differences in scent trails that are almost 13 days old.

Grizzly bears, meanwhile, are seven times as sensitive as bloodhounds. And yeah, they can do the time-traveling nose trick as well.

Is it coming?

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency has been backing mechanical smell breakthroughs for a while, and a major step forward came in 2013 when Honeywell created the miniature vacuum pumps necessary for mobile mass spectrometers. Basically, all the components are now there for mechanical sniffers that can detect any and all materials in the air near them, even pathogens.

There are still software limits, though. Someone will have to teach the mechanical noses what elements are present one, two, or eight days after an enemy infantry patrol passes a given point or a fuel point has been disbanded.

3. Snake thermal imaging

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(Photo: Otavio Marques/Instituto Butantan)

Some snakes that hunt small animals can see in the dark through protein channels that pick up infrared energy that enters through the snake’s “pit organs,” those little opening near their eyes that look like nostrils.

Is it coming?

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A former Navy SEAL fires an infrared round that is invisible to human sight. (YouTube: Discovery)

The short answer is maybe. Troops currently can see infrared energy through bulky optics, but there’s a possibility for contact lenses that sense infrared radiation. Because it’s tied to ultraviolet detection, it’s explained at the end of entry 4, below.

4. Jumping spider and bat eyes that see four primary colors

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(Photo: Opoterser/CC BY 3.0)

Yes. Four of them. We are told that the three primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. But that’s not exactly true. Red, yellow, and blue correspond with specific wavelengths of light that stimulate humans’ three kinds of color receptors. Human corneas filter out light in another, otherwise visible band, ultraviolet. Some bats and spiders can see this band.

Soldiers who can see UV light would have much better night vision with none of the “tunneling” of most NV goggles. They would also be able to see insects better, helping troops avoid them, and fingerprints, helping with site exploitation.

Is it coming?

Maybe. The major technology breakthroughs have already come thanks to graphene, which can be used to make “ultra-broadband” photoreceptors. Basically, sensors that can detect infrared energy, visible light, and UV rays and combine them into one final image.

Best of all, graphene is thin enough that the possibility exists to make these receptors into contact lenses. But no one has currently commissioned graphene contact lenses for the troops. Still, fingers crossed.

Articles

Here’s what Hardship Duty Pay is and how you qualify for it

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U.S. Marines with Task Force Koa Moana unload gear after arriving in Ancon, Peru, Sept. 2, 2016. Peru is on the list of locations that qualify for HDP-L.


Hardship duty pay is a compensation in addition to base pay and other entitlements for service members stationed in or deployed to locations where the living conditions are significantly below those in the continental United States, the mission lasts longer than a typical deployment or requires specific types of work (i.e. recovering bodies of fallen military members in other countries).

Under specific circumstances, some or all of your hardship duty pay may be tax free. For more information on what is taxable and what isn’t, consult your financial advisor.

There are three different types of hardship duty pay: location, mission, and tempo.

1. Hardship duty pay – location, or “HDP-L,” is paid to service members who are outside of the continental United States in countries where the quality of life falls well below the standard of living that most service members who are in the U.S. would normally expect. Service members who also receive Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger pay of $225 per month only rate $100 a month for HDP-L. Find out if your OCONUS station is on the list.

Who: All service members who are executing a permanent change of station (PCS), temporary duty (TDA/TAD/TDY), or deployment to a designated area.

How much: The rate is paid out in increments of $50, $100, and $150 per month, depending on the level of QoL at that location as determined by the Department of Defense.

Hardship duty pay – mission, or HDP-M, is designed for hardship missions.

Who: All service members, officer and enlisted alike.

How much: $150 per month, max.

Hardship duty pay – tempo, or HDP-T, is for service members operating at a higher tempo for longer times, like during extended deployments or when service members are deployed longer than a set number of consecutive days. The Navy sets that number at 220, for example.

Who: All service members, officer and enlisted alike.

How much: $495 per month, max.

Articles

14 photos that show how Finland is preparing for a Russian hybrid war

Finland is facing the possibility that Russia will eventually come for some of its territory like it seized South Ossetia from Georgia and Crimea and sections of Donbass from Ukraine.


To prepare for their own possible conflict, the Finnish armed forces and other agencies are holding exercises to prepare for Putin’s hybrid warfare.

Russia’s forays into Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, Georgia, relied on cyber warfare, special operations forces, and an aggressive information campaign.

But Europe has gotten to see Russia’s playbook in action, and Petri Mäkelä of Medium.com reports that Finland is preparing to counter it with everything from their own special operators to firefighters and airport administrators.

In 14 photos, here’s how Finland is doing it:

1. First, by looking cool as they run through smoke. (Ok, that’s probably not the training objective, but come on, this looks cool.)

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

2. Finland held three major training events in March, each of which required that federal and local security forces worked together to counter specific threats.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

3. For instance, response teams converged on an airport that was under simulated attack, seeking to eliminate the threat as quickly and safely as possible.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

4. This allowed security forces to practice operating in the high-stress environment and also allowed administrators to see how they can best set up their operations to keep passengers safe in an attack.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

5. The exercises required soldiers and police to fight everything from angry individuals to enemy sniper and machine gun teams.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

6. Of course, no training exercise is complete without practicing how to treat the wounded.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

7. That’s where the firefighters and paramedics got involved.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

8. In field hospitals, medical professionals treated simulated injuries sustained in the fighting.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

9. Police forces assisted in re-establishing order and protecting the local populace.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

10. But the exercises also allowed the military to practice conventional operations.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

11. Finnish forces took on enemy elements in the woods and snow.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

12. Helicopters ferried troops to different areas. They also helped move reservists, police, and other first responders when necessary.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

13. The conventional exercises included some pretty awesome weaponry.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

14. Of course, even with increased conscription, new equipment, and tailored training, Finland would face a tough fight with Russia. The Russian military is one of the largest in the world and it has been training for this and other fights.

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(Photo: FaceBook/The Finnish Army)

Articles

The Japanese army had a ‘kill 100 people with a sword’ contest in 1937

In one of the lesser known facts of history, in 1937 two Japanese officers named Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda held a contest over who could kill 100 people with his sword (Magoroku) first?


Mukai and Noda were two young second lieutenants in the Katagiri Regiment’s Toyama Battalion and their contest was held during the Japanese invasion of China. The winner was announced on Dec. 10, 1937, only a couple of days before the Japanese Army entered Nanking (now Nanjing). Nanking, then the capital of the Republic of China (now of the Jiangsu province), was captured by the Japanese army on December 13, 1937 and in six weeks over 200,000 residents were murdered and thousands of women were raped. It would become known as the Nanking Massacre and Rape of Nanking.

It didn’t stop then, on the day when the winner was announced to who had the most kills, they both agreed to take the contest up to a 150 people.

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Photo: Wikipedia/Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun, Dec. 13, 1937

The article reads (thanks to Rene Malenfant):

“Incredible Record” In The Contest to Cut Down 100 People

Mukai 106, Noda 105

Both Second Lieutenants Go Into Extra Innings

Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyochi [sic] Noda, the two daring second lieutenants in the Katagiri Regiment who started an unusual contest to “cut down 100 people” before entering Nanjing, have—amidst the chaos of the battle to capture Purple Mountain on Dec. 10th—recorded their 106th and 105th kills respectively. When they met each other at noon on Dec. 10th, they were both carrying their swords in one hand. Their blades had, of course, been damaged.

Noda: “Hey, I got 105. What about you?” Mukai:”I got 106!”…Both men laughed. Because they didn’t know who had reached 100 kills first, in the end someone said, “Well then, since it’s a drawn game, what if we start again, this time going for 150 kills?” They both agreed, and on the 11th, they started an even longer contest to cut down 150 people. At noon on the 11th, on Purple Mountain, which overlooks an imperial tomb, while in the midst of hunting down the remnants of the defeated [Chinese] army, 2nd Lt. Mukai talked about the progress of the drawn game.

“I’m happy that we both exceeded 100 kills before we found out the final score. But I damaged my ‘Seki no Magoroku’ on some guy’s helmet when I was cleaving him in two. So, I’ve made a promise to present this sword to your company when I’ve finished fighting. At 3 AM, on the morning of the 11th, our comrades used the unusual strategy of setting Purple Mountain on fire, in order to smoke any remaining enemies out of their hiding places. But I got smoked out too! I shot up with my sword over my shoulder, and stood straight as an arrow amidst a rain of bullets, but not a single bullet hit me. That’s also thanks to my Seki no Magoroku here.”

Then, amidst a barrage of incoming enemy bullets, he showed one of the reporters his Magoroku, which had soaked up the blood of 106 people.”

The competition was featured four times in the wartime Japanese newspapers Osaka Mainichi Shimbun and Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun from Nov. 30 to Dec. 13, 1937. The newspapers reported their kill records and celebrated both officers for their achievements. The contest was far from heroic. The officer’s victims weren’t killed in action but rather murdered. Tsuyoshi Noda admitted in a speech:

Actually, I didn’t kill more than four or five people in hand-to hand combat… We’d face an enemy trench that we’d captured, and when we called out, ‘Ni, Lai-Lai!’ (You, come on!), the Chinese soldiers were so stupid, they’d rush toward us all at once. Then we’d line them up and cut them down, from one end of the line to the other. I was praised for having killed a hundred people, but actually, almost all of them were killed in this way. The two of us did have a contest, but afterward, I was often asked whether it was a big deal, and I said it was no big deal…

After World War II had ended, a written record of the contest was acquired by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, which resulted in the two officers being turned over to China. They were tried by the Nanking War Crimes Tribunal and on January 28, 1948, both Mukai and Noda were executed for war crimes.

References: Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, full text of all articles pertaining to the contest by Rene Malenfant and The Nanjing Massacre: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan’s National Shame: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan’s National Shame by Katsuichi Honda.

Reference books on the subject:

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This article originally appeared at Argunners Magazine. Copyright 2015. Follow Argunners Magazine on Twitter.

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